RSS

Change Your Mind About Trials

When we are suffering, it is easy to feel sorry for ourselves. We can begin to think that God does not care about us. We can harbor doubts about whether or not God really loves us.

The author of the book of Hebrews is writing to a group of people who are beginning to face persecution. Some are questioning whether or not to leave the faith and return to Judaism. He writes his letter to encourage them to remain faithful. In Hebrews 12:4-11, he tries to put their suffering into perspective. He explains that trials come from the hand of a loving God who uses them to produce greater spiritual growth in our lives. He wants his readers to remember four things when they face trials.

When you find yourself in the middle of a trial, remember that …

It’s not as bad as it could be (4). The Christian life can be a struggle. We try to avoid persecution from sinful people. But we also have to avoid sinful situations where we might be tempted to compromise our faith. Regardless of how challenging our opposition, it hasn’t yet cost us our lives. While the readers of Hebrews might be aware of those who were martyred, that type of persecution hasn’t yet come to them.

Scripture gives us a different perspective about trials (5). Apparently, the readers of Hebrews had forgotten the encouragement found in Proverbs 3:11-12. On the one hand, we should not treat God’s discipline lightly. We might do this by developing calloused hearts, by complaining, by questioning God, or by becoming indifferent. On the other hand, we should not give up and throw in the towel. We need to remember that God uses trials to cause us to grow.

God’s discipline demonstrates we are one of his children (6-8). Rather than being proof that God doesn’t love us, his discipline actually demonstrates how much he cares for us. It proves we have a relationship with him. God can and will use both positive and negative methods, both discipline and punishment. Punishment focuses on past misdeeds while discipline focuses on future correct deeds. Punishment aims to punish wrongdoing and produce remorse and repentance. Discipline aims to train us for maturity and will result in a sense of security and belonging. Because we belong to God, he is actively involved in our spiritual growth.

God’s discipline has positive results (9-11). While no one enjoys discipline, we can take comfort that it results in a deeper, more abundant life and we can share in God’s holiness and righteousness. Though painful and challenging, it is worth it in the end.

Dr. Tom Constable tells the story about some birds that built a nest in his garage. “During some spring seasons, I used to notice that birds were building a nest in my garage. When I saw that, I moved the nest outside. It would not be safe for the birds to live in the garage, since their access to the outdoors would be greatly limited by the closed door. I am sure that they did not appreciate my moving their nest from it secure place indoors. But I had to do it for their welfare. Likewise, God sometimes moves our nests from comfortable places to locations that are better for us in the long run.”

A loving Father uses trials to stimulate our spiritual growth.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 17, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

How to pray for your pastor

Jeramie Rinne gives a number of practical ideas you can pray for on behalf of your pastor. Read his article, How to Pray for Your Pastor, to find his suggestions. Then strive to put them into practice as you pray for your pastor.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 15, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer

 
Image

Coaching

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 14, 2019 in NFL, Quotes

 
Image

Wise words for pastors

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2019 in Ministry, Quotes, Tim Challies

 

Practical help in planning for retirement

Book Review: Reimagine Retirement: Planning and Living for the Glory of God, by C. J. Cagle

“Word hard, save diligently, invest wisely; but please don’t retire, at least not in the most traditional sense of the word. Instead, reimagine retirement as something different from what the world envisions.”

That statement summarizes the message of author C. J. Cagle’s practical and helpful book, Reimagine Retirement: Planning and Living for the Glory of God. As he explains in the introduction,

I have three main goals for this book:

First, that you will be inspired to reimagine a retirement that rejects modern worldly values and priorities and, realizing that God has called you for a higher purpose than the full-time pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfillment, instead reimagine a retirement focused on living for the glory and honor of God and the good of others.

Second, to help you wisely apply biblical principles and practices so you can reimagine a retirement with dignity—one with your essential spending needs met for as long as you live, perhaps with a surplus to share, while continually trusting in God as the ultimate source of your daily provision.

And third, if and when you decide to retire, to reimagine living in a way that is consistent with kingdom principles—with paid or unpaid work relationally focused activities, voluntary involvement and commitments in your church and community, and continued faithful devotion to God and his people, for as long as he give you the ability to do so.

The flow of the book follows the author’s stated goals. The first third strives to explain the current idea of retirement and contrasts that with what Scripture says on the subject. The second part of the book gives practical ideas how to plan, save, and invest for retirement, as well as deciding when to retire. The final section focuses on how to live in retirement and leave a legacy for those who will follow you.

The is a book that would be helpful to read at two different points in your life. Since the bulk of the book focuses on planning, saving, and investing, it would be helpful to read early in your working career. It would help you start on a strong footing and plan for the long term. It would also be helpful to read in the decade before you retire, so that you develop a proper mindset of how to continue to serve the cause of Christ in your retirement years.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 12, 2019 in Books, Quotes, Retirement

 

Thanks for your service

Image result for veterans day"

On this Veteran’s Day 2019, let me say, “Thanks!” to the men and women who have served, fought, defended, and died for our country to secure and protect our freedom. Thank you for your faithfulness and for doing your patriotic duty. In particular, I want to thank the ones I have known personally who have served in the military–Dad, Jack, Harry, Dave, Carl, Dan, Luke, Jarol, Alan, Harlow, Jerry, Bob, Norm, Ralph, Carol, Conrad, Chris, Jack, Joe, Dan, Joe, Josh, John, Kevin, Evan, Jason, Sheddy, Kim, Holt, Colin, Paul, Jessica, Austin, Joseph, and many others whose names I’ve forgotten–in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and peacetime. Thank you. We’re in your debt.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 11, 2019 in Holidays

 

Moscow Conference – Trip Report

Here are the PowerPoint slides I used this morning when I shared with the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, about what God did during our recent ministry to pastors in Moscow.