ADVENT DEVOTIONAL FOR 2017
REIGNING WITH CHRIST
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
. . . Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 4:12-13 & 5:8,9
One final word—reigning with Christ is a glorious experience, but it is never easy. Indeed, making things easy for us is not the point. The enemies of ancient kings were always seeking to poison or stab them, and the world also seeks to attack the members of God’s royal family.
FJ HUEGEL: I have a friend, a defeated pastor who has left the ministry, and who repeatedly has written to me saying, “But it does not work.” My answer is: “Of course it does not work.” That is to say, if you look upon the matter in this fashion. If your approach is that we have here another doctrine of the church, an “it”, a method, an emphasis, or what not.
Then too, “it” will not work if mistaken notions regarding results are entertained. If one has the idea that “it” should mean such a freedom from sin as never again to have an evil thought or desire rise up within, a fixed state of absolute liberty from temptation, from doubts, and fears and anxieties, of course “it” does not work (see 1 John 1:8). We do not yet have our resurrection bodies. We must still watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. We must still confess our sins according to 1 John 1:9.
No “it” does not work if we cherish the idea that now we shall ever be so conscious of heaven as hardly to be aware of earth. There will be times when heaven will seem as remote as the most distant star, and earth with its pain and tis shame and its darkness and its death so real as to make one wonder whether he was actually born again of the Spirit and accepted into the family of God. How else, let me ask, can faith be tried as it must and so become naked faith which stands firm, though there be never a prop to bolster it and all appearances give it the lie? That the trial of our faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, this must be our lot. The great Job of chapter 42 did not come to such a robust faith and to such a glorious position without the blasts of fiery trials.
Furthermore, if one harbors the opinion that now there will be no more onslaughts from the pit, no more fiery darts from the wicked one, no more depression because of the oppression of the enemy, of course “it” does not work. The truth of the matter is that now as never before we will be the target of the principalities of hell. The prince of this world who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour will attack with a fury and a determination and a perseverance never known before. The enemy will employ his subtlest strategy and strike at every point of our armor in search of a weak point to exploit. “Though I make my bed in hell,” said the psalmist. Yes, it may mean that. But we are soldiers and Christ our Captain has never lost a battle, so let us be brave. The head of that old serpent the devil was bruised at Calvary, so let us arise and trample underfoot the dragon as it is in Psalm 91.
PRAYER: Dear God, you have made me part of your family without any effort or sacrifice on my part. I have not had to follow any regulation nor meet any requirements to be seated with Jesus in a position of honor. I do not have to meet any requirements nor go to great efforts to stay there. But if I am with Jesus, I will be honored to share his life, to share his family, to share his feelings, and to share the attacks and temptations of the enemy. Grant me thus to share in His victory over sin and evil. In His name I pray. Amen.