Advancing Through Adversity

At medical checkups, children periodically need immunizations. Boys and girls may not understand that inoculations protect them; from their point of view, they are experiencing pain—while someone who loves them is allowing it! Such an experience affords a little insight into God’s dealings with His children. It answers one of the questions we often ask when painful things happen to us: Where is God or Why is this happening to me?

The Bible tells us that “in all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9). You may remember your earthly father restraining you so that the doctor could administer the injection. Perhaps you recall him commenting that the experience hurt him more than it did you. That is exactly what our heavenly Father is describing in this Bible passage. To a childish mind, it is an utterly incomprehensible concept, but when we have children of our own, we grasp it clearly. We then begin to understand what kind of a God we have. He Himself entered into all our agony, and He has tasted the last drop in our own cup of suffering.

Where is God? He is where the pain is. The book of Isaiah says, “He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him” (Isa. 53:5).

As you face hard times, look into the Savior’s tear-stained face—you won’t see anything but love. If we would follow Jesus, we must bear the fellowship of His suffering. We must go where He is, and the cross is one of the sweetest places to find Him.

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What It Means to Pray in Faith

Mark 11:20-24

Have you ever—even subconsciously—accused the Lord of not answering your prayers? When God doesn’t seem to respond to your petitions, the first thing you should do is take a good look at your request. Are you truly praying in faith, trusting your heavenly Father to work in the situation, or are you simply complaining to Him about everything that has gone wrong?

Consider whether you have prayed like this: “O God, the situation at my workplace is just terrible. I am so frustrated. I go out of my way to help my coworker, but he just walks all over me. I never get any appreciation or recognition for what I do.”

At some point in our life, we’ve probably all voiced a similar prayer and discovered that it brought no sweeping change. The problem is the focus. In this case, it’s all about self. In verse 24 of today’s passage, that’s not the prayer of faith the Lord Jesus had in mind.

Having faith in our prayers is not the goal. The object of our faith is the Lord. If we set our hearts on our own desires, we’ve just transferred our faith to our agenda. Praying in faith means surrendering our rights, complaints, and desires to the Lord and resting fully in His sovereign choice in the matter. As we align our requests with His will and purpose, we will begin to see His power displayed.

If you’re reluctant to pray like this, just remember that God is wiser than you, loves you infinitely, and knows exactly how to weave all the tangled threads of your life into a beautiful tapestry of Christ- likeness.

What It Means to Love God

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. (Psalm 63:1–2)

Only God will satisfy a heart like David’s. And David was a man after God’s own heart. That’s the way we were created to be.

This is the essence of what it means to love God — to be satisfied in him. In him!

Loving God will include all his commands; it will include all his word; it will include thanking him for all his gifts; but the essence of loving God is enjoying all he is. And it is this enjoyment of God that glorifies his worth most fully.

We all know this intuitively as well as from Scripture. Do we feel most honored by the love of those who serve us from the constraints of duty, or from the delights of fellowship?

My wife is most honored when I say, “It makes me happy to spend time with you.” My happiness is the echo of her excellence. And so it is with God. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

None of us has arrived at perfect satisfaction in God. I grieve often over the murmuring of my heart at the loss of worldly comforts. But I have tasted that the Lord is good. By God’s grace I now know the fountain of everlasting joy.

And so I love to spend my days luring people into joy until they say with me, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

(reblog | Daily Devotional | John Piper Ministries)

Empowered By God Himself

God the Spirit is important to us in our daily lives. He is so important that Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away … if I go, I will send Him to you”. He’s the Spirit of truth who interprets God’s Word for us, and helps us remember and apply it to our life. He’s also our encourager, and He empowers us to obey.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t bring attention to Himself but always seeks to glorify Jesus. He guides us, challenges us, and transforms us. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform your life. Then, all of your challenges, problems and rough times will seem insignificant because you have been empowered by God Himself living within you.

Inviting Jesus to Follow Us?

Have you ever found yourself trying to follow two people at one time? This works only when they’re going in the same direction. But what happens if their paths diverge? For instance, imagine you’re on a hiking trail with friends, and you reach a fork in the road. If one person wants to go right and someone else thinks you should turn left, you must choose which one to follow.

This principle is also true for Christians, but now our choice is whether to follow Jesus or ourselves. Most of us will happily follow Jesus as long as He’s going where we want. But what happens if He leads us down a road of sacrifice, self-denial, suffering, or even death? Will we still trust Him and keep going?

This was the dilemma Jesus’ disciples faced. When they started following Him, they expected that He’d establish His Messianic kingdom, deliver them from Roman domination, and give them places of honor and authority. Thinking they’d soon be exalted in the kingdom, they were willing to suffer the temporary deprivations of home, security, and comfort. But then Jesus told them His path was leading to suffering and death, and if they wanted to follow Him, they too must deny themselves and take up their cross.

Many Christians today have the same expectation the disciples had—maybe not for a kingdom, but for a happy and prosperous life. However, this is essentially like inviting Jesus to follow us. Self-denial means giving up our right to lead and surrendering to Christ’s lordship over our life. Though His path isn’t easy, He alone knows the way to the Father’s house.

The End of Our Quest for Satisfaction

When we trust Jesus the way John intends for us to, the presence and promise of Jesus is so satisfying that we are not dominated by the alluring pleasures of sin (see Romans 6:14). This accounts for why such faith in Jesus nullifies the power of sin and enables obedience.

John 4:14 points in the same direction: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” In accord with John 6:35, saving faith is spoken of here as a drinking of water that satisfies the deepest longings of the soul.

It’s the same in John 7:37–38: “Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Through faith, Christ becomes in us an inexhaustible fountain of satisfying life that lasts forever and leads us to heaven. This he does by sending us his Spirit (John 7:38–39).

