Suffering For Good

Dave Baxter, Speaker

1 Peter 3:8-17 | February 13 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 13
Suffering For Good | 1 Peter 3:8-17
Dave Baxter, Speaker

Our Father, we need to hear from You this morning. Thank You that we have heard from You. We thank You for the supernatural power of Your Word. We pray now for continued softened hearts that we might receive that Word, that You might plant it, grow it in us, that You would strengthen and encourage us, that You would cause to persevere, that You would cause us to serve. Help us to do those things that You’ve called us to do. Strengthen us to persevere, even when that brings about suffering in response, Lord, that You might be glorified. So get me out of the way, Father, pray that Your Word would minister to us now this morning. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, go ahead and open up your Bibles if you have them with you to 1 Peter, chapter 3, as we prepare to look to God’s Word again this morning. As you’re doing that, let me just go ahead and mention that I am, as a good husband, I am aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you are a husband and perhaps were not aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, maybe this is a helpful public service announcement for you. I don’t know if Amazon Prime does flower deliveries, but it might be something to check out. Still time.

I would readily admit that Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday of the year, and yet I did want to make clear at the outset this morning that that reality was not what I was thinking when I chose the text or noticed the theme or selected the title for this morning’s sermon, particularly since my wife Rachel is here, that suffering for good is not, I didn’t connect that in my mind to Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

But we are looking at suffering this morning. We are looking at suffering this morning. We’re taking a little break this morning from our ongoing series in the book of Genesis, jumping forward again to the New Testament to consider some words from Peter in 1 Peter, some encouragement regarding suffering.

Before we do that, since we’re jumping out of a series and just into this letter briefly for this morning, I want to provide a little bit, just a little bit by way of context that hopefully will help connect this text to us and where we’re living in our moment. Certainly doesn’t require a spoiler alert to say that 1 Peter was written by Peter, the Apostle Peter, and most likely sometime around 62, perhaps 63 A.D.

If you were to flip back a couple of pages in your Bible to chapter 1, we would see there that this letter was a cyclical letter, it was meant to be distributed and received and read by a number of different communities or churches of first century believers scattered around parts of Asia Minor.

That context should give us just a couple of things to hold onto to keep in mind as we work through this passage this morning. First of all, that at the time of Peter’s writing it probably was just before the development of some broader, kind of full-scale, government-sanctioned, very intense persecutions that would soon develop in the Roman Empire and yet those were not far off. The readers of this letter probably already experiencing some maybe sporadic, more localized forms of opposition to their faith, perhaps even persecution, but certainly it’s possible that Peter, maybe even these believers reading or hearing this letter read, could already see clouds of a greater storm growing on the horizon and they needed to be prepared for that.
The second has to deal with the one who was writing, for Peter himself. Of course, Peter had been by Jesus’ side throughout His public ministry. Peter the brash, Peter the bold. Now sometimes perhaps even too much so. Yet in the critical moment of Christ’s betrayal, of His incarceration, His trial, His mockery, His death, we know that Peter cowered. He hid. So Peter knows what it is to experience the fear that can come through a person’s association with Jesus Christ. That is, he is a real person who has faced real challenges to his faith and what it looks like to live out that faith in a hostile environment, not always well for Peter.

But he has learned in his life and he’s been empowered by the Spirit, and he’s writing here now to encourage these believers facing similar things and through the preservation of God’s Word to encourage us this morning as we perhaps find ourselves living in a similar situation what it looks like to suffer well for the Lord.

So as we look to this passage together, we’ll see this morning three things that number one we may indeed suffer for doing good. We may indeed suffer for doing good. What we will need, what it will take for us to suffer well, and what may come of the fact if we, in fact, do suffer well even for doing good. What may come of that?

So what, the fact that we will indeed perhaps suffer for doing good, what we’ll need to suffer well, and that if we do suffer well, may find ourselves with the opportunity to point to Jesus Christ, to witness to the hope that we have within us.

