The Suffering Servant

This is a month-long study.

Our family did this study as a family, parents reading the questions aloud and letting the kids answer questions. Our youngest was 9 at the time. It’s mainly intended for adults and families, but I would say middle school and up for any kids wanting to do the study on their own.

To add to My EP, you can use the Bible block (click on next course to the end) or use a Parent Add-On (how-to). Parents, feel free to add a “student” for yourself to track your progress in this course.

*Note: Like all my teachings, my husband has seen these and gives me permission to share them.

Lesson 1

  1. Let’s start with two famous verses. When you are doing this study, stop and think. Don’t just keep reading ahead. When you read these verses, think about what they are saying. Do you believe them? Do you believe they are true?
  2. Do you believe God is sovereign, that He’s in control?
    • If He’s not in control, then He’s not all-powerful and all-knowing and would cease being God. Yes, He’s in control!
  3. Do you believe God is good, that He’s working things out for your good and His glory? That there’s never any maniacal laugh behind His plans?
    • Of course, there’s not! He’s only always good.
  4. Hold those thoughts!
  5. Suffering. No one wants to suffer. We want our suffering to end immediately and run to friends, doctors, banks, entertainment, and many other things to try to just end it and make it go away, or at least distract ourselves from it or numb it temporarily.
  6. God’s in control and did not stop whatever it is from happening. Are we willing to allow Him to work out our salvation through whatever it is instead of just trying to get away from it?
  7. God doesn’t plot out evil against you. Satan is the one at work to steal, kill, and destroy. God keeps His protection up around you but will allow what is for your good and for the good of those around you. And it will be to His glory.
  8. Then there are all those things we do to try to prevent a bad thing from happening. We try to protect ourselves. We try to keep from danger. We buy insurance. We save for a rainy day. If you ever wiped down your groceries in 2020, then you have succumbed to this mindset.
  9. If we believed God is in control and good and was working out His good and perfect will in our lives, then why would we be trying to prevent it from happening? Why would we be trying to change it?
  10. Before we can talk about the suffering servant, you need to decide, and choose God’s will for your life.
  11. You don’t get to know God’s will and then pick if you like it or not. You choose God’s will or your own. His way may seem hard at times, but your way leads to death and His to life.
  12. What do you really believe?
  13. Think about the times and ways you have run to end suffering instead of turning to your Savior for deliverance and waiting on Him to bring you through in His way, in His time, for His glory and for your edification and purifying. That means He will work it out for your good, for your spiritual and personal growth.
  14. Really stop and think. There are many, many ways probably. Ever have a problem? Ever have a trouble? Ever have a sickness? Ever have a pain? Ever have an argument? Ever need something? Ever…
  15. Stop and pray. Ask for forgiveness for running from His will instead of trusting that He was good and in control.
  16. The troubles and trials that are going on right now, big or small, give them over to God, into His loving hands.
  17. Leave it to God to work out your salvation in those matters. Leave them in His hands!

Lesson 2

  1. We are going to start by looking at Christ as the Suffering Servant, but before we get into the Scripture, I want to get to the point.
  2. Here’s the key to the suffering servant. We pour out our lives so Christ can pour His life into us so that we can give His life to others.
  3. Only in being crucified do we have anything of value to offer anyone else. There is no good thing in us apart from God. (Romans 7:18, Psalm 16:2, Mark 10:18)
  4. His life in us is what the world not only needs, but desperately longs for. They are searching for love, joy, peace, freedom, salvation. It’s found in Christ alone. We don’t have it to offer unless we’ve emptied ourselves and are filled up with Christ.
  5. Please read those lines (2-4) as many times as you need to in order to get it.
  6. Jesus suffered for our sakes. We suffer for the sake of others. Yes, there is a work going on in us as well (God is really big and can handle doing many things at once), but we need to get the heart behind it, that the point is OTHERS. We want many to come to righteousness. We need to be careful to not let our suffering keep us looking at ourselves.
  7. Part of being a Christian is sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
  8. In most Bibles, Isaiah 53 is labeled with the title “The Suffering Servant.”
  9. Here’s a video look at it and who Jesus was and is to us and the world.
  10. We’ll be looking at Matthew 27 to think about Jesus as the Suffering Servant, but for today, let’s stay at Isaiah 53.
  11. Listen to the chapter; this video starts with the end of Isaiah 52 (which is also cut out of the synagogue readings).

Lesson 3

  1. Read Matthew 27:1-2.
  2. Jesus was perfect, yet He suffered.
  3. How is Jesus suffering?
    • Others are plotting against Him. They are deciding His fate. They have Jesus bound and delivered over to Pilate, the one with the authority to have Jesus killed.
  4. Of course, that’s just what it looks like on the outside. None of that is true at all.
  5. They may plot, but they won’t succeed.
    • Psalm 21:11 NASB  Though they intended evil against You and devised a plot, they will not succeed. 
  6. They had no power to decide His fate.
    • Job 42:2 ESV  I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
  7. Jesus was bound and delivered, but Pilate didn’t have the authority.
    • John 19:11 ESV  Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
  8. Jesus had known His suffering was God’s will. He had told his disciples about it. He had prayed, “Your will be done.” We’ll look more at that prayer later.
  9. The Jewish leaders were conspiring, but they were only carrying out God’s will.
    • Genesis 50:20 NLT  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
  10. To be clear, God does not devise evil. He’s not an evil overlord with a maniacal laugh. But, He could stop their evil plotting. He has the power and authority over the universe to do as He pleases. He could have struck them all dead on the spot. But God doesn’t stop all evil. He lets humans have their free will. He lets Satan do his work. His ultimate purposes will be carried out, however, and he will use that free will and Satan’s plotting and actions. He can use all things for good for those who are His. He’s way bigger than all of it.
  11. God was never subject to the whim of the Pharisees. Jesus died, not only on the Passover holiday, but at the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the perfect lamb was killed for the forgiveness of sins.
  12. I want to make sure we keep our thinking clear as we talk about suffering. God isn’t out to “get” His children and give them the punishment they deserve. His grace and mercy have just the opposite impact; we don’t get what we deserve.

Lesson 4

  1. Read Matthew 27:3.
  2. Judas is suffering because of his sin. This is a different kind of suffering. We don’t want this kind of suffering. We’ll look at this in the next lesson.
  3. Where is Jesus suffering in this verse?
    • Jesus has suffered because he was betrayed by someone in his closest circle.
  4. Jesus was betrayed. I have had my closest friend turn on me. This is something believers have to go through. Our righteousness will turn others away from us. Just like Jesus was rejected for His righteousness, Christ’s righteousness in us will draw some to the light of Christ in us but will cause others to hide from us, even to speak against us to try to justify themselves since they aren’t living in that same light of righteousness.
    • What’s a servant to do? Keep our eyes on Jesus. While we are to offer love and forgiveness unconditionally, we aren’t to mold and adapt ourselves to please those who want us to change for their comfort’s sake.
    • We need to find our fellowship and friendship in Christ, so that we don’t “need” others.
      • Jesus is all we need. You need to know He’s all you need, that our needs are all met because He’s truly all we need and He will never leave nor forsake us.
    • Yes, God is holy and awesome and fearsome, but He’s close and intimate and we need to also learn to relate to Him as a friend. He can meet all of those relational needs. Then, we can be in other relationships out of an extension of God’s love for them and not out of wanting some need met in ourselves. That means we love them without expecting anything in return.
    • When Jesus was with the disciples those few years, He didn’t spend the time teaching them connections between Himself and Old Testament prophecies. He let them get to know Him. They spent time together. Jesus wants to live together with you.
  5. So one lesson of suffering is to not be surprised.
    • Don’t be surprised by it if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13
    • If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. John 15:18 NLT
  6. A second lesson of suffering is to make sure you are firmly planted on the rock so that it will not shake you. If you are “needing” your friends and they turn on you, you will be shaken. You will feel needy and lacking. You will question your relationship to God and maybe even compromise it in some ways to get what you feel you “need.”
  7. If you are rooted and grounded in the love of God, then you cannot be shaken. If you are allowing God to truly meet all your needs, then though there will still be pain and suffering, it won’t shake your faith. It will grow you closer to the Lord instead of threatening your relationship with God.
  8. Know God is truly all that you need. Let Him be your all in all.

