Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Busy But Not Blessed

Busy But Not Blessed

The Word of God never encourages idleness or laziness because it will not do us any good. Rather, it exhorts us to work hard and we will reap the blessings. See Proverbs 10:4-5; 12:11, 24; 14:23; 18:9; 19:15 and Romans 12:11.

But if working hard results in abundance, why are there so many hardworking people who are not living in comfort? No matter how many hours they spend working their butts off, they still seem to be living in “lack.” In other words, they are very busy but not blessed.

Unfortunately, many Christians are in the same boat. They have known the Lord for many years and are serving Him in their ministry. Yet, they are not living in abundance and victory.

Ready to Serve God

How long have you been born again? 5, 10, 15, or 20 years? I supposed that’s the same number of years that you have been serving the Lord. I am pretty sure you were very excited when you first came to know the Lord. You wanted to serve Him in any church ministry that He would put you in.

And you did not want to be stuck where you first began. But you wanted to take your service to God to another level. After all, isn’t that what Peter said about growing in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18)? Spiritual growth does involve growing in service to the Lord and His people.

Serving God with Gladness
Photo Credits: WhatDoesitMeantoServegod.com

Perhaps you started in the utility ministry – you know, arranging chairs and helping set up the worship hall. You were very eager to help in any way you could and never wanted to miss any church activity. In every Bible study, prayer and fasting, worship symposium, and worship service, you are always present. You read your Bible every day and meditate on it.

How do I know all this? It’s because I’ve been there too. Every new believer has this experience. I remember very well when I was first ushered in – the thought of being a child of God was overwhelming! Me? Yes; a sinner undeserving of God’s love and mercy. But God accepted me for who I am and wanted me to become the person He intended me to be.

That goes the same for you and everyone for whom God died to redeem from the power of sin and darkness.

A Balanced Christian Life

How far have you come in your service to God? Perhaps you are now a worship leader, which is a huge contrast to arranging chairs. You may be very occupied learning everything you can about worship leading. Or listening and mastering new praise and worship songs that you will include in your lineup.

I encourage you to keep growing in your ministry and equipping yourself to be a better worship leader. Praise be to God for the work He has done and still doing in your life.

But can you honestly say that you have maintained a balanced Christian life? Do you still attend small gatherings and cell groupings? How is your prayer life? Do you still have time to read and meditate on the Word of God the way you used to?

Or you don’t have time for other things anymore because you are busy learning new songs and practicing your lineup.

Isn’t it amazing that when we were new believers, we had all the time to pray, read the Bible, attend Bible studies, etc? Why is it that we almost do not have the time for the things we used to love and enjoy? We are so busy doing things we think are for the Lord but neglect the others that are of the same importance.

Contrasting Martha and Mary

The story of Martha and Mary is often used by preachers to point out the difference between a worshiper and a worker. In Luke 10:38-42, we read the contrast between the priorities of these two sisters.

When Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, Martha welcomed them into her home. While Martha was busy preparing dinner, her sister Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to Him. Martha must have had so many things to do that she got irritated when her sister Mary did not bother to help her.

When she could not take it any longer, Martha approached Jesus and complained about Mary not helping her. To which Jesus replied, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

In this case, Martha was busy but not blessed. This is because it is more blessed to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him.

Who is Mary?

A little background about Martha’s sister Mary; she is from Bethany and is seen three times in the Gospel record. On each occasion, she is in the same place: at the feet of Jesus.

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His Word in Luke 10:39. In John 11:32, she fell at His feet and shared her woe. But the most striking story of Mary was when she anointed His feet with a very costly oil of spikenard and wiped it with her hair (John 12:3).

It is interesting to note that in each of these instances, there is some kind of fragrance. In Luke 10:39, it is food; in John 11:39, it is death, and in John 12:3, it is perfume. You see, the way we worship God and show appreciation to Him can take many forms. And take note that it can be expressed in many different circumstances.

Martha and Mary

Worshiper or Worker

What can we learn from Martha and Mary? These two sisters are often contrasted as though each believer must make a choice. Be a worker like Martha or be a worshiper like Mary.

Certainly, our personalities and gifts are different. But that does not mean the Christian life is an either/or situation. Just because you are a worship leader does not mean you do not need to study the Bible.

To be an effective worship leader, you need to know the right way to exhort and encourage the congregation. You do this by meditating on the book of Psalms as it is filled with so many “call to worship” exhortations. Many verses of the Bible also directly speak to the heart of the congregation to give to God their problems and worship Him.

On the other hand, if you are a pastor or a preacher, you should set aside time for personal worship. You don’t use up all your time reading the word and preparing your sermon and do not have time for personal worship.

So you see, we can be a worker and a worshiper at the same time. But when we have to choose between the two, Jesus said we have to choose the “good part.”

The key is to have the right priorities: Jesus Christ first, then others, then ourselves.

Conclusion

We can take a warning from the account of Martha and Mary. Perhaps in all our busyness, we have been ignoring the Lord. Martha’s problem was not that she had too much work to do. But she allowed her work to distract her and pull her apart. She was trying to serve two masters.

If serving Christ makes us difficult to live with, then something is terribly wrong with our service. It is vitally important that we spend time “at the feet of Jesus” every single day, letting Him share His Word with us.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg A rare chance to know Jesus as His first disciples knew Him.

What would it be like to journey back to the first century and sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus as one of His Jewish disciples?

How would your understanding of the gospel have been shaped by the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Jewish culture in which you lived?

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus will change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus.

It will also help you to adapt the rich prayers and customs you learn about to your own life, in ways that both respect and enrich your Christian faith.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus takes you on a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can transform your faith.

Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg paint powerful scenes from Jesus’ ministry, immersing you in the prayers, feasts, history, culture, and customs that shaped Jesus and those who followed him.

 

Trusting God During Sufferings

Trusting God During Sufferings

Being a Christian is easy when everything seems to be going the way we want them to be. But can we still trust God during difficult times? How do you tell the suffering to trust God when you can’t possibly relate to what they’re going through?

God is powerful; He can stop all the evil in the world in just a snap of a finger. I mean, He can do it by the power of His Word because He is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), right? But the question most people ask is, “How can a good God allow suffering?” More importantly, “Why does God allow His children to go through trials and tribulations?”

These are the questions Christians need to learn to answer when dealing with people who do not believe in God. What possible reasons could we tell atheists why we believe in a God who allows suffering?

In this article, we will look at the 7 reasons to believe in God amid difficulties and suffering.

1. Suffering Reveals What is in Our Hearts

The reality is that our suffering often comes as a result of other people’s actions. We hear of families being oppressed by wealthy and influential people. Some even go to the extent of hiring paid assassins to eliminate their enemies. There is no question that these kinds of deeds are evil!

But suffering also has a way of revealing what is in our hearts. How do we respond when we are on the receiving end of these atrocities?

We Glory in Our Sufferings

We may never know how much love, mercy, envy, anger, and pride can lie dormant in us until awakened by circumstances. We must understand that the strengths and weaknesses of the heart are not found when everything is going our way. Rather, it is when flames of suffering and temptation test the mettle of our character.

Gold and silver are refined by fire and coal needs time and pressure to become a diamond. In the same way, the pressure we endure as well as the heat of time, and the circumstances we experience reveal and develop the human heart.

