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Fulfilling Prophesy…

Fulfilling ProphesyFulfilling Prophesy

(Isaiah was written around 800 years before Christ)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor (in spirit). He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favorIsaiah 61:1-2a

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21

Jesus said, You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, John 5:39

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:44-45

AMEN!!!

Who will save us?

Save me. Who can save us? Who has the power to save me? Can Superman save us or Captain Marvel save us? No, these are make-believe heroes written in fiction to entertain us. So, who in all of history came to save us? I only know of one man who was sent from His Father to be born among us. You might know Him or you may not but whatever the answer He came in obedience to His Father to claim us as His own. This man wasn’t great looking or ten feet tall He was quite ordinary until He spoke and commanded demons to leave and a wither hand to heal. (Isaiah 53:2; Matthew 12:10) He performed miracles and spoke wisdom to crowds with authority from on high. (Matthew 28:18) He was a man of ordinary means sent from on high to do extraordinary feat. He was like you and me but He was different because He drew His strength from His Father. (John 15:1-8) This man fed on every word that came from His Father’s mouth. This man’s Father is the ruler of this world who spoke everything into existence. (Genesis 1) This Son worship His Father’s every word with thanksgiving and praise and when the Father told His Son to go and save us. (Matthew 6:9) He did without question. Who is this man?

Who is this man?

Who is this man? This man was given a name that means ‘our Savior’ and Savior means deliverer. (John 4:42) Why were we given a deliverer? Thousands of years ago when this Father which we will call God put into existence this world He had a garden where He had a couple. This couple was the first humans and their names were Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve took care of the garden for God. God had but one rule that was the tree in the center of the garden was not to be eaten. That tree was called ‘the knowledge of good and evil’ and if they ate from that tree they would die a spiritual death. One rule was given to them but one day a serpent came into that garden and enticed the woman to eat the fruit and she did as well as her husband. That day they brought sin into this world and the couple was cast out of the Garden and Eden to live off the sweat of their brow and to eat from the ground. (Genesis 3) Why do we need a deliverer? For the sin that enter this world through Adam and Eve. Each generation of people continue in their sin and the sin got worse and worse until God devised a plan that would change human life and He gave His people the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20) Now, the Ten Commandments were given as a law to be kept where they would also give pure animals (Leviticus 4) to be sacrifice if they committed these sins. The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies (animals) are burned outside the camp. (Hebrews 13:11) The Ten Commandment did not stop sin but it enticed them to do worse sins in rebellion against the Ten Commandments and God. So, who is this man our Savior?

Who is this man our Savior?

God heard the cries of His people who were struggling with sin and the harshness of their environment. God sent His One and Only Son to be born of a virgin so that He will carry on the plan to save us from eternal damnation. Our Savior grew up in this harsh environment and lived among God’s people. He endured being different from others and lived a blameless life among others. (2Corinthians 5:21) God had a plan for our Savior’s life and when He was old enough He executed that plan and gathered around Himself followers. He drew His strength from His Father through abiding in His Father (John 10:30) our Savior grew stronger until He was taken into custody. (Luke 22) They were trying our Savior on the case that He committed treason against His government. Treason is when you are disloyal to your government for instance: when you do not give alliance to your king but to someone else. Our Savior was not like by many religious leaders and for that reason they incited the people against our Savior and told the court to crucify Him. (Luke 23) What the people did not know was this was the plan? God needed His Son to go through this so that He would become that perfect sacrifice for His people. So, without a word our Savior walked outside the city with a cross on His back to Skull where they nailed His hands and feet to a cross. Our Savior died and then He rose on the third day to the surprise of all and is seated at the right hand of the Father to reign for us and intercede for us. (Luke 24) And so our Savior also suffered outside the city gate (like the animal sacrifices) to make the people holy through His own blood. (Hebrews 13:12) Our Savior’s own blood makes us pure through the giving us His life for us. (Acts 20:28) So, God’s plan worked with the death of His Son we can have eternal life. The word says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and an only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) This death cancels out our sin for all times and it gives us new life in Him if we choose. Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore. (Hebrews 13:13) We do not need to clean up or dress up just come as you are and our Savior will wash you white as snow and He will give you His white robe. Acts 22:16; Luke 15:22) Believe that our Savior came as a baby, died on a tree, resurrected and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  (Acts 16:31) Believe that you are desperate and lost without your Savior and then turn and repent of your sins. (Acts 11:21) Our Savior commands all people everywhere to repent and be saved. (Acts 17:30)

Our Savior saves but not this earth for here we do not have an enduring city (earth), but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14) This city will come to an end and we will live forever looking forward to our Savior’s return. Our Savior will return when all His children are saved. (Revelation 7:13-17) Who is our Savior? Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you, Jesus Christ that you are my Savior who saved me from my sin. Thank you, Father that you gave your one and only Son to me to be sacrificed on a cross so that I would have eternal life forever. Thank you, Lord that you are master of my heart today.

