You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Suffering’ tag.

2004-07-10_1522_fromjoewatson-woman-by-the-water

In the last two posts, we have talked about two primary issues. The first was, “When terrorists strike, are they doing God’s will?”

The answers provided were “no” and “yes.”

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Should a believer in Jesus Christ have a purpose-driven life?

The simple, one-word answer:

No.

The pushback I usually receive when I make this assertion is, “Well, that’s not true. God does have a purpose for your life. Your life does have purpose.”

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Let’s take a quick look at Hebrews 11:32-38. This portion of Scripture is often the focus of our attention because it is included in this wonderful chapter about faith.

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Samson of and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, mighty in war, foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

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In the last post about how we Christians are to commend Church leaders, we asked these questions:

What do we value in the Church?

What is commendable?

What kind of people are we looking for in our pastors and leaders?

Are the criteria we use for making these value judgments biblical?

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As a follower of Jesus, I am challenged by what the Bible says. I mean extraordinarily challenged, to the core of who I think I am as a Western Christian man. The challenges are wonderful. Holy. Exciting. It isn’t a stretch to call them life threatening. A line from the song, Jeremiah, by Sarah Groves, comes to mind:

“At the slightest invitation, You came with total detonation. Now, that’s a fire.”

The “You” in that line refers to the Lord.

Have you ever had the Lord do that in your life? Lately, in my ongoing experience with the Lord, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Lord God, the Creator and Sustainer of everything that exists, is now choosing to blow up—in a spiritual way, of course—our casual Western Christian belief system and its attending organizational structures.

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We’re finally nearing the end of the study about the Lord’s Prayer. The last time, we talked about the difficulties surrounding the request, “Lead us not into temptation (or trial).” We noticed that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil and understood that the Lord will bring trials to our lives to test us. Perhaps we’ll understand this request about not being led into temptation better when we look at the last half of the sentence: “but deliver us from evil (or the evil one)”.  Jesus seems to be teaching us to pray that when we are tempted, or even led to a place of trial or temptation by His Spirit, that the devil won’t achieve a victory as a result of that trial.

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2009-02-25_1121_1_delhiholycow

I’ve been thinking about Elijah. I know, I know—who doesn’t? But I’d like to invite you to think along with me.

Elijah shows up in 1 Kings 17 out of nowhere. From this “out-of-nowhere-ness” comes these, um, I guess we could call them challenging words for the king of Israel, Ahab:

“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”*

Okay, Elijah! Was this prophetic word spoken just after Elijah said, “Greetings, King Ahab”? We’re not told whether Ahab knew Elijah before this or not. Regardless, it might be just a bit discomforting, if you’re a leader, to have a prophet tell you that it’s not going to rain in your country for three years.

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Another challenging truth that the Lord seems to be causing us to consider is suffering. It seems like the Lord wants us to include suffering as part of what He has determined for us?  Cheery topic for Sunday morning, huh?  Aren’t you glad you came?  Let’s start in Romans 8.

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba!  Father!’  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”  (Romans 8:12-17).

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Christians are often taught that we are God’s children and “fellow heirs with Christ.” It sounds good, and it is good. It lines up with the biblical truth that He has given us everything we need to live our lives with Jesus and that He will continue to do so, often beyond our ability to comprehend it.

However, there is this interesting thing that Paul says in Romans 8 that I think we too often ignore. Look carefully, if you would, at the last part of verse 17:

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