Lesson 5

  1. Read Matthew 27:3-10.
  2. Judas is suffering because of his sin. This is a different kind of suffering. We don’t want this kind of suffering.
  3. The Pharisees are suffering but are refusing to recognize it. They are tormented by the righteousness of Christ because it doesn’t line up with their definition of the righteousness of God. They are suffering because they are rejecting God. We don’t want this kind of suffering either.
  4. 1 John 4:18 reads: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.”
  5. You may want to protest that you aren’t perfect, that you haven’t been perfected.
  6. Read the verse it context, 1 John 4:12-18. It tells us how love is perfected in us.
    • We confess Jesus as the Son of God.
    • We know and believe God’s love for us.
    • We abide in His love and by that are perfected.
    • If we love one another, God’s love abides in us and we are perfected in love.
    • We know we abide in Him and He in us because He’s given us His Spirit.
    • That gives us confidence when we face God’s judgment.
  7. Fear involves punishment. Love involves acceptance. Do you know who you are in Christ?
  8. A good Father doesn’t punish His child; He disciplines them.
  9. God cuts off branches and burns them in the fire. But, He does it for the good of the tree; it causes the tree to grow more fruitful. We just need to be connected to the tree, to the roots, and all of God’s discipline will just be His loving way of increasing our fruit, causing new growth, reaching us higher in our upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  10. We are connected to the roots by the love of God. “We are rooted and grounded in love.”
  11. When we confess our sins and receive the washing of Christ’s blood, we become God’s children and can ask for His Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us God will give the good gift of the Spirit to His children who ask for it.
  12. Then God’s love is poured out into our hearts by the Spirit. He abides in us and us in Him because we live out that love by loving God and others.
  13. The pruning of the tree and the cutting off of the branch may feel the same; the tree and the branch being cut off feel the same thing, but just for a moment. Being separated and cut off from the tree is the punishment. Being rooted to the tree is the gift that makes the pruning a blessing!
  14. Instead of dwelling on failures, when God shows you a way you have fallen short, you thank Him. You thank Him that He’s training you and teaching you and showing you His ways. You thank Him that He’s helping you become like Jesus. You don’t hide from Him because you are fearful of what He will do to you. You run to Him because He’s your hope and you are grateful for His love and guidance and His transforming power to conform you into the image of Christ.

Lesson 6

  1. Read Matthew 27:11-14.
  2. How is Jesus suffering in this section of Scripture?
    • He is being accused.
  3. He answers them once, to confirm that He is the King of the Jews. He doesn’t clarify. He doesn’t explain that He’s not trying to take over the government. He says it, we can assume, for our benefit in obedience to the Father’s will.
  4. Then He stands silently as the accusations come, to the point that the governor marvels at His ability to do so.
  5. Can we trust God to defend us? Can we remain silent instead of jumping to self-defense and self-justification?
  6. There are those self words. Can we die to self when it means letting Jesus be our defense and shine truth where we are being misunderstood, misrepresented, and straight up lied about?
  7. Here are some verses to think about.
    • Romans 12:19 ESV  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
    • Matthew 5:39 ESV  “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
    • 1 Peter 2:23 ESV  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
  8. Why should you not defend yourself?
  9. How can you keep from defending yourself? What should your mindset be?
  10. Here are a couple more verses to help you answer the questions: Matthew 5:11-12.

Lesson 7

  1. Read Matthew 27:15-18.
  2. According to these verse, specifically verse 18, why was Jesus suffering?
    • They were envious.
  3. The priests were envious. They wanted what Jesus had: power, authority, wisdom to shut down opponents, the growing following, the praise and adoration of the people.
  4. They had turned Jesus over because they were envious.
  5. How was this causing suffering?
    • Jesus was suffering because He was being falsely accused out of spite, because they didn’t like Him and didn’t want Him around.
  6. We already read how Jesus didn’t answer his accusers, but remember, He’s here in this situation in the first place because He’s being falsely accused. That means they are lying about him. They are lying to get what they want – Jesus out. They were sure Jesus was a sinner, disobeying the Sabbath laws that their authority had established. Jesus was turning the people away from following their authority.
  7. Ever have someone out to get you? Ever have someone lie about you to get you into trouble, either to save themselves or to just get a laugh out of it?
  8. How do we respond?
  9. Matthew records no response from Jesus. We can assume He continued His stance of not answering His accusers.
  10. He didn’t try to throw someone else “under the bus.” He didn’t defend Himself.
  11. From the other side, have you ever tried to get someone in trouble or let someone else get into trouble for something you had done or were part of?
  12. Let’s pray that we can have the courage to own our mistakes or even to take the blame even when we’re innocent. Let’s trust God to come to our defense.
  13. Do we believe He sees what’s happening, knows what’s going on, and has the power and authority to do something about it? Then let’s act like it!

Lesson 8

  1. Read Matthew 27:19-22.
  2. The judge, Pontius Pilate, is being told by his wife to get Jesus out of there. She knows something is up. She trusts the dream she had more than the Jewish priests.
  3. He takes his chance to turn Jesus loose and asks the crowd who should be released to celebrate the holiday.
  4. They choose the murderer Barabbas.
  5. Pilate asks the accusers what they want to have done with Jesus.
  6. They say they want Jesus killed, crucified.
  7. How is Jesus suffering in this scene?
    • He has a murderer chosen above Him.
    • He has His accusers given a say in His punishment.
  8. Can you see a greater suffering?
  9. Out of love, Jesus came to earth for every single one of them.
  10. Jesus was about to lay down His life to be beaten and killed for each and every one of them, the ones shouting, “Crucify!”
  11. Jesus was suffering because He loved them.
  12. The Father suffered when the world had turned to violence (Genesis 6) because God so loved the world (John 3:16).
  13. The Father suffered when a generation died in the wilderness because of their unbelief because God loves His children.
  14. God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. His heart is that they repent and come to Him! (Ezekiel 18:23)
  15. Remember that Jesus shows us the Father. That was the point behind the September Study called This Is Eternal Life. The suffering of Jesus shows us the Father.
  16. Jesus was willing to lay down His life for His lying, scheming accusers. That’s the length God will go to show His love for us. It shows how much He’s willing to suffer for the sake of love.

Lesson 9

  1. Read Matthew 27:23-25.
  2. What things did Jesus suffer in this section?
    • There’s a lack of justice. Pilate sees that Jesus is innocent. He knows Jesus has done nothing wrong. He thinks he’s excusing myself, but he doesn’t have that power.
    • Jesus is turned over to be beaten and killed, and He’s done nothing wrong. Justice wasn’t served.
  3. God is justice. Jesus is just. There was no justice in the court that day.
  4. It’s one thing to be falsely accused; it’s another to be convicted of wrong doing either by an official court or the court of public opinion.
  5. Jesus still doesn’t defend Himself.
  6. Can we be like Him and accept everything as from the Lord?
  7. Do we really believe that He is in control and He is working things out for our good? It’s all only for our blessing.
  8. And, let’s never forget that we’re blessed to be a blessing.
  9. God allows the troubles to work in us His righteousness, blessing us, so that we can be a blessing to others.
  10. Wanting out of the trouble is certainly human and okay, but we don’t want to be focused on ourselves. Love is other-focused. Maybe that trouble is a blessing that you are going to be able to pass on.