You may refer to the following passages to see what the Bible has to say about suffering:

  • Job 42:1-17
  • James 1:2-5
  • Romans 5:3-5
  • 1 Peter 1:6-8

2. Suffering Loosens Our Grip on this Life

Everybody grows old, so they say. No one stays young and vibrant forever. And when we realize we are not as young and relevant to society as we used to be, we start thinking of our future departure.

In time, people will seek our work and opinions less and less. Our bodies inevitably become increasingly worse for the wear and we gradually succumb to obsolescence. Joints stiffen and ache, eyes grow dim, digestion slows down, and sleep becomes difficult. Worse, we face problems that loom larger and larger while options narrow.

These are all signs that we are nearing the end of our earthly existence. Yet, death is not the end but the threshold of a new day and the curse of old age becomes a blessing. As we go through pain and suffering, this world we’re living in becomes less attractive and the next life more appealing.

Pain, suffering, trials, and difficulties pave the way for a graceful exit. See Ecclesiastes 12:1-14.

3. Suffering Comes with the Freedom to Choose

Every loving parent would do anything to protect their children from unnecessary pain. At the same time, wise parents know the danger of over-protection. If parents would lovingly allow their kids to go out of their way and make choices of their own, how much more with our heavenly Father?

The freedom to choose is at the heart of what it means to be human. This is because a world without choice would be worse than a world without pain and suffering. God has given each of us the freedom to choose between good and evil, life and death, blessing and curse, and Him over Satan (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Most of the time, our suffering is a result of making the wrong choices. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and as a result, sin and curse entered the world (Romans 5:12-21).

4. Pain Can Warn Us of Danger

Nobody wants to experience pain. We hate pain, especially in those we love. Yet, without pain and discomfort, the sick wouldn’t go to the doctor. Hard-working people refuse to slow down and rest unless their body signals that things are bad. Without the consequence of facing suffering in jail, criminals wouldn’t fear the law.

Children would laugh at correction if they know they could get away with almost anything. We’ll never know the damage that fire can do if we don’t feel the pain caused by accidentally touching a burning matchstick.

King Solomon is an example of how even the wisest among us tend to drift from good and God. He drowned in pleasure that resulted in pain because of his shortsighted choices. But God used his pain to teach him a lesson and make him realize his mistakes.

See Ecclesiastes chapters 1 to 12, Psalms 78:34-35, and Romans 3:10-18.

5. God Suffers with Us

Whenever we suffer, let us always remember that no one has suffered more than our Father in heaven. If there’s anyone who paid more dearly for the allowance of sin into the world, it’s God.

It’s God who continuously grieved over the pain of a race that had gone bad. And no one has suffered more than the One who, when He stretched out His arms and died, showed us what true love means. In drawing us to Himself, it is this God who asks us to trust Him when we are suffering and when our loved ones cry out in our presence.

Every time you feel alone in your suffering, know that God suffered first. He knows exactly what you’re feeling because He’s been there and suffered more than you can imagine. Christ modeled what it means to suffer (1 Peter 2:21; 3:18; 4:1).

6. We Find One Another in Times of Crisis

I do not know of anyone who would choose pain and suffering. But when faced with such, our consolation is that we are never alone. Natural disasters and times of crisis have a way of bringing us together. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, accidents, illnesses, and even riots all have a way of bringing us to our senses.

Who can ever forget Hurricane Katrina in 2005? This was the largest and third-strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the US. It caused over 1,800 fatalities and $125B in damages, especially in the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. But it resulted in more than 70 countries pledging monetary donations and other assistance.

When tragedies like this happen, suddenly we remember our own mortality and that people are more important than things. We remember that we do need one another and that, above all, we need God.

7. Suffering Is for Our Good

In many instances in the Bible, God turned suffering around for the good of the people involved.

Through Job’s suffering, we see a man who did not only come to a deeper understanding of God. Also, he became a source of encouragement for people in every generation to follow. Today, many preachers and day-to-day Christians use Job’s example to encourage others that God always has a purpose for allowing suffering.

All Things Work Together for Our Good

Through the rejection, betrayal, enslavement, and wrongful imprisonment of Joseph, we see someone who came to realize that his suffering was God’s hands at work. God is sovereign and as one pastor often says, “Nothing happens without God’s permission.”

When everything in us screams at the heavens for allowing suffering, we have reason to look at the eternal outcome and joy of Jesus. Our Lord in His own suffering on an executioner’s cross cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matthew 7:46)?

Conclusion

Why should we trust God during difficult times? It’s because God is God no matter what. The pain and suffering we are experiencing are not reasons to not believe in the God who created everything out of love. God eternally exists regardless of our circumstances and He loves us unconditionally.

We can trust God in suffering because we know that God’s comfort is always greater than our suffering.

The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away an identified source of suffering. But the Lord declined, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Since death is not the end of everything, we are assured that the end of this life brings us to the threshold of eternity. And the most fortunate people in the universe are those who discover through suffering that this life is not all we have to live for.

The people who found the eternal God through their suffering have not wasted their pain. Instead, they are the ones who will discover their unending joy in the Lord.

Are you able to say, “I believe in God and trust in Him even during pain and suffering?”


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy KellerFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Prodigal Prophet Timothy Keller comes the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them.

The question of why God would allow pain and suffering in the world have vexed believers and nonbelievers for millennia.

Timothy Keller, whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers, takes on this enduring issue and shows that there is meaning and reason behind our pain and suffering.

Keller makes a forceful and ground-breaking case that this essential part of the human experience can be overcome only by understanding our relationship with God.

As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Timothy Keller is known for his unique insights into religion and culture. Keller’s series of books has guided countless readers in their spiritual journeys.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering uses biblical wisdom and personal stories of overcoming adversity to bring a much-needed, fresh viewpoint to this important issue.

Christ’s Resurrection: The Foundation of Christianity

Christ’s Resurrection: The Foundation of Christianity

Christ’s resurrection is the foundation of Christianity. If you can disprove the resurrection, you can also falsify the claims of Christianity. But how do we know Jesus rose from the dead? Why do Christians believe in the resurrection?

Bible scholars and theologians enumerated several reasons for Christians to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus was Executed in Public

During the Jewish Feast of Passover, an angry crowd swept Jesus away into a Roman hall of justice. As Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, religious leaders accused Him of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded He died. They then tortured Jesus and sentenced Him to a public execution (Luke 23:20-25).

Crucifixion of JESUS

On a hill outside of Jerusalem, Jesus was crucified between two criminals (Matthew 27:38). As the Sabbath neared, Roman soldiers went to finish the execution. To quicken their death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs (John 19:32-33). This is because from experience they knew He was already dead.

To make sure Jesus won’t survive, the soldiers thrust a spear into His side (John 19:34). Thus, it would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.

The Tomb was Highly Secured

When the religious leaders met with Pilate the next day, they told Pilate to send soldiers to guard the tomb. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in three days. To assure that the disciples could not stage a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb. And to enforce the order, soldiers stood guard (Matthew 27:62-66).

Anyone of the disciples who wanted to steal Jesus’ body would have to get by them, which wouldn’t have been easy. The Roman guards better stayed alert because the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.

The Tomb was Found Empty

Despite the guards, the grave was found empty on the morning of the Sabbath. When some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave to anoint His body, they found that the huge stone had been moved (Mark 16:1-4). After further inspection, they saw that Jesus’ body was gone.

As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty and they only saw Jesus’ burial wrappings lying neatly in place (John 20:3-7).

