Friday, March 31, 2006

An Original Song by Jeff

OK, it's a parody, set to the tune of "I'm Gettin' Ready To Leave This World", an old Gospel song. I hope no one is offended that I chose a gospel song for the tune, but the flow of the music works perfectly for the song. So, I hope you all enjoy! I've gotten positive feedback from some preacher friends at another message board that we all post on occasionally. So, I leave you for the weekend on a (hopefully) funny note!

Look over the menu at the China Moon
Try to find a lunch deal that will get here soon
"Curry beef with white rice, extra spicy please?"
I'm getting ready to eat chinese!

I'm gettin' ready, to eat chinese
I'm gettin' ready, for stir-fried snow peas!
Spicy, but not too hot
Fried rice is all you've got?
Oh, I'm getting ready to eat chinese!

No need for me to eat that lone spring roll
After the main course, you know I'm feeling full
The spice made my nose runny, keep the Puffs handy
Oh, I just finished eating all of my chinese!

Repeat chorus

For now, I'm happy in a full contented mode
But tonight I will by sorry while on the commode
Next time not that spicy, friend, if you will please
I wasn't ready, for that chinese

Repeat chorus

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Late yesterday afternoon, I was outside working on the lawn. I had put down some fresh grass seed in that bare spots over the weekend, and knowing that rain was coming last night, I rushed home from work and pulled out the fertilizer. I got the front and side yards all done. I'm not too worried about the backyard, that always looks good in warm weather.

I decided I wanted to put some seed alongside the fence out back. It was matted down with leaves, so I began to rake them, and I noticed the weeds! I snapped this picture while I still had daylight. From the looks above ground, these weeds, which are all along the fence, are dead. But I know enough about plant life to know that though it indeed appears dead to my eye, just below the surface, it's a whole other story. These weeds can't just be mowed down, or broken off at the ground, there are roots that need to be pulled up. As any good gardener will tell you, if you don't get the whole root, you didn't get the weed. It will be back.

It's the same way spiritually. Oftentimes we are quick to take note of the obvious sins in our lives, while not noticing that there is a root. Just because we can't see it doen't mean it isn't there. We may look at the sin we find ourselves committing outwardly, such as lying, or cussing, or viewing pornography, and do our best to end the outward behavior. Yet how many times do we humans fall back into the same trap again? We weep over our sin, and we cry out to God for forgiveness. And he grants us that forgiveness. But I believe we are simply mowing down a weed that comes back. There is a root to get rid of. I like what David said:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me- Psalm 51:10

The occasion behind this Psalm was David's adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and his subsequent hit he put out on Uriah's life, having him killed. David had sunk to an amazing low, all because of a lust for Bathsheba that had taken root in his heart. Instead of turning to God for deliverance, he ran to his sin. Bathsheba became pregnant as a result of their affair, and it wasn't until the baby was about to be born that God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. When we read Psalm 51, we are reading David's prayer of repentence to God.

So, when David asks God to create in him a clean heart, he wasn't asking God to forgive him, he already had done that in verses 2 and 7. What David was doing was asking God to give him a new heart. That word for create means to make something out of nothing, as when God created the universe. He wanted a life in which there were no roots of sin.

The good news for us today is that we are works in progress. If you are a born-again Christian, your faith in Christ alone, then he is working on you. Philippians 1:6 says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus". God has promised that he will finish the work he started when you repented of you r sin and put your trust in Christ Jesus. So, let the Lord continue to work on you, and get all the roots of sin out! God bless, friends!

Monday, March 27, 2006

This is an older picture of my girls. That's Machaela on the left, and Gabbie on the right. Notice the goofy pose Machaela strikes, showing us all her foot.

I decided to post this because I had described it to Libby Garrett on her blog of old time style photos of her kids. So here they are, Libby!

God bless!

I've Got e-Sword!

Hey, all, I finally have some good Bible study software. I downloaded a copy of the e-Sword Bible software over the weekend, after my good friend Pastor Henry plugged it on the Truth Ablaze Message Board. All I can say is that it rocks! And, the price is right (FREE!). I downloaded several different versions of the Bible besides the King James Version that comes with the initial download. I put on what is called the MKJV, NASB (a nominal fee for that version), ASV, and a couple more I can' think of. I loaded on several commentaries, as well as Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. It even lets you download several classic works from people such as A.W. Tozer, John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon. As Pastor Henry told me, you can get a good library on your PC in no time.

