VIDEO The Uses Of Adversity

 “… Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow …” — Psalm 90:10

Perhaps nothing causes more people to stumble in their faith than the problem of suffering. None of us is exempt from tribulation. We all face it at one time or another. And in our pain and desperation, we often ask, “Why, Lord?”

Have those words ever echoed through the chambers of your soul in the middle of some dark and starless night?

We can’t get rid of all pain, trouble, hurt, injury, and sorrow. People fall off things and hurt themselves. Shall we then do away with the law of gravity? People have accidents in cars, planes, trains, and boats. Shall we then get rid of all forms of transportation? Suffering is a part of our world, and if Christians were exempt from all trouble and pain, everyone would immediately recognize the payoffs. If all Christians had an abundance of money, health, and happiness, our characters would never develop. Christianity would degenerate to a mere commercial venture.

So while we would avoid adversity if we could, it serves important purposes in our lives. First, trouble and sorrow equip us to help others by making us compassionate and willing to reach out to those in need. Second, trouble and sorrow draw us to God and drive us to our knees; they make us long for our real home, Heaven. The third and the greatest purpose of trouble is to make us Christlike. If we are to become like Jesus, we will, like Him, have to pass through the valley of the shadows. Although unpleasant at the moment, often out of the greatest suffering comes the greatest love and beauty.

Do you face adversity today? If so, ask the Lord to show you the purpose of it in your life. Then, if you can, look past your pain to the way God is using it to draw you closer to Him and to His kingdom.

““Beyond the cross there is the glory of Easter morning; beyond the agony of the Crucifixion there is the blessedness of Paradise.””

Finding Rest in Jesus

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

The restless soul is never satisfied with wealth and success. A deceased country music icon could testify to this truth. He had nearly forty of his albums appear on Billboard’s country music top-ten charts and just as many number one singles. But he also had multiple marriages and spent time in prison. Even with all his achievements, he once lamented: “There’s a restlessness in my soul that I’ve never conquered, not with motion, marriages or meaning. . . . It’s still there to a degree. And it will be till the day I die.” Sadly, he could have found rest in his soul before his life ended.

Jesus invites all those, like this musician, who have become weary from toiling in sin and its consequences to come to Him personally: “Come to me,” He says. When we receive salvation in Jesus, He will take the burdens from us and “give [us] rest” (Matthew 11:28). The only requirements are to believe in Him and then to learn from Him how to live the abundant life He provides (John 10:10). Taking on the yoke of Jesus’ discipleship results in our finding “rest for [our] souls” (Matthew 11:29).

When we come to Jesus, He doesn’t abbreviate our accountability to God. He gives peace to our restless souls by providing us a new and less burdensome way to live in Him. He gives us true rest.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you feel weary and burdened right now? What’s it like to experience the promised “rest” Jesus offers?

Jesus, let my restless soul find peace and rest in You alone.

For further study, read The Compassion of Jesus.

The Companion of Faith

When we believe in Jesus, the change on the inside will be visible on the outside through the choices we make

James 2:14-26

We know that salvation is by God’s grace through faith-—not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). So some Christians might assume that our deeds are of no importance. But that’s not true. While good works cannot save us, they’re a steady companion of faith after salvation.   

In fact, as James tells us, faith without the evidence of good works is “dead” (2:17). That’s because genuine faith always expresses itself through action. And when good deeds flow from our trust in the Lord, we will see He’s working through us to benefit others and also in us, drawing us closer to Himself. In this way, genuine faith is revealed through godly conduct—both in deeds that others observe and in things we do that go unnoticed. 

We were created in Christ Jesus for good works that God ordained for us to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10). He uses us to encourage and strengthen one another, provide for the needy, and share the good news of salvation with those in spiritual darkness. If our life looked no different than before our profession of faith, we would have no assurance that our faith was authentic. Are good works evidence of your transformed life, both to others and to you yourself?

The Dark Valleys

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

There are many dark valleys mentioned in Scripture, and these typify the many sufferings and hard experiences through which the people of God must pass. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

The valley of Achor—which means “trouble”—was so named because sin in the camp of God’s people had caused great defeat for their armies there (Joshua 7:25-26). Willful sin inevitably must result eventually in a trek through the dark vale of trouble and defeat.

Then there is the vale of tears called Baca, or “weeping.” Opinions differ as to whether this was an actual valley in Israel, but it came to symbolize a time of deep loss and sorrow. Repentance and restitution will lead one out of the valley of Achor, but God’s comfort will guide through Baca. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee….Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well….They go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:5-7).

Perhaps the darkest valley of all is the valley of the shadow of death. All must enter that valley once at least—some may even travel it often before its thick darkness finally conquers them. For those without Christ, it is a valley of great fear; there have been multitudes “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).

