Suffering? Why Not?

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

Suffering – this is a word that none of us likes to use, but it is something that all of us experience at some time in our lifetime. Suffering isn’t always physical. Sometimes it takes the form of emotional or mental suffering. Whatever its form, it is still suffering.

Romans 8 is one of the most significant chapters in the Bible. Paul addresses so many important issues in this chapter. So it is no surprise that he addresses the issue of suffering. “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time … ” Paul makes the assumption that we will suffer in this present time. Is it too simplistic to say that we live in a fallen world and much of the suffering we experience is simply the result of being in this world? I don’t think so. So often I hear believers blame God for their sickness or the circumstance that has brought about suffering. When my body gets sick, I don’t automatically assume God made me sick. When I am experiencing emotional duress, I don’t assume God created the conflict. Let’s keep suffering in perspective. It will come to all of us. It is only for a season. And God does not forsake us in our time of suffering.

Then Paul says that our suffering is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I once read an illustration of a man who said that when he died, he wanted them to put a fork in his hand in the casket. Why someone asked why, he replied, “Because the best is yet to come!” Friend, the best IS yet to come. It is that glory which shall be revealed in us. That’s all I know about it. That’s all anybody knows about it. But, it is coming and we will get through our suffering so we can experience the glory. Just my thoughts …

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To Whom Are You Looking!

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ” Matthew 6.33-34

How can such a simply declaration of truth be so difficult for us to believe and put into practice? I’m sure we have all heard this verse quoted or we have read it many times over. Yet we continually trouble ourselves over the things of the morrow. Don’t forget these words: “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” The counsel Jesus gives His followers is this: “seek me today, now … I am here. Let me add the things you need to your life today. Remember, I will also take care of tomorrow when it gets here.”

Let’s go back to the opening words: “Seek first … ” The biblical protocol for dealing with any issue is found in these words. Seek God first. The reason that is so important is because it changes our focus from our problem to the only One who can solve our problem. It may seem like I hammer this concept a lot in my blogs, but it is such an all-important concept.

It may help us to take note of what “all these things” are. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or Where withal shall we be clothed.” (V. 31) (I might also add, Where shall I live?) The totality of the needs of your life and mine are held securely in the hands of this loving God who has promised to meet our needs, no matter what they are. Remember that not one of your needs is bigger than your God. He made the universe. He made you, and He will handle your need. Just my thoughts …

With His Own Hands!

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2.7

God spoke and the light appeared. God spoke and the firmament appeared. God spoke and the waters and the dry land we put into their proper places. God spoke and things began to grow in the earth. God spoke and the lights appeared in the heavens. God spoke and the creatures of the sea and the flying creatures on the earth appeared. God spoke and the beasts on the earth appeared.

And THEN “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground … ” Everything else God spoke into existence, but when He came to the crowning act of creation, He fashioned man with His own hands and He breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. I’m not sure how that speaks to you, but I am completely humbled by the realization that after God SPOKE everything else into existence, He took time to PERSONALLY form man with His hands and to personally breathe into his nostrils to give him life.

Let’s examine these verses: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl o the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1.27-28 Every living thing that God spoke into existence he put under the authority of man.

We were not an afterthought with God. We were the crowning element in His creative process. If that does not cause us to see God differently and see our responsibility to God differently, then we have a real disconnect with truth. May God help us to see how SPECIAL we are in God’s sight, and then to live in the light of that knowledge. Just my thoughts …

His Voice – Not Theirs!

Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah (3) But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; for my glory, and the lifter of mine head. (4) I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” Psalm 3.2-4

If we listen to the voices of the world, they will tell us that there is no help for in God. When we choose to listen to the voices of the world, we are unable to heard the voice of help when it comes.

But David’s response to the voice of the world was this: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me … ” It doesn’t matter what others may say about You, You ARE my shield. They don’t have to see it. They don’t have to understand it. They don’t even have to believe it. None of that negates the truth that God is my shield.