Lesson 10

  1. Read Matthew 27:26.
  2. How is Jesus suffering?
    • This is straight physical suffering. He is beaten.
  3. Physical suffering is a hard one to swallow. Pain is hard to ignore. It’s literally poking at you trying to get your attention, when the way through suffering, just like the way through all of life, is by looking at Jesus, giving Him our attention, not ourselves.
  4. Jesus was beaten so badly that He was unrecognizable. Isaiah 52:14 says that he was marred beyond recognition.
  5. Isaiah also records that by His stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5).
  6. Here we see the suffering for the blessing of others. He will receive honor above any other name, but He laid down His life for us.
  7. He suffers. We receive the healing, the salvation.
  8. Jesus was willing to suffer out of love for others. He could see the joy on the other side.
  9. How much do you love others? Are you willing to suffer for them?
  10. Pray about your heart for others.
  11. You want God’s love, peace, joy, healing, righteousness, salvation, and more that God offers us in Christ Jesus.
  12. Do you also want it for others? We receive blessing not so that we can have it but so that we can be a blessing to others. We’re to pass it on.
  13. Think of all of David’s suffering as Saul sought his life for years. What did that suffering produce? Dozens of songs that speak life into the hearts of God’s servants thousands of years later.

Lesson 11

  1. Read Matthew 27:27-31.
  2. What is Jesus’ suffering here?
  3. He’s being humiliated. He’s being mocked.
  4. He’s stripped and then dressed for their amusement.
  5. My mom once told me that she once complained to Jesus that he never had to have cramps. He told her He did on the cross. He understands all of our suffering.
  6. I have a mother-in-law who is an invalid. Her husband has to change her diaper and wipe her. Seeing that made me realize how Jesus, the king of the universe, had to choose to humiliate Himself to come as a helpless baby. Jesus had to have his bottom wiped. He understands what it means to be human. He understands what we go through.
  7. The men tease Him, putting on a whole scene for their amusement, laughing at Jesus. He understands bullies. He understands embarrassment and harassment.
  8. But what was Jesus’ response?
  9. There are no words from Jesus in this passage. But it ends with, “They led him away to be crucified.”
  10. He could have just said the word and struck them all dead on the spot. Instead, he died for them so that they could be forgiven.
  11. When we are sinned against (in any way), we need to remember not to feel sorry for ourselves. We shouldn’t be continually crying for ourselves but for those in sin. We are eternally loved with an unchanging, steadfast, perfect love. They are living in hell, separation from God. They need freedom from the situation more than we do.

Lesson 12

  1. Read Matthew 27:32-38.
  2. How is Jesus suffering?
  3. They are casting lots for his clothing.
  4. Jesus at this point has lost every possession. He wasn’t someone who owned a lot, but what He had was taken away.
  5. He knows what it’s like to lose it all. The crowds are gone. Most of those closest to Him are gone.
  6. We know that His mother and a couple other women, as well as John, remain until He dies. That is found in the gospel of John.
  7. At the point we’re at in the story, Jesus has the comfort of the Father with Him. That’s how Jesus took the beatings. That’s how Jesus took the mocking. That’s how Jesus took the injustice. He had the strength of the Almighty God coursing through Him. His body was broken, but His spirit was as strong as ever. He had comfort from the Father. He had peace, joy, and oh so much love from the Father. That’s how Jesus always lived, one with the Father, one with Love.
  8. Can you settle in your heart that you would be okay with losing everything as long as you had God?
  9. Do you have it settled in your heart that all you really need is Jesus?
  10. There are t-shirts that say, “All I need are coffee and Jesus.” That’s not funny. If you can’t trust God to wake you up, how are you believing that you trust Him to wake you from “sleep” and raise you to life?
  11. Do you believe you only need Jesus? It’s true. Catch yourself. Pay attention to any way you want to qualify the statement: I only need Jesus. Give those things up to God and trust Him with them.

Lesson 13

  1. Read Matthew 27:39-44.
  2. Do the words, “If you are the Son of God?” sound familiar?
  3. The words they are tormenting Jesus with are the same words Satan used in the wilderness temptation. He repeatedly said, “If you are the Son of God…” That’s what these revilers are saying as well.
  4. They are wanting Jesus to prove Himself by their standards.
  5. Jesus knows He is the Son of God. He doesn’t need their approval and acceptance to know who He is.
  6. Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Jesus’ forty days were up. But God hadn’t fed Him yet. Satan is trying to get Jesus to meet His own need instead of waiting on God for His “salvation.” It’s as if Satan is saying, “Your Father hasn’t come through. You be God and do it for Yourself.”
  7. That’s the temptation of the garden. You be God. It’s behind all sin. Of course, Jesus was fully divine. But He was also fully human. He told His disciples that He did nothing on His own.
  8. Have you ever considered it possible to do nothing apart from Christ in you, the way Jesus did nothing apart from the Father in Him? Jesus prayed for us (John 15-17) that we would have oneness with Him, like He was one with the Father.
  9. That’s what our life is supposed to be. That’s why we share in His life, His death, His suffering, His power, His truth, His everything; because we are one with Him. The life we live in the flesh is supposed to be His life, lived by faith.
  10. We’re not supposed to be doing anything on our own. We’re supposed to be “dead.” We want Christ’s life resurrected in us, not our own life resurrected.
  11. Let me go back to the taunting. The verse I linked in the hint is from Luke. It says that after Jesus was tempted, Satan left to wait for an opportune time.
  12. Satan’s opportune time had come. Jesus beat him after fasting forty days. That was supposed to be a time when His flesh was weak, but He withstood Satan. Now, Jesus is severely weak. He’s dying, His flesh torn from His body. He hasn’t slept. He’s been stressed beyond imagining, sweating blood. Satan comes with those same words, “If you are the Son of God…”
  13. It’s God’s job to confirm His disciples. It’s not our job to prove ourselves. It’s our job to submit to the will of the Father. It’s our job to love those persecuting us, not to defend ourselves and prove our rightness and their wrongness.
  14. Jesus could have done any of those things dangled in front of Him. He chose to love the people taunting Him instead of loving Himself.
  15. Can you love those who persecute you? Can you love those who sin against you? Can you love those who hurt you with their words and actions?
  16. To be like Christ, to be like the Suffering Servant, we have to get rid of the love of self and replace it with God’s love of others, God’s love for the world.
  17. We have to lay down our lives for others without a boundary (unless there’s a boundary God wants us to set). We don’t get to pick it up our lives again and stomp off in a huff. We surrender our lives to God, whatever that looks like. We lay our lives down.
  18. Can you think of ways God has or is asking you to lay down your life?

