“God’s Promise in Trials” August 29

 

God's promise in trials

God has given us a great promise to hang on to when we’re going through tests and trials. God’s promise in trials is one every believer should memorize. But God’s promise contains good news and bad …

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 7
Psalm 103.1-5
Proverbs 24.7-9
1 Corinthians 10.1-18

 

God’s Promise in Trials

 

1 Corinthians 10.1-18:

God’s Promise: Good New & Bad

 

depressionIf you have never memorized verse 13, I would encourage you to do so. This verse is one of God’s great promises and is filled with good news and hope!

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

When we go through great difficulties, we often feel isolated and alone. But the temptations, tests and trials we undergo are “common to man.” Others have gone through them and have come out the other side and so can we.

God promises He will “make a way of escape.” Sometimes the way of escape is out of the trial, but more often it’s through the trial, yet we are “able to bear it” because of His grace.

And “… God is faithful …” No matter what we are going through God is faithful! He won’t leave us or forsake us, but will walk through it with us. He’s also faithful to filter the trial through His hands and not allow it to be more than we can handle without sinning …  as long as we keep our eyes on Him and rely on His strength.

But that’s the key; we must keep our eyes on Him and rely on His power. And we must respond obediently. Many of our greatest difficulties arise because when we are in a test or trial, we respond sinfully and find we have only complicated the situation. We risk experiencing the consequences of our own sin and, often, find ourselves struggling with anger, anxiety, guilt, and depression.

Those emotions are like the warning lights on the dashboards of our cars telling us something is not right under the hood (in our hearts).

Instead, we should focus on James’ advice:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t automatically want to be joyful when I’m in the midst of a test or trial! But this passage tells us we can be joyful if we remember that God is using the trial to mature us and make us more like His Son (Rom. 8.29).

James MacDonald in his book When Life Is Hard explains how God uses tests and trials to grow us and ultimately bless us. I have recommended it before, but I want to do so again. I have seen many lives impacted by the truths Dr. MacDonald shares in that study. And it’s not just for people who are going through severe trials, it’s for all of us as we face the ups and downs of life and struggle to understand what God is doing!

But there’s also bad news in 1 Corinthians 10.13. Since God has promised no trial will be too much for us to handle in a godly way, if we choose to sin in response (with anger, bitterness, worry, an unbiblical divorce, etc. …), it’s just that … a choice! No one and no circumstance can make us sin.

Let’s pray that God will give us His grace to choose to respond His way as we face the ups and downs and struggles of life (Heb. 4.16).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ecclesiastes 7:

Funerals and Parties

 

There are so many nuggets in this chapter! Let’s start with verse 2. What does it mean when it says, “better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting”?

Solomon is saying it’s better to go to a funeral than to a party, because a funeral causes you to examine your life and your relationship with God, while a party Continue reading

“Should you admonish a sinning brother or sister?” August 16

 

Should you admonish a sinning brother or sister? - As Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able to admonish one another when biblically necessary. That means risking what people may think, even their rejection, in order to speak the truth in love when there is an issue that is hurting others, hindering their walk with God, or hurting the cause of Christ. In our fast changing world, many things that were once universally considered wrong are now called right. Speaking up when God's standards are at stake is going to be more and more costly ... but God's grace will abound to those who remain faithful to God and His Word.As Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able to admonish one another when biblically necessary. That means risking what people may think, even their rejection, in order to speak the truth in love when there is an issue that is hurting others, hindering their walk with God, or hurting the cause of Christ.

In our fast changing world, many things that were once universally considered wrong are now called right. Speaking up when God’s standards are at stake is going to be more and more costly … but God’s grace will abound to those who remain faithful to God and His Word.

And notice to whom this passage was written and what we need to do before we go to someone.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 23-25
Psalm 96.7-12
Proverbs 23.9
Romans 15.1-24

 

Should you admonish a sinning brother or sister?

 

Romans 15.1-24:

For Our Benefit

 

bible study

Verse 4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

The Scriptures, in particular the Old Testament (like the book of Job), were written so that we might grow and learn by the examples of others, good and bad. God patiently instructs us in how we should change and shows us the results of unbiblical living. And as we grow and come to understand God’s love and grace, we find comfort in His faithfulness to those who remained devoted to Him.

 

Admonishing When Needed

Let’s look at one more verse in Romans 15:

“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (v. 14).

Notice this verse is not written to pastors or counselors or spiritual leaders. It was written to the believers at Rome and by extension to us as believers. Paul says all of us are “able to admonish one another.” That word for admonish means, “exhort, admonish, and instruct.” Admonish means, “to rebuke or to advise or warn someone to do, or not do, something.”

So God expects us to be willing to get our hands dirty, to risk what people may think of us and even rejection, at times, in order to speak the truth in love to those who are sinning, as well as, those who need encouragement.

However, we must guard against a harsh or self-righteous attitude. We are to confront others lovingly, gently, tentatively, especially if we’re not sure of the circumstances, and humbly. That requires checking our own motives and a careful self-examination to make sure we take the logs out of our own eyes first (Matt. 7.3-5).

