Handling Suffering as a Christian…

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian

The title of today’s challenge sounds a bit strange. And if you are not a ‘born again’ Christian you have no chance of understanding and accepting it. We live in a world where many teach that health, wealth, prosperity and the total absence of suffering brings fulfillment. And of course, our human nature totally agrees with that thought. There are even teachers professing to be ‘born again’ that teach the same. They teach that to experience otherwise reflects a weak faith or sin. While it can be a result of sin the scriptures never proclaim that if we suffer for the gospels sake it is a lack of faith. Actually, it is just the opposite.

When we are drawn to Jesus as our Savior and we dig into His word to find meaning for our lives and we hear that, “”Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Wow, that stops us dead in our tracks. Many, who never study and never grow from the milk of God’s word to being able to handle the meat of God’s word never even address this question.

Can it really be true? If I am to live for my Savior who died for me can I expect some level of persecution? The answer from scripture is a loud yes. If the world disliked and even hated Jesus and we profess what He professed then the world will not like us either. That’s a tough one to swallow. Like you my flesh prefers that people would like me. And what if I am experiencing zero persecution. Does that mean my spiritual priorities are not correct? Yes, that could be the case. Ouch! We can only know that by asking God to answer that question and then we must do something contrary to our human will. We must truly be open to the answer. Remember the answers to prayer are yes, no and wait. Yes, is not the only option God has. When I hear no or wait it does not mean that God did not answer my prayer.

There are promises in the word of God that don’t seem much like promises to many believers. Persecution is one of them. Scripture proclaims that all whose purpose of heart is to live godly lives in this present world shall (certainly) suffer persecution, as did their Lord. Maybe we contemplate such verses and think they should say something like, “And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall be appreciated for their goodness and rewarded with approval, good health and fortune while in this world.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul said to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” We probably would be more comfortable if that were to read, “For unto you it is given…not only to believe on him, but also to be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.” But it doesn’t say that. Reading and allowing the Word of God to change our lives are two entirely different things. Are you a reader only? Ouch, another convicting question.

So why would I want to be open to persecution??? As noted in James we are in this life but for a short time. Our lives are but a vapor that comes and disappears quickly. Our time to serve our Lord is short. This time on earth is but a grain of sand on the beach in comparison to eternity. And if you are a believer you will spend eternity with God. There is also a judgment seat or awards ceremony for believers. The judgment seat is not to judge our sins that Jesus took care of but to award us for services rendered while on this earth. I would rather hear, ‘well done’, than to hear how I missed the prize or to hear a silence because of lack of commitment on my part while on this earth.

We are to serve out of obedience. Disobedience is viewed by God as a tragic sin. Check it out over and over in scripture in both the OT and the NT. God never accepts disobedience. Our sins are washed away by Jesus blood so my salvation is secure. While works cannot save us they are very important after being ‘born again’. Serving Jesus while on this earth is now or should now be my focus! And when done correctly it will bring some level of persecution.

Remember persecution comes in many different ways including verbal, lost friendships, physical punishment, lost job opportunities, etc. In America at least for now the verbal, peer pressure and life style issues are the greatest persecution we see. So maybe all is not lost with that slap in the face that you just received, literal or figurative. Pray and think before you allow your fleshly frustration to take over. It may be that you are doing exactly what you should be for His glory!!!!!

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The Not so Little White LIE…

The Not so Little White Lie….

There is no and can be no substitute for honesty. God always knows our motives. The enemy is the master deceiver and this world is controlled by him until Jesus returns a second time to straighten our world out. Until then it is obvious that satan has convinced this world that the little white lie is ok. He convinces us that as long as it does not hurt someone or as long as it is justified in our minds it is ok. He convinces us that as long as it does not hurt someone it is ok. What does God say?

Col. 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”

1 Tim. 6:5 “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”

That philosophy is found in our business world. What does God’s word say about bartering and how important is truth to our Lord?

Proverbs 20:14 “It is good for nothing cries the buyer; But when he has gone his own way, then he boasts.”

 Proverbs 20:23 “Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false balance is not good.”