When the soldiers woke up and found the tomb empty, the officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie and make up a story. They were to say that Jesus’ disciples stole His body while the soldiers were asleep (Matthew 28:11-15).

The Resurrected Jesus Appeared to Many People

In about AD 55, Paul wrote that Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people, James, and himself saw the resurrected Christ. Furthermore, Paul said that many of the 500 people were still alive at the time of his writing (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

By making this statement publicly, Paul gave his critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves.

Luke also reaffirmed the resurrection of Jesus in the very first chapter of the history of Christ’s followers (Acts 1:3).

Acts 1:3, NKJV

Jesus’ Apostles Dramatically Changed

When Jesus got arrested as a result of Judas’ betrayal, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier vowed that he was ready to die for Jesus, lost heart and denied that he knew Him.

But after the resurrection, the apostles went through a dramatic change. They were bold to stand face-to-face with the ones who had crucified their leader. The disciples became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the sake of their Savior and Lord.

They were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus. But they told the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). After everything they suffered for disobeying the orders of the Jewish Council, they “did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” Acts 5:42).

Christ’s Disciples Died as Martyrs

Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. In short, history is full of martyrs.

For this reason, it may not be that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie.

The disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. Rather, they died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection.

The disciples of Jesus died for their claim that their leader did not only die for their sins. More importantly, He had risen bodily from the grave to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.

Jewish Believers Started Worshiping on a Sunday

From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation Paperback – January 1, 2000 by D. A. CarsonMany Sabbatarians claim that the Catholic church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. The truth of the matter is, it’s the Jews who changed it and started worshiping on a Sunday.

The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping Gentile believers on the first day of the week.

Why the first day of the week? It’s because this is the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead. For a Jew, it reflected a major change in life.

Jewish Christians believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. The new way was not based on the law but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.

Read here: What is the difference between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day?

Conclusion

As presented above, the evidence for the resurrection of Christ is compelling. The resurrection is not a hoax; Jesus did rise from the dead just as He said He would (John 2:19).

And because Christ rose from the dead, there is hope for those who will put their faith in Him (1 Corinthians 15:16-20). Paul said that He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to the mortal bodies of those that have the Spirit (Romans 8:11).

This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have died to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them.

Have you responded to the overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in your heart?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: 

The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Medical Doctor Examines the Death and Resurrection of Christ by Joseph Bergeron M.D

The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Medical Doctor Examines the Death and Resurrection of Christ by Joseph Bergeron M.D This ground-breaking work offers a unique apologetic argument for the validity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Dr. Bergeron’s medical expertise allows him to examine the medical aspects of Jesus’ death as well as the “hallucination hypothesis” which attempts to discount Jesus’ resurrection.

This book explores the following areas:

  • Jesus’ claim to be the son of God and the Messiah of Hebrew prophetic literature
  • Evidence of the trustworthiness of the Gospel as reliable eyewitness testimony
  • The social and political context leading up to Jesus’ execution
  • Roman crucifixion practices in public executions
  • Physiological mechanisms that ultimately led to Jesus’ death
  • A medical analysis of hallucination hypotheses for the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection and the inability of hallucination to explain away the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection
Marriage Manual for Christians

Marriage Manual for Christians

The Bible is full of instructions for husbands and wives. But Peter has a marriage manual for Christians in his epistle. In 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter devoted more words instructing wives in marriage. In contrast, he packed a single, pointed verse to husbands with a lifetime’s worth of practical wisdom.

These 7 verses provide the basic outline for a healthy marriage. Difficulties in a relationship can usually be traced back to a violation of one or more of these principles by either husband or wife, or both.

Manual for the Wife

We read in chapter 2 that living successfully as a Christian in a hostile world requires submitting to civil society and the workplace. But at the start of chapter 3, Peter added two more places: the family and the local church. Then he went on to give the following plans of action to every Christian wife.

1. Be Submissive

God has commanded authority in homes because in His wisdom this is the best arrangement for a happy, fulfilling marriage. Subjection does not mean that the wife is inferior to the husband. God created both the man and the woman out of the same basic material and made them in His image.

Wives, submit to your husbands

But wives have been given a role that puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands. Since two people cannot form a democracy, someone in a marriage must have the responsibility for leadership – the husband.

This is not intended to be a “makes all decisions” kind of relationship but the duty to share decision-making. Unless a deadlock occurs, at which time God expects the husband to step up and exercise authority. A man is more likely to give his wife’s perspective serious consideration if he knows that the tough choices will be up to him.

Winning the Unbelieving Husband

It’s important to note that in this particular verse, Peter must be talking to a wife whose husband is an unbeliever. “That even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1b).”

In Greek culture, women were viewed as lower than men. Thus, a huge potential for conflict and embarrassment in the marriage of a believer and unbeliever was significant. Yet Peter did not urge the Christian wife to leave her husband, preach to her husband, or demand her rights. Instead, Peter admonishes her to respect the authority of her husband.

The loving, gracious submission of a believing wife to her unsaved husband is the strongest evangelistic tool she has.

2. Be Pure and Reverent

Purity or modesty of life with reverence for God is what the unsaved husband should observe consistently. Peter was not condemning all outward adornment. His condemnation is for incessant preoccupation with outward appearance while disregarding one’s character.

De-emphasizing outward appearance does not mean that a wife should neglect herself and not try to be up-to-date in her apparel. It simply means that she should not major in being fashionable just to keep up with the crowd. Any husband is proud of an attractive wife, but that beauty must come from the heart and demeanor, not the store.

Every Christian woman is especially to concentrate on developing that modesty, meekness, and Christ-like character.

3. Have a Gentle & Quiet Spirit

In addition to her submission and modesty, the wife should be gentle (1 Peter 3:4). This is the beauty that never decays, as the outward body does. “Gentle” is actually “meek or humble” and “quiet” describes the character of her action or reaction. How does the wife respond to her husband and life in general?

I once heard the testimony of a Christian woman who has an unbelieving husband. She did not only pray for her husband to come to faith in Christ for years. More importantly, she made sure to treat him with kindness and the utmost respect. Every time her husband restricted her to attend church on Sundays, she obeyed and spent time with him instead.

A Woman's beauty should not come from outward adornment,

This believing wife knew that God would one day convict her husband of his need for a Savior. In the meantime, she continued to love him, prayed for him, and took really good care of him. She never once spoke to him rudely despite his high tone. She believed that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

Until one day, her husband said he wanted them to go to church together. That did not come as a surprise to her because she knew that God would one day answer her prayer. Her husband gave his life to Christ that day and they continued to serve God, along with their children.

If you are a wife with an unbelieving husband, know that God can and will turn things around. Just be faithful to God and obey His marriage manual.

Manual for the Husband

Although Peter’s marriage manual for husbands is contained in a single verse (1 Peter 3:7), it is quite extensive.

Don’t think that submission is only for the wife. Submission is the responsibility of a Christian husband as well. This does not mean that the husband submits to his wife as a leader. Rather, the believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife.

In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not.

Peter reminded husbands that care for their wives must be practiced in four areas:

1. Emotional (give honor)

This means that a husband respects his wife’s feelings, thoughts, and desires. He may not agree with all her ideas, but he respects and honors her right to speak. He desires her input and recognizes that God can guide him through his wife’s sensitivity and natural cautions.

Women tend to be more emotional especially when they are going through hormonal changes. When this happens, the husband should do his best to accommodate his wife and just let her express herself.

