Ben, Mai, and Charlie are leaving for Vietnam in the morning. I had to grab a family picture. They will be there for six months. Ben is going to be teaching English to Vietnamese children. Pray for safe travels for them, and safe-keeping while they are there, won't you? The mode of transportation is on a motorbike, with about a million other motorbikes within inches of yours - you will see whole families on one motorbike, sometimes! And pray also for good soil in the hearts of Mai's family as this precious little family shares Jesus with them.
I love the picture below - such sweet faces. Daniel will miss Charlie, I'm sure. Their favorite game as of late is "crawl tag." They chase each other around, squealing and laughing...so much fun to watch. Charlie is almost, but not quite walking. I'm sure when he returns, it will be regular tag, with just as much squealing and plenty of smiles and laughter...
At the baptism of Jesus, where He identified Himself with the sinners He’d come to save, the Father made the declaration that Jesus was His beloved Son, with whom He was well-pleased. Why was the Father well-pleased with His Son? Because He was the unblemished Lamb. He was spotless, and in Him could be found no sin. The Father was well-pleased with the perfection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ also perfectly obeyed His Heavenly Father. This is another reason we can say that the Father was well-pleased with the Son.
At the great commission, Jesus told His disciples to go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe, or obey, all He commanded - Matthew 28:19, 20.
In Matthew 4:10, Jesus commands us to worship the Lord and serve Him only. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus commands us to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Heavenly Father. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus commands us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus commands us to pray without meaningless repetition. In Matthew 6:20, Jesus commands us to store up treasures in heaven. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus commands us not to be worried about our lives, about food and clothing. Instead, we are commanded to seek first His kingdom (Mt. 6:33). In Matthew 9:38, we are commanded to pray and ask the Lord to send out workers for the harvest. In Matthew 16, we are given the commands of what do to if our brother sins. The first step is to go to him privately.
When we are obedient to the commands of Jesus, we are being transformed into the image of His likeness.
Do you know what Jesus has commanded His followers to do when they see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel? Do you know what unprecedented event is going to occur after we see the abomination of desolation? Do you know what Jesus has commanded us to do when we are told that He is in a room somewhere, or that He is out in the desert somewhere, prior to seeing His glory appear in the sky? Do you know at what signs in the sky we are commanded to look up because our redemption is near?
If we don’t know, then it is time to do more studying. If we are the generation that sees these signs, we want to be able to be obedient, to all He has commanded us, and be well-pleasing, just like Jesus was in His obedience to the Father.
The return of Christ is the blessed hope of the church. When we don’t study it, we minimize its importance. It was important enough for Christ to teach on it. Paul taught on it, as well as Peter. It was important enough for God to give specific prophesies concerning it. It was important enough for God to bring John up into the heavenlies and have him write down everything he saw. If it was important enough for God to record all of this, than it is definitely important enough for us to study.
The teacher in me has to give you one more question – Do you know what Jesus is going to do to that unprecedented event?
This is an open book quiz and I’ll even give you the place to look for the answers to the above questions – Matthew 24, Mark, 13, and Luke 21. (And the answer to the last question is in verse 22 of Matthew 24.)
...it's a Person
...it convicts the heart of sin
...it molds into Christlikeness
...it's the sum of God's Word
...Pilate questioned it
...the Lord abounds in it
...the Lord is to be served in it
...we are to walk in it
...all the paths of the Lord are it
...it preserves us
...we are to pray that God would send it out
...the Lord desires it in our innermost being
...it is to be praised
...it is everlasting
...we are to bind it around our necks
...we are to write it on the tablet of our hearts
...those who speak it will be established forever
...it preserves rulers
...it is to be sought for
...God is to be worshiped in it, according to what He has revealed about Himself with it
...God seeks it on the earth
...we are to love it
...it is constantly attacked but can never be destroyed
...the unrighteous suppress it
...it is considered intolerant
...if we spent more time seeking it, we would sin less
...it produces faith, freedom, and inexpressible joy
...It walked on the Emmaus Road causing two hearts to burn because it is bigger, way bigger than us
...when the Holy Spirit illumines your mind with it, your heart can feel like it is going to explode
Why is there falsehood? That Christ may be exalted as the Truth. Why is there sorrow? That Christ may be exalted as our Comforter. Why is there weakness? That Christ may be exalted as our Strength.