Lesson 14

  1. Read Matthew 27:45-50.
  2. How did Jesus suffer?
  3. Our society, unfortunately including Christians, tend to think of death as suffering, as the worst outcome. But death can be a gift to a Christian; it means the race is finished.
    • God can work good in death just like He can in anything else.
  4. The suffering here in Jesus’ story wasn’t death.
  5. It’s verse 46 that shows the real suffering of the moment. Jesus has been forsaken by God. God has left Him.
  6. Now, remember Jesus told us He did nothing on His own. He even said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”
  7. Jesus showed us a life of perfect oneness with God. He never relied on the flesh. He was totally reliant on God, and because He was sinless, He walked in perfect unity and communion with the Father at all times.
  8. When it came to be time to die, all of our sins were put on Jesus. This is the moment. God can’t be with sin. He is a holy God.
  9. We cause our own suffering when we sin consciously. We separate ourselves from God. We need to run back to Him and ask forgiveness and restore the relationship. The worst thing you can do is not do that, not go to Him, to try to run and hide as if He didn’t see it anyway. We need to hate sin because we love God and want to be with Him. First, you need to know that relationship with God, so you know the enjoyment and pleasure of being His. You’ll never want to be apart.
  10. There will always be layers of sin we don’t even realize. Over time, God will reveal more and more to you: how you put your trust in man, how you play god and rely on your own strength instead of turning to Him, how you complain instead of giving thanks, how you try to control or how you worry, and on and on! We are sinners, but we’re not to ever choose sin. He does the work of cleaning us out. When He shows you your sin, you ask for forgiveness and ask Him to take it away. He does the work! You just choose Him!
  11. Our sin was put on Jesus, and God had to depart. Just for a moment. Jesus fulfills prophecies and then proclaims it is finished and gives His spirit up to the Father’s care.
  12. The death wasn’t the suffering. The death relieved the suffering.
  13. Even though God’s general will is life and not death, we need to be careful not to fear death or to think that all death is tragedy. Death can be a gift. Jesus’ death was a gift. Consider this verse, Isaiah 57:1 (NIV).
    • The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
  14. It says the righteous die to protect them, to spare them from evil.
  15. We don’t know the future, what’s to happen to us. Death may be God’s mercy. Let’s not act like death is the worse thing that could happen. We shouldn’t think that way if we really believe in heaven and God’s eternal perfect life!

Lesson 15

  1. Read Matthew 27:51-54.
  2. This is the last we’ll read from this section.
  3. Why did Jesus suffer?
  4. In this passage we see the veil torn, giving everyone the opportunity to access the Father. His suffering made the way for all to be saved. His suffering saved you. His suffering led many to righteousness. Isn’t that what you want? (Daniel 12:3)
  5. Would you consider that a privilege?
  6. Would you consider a cost too great if it meant that many were led to righteousness, if it meant that “the Lamb that was slain received the reward of His suffering?”
  7. We’ll stop here, but I’ll leave you with a sermon snippet.
  8. This is what I call my favorite sermon, Ten Shekels and a Shirt, by Paris Reidhead. I linked it here to the last couple of minutes. Listen through to the end to hear where I got that line about the Lamb receiving His reward.
  9. What are you living for?
  10. Feel free to listen to the whole thing!

Lesson 16

  1. Before we look at other people in the Bible who lived as Christ did, as suffering servants, let’s look at one more passage about Christ. This preceded what we just read. In the chapter before it, we see Jesus in the garden praying.
  2. Read Matthew 26:36-39.
  3. How is Jesus suffering?
    • He’s deeply distressed. He doesn’t want to go through the cross. He doesn’t want to bear our sins and be separated from the Father. He asks that it be taken from Him if there is another way. Then He prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
  4. Jesus knew God’s will.
  5. He was human. We see Him walking in perfect oneness with the Father. This is the only reminder we really get of His flesh, apart from His need to sleep at times. He didn’t want to go through it, but He wanted most of all the Father’s will, the Father’s glory, and to be obedient.
  6. I think this scene is what we should be using as our posture, or attitude, when it comes to suffering.
  7. It’s a posture of humility, of humbling ourselves. We know what we want, but we submit ourselves to the Father’s will, knowing His will is perfect and that He is good and loving. Not only that, but He is in control and all-powerful, so He is able to deliver you from the trouble. We just humble ourselves and allow Him to see us through to the victory on the other side.
  8. People feel like God is far away in suffering because they pray for the trouble to be taken away and it doesn’t go. We question why. We act like God is not being faithful, not keeping His word, like He’s done wrong. That’s a posture of pride, not humility.
  9. God is far from the proud. That’s not ever where we want to be. We want to be near Him, so we have to come in humility.
  10. God cares for the humble. Psalm 138:6
  11. God gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
  12. Read 1 Peter 5:6.
  13. We humble ourselves in suffering because we know it’s God’s hand we’re under, and we wait on Him because He’s got the timing already all figured out.
  14. In the meantime, we trust Him because He’s good and loving. It should draw us closer to Him and cause us to lean more on Him instead of pushing us away.
  15. We’re to give thanks for all things always! Ephesians 5:20
  16. After the humbling and accepting of His will, we rejoice in it! His will is good and perfect and for your good! He’s working out a blessing in your life!

Lesson 17

  1. We’re on to the second half of our lessons.
  2. The most famous suffering servant is probably Job.
  3. Here’s a bit from Job 1, a passage you’re likely familiar with.
  4. Let’s never forget that Satan has to report to God. He’s not in charge. Not even remotely.
  5. He also goes back and forth throughout the earth, which means a few things.
    • He’s not omnipresent like God. He can only be in one place at a time.
    • He’s out there. That shouldn’t scare you. That should steal you to be ready to stand firm.
    • It means that a little temptation could be a big deal. That could be Satan trying to steal your life and the lives of your family members. (We should always see sin as this big of a deal. The wages of all sin is death.)
  6. What happened with Job was God’s idea, in a way. He’s not dreaming up ways to hurt people, but He knows that an abundance of blessing can actually harm us. He’s out for our good. We’ve talked about how suffering is a blessing. God’s only for us, never against His children. He only loves His children. His desire is only to bless His children. His intentions toward us are always kind.
  7. God Himself calls Job blameless. Job did not suffer because of his sin. God was not punishing him.
  8. God allowed Satan, under God’s watchful eyes and boundaries, to bring about suffering in Job’s life that would lead to greater blessing.
  9. Now, God is bigger than us. He can do lots of things at once. He also considered Job’s children, his wife, the servants, his friends. God saw them all. It was never all about Job. God was thinking about us too.
  10. The biggest lesson in Job is that of the ignorant friends. They are convinced Job is a sinner and God is punishing him.
  11. We are never to assume we know why God is allowing something in someone’s life! Only God knows His thoughts and His ways.
  12. When we’re talking to a believer, we can encourage them that God still loves them. We can encourage them to love God and run to Him, not from Him. We can encourage them to ask God to teach them and to wait patiently because the Lord always delivers His servants. We can encourage them to read the Psalms. They are full of troubles and God’s deliverance and praise for the unchanging love of God. We encourage them to trust and fight off self-pity, worry, and depression with thanksgiving and praise. The Psalms use the word “sacrifice” to talk about a sacrifice of thanksgiving or praise. It can be hard to do, but we make the sacrifice. We choose to believe there is good behind it all because God is in control and only good.
  13. We don’t tell another believer that their suffering is obviously because of some sin. We don’t tell them they need to do this or do that to get free. We don’t encourage using the methods of man to solve our problems. We don’t try to cast it out, break the stronghold, or do whatever other spiritual method we read in a book or saw in a video. God is the savior. He will bring the deliverance. We trust and wait.
  14. In the end, God never does answer Job’s question, “Why?” Never get stuck at “why.” Humble yourself before God. God does put Job in his place, teaching him more correct thinking when it comes to God. Job had some self-righteousness issues to deal with. But God saw Job as blameless. He obeyed what he knew. God took Job to a deeper level of sanctification. God showed him more of what needed cleaning out, and God worked that righteousness into him through this process.
  15. That’s the gift, righteousness, more of His life in us, less of self.
  16. What deliverance are you waiting on now? Do you need any adjustment in your thinking? Are you waiting on God or seeking your own salvation?

