Suffering / Part 5 Of 8

Why Christians Suffer-

Continued from Part 4…  This entire eight part series will be listed under the category entitled Devotionals/Inspirationals.

3)Suffering Makes Us More Like Christ

God allows us to suffer to accomplish the ultimate purpose for which He has called and chosen us.  The purpose of God in choosing and saving us is to make us more like Jesus Christ.  Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.”  We are to be conformed to the image of His Son.  Jesus was called the “man of sorrows.”  Is it any wonder that we will experience affliction, pain and grief as He did?  Hebrews 2:10  “For it became Him, for whom are all things…  in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”  Following Jesus means tasting Calvary and the Garden of Gethsemane, it means darkness and suffering.  Paul said in Philippians 3:10  “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable unto His death.”  Wherever He leads, I will go.

4)Suffering Makes Us Appreciative

We do not appreciate our blessings until we lose them.  How can a day be beautiful unless we have stormy days to compare with it?  I never cherished my good health until I got pneumonia.  I was so weak that I could not move my little finger.  I then learned how to lean on the Lord, how to pray, and how weak and feeble my body really was.  This happened just after I came to Christ – after our “born again” experience, God often chastises us or allows us to suffer so we can grow in the Lord.

…to be continued

Blessings, Pastor Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffering / Part 4 Of 8

Suffering is a doctrine that is found throughout the Word of God.  The Emerging Church totally ignores this teaching.  What would Job say if Joel Osteen said to him:  “Have your best life now?”  God builds us up through trials and tribulations, not through creature comforts and living on easy street.  Following are ten reasons why Christians suffer.  The list is not conclusive.  A couple of them will be mentioned in this posting with more to come.

Why Christians Suffer –

1)Suffering Silences Satan

The best example is the story of the patriarch Job.  When God pointed out to Satan what a good man Job was, the devil accused Job of doing it only for gain and profit which came to him materially because he feared the Lord.  In order to prove his point, God allowed Satan to take his possessions, health and family.  The result was that Satan was silenced.  Instead of murmuring, complaining, and becoming bitter, Job praised God and said:  “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

How wonderful it is to see people love the Lord and smile while suffering.  The next time you feel like complaining, read the diary of Ann Frank.

2)Suffering Enables Us To Glorify God

The eleventh chapter of John tells us about the death of Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus.  Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but allowed him to die in order to teach a lesson to Lazarus and his two sisters.  Jesus said in John 11:4:  “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.”

….to be continued

Obedience

Obedience to the commandments of God, is the pathway to happiness, joy and peace…

John 14:21  King James Version (KJV)

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

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Suffering / Part 3

Our trials, tribulations and suffering build us up.  Who has not heard of the common story of the overly protected child who later has trouble functioning in school and everyday life?  The devotional below reveals how trees placed in a protective space, collapsed under their own weight.  Why?  Because they were never exposed to the winds of adversity.  They never had a chance to develop strong roots and a solid trunk!  God grows us, and in order to grow us, He allows us to suffer and be tested.  Without a Goliath in his life, the strength of David’s character would have been dormant and not seen by man.  Goliath did not make David a heroic man of faith.  Goliath simply revealed what was already in David.  Trials do NOT make or break us, they reveal what is in us.

Following the devotionals from Our Daily Bread, the topic of suffering will be further expounded upon.  In Christ, Pastor Steve 

 

 Growing in the Wind

Growing in the Wind

Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! Mark 4:41

Imagine a world without wind. Lakes would be calm. Falling leaves wouldn’t blow in the streets. But in still air, who would expect trees to suddenly fall over? That’s what happened in a three-acre glass dome built in the Arizona desert. Trees growing inside a huge windless bubble called Biosphere 2 grew faster than normal until suddenly collapsing under their own weight. Project researchers eventually came up with an explanation. These trees needed wind stress to grow strong.

Jesus let His disciples experience gale-force winds to strengthen their faith (Mark 4:36–41). During a night crossing of familiar waters, a sudden storm proved too much even for these seasoned fishermen. Wind and waves were swamping their boat while an exhausted Jesus slept in the stern. In a panic they woke Him. Didn’t it bother their Teacher that they were about to die? What was He thinking? Then they began to find out. Jesus told the wind and waves to be quiet—and asked His friends why they still had no faith in Him.