Why is there suffering? That Christ may be exalted as our Refuge.
Why is there darkness? That Christ may be exalted as our Light.
Why is there sin?
That Christ may be exalted as our Righteousness.
Why is there death? That Christ may be exalted as our Life.
We would not know Jesus the way we do or praise Jesus the way He is worthy, if it were not for these things. These things will end, and when they do, Jesus will be exalted. Romans 11:33 - "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"
A good friend of my mom's came over as soon as she brought me and Karin home from the hospital. She took the footprints and then painted the tiles. The story goes that it took my mom a few days to get the ink washed off our feet. By the way, don't let the date on the tiles fool you...they are actually only thirty-nine years old...
A Spirit led life is a life in which the Holy Spirit, because you have put time into God's Word, He drives it into your heart and then when you get to the decision points in your life, the Holy Spirit is involved in bringing those things that you've studied back into your remembrance so you can apply them, at the moment of decision...
There are no short cuts. Take God's Word, drink deeply from it, get yourself to the point that as you face life's choices you become so familiar with the things that are in God's Word that you begin to think like God thinks.
This is my daughter-in-law Mai and Sunday night I had the joy of watching her be baptized. She is truly one of the Lord's many blessings, as I have watched her grow in grace over the last year and a half. Enjoy her testimony of the Lord's grace in her life and how He drew her to Himself. At the end of the video Mai gives a message to her parents who are in Vietnam. Pray for them, that they too would come to know Jesus, as Mai has. Thank you, Lord, for this precious girl...
An affliction is defined as something that causes pain or suffering. It's a simple, biblical truth that pain and suffering is the by-product of sin. The righteous, those who have had their identities exchanged with that of Jesus Christ, are said to undergo many afflictions. Does that mean the unrighteous don't suffer? We know of course that everyone suffers. Sin affects everyone and everything. Pain and suffering comes in all different shapes and sizes. It's intensity varies. It's duration varies. It's cause varies. It can come in the form of a rebellious child, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a thoughtless word or a whole volcanic eruption of reviling hatred. Illness causes pain and suffering and wars bring pain and suffering. Our own foolishness and sin brings pain and suffering, upon ourselves. "Fools, because of their rebellious way, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted." Psalm 107:17 Our sin also creates pain and suffering for others.
The second part of the verse gives the child of God great hope. The Lord delivers the righteous out of all their afflictions. There is an end to our pain and suffering, temporarily - before the next trial arrives. And yes, sometimes we undergo multiple waves at a time before we experience deliverance. There will be deliverance, permanently - all pain and suffering will end, forever, for the righteous. If He wanted to, the Lord could end our pain and suffering as soon as He gifts us with faith. But His plan doesn't work that way. He didn't design life so that once we become His child, all pain and suffering ends. At our rebirth, the sanctification process begins - the forming of Christ in us. Affliction is one of the Lord's tools for our sanctification. Affliction drives us to the Word and it is the truth of God that transforms us into Christlikeness.
Psalm 119:71- "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes."
"Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17
Pain and suffering always passes through the loving, sovereign hand of God before it arrives at our doorstep. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Romans 11:36 The Lord is in charge of each trial, each encounter with pain and suffering that we undergo. He has enclosed Himself behind us and before us, and His hand is laid upon us. He determines the intensity and He determines the duration. When His work in that particular trial has been accomplished, He delivers us out of it until the next one. Affliction is not a way we would choose, but His ways are not our ways. He is with us through each trial, and then He brings us out. He is forming Christ in us as He leads us through the flames of His refining fires. How we act and react with the affliction we experience now, and after we come out of it, should be different than how we acted and reacted five years ago. And in five more years, how we respond to affliction should be different than how we respond today. Are we quick to recognize that what someone meant for evil, God meant for our good? If not, there's more work to be done. Are we quick to rejoice in the Lord, being thankful that He is revealing to us areas where we still need the burrs of self and idolatry shaved off so He is magnified in our lives? If not, there's more work to be done. Yes, there's always more work to be done.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
Psalm 119:75 - "I know, O LORD, that your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me."
Sometimes we are not aware of what the Lord is accomplishing when we are undergoing pain and suffering. This is the time to just trust - He is purposeful, He is sovereign, He is our loving Heavenly Father - who is causing all things to work together for our good, and for the other members of our family in the body of Christ.