2. Intellectual (with understanding)

Despite the old saw about men not being able to understand women, a husband has the delightful challenge to learn to understand his wife. The husband must pay attention to his wife.

God created men differently from women. While things are often simple when it comes to men, this is not the case with women.

A Christian husband must get to know his wife’s moods, feelings, needs, fears, and hopes. He needs to listen with his heart and seek to approach her always in an understanding way.

Ephesians 5:25, NIV

3. Physical (live together)

This implies much more than sharing the same address. Marriage is fundamentally a physical relationship (Ephesians 5:31). Of course, Christian mates enjoy a deeper spiritual relationship, but the two go together (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). A truly spiritual husband will fulfill his marital duties and love his wife.

While the wife is fully equal in Christ and not inferior spiritually because she is a woman, she is physically weaker. In effect, she requires protection, provision, and strength from her husband.

Marriage is the best relationship earthly life has to offer. Hence, the husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not.

4. Spiritual (equal partnership in God’s gift)

In the central place of life – access to God in a relationship – both husband and wife have equal standing. This is why when both are growing closer to God they inevitably grow closer together. Praying together and living spiritual lives in harmony are the too-often neglected building blocks of a strong marriage.

The last part of verse 7 talks about the husband’s prayers being hindered. This refers specifically to his prayer for the salvation of his wife. Such a prayer would be hindered if he does not respect her needs and fellowship.

Closing Words

A Christian husband must minister to his wife and help to beautify her in the Lord. A Christian wife must encourage her husband and help him grow strong in the Lord.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Your Marriage God’s Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship by Scott La Pierre 

Your Marriage God’s Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship by Scott LaPierreCelebrate the Marriage God Made for You

Your most important earthly connection is with your spouse, and when you honor the person you married, you’re also honoring God. He created marriage to be one of life’s greatest gifts, and the instruction manual you need for a joyful, lasting union is found in His Word.

In Your Marriage God’s Way, author and pastor, Scott LaPierre, takes a close look at the principles for building a biblical marriage—one in which your relationship with Christ brings guidance and blessing into your relationship with your spouse. You’ll gain the tools to…

  • understand the unique roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives
  • recognize and resolve the conflicts you face with a heart of hope and compassion
  • follow God’s worthy command to love and cherish your spouse unconditionally

Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or you’ve been on the road together for years, Your Marriage God’s Way will provide the helpful and encouraging insights you need to experience marriage as God intends it.

Is God Always Morally Upright?

Is God Always Morally Upright?

Does God have negative characteristics? Or is He the epitome of moral uprightness?

We know of God’s natural and moral attributes. God is love, holy, just, compassionate, forgiving, etc. In short, God is a good God and He is good all the time. But what about the seemingly negative character traits of God that we read in certain Bible passages?

So, is God really good? Or does He sometimes exhibit character traits that are contrary to His natural and moral attributes?

Bible Verse: Nahum 1:2, NKJV

God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.”

7 God's Number of Perfection

The intended target of Nahum’s message is the people of Nineveh. Yet the broader audience was made up of God’s people living under the fear of the Assyrians. These people are desperate for a word of hope. And God delivered that message through Nahum.

Three important words in Nahum’s opening lines need our attention because they all relate to the character of God. Nahum used these words to describe God’s character: jealousy, vengeance, and wrath (rage).

These terms have human expressions, but we must understand them carefully when they are applied to God. He is awesome in His jealousy, vengeance, and rage.

Jealousy

Jealousy is a sin if it means being envious of what others have and wanting to possess it.

It’s quite common for neighbors, even siblings, and in-laws, to be envious of each other. For instance, neighbor A isn’t happy that neighbor B has a big, fully furnished house, a brand new car, and a huge swimming pool.

Neighbor B, on the other hand, is bitter towards neighbor A because the latter has a better-looking husband than her. In addition, neighbor A has 3 beautiful children while she is childless. This kind of jealousy is bad and believers should not feel this way towards one another (Galatians 5:26).

However, jealousy is a virtue if it means cherishing what we have and wanting to protect it. A faithful husband and wife are jealous over one another and do everything they can to keep their relationship exclusive.

“Jealous” and “zealous” come from the same root. When we are jealous over someone, we’re zealous to protect the relationship. Since God made everything and owns everything, He is envious of no one. But since He is the only true God, He is jealous over His glory and His name. God is also jealous over the worship and honor that are due to Him alone.

See Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 32:16; Joshua 24:19; & Isaiah 42:8.

Isaiah 42:8, NASB

Vengeance

In Scripture, vengeance is usually presented as a sin. Both Jesus and Paul warned about it (Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:17-21).

The OT law of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” was never intended to be applied by individuals in the OT or NT. But it was a standard for the collective society to use to enforce good conduct among people.

But a just and holy God cannot see people flouting His law and do nothing about it. “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense … I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me.” (Deuteronomy 32:35, 41).

The manner and timing of the repayment of man’s wickedness is God’s prerogative. God takes vengeance by judging people because He is holy and jealous (zealous) for His holy law. God’s anger isn’t like human anger, which can be selfish and out of control. His is holy anger, a righteous indignation against all that defies His authority and disobeys His law.

Wrath/Rage

Nahum wrote that “the Lord avenges and is furious” (Nahum 1:1). In verse 6, Nahum says the Lord’s anger is so powerful like a fire that it throws down the rocks. But then Nahum 1:3 assures us that God’s wrath isn’t a fit of rage or a temper tantrum. “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power.”

See also Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Jonah 4:2.

On the human level, we immediately think of Jesus taking angry action in the Temple courts, driving out the money changers (Matthew 21:12-13). But His godly rage was always under control. God is not a mad man who easily gets angry over shallow and irrelevant issues.

Let Jesus be our role model in controlling our anger. It’s not a sin to get angry. But what could lead us to sin is what we do or say in our anger. Some people cannot manage their anger and they tend to become violent. They may shout or scream at people while others like to throw things.

God’s people ought to exercise holy anger against sin (Ephesians 4:26; Psalm 4:4). By NT standards, anger can be either good or bad, depending on motive and purpose. When Paul said, “Be angry and do not sin,” he may have been sanctioning righteous indignation.

This type of anger hates injustice, immorality, ungodliness, and every other sin. When such anger is unselfish and based on love for God and others, it is not only permissible but commanded.

In Your Anger, Do Not Sin

Conclusion

God’s jealousy, wrath, and desire to avenge do not negate His moral character of love, compassion, and goodness. It’s because God is holy and just that He won’t sit idly by and let the wicked go unpunished.

Sometimes, it could be difficult to reconcile God’s love and wrath. If God is a loving, forgiving, and compassionate God, why would He want to punish anyone eternally in hell? Again, it’s because God is holy and He demands justice for sin. And it is for this reason that God sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from eternal condemnation in hell (John  3:16).

We are all sinners; we sinned against God and arouse His jealousy and anger. We deserve to suffer God’s wrath and vengeance and be separated eternally from God. But God is morally upright. He does not want to punish us without giving us a chance to repent and make things right with Him.

If you haven’t yet repented of your sin and rebellion, would you do it today and receive God’s forgiveness? Would you confess Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life and live and serve Him for the rest of your life?

Sinner’s Prayer

If God is convicting you of your sin right now, you may pray this short prayer wholeheartedly.