But for those who know the Lord, they need fear no evil for God is with them. Even His guiding staff and buffeting rod are comforting for they prove the love of the Shepherd. No wonder the 23rd Psalm is the most requested passage of Scripture by those deep in this dark valley. HMM

Almost to Jesus

Mark 12:34

TO the scribe who spoke well the heart of the Law, Jesus said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). But one may almost reach salvation and still be lost. A soldier, after going through the war in France, was killed in a wreck when he had almost reached his home in America. Almost, but lost! Some get as far as the church. The father brought his demonized boy to the disciples but they could not heal him. Then Jesus came and said, “Bring him to Me” (Matt. 17:14-21). Today a powerless church stands before needy souls, and all too often it must be said of us disciples, “And they could not.” We can do no mighty works because of unbelief. And men lambaste the church and talk of the mistakes and failures of the church. But back of the church stands the Lord saying, “Bring him to Me. I have not failed. The church cannot save. You must get through to Me.” To be sure, this does not excuse the weakness of the church. Such power comes only by prayer and fasting and the church will not fast and pray today. But men need to know that it is not enough to get as far as the church and into the church. Press through to Jesus!

Some get as far as the Bible. “Ye search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). One may study the Bible in an academic way and never know its Christ. This scribe we started with knew his Scripture but not the Lord. To be an expert in a biography is not to know the subject of the biography. And greater is the condemnation if we know the Bible and know not Christ. The heathen has not that condemnation. To read travel folders is not to travel! All roads in the book lead to Christ; but do you travel the road?

Some get as far as doctrine. At the grave of Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again.” She said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha was orthodox; she was correct in her doctrine, a good fundamentalist. But our Lord changed the emphasis from the doctrinal to the person: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” He made the resurrection not something to believe but someone to believe, and it brought personal confession from Martha: “I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” One may know doctrine and not know Him. It is not he that believes in the resurrection but he that believes in Him who rose who is saved.

Certainly one who comes to Him will belong to the church, read the Bible and believe doctrine. But back of all these stands Christ Himself. The devil will have men join the church and become theologically orthodox if only they do not touch Christ. And one may come almost to Christ! Jostle Him in the crowd but never touch Him and feel His virtue: this is almost. Be sure you get through to Jesus!

“The Lord bless thee and keep thee.”

Genesis 49:1-15

Genesis 49:2

Jacob was about to speak by inspiration. The blessing of a parent whose tongue is taught of God is priceless beyond conception.

Genesis 49:3-4

Though he was the firstborn Reuben missed the. birthright, because he was light and loose. Whatever good points may be in a man, if he be not sober, steady, and substantial, he will come to nothing. To be unstable as the waves of the sea is one of the worst of faults and mars the whole character.

Genesis 49:5-7

A great wrong was here disavowed by Jacob. He could not prevent it, for his sons acted hastily in selfwill, and he knew nothing of their murderous deed till it was over, but he takes care to bear his witness against it in the most solemn manner. The follies of youth will come home to men in their riper years. It is a great mercy when from our childhood, we walk uprightly.

Genesis 49:8

When the dying patriarch reached that name which is a type of Christ, he rose to a higher key, he had no more faults to mention, but fell to blessing.

Genesis 49:9

Who dare defy the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Jesus the Lord is terrible to his enemies.

Genesis 49:10

When our Lord came his enemies said, “Behold, the world is gone after him.” To this day he is the greatest of loadstones to attract mens’ hearts. He came just when the kingdom had gone from Judah, and now he reigns as our Shiloh, the Prince of Peace.

Genesis 49:11, 12

Truly in our Immanuel’s land the wine and milk flow in rivers. Come ye and buy without money and without price.

Genesis 49:13

May our sea-faring people be favoured of the Lord, and never sit in darkness as Zebulun came to do.

Genesis 49:14, 15

Though quiet and industrious, it may be Issachar was somewhat deficient in courage and energy. There are no perfect characters; but it were greatly to be wished that our contented brethren were also more energetic. Yet as Issachar was a true son of Jacob, we trust our slow-moving brethren are the same. It were well, however, for each of us to be more in earnest than ever, for we serve an earnest God.

We leave the rest of the blessing for our next reading.

God of mercy, hear our prayer

For the children Thou hast given;

Let them all Thy blessings share,

Grace on earth, and bliss in heaven!

Cleanse their souls from every stain,

Through the Saviour’s precious blood;

Let them all be born again,

And be reconciled to God.


God Expects Gratitude When He Gives Us Gifts

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Because we are so very human there is real danger that we may inadvertently do the human thing and turn our blessings upside down. Unless we watch and pray in dead earnest we may turn our good into evil and make the grace of God a trap instead of a benefit!

Men are notoriously lacking in gratitude. Bible history reveals that Israel often took God’s gifts too casually and so turned their blessings into a curse. This human fault appears also in the New Testament, and the activities of Christians through the centuries show that as Christ was followed by Satan in the wilderness so truth is often accompanied by a strong temptation to pride.

Among the purest gifts we have received from God is truth. Another gift, almost as precious, and without which the first would be meaningless, is our ability to grasp truth and appreciate it.

For these priceless treasures we should be profoundly grateful; for them our thanks should rise to the Giver of all good gifts throughout the day and in the night seasons. And because these and all other blessings flow to us by grace without merit or worth on our part, we should be very humble and watch with care lest such undeserved favors, if unappreciated, be taken from us!

The very truth that makes men free may be and often is fashioned into chains to keep them in bondage. Never forget that there is no pride so insidious and yet so powerful as the pride of orthodoxy.