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Struggle For Christ and With Christ
by Anthony Vasko
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�You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
6 The hard working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.
7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,
9 For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 This is a faithful saying: for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

My very recent past has been filled with many obstacles and hardships. Fortunately, I saw the �light� and fearlessly walked towards it. That does not make me perfect, in the wildest of imaginations, rather, as I said, FORTUNATE.

No one, in the history of the world, endured greater hardship than Christ. The very carrying of Him in the Virgin Mary�s womb was a hardship, because it was known that she and Joseph were not married�and out-of-wedlock intercourse was a much more scandalous occurrence in that time.

His birth and early infancy were hardships, as He was born amongst the filth and unsanitary conditions of a manger, in the dead of winter. Then, the Holy Family were forced to flee, from one place to another, in fear of the wrath of King Herod.

No one knows much of Jesus� adolescence and young adulthood, but, being that Joseph was a carpenter, it can be assumed that Jesus himself was, first an apprentice, and then a carpenter. Daily life alone was difficult in that time and place of the world, let alone, being a carpenter.

Moving on to when Jesus commenced His ministry (around the age of 30), He was constantly confronted with outward and inward difficulty. First, His purpose was not to come out of the sky as an unavoidable �light� or super-human being, such as the Jewish people believed he would be. His purpose was to be human, experiencing every facet of human existence, other than sin. Imagine how difficult it would be for you or I to convince others that we are the Son of God, the Savior of the world, through only our words. Our failure at doing so would hardly affect us at all, because we know we are not the Son of God. For Jesus, though, He knew He was the Son of God. He knew it was His mission, His sole purpose in life, to convince the world of it, and mostly through His words. Even His miracles could be disbelieved or rejected by any who did not witness them. There was no television, internet, or any other technological device to record them. And maybe that is one of the main reasons He lived when He did. The purpose of faith is to �believe in something you cannot see.� Not when someone puts it on YouTube.

The last of Christ�s hardships is, quite obviously, His crucifixion and death. We all know how that went. Over five thousand wounds covered His body at the moment of His death. That is incomprehensible, to say the least!

When we face hardships in our lives, physical or emotional, it is easy to lose faith in God, because we assume God should always want nothing but happiness for us. But, we are indeed closer to Christ and, in turn, His and our Father, when we are entrenched in despair and lowly times. We could never experience truly what it felt like to be Christ�nowhere even close! But we can �endure� our hardships, and even find joy in some of them if we always keep in mind Christ�s hardships.

I said yesterday, to a very dear friend of mine, �Count the blessings, not the hardships. But know that we must endure pain to appreciate the good when we have it.� And I believe that, to the core of my being.

Skipping ahead to the end of this passage, I think it is crucial to look at the final three verses by themselves.

�This is a faithful saying: for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.�

Because God is everything, so we are God�not literally the almighty Creator of all, but literally a creation of God, who is everything. That is nearly impossible to grasp. But when Christ died, so we died, since both He and us are creations of God, and therefore, a part of God Himself. The most important thing to remember is that Christ died so that we can live�not on earth, but in the company of God the Father, in heaven. And so, Christ died so we can die, and enter the gates of heaven, to LIVE with Him.

�If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.�

Once again, to revert back to what I said earlier about enduring hardships, God puts us in situations of hardship, because He wants us to overcome them by having faith in Him, so that we can enter the gates of heaven, and REIGN with Him.

�If we deny Him, He also will deny us.�

The second to last verse is rather self-explanatory. If we deny Him, and sin against Him, He will deny us entrance to heaven.

�If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.�

The last verse provides the most impact. I cannot find it in me to interpret this in any other way than: God was! God is! God will FOREVER BE! Whether we believe or not, the treasure of our existence lies with Him, and it is ours for the taking, if we believe!

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