When Pain Becomes A Platform

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. (2 Corinthians 1:5-6)

Christ Jesus himself spoke this: “14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14-15)

He was indicating that he would be lifted up on a cross to suffer but so that “32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:32-33)

Yet through this suffering, salvation for those who believe in him becomes possible. We also must realize that as Christ followers too, suffering will come in life and when we have God’s hope through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are his messages to the World that does not know him. Through suffering, he pours his hope and consolation into our hearts and we become becons of light that show the World that suffering has not had the final say. Jesus Christ accomplished more by his death I dare say then his life teaching- though in this sense: Jesus taught his perfect ways, yet unless He died for sin, the knowlege he spread through teaching and preaching would have been all lost. The reason it would, is all Jesus did and taught and miracles performed were to draw and point people to himself for salvation. And if Jesus Christ did not finish his ministry with the sacrificial death, God would have no atonement for sins and could not forgive us even Jesus taught these people- they still needed a transformation that can only be received through faith in his substitutionary atonement for their sins and the sins of the World.

Yet as we as his followers suffer, we are to point others to Him, for if the people in the World see that Jesus Christ’s power has sustained us through fierce storms and hardships, some of them will see He is truly the answer. The Apostle Paul first says in 2 Cor 1

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;”

Manifold application, suffering of a person of faith when done in the power and strength of Christ both has an effect on the lost but also younger believers who look to us who have walked with Christ longer for encouragement. As a result, many see how the Lord has enabled us to thrive in what most would be shaken by, they are inspired often and given hope. For the non Christian, may that hope lead to their salvation, for the new believer, may that hope result in their faith growing.

Secondly: “if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.”

As we go through tests and trials, God pours his heavenly grace out and encourages us- then we with joy share our encouragement God has built us up with through time with Him and in his Word, when we pass this hope unto others suffering similar tests of faith/ they also often are blessed with God’s comfort to us as we go through similar struggles as they face. Sharing becomes caring and overflows into the hearts of many being edified, strengthened and uplifted.

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At The Feet Of Jesus

In the case of Ruth, she lay at the feet of Boaz to propose, and seek him to redeem her. Under the Law if a man died and left a widow, the brother of the deceased would assume the role as redeemer and marry the widow to ensure the dead brother’s widow could survive by giving her offspring. In Ruth’s case, her husband did die and she instead of returning to Moab as her sister had done, she pledged her loyalty to Naomi her mother in law and the God of Israel. Boaz was related to this story because he had a right to redeem her if the one person who was yet still closer declined to do so, and this happened. So she shortly before lays down at the feet of Boaz to seek to show her desire to be provided for and marry Boaz. Yet this story is not just in Scripture to show some wonderful love story between just a man and a woman. Through Ruth and Boaz, came a few generations later David, the king of Israel who God said he would have a descendent come to forever rule in Israel.

This has come through Christ who came to save the nation and the World. Through Christ salvation – he brought many to be under his feet/ the Church, the people redeemed by faith, are under the feet of Christ in submission to the Savior who suffered and died to raise to life in faith and make a body of people loyal to God. Symbolically the new woman- the Church has fallen at the foot of the cross- and Christ honors those who draw near in faith to pledge their loyalty and seek His redemptive salvation from sin!

Psalm 11, For Oct 11, 2018.

Todays Psalm,

The Psalmist seeks refuge and security in the Lord from “The wicked” who “bend their bows” and “set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.” This was written in times where archery was fairly widely used in warfare. However, we know that this is also metaphoric for how people use their tongues.

Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”

(Jeremiah 9:8-9)

The Psalm goes on to say, “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.” God hates sin and violence whether we use physical violence or sharpen our words to shoot like arrows. We are told in John 3:16 “For God so loved the World that he gave his only son so that whomsoever will believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

So which is true? Does God love or hate sinners? Actually God loves even sinners but hates sin, and his hate for sin is so deep only Christ’s death on our behalf is a good enough atonement for sin. Those who fail to recognize his love though will perish in sin and be forever seperated from God and “On the wicked he wilk rain fiery coals and burning sulfer; a scorching east wind will be their lot.”

Yet the Gospel is God’s good news to even people who have lived sinfully because God through Jesus Christ invites us all to make peace with him and receive forgiveness we can never earn!

When the Lord confronted his nation of sin, he said something so fascinating

I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire. Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (Isaiah 27:4-5)

This is God’s invite to make peace with him and seek his forgiveness and generous pardon, or else we all will have to face him as Judge.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

God is very patient, that is why we who are loyal to him today and walk in his commands lived long enough to come to our senses and believe the Good News- this is what Gospel means!

She Paid Such A Price, For All Her Dead Mice.

