” For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. Yours is the same struggle as you saw in me and now hear about me.” (Philippians 4:29-30 NASV)

Paul’s words were not to just the church in Philippi, but to all believers of every age. Western Christianity has been saturated with “feel good messages” and with the gospel of prosperity. Are the underground churches in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Asia, etc. preaching this same gospel? They would snicker at many of our services. What must be understood is this: All true believers will drink from the cup of Christ’s suffering!

This truth will not be avoided. We must learn from the Bible. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the flames of the fiery furnace. (cf: Daniel 3). They knew that worshipping the image of a man would bring a far worse trip, into the Lake of Fire. We must have the heart of these 3 Hebrew men. God will rescue us if it is part of His divine plan. If it is not, He will give us the grace to die boldly.

In the not too distant future, the world will be devastated when the first four seals are opened. War, plagues, famine and death will follow. (Revelation 6:1-8). An apparent savior will rise and present an economic system that will bring back prosperity. This is the beast of Revelation 13 and his false prophet will perform signs and wonders to deceive the nations. Many will take the mark of the first beast and worship his image. The true believer (whose name is written in the Book of Life) will be persecuted: by the sword or imprisonment.

The time is now to embrace our destined suffering. Jesus will never forsake us. If we continue to believe that God will bless us with plenty now, then what will stop us from taking the Mark of the Beast? Our suffering brothers and sisters have lit the path that we must follow. EJ

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