We in western society are blessed to have such an abundance of Bible versions and Bible study materials at our fingertips, aren't we? I would venture to guess that most homes in America have at least one Bible somewhere hidden on a shelf, possibly dust covered. We have cable and satellite TV where we can tune in to Christian broadcasting. We have access to computers and the internet where we can find a mass of information about the Bible. We have churches on every corner. Yet, we are so Biblically illiterate it's saddening.

My wife and I receive a short magazine every month from an organization dedicated to helping the persecuted Christians in other countries, called The Voice of the Martyrs. You can visit them on the web here. Oftentimes, I read about these precious believers love for the Bible. Yet, many of these people can't get Bibles. They consider themselves blessed to have maybe a book or two between a whole congregation, members each having a page here or there. And they rejoice over it! These folks would love to have even a simple pocket New Testament. Yet, we are up to our eyeballs in Bibles, and we never read it!

I know I've written recently about our need to dive into the Bible, and draw close to the Lord through studying his Word, but with the addition of the e-Sword on my computer, it has made me think about just how precious God's Word really is. Friends, I implore you, don't neglect the Word of God. Read it. Soak in it. Eat it up. Prayerfully study it. Let God speak to you through it. James 4:8 tells us that when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. One way we draw near to God is through his Word, the Bible. So, I encourage you today to pull that Bible off the bookcase, dust off the cover, and dig in! God bless!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Grandpa Richard

Hey, all! As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, my Grandpa Richard passed away this past weekend, March 18th. As I sat in the funeral home Tuesday morning listening to the various stories that were told, it got me thinking about the precious memories that I have of Grandpa. And today, my Aunt forwarded me what my cousin Rachel in New Mexico wrote about our Grandpa. It got me thinking again.

Grandpa was as long as I can remember a hard working guy. He worked for Ford as the resident electrical engineer, I believe. He was extremely innovative, and holds several patents for Ford. I just found out about that this week. But that innovation went beyond the workplace. A trip in the backyard displayed his accomplishments. One of my favorites is the compost pile. I know that lots of people have compost piles, but Grandpa's was unique. He made a chicken coop like thing, fenced around with chicken wire. Attached to the side of the compost pile was sprinkler, and he would turn the water on and soak down the leaves and grass clippings to hasten the decay. Then there was the homemade wood mill. He rigged up this mill and used a chainsaw as the cutting tool. It worked great, as he could cut his lumber from logs.

Grandpa loved working with wood. He was a master carpenter if I ever saw one. From the beautiful trim in their house, to the bookshelves and little colorful oval-shaped boxes made from very thin wood, Grandpa was amazing. I remember when he and my dad built the shed in dad's backyard. Grandpa had such a love for woodwork. I always loved going over to Grandpa and Grandma's house, and going down to the workshop with him. I think I worked on a few pine-wood derby cars down there.

After I graduated from High School, I spent the summer at Grandpa's house. When I wasn't working, I could be found in the backyard with Grandpa cutting up a huge downed tree with the 6-foot Stihl chainsaw, or even just tossing horseshoes in the horseshoe pit.

One of the things that Grandpa did was push for civil rights in the 60's. He pushed for open housing, and helped to see it voted into law. On a side note, that only reminds me that the Hollywood of perceptions of conservatives as heartless meanies is completely false. Grandpa was the example that being conservative meant that you believed that we all have been created equally, no one is better than anyone else, no matter what color the skin was. That is a great testimony to his life. I learned some other important life lessons from Grandpa, like the value of hard work, honesty and integrity. I saw displayed for years the importance of loving your family. I remember the last phone conversation I had with him. He was home from the nursing home he had been staying in, and he asked me how my family was doing. Then he asked how work was going. He said, "You've worked for that company for a long time. You've always been a good, hard worker". A couple weeks later, he was back in the hospital, and had been sleeping most of the time. I went to see him one Sunday, and when I got there, he lay on the bed, a machine helping him breathe. I took a walk down to the cafeteria with Grandma for a cup of Starbucks. By the time we got back up to his room, he was sitting up in bed and eating. I had a chance to talk with him, and I'm glad I did. He asked me the usual stuff, like, "how's that nice house you bought?" and "how is your family doing".