So let’s look together then at chapter 3, verses 8 through 17. We’ll read it together here.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.””

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

You know, one of the things that I really appreciate about the Bible personally is that it does not attempt to hide things down in the small print, or the fine print. The Bible is in that way more, I guess, like the newer kind of pharmaceutical commercials that we see on TV. I guess there was a time when a lot of things might be written in small print at the bottom of the commercials or perhaps on the back of the box, but not today. Now half of the commercial is spent telling you the bad things that may happen if you have to take this medicine or if you take this medicine.

So in addition to tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, of course, I know many of us are aware that this evening is the Super Bowl, which among other things perhaps most importantly means Super Bowl commercials. Incidentally, this is just a freebie, but maybe my favorite all-time Super Bowl commercial was the cat herders commercial. I don’t know if anybody remembers this commercial. Some of you weren’t even born yet, I think it was around 20 years ago, this commercial appeared. Please don’t Google it right now, but it might be, if you’re looking for a pick me up, it might be worth 30 seconds later on this week to do so.

So I don’t know what that ad actually cost to air, but I did look up what ads are going for this evening, and supposedly it’s going to cost an average price for a 30-second spot tonight around $6.5 million. Which means that if there is, if there happens to be a pharmaceutical ad in the Super Bowl tonight, they might be spending $3 million dollars to tell you a lot of bad things that might happen with the medicine.

But of course that’s a good thing, because it is actually good to be well-informed about risks, things that we might encounter, even if it’s not pleasant to have to hear it.

The Bible will do the same thing for us. Peter here wants us to know as believers that suffering is a reality. We will experience it. The Bible doesn’t hide that from us.

Of course, suffering can come in a number of forms and for a number of reasons. The Bible would prepare us for all of them. There’s general suffering, suffering that’s simply a result of life in a fallen world, a headache interrupts your work, a virus turns the whole world upside down, a storm causes a tree limb to fall on your car, you’re walking down the hallway in the dark and you step on a Lego, the market crashes, your retirement tanks. There’s just general suffering in a world broken by sin.

Then there’s suffering that is actually the result of our own sin, of doing evil, doing what is not good. Though this doesn’t work out perfectly in this life, in a world that’s estranged from God and warped by sin, there is still a general moral consequence that results from evildoing. That is, if you break the law, you should receive a just penalty. If you disobey your parents, there will likely be a consequence. If you engage in medically risky behaviors for long enough, it’s likely that it will catch up to you, though sometimes, of course, in this life we seem to get away with things like this, at least in this life, we will also often reap what we sow. There is suffering for doing evil.

But it’s also possible, in fact, Peter says to us this morning, it’s likely that as believers we will suffer for doing good. That seems to be the kind of suffering, actually, that’s primarily in Peter’s mind. In fact, he says that you may suffer not in spite of doing good, but actually because of it.

Verse 13 and 14: Now who is there to harm you if you’re zealous for what is doing good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.

Verse 16: So that when you are slandered, those you revile your good behavior may be put to shame.

Verse 17: For it is better to suffer for doing good, most explicitly, if that should be God’s will than for doing evil.

I hope that whether it’s been, you’ve been able to be here in person or whether you’ve been able to enjoy them perhaps later online, but that you’ve been benefiting from our current evening series as we’re working through the Sermon on the Mount. I would certainly commend it to you, and I would encourage you to be here this evening to hear from Pastor Bruce.

But it’s interesting to me in God’s providence how much of this passage intersects with that series, with that sermon from the Lord Jesus. This past Sunday evening Nathan was preaching on Matthew chapter 5, verses 13 through 16, reminding us and encouraging us this truth that as believers we are and we are to be salt and light in the world. So a part of that means that we are to function in some ways as a preservative in the world around us, as salt. Or as light, that we ought to be, our lives ought to be exposing some of those things which are done in the dark.

