Summary: Learning to live as satisfied Christians, even in the face of great persecution.
A man passed by a cage at the zoo and noticed that in the cage was both a large lion and an active monkey.
He saw a zoo worker nearby and asked, ‘How does that work having both a lion and a monkey in the same cage?
The worker replied, “It works ok for the most part.”
The man spoke back, “ Do they ever not get along?”
The worker said, “Every once in a while.”
To which the man replied, “Well, what happens then?”
And the worker said, “We get a new monkey.”
Sometimes we too often feel like the monkey in the cage when we try to live as followers of Christ in the “jungle” that we call life.
The satisfaction of western Christians is under fire today. We are moving closer and closer to experiencing persecution ourselves and we stand in danger of losing our satisfaction in Christ if we’re not ready to deal with it. Can we maintain our “Satisfaction Under Fire?”
• Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
• Over 50% of these were in the last century alone
• More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children
• Every day over 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.
— World Evangelical Encyclopedia
1. Fix our Minds (1-4)
We need to redefine our understanding of what persecution is and what it isn’t.
A. An Unnatural Response (2)
The word, consider, here is a command because our natural response to persecution is not to consider joy.
Paul responded with joy.
2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.”
We need to get to the point where we can say with Job:
Job 13:15, “Though He slay me I will hope in Him.”
B. An Unexpected Result (3-4)
When we go through persecution pain is the expected result, not growth.
2. Flex God’s Muscle (5-8) (Mark 9:24)
We need to understand that we don’t enter the fight under prepared. Rather we have all of God’s resources at our disposal, if we will simply believe and ask.
A. The Mandatory Test (5)
“Let him ask…” is a command from God. When we face difficult times God is not interested in watching us try it on our own. We HAVE TO rely on Him!
Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
B. The Single Minded Rest (6-8)
When James speaks of not doubting he is drawing a word picture of someone torn between two options. We cannot be torn. We must be determined in our attempt to rely on God.
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and the He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
3. Focus on our Mission (9-12)
We need to reconsider whether the benefit is really ours because we live in a “Christian nation.” It may be that we are equally blessed with those around the world, regardless of situation.
A. Fireproof Satisfaction (9-10)
When we come to grips with the fact that our reliance is upon God, we can be satisfied regardless of our situation.
Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
B. Fatal Attraction (11)
Just like a moth is drawn to a flame and then has to deal with the consequences, we too are often drawn to material wealth and we need to resist for fear of the consequences.
C. Focused Reaction (12)
The man who perseveres under trial is a man who is unstoppable in his devotion to Christ. As a result of this perseverance God’s reaction is to provide blessing which cannot be anticipated. Paul spoke to Timothy and told him that our faith was a fight that we had to endure. (next page)
1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
4. Fight our Make-up (13-18)
A. The Source of Temptation (13)
When we examine this passage in detail we come to recognize that temptation is not from God.