Dear God,

I thank you for your gift of eternal life. I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and salvation because I cannot save myself. I repent of all my sins and I put my complete trust in you alone, Lord Jesus, as my Savior. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for my sins on the cross, and that He rose from the dead to redeem me. I invite you now Lord Jesus to come into my heart and life. Thank you for your wonderful grace and forgiveness. I ask that you write my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

This is my prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen!

Do not delay for tomorrow may be too late. Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).


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God, Himself: A Journey Through His Attributes by Tony Evans

God, Himself: A Journey Through His Attributes by Tony EvansHow often do we stop to consider who the God is that we worship?

When we draw near and learn more about this God, we become amazed at who He truly is. Join Tony Evans as he dives into the character of our awesome God—one attribute at a time.

In God, Himself, we are invited, with unveiled faces, to behold the glory of the Lord—just as the Apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians to do.

Dr. Evans offers insights about the character of God that will challenge you to pursue greater intimacy with Him and help you understand more fully what it means to be made in His image.

For after all, as image-bearers knowing who He is defines who we are.

You’ll learn about attributes like God’s wisdom and word, His sufficiency, and sovereignty, and His goodness, grace, and glory that make Him the great God that He is.

Dr. Evans also includes activities and challenges to help you know how to both process and respond to learning about God.

Find your heart encouraged and your worship enriched as you learn about the beautiful nature of our God, the source of all goodness and life.

Is Doctrine Keeping Us Apart?

Is Doctrine Keeping Us Apart?

Are you aware that more and more people are concluding that doctrine is keeping us apart? Doctrine is destroying unity and separating family members. Thus, making it difficult for the follower of Christ to set aside differences and stand together for a common purpose.

Doctrine is also what distinguishes and divides Christians into thousands of denominations and subgroups.

Bible Verse: Galatians 1:6

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.”

This verse characterizes the Galatians’ response to the false teachers’ heretical doctrines. The Galatian believers were voluntarily deserting grace to pursue the legalism that the false teachers were propagating.

In effect, it caused division in the church.

Doctrinal Differences in the Church

Doctrine Divides, Love Unites

Although many are pointing out that doctrine divides, the fact also remains that love unites. This is because our Lord Jesus called us to love one another (John 13:34; 15:12).

The commandment to love was not new. Deuteronomy 6:5 commanded love for God, and Leviticus 19:18 commanded loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. The Greatest Commandment summarizes the Law into two:  Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and secondly, love our neighbor as ourselves.

Also, Christ Himself said that love would be the distinguishing mark of His people (1 John 2:7-11; 3:10-12; 4:7-10, 20, 21). Love is from God because God is love. Christians love because God is the essence of love.

We cannot love God without first loving our fellow believers. Anyone who claims to love God but cannot love other Christians for any reason, even doctrinal differences, is delusional.

Doctrine Unites, Love Divides

However, we cannot afford to forget that doctrine also unites. All over the world, what allows true believers in Christ to find a family is acceptance of the doctrine of Christ.

In searching for a spiritual family to join, belief in the person and works of Christ is of utmost importance. This is exactly why the first thing we want to know about a particular church is its statement of faith.

What do they believe about Christ, God’s grace, the Bible, salvation, etc? Do they believe in the Triune God? What about Christ’s promise to come again for His church?

When Christians accept the doctrine of the grace of God, it enables them to recognize one another as brothers and sisters. It won’t matter anymore if they are of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. They just see each other as lowly sinners saved by grace through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is for the same reason that love divides. Once we know the truth about Christ and His sacrifice, we need to stop pretending we are in unity with those of different doctrines. We cannot sacrifice the truth for a false sense of unity, just so we could stand together in social consensus.

The Doctrine of Human Merit

When the apostle Paul wrote Galatians 1:6-8, love was working together with truth.

Forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and adoption into the family of God comes only by grace, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Any doctrine that says human merit would add to what Christ has already accomplished is unacceptable.

The Gospel of Christ makes it clear that one cannot mix faith and works when trusting God for forgiveness and salvation.

Does this mean we can do whatever we want and live the way we want to live after getting saved? That we can keep on sinning after receiving God’s forgiveness?

Paul answers this question in Romans 6:1-14 where he discusses the doctrine of sanctification. Sanctification is the act of God that produces actual righteousness in the believer.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Under the Doctrine of Christ

We can’t have Christ without embracing and submitting to the doctrine of Christ. We need doctrine to answer questions like: Who is God? What is He like? Does He care about what we believe about Him? And once we know Him, how are we to live?

Paul wrote this in 2 Timothy 4:2-4:

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers. And they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

Is our generation facing the danger Paul wrote about? Indeed! Many so-called preachers are encouraging people to accept Christ. Yet, they fail to bring them under the lordship of the doctrine of Christ. Thus, resulting in a growing lack of discernment making them vulnerable to the doctrines of demons.

Conclusion

On the one hand, we cannot afford to let doctrine come between us. As Paul said, “If we don’t have love, we are like a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Yet, on the other hand, we need to be grounded on the foundations of doctrine based not on tradition but Scripture.


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Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell

Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff PurswellHow do we know the Bible is God’s Word? What is sin and where did it come from? How is Jesus fully God and fully man? What are spiritual gifts? When and how will Christ return?

If you’ve asked questions like these, then “systematic theology” is no abstract term. It’s an approach to finding answers every Christian needs to know.

Bible Doctrine takes a highly commended upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible to the average reader.

Abridged from Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics:

The Doctrine of the Word of God, the Doctrine of God, the Doctrine of Man, the Doctrine of Christ, the Doctrine of the Application of Redemption, the Doctrine of the Church, and the Doctrine of the Future.

Like Systematic Theology, this book is marked by its clarity, its strong scriptural emphasis, its thoroughness in scope and detail, and its treatment of such timely topics as spiritual warfare and the gifts of the Spirit.

But you don’t need to have had several years of Bible school to reap the full benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand–and it’s packed with solid, biblical answers to your most important questions.

Do not worry; trust God.

Lessons from the Rebuilding of Jerusalem

Lessons from the Rebuilding of Jerusalem

We know the kinds of hardships and opposition that Nehemiah faced in rebuilding Jerusalem. It wasn’t easy but in the end, they succeeded. What lessons can we learn from Nehemiah’s experience that we can apply in our spiritual journey with God?

Who Was Nehemiah?

Nehemiah was a layman, a cup-bearer to the great Artaxerxes Longimanus, who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 BC. He is identified as the son of Hacaliah to distinguish him from other Jews of the same name (Nehemiah 1:1, 3:16; Ezra 2:2). The name Nehemiah means “The Lord has comforted.”

As a true leader, Nehemiah cared and he cared about the right things. He cared about the traditions of the past, the needs of the present, and the hopes for the future. Nehemiah cared about his heritage, his ancestral city, and the glory of his God.

Furthermore, Nehemiah cared enough to notice an opportunity where others would have likely only seen impossibility. And he cared enough to make himself available to task for a mighty task.

Nehemiah Weeps

Lessons from Nehemiah

There are several things we can learn from Nehemiah. These lessons, if we take to heart and apply them, will help us overcome any obstacle and opposition that come our way.

1. Responding to Bad News

Three words can summarize the bad news from Judah: remnant, ruin, and reproach. Instead of a land inhabited by a great nation, only a remnant of people lived there, and they were in great affliction. The Jewish remnants were struggling to survive (Nehemiah 1:3).