Lesson 18

  1. Let’s stay on Job for one more lesson.
  2. Satan questions God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”
  3. Let’s look at what he is asking.
  4. There was the idea in the Jewish culture that the righteous were blessed and the unrighteous cursed. There was good reason for that; just look at the end of Deuteronomy where Moses delineates all the blessings for obeying God’s commands and the curses for disobeying.
  5. This is why the disciples were so astonished when Jesus talked about how impossible it was for a rich man to be saved.
  6. They assumed a rich man had to be really, really blessed by God. God was obviously pleased with him. If even this man who was blessed so much couldn’t be saved, then how could any of them?
  7. Job is the first place we see the idea challenged that all “good” is God’s blessing and all “bad” is God’s cursing.
  8. Let’s read the rest of Job 1 starting from the part we read in the last lesson.
  9. Satan is accusing Job of only loving and honoring and serving God because of how God has blessed him. He is saying that Job will turn on God if God takes away His protection from Job.
  10. God does so, but sets boundaries to protect Job. Job was never in danger of dying, for instance.
  11. Job does not deny God or turn on Him. He’s not rejoicing, but He fears God and acknowledges God’s right to do as He pleases. Chapter 1 ends with, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.”
  12. The “prosperity gospel” is built around this idea of God blessing His people. If we were doing things right, we’d have all those things we want. We’d be like Abraham with all his wealth. They don’t stop and think that Job was really rich too, but God stripped it all away for a greater purpose.
  13. I teach that God is a good father who provides and protects and heals and delivers and rescues and helps and does all those things we see in the Bible. But He loves us. He wants us to be saved, and because He is also holy, He wants sin worked out of our lives, so He can work through our lives.
  14. He will allow suffering, but its goal is our salvation and the salvation of others! It’s only out of love. It’s for the building up of the church, which doesn’t just mean evangelism. Believers need to be matured and “growed” up.
  15. God’s wrath comes down to deliver justice at times, but He’s so patient (because love is patient and God wants all to come to repentance). He’s not given you what you deserve. We’re sinners, and sinners deserve hell! He’s leading you to Himself. He’s answering your prayers to become more like Jesus, to have gifts to serve Him, etc.
  16. Stop and thank God for troubles! Ask Him to teach you through them and draw you to Himself. Humble yourself and ask for forgiveness if you haven’t been thanking Him and worshiping Him through your troubles, or if you have accused Him of wrongdoing or of failing you. He loves you!

Lesson 19

  1. Let’s look at Abraham, one of God’s great servants. How did Abraham have to suffer for Christ?
  2. Here are some ways I can think of:
    • Read Genesis 12:1.
      • He was called to leave his homeland without knowing where he was going.
      • In what ways was that suffering?
    • Read Genesis 11:30.
      • He doesn’t have any children.
      • How is that suffering?
    • Read Genesis 15:5.
      • Did having the promise make it easier or harder for Abraham?
    • Read Genesis 22:2.
      • After he receives his promised child, God tells Abraham to offer the child back to God as a sacrifice.
  3. I like to talk about how Psalm 23 says that goodness and mercy will follow us. When we look back, we see a trail of God’s goodness and mercy.
  4. Each of those things in Abraham’s life looked at from a certain perspective and from a certain point in time, could look like times of suffering. But looking back, they are times marked by God’s goodness and mercy. They are times that in hindsight are the times of miracles and greatest rejoicing and blessing.
  5. Abraham is told to go, but his descendants inherit the Promised Land.
  6. Abraham doesn’t have children, so he can have a miracle child. Isaac wouldn’t have been the miracle child that he was if Abraham hadn’t had to wait so long for him.
  7. Knowing the promise can be both helpful when we are clinging to it and discouraging when we are looking at the lack instead of the fulfillment. When it was fulfilled, it was a huge bolster to faith and added assurance of God’s presence, love, faithfulness, and all-powerful control over this world.
  8. The offering of Isaac only felt like a sacrifice. God redeemed it into a moment of miracle provision and celebration of Abraham’s faith and devotion to God. It also set a foreshadowing of the greatest moment of suffering-turned-blessing in history. Abraham didn’t have to go through with it. God does go through with it with Jesus’ death.
  9. When our family had no money for a period of time, I’m sure outsiders could have looked at us and thought we were suffering. But that period of time produced the most miracles! We needed God and He came through. It was a fun and exciting time in our lives! We look back and see Goodness and Mercy.
  10. When we were told our child was going to die, it looked to the doctors like a time of sadness and trauma, but no tears were ever shed by us. It was a time of faith and healing and we can look back and see God’s goodness and mercy and the miracle of life!
  11. There are some experiences where it’s easier to see the goodness and mercy. Others aren’t as easy, except that we can know God has never abandoned us. He has never forsaken us. He was there. He was and is working it all out for our good, for our salvation, because He loves us and wants to be with us.

Lesson 20

  1. You are likely familiar with Joseph’s story. He was the first son of Jacob’s preferred wife, Rachel. She was the loved wife. She only had Joseph and later Benjamin. They had ten older brothers who were very aware that their mother was unloved and that Joseph was the favorite.
  2. Their father, Jacob, made no secret of his strong affection for Rachel and Joseph. He gifts Joseph with a fancy gift of a multicolored coat. The brothers are jealous. It’s made worse when Joseph shares the dreams God gives Joseph about how his family will bow down to him.
  3. It makes the brothers mad. They don’t want to think about Joseph being better than them in any way.
  4. Read part of Joseph’s story.
  5. How did Joseph suffer?
  6. Why did Joseph suffer?
    • There was definitely sin involved.
    • Jacob played favorites.
    • The brothers were jealous and let that jealousy grow to anger and hatred.
    • It seems Joseph might have had some struggles with pride from the position his father put him in.
    • Going from his favored position to slave would certainly be a road to humility.
  7. Joseph does live righteously, and God blesses Joseph in all of his work. Read the next part of the story.
  8. How did Joseph suffer?
    • He was falsely accused and falsely punished. In fact, he had withstood temptation and chosen righteousness.
    • Read Matthew 5:11.
    • How can you rejoice when falsely accused?
  9. Two of Pharaoh’s servants are thrown in prison. They both have dreams. Joseph tells Pharaoh’s cupbearer what the dream meant.
  10. Read the next part.
  11. How did Joseph suffer?
    • He was forgotten by the cupbearer. He got his hopes up and then was let down.
  12. When should we hope? What should we hope in?
  13. Read Romans 5:5.
  14. How can we have hope that won’t disappoint?
  15. We hope in an unchanging, all-powerful, sovereign, loving, wise, unfailing God and not in the thing we want and the time when we want it to happen.

Lesson 21

  1. Let’s look at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
  2. Read their story.
  3. Why were they suffering?
  4. They refused to worship anything other than their God. They would worship God alone.
  5. Even though they had full faith that God would save them, it is still hard to face the trial. They still had to be bound up. They still had to go into the fire.
    • (Note: The “if not” in verse 18 is contrasting with the “if so” in verse 17 about being thrown into the fire. They didn’t say, “God will deliver us” and then say, “but if He doesn’t, know that our pile of ashes won’t worship you.” That doesn’t even make sense. That would be laughable.)
  6. They went into the fire, but they weren’t burned. The same fire that killed others unbound them. It set them free!
  7. What was the difference between those who were killed by the fire (trial/trouble/suffering situation) and those who were given life and deliverance through the trial?
    • Those who were delivered (the three Hebrew men) had righteous lives, worshiped the one true God, and knew their God and so trusted Him.
  8. Paul and David both speak of how God delivered them from every trial. We can expect deliverance. Maybe that deliverance will be peace when told we will be executed; it could be a prison escape; or it could be seeing Jesus when facing our executioners and having our spirit taking away before the ax falls. There will be deliverance.
  9. There is also a way through! Jesus is the WAY, so walking with Him is the way to life, the smooth path through the trouble.

