Why do bad things happen to good people?In the case of our Lord, He had done nothing wrong, but His suffering and death were carefully scripted before the foundation of the world, as a part of our Father's redemptive plan.
But what about the normal everyday Christian?Why do we suffer?There are at least four causes of Christian suffering:
1.Some suffering comes as the consequence of our own sin.
2.Some suffering is caused by the sins of others.
3.Some suffering is the result of God's discipline.
4.Some suffering is induced through persecution, after our
attempts toward redemptive ministry.
If your Christian walk is too much like the lifestyles of everyone else, maybe you should be asking the question, "Why doesn't anyone ever want to persecute me?"Jesus (and His disciples after Him) were persecuted because He was different...He stood for something.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, I would rather suffer persecution because I stood for something, than to live and die for nothing.I don't know how courageous I would be if I faced that kind of challenge, but I would like to believe that any cross You give me would be less of a burden than the cross of cowardice."Amen and amen.
A most intriguing story appeared on ABC News recently and in other newspapers.
Just imagine, your father walks out of your life when you are a toddler and you’re now 41 years old and a nurse at Calvary Hospital in New York.A new patient arrives on your ward and as you and a colleague discuss his prognosis, you hear his name and freeze in your tracks.
This true story happened recently to Wanda Rodriguez.What are the odds of meeting your long-lost father at Calvary Hospital, a hospital for the terminally ill?
Wanda mustered up the courage and decided to see if this patient (Victor Peraza) had her complexion and green eyes; he could be her dad, if so.(Her mother had often remarked how much Wanda looked like her father.)
Once she walked in his room and satisfied her curiosity, she realized how much they looked like each other.Wanda then inquired if he had children.He responded he had two grown daughters; Gina and Wanda.After composing herself, she proceeded to say “I’m your daughter.He said, 'I know you're my daughter.' I think he knew like I knew. When we looked at each other, we knew instantly."(Her mother confirmed the same and, along with Gina, has visited Peraza; the first time since they split up 40+ years ago.)
Peraza, 60 years old, has expressed remorse at being an absentee father.Wanda has decided to not dwell on the past, but focus on the present.He also asked for forgiveness.
Tragically, Peraza was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago and may not have long to live.He is spending quality time with his daughter and has met her husband and his three grandchildren.
“He’s at peace,” Rodriguez told the Post.“He’s had closure.”He said, “Wanda, I’ve met you.I’m OK.I’m ready to die.”
Prayer:Father we know not the day or hour You will call us home.It is so important for us to recognize our actions today (or inaction) impact our lives in unexpected ways.There are times when we get a second or multiple chances; other times, we may not get that opportunity.
Thank You for reuniting your children after these many years.We know this was Divine intervention, not a coincidence.Thank You for giving Wanda the discernment to savor the precious moments she has remaining with her father and not to dwell on the past.Despite many years of separation, she still demonstrates her love for him.It’s the same for us when we separate ourselves from You, Lord; despite all, You still love us.
May we be mindful that “tomorrow isn’t promised.”
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Hope of Heaven
The disciples didn't want to believe it.Jesus tried to prepare them for the end, but wasn't getting through to his faithful followers.The time had come for Him to say just how bad it was going to get, and told them that one would even betray, and another would deny Him.Could Jesus see their despair?Was the doubt inscribed upon their faces?At the appropriate time, Jesus said:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.Trust in God; trust also in me.In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.I am going there to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.You know the way to the place where I am going."(John 14:1-4)
Beloved, I remember well the content of a favorite poetic verse:"Earth hath no sorrow which heaven cannot heal."(Thomas Moore)The mere notion that our troubles upon this earth will one day be forgotten may be the best news we hear today, and may tempt us to slow down in our diligence. Just so we will not forget that we have work yet to be done upon the earth, let us remember that heaven is a prepared place.And it is for prepared people.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, teach your children that the "Hope of Heaven" is not the same as standing on a corner waiting for a bus!Rather, it is a journey in which we are already engaged.We are ALWAYS in transit toward eternity, from the day we became a Christian until the day You will return for us, faithfully teaching and preaching, preparing others for that glorious event."Amen and amen.