Not only is He my shield, but there is another element to this: He is “the lifter of mine head.” So often when difficulties come to us, we are prone to drop our heads and all we can see is what is at our feet. But my God wants to change my perspective. So He lifts my head. That turns my focus from my problem to the One who is there solving my problem.

Now notice the sequence here: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” I cried … He heard. The one thing of which I am sure is that when I cry He hears. I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 14 when Peter was walking on the water and he began to sink beneath the water. “But when he (Peter) saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sin, he cried, saying, Lord save me. (31) And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (vs. 30-31)

We can rest in the assurance that when we cry, He hears. These are just my thoughts …

Victors not Victims!

 

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15.57

We seem to live in a world in which people see themselves as victims in so many life situations. Just because we have a bad experience, or are born with a less than perfect body, or have less than a perfect marriage, or less than a perfect job does not mean that we are a victim. It simply means that life is not perfect – and no one has a perfect life.

What is Paul saying to believers here in this verse? His reference to victory is speaking of victory over death. That does not mean that we will not die, but that the sting of death has been conquered. That is one of the things Christ conquered for us on the cross. Of ALL the things that the death of Christ accomplished for us, the knowledge that the sing of death has been conquered is a wonderful truth. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (v. 55)

You and I must remember the words of 2 Corinthians 5: “We ae confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” If you have lost a loved one who is a believer., you know the comfort those words bring you.

But if you and I are victors over death, does that truth have any bearing on the rest of life? If death has been conquered, what else is there to fear? So often we are bound by fear when dealing with sickness and/or relationships. The simple truth of the matter is this, if God can handle death (the ultimate blow to life), then He can surely handle a terminal illness, a wayward child, a spouse who chooses to walk away, a job that may terminate tomorrow, or a problem with another believer that may seem unsolvable to us. Just remember that we are victors, not victims. Just my thoughts …

 

Don’t Leave Anything Out

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God man be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3.16-17

Have you ever wanted to argue with God over a scripture you just read? “Really God?” In our heart of hearts we know that these verses are absolutely true. But there are times when our old nature wants to rear its ugly head and object to something God said.

When we consider all of the things for which God’s Word is said to be profitable, we would do well to allow the Word to assist us in those areas. For example, we live in a world that is plagued with FALSE doctrine. Even though we say we know what we believe, we need to have our faith anchored firmly in doctrine – true doctrine. Doctrine is not tradition, even though some want to make it so. Doctrine is not necessarily my conviction, although I should hold what I believe with great conviction. The thing of which we must be certain is that what I call “my truth” is not different from “God’s truth.”

We all know there are times when we need to be reproved and corrected. It may not be what we WANT, but it is what we NEED. But them Paul speaks about “instruction in righteousness … ” When I read the Word, I find myself being continually instructed in what is right. It is not that I have not read it before, but when I read it this time, it takes on a greater significance, perhaps because of where I am in my walk with God and the needs that exist in my life. If you and I want to be “thoroughly furnished” with what we need, we need to allow God’s Word to do what it is designed to do in us and for us. Just my thoughts …

Hang On Till the Morning!

For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30.5

When was the last time you said, “If I can just make it till morning, things will be alright”? Let’s give attention to the comparisons in this verse: anger – but a moment; favor – is life; weeping – for a night; and joy – in the morning. Just reading and meditating on these words bring me encouragement.

But let’s go a little deeper here. I want to focus on the phrase: “: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Almost everyday we hear of someone who has just received news that causes them to weep … someone they know has come down with a terminal disease, a family close to them is experiencing heart break (for whatever reason), or as is the case so often, a loved one has just died. Let me say to each one reading this that it is not a sin to weep when life delivers a hard blow. Weeping is not a reflection of weak faith – Jesus wept. Weeping does not mean we think God made a mistake. Weeping is a display of a heart that is struggling with what we have just learned.

