Joyful Despite Tribulations

John 16:33   (KJV)   33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16.33 - Joyful Despite TribulationsJesus’ Words are to give us peace, no matter how scary the truth may sound. In Jesus can we find very interesting and comforting paradoxes. We have tribulations, but we have joy. This is not a self-assuring yet dangerous denial of trials and persecutions; they’re based on our Lord’s promises and accomplishments.

Praise God for revealing important truths to us. He doesn’t always divulge everything, but He doesn’t deprive us of truths we need. He’s a loving God Who wants us to have everything necessary for a full and meaningful life.

We’ve had experiences when others have pointed out how little we have and yet we’re filled with joy. We don’t take that as an insult. What can compare to such a life? Others try to accumulate as much wealth and resources as they can. But it’s not really the gold, fame, and number of people around us that matter the most; it’s what they’re supposed to bring to us: security, worth, significance, value, love, joy, peace, and so much more.

We have them—without the tiring pursuit for more stuff.

Great life.

Thank You Lord.

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No Worry; No Fear

Matthew 10:31   (KJV)   31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Fear not! Those are very reassuring and comforting words from our loving and beloved Lord and Savior. He told us that as His followers, we will be treated extremely badly; that’s for sure. For others who don’t have a personal, loving, saving relationship with Matthew 10.31 - Sparrows Don't Fear; More So UsHim, that’s really dreadful. But for us, He also gave the reason not be scared: we are very valuable to Him.

We have a mission to accomplish. Our mission involves people. We are sheep among wolves. And the pack of wolves that devoured our Master will do us no less. We are rejected, accused, and some of us have been arrested, and punished unjustly. We are betrayed, at times, even by those very close to us—hard to believe—but it happens. We are hated by the rich, famous, and the powerful influencers of culture.

We don’t cower to and withdraw to fruitlessness. God turns our worst experiences to great opportunities. God has worked through them for those in high places to see and hear the witness of God-loving and neighbor-loving people. We see how real God is, how present He is, how wise and powerful He is. So we continue to lovingly shine His light. We hear from Him in the silence of our “date;” we boldly shout His words “from the housetops.” Others don’t like what they hear. They try to harm us. But they can only touch our bodies. None can touch our eternal beings. Only God can do that, and we’re happy because the only One Who has the power to decide where we spend our eternal destiny—He Who values the sparrows—values us way much more, loves us, and cares for us. With all that, why fear?

We continue to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. We freely receive; we freely give. We’re threatened with prison and sword; we respond with the gentle force of God’s love—nothing to fear with that.

Unequalled Life

Matthew 10:8   (KJV)   Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Miracles are real.  Believers are in agreement with this.  Does God still move in His people to be conduits of healing, cleansing, raising the dead, deliverance?  Before I Matthew 10.8 - Unequalled Lifeproceed with the answer, here’s a quick, loving, simple clarification:  my answer isn’t intended to negate or criticize our family in the Lord who believe differently;  I want to be a contributor to unity, not further division of the precious body of our one Lord.

I believe that the gifts of God go beyond the natural; they include supernatural works.  What an incomparably adventurous life we live as believers!  Who can equal to such tasks?  Our experiences are combinations of wonders and dangers; all of them orchestrated by the masterful hand of our Almighty Father, working everything for the good of those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We are channels of miracles and the supernatural; we are also objects of scorn, hatred, threats, persecution, and even death.  We are loved by some, but we’re also rejected by others.  Our provision is guaranteed—through usual means, or unusual means.  We’re sheep among wolves;  we conduct ourselves with caution, wisdom, and gentleness.  When “dragged” to court, we end up in the presence of rulers and kings.  We may not have the knowledge of lawyers, but the Holy Spirit Himself gives us the very words to say.  The eyes of those who consider us as their enemies are constantly on us, waiting for opportunities to do us harm, but we don’t fear; we know that our Father, Whose eyes are on the sparrows, is constantly, lovingly, and protectively watching over us—His children.

Miracles Happen

Acts 12:7   (KJV)   And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

Peter, a believer, an apostle of Jesus Christ was imprisoned. Unlike his co-apostle James who just got murdered, he was supernaturally and miraculously delivered through the agency of an angel. The foreboding atmosphere was suddenly saturated with light. The acts-12-7-miracles-happenchains that limited his movements fell off his hands without keys, without the use of force.

Persecution is real; enemies of the faith are real. There are people who desire to do us harm and there are times when they get to inch their way in and accomplish some of their injurious intentions. Deadly threats are real, but so is God, so are angels, so are miracles. It doesn’t matter how hopeless our situations may seem; we may feel like we’re stuck and we’re done; it may seem like those who treat us as their enemies may be winning, but our God sees every detail of our lives—more detailed than our perception and understanding of things.

While God exists, while He’s alive, we always have hope. Good News: God is real; God exists; God is alive, and He’s alive forevermore. This means we have undying hope. He can get us out of our hardest predicament. Just because it’s beyond our power and control doesn’t mean it’s beyond any power and control. God isn’t absent from the scene of our lives. One word from God and our situations turn around. One command and He can have an angel intercept any work of any enemy. Nothing scares us.