-She Paid The Price For All The Dead Mice-

There was once a woman who had a mice infestation problem. Everytime she found a dead mouse, she would throw it in the closet and forget about it. She did this for some time and one evening she had some guests over. When one lady caught wind of a smell, she said to the host, something seems to stink in your home and she goes to the closet to see what it was and the lady who was hosting exclaimed, “Don’t open the door!” However, it was too late because the other woman already turned the knob and out came the dead mice that had been piled up in her closet.

Some do likewise with sins and wrongdoing, they never throw out what is rank and vile or smells odious but they try to conceal their sins instead of ridding their lives of the ways that stink. They may cover it over with the smell good sprays of good works yet their guilt is not easily masked, and only temporary at best. They may hide who they are with a bag that is a facade, yet everything eventually comes out and they cannot hide what they do forever.

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

[1 Timothy 5:24-25]

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

(Proverbs 28:13)

Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom. What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever. (Proverbs 10:18-25)

Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:23-28)

When The Battle Grows Tiring

2 Samuel 23 :10 – He was with David and went on fighting the Philistines till his hand became tired and stiff from gripping his sword: and that day the Lord gave a great salvation, and the people came back after him only to take the goods of the Philistines.

The battles of life can wear us down, and see how his hand became tired and stiff yet it adds. “and on that day the Lord gave a grear salvation” Yet obviously this battle lasted for sometime and if you are wielding a sword that long your hand may grow sore.

I see something in this verse I have not before seen. So often we may be closest to victory when we feel we cannot swing the sword for too much longer. We are often encouraged to patiently persevere through our trials and Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Is your hand tired from fighting those Philistines in life, waging war against strongholds and sins that trip, or maybe some are facing opposition from actual people who do not believe in the Lord. For some others it may be fears, it may be financial struggles that wont let up- problems with health maybe, or a family problems. Yet keep trusting God and dont get tired and give up. Continue to fight with his strength by persevering and doing what His Word commands and eventually God will come through in some wonderful way. It may not be exactly as we thought but we can trust it will be for our greatest good.

Fruit of Keeping With Repentence

John the Baptist saw the Pharisees show up, he knew they had not come to hear him for the sake of the repentence he was preaching on. Infact whenever people like that showed up, they were looking for a opportunity to trap Jesus in what he said- so they could have him killed. However, John the Baptist and Jesus never got put to death until God had allowed. John eventually got put to death after being imprisoned by Herod for calling him out on an adulterous relationship he had. Funny thing about Herod was he seemed slightly intrigued and would send for John to hear him but eventually the woman he was with had pursuaded her daughter to ask for John’s head on a platter – after Herod opened his mouth and promised the daughter whatever she wished (watching the daughter do some dance) Herod got so excited over that provocative little show he made an oath infront of dinner guests (Being to worried of what others thought- he consented to have John’s head cut off when the daughter of Herodias asked/ she got some pursuasion from her mother)

Yet John’s death resulted- and Jesus eventually was handed over by the betrayer Judas, and the chief priests, pharisees and scribes were delighted in this.

Yet the below passage was earlier on in John’s ministry, and he is preparing them for the entrance Jesus makes – he says “Repent” and Jesus came showing the people the solution for sin is in Him. Jesus often would say “Believe the Goodnews” and salvation requires “Repent” and “Believe” because on one hand we turn from sin, and on the other, we receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour for forgiveness of sin.

Many in our time have gotten confused and some think, “Just belief” yet repentence and faith – believing the Gospel is the answer. To only superficially have some intellectual belief does not save, because James warns, “Even the demons believe and shudder” but to truly enter into freedom and true faith one must turn from sin (Repent) to (Believe) – Receive the Gospel that Christ died for the forgiveness of sins and rose from the dead so we can have newness of life- and eternal life to come:

To just believe in Jesus yet not obey him or follow him does not make us disciples but mere spectators like the Pharisees or Herod who seemed curious and nosy, and offended.

I think we all struggle with this- but its good to remind ourselves of the truth, so many wonderful experiences in the now can be forfeited by grabbing at what we want from God that he has is the tomorrows!

Jesus’s Presence Challenges People.

Jesus presence is challenging- we all must admit that, because for us to believe He is who he said he was leaves us with the challenge of “What are you going to do with this? How are you going to respond?” I on this have given three examples of people in Jesus’s day that let their own ambitions keep them from responding. Sure unbelief is a problem for many, but these people it was not the only thing holding them hostage, infact they may have been more convinced of Jesus being who he said then they led on- but there is often another heart issue we all as human’s face, our desires vs His plan/ and when these both are conflicting, we may even try to rationalize what we know away because we fear the implications. Its a very human problem- Jeremiah says “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it, who can cure it.”