When Nehemiah heard of the plight of the Jewish remnants and the destruction of Jerusalem, he wept and mourned. Sometimes weeping is a sign of weakness; but with Nehemiah, it was a sign of strength.

What’s the first thing you do when you hear any bad news about your country, family, or loved ones? What makes people laugh or weep is often an indication of character. People who laugh at others’ mistakes or misfortunes are lacking either in culture or character.

Nehemiah also fasted (Nehemiah 1:4). Fasting was required for the Jews only once a year, on the annual Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). But Nehemiah spent several days fasting, weeping, and praying. He knew that somebody had to do something to rescue Jerusalem, and he was willing to do whatever it took.

Are you willing to make yourself available for the task God is preparing for you?

2. Wait on the Lord in Prayer

Four months passed since Nehemiah received the bad news about Jerusalem. As every believer should, Nehemiah patiently waited on God for directions.

Nehemiah had direct access to the king as his cupbearer. Thus, he could have asked for the king’s favor upon hearing the bad news. But instead of telling the king what he planned to do, he aroused his sympathy and interest (Nehemiah 2:4-6). This was a good strategy, and God used Nehemiah’s reply to get the king’s sympathetic attention.

Nehemiah had not only prayed for this opportunity; he had also planned it and had his answer ready. During those 4 months of waiting, he thought the matter through. And so he knew exactly how he would approach the project.

When we wait on the Lord in prayer, we are not wasting our time; we are investing it. God is preparing both us and our circumstances so that His purposes will be accomplished.

Let us learn to wait on God in prayer.

The Challenge of Waiting on God

3. You Can’t Do it All Alone

Nehemiah faced a great challenge and had great faith in God. But he would have accomplished very little if not for the great dedication on the part of those who helped him. Many people were willing to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And in humility, he gave all the credit to them (Nehemiah 4:6).

When God gives each of us a task, we don’t try to do all the work. We need other people to help us accomplish things. And just because we reach out to others does not mean we are incapable of doing things. Besides, God does not expect us to do the works He asked us to do all on our own.

Nehemiah named 38 individual workers and identified 42 different groups and others he left unnamed who were given specific tasks. Just as Paul compares the individual Christians to members of the human body (1 Corinthians chapters 12 & 14).

God uses all kinds of people, even people from the outside. Everyone has a place to work and a job to do. Each member is important, and each has a special function to perform.

4. Aim Towards One Goal

The people finished the difficult task of rebuilding the Jerusalem walls because they obeyed the same leader.

Not only that, they kept their eye on the same goal and worked together for God’s glory. Neither the enemy in the city nor the difficulties inside the city distracted them. They were all equally focused on their God-given task.

Like Paul, they said, “I focus on this one thing” (Philippians 3:13, NLT).

Yet they did not stop there. Nehemiah and the people made sure that it was difficult for anyone outside the walls to access the city.

You see, it’s not enough that we simply aim towards achieving the same goal and fulfilling the work of God. We must also make sure to protect whatever we do from the enemy.

Are you willing to work along with your leader and others to accomplish what God asked of you to do?

Conclusion

God put Nehemiah in Suza just as He had put Esther there a generation before. And just as He put Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. When God wants to accomplish a work, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right place at the right time.

God is still looking for people like Nehemiah. Are you available and willing? Do you care enough to ask for the facts, weep over the needs, pray for God’s help, and then volunteer to get the job done?

Can you say to God, “Here I am, send me” (Isaiah 6:8)? When was the last time you prayed that prayer? What would it take for you to pray it today?


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The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os GuinnessThe Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life’s purpose.

Best-selling author Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God’s call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God’s call in my life? How do I fit God’s call with my own individuality? How should God’s calling affect my career, my plans for the future, and my concepts of success?

Guinness now helps the reader discover answers to these questions, and more, through a corresponding workbook – perfect for individual or group study.

According to Guinness, “No idea short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment.”

With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

Finishing Our Journey Well

Finishing Our Journey Well

The Christian journey is not just about having a great start. Rather, it’s more about finishing it well.

Unfortunately, many followers of Jesus who started on a high note failed to sustain their momentum. Either they gave up along the way or turned 360 degrees and went back to where they used to be.

When Paul came to the end of his life, he “ended well,” to the glory of God.

Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 4:7, NKJV

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

The form of the 3 Greek verbs “have fought, have finished, and have kept,” indicates completed action with continuing results. Paul saw his life as complete – he accomplished through the Lord’s power all that God called him to do.

Ending Well

A good beginning ought to lead to a good ending, but that is not always the case. Lot, Samson, King Saul, Ahithophel, and Demas all made good beginnings, but their lives ended in tragedy.

The psalmist wanted to end well (Psalm 119:33), but ending well is the consequence of living well.

So, what are the essentials for a consistent life that ends well?

1. Seek God’s Wisdom

We must pray for godly wisdom and spiritual enlightenment so we may learn God’s Word and the way of His Word.

It is not enough to read the Bible, outline the book, get answers to questions, and be able to discuss theology. We must come to understand the character of God and the workings of His providence.

The writer needed the wisdom to know how to handle difficult situations and he found counsel in God’s Word (Psalm 119:24). Instead of listening to the enemy’s slander, he meditated on God’s truth.

Ending Your Christian Journey Well

Don’t ask, “How can I get out of this trouble?” Instead, we should ask, “What can I get out of this experience?” In times of difficulty and suffering, we must seek God’s wisdom.

When we find ourselves pressured by the enemy, we should not pray for God to change our situation. Instead, our best response would be that God would change us and enable us to overcome.

2. Obedience to God

What we learn with our mind and apprehend with our heart must motivate the will to do what God commands. But our obedience cannot be that of a slave obeying a master to avoid discipline. It must be the obedience of a grateful child who delights to please his or her parents.

We all want God’s blessings. However, we must understand that blessings come, not in hearing the Word but in doing it (James 1:22-25). We must also have a wholehearted relationship with Him.

God’s Law is not a weapon in the hands of an angry judge but a toll in the hands of a loving Father. The Holy Spirit uses this “tool” to make us more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Trust in God’s Promises

It can be hard to trust God when we are in a very impossible situation. But Proverbs 3:5-6 is a promise that God’s people relied on and it never failed them.

Despite everything that Paul had to go through, he trusted the Lord. He never questioned God for the persecution he suffered. It’s because he was confident that God will finish the work He started in him (Philippians 1:6).

So, rest on God’s promises and rely on His love. When our heavenly Father allows us to go into the furnace of affliction, know that He is always in control. God keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much.

Trust in God's Promises

4. Walk the Talk

When we are confronted by the enemy, the Lord will not give us words we have never pondered from the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will remind us of what we have read and learned (John 14:25-26).

But our “walk” must also agree with our “talk.” The best defense of the faith is a transformed life that is compassionate toward others. Our obedience to the Lord and our loving ministry to others will demonstrate the reality of our faith.

Concluding Words

We serve a different Master, obey a different set of laws, and have our citizenship in a different country (Philippians 3:20. Thus, we are different from the lost people whom Jesus called the “children of this world” (Luke 16:8).

Let us then continue to run the race that God marked out for us and seek God’s Word. Be a blessing to others and a delight to our Lord.

It’s not enough to begin the journey right; we must strive to finish it in victory.


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The Race Before Us: A Journey of Running and Faith by Bruce H. MatsonThe Race Before Us: A Journey of Running and Faith by Bruce H. Matson

Turning 50 years old and facing some of life’s biggest questions are daunting challenges. A crisis of faith and crisis of health leads to significant changes in one’s life.

