The Way is Never Easy

Jesus said that the way to life is narrow and difficult. We should not be surprised at this reality. Jesus never guarantees us an easy life. In fact, He says to us who are His disciples:

  "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. -John 15:18

But our comfort is that we do not walk the narrow road alone. Christ is with us. He bears our burdens with us. As we take upon ourselves His yoke we will find that it is easy and light for we shall go in His strength. He will give us the grace that we need to be faithful.  To stand in these dark times. We will stand for the Lord in these uncertain times. But we will do so with both courage and compassion. The way is narrow indeed, for we are called by God to stand for truth in the face of falsehood. To stand in love though we are hated. The government can declare that which is wrong as right. But we must remember that God is the Supreme Judge. It is He who ultimately determines what is right or wrong. Let us take the way of God. Where He stands... there let us take our stand. 

 

THINK ABOUT IT

Reflect on the passage below:

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.  - 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

 

TALKING WITH GOD

"Loving Heavenly Father, all things are in Your hands. I rest in You. Forgive me for my complacency and indifference. But in these perilous times I turn my heart to You. I plant my feet in obedience and allegiance to You. In Jesus' Name."

 

TRANSFORMATION CHALLENGE

Where do you stand in times like these? You never go wrong when you stand for the Lord, with the Lord and in the Lord. Resolve to be faithful to Him. Get into His Word. Let His Spirit fill you. Stand strong in the Lord even as you manifest the fruit of the Spirit in your life. 

People Pleasers

For am I now seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

Are we people pleasers or God pleasers? Does people’s opinion matter more than God? Paul is saying in this verse, that the gospel he preaches is not meant to please man. He does not want to tickle ears. Some people have perverted the truth and Paul wanted to clarify what the gospel really is. We see in this verse, Paul’s heart and motive. It is to be faithful to God and the message that was given to him and to faithfully proclaim it to all nations. This is an example for us. Our motives should be to do God’s will according to the Word and not our own will according to our own worldly wisdom. We must be careful or we might find ourselves fighting against the Living God. Paul said that he would no longer be a servant of Christ if he was trying to please man and seek the approval of man. Some people seek the approval man over the approval of God. They want to be recognized for all they do and in their pride they want everybody to see how great they are. As servants of God we want everyone to see how great God is.

People were always upset with Paul because he spoke the truth. People did not want to hear the truth so they tried to kill him many times. They stoned, ridiculed, gossiped, slandered and persecuted him because they couldn’t handle the truth. Paul was fighting against a false gospel. Some false gospels do not point out our sin. Some false gospels do not tell us that we are sinners deserving hell and that we are under God’s wrath. That the only way out is in Christ, not our works, gifts, talents or any other worldly thing. The real gospel tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead conquering the grave and breaking the power of sin over our lives. That Jesus lived a sinless life and fulfilled the requirements of the law, making reconciliation to the Father possible. That we were once separated from God but when we repent and put our trust in Him we are saved, not by works but by grace alone through faith. True repentance means that we turn away and hate sin.

Paul is saying that he is not a people pleaser so he will continue to preach the full gospel message. The truth of the gospel points out our sin but some people do not want to hear about their sin, they just want to hear about how good they are and how God will bless them for their good behaviour. They are grossly deceived and are people pleasers. They care more about what people think about them than they do about what the Word says. Are you a people pleaser or a God pleaser? Make the decision today because time is short and we can die tonight. God can take us away right now, are you ready for tonight?


Of Nobodies and Somebodies

John 3:30 - He must increase, but I must decrease.

In this life, so many strive to be a somebody. We fear being or becoming a nobody. So we work hard for it. We strive for it. And as we make progress, we take pride in our accomplishments. But if we pay careful attention to our hearts, we begin to find ourselves despising those whom we begin to consider as nobodies in this world. Not good. 

On the other hand, we may feel ashamed of ourselves because while many of our friends have made it good in life... we seem to have been left behind. And we struggle with the feeling of worthlessness. Not good either. 

God loves nobodies.  If you read the Scriptures you will find that God likes to use nobodies as His mighty instruments (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Is it wrong to strive for a better life? Absolutely not. But don't be afraid of being a nobody. A nobody who gives his whole life exalting the Great Somebody who is God and God alone. Like John the Baptist let us seek to decrease that He might increase. Less of us and more of Jesus!


The Blessedness of Rest

Our Lord led a busy life—preaching and teaching, healing, driving out demons, doing things only He could do. One day Jesus, when He was being persecuted by the Jews for healing a lame man on a Sabbath day, said to them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” (John 5:17 NIV).