Lesson 22

  1. Let’s pause and read Isaiah 43 and relate this chapter to the fiery furnace story and our going through trials.
  2. Read part of Isaiah 43. There are several sections on the page.
  3. What verses can you relate to the fiery furnace or going through any trial and God helping us?
  4. Verse 2 of course says it outright. There is a promise from God! We can believe Him! Isaiah was written a hundred years before they faced the fiery furnace. Did the Hebrew boys know the promise and cling to it?
  5. They were in a bad situation, being taken from their homeland, physically maimed and now serving a foreign king. But, they continued to serve their God, like Joseph, even when it would seem from a worldly standpoint, to be more advantageous to them to serve the Babylonian king.
  6. Have you ever acted like God has failed or done you wrong? They didn’t blame God for their troubles. The deportation to Babylon happened because of the sin of the nation of Israel of which they belonged.
  7. All of our troubles are the result of sin, ours or someone else’s. Sin is the root of all trouble.
  8. Even if they are suffering for the sake of righteousness, it’s still sin that’s the cause of the suffering. Jesus suffered because of our sin.
  9. Verse 19 in Isaiah 43 reminds me of Jesus making a way through the trouble, smoothing the path even though you are still in the wilderness, He provides refreshment and life-giving water in the middle of the desert.
  10. Look at verse 22. What should we be doing?
    • Calling on God and worshiping, celebrating His goodness, giving thanks!

Lesson 23

  1. Here’s one incident from the end of Jeremiah’s time as a prophet. Read Jeremiah 38:1-13.
  2. Jeremiah is known as a suffering prophet or the weeping prophet. He wrote the Bible book called Lamentations, a book of lamenting, sorrow over evil and suffering and over Israel’s choices. He wasn’t weeping for himself.
  3. Jeremiah was rejected by family and those around him. He’s called a liar.
  4. He was beaten.
  5. He was imprisoned.
  6. They refuse to listen to him. At one point his written prophecy on a scroll is burned.
  7. Here are Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 3.
    • I especially like the first and last verse there. It is good to wait on the Lord and He doesn’t do these things “from the heart.” It’s not God’s desire to inflict any suffering.
  8. Though he wept, Jeremiah kept on preaching to those who refused to listen. He obeyed even though it didn’t seem to make a difference to anyone. It mattered to God, and it mattered to Jeremiah to obey.
  9. Jeremiah suffered as a prophet, but then the Lord delivers him from it.
    • Read Jeremiah 38:28.
    • Read Jeremiah 39:11-14. God uses the Babylonians invaders to release him from prison and to take care of him.
    • Read Jeremiah 39:15-18. The man who rescued Jeremiah from the well is delivered. Why? It doesn’t say “because of your good deed.” It says he will be kept safe because he trusted in the Lord.
      • When? When did he trust the Lord? Verse 17 says he’s afraid of these Babylonians, very much afraid.
      • But he feared the Lord more than he feared the king. Many wouldn’t want to be associated with a man condemned to death, but he rushes to speak to the king to try and save Jeremiah.
  10. The fear of the Lord is a good thing. He feared God more than the king and is rewarded. Jeremiah feared God more than the king and was saved. We tend to fear suffering. There’s One much bigger than our temporary suffering that must be feared.
  11. Fearing God isn’t a bad thing. You can love Him and fear Him. It’s a healthy respect that realizes there are lines that should never be crossed. We need to recognize His greatness, His majesty, His holy perfection, His truly awesomeness.
  12. This is the God who breathes out hailstones and coals of fire to save the one He delights in (Psalm 18). We want to be on the right side of that!

Lesson 24

  1. Read the beginning of Jonah’s story, Jonah 1:1-6.
  2. Do you know why Jonah runs away? He’s not scared of Nineveh. The answer is actually in the last chapter after Nineveh repents and God relents from sending the disaster upon them. Read Jonah 4:2.
  3. Jonah knew God would forgive them if they repented. Jonah didn’t want them forgiven. Jonah’s suffering was brought on because he hated these people and didn’t think they should get the chance to repent and be forgiven.
  4. Do you have any unforgiveness in your heart? Is there someone you think is undeserving of forgiveness?
  5. I know one who is undeserving. It’s you. It’s me. All of us are sinners and were God’s enemies, just as Nineveh was an enemy to Israel.
  6. We want to suffer for the sake of righteousness, not for the sake of our stubbornness and sin.
  7. What do you notice about the sailors?
    • I find it interesting that they instinctively are crying out to their gods when they were afraid. They are praying. They are hoping to be told what to do.
    • This is how we should respond to any need, not just in distress. We go to God and wait on His direction or intervention.
  8. Where is Jonah in the storm? Remind you of anyone?
    • There is a tempest, a very bad storm. Jonah is a sleep.
    • Why was JESUS asleep on the boat in the storm?
      • He trusted God. I assume He was also very tired and it was all part of God’s plan.
    • Why was Jonah asleep on the boat in the storm?
      • Read Jonah 1:9.
      • He knew who God was. He knew God was the one who created the sea, and Jonah feared God.
      • But not enough.
  9. I almost feel like this is how a lot of the church today treats God. They might say they fear Him, worship Him, honor Him as holy, but they don’t treat Him as if they did. We’ve been so taught God’s love and forgiveness, that we don’t worry about sin. We just ask forgiveness like it was no big deal and just do it again. People joke about how you can just ask forgiveness later. That’s not the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord should result in obedience.
  10. Jonah tells the sailors that the storm will stop if he is thrown into the sea. They try not to, but they can’t make any progress against the storm. They pray and throw him over. They fear God. Read this part of the story, Jonah 1:14-17.
  11. The sailors are asking to not have this sin held against them. They are making vows, promises to God.
  12. How does Jonah suffer?
    • He’s thrown overboard.
    • He’s swallowed by a large fish.
    • That fish was God’s mercy. While being in a fish could be considered a time of suffering, it was God saving Jonah from drowning and from dying because of his sin. We can be thankful for hard times knowing God is at work saving us. We need these times. We need to be saved. We need to be saved by faith. If all is good, so that we’re relying on ourselves since we don’t need anything else, then we’re in trouble.
    • Sometimes the suffering is mercy, is saving grace; it’s saving our very lives.
  13. Look at the last note on the page. It says that God had appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. After Jonah was in the water, God didn’t start looking around wondering what He was going to do to get Jonah out of there. God knew. He always already knew about whatever you are going through. Before you got into trouble, God had a way planned out. God had already chosen and sent a fish to pick Jonah up and deliver him safely to land. Jonah didn’t know the plan before he was swallowed or while he was in the belly of the beast. We don’t know the plan. We just have to know Him. And we know He is merciful and His love toward us is steadfast, unchanging.