If the wind had not blown, these disciples would never have asked, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).

Today, life in a protective bubble might sound good. But how strong would our faith be if we couldn’t discover for ourselves His reassuring “be still” when the winds of circumstance howl?

Father in heaven, please help us to remember that anything that frightens us comes with an invitation to find the strength of knowing and trusting You.

God never sleeps.

INSIGHT:In Mark 4:35–5:43 the gospel writer tells of four miracles to prove that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God” and therefore has absolute authority over the forces of this physical world (4:35–41), over the powers of the spiritual world (5:1–20), over physical illnesses (5:24–34), and over death (5:35–43). These miracles were designed to answer the question, “Who is this?” (4:41). The first miracle was Jesus calming the storm on Galilee. Because the Sea of Galilee is in a basin about 700 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, sudden and violent storms are common (v. 37). That Jesus was tired and soundly asleep showed that He was fully human (v. 38); that the storm instantly obeyed Him showed He was divine (v. 39).

By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors

 

  1. valedwards

    Because I live near Biosphere 2, I began a wonderful discussion with my husband about stress in our life and how God is asking us why we are so afraid which then led to prayer. Thank you Mart for your inspirational message. It was very timely in my l

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  2. Charlie

    It is such an honor to lift up in prayer the requests on this forum. Thank you for sharing, and to hear God say I am with you, causes our heart to know His strength and presence.

  3. bofosu

    Oh, what a Mighty God we serve. Hmmm, this a timely word for me. Confirmation of what God is doing behind the scenes. Greater is HE that is I’m me that whatever is opposing me that is in World. Thank you Lord that you WILL calm every storm that rise

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  4. Rocky

    Thank you Mart DeHaan, I’ve always been intrigued by this passage, I agree with what you point out that Jesus was fully human and divine.

    But when he was awaken by his disciples, and he questions their faith. Now this is before we read that they ask “who is this?”. With all that Jesus had taught them already, should they have had enough faith to have commanded the wind and the sea to calm down?

    I know personally, my faith has grown and I have learned through my personal trials and losses, but the bible teaches us to seek understanding like we’re seeking fine jewels, I must tell you, that since I have been seeking to understand what God requires of me, my knowledge and understanding of our relationship has caused my faith to grow more than any trial or loss has ever made it grow.

    Although, I do believe that my trials, losses, & understanding of who God is and what He requires of me all work together.

    1. bofosu

      Rocky, I noticed that the Disciples questioned who Jesus is after all the miracles that He has performed with them , around them and before their very eyes. This is the revelation I got when I read this….. God does wondrous things in our Lives. H

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  5. servant50

    God is still in control and I thank him for all his grace and mercy, because I would not be here without them, Amen!

    1. holypat2014

      Amen and Amen!

    2. Rocky

      servant50, I have to respectfully disagree when you say “God is still in control” the bible teaches us that God is in control of the atmosphere, but we are to be of self control.

      If God was in control of everything, we would be like robots, we would not even have to worry about combing our hair, because He would be in control.

      The bible teaches, the day will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, but only what their itchy ears want to hear.

      If the word of God is so powerful, why aren’t our little one liners actual bible quotes? Instead they are cute little sayings that man has made up. I’m reminded of the one little almost chant that I often hear when I walk into many churches. When the person behind the pulpit says “God is good all the time” and the audience response with “all the time, God is good” yes it’s true, and it sounds good, but it’s not scripture. I believe that if we’re going to chant something it should be scripture and sound something like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

      Just my personal thoughts.

      1. servant50

        Rocky, thank you for your thoughts! And my saying of God is still in control meaning is that he’s in controls of the atmosphere (wind, waves, healing, saving and peace that surpasses all understanding). Therefore, however you word your saying or I wo

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        1. bofosu

          yes, He is in control. God is the one who can turn every situation around when we seek him, when we take our petitions to him in prayer and supplication. God is the one in control when we pray for salvation for us and our families. He is the one in c

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  6. seeker1944

    A great message. Please join me in praying for our son in law as he is battling cancer for the third time. His faith is strong. We pray for healing, but I pray that he gets close to God in this and has a peace that passes all understanding. Thank

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    1. dakwil

      Praying for you! Thankful that he has faith that has been strengthened through the battles with cancer.