Yet when we receive the Gospel through true and saving faith, turning from our old ways of sin and self will that have so often hurt us the most, and others- and then believe the Gospel and let Him lead- we are given a “New heart”- “I will give them w heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone” Ezekiel says.

So at the moment we are converted, God’s Spirit comes to reside in our hearts- yet even as Christians who are as 2 Cor says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has gone and new has come” we may still have a struggle with certain things Jesus wants us to do, or lay down, and we have a new mindset that desires to please the Lord and loves him yet sometimes we still have desires and let our wills conflict. That is why Paul says “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” but so often there can be a tug of war- after all we still have a physical body and must by God’s power rule over it by self control, we still have dreams and goals, not all are out of God’s will either but there is often patience and trust we must feed and we should praise God for his goodness as opposed to grumble. Sometimes God does not answer a prayer for even a normally good thing with a yes right away/ sometimes it is “No, I have a better plan” but often, “Just patiently trust me and wait”

But these three groups below let them be held back/ we even see

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Luke 7:29-30 –

So sad, you do not want to get to the end of your life and then realize “I rejected God’s purpose for my life” like these Pharisees. Some wait until the sun is setting in their latter years to finally embrace Jesus and by then they look back on all their lost time. Some sadly do not even come to him at all, and forfeit life and eternal life to come. They settle for a wasted life here and miss out on eternal life to come.

This is not a hell fire and brimstone message but it is an attempt to make people consider, you want to live filled with purpose and not miss out on what you could truly have because your afraid of what it costs. Yet Jesus says “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul”

Jesus gave the invite to a rich young ruler who came to him:

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:18-27)

In one account of this story, it says: “Jesus looked at him and loved him” and we can see the almost sadness cover Jesus face to when this man let possession and prestige and power hold him back.

Reader, are you holding back? If so ask yourself why and just by yourself take a fearless inventory to introspect your own heart. Jesus did not force this man to do anything yet he was sad he missed out.

The Disobedient Prophet Was A Sign

Just came to mind, He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

(Matthew 12:39-40)

Jonah was the sign to the Ninevites. Jonah was suffering for disobeying the Lord yet he made Jonah a sign to the Ninevites. God did this to Jonah cause he disobeyed the Lord and inspite made Jonah an example for the people of Ninevah to see that they also needed to repent of their sins. They did- and God had mercy on them like he did for Jonah.

Yet as believers we to have times were disobedience of the past may reward us with consequences in the present and God does not let us get away with doing what we should not even if it seems like it, because it eventually catches up and bites us in the rearend. If I may be so frank, this season of life I feel God has shown me is both personally results of disobedience in my life from even years ago but I feel like he has shown me, just as I still used Jonah to serve me after he humbled himself so you can use what happened to you to show others that they also need my mercy and forgiveness. And the great news is even when we mess things up, God may still use even our mistakes to point people to Himself.

Praise the Lord.

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing — grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.

Joel 2:13-14 –

Even if we are suffering today the after effects of choices of our past, God is very gracious and merciful when we turn back to him, humbling ourselves and owning up. Psalm 30:5 says “His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime, weeping may remain for a night but joy comes in the morning”

There is none of us who can say we sinned too much to turn to Jesus for mercy, only the failure to humble oneself and entreat him is an unforgivable offense. Yet he shows us mercy and grace when we truly repent and turn to him!

The Jealous Jews Of Acts

When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:45-46!

Fascinating passage, first we see part of the problem from the Jews in Antioch was “Jealousy” and I find that sort of amusing, because at first glance I would think the text may have blamed unbelief or aggravation- but the text specifically says “They were filled with jealousy” and the Jews seemed to envy the attention that they got from this new message that had been revealed through the early Apostles- and when the grew sorderly and stubborn and aggressive, the disciples left to go elsewhere.

Yet not long later this event happens:

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

(Acts 14:19-20)

These agitators actually went out of their way to follow them from that city if Antioch all the way to Iconium. They were so bent on putting an end to this teaching they went out of their way and poisoned the minds of Gentiles in Iconium against them- and created a mob.

Yet Paul, get this, “He got up and wenf back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derby”

Haha as if nothing happened, and that same Holy Spirit that filled these men in Acts with power is the same Spirit that carries us through life today. Supernaturally enabling us to do whatever God has planned and giving us great boldness to face whatever we encounter. We must though receive God’s continual graces into our hearts and minds and let Him do all the heavy lifting. The disciples and Paul did not sit around feeling sorry for themselves, and feeling bad that they nearly got stoned to death. Paul, shook it off like nothing happened and powers on in the Lord’s strength. We too must have this same resolve because we serve a God and Lord that is far greater then whatever we face. His power can enable us with might on the inside even when stones are thrown from the outside!