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

“If God Is For Us”

Man on a mountain

Paul’s words at the end of Romans 8 were meant to be a source of encouragement for the saints in Rome. They ought to be for us as well.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

We must always remember that “God is for us.” Knowing this, we can make it through any challenge that may come against us. Let us take a closer look at the text.Continue Reading

What Should Characterize Our Giving?

Collection plate

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Periodically, it is good for us to evaluate what we do in our service to God in order to make sure we are doing what we should do with the right attitude to the best of our abilities. In this article, we are going to look at one aspect of our service to God – our giving on the first day of the week. This is not about examining the total amount that is contributed by everyone assembled in a congregation; rather, it is about individually examining ourselves by the standard of God’s word.

With this in mind, let us use the New Testament to help us consider the following question: What should characterize our giving?Continue Reading

Lord Willing

To-do list

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. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:13-17).

The passage above is often cited to emphasize the uncertainty and brevity of life. It also teaches us the importance of remembering our dependence upon God (“If the Lord wills…”). In this article, we are going to consider four lessons from this passage. Forgetting these lessons will always lead us into sin. We will notice how that happens.
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Sermon on the Mount (Part 1): A Blessed Life

Sermon on the Mount (Part 1): A Blessed Life

Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with statements that are commonly called the Beatitudes. In these verses, He described those who were blessed. This word does not merely mean that one is happy. Rather, to be blessed means to be approved of God. This results in true joy that surpasses the temporary moments of “happiness” in this life. This is particularly important because, as we will see, there will be times when those who are “blessed” are those who are suffering. Let us consider the Beatitudes and see how the life of a disciple is a blessed life.
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The Entitlement Mentality

Minimum Wage

Our society has developed what is often called an “entitlement mentality” – particularly among the young, but it is still widespread through all ages. Those with this attitude believe that because they exist, they are entitled to certain things (standard of living, happiness, interpretation of truth, etc.).

The Israelites adopted this mindset while they were in Egypt. Despite their sufferings, they became accustomed to what they enjoyed there. While they were enslaved, they “cried out” to God “for help because of their bondage” (Exodus 2:23). After a series of plagues, God delivered them from bondage (Exodus 13:3). However, even with their newly acquired freedom, they complained about what they lacked:
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The Psalm of the Word (Part 1): Blessing

The Psalm of the Word

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.

How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.

They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.

You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.

Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!

Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.

I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.

I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!

(Psalm 119:1-8)

David began this psalm by introducing the idea that God’s word is a blessing to us. Why should we recognize the word of God as a blessing, and what should we do as a result?
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