Shocked!

Friday, February 23, 2018

“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to learn how to avoid shock.

Immediately after tragedy strikes, two things occur. Firstly, those who have had absolutely no time for God suddenly begin telling Him to do something for them. Secondly, those seeking to shift blame from themselves and sinners like them, begin to viciously accuse Him.

No matter how wicked our human nature is, we reach a point—however brief—when we realize our great limitations. Regardless of how high our skyscrapers get or our submersibles go, no matter how advanced our technology becomes, regardless of how great our understanding of the universe becomes, we are truly weaklings in the grand scheme of things. In those fleeting seconds before we conceitedly suppress that truth, we reach out to any “higher being” who may happen to be listening to or watching us in our pathetic plight. Whatever “it” is, if our situations and circumstances are grim, we can look to “it” for comfort or culpability. If “it” does not respond as we expect, we then bitterly lash out at “it.”

The Psalmist in today’s Scripture is puzzled: times are troubling and God is hiding! Reading through the psalm, we learn that its writer is really a member of the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, suffering greatly under the reign of the despotic Antichrist. Shock and fear will grip these saints living beyond our day. Evil incarnate is ruling unfettered. Believing Israelites, scattered across the Middle East, are being imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded. Where is the supernatural deliverance? These Messianic Jews need to understand why God is delaying His return to forcefully crush the Antichrist.

As concerning God’s dealings with us in the Dispensation of Grace, we see a parallel in today’s Scripture. Where is God in our times of trouble? Again, Satan’s evil world system must run its full course. God has not abandoned us. He is indeed present, and we need not be shocked or troubled that evil prospers despite the existence of a loving God. Friends, if we acknowledge the reality of suffering and the presence of an intelligent Creator, we can shield ourselves from such devastating surprise.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Hell almost full?

Paul’s Stocks and Bonds

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks (Acts 16:23,24 KJV).

Financial stocks and bonds are sources of great wealth. The Apostle Paul, although poor (2 Corinthians 11:27; Philippians 4:11-13), had much experience with “stocks” and “bonds.”

As the context of today’s Scripture proves (verse 12 onward), he, Silas, Luke, and others travel to Philippi (northern Greece) to preach the Gospel of Grace. A Gentile religious woman, Lydia, and an unnamed devil-possessed slave girl are two of their converts. The girl’s owners—furious that their “money-making machine” has disappeared—drag Paul and Silas into the marketplace (court). There, they persuade the authorities to arrange for the Apostles to be beaten with rods (“caning”). Paul and Silas receive “many stripes [wounds].”

Paul and Silas are then imprisoned, eventually evangelizing the jailor and his household (today’s Scripture to the chapter’s end). While captive, their feet are “fast [secure] in the stocks.” The “stocks” were an instrument of punishment consisting of an adjustable wooden structure with holes for securing a person’s hands and feet. Confined to such a device, criminals could be subject to public ridicule and abuse of all kinds. What torture Paul and Silas were willing to endure for our Lord Jesus Christ!

Later, in Acts 20:22-24, Paul confessed: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” These “bonds” are chains, shackles, instruments of imprisonment. The Apostle is in “bonds” in Acts 25:14; Acts 26:29; Ephesians 6:20; Philippians 1:7,13-16; Colossians 4:3,18; 2 Timothy 2:9; and Philemon 10 and 13.

“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound(2 Timothy 2:9).

A Better Body

Sunday, January 21, 2018

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 KJV).

Amen!

An elderly friend and coworker in the ministry recently slipped and fell on icy pavement. His resultant severe hand injury required medical attention. Days later, his hip and leg began to hurt and now he limps—probably another injury he sustained in the fall. He will probably have to seek medical help for that as well. Now, likely due to his earlier hospital visit (regarding another sickness), he has the flu! His wife suffers chronic maladies herself. Since her immune system is so weak, she is temporarily living elsewhere so as to avoid contracting her husband’s illness.

Saints, we all have our various bodily afflictions, physical disabilities, limitations, and the like. It is certainly no fun to be sick—especially in life-threatening or terminal situations. Remember, just because we are Christians does not mean we will not suffer. We grow sick, we grow old, and we die. That is the curse of sin, one aspect of living in an unredeemed body. Therefore, we anticipate the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ and the receipt of our new, glorified bodies that will never grow ill, age, or perish!

“[19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Graduated!