For Bruce Matson, a family man with a successful law practice, the struggles of health and doubt led to action.

Combining podcasts from notable Christian leaders Ravi Zacharias, Allistair Begg, and Tim Keller, careful research and preparation, and encouragement from family and friends, Bruce ran his race for physical and spiritual health.

The Race Before Us by Bruce Matson is a wonderful memoir detailing the path of doubt to faith and spiritual malaise to running with God.

Come alongside Bruce as he navigates the windy roads of faith and health in his pursuit of physical and spiritual well-being.

Empathy Towards Other Christians

Empathy Towards Other Christians

Most, if not all Christians are generally loving, kind, and compassionate. But when it comes to showing empathy toward others, many self-acclaimed believers fail. Oftentimes, we fail to comfort other Christians, especially those who are hurting.

Empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, does not come easy for many.

In Job’s experience with his 3 friends, there are several things we should consider when helping the hurting.

Jobs’ Three Friends

All of Job’s three friends were old, older than Job (Job 15:9-10), but we assume that Eliphaz was the oldest. He is named first (Job 2:11) and spoke first. Also, it seemed that God accepted him as the elder member of the trio (Job 42:7).

Eliphaz was associated with Teman, a place known for its wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7). He put great faith in tradition (Job 15:18-19) and the God he worshiped was an inflexible Lawgiver (Job 4:7).

Bildad must have been the second oldest since he is named second and spoke after Eliphaz. In a word, Bildad was a legalist. We can read his life text in Job 8:20. He could quote ancient proverbs and like Eliphaz, he had great respect for tradition.

Job and His Three Friends
Photo Credit: Bible.Org Blogs

For some reason, Bildad was certain that Job’s children had died because they also were sinners (Job 8:4). The man seemed to have no feeling for his hurting friend, Job.

Zophar was the youngest of the three and surely the most dogmatic. He spoke like a schoolmaster addressing a group of ignorant freshmen (Job 11:6). The key text to understanding Zophar is Job 20:4-5.

Interestingly enough, Zophar spoke to Job only twice. Either he decided he was unable to answer Job’s arguments, or he felt that trying to help Job was a waste of time.

Helping the Hurting

In our walk with God, there will be times when we will undergo trials and difficulties. As Max Lucado said, “God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.”

Today, it’s our friends, neighbors, workmates, etc. who might need our empathy. Tomorrow, it could be us on the receiving end. Thus, when we see others who are hurting, we must always be ready and willing to help them out.

Here are some things we can do to ease their pain and heaviness.

1. Your Presence Means Everything

When Job’s three friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they immediately came to comfort and console him (Job 2:11). They wept, tore their robes, and sat down with him on the ground. For seven days and seven nights, no one said a word to Job because his suffering was too great.

The best way to help people who are hurting is just to be with them. You do not have to say a word for your presence is more than enough. Don’t even try to lecture them about God’s purpose and explain why this is happening.

Explanations never heal a broken heart!

2. Listen with Your Heart

At the end of their 7 days of silence, Job’s three friends started to deliver their speeches. And Job later confessed he wished they stayed silent (Job 13:5).

Eliphaz who spoke first did not address the pain in Job’s heart. Instead, he replied to the words from Job’s lips and this was a big mistake (Job 4:1-2). A wise counselor and comforter must listen with the heart and responds to feelings as well as to words.

A broken heart is not healed with logic, but with love. Yes, you must speak the truth but you should do it in love (Ephesians 4:15).

James 1:19, NLT

3. Choose Your Words

Instead of encouraging Job, Eliphaz accused him of not practicing what he preached (Job 4:3-6). He went further to tell Job that he must humble himself and confess his sins. According to Eliphaz, Job’s trials are God’s means of disciplining him (Job 5:8-17).

The last thing Job wanted to hear from his friends was accusation and condemnation. What the hurting person needs are assurance, encouragement, and illumination from the Word of God.

Never underestimate the power of words to encourage people in the battles of life. Speaking the right words at the right time, and with the right motive can make a tremendous difference.

Your words can nourish those who are weak and encourage those who are defeated. But your words can also hurt those who are broken and only add to their burdens. So, be careful what you say and how you say it.

4. Never Argue with the Hurting

When comforting the hurting, try as hard as you can to hold back from arguing with them. You will not accomplish anything with countless arguments and discussions.

Eliphaz argued that Job had nothing to fear because God always blesses the righteous and judges the wicked. This is the basic premise of Job’s three friends. Do what is right and life will go well for you; do what is wrong and God will send pain and punishment.

Eliphaz’s argument is, in reality, Satan’s philosophy in different words (Job 1:9. 2:4). In effect, Eliphaz was saying, “Confess your sins and God will restore all that you have lost.”

Most people will agree that ultimately God blesses the righteous and judges the wicked. But this is not what’s in question here. The immediate, not the ultimate judgment, was Job and his friends’ concern.

Had Job’s friends listened to him, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly. But they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses. In the end, the Lord rebuked them; and they had to ask Job’s forgiveness (Job 42:7-10).

5. Put Yourself in Their Situation

 Job responded to his friends and voiced some eloquent observations. These are the things that we ought to keep in mind when spending time with people who are hurting.

a. Job’s friends did not feel the heaviness of his suffering (Job 6:1-3).

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were not helpful to Job at all because their views were too narrow. It’s no wonder that Job had spoken impetuously. His friends would have done the same if they carried the load he carried.

What did Job do? He appealed to God that He would consider his plight and lighten his suffering before he died.

Without empathy and compassion, we will never know how badly a person is hurting. We cannot truly comfort others without feeling the pain and difficulty that they are going through. 

b. Job’s friends did not understand the bitterness of his suffering (Job 6:4-7).

In his response to Eliphaz, Job passionately appealed to his friends that they might have more understanding and sympathy. Yet, his three friends insisted that he must have done something bad.

The feeling of being a target at which God was shooting poisoned arrows made Job’s spirit bitter. God in His army in array, shooting at one weak man; and Job’s friends were adding to the poison.

This is what’s often missing in us – an understanding and sympathetic heart. We are very quick to tell those who are hurting that their suffering is God’s punishment for their sins. 

c. Job’s friends did not feel his hopeless situation (Job 6:8-13).

Prolonged and intense suffering can make a person feel powerless to handle life, and this can lead to hopelessness. If you can’t control some of the elements that make up life, how can you plan for the future?

Job exclaimed, “What strength do I have, that I should hope? And what is my end, that I should prolong my life” (Job 6:11)?

Yet, Job never gave up his faith in God and his integrity. Even if God had permitted evil to come into his life, Job did not rebel against God. He did not take matters into his own hands which is what most hopeless people today would resort to.

Thank God for the hope that we have in Christ. It’s because of the finished work of Christ that we can look forward to a promising future.

Billy Graham Quote on the Resurrection

d. The ministry of Job’s friends was ineffective (Job 6:14-30).

Job’s three friends didn’t show compassion for him or try to meet his needs. They were like a dirty brook in the desert that disappoints thirsty travelers.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were Job’s friends as long as he was prosperous. But when trouble came, they turned against him. Physically, the three men were sitting with Job on the ash heap. But emotionally, they were like the priest and Levite passing by “on the other side” (Luke 10:30-37).