Of course, that service is not always something that the world receives with a nice, warm thank you. We don’t always get thank you notes or letters for providing that service. It often brings about a negative response because salt can sting, light flashed on in the dark when we’re not used to it can hurt. So we can suffer for doing good in part because doing good can expose evildoing, and it often brings about a response.

We can also suffer for doing good, that is good as God defines it, in part because what is truly good is not always seen as such. That which is truly good, which God defines as good, is not always seen as such in the world around us.

Isaiah 5, verse 20, says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

Now to be very clear this morning, the Church itself is not always free from fault itself, and we should be quick to examine ourselves.

But we are finding increasingly that as we pursue those things which God calls good, that which is truly good, the world around us is seeing that moral good as God defines it as moral evil. We could perhaps consider just one example as we think about and talk about and try to live out faithfully what God calls good related to the embodiment and the expression of our gender. That is increasingly being seen as moral evil. When we pursue what God says is good, there are many eyes that will actually see it as evil, and we will be hated for it.

So we may encounter suffering in response. Sometimes this may be as simple, though perhaps still hurtful, as withdrawal or avoidance, maybe exclusion from a group or people or place that we’d like to be part of. Sometimes it comes in the form of physical or material harm. Sometimes it comes in the form of verbal abuse.

It seems to be heavily on Peter’s mind here, certainly relevant in our moment today with so much communication, social media and otherwise.

Verse 9: Do not repay reviling for reviling.

Verse 16: When you are slandered.

Speaks of those who revile your good behavior.

Or if we turn ahead to chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, “For the time that has passed suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this, they’re surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery and they malign you, they speak evil things about you, disparage you.”

Verbal persecution, suffering on account of doing those things which God calls good.

I can remember in my college experience, this was my senior year, so I’d come to faith earlier in college, began to follow Jesus, and it had a drastic difference in how I was living my life. We were at my fraternity formal my senior year and it was kind of a tradition at our fraternity formal that the members of the senior class were given the opportunity to give a toast, which was probably a dangerous thing to do at a fraternity formal. But one of my senior brothers stood up and began to go around the room and share some comments about each of the other members of the senior class. Now there were probably a couple of funny or maybe even embarrassing stories that were shared, but it was mostly in the vein of like good things about the other guys in the senior class. “Here’s kind of what I’ll remember you for” kind of comments. And then he came to me, and it was a relatively short toast, something along the lines of “And Dave, you were actually getting to be pretty cool and then you went and got all religious.” That was it. That’s what he had to say.

Now there were a few chuckles around the room. It wasn’t much to suffer, certainly not when you compare it to those things, other things that have been and are being suffered for Christ, all down throughout history and all around the world today. It admittedly wasn’t much to suffer. But I did feel it. I still remember it. I was singled out. I was chuckled at. It didn’t feel great.

So again I’m thankful that the Bible doesn’t hide things from us in the fine print. I’m also thankful that it doesn’t romanticize the reality of suffering. Peter uses the word “suffer.” The reality this morning is that the suffering part of suffering for good doesn’t inherently feel any better than suffering of any other kind. Suffering is suffering. That’s why Peter doesn’t want us just to know that we may suffer for doing good, he wants us to know how to endure well when we do.

How to suffer for good well, and specifically two things he highlights that we need to do if we want to suffer well for doing good. First we must seek the blessings of God. Second we must set apart Christ in our hearts.

First, seek the blessings of God. Again from verse 9, “Do not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

Now Peter presumes here that we are going to encounter hostility and he’s concerned with our response. He says “when you suffer hostility.” What is natural when you encounter hostility? What is natural to respond? What is natural to seek? Of course revenge is something very natural to seek when you suffer hostility.

Depending on our personality, depending on your personality or mine, we might be more tempted to do this overtly, perhaps you’re more tempted to do this covertly. Maybe even just kind of in the space of your own heart. But it is natural to want to retaliate.