I pray for your people who have not chosen you this day and struggle with sin and their own depraved heart. May they not continue in their sin any longer but Believe on Jesus Christ and be saved. Jesus says in His word “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) I pray that your children will turn from the wicked ways and repent and be forgiven and live and eternal life with you. Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Overcoming Stress and Anxiety…

Overcoming StressSearch me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward (when you die) you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26

For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite (remorseful) and lowly (humble) in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

AMEN!!!

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Daily Encouragement…

Daily EncouragementPaul writes, My goal is that they (you and me) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:18-19a

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

AMEN!!!

Forgiving Sin…

Forgiving SinSalvation (being forgiven) is found in no one else, for there is no other name (Lord Jesus) under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 

But I want you to know that the Son of Man (Jesus) has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. ”He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:7-12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

AMEN!!!

Image: Lake Malawi, Africa

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Victory over Death…

Victory over deathWho can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave? Psalm 89:48

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord (Jesus) comes escape from death. Psalm 68:19-20

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:53-57

AMEN!!!

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A Treasure Money Can’t Buy…

TreasureBlessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she (wisdom) is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 3:13-15

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 4:5-6

… indeed, if you call out (to God) for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:3-6

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:26

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay. Psalm 49:7-9

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 1 Timothy 2:5-6a

… keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21
AMEN!!!

The Beginning of Time…

The beginning of time.In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) was hovering over the waters.

And God said, (the Word) “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:1-4 

The “Word” Becomes a Human Being …

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God  He (the Word) was with God in the beginning. Through him (the Word) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The Word became flesh (a human being named Jesus) and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-4a, 14

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (most important) over all creation. For in him (Jesus, the Word) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

John writes, And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14

AMEN!!!

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Paul remained faithful

Leave it all behind. Jesus said “Pick up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Leave your brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers or children or fields for my sake and you will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) Leave it all behind and pick up your cross and follow me.

What is the cost to follow Jesus Christ? Paul states in 2Timothy 4:8 now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. The Holy Spirit witness to Paul that a crown of righteousness was his for staying faithful to the Lord and to the gospel.

While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:13-14)

Are you eager to do what is good and right before the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you having trouble leaving it all behind? Have you replace the Lord with another love that is stronger than you? In the Old Testament in Genesis 29 Leah was Jacob’s first wife because her father tricked Jacob into marrying her. Jacob wanted Rachel but was given Leah. Leah became pregnant and she thought Jacob will love me now because a son was born. But, no Jacob did not love her and this hope of her husband desiring her continue until Leah cried out to the God and God saw her pain. See Leah was striving to be loved and she felt incomplete without his love. Leah tried for 10-15 years to get her husband’s love but something happen in her heart that turned her life around. Leah became pregnant a fourth time and during her pregnancy she began to seek the LORD for Himself. Leah fell in love with the LORD and when she gave birth to her son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She named her son ‘Judah’ which means praise. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) All your worrying about your family and friends just makes you sick because you deferring your hope somewhere other than the Lord. Once you put all your hope in the Lord you become a well spring tree of life.

Seek the Lord for Himself and not what you can get from Him. Have your desires become your gods? Do you desire wealth and everything that comes with it? Are these desires ruling you this day? If this desire is the reason you follow Jesus Christ so that He will give you your desires then your life will not change. Look again at Leah’s story with Jacob; her life was miserable it wasn’t changing until she left it all behind. She left those feelings of ever becoming complete with Jacob and gave her life completely to God. What did God do for Leah? After Leah and Rachel had died Jacob was dying he told his sons. “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave…which Abraham bought…for a burial site. There they burden Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah.” (Genesis 49:29-31) “…there I buried Leah.” The LORD was looking out for Leah and Jacob came to love Leah. The Lord can do remarkable things for the ones He loves when we do not defer our hope to others. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Leave it all behind…Pick up your cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) How did Paul remain faithful to the Lord and the gospel? The Lord gave the Holy Spirit to His followers. Jesus says to His disciples “Now I am going to Him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:5-11) The Lord had to leave because the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. The Holy Spirit came to convict us of sin in our lives so that we will turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit witnesses on righteousness: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died and was resurrected, justified and Lord of all. Holy Spirit shows us what sin is and how to overcome the world. The Holy Spirit witnesses judgment: Satan’s defeat at the cross (John 12:31), world’s judgment (Romans 1:18-32), and future judgment (Matthew 16:27). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s life is the reason that Paul was able to stay faithful.