Unshaken

Psalm 16:8   (KJV)   8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

The Lord is in control of all things; that’s absolutely true; He isn’t at our beck and call. We don’t dictate to Him how to conduct Himself. We don’t tell Him where He should position Himself. To set the Lord always before us isn’t to give Him a mandate; it’s to psalm-16-8-unshakenconscientiously think about the continuing abiding presence of the Lord. He’s always before us—guiding: He’s always beside us—protecting; He’s with us; He’s in us.

In God, we’re always protected. It’s not a question of whether or not He can; it’s a given—He’s able. It’s Him we go to. He powerfully protects; He sufficiently provides. I admire godly people; I follow their examples as they follow Jesus; they know what they’re doing; they’re wise; I love watching them as they go about their Christian journey—often quietly—in fear of the Lord, without fear or men, as the Lord prospers the works of their hands and blesses their every step. They walk without paralyzing trepidation.

We’re not moved; we’re steadfast. Life-threatening dangers obviously abound; persecutions against believers are real—they’re increasing. The voices of those who dislike us are bold and loud. They call us intolerant and hateful as they cowardly attack us from behind—no longer just with words but physically—openly. But with all these, we rest in the fact that God allows only what we can bear. Death itself isn’t defeat for us. How can those who hate us truly hurt us? Often, God surprises us by raising people of influence, authority, and power who fights for us.

We won’t be coaxed into violence; we won’t give in to their call to unrighteousness—we won’t be intimidated into it. God alone is our choice. He is the right choice. I pray for people to realize this so they too can enjoy His precious presence—a presence that brings protection, provision, and peace.

Lambs Among Wolves

 Luke 10:3   (KJV)   3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

We are to go share and spread the Good News of salvation to the lost, and to make disciples of all those who believe. Each has a calling; each has a race to run; each has responsibility. But we all are sent to the same hostile world. We are sent out as lambs luke-10-3-lambs-among-wolvesamong wolves. There’s no mandate to change our nature; we’re not called to be like wolves. Our difference will be obvious; it’s natural for wolves to try to hunt, attack, and devour us, but we are to stay our course.

Hostility is real; persecution is real, but God’s presence is more real. He promises to deliver us all the time. He may deliver us from them; He may deliver us through them, but He will deliver us. Others may question this. Martyrs abound. Where is God’s deliverance in this? These are legitimate questions, especially when asked from a perspective void of the eternal. Praise God for His light that shines in our understanding. We see better; we see clearer; we see more.

We’re aware of the supernatural and the eternal. This helps navigate through the world of the wolves better. We reach out to them without becoming like them. Many times they mistreat us. I remember a Middle Eastern sister in the Lord who was asked by some fanatical religious zealots to vacate their house at 12 midnight that same day, or they will be killed. They left everything they worked so hard for. That in itself was difficult, but even their journey of leaving their home became a dangerous escape attempt. They had to take unfamiliar paths because death also waited along the main thoroughfares. She shook as she shared the experience.

Some of us aren’t spared. That doesn’t spell failure on the part of God. He never fails. Death for us in the grand scheme of things isn’t tragic; it isn’t the end; it’s a passageway ushering us into an indescribable, incomparable, most blissful experience ever—right in the presence of our Father—He Who loves us most, He who we love most. That’s why although we fully appreciate God’s earthly blessings; we’re not attached to them; we understand that our real citizenship is dual: temporal and eternal, and our eternal home far outweighs what we now have.

So we go—lambs among wolves, lovingly, carefully, fearlessly, faithfully, empowered by God, changing this world, while longingly waiting for the next.

 

The Blessed Rejects

Luke 6:22   (KJV)   22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Even with experiences considered as horrible, a believer is still so blessed. To be hated; to be rejected, excluded, or ostracized; to be mocked, slandered, and ridiculed; to be vilified, insulted, and cursed—in the natural, being dealt with in such ways can be very painful. luke-6-22-the-blessed-rejectsBut even in the middle of these seemingly very hurtful treatments, we still have reasons to leap for joy. All the sufferings we undergo because of our relationship with our precious Lord Jesus, taken altogether, are nothing compared to the glorious rewards awaiting us.

What God allows, it’s for our good. We trust Him as the One in complete control of everything. Yes, there are many factors involved; free will plays a big part. But even the most rebellious of men’s choices still play within the masterful orchestration of our Divine Maestro. That’s why we enjoy acting the way He tells us to. What matters most to us is loving, trusting, and obeying Him.

We may not have luxuries in life, but we’re blessed because we have access to the inexhaustible resource of our Dad’s Kingdom. We may not afford the most exotic food in the world, but we’re blessed because He satisfies our mouths with good things so that our vigor is renewed day by day. We may have nights of weeping, but we’re blessed because joy comes in the morning. We may be rejected by people, but we’re accepted by God.

We can love our enemies, love those who hate us, do good to those who do us bad, bless those who curse us. We leave vengeance to God; we don’t have qualms about parting with our material possessions to give to those in need; we know it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We forgive those who wrong us and pray for those who maltreat us. These we do never for a show but out of the goodness of God-changed, God-surrendered, and God-trusting hearts. This is the portrait of a unique breed of people—those blessed by God.