Lesson 25

  1. Elijah was a prophet during the time of Ahab and Jezebel.
  2. Ahab was an evil king who was often influenced by his even worse wife.
  3. We can see in Ahab’s life how God even answers the prayers of the heathen. Ahab humbles himself before God, and God has compassion and answers his prayer. He’s not saved, but his prayer is answered.
  4. Jezebel’s name has come to mean a woman who takes power. It wasn’t her power. She was controlling where it wasn’t her place. She didn’t honor her head. She wanted to be the neck turning her head whichever way she wanted it to go.
  5. Many a woman has brought suffering on herself by wanting to be in control.
  6. Anxiety is the natural outcome of trying to control things. We inevitably can’t control everything and then we are anxious because we feel out of control. The cure, like the antidote for most things, is thanksgiving to the one true God. Give thanks to God that He is in control and has the best in mind for you, if you are His. Give up trying to control and leave it all in His caring, capable hands. In other words, repent. Repent means to change your mind. Don’t you want your mind changed? If your mind is anxious or depressed, then yes, you want to change your mind!
  7. Anxiety is an example of how we can bring suffering onto ourselves by our sinful choices, such as worrying. God is always there to lift us out of the net and the muck and whatever we’ve gotten ourselves into. We need to always allow our troubles to turn us to Him instead of seeking salvation in or through anything else.
    • If you don’t know what I’m referring to talking about God lifting you out of the net or the muck, then it’s time to read the Psalms, meditate on them, memorize them, listen to them.
    • Songs are an easy way to get God’s word into your mind. That’s what you want to be dwelling on! Check out these Psalms songs, which can be listened to on Youtube for free. Psalms Project  Corner Room
  8. Elijah is needlessly upset at one point, saying that he alone is the only follower of God left. It’s not true. It just felt true.
  9. Many believers find themselves feeling like they are the only one who really believes in the Word of God and has given their life to following Jesus. It can feel very lonely. But it’s not true. God always has a remnant.
  10. God tells Elijah that He has saved for Himself 7000 who haven’t turned to the Baals.
  11. Christians seem to be scattered about these days, just as the Jews were dispersed because of their sin.
  12. Of course, God only does good and perfect things. We needed to be dispersed because we lost fellowship with Christ and replaced it with coffee and donut fellowship with each other. We need to be alone so that we have to seek our fellowship with God alone.
  13. He will gather us together again and we will be the one body of Christ. It must happen. God’s will is always accomplished.
  14. So, while there may be suffering for our individual sins or collective sins, God is using even those things to bring us to Himself. That doesn’t mean they are okay in any way, but it does mean that we can be thankful for our suffering because God is turning us back to Him and drawing us near to Him.
  15. See His hand in all your suffering and humble yourself under it. He’s working out His good purposes. Don’t fight Him on it!

Lesson 26

  1. I ended the last lesson saying, “See His hand in all your suffering and humble yourself under it. He’s working out His good purposes. Don’t fight Him on it!”
  2. I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s remind ourselves our posture in relation to suffering.
  3. Listen to this teaching about submitting to suffering: 1 Peter 5:6-10.
  4. The day I was writing this lesson I stopped here because I needed to get that link. By the time I came back, I had read the following in a book called They Found the Secret. This is quoted from that book but it’s taken from Andrew Murray. It seemed to be saying the same things. When he says “here,” he means the painful circumstance he found himself in:
    • “First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.
    • Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
    • Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
    • Last, in His good time He can bring me out again – how and when He knows.
    • Let me say I am here,
      1. By God’s appointment,
      2. In His keeping,
      3. Under His training,
      4. For His time.”
  5. The early apostles rejoiced when they were beaten. The early church rejoiced when their possessions were taken.
  6. Let’s read that section of Scripture in Hebrews 10.
  7. We need to not sin. We need to not shrink back. We do that by having the right attitude and thoughts toward God. We do that with a posture of humility, knowing the fear of God, His greatness and our nothingness. We don’t understand what’s going on. Even if we think we have some understanding, we don’t have God’s full understanding. We need to entrust ourselves to Him.
  8. I used to struggle with thinking that I wasn’t suffering for the Lord’s sake like the people in the Bible, not with that same kind of persecution, but the Lord showed me how my suffering was for Him because it stemmed from obedience.
  9. What are you suffering? Can you trust our good Father from a position of humility?

Lesson 27

  1. I haven’t done the research, but from what I understand, the historical record shows that all the apostles were martyred except for John, who according to one account, was put into a pot of boiling oil and wasn’t harmed in any way. Since they couldn’t kill him, they exiled him.
  2. There was no chance of John being killed because God hadn’t shown him the revelation that would become the book of The Revelation of Christ. He had that revelation in exile. God apparently decided that big of a revelation needed to happen when John was set apart from everyone else. God still arranged for the book to get into the hands of those not on his island prison. God makes a way. His purposes will be fulfilled. If you surrender your life to Him, He will fulfill His purposes in you. He cannot fail.
  3. I wanted, however, to look specifically at the apostle Paul. Paul was working to arrest Christians. He was there when Stephen was martyred. After coming to Christ, he suffers arrest, shipwreck, even being stoned – talk about no one being able to kill you before God’s time.
  4. I wanted to discuss this statement God makes. Read Acts 9:16.
  5. God speaks this not to Paul, but to Ananias, the man who is going to pray for Paul to be healed. What is happening here? Is God planning evil against Paul? Is God going to pay him back for all he had done?
  6. When faced with things like this in the Bible, we need to look at God’s character. God can never deny who He is. He can’t not be loving. He can’t not be holy. He can’t not be good. He can’t not be just. He is and all of Him has to be, all the time.
  7. God doesn’t plot evil against anyone. God doesn’t plot evil. God carries out justice when he destroys a nation, for instance. God carries out justice because He is loving and good. He must be all Him all the time.
  8. Now, I don’t think God was carrying out His justice against Paul. I was just making a point. God’s justice was accomplished on the cross. The payment for sin was made. Justice was satisfied.
  9. In Christ, the old Paul was crucified and the new Paul was born in Christ. His sins were forgiven and removed from God’s sight. God’s not “getting him back.”
  10. So, what was that line about?
  11. Let’s look at it in the Greek. You can see that it can read something like this: “I will show him how very necessary it is to suffer for my name.”
  12. What had Paul been doing? Persecuting the saints, causing suffering for Christ’s name’s sake, all the while thinking he was hurting “The Way” and trying to destroy it.
  13. God will show him how He had been accomplishing His will all along, and how it is necessary for a Christian to suffer. Christians are meant to die; we’re to be crucified with Christ. That’s the posture of suffering, surrender, sacrifice.
  14. Let’s read Philippians 3:8-11.
  15. Paul sees part of knowing Christ as joining in the fellowship of suffering. Christ suffered; we suffer. We’re one body.
  16. Do you count everything else rubbish apart from knowing Him? Do you look for any life outside of your life in Christ and abiding in Him?
  17. Paul does indeed see how necessary it is to suffer. He wants to know Christ in the fellowship of His suffering. He learns to glory in his weakness.
  18. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
  19. Why is suffering necessary? Why is it a blessing?