Thank you Father, for your Son who died and rose on the third day; so that you could send the Holy Spirit to us. Thank you, Jesus Christ for your sacrifice for me that has brought me so much victory. Who would ever dream that I could have so much love in my life?  Thank you for convicting my heart that I was deferring my hope to something else. You complete me Lord we look nowhere else but to you. There is no one like you in all the earth. We seek you no other person or thing will distract us from you. You are our all in all and forgive us for using you for stuff…forgive us for loving family, friends, church, and things more than you. Help us leave behind people and things that have become our idols and pick up our cross and follow you. Protect our hearts from the evil ones and bullies in our life. I pray that our sense of fulfillment comes from you Lord and that we will delight in you. Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (Psalm 51:10-13) In Jesus Christ name. Amen.

 

Choose Life…

Choose LifeNo one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay. Psalm 49:7-9

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; John 11:25

For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:35

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (of your life).” John 6:40

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11

AMEN!!!

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Why does God allow suffering – Alan & Penny

Alan and Penny’s Story

The roblem of suffering - 4This is my body, broken for you” … These words take on a new meaning as Alan, now approaching 80, takes the tiniest breadcrumb and with just a finger, gently works it through the closed teeth of his dear wife, Penny, aged 76. To my eyes Penny remains motionless and silent. I hand him the communion wine cup which he takes with a small syringe and, with quiet words of explanation and encouragement, gently transfers a portion into Penny’s motionless mouth. All this is administered with a tenderness and dedication that humbles those of us who actually thought we knew something about love …..

The Problem of Suffering

The scene is Alan and Penny’s house, an elderly couple married for almost 44 years and we are holding a small communion service for the 3 of us. Penny suffers from advanced Corticobasal Degeneration – an extremely rare neurological disorder that systematically destroys all muscular movement, speech, and much comprehension. In Penny’s case there is no movement or speech but she understands what is going on. The onset of the disease was both breath-taking and terrifying. As recently as spring 2008 the couple were walking the South African coastline. In 2010 they could walk with difficulty, but by February 2011 Penny needed full-time live-in care.

For Alan it is not the first time. He lost his first wife to leukaemia at the age of only 28.

It was not always like this

We meet again in a quiet pub on a summer’s evening and Alan tells me more. In fact Penny was also a very talented driver and could have trained to drive to British Car Rally standard. She studied English at Sheffield University in her late thirties and held positions teaching Creative Writing at Leicester University and elsewhere. On one occasion she was asked to lead a course on the writer H. E. Bates in Northamptonshire UK only to discover on the first session that all of the students had known Bates personally – but she somehow retained her composure! For several years she was a Local Councillor for the Conservative Party and, after moving back to the north of England, became Development Officer for the Northwest Kidney Association – even observing a kidney transplant at close hand in order to ensure that her fund raising efforts were as informed as possible! Over the years, Penny held several positions as PA to a number of executives, and was Chair of Governors at a local school.

The problem of suffering - 2

Favourite walks, Garden Route South Africa, Derwent Water Lake District UK, and close to home, Lathkill Dale in Derbyshire UK

Alan and Penny both became Christians during their fifties and were members of Poynton Baptist Church where Penny’s speaking ministry began. She preached at numerous Baptist and Methodist churches right up to 2008 when her delivery became hesitant due to the illness. Penny had a passion for mentoring new Christians and would escort them through John’s Gospel week by week. Alan and Penny joined our church in Bramhall UK around 2006 and quickly became known as an articulate, active and rather adventurous retired couple, with their long-haul destination trips and with Penny being a well-known local preacher.

Penny, by any measure, led her life to the full! An inspiring mix of private life and public service, working for her family, working for charity, and working for the church.