The Struggle With Temptation

If there’s one thing every man, woman, and child has experienced, it’s temptation. We have all seen something new, attractive, or unusual and thought, I must have it. What is “it” for you? The object of temptation can be almost anything—perhaps something material like a nice house or new car, or maybe a physical sensation from food, alcohol, or drugs. Another possibility is an emotional temptation that comes with the anticipation of a new relationship or recognition for a job well done.

Temptation is an enticement to follow our desires beyond the boundaries God has set.

Whatever the object, temptation demands that we must have it—now! We don’t stop to consider whether it is good for us, beneficial to our family, or harmful to someone we love. Caution and loyalty are thrown to the wind when temptation gets a grip on us. It can bring absolute destruction into our life if it’s left uncontrolled.

Simply put, temptation is an enticement to follow our desires beyond the boundaries God has set. For example, the Lord has given mankind a precious gift in human sexuality, and this God-given desire is often taken outside of the context for which the Creator originally designed it. Sexual desire is inherently good, but when left unchecked, it compromises our judgment and leads to trouble and pain.

Are you allowing a single desire to control your life? Are you continually going beyond the limits of what you know God approves? Then it’s time to break the hold of temptation by turning back to God in repentance, submitting to His rule over your desires, and relying on His power to overcome.

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

What do you do when you hear people discussing what it takes to get into heaven where one person says they’ve been a good and moral person and the other says they are saved by faith in Jesus Christ? Of course this further begs the question, “What do I need to do to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ when I arrive in heaven?”

In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the Lord tells of two faithful servants who used what they had been given to increase the master’s wealth. When the master returned from a long absence, he rewarded his two faithful servants and said to each of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Every Christian longs to hear those words from Jesus’ lips someday in heaven.

We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), but we are saved “to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus spoke of laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and His parable of the talents hints at various rewards for those who faithfully serve Him in this world.

To hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from Jesus, first make sure you are saved. The unbelieving will never hear those words, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And recognize that Jesus is not only your Savior; He is also your Lord (see Luke 6:46). “Serve the LORD with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2, ESV).

Here are some ideas on ways you can serve the Lord:

1. Share the gospel. The Lord Jesus desires us to make disciples, teaching others of the nature and character of God and sharing the meaning of His death and resurrection (Matthew 28:18–20).

2. Help the disadvantaged. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31, the rich man is condemned because he doesn’t help Lazarus and because he trusts in his wealth too much. Don’t put self-gratification before the needs of others. First John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

3. Forgive others of their offenses. This isn’t the same as reconciliation or trust, but it means you renounce vengeance. The Lord Jesus modeled forgiveness: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to [the Father] who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

4. View your position of authority as an opportunity to help the people under you, and view your position of subservience as an opportunity to submit to your authority, just as Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority. Either way, you can be Christlike, because Jesus was both master and servant to different people. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

5. Seek to know the character of God better through church fellowship, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, praying, and chronicling how He seems to have been involved in your life.

6. Recognize that every advantageous position you’re in is because of God, the Source of every blessing: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17).

7. Be willing to be unpopular, displaying rare courage like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable (Luke 10:30–37). Do what the Bible says is right, always. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, ESV).

8. In introspective moral judgment (evaluating your own character), look at the character of Jesus as a measure rather than rationalize your questionable actions and attitudes. Show humility.

It all comes down to this: love God more than anything, and love others sincerely (Mark 12:30–31). At the judgment seat of Christ, those who are faithful to the Lord who saved them will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” No true servant of the Lord could ask for more.

(article reprint | Got Questions.com)

We Can Trust God


God truly is faithful. In other words, we can count on Him to be and do exactly what He says. For instance, the Bible assures us that the Lord is trustworthy, loving, and incapable of failure (Psalm 37:5). Out of deep love for us, He’ll use any aspect of His multifaceted nature to provide exactly what He knows we need. He’s our Savior, Comforter, and Discipliner, who safely guides us through life’s changes and challenges.

No matter what hardships we face, we can trust God because He knows all things. He’s aware of the duration and intensity of our current season and uses His knowledge to offer us the best possible help and support. What’s more, the Lord is all-powerful, which means He is more than adequate to meet needs and change circumstances according to His plan. And our Father is everywhere, including right beside us in whatever we face. He promises, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

Difficulties may cause us to question God’s dependability. But if we’ll place our trust in our omniscient, omnipotent Father, we can begin each morning with a fresh sense of His faithfulness, which will carry us through the day.

God’s Message To Us


Signs on the highway show us many different sorts of things. Speed limits. Animal crossings. How to find a rest stop or avoid a construction site. Similarly, all of creation is a sign communicating God’s message to us. He speaks to us through a full moon, waves crashing against rocks, or a vividly colored aspen tree. As we look upon the wonders of nature, something inside us resonates with the glory, power, love, and beauty of the Creator.

The Lord expresses His message in still another way that may initially be hard for us to comprehend as love: through the fall of man. You might wonder, If God loves us, then why would He let the first couple sin, spoiling the perfection they enjoyed in the garden and breaking the fellowship they had with Him?

The connection between God’s love and man’s sin is freedom. In giving Adam and Eve the option to obey or disobey, God demonstrated that He has not created us as robots, incapable of making choices. His love does not restrict our freedom to do right or wrong—even if that involves our saying “no” to the God who created us. However, having the freedom to choose means we will make mistakes and disobey the God who loves us.

But the wonderful news is that God expresses His love toward those who have rebelled against Him, through His gracious offer of salvation and forgiveness. Jesus Christ, who paid our sin debt on the cross, is the ultimate expression of divine love.