I think we all know, too, that weeping is somewhat of a catharsis for us – a cleansing process. But the need for it will pass and then, “ joy cometh in the morning.” Joy is realizing God’s presence in the midst of our heartbreak. Joy knows that God does not change even though our daily circumstances of life do change. Joy allows us to embrace the bitter elements of life without growing bitter ourselves. And why is this true? It is true because joy is NOT dependent on WHERE we are or WHAT we are experiencing, but on WHO God is and His constant attention to our needs. Just my thoughts …

What Did Jesus REALLY Say!

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5.24

As each of us already knows, when Jesus speaks, we need to listen. This verse is no different. There are several clear, distinct things that Jesus enumerates that make this matter of salvation and everlasting life abundantly clear. For example: (1) he that hears, (2) he that believes on him that sent me, (3) has everlasting life, (4) is not condemned, and (5) has passed from death unto life.

There is no need for us to complicate the message of salvation. I read a story once about an old farmer who had rejected God over and over. One day he was caught out in the field and it began to pour down rain. The only place of shelter was an old hollow long nearby. The farmer ran over and slid himself back into that hollow long and was protected from the rain. As the rain began to soak into the log, the log began to swell and the farmer was trapped in the log and couldn’t get out. He began to cry out to the Lord for help: “Lord, if you will just let me get out of this log, I will trust you as savior and I will tell others about what you did for me..” The swelling went down and the old farmer was able to slide out. He soon met a friend and began to tell him about how he had just trusted God. The friend said, “How can I do that?” to which the old farmer responded, “Go over to that field where the hollow log in, slide back into it, and pray for God to help you get out.” He THOUGHT the man had to do exactly what HE had done. When in reality, you and I must do exactly what God has said in this verse. Let’s not complicate it: hear, believe, receive everlasting life, not be condemned, and we have passed from DEATH unto LIFE. PTL! Just my thoughts …

What a God! What a Gift! What a Sacrifice!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3.16

Before I had graduated from Bible College, I was called to serve in a church in Arlington, TX. I was the music director (we call them worship leaders today [lol]). Shortly after arriving there, one of the teachers of the 2-year-old children came to me and said, “Bro. Burton, I would like for you to visit my class this Sunday and hear something from my 2 yr. olds.” I said, “I will be there.” When I walked in, she said, “Children, let’s show Bro. Burton what we have learned recently.” And they began reciting John 3.16 – perfectly. Not only was she proud of them, but I was so thankful that they learned this powerful truth at such an early age.

How do we measure the dimensions of the word “so” here in this verse? The love of God for this world was not greater than His love for His Son, but He loved His Son so much and knew that NOTHING else but His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of the law to completely pay for the sins of the world. Such great NEED and such great DEMAND could only come together in the place we call the “place of the skull.” What the Roman government thought they were doing was putting to death someone who kept the multitudes stirred up. But what they were really doing was carrying out God’s plan to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God planned it. The Roman government thought they orchestrated it. God the Son willingly carried it out, and God the Holy Spirit became a reality to believers as a result of it. Oh my dear friend, God GAVE. Have you RECEIVED? Just my thoughts …

Free Grace for the Unworthy Sinner – Me!

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3.23-24

You’ve heard the expression, “I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” That is what we are looking at in these two short verses. The bad news is that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God … ” Although each one of us knows that he is a sinner, if this were the only piece of information we received, there would be no hope. To know that I am a sinner identifies my condition before God, but there is absolutely no indication of where I can turn to remedy my situation. This little phrase, “come short” quite simply means to “miss the mark.” If you and I are standing on the edge of a cliff, and the distance to the other side is only 20 feet, we may reason within ourselves that we can make that jump. But if I jump and only make it 10 feet and you jump and make it 19 feet, guess what? We both missed the mark. My grandfather used to say that “almost” counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The good news is found in v. 24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t you love the ring of the words “justified freely”? God says to us that our condition is hopeless if left up to us, but He is willing to justify us freely – how – “ by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” God says, “I will take care of everything, if you will let me.” This is such wonderful news for us to be able to share with those whom we know who are NOT justified freely by His grace. They just need to know how much God loves them and what He will do FOR them if they will just allow Him to do it. Just my thoughts …