Mark 13:13 – “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (NIV 1978)
My Musings – There are a lot of reasons that people may hate us, but being hated because of our relationship to Christ is nothing to be ashamed of or to fear. Rather we should stand firm in the face of such opposition and not compromise to gain favor.
My Advice – Do not try too hard to gain the world’s favor. It is likely that you will be subjected to a certain degree of dislike or ridicule because you profess to know Christ. Do not be ashamed of this. Be proud of it.
Matthew 14:20, 32 – But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink…Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him…and when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – The wind did not die down and the waves did not calm when Jesus took Peter’s hand. Life is full of trouble and will likely be until He calls us home. But He is with us in the storm, and will immediately take our hand and lift us above the waves if we let Him. The waves are still there, but they are not a danger.
My Advice – The picture in our entryway (see below) is a favorite. It reminds me that Jesus is always within reach. That while He does not always calm the sea, He will not let us sink. That He can lift us above the waves if we let Him. That in heaven (the boat) there will be no more waves or wind. When the storms of life seem about to overwhelm you, remember the picture and remember the lesson.
Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.
My Musings – Trials and suffering are an inevitable fact of life for the Christian. Just like a newborn baby, it seems like no sooner are we born again than we are being slapped around just to make us to cry. Or so it seems. Certainly, our new adversary the devil will do everything he can to discourage us, keep us from growing and just make us cry. But Satan is not the source of all the “slapping.” Sometimes God will also permit difficulties in our lives. These may involve some crying too, but that is not their real purpose. God wants us to take that first breath of spiritual air. He wants us to learn to live the new life we have begun in Him. He wants to instruct us, train us, develop us, and yes, sometimes discipline us. To learn to walk in faith, He knows that we will have to take a few spills along the way. Just like our physical parents, He is there to make sure we do not hurt ourselves, to pick us up and to help us along our way.
But that is not all. Just like our physical parents are there to protect us from actual harm from bullies, our heavenly Father is also there to protect us from any real or lasting harm from that ultimate bully, Satan. While God wants us to learn how to stand up for ourselves, He is always there to make sure things do not get out of hand. With the insights that we gain by fixing on eyes on the unseen, perhaps, we can better understand and appreciate why we must encounter so much trials and suffering in our earthly lives. In so doing we will be in a better position to endure “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering,” which are “light and momentary,” by focusing on the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Maybe we will even stop seeing the cloud in every silver-lining.
My Advice – Trials and suffering should not catch us off guard. Nor should we consider it strange when we do encounter them. For Jesus very clearly told us we would encounter persecution in this world, simply because we were His followers. In fact, He said if we will unwilling to “carry our own crosses” and follow Jesus (a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief) we could not be His disciple. These are hard sayings, but we must understand that Jesus not only willingly carried Hs own cross; He was nailed to it and died on it for us in order to give us eternal life. It is the promise (His promise, sealed by His blood) of that eternal life that makes the suffering and trials here on earth bearable.
Coming Soon – An updated version of my Bible study “Got Spiritual Milk?” will soon be available in the Store link on my home page. What you see above is a short excerpt the chapter dealing with the ninth of twelve “steps” discussed in the study.
Ezekiel 2:6 – “Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.” (NIV 1978)
My Musings – As Christians, we have nothing to fear. The Holy Spirit lives within us, the Son intercedes for us, and the Father has accepted us as heirs.
My Advice – Take courage. No matter what difficulties surround you or what circumstances you encounter, God is with you. Because of this, you need not be afraid. He is bigger than any of these things.
Destinations Require A Journey
My Musing – I suppose we all had a destination in mind when we began adulthood. But less frequently do we consider what kind of journey might be required to get us there. Take marriage for instance. When we say for better or worse we think only of the better, giving little thought of the worse parts of the journey that may be required to get us to the better. Or for richer or poorer, of course we may have to go through some lean times in the beginning of the journey, but we have our eyes fixed on the ultimate richer. And don’t even get me started on in sickness or in health.
But marriage is just one example of many life’s journeys. Continue reading “Destinations Require a Journey”
Fade To Black (And White)
Eileen and I have now been married nearly forty-two years and have known each other forty-four. This coming January, Joshua will have been gone twenty-five years. Joel has been out of college ten years and is nearly thirty-three. And now, Eileen and I are back to where it all began – empty nesters.
There has been a “whole lot of living” in all of those years. And as promised at the beginning, we trust that we have given you a glimpse into how God has brought about good and how He has blessed us with joy and peace in the midst of affliction and sorrow. Continue reading “Fade To Black (And White)”
Step 9: Be Prepared To Suffer With Christ
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering. (Philippians 3:10)
A: Discovering the Truth
B. Exploring the Truth
Trials and suffering should not catch us off guard. Nor should we consider it strange when we do encounter them. For Jesus very clearly told us we would encounter persecution in this world, simply because we were His followers. Continue reading “Be Prepared To Suffer With Christ”