    2. ynothis

      In JESUS name Amen! I’m in agreement with you.

    3. canadian angels

      I have prayed a prayer of healing for your son in law. I have witnessed miracles of healing for those who were given no hope by their doctors but had prayer warriors on their side. Visualize his healing as you pray every day & keep the faith

    4. bofosu

      I stand in agreement with you and our fellow brethren. That he is healed by the blood of the Lamb. He will come and testify and overcome the enemy of cancer by the word of his testimony. In Jesus Name. It seems today is a timely word for him. Ame

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    5. servant50

      seeker1944, I am praying for your son-in-law that he will keep the faith and in trust in God and have peace that surpasses all understanding. And I am praying the same for the family too. I too have been battling stage IV cancer since diagnosed f

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  7. a servant

    Esther’s Child, please go to YouTube and search for James Cleveland “Peace Be Still.” You should be able to enjoy the tune. God Bless You.

    1. hbee

      Thanks, a servant! James Cleveland’s rendition of “Peace Be Still” is usually the first song that comes to mind when I read or hear any part of the miracle.

  8. poohpity

    I have often thought that Jesus knew the strong winds were going to blow and still fell asleep. He forewarned us that we would come across several trials, troubles, suffering during this life in this physical body but offered us comfort in knowing th

    See More

    1. poohpity

      The Biosphere 2 has run into several problems trying to emulate nature so it failed. It is about a 2 hour drive from where I live. I hope the one thing they learned is God created something wonderful that all works together and everything has purpose

      See More

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ead: Matthew 10:37–42
Bible in a Year: Genesis 36–38; Matthew 10:21–42

Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.—Matthew 10:39

When I married my English fiancé and moved to the United Kingdom, I thought it would be a five-year adventure in a foreign land. I never dreamed I’d still be living here nearly twenty years later, or that at times I’d feel like I was losing my life as I said goodbye to family and friends, work, and all that was familiar. But in losing my old way of life, I’ve found a better one.

The upside-down gift of finding life when we lose it is what Jesus promised to His apostles. When He sent out the twelve disciples to share His good news, He asked them to love Him more than their mothers or fathers, sons or daughters (Matt. 10:37). His words came in a culture where families were the cornerstone of the society and highly valued. But He promised that if they would lose their life for His sake, they would find it (v. 39).

We don’t have to move abroad to find ourselves in Christ. Through service and commitment—such as the disciples going out to share the good news of the kingdom of God—we find ourselves receiving more than we give through the lavish love the Lord showers on us. Of course He loves us no matter how much we serve, but we find contentment, meaning, and fulfillment when we pour ourselves out for the well-being of others. —Amy Boucher Pye

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Isaac Watts

Every loss leaves a space that can be filled with God’s presence.

INSIGHT: When we choose to follow Christ, we won’t necessarily be popular. Our highest calling is not self-promotion or self-preservation. A hero jumps into deep water to save someone who is drowning, but that same person could well lose his or her life (to quote Jesus) in the process of seeking to save someone else. Jesus indicated that even family members (normally our closest natural connection) may be squared off against us. While others may become our obstinate opponents because of Christ, we are obligated to show unselfishness because of Him (Phil. 2:3-5). “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). It’s a profound paradox. To lose our life for Him means to find it. Has there been a time when the choice to follow Christ has cost you? Jim Townsend

Suffering / Part 2

In the next parts on this doctrine of suffering, we will use many illustrations from the book “Broken Things and Why We Suffer,” written by  the late Dr. M. R. DeHaan, the founder of the Radio Bible Class and its speaker for twenty-seven years.  He was a practicing physician before receiving his call to ministry, and subsequently he pastored several churches prior to founding the Radio Bible Class.  This book is a mere 95 pages, and by far the best book I have ever read on suffering beside the Bible itself.  You and I suffer because of God’s great love for us, as he chisels us into His image.  Trust Him.   In Christ, Pastor Steve

