When Things Don’t Go Well – Sacrifice and Friendship

When Things Don’t Go Well

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28

The first words that many people like to quote when misfortune hits are: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). But that’s hard to believe in hard times. I once sat with a man who had lost his third son in a row, and I listened as he lamented, “How can this tragedy work for my good?” I had no answer but to sit silently and mourn with him. Several months later, he was thankful as he said, “My sorrow is drawing me closer to God.”

Tough as Romans 8:28 may be to understand, countless testimonies give credence to the truth of it. The story of hymn writer Fanny Crosby is a classic example. The world is the beneficiary of her memorable hymns, yet what worked together for good was born out of her personal tragedy, for she became blind at the age of 5. At only age 8, she began to write poetry and hymns. Writing over 8,000 sacred songs and hymns, she blessed the world with such popular songs as “Blessed Assurance,” “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” and “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” God used her difficulty to bring good for her and us and glory for Him.

God has good purposes and always remains with us.

When tragedy befalls us, it’s hard to understand how anything good can come from it, and we won’t always see it in this life. But God has good purposes and always remains with us.

What trial in your life have you found to be for your good? What good things have come from it? What are you now suffering that you pray will bring something good?

God always has good purposes for our trials.

By Lawrence Darmani


Sacrifice and Friendship

I have called you friends… —John 15:15

We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if…!” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways.

But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend (see John 15:13-14). When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.

Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God….” He endured tremendous personal sacrifice, yet with overflowing joy. Have I ever yielded myself in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If He is not the One to whom I am looking for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in my sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God. One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires. But the one true desire of a saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not something sentimental or emotional— for a saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing imaginable.

“I have called you friends….” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us, which has no resemblance or attraction to our old life but only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

Sincerity means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Oswald Chambers

A Lifestyle of Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:29-32

Showing mercy to those who hurt us does not come naturally— it’s easier to get angry at them and remain that way. We justify our lack of forgiveness by pointing to the injustice that took place or harm that was done. But God commands us to be merciful (Luke 6:36). We who have been shown divine mercy are to practice a lifestyle of forgiveness.

So why don’t we obey? Sometimes our pride gets in the way. We are angered when treated with disrespect, passed over for a job opportunity, or ignored despite our accomplishments. At other times we get focused on other people’s refusal to change, so we withhold mercy until they improve their behavior. And some of us have been badly hurt or treated unjustly. Our minds are filled with such pain that we become stuck in the past and cannot see how we’ll ever be able to forgive.

An unforgiving attitude can have all sorts of unwanted consequences, including broken relationships, emotional bondage, and indifference toward the Lord. The longer we hold on to our anger, the more it will affect our fellowship, not only with other people but also with our heavenly Father. Over time, we may become bitter and hostile, which certainly doesn’t fit with our identity in Christ.

It is hard for us to pardon those who tell lies about us, treat us badly, or cause harm to our loved ones. And yet their behavior toward us is not a reason to withhold mercy. God calls us to forgive as He forgave us—and with His help, we can do just that.

The Wolf and the Lamb Together

isaiah_11_6_ Lion Lamb
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

This scene seems impossible; could it be merely an allegory? But that isn’t all. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 65:25).

Whether this will all come to pass literally (and there is nothing in the context to cause us to question it), it definitely describes what God considers the ideal state of nature. In fact, in the original creation, all animals were herbivorous. “And God said, Behold, . . . to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29-30).

With man’s fall into sin and God’s resulting curse on the earth, this ideal state deteriorated. Teeth and claws, originally designed for digging roots and branches, began to be used for tearing and eating flesh. Even man was authorized by God to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:3). It is still true, however, that both men and animals still can survive on a non-carnivorous diet when necessary, for this was designed initially as the best way, all of which leads to the certain conclusion that God did not allow any such reign of tooth and claw on the earth before man sinned. The contention of those who promote the idea of long geological ages, with billions of animals suffering and dying during those ages, charges our God of wisdom and mercy with gratuitous cruelty. In a world made by a loving God, there could have been no death in the world until man brought sin into the world (Romans 5:12). HMM

Only the Spirit Can Give Sight

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. —2 Corinthians 4:3-4

The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it. A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. In his autobiography Franklin recounts in some detail how he listened to the mighty preaching of the great evangelist. He even walked around the square where Whitefield stood to learn for himself how far that golden voice carried. Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist’s prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted….

The inward operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary to saving faith. The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit
our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men.

Lord, I’ll do my part today to share the gospel with anyone You’ll bring my way. But Holy Spirit, I’ll wait for You to open eyes and give sight. I’ll leave the results with You. Amen.

We Must Surrender: God Must Have His Way

How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! Proverbs 16:16

The man who will not brook interference is under no compulsion to follow Christ. “If any man will,” said our Lord, and thus freed every man and placed the Christian life in the realm of voluntary choice.

I have long believed that a man who spurns the Christian faith outright is more respected before God and the heavenly powers than the man who pretends to religion but refuses to come under its total domination. The first is an overt enemy, the second a false friend. It is the latter who will be spued out of the mouth of Christ; and the reason is not hard to understand.

Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains or compromises. She cries from the top of the high places, “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.” After that, every man is on his own. He may accept or refuse, receive or set at naught as he pleases; and there will be no attempt at coercion, though the man’s whole destiny is at stake. Were this an unfallen world the path of truth would be a smooth and easy one.

Here the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary one to another. In that contest there can be only one outcome. We must surrender and God must have His way. His glory and our eternal welfare require that it be so!

Satan’s Stratagem

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables. 2 PETER 1:16

It is amazing that Satan’s wiliest stratagem against Christian believers is to use our virtues against us! Perhaps it is more amazing that he often does this with great success.

By means of temptation to sin, he strikes at our personal lives; by working through our virtues, he gets at the whole community of believers and unfits it for its own defense.

To capture a city an enemy must first weaken or destroy its resistance. The Church will never fall as long as she resists. This the devil knows; consequently he uses any stratagem to neutralize her resistance.

Satan first creates a maudlin, inaccurate concept of Christ as soft, smiling and tolerant. He reminds us that Christ, as a lamb brought to slaughter, opened not His mouth—and suggests that we do likewise. Then if we notice his foot in the door and rise to oppose him, he appeals to our desire to be Christlike. “Love everybody and all will be well,” he urges.

The shepherd, taken in by this sweet talk, is afraid to use his club, and the wolf gets the sheep!

Lord, I pray that You will help my church resist any tactic used by Satan designed to weaken or dilute the testimony of the church in our community. We want to lift up Your name.