On another occasion, before He healed a man born blind on a Sabbath day also, Jesus declared, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night comes when no one can work.” (John 9:4). The Lord realized that His life on earth was short and that He had but a few years to fulfill the purpose of His coming to earth. So He took advantage of any opportunity to minister and do good.

But Jesus was no workaholic. He knew how to pace Himself and even learned to take a break from it all. One specific example is an incident that Mark records. It happened at the time when the Lord’s popularity was reaching its peak. The Gospel writer narrates that the 12 apostles had just returned from a teaching-healing ministry and were gathered around Jesus to give a report of what they had done. It was some sort of debrief and short furlough but because of the coming and going of many people they didn’t even have a chance to eat. And so for the disciples’ physical, emotional and spiritual benefit, He invited them to “come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile,” (Mark 6:31) - away from the madding crowd. This was, of course, a very sensible suggestion. After all, He Himself needed rest from time to time. 

The Bible states that there would be moments when our Lord would slip off to a solitary place by Himself. John 4:6 says that “Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well”. One night, in a boat with His disciples, while a storm was raging, “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion” (Mark 4:38). These are telling evidences that our Lord valued times of rest and sleep.

We are living in a world populated by harried folks. Our “to-do” lists make us hurry and scurry—to meet a deadline, to fulfill a commitment, to finish an errand. In the process, we can hardly catch our breath as we practically race from doing one task to completing another. We have been tyrannized by the urgent. And what do we get? —frayed nerves, anxious minds, overworked bodies. If we aren’t careful, we might become vexed, irritable, feisty and in danger of losing our focus and neglecting our priorities.

Praise God, He “knows our frame” (Psalm 103:14). He does not expect us to be constantly on the run and finding ourselves spent and tired. Like our Creator, who “rested on the seventh day” after pouring out His energy in six (6) days of creative activity, we, too, should find the time to enjoy the break He offers us. What gracious provision of rest He has given, not only between each day, but also one day out of seven during the week. And surely the “holidays” we enjoy, especially during the summer months, are blessings from Him that we can never take for granted.

“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” — Mark 6:31

But why do we need to take that break? Maybe this story from Terry Hershey’s “Sacred Necessities; Gifts for Living with Passion, Purpose and Grace” will give us a little hint of the reason. “There was once an American traveler who planned a safari to Africa. As a typical Type-A person, he did a thorough research of his travel destination and made a timetable, drew maps and set a clear agenda of the things he needed to see and do. He even hired ahead of time local people to carry some of his supplies he needed for the trek throughout the area. It was that level of planning. On the first morning, they all woke up early and traveled fast and covered a great distance. The second morning was the same—woke up early, traveled fast, and traveled far. Third morning, same thing. But on the fourth morning, the local hired help refused to move. Instead, they sat by a tree in the shade well into the morning. The American became incensed and irate and said to his translator, ‘This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what’s going on in here?’ The translator looked at him and calmly answered, ‘They’re waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.’ “

He does not expect us to be constantly on the run and finding ourselves spent and tired.

Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV). In effect, the Lord was saying that they’ve worked hard and were physically tired. The invitation was for them to get away from everyone else and spend time with one another and with Him for relaxation, rejuvenation and refreshment. It was not just going to be frolic and fun but also time for communion with Him. Their “souls would then be able to catch up with their bodies” and be ready to go back to the byways and highways of life to draw men to Jesus as He will send them on their errands anew.

Plunge once more into the task to which God has called you.

Photo by    Arthur Poulin    on    Unsplash   .

Photo by Arthur Poulin on Unsplash.

I am sure that most of you have had wonderful moments of rest lately. The Lord had wondrously provided them for you—enjoying the outdoors, swimming in the lake, hiking through trails, relishing those meals cooked outdoors, basking in the sunshine and laughing your hearts out as you shared stories with family members and friends. For sure there were special times of prayer, meditation and worship also. Whatever you did, those moments must have been priceless for you have been greatly refreshed and reinvigorated. Now you are ready to plunge once more into the task to which God has called you—as an employee or a supervisor, a teacher, a nurse, a factory worker, a housekeeper, or even a student as well as a volunteer in our church—for the honor and glory of God. As we have come to another season of ministry and service for Jesus, I am confident that you are physically and spiritually ready to face the challenge before you because the Lord has graciously provided the strength and energy through your days of rest. May it be another exciting and fruitful year ahead as you serve Him in the best way you can wherever He has placed you.

This post was originally published in Connect Newsletter Summer 2014, Volume 7 Issue 3.