 

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People often do not care to discuss it, but it is suffering – A Natural Progression Of Christian Maturity

So many people do not like to even consider this topic because it is something the world does not like.  We like to look out for number one, satisfy the senses, and look and feel good.  Let us see what the Bible says about the Christian and suffering- 

 

2 Timothy 3:12 King James Version (KJV)

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

The scripture tells us that NOT some or a few will suffer, but ALL, so we should expect and be ready for it.  If I do not suffer and experience persecution, the scripture tells me that I am not living godly in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10  King James Version (KJV)  Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

1 Peter 4:12-13  King James Version (KJV)

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

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On farmland, there can be no blessing without effort, and no harvest without plowing.  The ground must be broken up before anything can be planted.  Before a thing can be made, something must be broken.  Before a house is built, earth, rocks and trees must be removed.  Before there can be life, there must be death.  Before there can be joy, there must be weeping.  The pain of the birth precedes the joy of the newborn child.  THERE IS NO MAKING WITHOUT BREAKING.  Life is full of broken promises and broken hopes, shattered dreams, and unfulfilled ideals.  No one can escape them.

As followers of God though, we know that broken things are the assurance that God is making something.  Romans 8:28 says it all:   28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Our heartache, weakness, sickness, pain, tragedy and bereavement are for the glory of God.

Only broken things are useful to God.  In Judges, chapter 7 we have the familiar story of Gideon.  When Gideon’s men attacked the enemy, they had to break the pitchers to let the light within, shine forth in the darkness.  The visual effect scared the enemy and they fled in disorder throughout the night.  Instead of 300 men, they thought there were 300 companies.

Let us examine the broken pitchers.  The pitchers were earthen vessels, and hidden in them were flaming torches of light.  We who are saved are the earthen vessels to whom the Lord has trusted the blessing of the Holy Spirit.  Within us is our burning torch, the Holy Spirit, by whom we can do all things.  We need to be broken before our light can shine.  It is only then that we experience a life of victory and power.

I Corinthians 11:24  Paul quotes Jesus   “…this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  Without the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ, we could not be made whole.  God knows how everything must be broken before it can be used fruitfully.  A wild horse must be broken and tamed before we can use it.

…to be continued in Part 3.

Suffering / Part 1

This is the first entry of a series with the theme of suffering.  Today’s posting features three different devotionals on this topic, that I have read in the last couple of days!  That indicates how relevant this subject is.  The Bible is an oxymoron to the world, never making sense to the lost because “His ways are not our ways.”  The Bible tells us (the Apostle Paul) that “…when I am weak, then I am strong.”  The Bible tells us that “the Lord uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”  The Bible also contains the theme throughout, that God blesses and works through suffering – Jesus’ death on the cross being the greatest example.  I have found that this fascinating subject is readily received by born again Christians, yet eschewed by nominal Christians and worldlings.  The fact is, they have absolutely no comprehension of this topic.  Speaking for myself, my greatest growth has come under the crucible of testing, trials and tribulations.  In order to make us into His image, the Lord must break us from our sinful fallen nature and fleshly desires.  This is a lifelong process that never ends.  Suffering is the hallmark of the mature saint – there are no shortcuts to heaven.

Blessings, Pastor Steve

 

Work Together

Work Together

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

My wife makes an amazing pot roast dinner. She takes raw meat, along with raw sliced white and sweet potatoes, celery, mushrooms, carrots, and onions and throws them into the slow cooker. Six or seven hours later the aroma fills the house, and the first taste is a delight. It is always to my advantage to wait until the ingredients in the slow cooker work together to achieve something they could not achieve individually.

When Paul used the phrase “work together” in the context of suffering, he used the word from which we get our word synergy. He wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). He wanted the Romans to know that God, who didn’t cause their suffering, would cause all their circumstances to cooperate with His divine plan—for their ultimate good. The good to which Paul referred was not the temporal blessings of health, wealth, admiration, or success, but being “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (v. 29).

May we wait patiently and confidently because our heavenly Father is taking all the suffering, all the distress, all the evil, and causing them to work together for His glory and our spiritual good. He wants to make us like Jesus.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 1:6, and 1 Peter 5:10. What encouragement did you find for tough times?