The Tuesday before he died, I went up to the hospital to visit with him. My uncle Mike and his girlfriend Laura were up there, and Uncle Mike was playing his guitar. He handed it to me, and I began to play some Gospel music, and sing some modern praise and worship songs. Though Grandpa couldn't respond, I know he could hear. I'm so glad I had that time.

I know that this blog is used to preach the Gospel, and encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those reading that may not yet know Jesus Christ. But today, I wanted to take the time to share with everyone a little bit of Grandpa Richard. I miss you, Grandpa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Don't Hog the Blessing!

I know it’s been a few days since my last entry. A lot has happened in these past few days. Saturday afternoon, my wife and I headed up to the hospital to see my Grandfather, literally on his deathbed. My dad called me from the room there, and suggested that if we were to see him before he passes, we needed to get there pretty soon. That afternoon, we got the hospital, went up to his room, and saw my Grandmother, my dad and my uncle and aunt, and great aunt, Grandpa’s sister, gathered around his bed. I couldn’t see him, but dad heard us and turned to tell us that he had just passed away minutes before we got there. My brother and our cousins must have gotten the message that he was going, because they showed up within minutes of us getting there. We said goodbye to Grandpa yesterday morning.

Having lived this experience, I have been thinking about our need to be outlets of God’s grace. We don’t know when we or our loved ones will have our number called. We must take the time to share the Lord Jesus Christ with those around us, and what he has done for us and them. I read another blog this morning by Pastor Brad Leach , of Church of the King, in Berkley, Michigan. He spoke of our need “exhale spiritually”. What he means is that we are constantly taking in spiritual things. We have lots of Bibles, Christian bookstores, online sermons, church services, etc. We are always receiving from God, but what are we doing to give? He makes the point that when we inhale naturally, an exhale must follow. How true is that in the spirit?

How does this connect with my experience with Grandpa’s passing? It reminded me of the need to share my faith with those around me. I am a professional sermon listener. I love to hear good preaching, but at the same time, I need to share what God has given to me with those I come in contact with. I love reading the Bible, but I have to allow the Bible to change not only me, but those around me, via my life and my testimony.

I’ve heard it said that everything in God’s creation is designed to give. The sun gives off light and heat. The rivers and lakes give us water. Plant life gives off oxygen for us to breathe. It’s no different with us who have been saved, re-created in the Lord’s image. Jesus took the time to get alone with his Father and pray, but he came out full and ready to give.

So, I’d like to thank Pastor Brad for giving me something to stretch me out. Now I encourage you to go out and rub off Christ on some today! God bless.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's Dinner Time! (Part 2)

As Christians, we tend to have our own language, like any other group of people or sub-culture. Ours is called by some “Christianese”. It’s our lingo, words that can be seen as mere clichés by those outside the faith. And it can be puzzling for not only unbelievers, but even for new believers just trying to understand the faith they have now come to have. Yesterday’s blog has the potential of sounding too much like a cliché, as well, so I thought it best to take today’s entry and expound on how we should go about studying the Bible. While I believe I conveyed our need for the Word of God, I really didn’t get into the nuts and bolts of actually studying the Bible. Today, I will attempt to do so.

First of all, why do we do Christian’s call the Bible the “Word of God”? Because the Bible itself tells us that the Holy Scriptures were inspired, or “God-breathed” by God. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). When Jesus referred to the Old Testament, he called it the Word of God (see Mark 7:5-13). The teachings of Jesus were called the Word of God (see Luke 5 and 8). The Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:21 about the scriptures as being inspired by God when he said, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”. Finally, in the third chapter of the same book, Peter spoke of Paul’s writings, and put them on the same level as the scriptures that were known to be inspired, like the Old Testament.

So, how do we go about studying this most precious book? Not like your history or social studies textbooks, that’s for sure. Remember, the Bible is inspired by God. Our first step in the study of the Bible should be to ask the one spoke the words through the people he chose to help us understand what he was saying. When my Grandfather was younger, he made a makeshift wood mill. If I were to learn to use it, it would be best to go to him and ask him how to use it properly, as he created it. Who would know better than the one who made it? So it’s the same with the Bible. Go to the One who inspired it. We are also promised by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will teach us. So, right off the bat, a time of Bible study should begin with a time of prayer.