Peter’s calling us to a different kind of response here this morning. He says “bless.” It’s interesting, it’s convicting to me, it’s not even neutrality that’s called for, “just, yeah, if you could, just kind of ignore it. Just don’t respond.” But blessing.

Again perhaps we can hear the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount in the background: You have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

You know that kind of response is not native to the fallen human heart, not for anyone. So it’s important to notice, by the way, that seeking the blessing of God actually begins in repentance for us.

Look at verse 10 through 12. Peter’s actually quoting from Psalm 34 here. We read it this morning. “Those who would love life, those who would see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceit. Must turn away from evil and do good.” In other words, this is not how we would naturally tend to think or to act, even as those who have been born again, new creations in Christ, there must be a resolve for us to walk against the grain. Not merely against the grain of the world out there around us, but against the grain of the sinful nature within our own hearts, so we must by God’s grace and with His help, dependent on His Spirit and according to His Word, we must resist, we must repent, we must turn away from our natural inclinations with our words, with our responses. We must watch what we say in response in the office place. We must watch what we say, how we respond, online or even what we murmur in our hearts. Do not repay evil with evil, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.

That blessing could be future-oriented, the blessings of heaven still ahead. Those are certainly on Peter’s mind. This is a very future-oriented letter, 1 Peter, so those blessings are not far from Pete’s mind, blessings that are still ahead, but here it seems that Peter has primarily on his mind present blessings.

Again verse 13, “even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.” In the original, it’s just one word, blessed. It’s the same term that we encountered in the Beatitudes a couple of Sunday nights ago, makarios, happy, blessed you are. Right now.

Matthew chapter 5, verse 10: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The blessings promised here in Psalm 34, quoted by Peter, are also present blessings. “Whoever desires to love life, whoever desires to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”

Now, situated as they were, I can’t help but wonder if these believers to whom Peter is writing might find themselves hearing these words. I can’t wonder if they’re maybe saying here, “Now hold up, Peter,” or perhaps if we are not ourselves this morning, don’t those things often leave you at the bottom of the pile? Looking foolish? Getting burnt? Being hurt?

Isn’t it true that many of those who enjoy the good stuff of this life, the good stuff of this world, are those who got there doing the very things that you say we ought to turn away from? Is this really, Peter, the way to obtain blessing?

Which raises a very important question this morning. What are the blessings of God?

Of course, James 1:17 and we could pile up plenty of Scriptures to the same effect, James 1:17 says every good and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of heaven and lights, comes from above, comes from God, and that would include all the good, the beautiful, the pleasant things that we experience in this life. We ought to be quick, of all people, to give God thanks for those things.

But those things are not necessarily limited to those who are pursuing Christ. Again, from Matthew chapter 5, God makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and He makes His rain to fall on the unjust and the just. Those kinds of blessings are often experienced by all kinds of people.

What are the blessings that are reserved for those who are following Christ? For those who are living out repentance? For those who are fighting sin? Seeking to do good and pursing peace? For love of Jesus, not perfectly. That’s not what Peter’s saying, not perfectly, but sincerely, genuinely, persistently. What are the blessings for those?

Verse 12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayer.

It’s not the first time that Peter has emphasized these kinds of blessing as he’s walked through this letter. Just listen as we walk through just a few verses here.

Chapter 2, verse 4: “As you come to Him,” Christ, “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones.” You can essentially expect the same thing, like living stones, to be rejected by men and yet in the sight of God, chosen and precious.

Chapter 2, verse 20, to servants: “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

Chapter 2, verse 23, of Christ and His suffering: “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but He continue in trusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”

Chapter 3, verse 4, to wives: “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,” go against the grain, “which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Chapter 3, verse 7, to husbands: “Live with your wives in an understanding way… So that your prayers may not be hindered.”

These are foremost the blessings that Peter has in mind here for those who persist in doing good, that no matter how the world might respond, this is how God always responds. That God sees you, that God hears you, that God approves, that God is pleased.

