VIDEO What an Opportunity!

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me. 2 Timothy 3:10-11

The Last Days will be filled with peril because selfishness will be amplified like music blasting through a loudspeaker. Paul warned us of the kinds of people who will populate the Last Days, giving us a long list of negative traits in 2 Timothy 3:1-9. But then he made a sudden shift in his content, reminding Timothy that the evils of the Last Days are no match for those who carefully follow the traits of the Christian.

We must know our doctrine and let it determine our manner of life. The true doctrine of the Bible also establishes our purpose in living, grounds our faith, and gives us longsuffering—the ability to deal with people patiently. Out of all this comes a growing and genuine love and a perseverance that will see us through the persecutions and afflictions of the Last Days.

What an opportunity! The evil of the Last Days allows us to offer the contrast of the Christ-life for all the world to see.

If believers will proceed faithfully without giving in to despair, they will incur fiercer conflict until such time as they are delivered. Watchman Nee


Sermon: 10 Keys to Effective Parenting from 2 Timothy 3:10-11 | Biblical Parenting Tips

A Purpose in Suffering

I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. Job 42:7

“So what you’re saying is, it may not be my fault.” The woman’s words took me by surprise. Having been a guest speaker at her church, we were now discussing what I’d shared that morning. “I have a chronic illness,” she explained, “and I have prayed, fasted, confessed my sins, and done everything else I was told to do to be healed. But I’m still sick, so I thought I was to blame.”

I felt sad at the woman’s confession. Having been given a spiritual “formula” to fix her problem, she had blamed herself when the formula hadn’t worked. Even worse, this formulaic approach to suffering was disproved generations ago.

Simply put, this old formula says that if you’re suffering, you must have sinned. When Job tragically lost his livestock, children, and health, his friends used the formula on him. “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” Eliphaz said, suspecting Job’s guilt (Job 4:7). Bildad even told Job that his children only died because they had sinned (8:4). Ignorant of the real cause of Job’s calamities (1:6–2:10), they tormented him with simplistic reasons for his pain, later receiving God’s rebuke (42:7).

Suffering is a part of living in a fallen world. Like Job, it can happen for reasons we may never know. But God has a purpose for you that goes beyond the pain you endure. Don’t get discouraged by falling for simplistic formulas.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How else do you see the “suffering = sin” formula being used? Why do you think it’s still so prevalent?

Great Physician, give me words to heal, not hurt, in times of pain

Why Does God Allow Trials?

God allows us to go through trials so our faith will grow; then we can help others while glorifying Him.

1 Peter 1:6-9

Let’s delve deeper into trials today. What purpose could God have in allowing us to face hard times? 

1. God allows trials to test our faith. However, He doesn’t do so with the expectation that we will fail. Rather, He wants us to learn greater dependence on Him. Unproven, untried faith can’t grow without a challenge; if it has not been tested, how do we know what we can endure in life? 

2. He uses trials to display His sustaining power. As we learned yesterday, everyone faces painful periods in life. By drawing on God’s strength during these times, we can live out a powerful testimony in front of those who do not know Christ. 

3. Our trials equip us to help others. When we go through a hardship, we become specifically equipped to sympathize with and encourage others who may later face a similar ordeal. This principle was an important part of the apostle Paul’s ministry (2 Cor. 1:4-8). 

4. God allows trials in our life to purify us. Hardships put pressure on us, especially in areas where we try to hide sin. The Lord knows these things must be brought to the surface and faced openly and honestly if we’re to become mature believers. 

God has a purpose for every trial He allows to come your way. Stand firm and let Him accomplish His will in your life—by whatever means He deems necessary.

Unceasing Prayer

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

This is, no doubt, the shortest commandment in the Bible, and seemingly the most difficult to obey. How could anyone possibly pray without ceasing? What about sleeping, or working, or other necessary pursuits?

Paul himself claimed to pray without ceasing. For example, he wrote to the Roman church: “For God is my witness…that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9). To the Thessalonians he wrote: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). In his very last epistle he wrote: “I thank God…that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day” (2 Timothy 1:3).

It is obvious from such references that Paul did not mean we should be uttering prayers continually but rather to be continually in a prayerful attitude and never to stop the regular practice of prayer. In like fashion, the Lord Jesus said: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). In the parable following this command, He spoke of God’s “own elect, which cry day and night unto him” (Luke 18:7). This would further imply that our prayerful attitude and regular practice of specific prayer should be taking place every day and every night. We should never “faint”—that is, “lose heart”—if the answer isn’t what or when we hope, but keep on praying anyway. When it’s the right time, He will, indeed, answer “speedily,” and in the right way (Luke 18:8).