Next, I look for the context of what I am reading. Many people today can quote the Bible, and they’ll quote it to back up their theological viewpoints, but often quote it out of context. One famous verse that is taken out of context much of the time is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, the you be not judged…” This is a verse that needs to be interpreted in light of its original context, which in this case is further explained by the passage as a whole. Jesus didn’t mean that we should never judge, rather we must not pass judgment on someone else while turning a blind eye to our own sin.

Also, sometimes cross-referencing scripture with other portions of scripture that are related helps us to understand it more clearly. For instance, to understand Matthew 7, one could read Romans 2 to get a good picture of what Jesus was talking about, where Paul talks about those who judge others, while they themselves are doing the same things.

Finally, it is always good to get Bible study tools, and even a good study Bible in a translation you can understand. There are commentaries, such as the Matthew Henry commentary, and Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries, to help us to understand the various times that the Bible was written in, and to get into the Hebrew and Greek languages that the Bible was written in. Oftentimes, a word we read in English has a much deeper meaning than the form we read in our Bibles, such as the word, “believe” from John 3:16. In that case, the word doesn’t merely mean a mental assent to a historical fact, like, “I believe George Washington was the first president of the United States”. It means to commit ourselves to something or someone. It means to entrust ourselves and our souls to someone, in this case, the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is more to it than what I have written, and to be sure, we can’t stick a formula on God. But I believe that these are essential to studying the Bible. God bless you as you set out to study the Word of God!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's Dinner Time!

As I have mentioned before, I have been reading the through the Bible this year, attempting to read it in its entirety within 10 months. However, no matter how we have planned and tried to stick to schedule, life has a way of tossing us curveballs that can make us swing off course. My curveball was more than a week of the flu and a cold, and not only did it wipe me out, but I didn’t want to read anything. I forced myself to read some Bible here and there, but I have fallen far off course from my target. I am certainly working my way back on course, but I got to thinking about the Word of God today.

How many of us read the Bible like we read the newspaper, or a novel, or Newsweek magazine? In other words, do we just read the Bible casually, not really gleaning much from its wealth? I was listening to a message my one of my favorite preachers, Pastor Tim Dilena, and he was preaching on eating the Bible as opposed to reading it. I know the eating brings up an interesting picture when talking about the Bible, but let’s look into it.

When you are hungry, hardly anything will stop you from sitting down to a good meal. From time to time, my parents have us over for Sunday dinners, and my Step dad Don is the best chef (I know you’re reading this, Don!). He can grill up a steak that would make Emril jealous! And when it’s time to sit down and eat, I can hardly say grace fast enough (not to be irreverent, God knows my heart!). And when it’s time to eat, it’s not just some casual meal, but for me, it’s an event. I devour the steak! Our study of the Word of God should be as well. The timeless Word of Almighty God, inspired by His Spirit, written through human beings to convey His Truth down through the ages is at our fingertips! Let us dig in.

Think of the most important person you can think of. Perhaps it’s someone like Ronald Reagan, or Winston Churchill, or another wise person that is looked up to in society. Given the opportunity, most I think would want to sit down with such people and pick their brains, and glean from their wisdom. How much more the Creator of the universe? I’m reminded of a story out of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus was preaching to a multitude of people, and he had said some things that were too hard for them to swallow. People then immediately started to turn away from him, and stopped following him. Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked them, “Will you go also?” Peter looked at him, and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (see John 6:60-69) The disciples found someone that they not only wanted to glean from, but who had picked them personally, so he could pour himself into them. He had the “words of eternal life”.

That is what the Bible is. It’s not just some dusty old book that’s outdated and of no value to modern society. Neither is it the moldy, old account of what God has done in the past, but it contains the very words of life. That is why it is paramount that we take the time to study the Bible, and to glean from it the Truth that God has provided for us all.

It’s not just the preachers, my friends. It’s for you, whether you are a pastor or a fireman or a garbage man. We need the Word of God. Just to whet your appetite for the Bible, I heard this neat little summary of the Bible, called “The Bible in 50 Words”. I am closing out this little article today with it. God bless!

God made, Adam bit, Noah
arked, Abraham split, Joseph
ruled, Jacob fooled, bush talked,
Moses balked, Pharaoh plagued,
people walked, sea divided,
tablets guided, promise landed,
Saul freaked, David peeked,
prophets warned, Jesus born,
God walked, love talked, anger
crucified, hope died, Love rose,
Spirit flamed, Word spread, God

Thursday, March 09, 2006

How Great is our God!