The problem of suffering - 3

Favourite plants: wild orchids and Streptocarpus

Why?

The past 4 years for Alan and Penny have been a journey nobody should have to travel – and yet people do.

Alan explains, “I went through a period when the sheer enormity of Penny’s illness became apparent and I really struggled with the question ‘Lord why don’t you heal Penny now?’ At times I ended up somewhat demoralised, finding prayer difficult”. But then he goes on, “I accept it is not His will at this time. There will be a day of healing and joy but not today. In this world, God has not promised any of us an easy ride – but He has promised to share it with us. My sole reason for remaining positive is the Lord. Without God in my life I would be sunk. I believe in the Lord more fervently today than I have ever done in my life”.

“There is no conversation but I read the Bible to Penny several afternoons a week, and every day I tell her what’s happening, what I’ve been doing. I know I can bring comfort to her even in this state. Penny can’t speak but can make some sound and it’s clear to me when she is feeling at peace”.

What else helps Alan? Well some old-fashioned retail therapy, pottering about the garden, going out with a camera and appreciating the fantastic countryside, hopping onto the exercise bike, and engaging in conversation about Manchester United, to name a few.

What do YOU wish for in this world?

In my previous blog I made the point that God does not wish or cause suffering, and yet God can bring good from it. I spoke of the virtues of self-sacrifice, self-giving, and courage which sometimes emerge from the most oppressive situations. We see this clearly written all over Alan, in his dedication and in the incomparable love he shows to Penny. But perhaps it is best summarised by Alan’s wish …. “My greatest wish is that I wouldn’t die before Penny; so that I can make sure she has the best possible care”.

Penny’s life has been cut short in a way that most of us could not bear to see. As far as I can tell she has minimal comprehension and no communication. But this doesn’t deter Alan. As we finish our drink and prepare to leave, Alan takes up his walnut walking stick which has only recently varnished and comments “I’ve enjoyed tonight. I shall tell Penny all about it tomorrow” … Of course he would, what else would he do.

Why does God allow suffering? – discover more

In this short series we have attempted to shed light on this most difficult of questions. We discussed the theological question of suffering in Part I and the fact that this world is not as it should be. Our world is disfigured and suffering is ultimately a result of this. Suffering can fall on any of us at any time, but we also posed the alternative question: Why do good things happen? In Part II we moved to the pastoral question of suffering ie How do we as communities of believers respond when one person suffers? We explained the very real fact that love inevitably exposes us to suffering and this is what God himself demonstrated on Good Friday – suffering for love. In this final part we simply told the story of one couple for whom these matters are neither theoretical nor theological, but real.

  1. Part I – Looking at the question dispassionately
  2. Part II – Our response to suffering, God’s response to suffering
  3. Part III – Alan and Penny’s Story

The roblem of suffering - 4

Chris Goswami is Director or Marketing for a Silicon Valley based company and a Minister In Training in the UK Baptist Church. His personal site is www.7minutes.net.  This blog is pat of a series of 3 blogs

Make Love a Priority…

Make love a priorityLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:5-7

AMEN!!!

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Faith

My reading took me to Amos 5 where Amos speaks to the Israelites for God. Amos communicates God’s sorrow. The Israelites sin has become a stench to the LORD. No repentance comes from Israel so God turns away. Amos speaks God’s thoughts of doom to the people of Israel. God speaks through Amos saying “Seek me and live.” The LORD wants His people to return to Him. But, first God is a jealous God who will not be ignored. But, second God is a loving and compassionate God who gives second chances to all. God has given Israel chance after chance to return but they refuse to turn away from the idols of their heart. Israel has become their idols and it says in the word ‘but their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, they have eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.’ (Psalm 115:4-8) The Israelites trusted in their idols so they became their idols to where they couldn’t see or hear danger; their feet couldn’t run from evil. So, when God sent help in the man Amos to speak truth in their lives to turn from their wicked ways they couldn’t hear or see or utter repentance through their mouths; they had become their idols. The LORD is calling “seek me and live”.

Lord is calling ‘seek me and live” but Israel can’t hear; the flow of God’s words just pass them by without understanding.

