Through Many Tribulations (Part 3): Sacrifices

Through Many Tribulations

When we first read of Paul in the New Testament – then referred to as Saul – he was looking on with approval as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:58-8:1). Following that event, he began a zealous campaign against the church that took him to Damascus in order to find “any belonging to the Way” and “bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). While on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him and told him to go to the city where he would be told “what [he] must do” (Acts 9:6). The Lord then instructed Ananias to go to Saul to deliver His message to him (Acts 9:10-12; 22:12-16).

Paul was “a chosen instrument” of the Lord’s (Acts 9:15). Specifically, this meant that he was “called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). However, this did not mean that the Lord was going to see to it that Paul had an easy and comfortable life as he served Him. Instead, He told Ananias, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). When we think of the sufferings of Paul, we typically think of the persecutions he endured [we will discuss these in the next lesson]. Yet there were other sacrifices that Paul made that would be included in the things he was going to “suffer.Continue Reading

Wherever the Tree Falls

Fallen tree

If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies” (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

Man often takes pride in his perceived ability to control events in his life and achieve his goals. While it is certainly good to work to improve ourselves and change our lot in life for the better, we must also understand that there are many things in life that are simply out of our control.
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Do Not Worry

Worried

Many of us find it easy to worry about things in our life. Matters that relate to our jobs, families, finances, and more can cause anxiety. But Jesus told his followers, “Do not be worried about your life” (Matthew 6:25). Sometimes this is easier said than done. But notice what Jesus said about this subject:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

In these verses, Jesus asked three questions. As the master teacher, He was able to ask questions in a way that was more instructive than inquisitive. Notice the three points Jesus made that will help us deal with anxiety.
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The Uncertainty of Life

Standing in the Fog

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

We often like to plan for the future. It gives us a sense of security knowing what is coming next and working toward a certain goal. But we do not know with certainty what is coming next. Our best plans could be in vain. Many things could happen that are beyond our power to control that can completely change our life.
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