My good friend Pastor Darrell Garrett over on his blog, The Dawg Howse, mentioned today in his entry the worship song, “How Great is Our God”, by Chris Tomlin. It got me thinking about just how great of a God we really have. And as we read God’s Word in Isaiah 40, we get a good picture of just how immense and above us God really is. I heard a message recently by Pastor Tim Dilena of Revival Tabernacle in Highland Park, MI, where he spoke on the greatness of God from this chapter. You can hear his sermons at Check out some of these verses from Isaiah 40.

vs.12-“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?”

vs.15-“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.”

It’s been said that the hollow of the hand is the little center part when the hand is cupped. God holds all of the earth’s water in the hollow of His hand! For us people, it’s hardly enough to wet our whistle, let alone quench our thirst. Think of the dust that gathers on your furniture. Could you possibly even begin to get an accurate count of each microscopic grain of dust? I think not, but God can. He measured out the dust of all the earth. He is some awesome, he knows every speck of dust, every grain of sand! And he should, he created it.

Think of the immense mountains, their sheer size. I remember when I was much younger, I was flying out west on vacation. Even at cruising altitude, the Rocky Mountains were huge! They seemed so big, even from several miles up. I remember the beauty and majesty of the Smoky Mountains several years back, as I was driving a group of teenagers back from a retreat in Knoxville, TN. When I was 17, I remember being in Washington State with my dad. We were blessed with great weather that week, and we hiked at the base of Mt. Rainer. What an amazing site! Yet, the sheer size of these great mountains to us is hardly anything to God. He can take these huge mountains of the earth and measure them out together.

He goes on to say that the nations of the earth are as a drop from a bucket. Just a little tiny drop. And like dust on a scale. I heard the illustration once of buying meat or cheese from a deli, and telling the person behind the counter that they need to wipe off the scale before weighing the meat, so as to not rip off the customer. Like that makes a difference? Yet, the nations are like that. God is so great! He is so far above us. When we hear this, and read it in the Bible, how can we not give him praise? But it gets even better.

The God who is so far above us is the same God who desires to be personally involved in our lives! I like what Psalm 147:3-4 says:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”

Look closely at this verse. What it is doing is describing the hugeness of God, in that he not only created the stars, he knows the exact number of them. When you think that the total number of stars in the universe is incalculable, it’s utterly amazing. And not just that, but God named each one as well! I at times can’t get my kids names straight! How great is our God! Yet, this huge God that simply spoke this universe and everything in it into existence cares about us. The God that is flung the stars into place is the same God that wants to heal the hurts in our lives! He cares about your pain. He is concerned with your welfare. He knows of your struggles and cares. He wants to be involved in your life personally. Perhaps that boggles our mind more so than declaring his greatness in creation.

So how do we respond to such knowledge? I, for one want to fall on my face and worship him with everything that is in me. Knowing how much God wants to be in my life makes me want to go deep in my relationship with him. So deep that even when the winds of adversity blow, I’m not blown with them, but moved by the depths of God. Knowing the God Almighty wants to have a real relationship with me makes me want to know him so much more. How many of us, if we had a chance to develop a relationship with someone we considered immensely important, would pass up the opportunity? For me, as a preacher, I would be foolish if I had the chance to get to know Billy Graham personally, to sit down and talk with him, and to glean from his wisdom, and passed it up. How much more the One who made everything? Get to know God!

We can read passages like Isaiah 40 and rejoice in the Majesty and awesomeness of God, but let us also remember something Jesus said: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (see John 14:9). The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation of his (God’s) nature”. If we want to understand just how much God cares for us, and loves, we only need look to Jesus Christ.

I pray that this study today has been a blessing, and sparked a desire to know God more than ever before. And thanks to Pastor Darrell for poking me today with worship! It was your blog that got me going.

God bless!

Monday, March 06, 2006

I've Got that Run-Over Feeling

Hi to all who read my blog! I am back at work after nearly a week at home with a sick child, and being sick myself. I pretty much over a bout with a nasty flu bug, but I hope I'm back to normal tomorrow. Thus, that is the reason I haven't written since last Wednesday, as that was the last time I was in the office.