My dear friend Jim is an accomplished Commodity Market and Futures Trader, has invested the past fifteen years learning to understand Wall Street and the circumstances and situations that drive its ups and downs.Not only does he trade; but, he also teaches others who have an interest in becoming proficient at Futures trading.Recently, many of his more advanced students have experienced an unusual problem.They know what to do; but, fear of failing (and losing money), has prevented them from applying the techniques they know to be correct.As a result, they have become frozen - not doing anything bad, but not doing anything good either.
A few days ago, Jim sent these words of wisdom to his trading students who were in this “frozen” state:
“When you really believe it and understand it, trading becomes comfortable; you lose your fear to accomplish.It’s simple enough. If your heart is pounding when you trade, you do not (fully) understand what you are doing and it’s scaring you to death.Fear immobilizes you.When you truly understand, it will become comfortable and manageable.”
As soon as I read these words, these questions popped into my mind:
·Why do Christians avoid praying in public?
·Why do Christians ignore (or refuse to seek) opportunities to witness to non-believers?
·Why do Christians say nothing when prayer and the Bible is removed from our schools?
·Why do Christians stand mute as more and more restrictions and limits are placed on our ability to freely and openly worship while other religions are given a “pass”?
Today, in many parts of the world, certain passages in Scripture have been labeled as “hate speech” and pastors have been imprisoned for preaching those passages in their own church.Some Scriptures are being ignored (as if they were not there); or, those “politically incorrect” Scriptures are being “re-interpreted” in a way that is more acceptable to today’s society.Prophecies are ignored or “explained” away.Sometimes, direct commands from the lips of Christ are passed over like He never said them.Why?
Please reconsider my friend’s words, altered slightly:
“When you really believe it and understand it, God’s Word becomes comfortable; you lose your fear to accomplish.It’s simple enough. If your heart is pounding when you stand up for the Lord and His Word, you do not (fully) understand what you are doing and it’s scaring you to death.Fear immobilizes you.When you truly understand, it will become comfortable and manageable.”
Christian or trader, fear will stop you in your tracks.Serve Him without fear…
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people.He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David (as He said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us… to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath He swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve Him without fear… (From Luke 1:67-79 - NIV)
Do not be afraid…
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”(From Matthew 10:27-29 - NIV)
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…’”(From Hebrews 13:5-6 - NIV)
"Don't be afraid; just believe."(From Mark 5:36 - NIV)
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
Bill was a truck driver who worked hard and didn't need God until he was sixty years old, not until he fainted next to the truck one day. He and his wife went to church that next week and you could tell that they weren't just window-shopping. They joined a disciple group. Bill had never prayed and didn't know Adam and Eve, but he was genuinely curious and when people treated his questions seriously, he was hooked on the Bible study. And then one night, he decided to pray for the first time.
He never looked back. That disciple group decided to take a Mission trip to Kentucky and Bill volunteered to drive. As the pastor was leaving that church to go to another field of service, Bill asked if he could take him out to breakfast. They got over to the restaurant and he looked at his pastor and said, "I've got to thank you because I was in trouble when I came to church. I never even figured church would help, and thought the roof would fall in on the day I visited. But I was surprised and the last couple of years have been the best time of my life."
Beloved, many of you are involved in Bible Study groups at your churches and places of employment. People come to you with wounds inflicted by health, society and family chaos. Embrace them as you would your own children. Let them know how much God cares about their needs. But you can do more than minister to those who seek you out, you can go find them and share the best news they have ever heard. That's what a disciple is.
Andrew witnessed to his brother Simon. Philip found Nathanael and witnessed to him about Jesus. Generally, a witness is needed to help others "see" Jesus. You cannot adequately follow Jesus without also extending the invitation to others.
Bill and his pastor didn't know, but he had terminal cancer even at that breakfast and he wasn't going to see another year out. He had gone 60 years without God and then turned into a new guy who was having the time of his life. Don't wait to be a disciple.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, when you spoke to Moses from the bush, he wasn’t ashamed to ask You to give the job to someone else.He said, “I can’t speak very well, and they won’t believe me.”I hear your call of discipleship and answer, "Why me?" And Your response is always the same, "Why not?" Give me holy boldness and unconditional grace to overcome both my fears and my prejudices, so that I may become the mentor You expect me to be. Amen and amen.