Lesson 28

  1. Read James 1:2-4. Look at the footnotes: endurance, perseverance.
  2. We’re to count it as pure joy when we encounter trials. What are your trials, troubles and tribulations that you face now? Do they bring you pure joy?
  3. How can you find the joy in them?
  4. We know the goodness and sovereignty of God. He knows what’s happening. He allowed this. It’s part of His good purposes. He’s working out the good pleasure of His will in your life.
  5. What’s His will?
    • He desires all to be saved.
    • That means He desires for you to be saved.
    • Since it’s His desire that you be saved, He wants you to be holy, separated to Himself.
    • To be holy and in God’s presence, we have to have clean hands and a pure heart.
    • In order to have clean hands and a pure heart, we have to have Christ’s righteousness.
    • In order to have Christ’s righteousness, we have to have been forgiven by the power of the blood of Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit. (This is our moment of salvation.)
    • In order to remain righteous, we have to abide in Christ, walk in fellowship with Him in relationship, so that we are walking in the light. Then His light will expose any harmful way in us. When He does, we repent immediately and ask Him to cleanse it away from us (forgive, yes, but cleanse us from all the unrighteousness as well, washing it away, removing it from us).
  6. When you have a trial, respond with humility and rejoicing.
  7. Feelings of anxiety and depression need to be dealt with. We seek God to show us any wrong thoughts or decisions that led us there. While we wait, we rejoice. When we know, we repent and rejoice. Rejoice always, and again I say, rejoice!
  8. Read Habakkuk 3:17-19. When it all looks desolate where there used to be fullness, rejoice! Rejoice always!
  9. Let the trouble have its perfect work in you. Its purpose isn’t to harm or annoy you. Its purpose is to make you complete and perfect in Christ. Its purpose is fulfilling God’s will in your life, your salvation, your freedom from sin.
  10. The church has been teaching people to fight the devil as if God wasn’t in control. The church has been teaching how to get your breakthrough instead of teaching us to humble ourselves before our God and trust Him.
  11. When you face a trouble, you can ask Him to take it away, but add, “Not my will but yours be done. Have your perfect way in me. Show me if there is any evil in my heart or harm that I am doing. I want it out of my life. I want my life to please you and to bring glory to the name of Jesus. Thank you for keeping me in Christ. Thank you that I can trust you with my salvation from this trouble and with my salvation for eternity. You will keep me. I am yours and you are my God.”
  12. Stop and pray right now. You probably have a list of troubles.
  13. Instead of seeking salvation from our troubles, let’s seek the only answer, Jesus! Troubles should push us toward Him, not away. He promises to be found by those who seek, so the answer will be found, no matter what the trouble.
  14. Let me quote the last verse from James which we read earlier. “Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
  15. Allow perseverance to finish its work. Wait. Turn from sin; hate it utterly. Let Him cleanse you. He will complete the work. It’s His promise. Just let Him. Don’t turn to another Savior.

Lesson 29

  1. I believe it’s a Biblical principle that we are kept through tribulation,  not from it. It’s a Biblical principle that we are delivered out of our trials, troubles, and tribulations, not kept from them.
  2. Jesus promises we’ll go through tribulation; He says, “In this life you will have trials-troubles-sorrows-tribulations, but take heart because I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
  3. Paul and Barnabas traveled among the churches “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
  4. When’s the last time you heard a sermon on 1 Peter 4:18 about how the righteous are barely or scarcely saved or saved with great difficulty?
    • If our salvation was just about asking God to forgive us and then we’re good to go, what would be the difficulty?
    • Our salvation is living with God. Heaven is being in God’s presence. Hell is being away from God’s presence. We have eternal life today and it just continues. We have God’s presence only when we are clean from sin. We are clean through the blood and forgiveness and by His continual cleansing us from sin, a work He accomplishes. We just have to let Him. We have assurance of salvation if we’ve given our lives over to Him to keep. He won’t fail at His job. We just have to leave our salvation to Him. He doesn’t hold us accountable for our ignorance. He does hold us accountable for what He’s shown us needs to go. Even then, it’s His cleansing. He will remove it. We just have to want to be saved. We have to hate the sin and want it gone. He does the work. We just have to love God and hate sin. (On this page you can search “Sin and Salvation” and there is lots more about that.)
    • The working out of our salvation includes all these bumps along the road that we humbly submit to because we trust our good, sovereign God.
  5. Early Christians expected trouble. Many expected martyrdom. They didn’t demand their right to be kept from tribulation. They rejoiced in the privilege of suffering for Christ.
  6. A missionary named Helen Roseveare said that when facing her worst suffering (at the hands of militants in the Congo) the Lord asked her, “Can I trust you with this privilege?” It instantly changed the situation in her mind and brought peace. If God put her in this position, she wanted Him to be able to trust her with it.
  7. Here are her words (from Women of Christianity).
    • “…We were put off at a house in the jungle–nineteen defenseless women and children surrounded by some seventy-five men, soldiers and others, all filled with hatred and evil intentions toward us…And in my heart was an amazing peace, a realization that I was being highly privileged to be identified with [Christ] in a new way, in the way of Calvary.”
    • “He (God) understood not only my desperate misery but also my awakened desires and mixed up horror of emotional trauma. I knew that Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” was true on all levels, not just on a hyper-spiritual shelf where I had tried to relegate it….He was actually offering me the inestimable privilege of sharing in some little way in the fellowship of His sufferings.”
    • Upon retirement from the mission field, Helen wrote this:
    • “I suddenly knew with every fibre [sic] of my being that these twenty years had been worth while, very, very worth while, utterly worth while, with no room left for regrets or recrimination.  I have looked back and tried “to count the cost,” but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.
  8. If you are worried that you won’t look to Christ in a moment of severe trial and testing, you aren’t alone. Corrie Ten Boom teaches that God will give us what we need when we need it. If you want to read her words, here they are. (That’s my site as well. If you want to read more about the usefulness of tribulation in the believer’s life, maybe you’d be interested in reading about how the trial is the deliverance — That’s like Jeremiah being delivered by the invading army.)
  9. Suffering is a gift. We are to give thanks always for all things. We are to see our trials and sorrows and sufferings as gifts and receive them with joy and respond with thanksgiving.
  10. Take that to the Lord in prayer right now. Thank Him! He only blesses us. He’s only good to us. He only loves us. He wants to be with you! Come to Him. Give it all to Him and thank Him with joy and praising!

Lesson 30

  1. Read Numbers 20:8-12.
  2. Exodus 33:11 says that God spoke to Moses like He spoke to a friend. Moses was the meekest man on earth, the most humble, and yet, he lets anger and frustration turn him from his posture before God and He disobeys God’s command.
  3. Previously I wanted to remind you that you need to hold fast. Too many treat God lightly, and, I fear, will sin to avoid suffering, because they don’t have a right view of their Holy God, who calls them to suffer for His glory. That sin will include denying Christ. Jesus says that He will deny those who deny Him. He wasn’t lying. We have to humble ourselves.
  4. Here Moses is denied going into the Promised Land that he had so faithfully led his people toward for so long.
  5. Moses gets to the true Promised Land, however. We see him in his glorified state talking with Jesus and Elijah at the Transfiguration. Moses is still a friend of God. He was chosen to encourage Jesus before He was going to face His biggest trial.
    • Paul reminds us that while Jesus will deny those who deny Him, He will always be faithful to even those who are faithless. 2 Timothy 2:12-13
  6. God is still loving, even in His holiness. His intentions toward us are only kind because love is always kind.
  7. We can find joy in suffering. Childbirth brings the joys of motherhood. Having no money brought the joys of miracle provisions. Losing friends meant gaining fellowship with Christ. God only has good plans for His children.
  8. Jesus was absolutely perfect and suffered many things, not just His crucifixion. Suffering for the sake of righteousness is being like Jesus.
  9. And when we are suffering because of our sin, it’s also for the sake of righteousness because we have given ourselves to God to keep us. That will include disciplining us and correcting us to get us back on track or to keep us on the way. It’s because we’ve given our lives to Him to be made holy, and He will accomplish the good work He started in us. We just surrender our lives to Him in humility.
  10. Let me end with this quote about struggles and suffering.

“It lies with each of us to choose which they shall be. It all depends, not upon what these events are, but upon how we take them. [We could] lie down under them, and let them roll over us and crush us…, [or] we climb up into them,…and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward, [and] they become the chariots of God.” –Hannah Whitall Smith