“Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered’” (Romans 8:36).
The hardships of life (a sample listing in vs. 35) confront us on a never-ending basis; seemingly, all day long. In our inexperienced youth, we mistakenly think that once we have faced a trial, life will return to the place it once was. Experience, however, has come to teach us that any present adversity is but a precursor and a preparation for the one that is forthcoming, and that nothing will ever be as it once was.
“I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word” (Psalm 119:101).
It seems that in every forum requiring communication and dialogue, the rhetoric has taken on a tone of incivility and hostility. Instead of thoughtful conversation about various ideas, we hear only extreme opinions expressed with the most extreme voices. In the midst of this, the church has a unique opportunity to be a restrained and measured voice that properly reflects the word of God and the Spirit of the living Christ.
“And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. And it came about when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Genesis 4:4-5, 8).
It’s not just Cain’s problem. Envy invites each of us to lament the inequities of life. It beckons you to a constant comparison of what others have to what you don’t: the sibling with the happy marriage; the co-worker whose salary is higher; the neighbor with bright, intelligent, well-adjusted kids; the friend with dark hair while yours is graying. Envy is what prompted Cain to kill Abel. And even if envy doesn’t go to this extreme, it will murder your soul nonetheless.
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Based upon the promises of scripture, we are confident that God hears and answers the prayers of his people. Why, then, are so many frustrated in their prayer life? Could it be that most people consider a prayer to be answered only when it is fulfilled as they have asked and desired? The promise is that every prayer will be answered. The seasoned believer recognizes that prayer is often answered in ways we never expected, and sometimes never wanted. Of this you can be confident.
“If anyone serves Me, they must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26).
A cursory search of the gospels reveal that the appeal, “Follow Me,” was extended often by Jesus. To follow him is to become an imitation of his life and example — his compassion, his love, his humor, his interaction with broken humanity. It is a life pursuit that lands you where the action is. Anything else is poor imitation.
“But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:12).
Standing for one’s faith in the routines of daily life, within the context of a culture that, if not hostile to the things of God is certainly indifferent, can be exhausting and discouraging. It’s important, therefore, that we awake each morning not with the fear of what we might face, but that we step into the day with the attitude that we have already been declared the victors. If we don’t believe it, neither will anyone else.
“Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with words, unsettling your souls” (Acts 15:24).
Many, even in the church, have difficulty grasping the concept of grace. So much so, they attempt to add human requirements and biblical laws to God’s redeeming mercies — a kind of faith + something else. It is the “something else” that brings disturbance, conflict, agitation, and unrest to the soul because we can never figure out what it is or how much of it is necessary. Grace alone is the salve and healing balm of the soul. It’s presence is the unceasing reminder of what God has and what we are unable to achieve.