The growth we gain from waiting on God is often greater than the answer or result we desire.

INSIGHT:“All things” (Rom. 8:28) is a phrase that treats the seemingly good and bad events of life as a whole. The idea is that there is a dynamic interaction between the good and bad to bring a desired outcome, though this positive outcome may not yet be visible. If we consider a young man nailed to a cross dying in agony, we might wonder if anything good could be found there. But if we understand that this is Jesus Christ atoning for the sins of those who love Him, we can see how even this terrible event worked together for good. God works for “the good” of those who are true believers in Jesus Christ. They demonstrate the authenticity of their faith because they respond back with love to the One who first loved them (1 John 4:19).

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Hast thou considered my servant Job?       Job 1:8

Obviously God had considered Job.  He said that there was none like him on earth, perfect and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil.  Well might we wonder what God says when He considers us.  Nevertheless Job suffered to the extent that now he is seen as an example of suffering.  What was the end of the matter?  It is that we should consider God who is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, and pure.  “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.”  (Job 37:14)  -D. Pickup

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed, Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee; How great thou art, how great Thou art!  -Carl Boberg

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Open Windows   A Guide For Personal Devotions    Winter 2016-2017    LifeWay

A Sign Of Hope

Exodus 12:13 King James Version (KJV)

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Do you ever wonder why God does not protect His own from the calamities of life?  As Christians, we are covered with the blood of the Lamb of God – death no longer holds power over those who belong to Him.  Yet, the waves of trial and sorrow hit the lives of Christians just as catastrophically as they crash into the lives of unbelievers.  Why does suffering not “pass over” those marked by the blood of Jesus?

Consider the horrors left in the aftermath of the plagues.  Death and decay all around – men, women, children, and livestock all struck dead where they stood.  The faithful were protected from death, but they were left with a world filled with festering, disease-breeding corpses and mourning.

Regardless of how difficult the circumstances they faced, their victory was not to be found in earthly condition but in the hope only God could provide.  They could celebrate His goodness in the face of devastation.

When trouble strikes, may we remember that hope in God will see us through.

Father, when trouble comes, help us to hold on to the hope found only in You.  Remind us that our victory in Christ is secure, no matter what life brings our way.

 

 

Christianity Lite / Part 2

Some folks believe the Christian faith gives them both the Lord and the world.  The desire is merely to have fire insurance when they pass on to eternity.  Commitment is not in their vocabulary.  They remind me of the old Brylcreem commercial that tells us that “a little dab will do you.”  Remember?  You Tube flash back below:

I have met quite a few church hoppers through the years.  You know, whereas their “commitment” is one hour at a different church every other week.  I believe their understanding of the truth of Christianity is usually real, yet their heart, hands, feet and time do not follow their profession.  They intentionally find invented “problems” wherever they go, because if they did not, they might be expected or asked to be part of a time consuming ministry in the local church.  So, the preacher is too “hellfire and brimstone” in his delivery, or he is too soft, the choir is too old fashioned, no one pays attention to me, etc., etc., etc.  There is always an excuse, because not to have one would force us to be (Dare we say it?) ACCOUNTABLE.  They then attend another church in this never ending cycle.  Their only commitment is to non commitment.  Whenever they are spoken of, one can always say:  “They are attending another church.”   

Image result for picture of bunny rabbit church hoppers

They desire an inoculation and not a saturation.  We are talking “touch base” Christianity.   They follow movements, personalities and teachings – and they carefully hold them at arms length as they are already planning on their exit strategy.  I have spoken to people who tell visitors from the local church, that “they go to the other church in town,” playing both ends against the middle, and in reality they consistently attend no church in town.  Having been in the ministry for awhile, I am on to their slipping through the cracks and flying under the radar shenanigans, and I have no positive feeling when they come, anticipating their soon departure for greener pastures for whatever their newly concocted reason(s).  Of course we always pray for a change of heart.   