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.1).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 23-25:

Understanding and Comfort from a Book like Job

 

Adult Woman Reading a Bible. CloseAs we continue to read through God’s Word, especially the book of Job, it’s tempting to grow tired or get confused by all that is happening. As we read of Job’s sufferings, his friends’ lack of mercy and grace, and God’s silence so far, we should ask ourselves some questions:

How will coming to understand this better help me be more patient in my sufferings and disappointments? How can I learn to trust God more? What can I learn from listening to Job’s “comforters“? What can I learn from Job about responding to unjust criticism?

Often when we fail to grow in our understanding of Scripture it’s because we fail to ask the right questions.  Continue reading

“When Life is Hard” + LINKUP

 

When Life is HardWelcome once again to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald, one of the best books I have ever read about tests and trials.

Pastor MacDonald wrote this book in the midst of what he calls “a storm and finally a category 5 hurricane.” What he learned can help each one of us as we go through our own tests, trials and storms.

Pastor MacDonald:

Jeremiah 29:11 says “He knows the plans He has for you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

Yes! That’s what I want to hear, you may be thinking. Let’s get on those plans right now—future, hope, blessing. I’m ready! But here’s the thing: God knows something else. He knows that we’re not always ready for the plans that He has for us. So He has some plans to get us ready for His plans. That’s really what this book is about—taking the difficult things that God allows into your life, and getting to the place where the blessing can be received.

The key truth he drives home throughout the book is from Job 23.10:

“He knows the way I take;
When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

God knows what is going on in each of our lives and He has promised to use trials for good in our lives (Rom. 8.28-29).

Pastor MacDonald defines trials this way:

A trial is a painful circumstance allowed by God to change my conduct and my character. My conduct—that’s what I do. And then to a deeper level, my character—that’s who I am.

He goes on to help us first evaluate our hard circumstances. Are they trials or a consequences? This is an important distinction. The author: Continue reading

November 18 “Does God still love us when life gets hard?”

problems depressed sorrowWhen life gets hard, it’s easy to believe God doesn’t love us. But what is God doing during those times and is there danger in rejecting His discipline?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 27 & 28
Psalm 129.1-4
Proverbs 28.26
Hebrews 12.1-29

Ezekiel 27 & 28:

Pride & humility

God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In 28.11-17 he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have duel meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre.

In both cases God addressed their pride and arrogance. It was pride that caused Satan to exalt himself above God and cost him his place in the heavenly kingdom.

Stuart Scott in his little book From Pride to Humility, says, “Pride is the epidemic vice. It is everywhere and manifests itself in many ways. As much as we may hate to admit it, we all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not, ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?'”

Pride is the enemy of humility.

Scott says, “… humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it. We cannot be an effective witness for Christ without it. We cannot love and serve others without it. We cannot lead in a godly way without it. We cannot communicate properly without it. We cannot resolve conflict without it. We cannot deal with the sin of others rightly without it. We especially cannot resist sin without it.”

He goes on to list 30 manifestations of pride (what he calls, “just a sample list”).

Let’s pray that we allow God to root out pride in our lives and help us to grow in humility.

How has God revealed pride in your life? Continue reading

August 16 “You are able!”

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As the Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able and, therefore, should be willing to get our hands dirty, risk what people may think, and risk rejection, in order to speak the truth in love.

Today’s Readings:
Job 23-25
Psalm 96.7-12
Proverbs 23.9
Romans 15.1-24

Job 23-25:

Understanding and comfort from a book like Job

As we continue to read through God’s Word, especially the book of Job, it’s tempting to grow tired or get confused by all that is happening. As we read of Job’s sufferings, his friends’ lack of mercy and grace, and God’s silence so far, we should ask ourselves some questions.

How will coming to understand this better help me be more patient in my sufferings, disappointments, and temptations to wonder where God is? As the story continues to unfold, and we see God’s response and the latter part of Job’s life (chapter 42), how can it bring us comfort?

Often when we fail to grow in our understanding of Scripture it’s because we fail to ask the right questions. Now to today’s reading.

goldI shall come forth as gold

23.9-10, “When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

What a great statement of faith after all Job had been through! We may not be able to “see” what God is doing “on the right hand” of our lives. We may not understand why he is allowing something else “on the left,” but when we understand the goodness of God, the trustworthiness of God, the faithfulness of God, we can know that if we will stay focused on Him, when it’s all said and done, we, too, will have been tested and refined and come forth as gold!

anxiety & depressionIf you feel that you are being tested and you’re struggling to understand or if you want to help someone who is, James MacDonald has an incredible study called When Life is Hard available in print or on Kindle . You can also purchase a video Bible study kit from his website Walk in the Word. Continue reading

April 8 “Risky faith & a hill of foreskins”

Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee of never being hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking.

risky faith

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

Joshua 5 & 6:

The hill of foreskins

I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” And all of us women who complain that we somehow have it harder need to remember this passage and others like it.

This was a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them very vulnerable to attack.

Risky faith

In the natural, it was a risky decision. Risk is often a reality when we step out in faith. When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matthew 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. And sometimes persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. Continue reading