Israel is not unlike us because we like our material goods as well. We want the best looking car or we need to build a house too. We have the mentality that what is ‘good for my neighbor is good for me, too’. But, God word says for people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1Timothy 6:9-11)

Pursue faithfulness in God: Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1Timothy 6:12) Israel did not fight for their relationship in God but we are called to persevere in faith for our relationship in Christ so that we will claim the prize of eternal life with Him. (Philippians 3:14)

The word says I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasures full. (Proverbs 8:17-21) But, God had conditions to His promises and they were to keep God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and Israel broke their covenant with God. But, Israel didn’t listen to Amos so reconciliation became judgment.

Amos continued to persevere with words from God to “seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you.” If only Israel would hate evil and seek good then God would save a remnant of Joseph.

A sure indication that you are committed follower of Jesus Christ is your hate of sin and your love for righteousness. Jesus Christ showed us His faithfulness to the truth and His righteous hatred for sin while He walked on this earth. The word says in John 3:19-21 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Reading further into Amos 7:1-7 the Sovereign LORD was showing Amos a vision of locust on the King’s share of the harvest and Amos cries out “Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the LORD relented. “This will not happen,” the LORD said. This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me. The Sovereign LORD was calling judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then (Amos) I cried out, “Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the LORD relented. “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign LORD said. This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in His hand. The vision showed that God was measuring Israel with a plumb line. A plumb line is a string with a weight on one end it is used in carpentry to make straight a wall. Israel wall was not straight. Israel walk was not obedient to God’s rules. God’s warning has fallen on deaf ears. God uses a shepherd boy from Judah to be a prophet for Israel. Amos cries out to God for Israel but Israel rejects God’s words and is told to “get out, you seer!” Amos was called to Israel by God to be a light in their presence darkness. Have you been called to a place where there is darkness and you are the only light within its walls? Persevere! The things that mark an apostle⎯signs, wonders and miracles⎯were done among you with great perseverance. (2Corinthians 12:12) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) We will not see the end result of our perseverance but know this: nothing is every wasted all is used for the glory of God. (Isaiah 55:11; Numbers 23:19)

In Amos 9:1 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape.

This is what judgment looks like when you are an enemy of God. God is a merciful and Israel was given chances upon chance to return to God but they loved their sins more. Israel couldn’t hear God’s voice and they forgot who He was. They created their own world where they were number one. They were living in a new utopia where life was surrounded by the love of activity and the worship of things. God was forgotten because life was great. Israel was blessed by God and riches abounded, and with all that God receded into the background until He was totally forgotten.

Israel had depended on their own strength and they have done well; with these thoughts they thought we do not need guidance from this god. Israel forgot who had blessed and protected them. Israel had fallen into the mistake that they were god. The Lord says in His word “you shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Israel needed to repent and believe again on the LORD. But, they refused to return to the LORD. Israel refused to let go. Israel rejected God’s word. When you fashion idols in your heart and you trust them; you become them. (Psalm 115:8) When warnings come from God and Pastors we say that is not me for we can’t hear truth.  Are ears are stopped up by our idol in our heart and we can’t hear the Lord speaking.

Hear Jesus Christ calling out of the wilderness for you. Repent and believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross for your sins (the idols in your heart) and rose on the third day to be seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. We can’t do this life on our own we need help. Ask Jesus Christ into your life.

Persevere! We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12) We do not want you to fall away to idols but to stay steadfast in the Lord. We want you to triumph. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. (2Corinthians 2:14)

Thank you, Lord for your faithful pursuing of us. Thank you, Lord that you continue to convict our hearts of our sin. Thank you, Lord for your walk to the cross that cancels my sin.

I pray for your people who struggle with idols of their heart. We ask for your will be done your kingdom come in each life. Open their eyes to see the path they have chosen to walk; which leads to judgment. Open their ears to heed the call of repentance and change before it’s too late. We have all fallen short of the glory of God no one’s perfect not one. Not even you. Help us Lord. In Jesus Christ name, I pray. Amen.

 

Overcoming Adversity…

TOvercoming Adversityhe Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-2

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:1-2, 5 & 8

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.  1 John 3:20-21

AMEN!!!

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True Hope

If you try to be made right with God through the law, your life with Christ is over – you have left God’s grace. (Galatians 5:4 NCV) When you tried to get to heaven on your own; by doing great works your life in Christ is over. God’s grace only works if He lives in you and works through you.