A careful reading of the Word of God however, tells us that this is always the case.  There are many professors and few possessors.  Let us close this devotional with the challenging Words of our Lord and Savior:

Matthew 7  

  13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

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Real believers produce real fruit.  Real believers desire to do more than blend in with the woodwork and continually look for another church.  The difference?  Jesus Christ has their heart, and they are truly born from above.  They are chomping at the bit to serve, and do not even have to be asked.  They are best summed up as truly living Romans 12:1  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Image result for picture of bunny rabbit church hoppers

It is inexcusable for anyone to consider themselves a committed Christian, who go for years without membership and consistent attendance in the local church of their choice!  Real salvation, sacrifice and service go together like love and marriage and like a horse and carriage.  Pretenders stick out like dead branches on a tree that are soon swept away.  When Jesus has your heart, He has all of you, and you enjoy rubbing elbows with others who are just as imperfect as you are!  You think about that.

Pastor Steve

Fiery Trials Build You Up In The Faith

September 21, 2016

Our Daily Bread

Fiery Trials

 

Read: James 1:2-12
Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 7-9; 2 Corinthians 13

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.—James 1:2

Fire can be one of the worst enemies of trees. But it can also be helpful. Experts say that small, frequent fires called “cool” fires clean the forest floor of dead leaves and branches but don’t destroy the trees. They leave behind ashes, which are perfect for seeds to grow in. Surprisingly, low-intensity fires are necessary for healthy growth of trees.

Similarly, trials—pictured as fire in the Bible—are necessary for our spiritual health and growth (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12). James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

It is in the season of trial that God’s purposes are often realized, for there the conditions are right for us to grow into spiritual maturity. This growth not only equips us for living, but it also enables us to more accurately reflect Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.

In the hands of our Father, our trials can achieve His purposes for our good and for His honor. They can shape us into the likeness of His Son. —Bill Crowder

Father, teach me to trust You for the strength to endure difficulties and the faith to wait for Your good purposes to be accomplished in me.
Encourage others! Go to odb.org and share what God taught you through a challenging time.

Faith is seeing God in the dark and in the light.

 INSIGHT: James, the half-brother of Jesus, believed that Christ was the Messiah after witnessing His resurrection from the dead. James led the early church as a “Messianic Jew,” a term referring to someone who has been reared in the traditions of Judaism and who acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. In today’s reading, James says that a positive attitude toward trials—“consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1:2)—is central to the Christian life. Trials are beneficial because they produce positive character change through the power of God.

American Renewal Project

THE STATE OF THE UNION
“Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the Lord understand all.”
 Proverbs 28:5
The Protestant Reformation taught that the Bible, not reason, serves as the ultimate source of truth. Natural law can instruct us, but if left unaided by grace and by special revelation (Scripture), then reason will lead us astray. Solomon advises that evil men have no insight into the boundaries prescribed by Wisdom, but those who seek the Lord understand all things. Those who possess Biblical wisdom have “understanding,” i.e., intellectual clarity informed by moral discernment.
Question: How many of the current U.S. Supreme Court Justices operate upon a foundation Biblical wisdom? If not, it is to their detriment, practicing jurisprudence while relying on one’s own intellect and ignoring Biblical wisdom. They have put themselves at odds with the Living God with their June 2015 pronouncement about same-sex intercourse and marriage. Jehovah is not a passive spectator. These fools with their inattention to Jehovah’s directives have put the nation in the dead center of judgment. Do these judicial gods think in the end that they will override God and His established order? They will not.
Earthbound mortals cannot thwart His will and purposes. The wicked, who renounce and/or disregard His rule are obviously fools.” -Bruce Waltke*

 

God ranks righteousness above sacrifice and ethics above secular legal theorem. The choice is simple: “God says” or “Man says.” But Christians will never knuckle under to the foisting of homosexual marriage on America, and Jehovah God will take care of His elect.

As the Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christian constituency tucked tail and ran from the public square over the last century, their absence reveals impacted our constitutional republic, for “the life of the community will be influenced for good or evil depending on which class has the upper hand.“** As a result of our disengagement from the public square, America is being led by a man who purposely lied about his position on same-sex marriage. To be elected in 2008, Barack Obama said “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian–for me–for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union.  God’s in the mix.”*** The shame is that then-Senator Barack Obama was willing to commit a premeditated, blatant lie for such a very small consideration. God is not impressed that Obama holds the title as the 44th President of the United States, He is interested in his character and the integrity of his word.

