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

The Abundance of One’s Possessions

Christmas giftsDuring the holiday season, it can be easy to become distracted by the “things” of this life. Instead of focusing on one’s blessings and being grateful to God for them, many people choose to focus on the things they do not have. There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings of this life. There is also nothing wrong with giving gifts to friends and family. However, we need to keep everything in the proper perspective. We must avoid jealously, discontent, and materialism. Failing to avoid these attitudes can ultimately lead to eternal destruction.

Jesus warned about such a misplaced focus when he spoke with a man who was jealous of his brother. Afterward, He used the opportunity to expand upon the issue in a familiar parable.

Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ Then He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions’” (Luke 12:13-15).

Continue Reading

Tent-Making Preachers

Paul Making Tents

God’s design is that those who dedicate their lives to preaching the gospel receive full support for that work. Paul told the church in Corinth, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

However, one who preaches may not always (or ever) enjoy the blessing of such support. Perhaps the brethren cannot financially support a preacher. It could be that brethren could support a preacher, but will not because they do not value the work of preaching as highly as they should. Or, as in the case of Paul, a preacher may forgo receiving support because circumstances are such that it may actually hinder the cause of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).

When a preacher receives only partial support – or even no support – for preaching the gospel, what is he to do?
Continue Reading

“Do Not Let Your Heart Envy Sinners”

Bar

Christians are not to be envious of anyone since “envying” is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). Yet it is particularly important that we not envy those who live their lives in such a way that is contrary to the will of God. Solomon gave a clear warning: “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always” (Proverbs 23:17).

Why did Solomon have to explicitly state that God’s people were not to be envious of those who were not of His people? Sadly it is because it is common for the righteous to envy the unrighteous. Notice the words of the psalmist: “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3).
Continue Reading