Are you always willing to empathize with those in need? Do you effectively support anyone who is in the midst of trial and suffering? How effective are you in the ministry that God entrusted to you?

Conclusion

Job’s friends had not been an encouragement to him. They had taken a superior attitude as judges, assuming that they knew God better than Job did. These three men did not identify with Job in his grief and pain.

Job said, “But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians” (Job 13:4). They smeared the whitewash of their lies (Psalm 119:69) over the discussion. This was to avoid dealing with difficult problems while maintaining their traditional ideas. They stayed on the surface of things and never went deep into God’s truth or Job’s feelings.

Counseling that stays on the surface accomplishes very little. If we are going to help people, we must go much deeper. But this demands love, courage, patience, and compassion.

To show empathy towards others, we need much more than platitudes (Job 13:12). We need the wisdom to know how to apply the truth to the needs of hurting people.

Are you up to the challenge and be an empathizer?


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Recommended Resource:

Suffering Is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot

Suffering Is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot ing by Elisabeth Elliot Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy.

Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. Her first husband, Jim, was murdered by the Waoroni people in Ecuador moments after he arrived in hopes of sharing the gospel. Her second husband was lost to cancer.

Yet, it was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God.

Why doesn’t God do something about suffering? He has, He did, He is, and He will.

Suffering and love are inexplicably linked, as God’s love for His people is evidenced in His sending Jesus to carry our sins, griefs, and sufferings on the cross, sacrificially taking what was not His on Himself so that we would not be required to carry it. He has walked the ultimate path of suffering, and He has won the victory on our behalf.

This truth led Elisabeth to say, “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.”

Because suffering is never for nothing.

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

Is there life after death? Among all the different world religions, only Islam, Judaism, and Christianity believe that death is not the end.

In this post, we will look at 7 reasons why we believe in the afterlife.

1. An Eternal God

The Bible describes God as eternal (Psalm 90:2; 102:12); the source of immortality. We also read in the Scriptures that God created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).

Sin and death entered humanity as a result of Adam’s rebellion (Romans 5:12, 17). But God did not just allow the human race to wallow in sin and live forever in rebellion. Rather, He began to unfold a plan to redeem them from the curse of death and hell.

By grace, we can have eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21; 6:23). And eternal life for those who received Christ as Lord and Savior is not limited here on earth. God intended for His children to live forever with Him in heaven.

If there is no afterlife, God would not have promised His children eternity.

Psalm 90:2, NKJV

2. Old Testament Predictions

Many scholars argue that immortality is a New Testament concept. But the prophet Daniel spoke of a day when “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

In the 73rd Psalm, Asaph described how he almost lost faith in God seeing how evil people prospered while the godly suffered. Only after going into the sanctuary of God that he understood their final destiny. He then said, “Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors” (Psalm 73:18-19, NLT).

Asaph concluded that there is a glorious, eternal future awaiting those who belong to God. “Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny” (Psalm 73:23-24, NLT).

3. Near-Death Experiences

A near-death experience (NDE) is an occurrence in which patients who have come close to death have memories of spiritual experience. Many of them claim to have encounters with bright lights, long tunnels, or angelic guides. Some claim they went to heaven while others to hell.

Near-death or out-of-the-body experiences are rare and it’s often hard to assess their significance. However, a new study claims they can offer an unbiased evaluation of people’s descriptions of their experiences.

We now know that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. As people approach death, they sense that they are approaching the beginning of another journey.

Near-Death Experience: Evidence for Life After Death

4. Jesus’ Statements

Although some would accuse Jesus of being a false teacher, atheists and non-Christians usually refer to Jesus with respect. Yet, the Lord never spoke ambiguously about the reality of a continuing personal existence after death.

Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Also, in Luke 23:42-43, Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief. If there’s no life after death, the thief’s request and Jesus’ promise wouldn’t make sense.

According to Jesus, the most significant issue of life is facing the reality of life after death. He said in Mark 9:47 (NIV), “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”

5. The Injustices of Life

If happiness on earth is all there is to life, what hope do the poor and oppressed have to continue living? If we knew there was nothing beyond the grave, it would be difficult to believe that life is good.

While some people are destined for success and happiness, some are born into terrible relationships and circumstances. If there is nothing to offset the unequal distribution of suffering, cursing the day of your birth becomes valid (Job 3:1-3).

Revelation 21:4, NKJV

But knowing that there is life after death gives hope to everyone, especially the less fortunate. We may suffer the injustices of life here on earth but we have a promising future ahead of us.

The Bible promises faithful believers rewards in the afterlife (Matthew 5:12; James 1:12; Revelation 22:12; 1 Timothy 6:17-19, etc.). That is more than enough to keep us going in this life that we know is just temporary.

6. Longings of the Heart

Some people might think that happiness is found in what this world has to offer. But the human heart hungers for more. King Solomon said that God has not only made everything beautiful in its time. But He has also set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

It might be difficult to know exactly what Solomon meant. But apparently, he was referring to an inescapable longing for something that this world can’t satisfy. This is an emptiness of the soul that no one, including King Solomon, could escape. For a while, he tried to fill this inner void with alcohol, work, and pleasure. He tried to satisfy his longings with music, philosophy, and sexual relationships. But it didn’t work.

It was only when Solomon returned to his confidence in a final judgment in the afterlife that he found satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

7. Christ’s Resurrection

The greatest evidence for the existence of life after death is the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah 53:1-12 and Daniel 9:26 predicted that a Messiah would come to defeat sin and death for His people. Jesus’s followers testified exactly that.

The predicted Messiah voluntarily gave His life and was buried in a borrowed tomb (John 19:41-42). Three days later, He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of people for 40 days before ascending to heaven. See Acts 1:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

Jesus Rose from the Dead

Christ’s resurrection gives believers hope that they too will rise when Christ comes at the sounding of the last trumpet.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, NIV).

Conclusion

Nothing offers more courage than the confidence that there is a better life waiting ahead. Knowing that there is life after death is a source of optimism and spiritual betterment. Belief in the unlimited opportunities of eternity has enabled many followers of Christ to endure the trials they are going through.

It’s this reality that enabled Jesus to say in Matthew 16:26-27, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”


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Recommended Resource:

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife (An NDE Collection) by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom Gardner

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom GardnerWhen Jim Woodford died, he spent 11 hours in Heaven. When he came back, he was changed forever.

A successful airline pilot and businessman, Jim had it all—a loving family, substantial wealth, and all of the good things that come with it. But none of this was enough to satisfy the emptiness he felt in his heart. He always hungered for something more. And then he died.

Jim was never a religious man. When it came to matters of God and faith, he was ambivalent. But as he lay in the hospital bed, clinically dead for more than 11 hours, his consciousness was transported to the wonders of Heaven and the horrors of hell. When he returned to this world, he brought back the missing peace his soul had been longing for.

Join Jim Woodford on this unforgettable journey into the afterlife!

  • Awaken to the vivid sights, sounds, and sensations that you can enjoy in Heaven forever.
  • Be inspired by detailed descriptions of the “contrails of prayer” in Heaven’s skies, the “sticky love” of God, what it feels like to hug an angel, and more!
  • Encounter the chilling realities of hell and the sharp claws of destruction that threatened to pull Jim into eternal darkness.
  • Take comfort in the “six simple words” that led Jim into the presence of Christ.

Whether you need hope for tomorrow or strength for today, this story is your invitation to a radical transformation!