To pray without ceasing means simply to be free to communicate quickly with Him, night and day, always in an attitude of prayer. “If ye abide in me,” He said, “and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). HMM

Submission To God

I lift my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven. Like a servant’s eyes on His master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us favor (Psalm 123 vv. 1-2).

Maclaren, internationally celebrated Scottish pulpiteer, called this psalm “a sigh and an upward gaze and a sigh!”

In this brief passage a slave lifts his eyes to God and cries out for mercy and deliverance from contempt. He places himself in complete submission to God with the faith that the One who sits enthroned in the heavens can help him. He finds his confidence in the exalted majesty of God. As a slave looks to his master and as a maid looks to her mistress, so also do “our eyes are on the Lord our God, until He shows us favor” (v. 2).

One of Mom’s favorite songs was “There Is No Problem.” When I play it, I think of her and of her loving counsel.

Personal Prayer

May I lift up my eyes to you, today, O Lord, and lay my burdens at your throne.

A Contemporary Lyric

There Is No Problem

There is no problem

that Jesus cannot solve,

And not a need

He cannot satisfy;

There is no heartache

He cannot understand,

He is omniscient

and knows the reasons why.

CHORUS So I can trust

Him when I’m hurting deep inside—

And I can pray to

Him in whom I may confide;

There is no pain

my Lord has never known

Because He’s Lord,

I lay my burdens at His throne.

There is no valley

where Jesus has not been,

And not a test

that He has ever failed;

There is no conflict

He cannot comprehend—

He is the Savior

Who on a cross was nailed.

Words and music by Don Wyrtzen © 1981 by Singspiration.

What a Tranquilizer!

I have loved you with an everlasting love.—Jeremiah 31:3

“How little real love there is for God,” says theologian Arthur W. Pink. He suggests that the low level of spirituality in today’s church is caused by our hearts being so little occupied with thoughts of the divine love. “The better we are acquainted with His love—its character, its fullness, its blessedness,” he says, “the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.”

We focus now on the fact that God’s love is eternal.

God being eternal, it follows that His love also is eternal. This means that God loved us before earth and heaven were called into existence, that He has set His heart upon us from all eternity. This is the truth set forth in Ephesians 1:4-5, where we are told that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. What a tranquilizer this is for our hearts! If God’s love for us had no beginning, then it has no ending either. It is from “everlasting to everlasting.”

Another thing we need to know about the love of God is that it is a holy love. This means that His love is not regulated by whim or caprice or sentiment, but by principle. Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of righteousness but “through” it (Rm 5:21), so His love never conflicts with His holiness. This is why John says that God is “light” before he says God is “love.” And this is why, too, the Almighty never lets us get away with anything. He loves us too much for that. His love is pure, holy, and unmixed with excessive sentimentality. God will not wink at sin, not even in His own people.

Prayer

O Father, the more I learn about Your love, the more my heart is set on fire. Increase my understanding, for I see that the more I comprehend how much I am loved, the more secure I am in that love. Amen.

Further Study

Rm 8:18-39; 1Pt 1:17-21

What was Paul convinced of?

How does Peter portray the eternal perspective?

The Lord’s Loving Kindness

Psalm 103:17

It was late autumn 1969, as I climbed up to the very top of a mountain in the New Territory in Hong Kong. Below, the beautiful landscape was heavily surrounded with barbed wire. Signs everywhere warned that trespassers would meet serious consequences. This was the Berlin Wall of the Far East. The two worlds on each side of these wires had been fearfully separated for twenty years.

Before my eyes was an endless ocean of rice paddies. The grain was turning golden-brown, soon to be ready for harvest. On the muddy paths, two village boys were riding a water buffalo. Playing some game, their innocent laughter was a contrast to the armed guard in a hut, nervously watching through his binoculars to make sure no one crossed the border.

These moments flooded me with emotions. Just about 200 miles away lay the place of my birth. Twenty years ago I had voluntarily put myself in exile in pursuit of freedom. I left half my family behind at home. They, along with another 800 million people, had suffered in a cultural revolution, a manmade calamity, the most destructive in China’s 5,000-year history.

For the first time I understood the sentiment of the Jews, who once by the riverside of Babylon lamented with the psalmist, “we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).

My family was denied the privilege of leaving the country because of their Christian faith. In the meantime, thousands risked their lives against gunfire as they fled into Hong Kong.

Chinese Christians often pay a higher sacrifice to keep the faith. They are accused by the Imperialists of abandoning traditions, and most seriously, of not rendering respect to the deceased ancestors. Our family was the first to become Christians in our village, and we were publicly ridiculed by our own kinsmen. So my parents decided to move to a small town northward.

A few years later, I visited that village and sadly found that most of the villagers had died of epidemics and starvation. The place was desolate. I stood in horror and was reminded of the precious promise of God we now claimed for His providential care of our family: “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17 NASB).

Check Yee, For My Kinsmen’s Sake