Saturday, November 21, 2009

To Endure:

Going through the trials, tribulations and persecutions is hard if not heartbreaking. Satan wants us to give up hope. He wants us to turn away from God. He does this so often by making us look inward rather than to God. I admit the last few weeks have been difficult for me. Being poor as a church mouse and the holidays coming. On the surface it seems all around are celebrating and preparing a feast. For those with little or none the holidays can be the most painful times of the year.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matt 24:13 (NLT)

God gave me this verse to focus on this week. It is one that is often taken out of context. Jesus here is really talking to his apostles about the events to come within the second coming. Many read this verse and think if they can endure that they will be saved. It sure reads that way. Author, Larry Richards says it best, “Those who endure are not saved because they endure to the end, but they endure to the end because they are saved.”

Being able to endure also follows side-by-side with Christian joy. It is easy to be joyful when financial problems are of no concern. When health matters are not an issue. When relationships with family members and friends seem ideal. It is when you are alone. When you feel as if the world is crushing down on you. Worry consumes you when you have no idea how you are going to pay your rent this month. A husband, and a father, struck with fear when your wife and kids are in need of food. It is when “hope” is just another four-letter word that joy is in very short supply. It is when we have nothing that our joy of salvation in Christ Jesus abounds. When we are stripped away of all worldly possessions and worldly views we come to see things as they really are. We finally realize our situation is hopeless and we have absolutely no control over it. Some may say we have no choice but to hand it over to God. And they are right. Who better? Does it take this kind of hard pounding to accept God’s control of our lives? For some the answer is Yes. Many filled with pride fail and continue into death ignoring God’s wonderful gift and face forever torment in a devil’s hell. This life is just a mere moment compared to what awaits us through our Lord. We are here not for ourselves but to help others achieve what Christ has already given us. The Apostle Paul tells us of his own situation in Philippians 4:12.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
Phil 4:12 (NLT)

It is the trials, tribulations and persecutions that make us grow as a Christian. Yes it is very painful at times. If you were to buy an expense houseplant you certainly would not take it home and put it in a closet? Wanting to keep it away from the harsh sunlight. Exposing it to the unpredictable conditions of the world? It is the harsh sunlight mixed with the right amount of moisture and nutrients that make it grow. It is the harsh realities we face daily and the life giving moisture of God’s Word that makes us grow as a Christian. We need to be reminded that we are not in control. God is. There in lies our joy and our ability to endure through Christ Jesus.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Phil 4:13 (KJV)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Toughest Commandment:

When studying your Bible, which commandment would you say is the toughest to obey? Many would say I certainly have not killed anyone yet in 1 John 3:15 God's Word explains that if you hate someone you are guilty of murder. So when that car pulled in front of you without looking did you hate them for just an instant? That is all it takes. That is a tough lesson.

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15 (HCSB)

How about loving your enemies? You know sometimes a friend betrays you. A bully at school. An unhappy neighbor. In my case recently our home was vandalized. Hard to forgive one who is bent on causing you harm. What does Jesus command us to do? Another tough lesson to learn.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Matt 5:44 (HCSB)

Here is one I know we all deal with daily. How many times do we worry? Worry about if you will have enough money. Worry about your health. Worrying about your job and career. Again Jesus is very specific on what we are to do.

This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Matt 6:25 (HCSB)

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matt 6:34 (HCSB)

In fact all of Matthew 6:25-34 is devoted to teaching us the cure for anxiety. It is a hard lesson to learn and to put into practice.

Witnessing is the life blood of a church and of a fellow Christian. Yet few of us including myself obey our Lord's commandment in doing so.

And then he told them, Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:15-16 (NLT)

What is your toughest commandment to obey? Leave a comment.


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