As a result of President Obama’s unconstitutional Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda– bypassing Constitutional government and the Congress to impose his immoral agenda–he has demonstrated that he is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. It’s not just that he has robbed America of a Constitutional Republic, but that he does it without any sense of shame or guilt. Alas, America is receiving the kind of statesman it deserves. Having removed the teaching of virtue, righteousness, and character from public education curriculum for the last half-century, America is no longer tied to the epistemological foundation laid by America’s Founders.
 
Let me say one final word on President Obama’s stewardship of the nation. Solomon instructed, “Scorners set a city aflame, but the wise turn away anger” (Proverbs 29:8). Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains “scornful men“: “The men who head political or religious revolutions, who inflame (literally as in the margin) the minds of the people against the powers that be.” Obama foolishly exacerbates every difficult and delicate situation in the nation, demonstrating that he is the antithesis of the spiritually wise. Dr. Bruce K. Waltke notes about such a scornful man: “He has a genius for invective and denigration that impresses the gullible as long as he has his way. He opens his big mouth and, unleashing the tensions and strains in a community, he sets the whole nation aflame and destroys it.” 
 
WHERE ARE WE HEADING?

 

Let’s be specific, a nation which makes a habit of shedding blood-55 million babies terminated since Roe vs. Wade took effect in 1973-has no place to turn for help. “A man [nation] that is laden with the blood of any person shall hasten his steps unto the pit; none will support him” (Proverbs 28:17). The stockpiling of wealth by Planned Parenthood as they profit from the murder of unborn babies, and the anemic Republican leadership of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner last fall in overturning President Obama’s veto of these grisly acts, is incompatible with “righteousness that exalts the nation” (Proverbs 14:34). The murder of unborn children is leading to a sentence of death to the nation by Jehovah (Ezekiel 18:13).

 

What is the antidote to the wholesale slaughter of children in America, and the exaltation and normalization of same-sex intercourse and marriage? Confession of sin. “He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper; But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

We need divine mercy, and a Gideon or Rahab to make a stand.


David Lane
American Renewal Project
  • *Bruce K. Waltke, Proverbs

Never Give Up!

Our Daily Bread

August 2, 2016

Read: 2 Timothy 3:10-15
Bible in a Year: Psalms 60-62; Romans 5

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. —2 Timothy 4:7

Joop Zoetemelk is known as the Netherlands’ most successful cyclist. But that’s because he never gave up. He started and finished the Tour de France 16 times—placing second five times before winning in 1980. That’s perseverance!

Many winners have reached success by climbing a special ladder called “never give up.” However, there are also many who have lost the opportunity to achieve success because they gave up too soon. This can happen in every area of life: family, education, friends, work, service. Perseverance is a key to victory.

The apostle Paul persevered despite persecution and affliction (2 Tim. 3:10-11). He viewed life with realism, recognizing that as followers of Christ we will suffer persecution (vv. 12-13), but he instructed Timothy to place his faith in God and the encouragement of the Scriptures (vv. 14-15). Doing so would help him face discouragement and endure with hope. At the end of his life, Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (4:7).

We too can allow the Scriptures to strengthen us to press on in the race marked out for us. For our God is both a promise-making and promise-keeping God and will reward those who faithfully finish the race (v. 8). —Jaime Fernández Garrido

Heavenly Father, give me strength of character and perseverance to serve you better. Help me not to get discouraged when things get tough but to rely on You to see me through.

Faith connects our weakness to God’s strength.

INSIGHT: Paul experienced great persecution in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. In Antioch, he faced aggressive opposition from the religious leaders (Acts 13:45; 15:1-2). In Iconium, Gentile and Jewish leaders conspired to have him killed (14:4-5). And in Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead (v. 19). Yet in his final letter to Timothy, Paul uses these three cities as examples of perseverance. He recounts these terribly painful events not to garner pity but to remind Timothy of God’s faithfulness during times of hardship and pain. Dennis Moles

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