I have to be honest here, friends. Right now I feel like the well has dried up. I am physically tired, as I spent my time being sick running around like a beheaded chicken taking care of the kids, and trying to keep the house clean, and clothes washed. My car even broke down Wednesday night. Starter pooped out, we put a new one in, replaced a transmission line, and put a new brake light switch in. Plus 2 great Sunday services, it's no wonder I'm so worn out.

Perhaps this is how David felt when he cried out to the Lord in Psalm 61:2.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Certainly the circumstances are different. David was often running for his very life. I can understand his sense of being totally overwhelmed, though. Life has a way of not only loading burdens upon us, but wearing us down with those burdens.

I suppose the best remedy is to once again sneak off to that secret place that David often spoke of, that place of quiet communion and worship of the Lord. Whatever temptations we endure, whether to commit gross sin such as adultery or viewing pornography, or simply to allow our circumstances to harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit, can be graciously placed at our Savoir's feet, at the throne of Grace (Heb.4:15-16). He is a faithful High Priest who knows what we have to endure, and he has the grace we need to get through it.

So keep praying for me, saints. I am now about to sneak out on my break to do just what I wrote about, that is, like Mary of Luke 10:38-42, enjoying some time at Jesus' feet. God bless!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Whatever Doesn't Kill You...

As I mentioned a few days back, I am attempting to read the entire Bible in less than a year. So far, things are going very well. Today, I started on the book of Exodus, which chronicles the call and ministry of Moses, and God using him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. As I was reading the first chapter of the book this morning, I came across a passage that the Holy Spirit seemed to illuminate for me. Here it is:

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we.”Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land." So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. Exodus 1:8-12

Israel had enjoyed life so far in Egypt, that is, until a new king was established, and after Joseph was dead. The new king didn’t know Joseph, and was quite fearful of the Hebrew people. They had entered the land just seventy strong, yet now they were growing by leaps and bounds. Pharaoh, king of Egypt was afraid that these people would turn on them. So, to put them in their place, he thought it would be best to enslave them. Eventually, he even called for the deaths of all Hebrew baby boys, as a way to curtail their growing population.

When God’s hand is on someone, or a group of people, great things happen. When Pharaoh thought that the hard labor was his answer, God continued to bless his people. The more he afflicted them, the more the multiplied and grew. This has been God’s method throughout time, hasn’t it? Centuries of enslavement and hard life did nothing to stop these people from growing, and when it was all said and done, and they were led out of the country by Moses, the Bible says that they left with great abundance.

Let’s fast forward now to the city of Thessalonica, in the first century AD. These first years for the infant Christian Church were turbulent. Many believers paid the ultimate price for there faith, and in fact, many today still do. That is, with their lives. (In fact, in countries where Christians face hard persecution and death, the Christian church is rapidly growing!) These good folks in the city of Thessalonica were no exception. They had been dealing with heavy persecution for their faith. It seems logical to human reasoning that such pain and trouble would cause people to question their faith, and turn from it. Kind of like the guy who says to his doctor, “It hurts when I do this.” The doctor, in all his medical knowledge and wisdom, says, “Then don’t do that!” But God’s logic and man’s logic are two different things. You see, God uses our storms and trials to make us grow in him! Let’s read what the Apostle Paul wrote to these precious saints of God:

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” 2 Thess. 1:3-4

While we would think that such affliction would drive us from the pain, these people ran to it! They were growing in spite of the trials. As Romans 5 tells us, tribulation brings about proven character, which in turn brings about hope in our hearts. Hope isn’t some wistful wish, but an earnest expectation that God will take care of us. Simply put, God uses the times of suffering in our lives to make us stronger in him. I know that it’s not a popular teaching today, but it is the truth of the Word of God.

I’ve been reading a book lately entitled, Don’t Waste Your Life by Pastor John Piper. So far, the crux of the message is that a life not lived boasting in Christ crucified is a wasted life. After all, it was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross that purchased us, and cleansed us. He knew that suffering was the way he would bring about our salvation. But he also told us that we must take up our cross as well, and follow him. So whether suffering means a little discomfort, or laying down your life, or anything in between, be encouraged that you will come out stronger and better.

Live your life in such a way as to allow God to get all of the glory, in the good and the bad. I guarantee on the Word of God, that in so doing, God will pour into you a full joy that rejoices in Christ even in the face of pain. You too, like the Israelites and the Thessalonians, will grow and abound in faith! God bless!