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CAN I HAVE A WITNESS
LOOKING TO THE EXAMPLE OF OTHERS
PART TWO

But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: 2Corin 1:6

In our time together we are going to consider how this consolation works itself out in the lives of those who are undergoing hardships? But before we do, if you are struggling with some burden, won't you at this time lay it down at the foot of the cross?

We have been admonished by the LORD Himself to accept His invitation, and that is: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light - (ASV - Matthew 11:28-30).

Most people today would see nothing wrong with avoiding pain "at all cost". I think one of the hardest things for us to do as believers is to wait on the LORD especially while we're in the midst of the battle (remember what it cost King Saul due to his impatience). But it is in the waiting that God wants to build us up and show us more of Himself. We are not, and I repeat, not to faint under our circumstances 2Cor 4:16.

No wonder we are commanded, Take, brethren, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spake in the name of the Lord. Those whose example we are to emulate suffered such atrocities as; being ridiculed, belittled, conspired against, abandoned, betrayed, harassed, mistreated, maligned, brutally attacked, verbally assaulted, threatened, physically abused, taken advantage of, falsely accused, slandered, disowned by their own friends and family, misunderstood, and yes, even killed. The list could go on and on. Read the stories for yourself!

And what was the culmination of these persecuted ones? And what should we conclude from their example? It is this: Behold, we call them blessed that endured: James 5:11. This word "blessed" is of particular significance to us. It means; Happy: to beatify, or esteem, to be fortunate, counted happy, supremely blest; by extension, well off, happier, envied, considered fortunate.

HAPPIER? BEAUTIFIED? FORTUNATE? SUPERMELY BLESSED?
HAPPIER? ENVIED? YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

No, especially when we're told in advance what the end result of our trials brings about, and that is this; But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you - 1Pe 5:10.

But you wouldn't know that but for the witness and example of those who were willing to lay everything down in order to receive a better resurrection {Heb 11:35}. O, just in case you're thinking that these brethren were some kind of super-action-heroes, endowed with some kind of special powers to persevere under trials you may want to acquaint yourself with James 5:17 which says, Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly.

WOW, that's it! PRAYER? That's the example we're to imitate? Well, it's a good start. But there's also another important ingredient. Let's take a look, we will find it in James 5 the 10th verse. We read, Take, brethren, for an example of suffering and of patience. AAH! Patience? Yes patience. It's OK you can say the word. Take a deep breath.

Now I know how I would define patience and I'm sure it doesn't come close to it genuine meaning and how it is expressed in the Scriptures, And just how is patience defined? Ready? Cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: -- enduring, patient continuance (waiting) to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:-- abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

How are you doing in the area of patience and prayer? These are only two of the areas that we can derive encouragement from when we look to the witness of those who have gone before us. There are many more. I am going to close by briefly sharing just a few of them. I hope that you will take some time to investigate on your own the wealth of support that is ready and available for the taking. Each of these examples can be backed up with Scriptures. I have given you the fist few, see if you can take the rest and find related passages from the Bible for them.

Remember, we are admonished in 2Ti 2:15 to, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

By looking to the example of others we have a spiritual barometer by which to gauge our own attitudes toward hardships - Php 3:17

Those who suffer need to commend their cause to Him who judgeth righteously - 1Peter 4:19.

Hardships stimulate growth and produce spiritual vigor and fruit - Rom 5:3-5

Suffering is relative to capacity; God will not give any one individual more than can be endured - 1Cor 10:13.

We can endure much more than we think we can - **** 2Cor 4:7-10

How evils are to be borne and overcome.

We learn that the personalities and temperament of our brethren were no different than that of ours; they were just as fearful, as unbelieving, as timid, and as shrinking as we are at times. Yet they were not to faint under trials and hardships.

That the examples of these fellow brethren is sufficient to calm our fears, answer our questions, set to rest our concerns, and to spur us to courage.

That it is our responsibility to set before our own eyes the encouraging examples of those that have likewise suffered and strive to emulate and pursue such worthy patterns.

The grace that sustained others can equally sustain us.

That the power of God is as great, and is as equally accessible to us, as it was to those who have gone before us.

We can and will be supported through all of our afflictions. God's ability to save us has not been diminished in the slightest. God is just as concerned for our welfare; He is just as powerful to deliver; And He will be as faithful to aid us as He was to fellow-brethren.

That suffering is the common lot of men. There is nothing peculiar in our case. We often think that our sufferings are uncharacteristic of others, that there have been none like them. Yet, if all were really known we would see that there have been thousands (a great cloud of witnesses) among us which have endured sufferings of the same kind.

We are called upon to make the same decisions to trust, to obey, and to make sacrifices, just as did those who have gone before us.

Though the devil is subtle and powerful, has great experience, and is untiring in his efforts to destroy men, yet the weakest believer may effectually resist him, by watchfulness, patience, and prayer.

We learn what true patience looks like and how it works itself out in our lives.

These are but a few of the lessons we can learn from the 'great cloud of witnesses.' Let me encourage you to prayerfully meditate on what I have shared with you, and to be willing to step back from any situation you might fid yourself in and allow your self to be educated and consoled by those who have lived before us and have won immortality.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope Hebrews 3:13, 1Co 11:1 Ro 15:4

THINK ON THESE THINGS - ACT ON THESE THINGS

May God grant you His peace 
If I can be of any assistance
please don't hesitate to drop me a line.
Dan

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Now I commend You Brethern To The Word Of His Grace That Is Able To Build You up And Give You An Inheritance Among The Saints Ac20:32