“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations . . .” (Romans 5:3).
It is not unusual for people to take pride in, or even boast about, the problems that they face in their lives. Athletes will often speak in interviews about “All the adversity I (or we) have overcome” to be successful as an individual or a team. They are not the only ones to use hardships as motivation to try to prove themselves to others. Minorities, the poor, and those with various handicaps will all display their problems proudly to show the extent of their triumphs and successes.
One common error that such pride succumbs to is to feel that one’s particular adversities are somehow special. Maybe they don’t claim that they are more troubled than anyone else, but there is often a distinct flavor of, “I have had to overcome more than most,” at the very least. Continue reading “Overcoming adversity”
It is a question that pierces to the heart of our being. Why do we serve God? This question deserves to remain at the forefront of our minds. However, another question can dominate our thinking. Continue reading “Why do we serve God?”
Some people make it almost a life’s goal to avoid or remove any type of discomfort in their lives. They live by a dangerous misconception that happiness depends upon the absence of suffering and pain. Jesus’ gave us the supreme example of humility and also the supreme example of suffering. Following him is the key to joy and meaning.
Originally, man was created to enjoy life with God without suffering or pain. (Perhaps the deep-seated aversion to them and attempts to avoid them rise from this truth.) The Garden of Eden was the perfect place for man’s fellowship (relationship) with God. He had all he wanted or needed. Nothing lacked. Everything abounded in supply and variety. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had no worries, no cares, no difficulties. This was God’s eternal design. Continue reading “Jesus the supreme example of suffering”
A few days ago, early in the morning, I glanced out my back window toward the apartment building where my son Joel and his family live. They’re living here for a year and found an apartment a couple of blocks away. But their building was gone! I did a double-take and noticed that a heavy fog had rolled in. Nothing could be seen beyond my backyard.
In less than an hour, the fog had lifted. My son’s building and everything else were in place.
The doubts of life are like that morning fog. Continue reading “The fog will clear”
Can you imagine being arrested for simply telling others about Jesus? Although this does happen in some areas of the world, this is not something that most Christians think much about. Yet this was something that the Christians had to face in the months and years following Jesus’ resurrection.
Those first few months had to be exciting – the Day of Pentecost and 3000 became Christians, the miraculous healings, the boldness of the apostles, the fellowship and generosity of the Christians. Yes, there were causes for anxiety when Peter and John were arrested and Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to God. But on the whole, it had to have been exciting! It finally reached the point that signs and wonder were being done frequently. Continue reading “Worthy to be treated shamefully”
A young woman sat in my office, hurt and scared. Her husband had abandoned her. She had two small children, no job, and an education that had been interrupted for that marriage and those kids. What would she do?
I said the things preachers say, read a Scripture and prayed, but felt I had been inadequate.
Afterward, however, I began to think. I knew another woman in the congregation, an older woman, who had suffered something similar. I phoned the other woman and asked: “Can you do me a favor?” Continue reading “The gift of suffering”
Sometimes we may think that we have it bad as Christians living in the 21st century. Our society seems to be turning against anything having to do with Christianity. But when we compare our situation to those living in the first century, what we go through is insignificant.
Nero was the ruler in Rome. He persecuted Christians, resulting in the deaths of many Christians – including, we believe, the apostles Paul and Peter. As the persecution began, Christians found themselves alienated from those around them. How do you face this type of aggression day after day?
Peter began his first letter by reminding them of all that they had because they were Christians. Continue reading “Our secure hope”
In the life of his saints, problems large and small do not go unnoticed by the Lord. Continue reading When your car quits in front of the tow truck
What do you say to someone as your life comes to its close?
As Paul wrote the second letter we have to Timothy, what memories he must have had of this younger man. He had taken Timothy with him on his travels and Timothy had learned from Paul to the extent that Paul could leave him to get on with the work that needed done for the Lord.
Yet there is always something more to say, some advice that you think the other person might need once you are gone. Listen as we read some of what Paul wrote as he knew his life was almost over. Continue reading “Living a godly life”
A few school teachers seem to delight in failing students. They make up trick questions, use questionable methods, and prefer murky objectives and subjective grading. But God wants to give every child of his a passing grade, if we will but respond positively to his testing.
The Lord works for our success. He wants us to grow and be like him. He has our best interest at heart. God is good and desires to bless. “The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests hearts” Proverbs 17.3. His testing has a good purpose. He hopes to bring out the best in us. Continue reading “The pudding is in the proof: God proves his people”