Devotion for Ash Wednesday

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. ~ Philippians 1:27-30

Paul tells us that it has been granted for us to suffer for Christ’s sake. Suffering is not something we typically look forward to, something we consider an honor and a blessing. But suffering for Christ is an honor and a blessing—a privilege beyond measure. In many places around the world, Christians are suffering horribly for the sake of the Gospel—many even to the point of death. Yet often we find it hard to handle when someone scoffs at us or ridicules our faith. Many—maybe most—Americans and other Westerners claiming to be Christians would collapse under real suffering, real persecution. Yet the Bible tells us we should welcome suffering if it is for the sake of Christ.

Lord, I want to be strong in my stand for Christ. If Your plan for me includes suffering, I want to welcome it and realize the great honor it is to share in Christ’s suffering. Give me strength to stand, Lord, not only if I face true persecution and suffering, but also when it’s easier to walk away from evil, to ignore difficult situations, to take the easy way out. Help me to stand up for You in every situation. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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