But we have the true hope that comes from being made right with God, and by the Spirit we wait eagerly for this hope. When we are in Christ Jesus, it is not important if we are circumcised or not. The important thing is faith – the kind of faith that works through love. (Galatians 5:5-6 NCV) We are saved through faith the Bible says this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:22 NIV; Ephesians 2:8-9) A believer who walks with a living God shows the true nature of God as he or she shares faith with others and is obedient to the word. A believer has true repentance and a love for others through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. A believer has not conformed to this world but continues to be transformed by the living word. (Romans 12:2) A believer has picked up his cross and follows the steps of Christ. What concerns Christ concerns us and we look for ways to make a difference.

You were running a good race. Who stopped you from following the true way? This change did not come from the One who chose you. Be careful! “Just a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise.” But I trust in the Lord that you will not believe those different ideas. Whoever is confusing you with such ideas will be punished. (Galatians 5:7-10) A true believer searches the scriptures to make sure the preacher/teacher is teaching God’s truth not man’s knowledge. We are accountable to God so stop pointing the finger to others for your Salvation. Wakeup for the road that leads to life is narrow but the way to death is wide. (Matthew 7:13-14)

My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love. (Galatians 5:13 NCV) We are now free from sin the word says therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NIV) When we continue to sin we are living again in law and your life is over in Christ. The word says “remain in me and I will remain in you…Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me…apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers, such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 14:4-6 NIV) When you repent and believe on Jesus Christ and surrender your will and ask Jesus Christ in your life. You are given power to remain in Christ and do His will in your life. When sin enters into a believer’s life they repent and asks for help to change. True repentance is a mark of a believer’s life who is a follower of Jesus Christ.

So I tell you: Live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what your sinful selves want. Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please. (Galatians 5:16-17) The spiritual war within each believer has to do with the whole person; and if they will die to self each day and live in the Spirit they will have life but if you allow the sinful nature reign in your life you will experience death. We have a battlefield raging in our heart for dominion for darkness or light. The Spirit inside us gives us the power to reign with God and follow God’s rules. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (Romans 7:21 NIV) If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us. (2Timothy 2:12 NIV) This is why the gate is small and the road is narrow and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14 NIV)

But if the Spirit is leading you, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18 NCV) The Spirit is life in and through Jesus Christ. Why would we choose law and death? Control…we want control of our life…we want what we want and when we want it; because we live in a materialistic society that through television, internet, radio, and the written word of mass media that we deserve it. But, the written word of God is specific that we are to put off the old self of sexual unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshipping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these. I warn you now as I warned you before: Those who do these things will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21)

When you are guided through the Holy Spirit you will develop or grow into the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit. We must not be proud or make trouble with each other or be jealous of each other. (Galatians 5:22-25) So, let us be overcomers who step up and out so others will see Jesus in us and want to know more.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11 NIV) Believers’ overcame Satan because Jesus Christ blood shred on the cross gave us freedom to live a life of power against the prince of darkness. Jesus Christ blood gives us boldness to speak out and serve Him. Be overcomers! “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus Christ has already overcome the world for us. On the cross He said “It is finished.” (John 19:30) He did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. We couldn’t continue in our sinful bodies to abide by a law that couldn’t be kept. So, God devised a plan that would change everything and bring us eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God devised a plan because He loved us. God’s love brought His One and Only Son born of a virgin to earth to be a sacrifice. Jesus Christ love for His Father brought Him before a cross of wood; carrying our sins Jesus stained the wood red. The blood of His sacrifice covers over all our wrongs as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12) Christ carried His cross now we need to carry our cross so that others may see and be saved.

Do you have a stain of red on your heart that proclaims that Jesus Christ is Lord or do you still live in your sinful self? God’s plan includes you and if this day you are hearing Jesus calling your name; repent of your sins and believe that Jesus Christ was born a virgin birth, die a victorious death, and was resurrected to the right hand of the Father in heaven. Surrender your control and ask Jesus Christ into your heart. This day the heavens will open up and the angels will sing “Hallelujah” for you was lost and now you are found.

Thank you, Lord that you sent your Holy Spirit to convict our hearts to turn away from the old self and receive the new self. Thank you, Lord for the provision of the cross that brought freedom from my old self into a new life of promises.

I pray for my readers who struggle with their old selves. Help them to be overcomers who draw their strength from the Holy Spirit. I pray they will daily give their day to you. Guide their steps that will continue in the way they should go. Protect their eyes and ears from others who want to destroy Christ. I pray for a protected hedge around about them from outside forces. In Jesus Christ name; Amen.