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Friday, December 8, 2017

Patient In Affliction

"Patient In Affliction"

Note: Stephen is recovering from a cold he has had this last week. His voice is partially restored but not strong enough to record, so Brooksyne has been podcasting our messages.

Message summary: Remember this the next time you look up at a giant oak tree: "Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's little acorn that held its ground." Let us be patient through our affliction and hold our ground which is anchored in the Rock of Ages!

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"Patient in affliction" (Romans 12:12b).

Do you find it difficult to be "patient in affliction"? For over a week now I have had a hard time shaking this cold, although I do believe I'm getting better, getting my voice back. Now using my own cold to illustrate affliction is a kind of embarrassing. After all, in light of what many are going through it's a "nothing burger" (a folksy phrase we've heard a lot in the last year that essentially means it's insignificant.)

Some are going through intense affliction, others are going through chronic affliction with no end in sight. I read a story about the Christians in the Middle East who are dealing with chronic and at times intense affliction. But one element in the story really broke my heart, after years of strife and persecution, they have little hope of their lives getting better (on this side of eternity).

Affliction can come in many forms although in the time that Paul wrote this verse he surely had in mind the affliction of persecution. Affliction can also be a physical condition, a struggling relationship, financial matter.

Today's Scripture portion, just three words, describes a necessary outlook for the maturing Christian: "Patient in affliction." Other versions render; "persevering in tribulation" (NASB), "patient in tribulation" (KJV), "Endure trials patiently" (EHV), "be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation" (Amplified).

We may wish or feel it's our "right" not to bear afflictions but such a view is Scripturally void. The Psalmist candidly reminds us, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psalm 34:19). Peter writes, "Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…" (I Peter 1:6).  Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation" (John 16:33).

In our associations afflictions are generally health related, financial troubles, unfaithful spouses, wayward children, unhealthy addictions, and the list continues. Our brethren over the centuries and many today face these afflictions. But many also deal with persecution which the Apostle Paul likely had in mind when he wrote the daily text.  Recently we have been praying concerning the chronically under reported persecution of Christians in Muslim lands.

The word "affliction" translates the Greek word thlipsis and conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a weight. According to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty had heavy weights placed on their breasts and were pressed and crushed to death. This was literally thlipsis. Thlipsis thus refers not to mild discomfort but to a great burden that weighs heavily on one's heart, mind, and soul.

Regardless of the manner or degree in which we are afflicted, today's verse is instructive. We are called to endure patience in the midst of our afflictions. At times the source of affliction will lift speedily, at other times not so fast (never fast enough for most of us!) and some deal with affliction throughout their entire life. I like the KJV word for patience which is longsuffering, which of course means suffering long - not a short-term ailment.

May the Lord fill our hearts today so that we remain "joyful in hope" and triumphant in any ongoing affliction. Our hope-inspired joy should produce a courage which is able to hold up under the afflictions of this present age, which is passing away.  Someone has said, "Triumph is umph added to try." We will endure much suffering in this life, but as a believer we also recognize that our suffering in affliction here is momentary and light in the context of eternity and it is producing for us a glory that far outweighs all pain experienced on this side of heaven.

Remember this the next time you look up at a giant oak tree: "Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's little acorn that held its ground." Let us be patient through our affliction and hold our ground which is anchored in the Rock of Ages!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are called to persevere not just in the good times but also in times of affliction. We may suffer long but we know that in doing so the fruit of patience is being developed in us. Keep our hearts focused upward, so that we are "joyful in hope and patient in affliction" until the hour You call us home. It is then that we will see the rich and complete reward of our endurance in this life. Amen.

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Special Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Like many ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.

Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hold On"  Video 

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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