Monday, August 21, 2017

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Death is never easy, but the death of a Christian is easier. It is somewhat easier when an aged person dies, but a young person’s decease is quite difficult. Yet, if that young person was “in Christ,” that death is easier to bear.

Recently, an online friend passed on to Heaven after a long battle with cancer. She was only 18 years old. Even though she suffered much, she was a strong testimony for God’s grace. As her friends struggled with trying to reconcile how God could let His saint grow so horrifically ill, she reminded them that, while Father God has redeemed our souls, He has yet to redeem our bodies from sin’s curse. A firm foundation in the Bible rightly divided caused her to rejoice even in the midst of great trouble. While we are secure in Christ, there is no guarantee we will meet our Lord without first experiencing unspeakable bodily infirmities. An aged ministry coworker just told me his aching body was “falling apart.”

I just read the obituary of a dear saint whose Bible studies benefited me. The article was certainly written from the grace perspective. It began by saying that the brother “‘graduated’ on… to be with his Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully.” He was an evangelist for 40 years: “He loved preaching in Rescue Missions, proclaiming the Gospel of the Grace of God to the lost. His passion in life was leading people to Christ and encouraging the body of Christ.” After preaching the Gospel for so long, he at last experienced its hope. Doubtless, he is still enjoying the Lord’s presence all these years later!

Yes, we sorrow, but we sorrow not as those which have no hope. We have a sure expectation that our loved ones in Christ are not lost forever. Father God has them in His loving care, and we will see them (and Him) in His own time. There will be an endless eternity to fellowship with them around the Word of God. For now, dear brethren, we must remember that they want us to continue being ambassadors for Christ down here! 🙂

Confidence

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV).

What assurance the Christian has!

I recently watched a sad documentary on the kidnapping and murder of a teenager. Her murderer had been captured, incarcerated, and executed. Near the end, her father, a preacher, revealed that “she knew where she was going.” In her farewell note, she urged her family to keep on living for Jesus Christ, and that all would turn out right. Undoubtedly, God’s grace is the only reason this family has coped with such a loss all these decades. While it will never bring her back here, it gives them hope to see her in Heaven one day.

Friends, there is no guarantee that our physical bodies will remain intact until we die (or reach Heaven via the Rapture). Due to various sicknesses and injuries, we may lose limbs, tissue, and organs. However, in Christ, we never have to worry about our spirits being separated from Almighty God. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finish crosswork, we have been bound forever to God Himself. The Apostle Paul, awaiting execution, wrote in today’s Scripture that he was “persuaded.” God was “able”—yes, more than able—to hang on to him. As someone would store a valuable item in a safe, so Paul had entrusted his soul to Father God. There was complete security in Christ: nothing would be lost or misplaced. God the Holy Spirit would personally see to it that Paul made it safely to Heaven. The Apostle would in the meantime have some obstacles to endure—ultimately, a decapitation—but his eternal abode in Heaven was sure!

Evidently, that was the confidence that that preacher and his wife had concerning their murdered daughter. She had lost her life at a very young age, but Father God did not lose her soul and neither did she. What persuasion, what hope, what confidence Calvary’s cross provides us! “That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is Romans 2:24 talking about?

Guarded

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

With today’s Scripture in our hearts and minds, those hearts and minds are guarded!

Second Timothy 3:12 tells us: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Acts 14:22 says of Paul and Barnabas: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Whenever we purpose to live godly in Christ Jesus, we will suffer persecution. This is a fact of Christian doctrine, even though the popular idea in “churchianity” today is that God wants to remove all of our problems (or remove us from them).

If Satan cannot cause us to change or pervert the doctrine that we teach and preach, then he will do his best in using whatever he can to stop us from teaching and preaching. In other words, after unsuccessfully attacking the message, he proceeds to attack the messenger. Should we worry? Should that bother us? Should we fret? Should that discourage us from even trying to do right at all? No, dear friends, no! Today’s Scripture reminds us not to be “careful”—we should not be anxious, worrisome, taking thought of it.

In our circumstances, regardless of our circumstances, we are “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [to] let [our] requests be made known unto God.” Why? Prayer is not designed to change our circumstances, as commonly thought, but it is to change us within as we endure those circumstances. “The peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The idea here with “keep” is guard. Satan is out to harm us internally (mentally and spiritually). Thankfully, God has given us the ability—through His written Word and us praying according to it rightly divided—so we can ward off his attacks. Ultimately, it will cause us to think of our circumstances the way God Himself does.