And where do we find the total of all truth?

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one can come unto the Father, but by Me?”

The truths Jesus lived and taught are found in;

2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Choose you this Day…

Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.”

Choose you this Day…

When many folks use their kitchen sink, they may notice this little
contraption attached to the faucet. It’s called a water filter. Before
the water arrives in your glass or container, it has to pass through
that filter. Or we drink water from our refrigerator door which is also
filtered. Or we pay for water in the bottle that is filtered. We hate
surprises in our H2O.  When replacing one of those filters we are amazed
at the particles that we would never knowingly drink.  The filter
screened out of our drinking water this layer of dirty stuff. We didn’t
even want to think about that going into my body. Let’s hear it for
filters!

Did you know that a lot of people spiritually drink dirt. They do it
mentally by letting a lot of things that are spiritually and morally
impure pour right into their soul as unfiltered input. And if you belong
to Jesus Christ, the dirt is rushing into what the Bible describes as
the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That temple is
you. God literally lives in those who are ‘born again’. And dirty stuff
should never defile His temple. And of course don’t forget the lie the
enemy fills us with that it is ok for the adults to view or listen to
certain programs as long as we protect the children. Why would we
protect our children and knowingly allow filth into our lives?

God clearly commands us to filter what’s coming into our lives and
He never says to just filter it for the children. Actually the opposite
is true. We as the adult parent teachers need to filter the things going
into our minds so we can be the example we are supposed to be to the
children. They are very good at picking up both our good and bad
(sinful) habits.  Too often we do not have a spiritual filter for what we
see and hear. Or we have a pretty wide screen on that filter; one porous
enough to let in a lot that has no place in a heart or a mind that’s
owned by Jesus and inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God.

The following example was given by Ron Hutchcraft. Sometimes it
takes a child to show us “sophisticated” adults how we should be living.
The other day, the teacher was a five-year-old, our grandson, who was
watching a whole new crop of kids’ shows. Captain Kangaroo and Mister
Rogers are long gone; and yes, Big Bird is still flying around Sesame
Street. But now I’m learning about Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, a
tomato named Bob, a cucumber named Larry, a fish named Nemo. Our
grandson, of course, has a few favorites he likes to watch. There’s one
he watches almost every day. But the other day, he walked over to the
television and did something he does not do with this program that he
likes a lot. He turned it off in the middle of the show. The story was
starting to involve some ghost and witch stuff. When Daddy asked our
grandson why he had turned off one of his favorites, he just said, “It
was a bad one, daddy.” The radar of a five-year-old boy in whom Jesus
lives and had been trained by Godly parents. He knew that no matter how
much he liked the show, no matter how many shows they have where there’s nothing bad, when it is bad, it isn’t for him. That’s a model for a
Jesus-follower of any age. But all too often, we watch portrayed, or we
read about, or we listen to something that is part of the very sin that
Jesus died for.

One of the problems with eliminating filth programming is that it
needs to be replaced with something clean and spiritually wholesome to
be lasting. Unless you replace the filth programming you will eventually
become bore or disillusioned and return to them. If you replace them
with clean and wholesome programming your mind will be renewed as
scripture says with Godly themes versus sinful themes. It up to us to
make the choice.

Josh 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

II Cor 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Hell and your E-mail Address…Caution…

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. “

Hell and your E-mail Address …Caution…

A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. Because both had jobs, they had difficulty coordinating their travel schedules. It was decided that the husband would fly to Florida on a Thursday, and his wife would follow him the next day.

Upon arriving as planned, the husband checked into the hotel. There he decided to open his laptop and send his wife an e-mail back in Minneapolis. However, he accidentally left off one letter in her address, and sent the e-mail without realizing his error.

In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister of many years who had been “called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. Upon reading the first message, she fainted and fell to the floor.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

From: Your Departed Husband

Subject: I’ve Arrived!

I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then. Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is hot down here!

That’s the humor for the day.

Now back to reality. Hell is real. Never forget that. And of course, there is someone who would wish that we did.

Prov  27:21a “Hell and destruction are never full…”

 Rev 20:14,15 “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”