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305. The way of suffering.


"... For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - (Matthew 5:12) The message of the gospel about Jesus Christ came to be known as "The Way" - (Acts 19: 9, 23), as it implied the way to be saved. But "The Way" has never been easy for any of the travellers on it because its opposed to the way of the world! Many have been hounded, persecuted and killed through the Church age for embarking on this journey to Righteouness, Holiness and Eternal life. - (Romans 6:18-22) Jesus didn't give any false notions to his disciples but told them frankly what to expect: "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles ... All men will hate you because of me but he who stands firm till the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes ."- (Matthew 10:17-23) Neither did the Apostles mislead the people but spoke plainly about the Way, saying, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" - (Acts 14:22) Yet many in this modern age mock any mention of suffering for Christ and his Gospel, without realising that scripture indeed says that, 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.' - (2 Timothy 2:11 KJV)


Suffering for our faith is therefore an affirmation that we are on the right track 'for it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him but to suffer for him.' - (Philipians 1:29) The author of Hebrews exhorted the Church to remain true to the faith by reminding them of their earlier endurance. 'Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publically exposed to insult and Persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.' - (Hebrews 10:32-34) Those who have gone ahead of us on the Way are now living witnesses in heaven, cheering us on to finish the race. 'Therefore , since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.' - (Hebrews 12:1) Those who run a grueling Marathon race do so because of the physical benefits and sense of personal reward. So it is in this spiritual race! But in this race, no one loses! You don't need to come first but just have to finish the race to get your reward! Amen.


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