Press Onward and Upward

even-smaller-bug-light1

49 “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand, 50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young. — Deut 28:49, 50 NLT​

Deuteronomy 28 is probably best known for all the blessings that God promises if His people are obedient.  If the Israelis obeyed God by keeping His laws and commandments, they would be the most blessed nation on earth.  In this chapter, God also explains to them what will happen if they are disobedient.  If they fail to keep His commandments and laws, they will be the most cursed nation on earth and will eventually not be a nation at all, but a scattered people.  While the law was fulfilled when Jesus gave His life for us on the Cross and was resurrected, He still expects His people to be obedient.  God’s commandments in the Old Testaments were not just suggestions and His commands to us to be holy even as He is holy and to love Him above everyone and everything and our neighbors as ourselves are not suggestions.  He is the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow, so we can be sure that if we are not obedient under the new covenant, the same curses will befall us.  We may or may not be a “Christian” nation, but we are a nation with millions of Christians living here.  We can make a difference if we spend time on our knees before a holy God and petition Him continuously for mercy and grace for our nation.  Jesus gave us the example of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).  Let us follow that example in keeping on keeping on with our requests for our nation.  God told Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, if He could find five righteous people there, let us pray that He will show us the same mercy.

 
17 Never stop praying. — 1 Thess. 5:17 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-05-2018

“Testing Produces Endurance”

even-smaller-bug-light1

because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. – James 1:3 ISV
 
We love reading those verses that make us feel good, like Romans 8:28, Phil 4:13, John 10:10 and John 3:16.  Those are great verses that encourage us by letting us know that God is good and everything is going to be okay. But those verses can seem pretty hollow when we feel like God has deserted us and we are all alone in this evil world.  It is hard for us to understand how God, who is love, can allow bad things to happen to His children. When these times come, we need to remember that all we can see is “now”, but God sees and knows all about the future. He allows testing so that we can know where we are on our journey.  He already knows but we need to know so that we do not become puffed up and prideful.  Jesus warned us that in this world we would be offended and tested, so, it should come as no surprise when we are. Our Lord and Savior was tested and tempted in every way possible. He understands our pain better than we do.  We should never deny that we are in pain or that we are sick and hurting.  We need to admit our weaknesses and ask God to bring us through this time of testing. We need to persevere so that we can become mature and complete, fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We don’t want to hear “count it all joy” while we are in the process, but after the test is concluded, we can look back on the experience and see that Jesus carried us through the whole process.  The joy comes from knowing who we serve and that He loves us so much that He will allow nothing in our lives that He doesn’t give us strength to overcome. We are to “count it all joy”, not because of the situation, but in spite of the situation. We can’t be overcomers and conquerors if we never face situations that require us to overcome or conquer.  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:9, 10 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-25-2018

Strengthened to Suffer

even-smaller-bug-light1

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

We are so blessed to live in a country where we can still worship as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be concerned about being persecuted for our beliefs.  We try to avoid those situations where witnessing for Jesus might embarrass us much less those where we might be physically abused.  But, we are living in an age right now where Christians are being beaten and imprisoned for their loyalty and obedience to Jesus.  We need to prepare ourselves for those times even here in our own country.  Our Savior and Lord, the prophets, the apostles and all of those that have gone before us suffered very much. We are not better than our Creator, so we should expect to suffer as well. There are over one-hundred scriptures in the Bible that speak about rejoicing in the sufferings.  We are to “count it all joy”.

 

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2-4 NKJV

Will it be easy to suffer for Jesus?  No, but God does send His angels to strengthen us, just as He did for His Son.

 

42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.– Luke 22:42, 43 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 05-20-2018

“Always Respond With Kindness and Patient Endurance”

even-smaller-bug-light1

11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands.When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment–1 Cor. 4:11-1​3​ NIV
Paul expands on the difference in attitude and lifestyle that he, Apollo, and Peter have as compared to the Christians in Corinth. They have given up all their earthly possessions and now they do not have an extra set of clothes nor a home of their own here on earth. They work hard physically so that they will not be a financial burden on the new converts. They respond to cursing, persecution and slandering with blessings, kindness and patient endurance. They are willing to be treated as the lowest form of life here on earth so that God might be glorified. Is it necessary for all of us to go through this kind of treatment? No, but we must have the attitude and the willingness to do it, if that is what Jesus calls us to do.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.—Romans 5:3-5 NIV
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.—Romans 8:18 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 02-08-2018

Honored to Suffer With Jesus

even-smaller-bug-light1

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. ​ – John 7:32  NIV

When it comes to the message of Jesus Christ, nothing in the message has changed and it never will. Apparently, the reactions and responses from the crowd haven’t changed much either. People see the same signs and hear the same words today. Just as it was then, there are some who believe and some who don’t believe. Not everyone that saw and heard Jesus believed, Not everyone that saw and heard Paul and the other apostles believed. Not everyone that hears the message from us is going to believe. However, just as Jesus, Paul and our other Christian ancestors never gave up, neither can we. They preached until the crowds persecuted and killed them. Not many of us will have to pay that price.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy​ ​awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.—Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

The things we suffer here and now are nothing compared to what Jesus has prepared for us in eternity. Count it all joy!


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 09-17-2017

Suffering for Christ’s Sake

even-smaller-bug-light1

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. ​– 1 Peter 2:21 NLT​

1 Peter 2:18-21 NLT

In today’s society and in most countries, we no longer have slavery. But in our workplaces, we do have taskmasters that often treat us unfairly. So, Peter’s admonition to endure with patience is directed to us. Just as Jesus is our example of enduring unjust pain and persecution, so are we to do the same. God is our Jehovah-jireh, our provider. He has provided us with jobs so that we can provide for our families. Instead of complaining and gossiping about our bosses, we should be thankful for the provision. No matter who signs the paycheck, God is our provider. We are to set the example for those around by having a grateful attitude and not joining in when others are criticizing the employer(s). Jesus promised us that we would be treated unjustly and offended by the world, so we should not be surprised by the unjust treatment we receive. We have not yet been required to be faithful when we are facing death for Christ’s sake. We should have the same attitude that the apostles had in the First Century.

 
Acts 5:40-41 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 06-22-2017

Faithfulness Has It’s Rewards

even-smaller-bug-light1So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.  ​- 1 Peter 1:7​b NLT

1 Peter 1:6-8 NLT

We must have genuine faith to endure the trials and hardships here on earth. Our faith will be tested on many occasions. Through these tests and temptations we will grow stronger in our walk with the Lord. We must remember that we will never be tempted with anything that is not common to others, it will never be more than we can bear, and there is always a way out it we want to escape the temptation.


13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.​-1 Cor. 10:13 (NLT)​
 

So we must press on to heaven. We will have our reward when Jesus Christ is revealed. “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus”. (Hymn by John H Sammis, circa 1887) We love and trust Jesus because He gave Himself for us. That hope is what brings us joy and peace.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 06-13-2017