“[Paul and Barnabas] strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, ‘We must enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.‘” (Acts 14:22)

This does not sound like something, which would strengthen and encourage young disciples. If Paul and Barnabas brought this message to some churches they would not be invited back. Our idea of overcoming is to avoid tribulation, not pass through it. We certainly do not connect entering the Kingdom with going through tribulation. We think having the victory means eliminating all tribulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to enter the Kingdom there must be an increase of Christ and a decrease of Self. This is an ongoing process, and by it we judge how far along the Path we have progressed. But how is Self decreased? We cannot do it by saying over and over, “I have to die. I have to decrease. I have to take up my cross.” The more we try to decrease the more we are increased. Any attention we give to ourselves, even in an attempt to decrease ourselves, only serves to make us larger. So what is the answer? The answer is in our circumstances and trials. They are sufficient to decrease us. We need not do anything but wait for them to come, and see them as our opportunity to have Self decreased and Christ increased.

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A HARD LESSON TO LEARN [Chip Brogden]          1


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