Posted in My Journey

A Gentle Spirit

Be kind to one another. Love each other as Jesus loved you, insomuch that He shed his blood for us while we were yet sinners. Give and never fear of going without. God will always provide. He is the one who created everything. Is it so difficult for Him to supply the needs for his children?

Above all else, remember to have a soft and gentle heart to those who wrong you. They are lost, and they do not know what they do when they are harming you. The apostle Peter says it this way:

“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19)

Be merciful to your persecutors. For as it says in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

A gentle spirit is humble. A gentle spirit is pure. It does not desire vengeance, nor does it desire evil for evil. It returns love for hate. It shows understanding when there is a lack of wisdom. And it promotes comfort for those times when others feel insecure.

Never be afraid to show the world what Jesus looks like living inside you.

Posted in My Journey

Our Trials Have Meaning

I once attended a church whose pastor believed trials are not from God. I actually had a lively discussion with him in terms of proving God uses trials and persecutions to build a Christian’s faith and love for God. It was not until some time had passed that I realized the pastor believed in the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel convinces Christians that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy and happy in this lifetime. I will not revisit this topic, as I have already written about this before. What I would like to write about today, though, is to make the point that God loves us and that no matter what happens in this lifetime, he will never abandon us. The trials we go through as individuals, and as a church, happen for a reason. We may not know the reason for our suffering now, and we may not know it until we have lived our lives to the full, but God has it all planned one-thousand moves ahead of us. He knows where all the pieces of our suffering fit in the grand scheme of his design. What we have to do is trust him with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. Then, and only then, will our trials have meaning.

Before Moses died, he provisioned Joshua to be his successor. Part of that provisioning included encouraging words that would carry Joshua and the next generation of Israelites to the Promised Land:

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

In the same way, God will not leave us or forsake us. We may have days when we feel we should have stayed in bed and not faced the world, but God will not give us a trial we cannot handle. He has already counted the cost, and he knows we can overcome. We just need to look to him for the courage and strength. Through his son Jesus, we can do all things, as the Apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And by the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings into remembrance the words we need to move forward, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Whatever you may be going through, whatever trial you may be facing, remember: God is always there listening, whispering; he will never abandon you (Psalms 16:1). You are very important to him, and no one can prevent you from drawing closer to him. His purpose for all of us is for us to rely on him fully, perfectly and without hesitation. He is our God, our creator and king.

No one can take that away from us.

Audio transcript:

Posted in Bible Studies

God’s Purpose

God is amazing. He really is. There are no other gods, because he is the only God; and as many times as we read that, he is even more amazing when bad things happen to Christians.

The book of Acts tells us about the early days of the church, from the time when Jesus ascended to heaven to when the apostle Paul arrived in Rome. Of the numerous accounts told, one in particular is an inspiration for Christians going through trials.

This week’s scripture is in the book of Philippians:

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

The story of Stephen

In Acts, chapter 6, the apostles needed someone who would look after the widows in the church on their behalf in order that their preaching would not suffer neglect (Acts 6:1-2). They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. It was in those days that the church was growing larger, multiplying with believers (verses 3-7).

Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great signs and wonders among the people. But there were certain men who rose up against him, disputing with him, wanting him to stop what he was doing. The more they went against him, though, the more they could not seem to overcome the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen was speaking. So they tried another tactic. They secretly instigated false witnesses to spew lies against him, saying he had spoken evil of the law and of the temple (verses 8-12).

The men eventually seized Stephen, brought him before the high priest and accused him of blasphemy (verses 12-14). And after a lengthy speech where Stephen spoke about Israel’s history, Moses’ part in the exodus, and how his accusers were resisting the Holy Spirit, the men brought him outside the city and stoned him (Acts 7).

Had God failed Stephen?

For a Christian to read this account, it may seem as if God had failed Stephen. One might ask, why would God allow this to happen? Did not Stephen believe God would have rescued him? Would God not have silenced his accusers and intervened on his behalf?

However, two very important things happened during Stephen’s death. First, before the stoning, Stephen saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand (Acts 7:55). Second, those taking part in the stoning were laying their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul (verse 58). Both points are significant in that it shows God had not really abandoned Stephen during his time of trial; and not only God but also Jesus was there with him, reassuring him everything was going to be fine (verse 56). Even more so, Stephen did not die in vain. His death served to transform Saul from a man who persecuted the Christians, to the apostle Paul, a man preaching about Christ Jesus the son of God (Acts 22:20-21).

God has a purpose

Only God could do this. Only he could put meaning to a tragedy and make it work for good (Romans 8:28). As much as we try to understand why bad things happen to Christians, it all makes sense in the context of God using that tragedy to do good from a thousand perspectives (Psalms 147:5). We may gain a glimpse of a fraction of one of those perspectives, but God ultimately knows why certain things have to happen in certain ways (1 Corinthians 13:12).

What we have to do as Christians is trust him (Psalms 25:2). We may not receive the answer we desire, but we will certainly receive the answer we need (Philippians 4:19).