Sharing In Christ’s Suffering
We can have joy in our trials because we are sharing in suffering as Christ did. To have His glory shine through us we must take time to absorb His presence and be with Him.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Special greetings for you my friends, from your friend, Bob Cook. Glad to be back with you, and I invite you then to come to the Bible, the book of 1 Peter 4. And we’ve been walking around in verses 12 and 13.
“Rejoice,” said Peter, “when you’re under pressure, and facing trial.” Why? Because you’re partakers of Christ’s sufferings. The fellowship we have… John the Apostle said, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son, Jesus Christ.” A three-cornered relationship – you, and I, and God – together in the business of living and glorifying Him. So he says, “You’re partakers of Christ’s sufferings. And part of the experience that God wants us to have is our, to have an understanding of how He feels about the great heartbreak of the world’s sin.
And the only way you can appreciate that, and have an effective Christian ministry, is yourself to have an experience to what our Lord Jesus felt there on Calvary’s cross. Miniscule though it may be, we can’t begin to approximate the experience of our Lord Jesus Christ as He was made sin for us. “He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” You can’t duplicate it, you can’t even understand it. But you can share a little bit in the bitter-sweet experience of it.
God lets you have that by way of some other trials you face for Jesus’ sake. And you become sharers then, with His sufferings so that later on… And this brings us then to what we were saying the last time we got together. Later on you can also share in the glory. “That when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” ‘We won’, is going to be the shout of the redeemed when we see our blessed Lord Jesus, face to face one day.
Now said he is verse 14, “But if you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.” It’s the word makarios, ‘blessed’. The Beatitudes are full of that word. “Blessed are they, poor in Spirit; and blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; and blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.” Mathew 5 is full of the ‘blessed’s’. Here is the same word. “But if you’re reproached,” said he, “for the name of Christ, blessed are you,” happy are you, makarios. ‘Fruitful’ is the literal meaning of that word, they tell me.
Why? Why should you be happy? Why should you be blessed? Because he said, “The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Why does he bring that in? Because my friend, the supreme proof of the reality of God in your life, the spirit of glory and of God, the supreme proof of the reality of God in your life, comes when you are shining under stress. The Spirit of glory and of God. Steven was just about to be murdered as he gave his great sermon, and witnessed for his Lord Jesus Christ. It said the crowd looked at him and they saw his face as though it was the face of an angel, shinning under stress.
Oh what a blessed continuing miracle this is for you believer, and for me. You don’t have to tough it through, you can shine for your Lord. The spirit of glory and of God resteth on you. On their part – that’s the people that are persecuting you. “He is evil spoken of. But on your part He is glorified.” The supreme proof of the reality of your Christian experience is the reality of God’s shining glory on your life when you’re under pressure.
Now how do you achieve that? You achieve it by walking closely with your Lord when the pressure is not on. Go over to 2 Corinthian 3: “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” How do you get the shine? You get close to the source of the shine.
I have a little alarm clock that I use to use to wake me up in the early morning hours. Made over in the town where we used to live – LaSalle, Peru, Illinois. Westclox. Many of you have the same kind of useful hardware. Now this has some luminescent paint on the dial. And after it stood around for a while… It’s hard to make out the, the figures on the face on the clock. If the darkness arrives and, and you look at it, it starts shinning.
So what do I do? I very frequently take that little alarm clock, and I go into the bathroom. I turn on the big light up above the mirror, and I hold the clock up there for a little while. And then I go out and put it on the night stand right next to my bed. And lo and behold, it’s shinning. Every one of those numerals is clearly distinguishable, and I know if I wake up during the night for example, I can look at it and tell what time it is. Now what made it shine? “Oh,” you say, “brother Cook, (Laughs) you don’t have to explain that. You just… that’s, that’s, that’s called phosphorescent paint that is used in, in putting those numerals on there. It, it glows if you expose it to light.” Precisely.
“We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory, the glory… God dwelleth in light unapproachable,” Paul says. John says, “We’ve heard this, the message that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” You want to shine? Get close to the light. Spend some time with your blessed Lord. Another word ‘beholding’ – see, that’s more then a glance. We talk about saying your prayers. Did you say your prayers? That means just a few seconds spent in ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ or whatever your version of it is.