Which raises another big question for us this morning – are these blessings important to you? Are these blessings important to me? Are these the most important blessings to us? It is a critical question, especially when it comes to suffering for doing good. If not, these are not the most important blessings, then it will be very hard to endure the sufferings that are sure to come in a life of following Christ.

If we are going to suffer well, we must seek the blessings of God. We must set apart Christ in our hearts.

Verse 14: “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.”

Peter may be pulling again from the Old Testament here. Isaiah chapter 8, verse 12 says, “Do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread, but the Lord of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread.” That could be an appropriate translation here in Peter’s case as well, “don’t fear what they fear,” and it would be helpful, but the ESV’s translation is probably appropriate, it has a slight modification here, “don’t be afraid of them.” Either way, the word “fear” is actually repeated twice and then of course the word “troubled” is mentioned once. Clearly Peter knows that when we face the suffering of persecution, we are at risk of giving way to intimidation, so he counsels “have no fear of them, rather in your hearts set apart Christ the Lord as holy.”

A couple hundred years ago Thomas Chalmers wrote of the expulsive power of a new affection. He said essentially that the love of sinning in our hearts is best driven out of our hearts when we fill up our hearts with something else, with a greater love, a greater affection.

This is kind of a silly analogy, but I couldn’t help but think of a bathtub in this case, filling up a bathtub. You might be looking forward to a nice warm bath so you fill up the bathtub and you fill it all the way to the top and the only problem is that you forgot to get into the bathtub first. So in order to get you, you know what would happen next, in order to get you in the bathtub, some of that water is going to come out of the bathtub. The bigger we are, maybe the more water that comes out, but getting us in, the water comes out.

It seems that Peter here has a similar kind of approach to fear. You drive out the fear of man by filling up your heart with a greater focus, with a greater reverence. Let your heart be filled with reverence for Christ. Set apart His presence, set apart His approval, His judgment, His power, His preeminence, as primary in your heart, and the fear of men is driven out by default. If you don’t to fear men, then focus your hearts on the lordship, the supremacy, the preeminence of Jesus Christ.

So as believers we’ll most likely at some point find that following Christ, that living faithfully according to God’s Word, that doing good as God sees good, will result in some form of suffering for us. Perhaps it’ll be as minimal as not being invited to a party. Perhaps it’ll be the loss of the opportunity for a promotion. Perhaps it’ll mean slanderous comments among our neighbors. Perhaps it might even mean physical harm. But if we’ll resolve to seek the blessings of God, if we resolve to set apart Christ in our hearts, then we’ll be strengthened, we’ll be helped, to endure and to suffer well.

Which points to a final question for us this morning: What happens when we suffer well? What happens when we suffer well?

Well, many things may happen when we suffer well for God. One thing that Peter would highlight this morning, when we suffer for doing good well, we may find the opportunity to show the hope that’s in us.

1 Peter is also a letter of hope. Right off the bat, chapter 1, verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Peter says here that when we suffer for good, the opportunity is created for that living hope to become increasingly clear, even to be seen by others.

Look again at verse 15: “But in your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

I’m sure that there are probably some here this morning who are familiar with the fact that the Greek word behind the word “defense” here in our translation is “apologia,” that’s where we get our word “apologetics,” which is the practice of articulating reasons, arguing for a justification of the Christian faith, trying to provide an intellectual defense for the truth claims of our religion. There’s been a lot that’s rightly been thought about and talked about and written about related to the practice of apologetics. There are different schools about how to best practice that.

But here this morning what we really need to see is the context, that is less about how best to give a defense for our faith and more about when. Peter says, “don’t be afraid of them, but set apart Christ in your hearts as holy so that you can persevere in doing good, even when you suffer for it, and then be prepared to give an answer, a reason, when people ask you for the reason for the hope that is in you.”

