God’s discipline isn’t easy, but we cannot ignore its wonderful benefits to spiritual growth. It gives us an entirely new perspective on the Lord’s plan for our life. If we enjoyed a steady, uninterrupted stream of blessings, we might think our Father exists solely for our happiness, and we wouldn’t know the truth about who He is.
Think about what we generally request of the Lord. We ask Him for healing, success, or financial security and seek His blessing on our family and relationships. Philippians 4:6 tells us to pray about everything, so there is nothing wrong with coming to God with all our concerns. But we must be careful that we don’t inadvertently begin to think of Him as our personal assistant or some sort of catalog, where we place our order and He delivers.
If that is the case, who is actually at the center of our prayers? It certainly isn’t almighty God, who as our Creator and Savior is worthy of our adoration and worship. When we find ourselves at the center of our prayers, the end result is the subtle deception that the Lord exists for our benefit. This distortion breaks the Lord’s heart and leads us far away from truly knowing His character and majesty.
The antidote for this self-centered idolatry is brokenness. When God says “no”—taking away instead of adding more and then divinely managing what we have, how much we have, and how long we have it—He is helping us keep our eyes on Him. Do not despise such moments. Instead, recognize them as the voice of your Father calling you back into His loving arms.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
Although the glorious resurrection bodies that have been promised all believers must await the return of Christ, even the spirit-existence after death is better than this present life for the believer. Paul himself expressed “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (v. 23)—“to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Thus, it is “gain” when a Christian dies! Since Christ, in His resurrection body, is in heaven at the right hand of the Father, the spirits of “sleeping” Christians are also there. The intermediate state is somewhat analogous to the dreaming state, in which the consciousness travels to various places and experiences while the body is asleep. In fact, death is called “sleep” for the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
However, in some amazing way, these conscious spirits of believers are still distinct and recognizable. Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:3), as well as Samuel (1 Samuel 28:12-19), were identifiable in their spirit-form, even by people here on Earth.
One of the greatest blessings of dying and going to be with the Lord will be the joy of returning with Him “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). “Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. . . . And the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16), just before the “rapture” and glorification of the saints who are still living. As wonderful as it might be to live until Christ returns, it will be even better to be with Him!
The death of a Christian, therefore, may be a time of loss and grief for those left behind, but it is a time of joy and blessing for the one who dies, including a happy reunion with those who have gone before. HMM
The infuriated mob raved like madmen when Paul had spoken of the Lord’s grace towards the Gentiles.
When the centurion who was appointed to scourge him
Paul’s temper was roused by the unjust conduct of the high priest. His prophecy was fearfully fulfilled: almost at the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem Ananias fell by the daggers of his enemies. We cannot help noting the difference between the meek silence of Jesus, and the indignant reply of Paul.
The apostle obeyed the injunction, “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” He saw how hopeless it was to plead his cause before so prejudiced an assembly, and therefore he raised another issue. He knew that the Pharisees and Sadducees hated each other even worse than they hated him; and, therefore, he cast in a spark upon their combustible materials, and set them in a blaze. The two parties left their victim, and turned their weapons against each other.
Acts 23:10, 11
A mid the uncongenial sights and sounds of the barracks, the heart of the apostle would have sunk had it not been for the heavenly visitation. Jesus will not leave his faithful servants alone—he will reveal himself to us when we are in sore distress. Never let us despair, for the Lord has more work for us to do yet.
Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
We will never be delivered from the pride of our own selfish condition until we allow the Holy Spirit of God to demonstrate God’s own victory within us.
I have had disobedient believers assure me: “But,, I already know that I am bad. I am a believer in total depravity!” My reply: it is possible to be a confirmed believer in total depravity and still be as proud as Lucifer; to still trust in yourself in such a way that the face of God is hidden and you are kept from spiritual victory.
Our concern here is not with theological depravity. There is no argument with the fact that as soon as we are big enough to sin, we go directly into the business of sinning! But God is trying to reveal by His Holy Spirit the utter weakness of the child of God who is still putting his trust in himself.
Why does it take us so long to put our complete trust in God? He has made it so simple, so rewarding to yield what we are to Him!
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
What a word is this! Jehovah God in the center of His people in all the majesty of His power! This presence alone suffices to inspire us with peace and hope. Treasures of boundless might are stored in our Jehovah, and He dwells in His church, therefore may His people shout for joy.
We not only have His presence, but He is engaged upon His choice work of salvation. “He will save.” He is always saving: He takes His name of Jesus from it. Let us not fear any danger, for He is mighty to save.
Nor is this all. He abides evermore the same; He loves, He finds rest in loving, He will not cease to love. His love gives Him joy. He even finds a theme for song in His beloved. This is exceedingly wonderful. When God wrought creation He did not sing, but simply said, “It is very good”; but when He came to redemption, then the sacred Trinity felt a joy to be expressed in song. Think of it, and be astonished! Jehovah Jesus sings a marriage song over His chosen bride. She is to Him His love, His joy, His rest, His song. O Lord Jesus, by thine immeasurable love to us teach us to love thee, to rejoice in thee, and to sing unto thee our life-psalm.