For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
The Washington Post carried the story of Collin Spears, a barber in Virginia who had a rough past. At one point he was homeless, showering at truck stops and struggling to eat. Today he’s the co-owner of a barber shop. His business partner is also a survivor of homelessness. The two barbers recently went back to the local rescue mission, this time to cut hair. “We come down here to lift some spirits,” Spears said. “If you look good, you feel good.” Collin can sympathize with the homeless because he’s been there himself.
Our best encouragers are people who have been where we are, who understand from experience what we’re going through.
That’s why Jesus is our great Comforter. Having become a Man, He can sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus never sinned, but He endured all the pressures of life—and then some. Whatever you’re going through, Jesus knows—even the number of hairs on your head. He cares. And He can help.
Our Lord Jesus Christ [has] a sympathy with our sorrows and infirmities … impossible to find in any other being. Octavius Winslow
The cross is a statement of the power of God to transform our lives from the inside out. As we begin to live through the cross, we learn to think of the cross not only as the point of entry into the Kingdom of God, but also as the way we can tap into the power of God to help us negotiate the challenges of life.
One of the hardest things for Christians to understand is how to find joy in suffering. Yet we know it can be done, because James tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). And Peter says, “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing” (1 Peter 4:13). What’s more, with regard to persecution, Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matt. 5:12). But how is this possible?
Paul offers a clue in Philippians, where he talks about “the fellowship of [Jesus’] sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). In this part of the letter, the apostle’s objective is to know Christ and know Him thoroughly. If the Lord is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, then can we truly know Him while ignoring these attributes?
When we view hardships as windows into the heart of our Savior, our perspective changes: Suffering begins to feel more like an opportunity than a curse. It gives us access to intimate fellowship with Jesus that comes only through shared suffering.
Are you struggling in a trial today? I pray for your strength to endure so that you might discover more of who Jesus truly is.
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” (Psalm 37:3)
Although there are many promises in Scripture to the effect that the Lord will provide material sustenance to those who are faithful to Him (Matthew 6:33), this particular verse evidently refers to an even more blessed promise. The word translated “verily” is better rendered by “truth,” so the latter part of the verse could best be given as: “thou shalt be fed on the truth.” That is, the spiritual life of the one who trusts in Christ will be fed and sustained by truth.
In contrast, the unbeliever feeds on that which is not true. The one “who hath formed a god” (Isaiah 44:10) for himself will soon taste bitterness on his tongue. “He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:20). Those who trust in human deliverance will be like Israel depending on Egypt and Assyria. “Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation” (Hosea 12:1). The diet of false prophets is more bitter still. “Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall” (Jeremiah 23:15).
Wind and ashes, wormwood and gall; such is the spiritual food of those who reject the truth of the Word of God.
To the believer, however, the Scriptures are as much a daily need for the soul as bread for the body. As Job said long ago: “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Moses testified as follows: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3). HMM
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
—1 Thessalonians 2:8
Let me shock you at this point. A naturally bright person can carry on religious activity without a special gift from God. Filling church pulpits every week are some who are using only natural abilities and special training. Some are known as Bible expositors, for it is possible to read and study commentaries and then repeat what has been learned about the Scriptures. Yes, it may shock you, but it is true that anyone able to talk fluently can learn to use religious phrases and can become recognized as a preacher.
But if any person is determined to preach so that his work and ministry will abide in the day of the judgment fire, then he must preach, teach and exhort with the kind of love and concern that comes only through a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit—something beyond his own capabilities. TRA021-022
Lord, grant me that gift as I wait before You. I want to preach with eternal benefit, help me to recognize that only in the power—and love—of the Holy Spirit will that happen. Amen.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
—2 Timothy 3:5
The question being discussed by many these days—why religion is increasing and morality slipping, all at the same time—finds its answer in…the error of religious intellectualism. Men have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
The text alone will not elevate the moral life. To become morally effective, the truth must be accompanied by a mystic element, the very element supplied by the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit will not be banished to a footnote without taking terrible vengeance against His banishers….
The mysterious presence of the Spirit is vitally necessary if we are to avoid the pitfalls of religion. As the fiery pillar led Israel through the wilderness, so the Spirit of truth must lead us all our journey through. One text alone could improve things mightily for us if we would but obey it: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). WTA097-098
Evangelical obedience expresses not merely the form, but the power of godliness….God neither requires nor will accept obedience which does not spontaneously flow from supreme love to Himself. DTC199
Jesus left many bequests free and clear, requiring only the acceptance by the beneficiary. However, He left one special gift in the form of a testamentary trust (a trust formed under the terms of His will).
Jesus looked into the troubled eyes of His disciples and responded to their unspoken grief with sympathy and reassurance. “Do not let not your hearts be troubled,” He said. “Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).
The Christian hope is not a wish; it has substance. We can depend on it. Faith is personal, an attitude which we can choose to have—or not to have. The Christian hope exists independent of our attitudes.
If there is one distinction which separates the Christian faith from other religions, it is the Christian hope. Without what the Church fathers called “the sure and certain hope of the resurrection,” the Christian faith crumbles. It becomes a lovely, impractical dream. When Jesus presented Himself as the hope of the world, and proved the validity of His promises through His resurrection, He made it possible for the common, unremarkable person to live an uncommon, remarkable life. This is a life of victory with the sure and certain knowledge that our Lord has not forgotten us, but will one day return to claim us as His own.
As a beneficiary, I am able to draw from His trust freely, day by day, even moment by moment whenever the need arises, without diminishing the assets. This daily draw-down on the Christian hope makes it possible to move ahead in faith, knowing that God can fashion beauty from ashes when they are given over to Him.
The Christian hope rescues us from grieving over what might have been—or what we might have done better—and challenges us with all that God has yet for us to accomplish in His name. The Christian hope keeps us from wrapping ourselves in the encumbering robes of self-pity and despair. It sets us free to praise and honor the Lord in word and works, in spite of what happens in the world.
Sharon Robertson, The War