It may take no more then just a few passing seconds, and in that, that time you have, you’ve sort ofpaid your dues to eternity, one might say. You won’t do much shinning with that kind of procedure. Now that’s good. If that’s all the praying you do, that’s good. But if you want to shine for God, you have to spend some time with Him. That verb, that verb ‘beholding’ means you keep on looking, you keep on looking.
When Coreen and I say goodbye to some of our children who live at some distance, we take them to the airport, and they go through the security, and they check the baggage. And then we’re in the waiting area, the holding area, waiting for your flight to be called. And finally it’s time. And they call the flight, and the dear ones go through the exit door, and up the ramp, and into the aircraft. We look eagerly to see whether they have a window seat so that they can wave at us. Sometimes they do and it, it’s, it’s such a thrill to see a loved hand waving from inside the aircraft.
And then the ramp is pulled back, and the doors are closed, and the engines have been started, and the safety check in the cockpit has been completed, and, and the aircraft is, is cleared for takeoff. And it goes down the, the service runway to the takeoff runway. And, and we stand – if we’re fortunate to have a place where we can see – we stand and watch it takeoff. And on up into the sky it goes, and makes its way on up into the upper atmosphere. And we stand and watch, and watch, and look, and look, and look, until finally it’s gone.
That’s beholding, that’s looking, and looking, and looking. That is the verb that you have here, ‘beholding’. If you want to shine, beloved, spend some time looking in the direction of your Lord Jesus. How do you do that? In the Word let Him talk with you, and in prayer you talk to Him. Spend time with your Lord. Take time. What does the, what does the old hymn say? ‘Take time to be holy’. Spend time with Him. Speak oft with thy Lord. See? Feed on His Word. Thus, looking to Jesus. “Like Him thou shalt be, thy friends in thy…” – what is it? Visage – “His likeness shall see.”
Oh to be like Jesus! The old song says, “Be like Jesus. This is my song in the home and in the throng, be like Jesus all day long.” Well, you won’t get it by singing about it. You get that blessed likeness by waiting before Him – it takes time. A small thought here: you don’t always have to say something to God have you, have you realized that?
Ordinarily I use the, the time that I drive, for prayer time. Takes about an hour and fifteen minutes for me to get to Tannersville over to Morristown, where I’m spending three days a week as Interim Executive Director of the National Religious Broadcasters, while they’re looking for a, a full-time person to take that job. Because I was president, because I know the field pretty well, they thought maybe I can hang on to it for a while, and I do.
Well its 62 miles each way. And it takes about and hour and a quarter if you get normal traffic on Route 80. Sometimes it’s the longest parking lot in the world, as you know. But there we are, in the car, nobody else. Just driving the car along, and I take it for prayer time. Have a little agenda in my mind, sometimes written out on, on the visor. But most of the time, just in my mind a list of things that are, are burdening me, and I talk with my Lord about it.
Well, very frequently I, I run out of something to say. I’ve gone through the list and, and I don’t know what else to say. And oftentimes I’ve found myself saying, “Lord, I pray so poorly and I don’t know what to say to You.” And one day as I said that, the Spirit of God who dwells within the believer whispered to me, “You don’t have to say anything to me. Just worship and love.”
And so for the next maybe 15 minutes as I drove along, I just worshipped God and poured out my heart to Him, and confessed my need, and asked for His touch upon my life and, and there was a blessed wonderful interaction between Charlie Cook’s boy and the Holy Spirit of God, revealing to me something of the infinite love of my Lord.
See, you don’t always have to say something. But you have to be there, you have to be there. That’s the same thing in human relationship, isn’t it? Mother, you, you go to see your daughter whos had some illness or whatever it is, or some sorrow. Or maybe there’s been an accident, or maybe even a death. You come in and there’s, there’s heartache, and there’s trouble, and there’s need, or there’s physical weakness, or illness. And you don’t give a lecture. But you’re there, you’re there.
I remember the day I walked up to my mother-in-love, Hilda Nilsen, who had come to help take care of the first little newborn baby we had in Philadelphia, years ago. And I remember saying to her, “Oh I am so glad you’re here!” Well, she hadn’t done very much yet, but she was there. See, you need to be there, you need to be there in His presence, and stay there. Don’t always have to make a speech to God, beloved. In fact Isaiah 1 says God gets tired of hearing our speeches. He wants our love, and He wants our hearts, and He wants our obedience. That’s what is involved in beholding. And when you do, you get the shine of the glory of God.
Father, God today, oh may we have the shine of God upon our lives through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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