What is it with your hope? Where does it come from? Why it doesn’t it go out?

Of course, the Bible doesn’t argue in any way against sharing our faith without being asked, or suggest that we should always just simply wait to be asked before we bring up Jesus, or talk about the Christian hope with others. But suffering for good can create a context in which our hope as believers comes into stark relief, begins to really shine, where we might actually find ourselves being asked, “Okay, so what is it with your perspective? Why aren’t you joining in? Why aren’t you retaliating? How are you still so confident?” It may cause people to turn aside and look.

I heard Tim Keller make this illustration once, but I can’t really remember in relation to what, but I think it’s fitting here. It’s one of the more well-known scenes in the Bible, back in Exodus chapter 3 we have Moses, he’s fled from Egypt, he’s left behind a life of royalty and pleasure and ease, and in the name of identifying with God’s people, he’s on the run. He finds himself out in the wilderness, a place called Midian. He’s embraced a life now of shepherding and he’s out tending his flock one day and God appears to him in the form of a flame coming from a bush, and it says he looked and behold the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

I’m not asking for a show of hands here. I don’t know how many park rangers we might have with us here this morning, but I honestly don’t think you need a lot of natural resource kind of experience to know this basic fact, that you can have bushes that don’t burn up and you can have bushes that burn, but one thing you really can’t have is bushes that burn and don’t burn up. A burning but not burning up bush is an experiential anomaly. It defies what we expect to encounter.

So we can understand then Moses’ response when it says that he said, “You know, I’ll turn aside and check this thing out. Why this bush is not burned.”

And so it can be with those who suffer for doing good, for obeying good, for walking in repentance and living in faith and who refuse to turn aside from doing so, even in the face of resistance and hostility, who might even offer blessing in return for harm.

It may not be immediately. It may actually never be the case, but it can overtime cause some to stop and say, “Maybe I should stop and check this out. See why this bush isn’t burning up. Why this person seems to be so unmoved by this resistance. Why their hope seems to be growing stronger instead of weakening.” And they might even ask. They might ask us about it. We should be prepared then to offer an explanation.

So as we come to a close, in short, when asked, “What is it is this hope? How do you persevere in suffering? Why is not extinguished? How do you endure such harm and not retaliate in response? How do you do good when you suffer?” In short, we can answer, “The reason for our hope, verse 18, because Jesus also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”

Or you could personalize it further. I could personalize it further. Because Jesus also suffered once for my sins, the righteous One for this unrighteous one, with no path of God to my own, that He through His suffering might bring me to God.

There is only one person in the history of the world that was truly good, through and through, top to bottom, without sin. One person. And there will never be another. That person, Jesus of Nazareth, suffered. He suffered more than any other person ever will, not for His own sins. He was righteous. He suffered for ours, for the unrighteous, that through His suffering He might bring us to God.

Here’s a question for you here this morning: Do you know this substitute suffering? Have you received for yourself the benefits of His suffering?

This is the ultimate reason that we can remain confident in our sufferings, even when it is for faithfully pursuing what God says is good, because the ultimate suffering has not fallen to us, because Jesus has taken the ultimate sufferings on Himself, we can suffer. We can suffer with Him, we can suffer for Him, in the hopes that perhaps our sufferings might even point to Him, to Jesus, to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Let’s pray. Father, we do thank You for that reality this morning, that there is One in Jesus who has suffered to take away the sins of the world, to take away my sins, the sins of everyone here this morning who has trusted in Jesus, suffered the righteous One for us unrighteous ones. If there’s any here who’ve yet to put their faith in Christ, to receive the benefit of His sufferings, we pray that he would do so, they would do so, this morning, and Father that You might strengthen us, You might equip us, You might enable us by Your grace also to suffer with You, to suffer with Christ, to suffer for Him, and we pray, Father, that You might give us the grace that as that occurs, these things might point to Christ, that more would know the saving grace of Jesus and that You would be glorified. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.