Saturday, February 17, 2024

Why do we suffer?


1 Peter 5 NKJV

8 ¶  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

9  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

There seems to be this brotherhood of sufferers who, just like their leader, Jesus Christ the one and only Son of Almighty God, are subject to quite a bit of suffering in this world. It’s almost like we are being trained to suffer and taught how to endure it so as to not allow the pain or pressures of this life to make us quit.

In one of my early morning prayer times last week I earnestly asked God to help me understand why born-again Believers in Jesus Christ suffer. In talking with God, which hopefully we are all doing more of this year, I told God I would accept any answer He gave me without being judgmental or complaintive. I wanted to go on record with Him again concerning my reverence and respect for His wisdom. It far exceeds my human knowledge and considerations. He knows what He is doing. I trust Him completely.

After I asked God to help me understand why Born-Again Believers suffer and to whose benefit it was, I sat back and began going over scriptures I remembered from the New Testament concerning suffering. Several came to mind, and so I looked them up and read them. (2 Corinthians 15; Romans 8; 2 Timothy; Philippians 3; 1 Peter – there are like 15 just in 1 Peter.)

I considered how Jesus suffered and why He suffered. As I meditated on the scriptures in a quiet spiritual time with an open mind before God, He in turn opened the eyes of my understanding and I saw it. (Ephesians 1:18)

This world and every person born on earth is on a collision course with death and destruction. (2 Peter 3:1-15; Revelation 21:1)

We are riding on a ship destined to sink and kill everyone on board.

Our only hope is to be saved beyond this life. God sent His only begotten Son to open a door and secure our passage into eternal life, safe from the harm we are subject to without Him. (Revelation 20:12-15)

The earth has been infiltrated and sabotaged by an evil spirit. Every system was corrupted and remains compromised. This world is winding down and will one day no longer be able to sustain life. (Revelation 20:11)

While we are on this earth speeding towards destruction, we are subject to the evils, hardships, and sufferings of the day. The earth is passing through sinful space and the inhabitants are subject to pain, sickness, poverty, betrayal, and death. The only thing worse than living in this world is to leave here without Jesus and the transformation He offers. You must be born again to be able to enter into God’s eternal glory. (John 3:5-7)

A man cannot walk into God’s glory any more than you can walk into the glory of the sun. It will burn you up unless you are made of the same substance. You must be born of the Spirit of God to enter His glory.

We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10) All who do not possess the garment of salvation and robe of righteousness will not be able to remain in God’s presence. All whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Matthew 22:11-14; Revelation 20:15)

Take a look outside. The beauty of a bright sun-filled spring day can be turned into chaos in one brief moment. From public protests to war, from overcrowded jails to overcrowded hospitals, from empty churches to empty hearts, from the homeless to the helpless, from disruption to corruption, from crime to cancer, suffering is everywhere and yet there is hope. 

God created this world as the perfect haven of rest for His children. He provided them with every need and gave them instructions to follow in order to protect them from ever experiencing sin, sickness, poverty, or death. The balance of life was blessings, and all was well in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1&2)

God expected Adam and Eve to obey Him despite the temptation to do otherwise. He trusted them and gave them authority to rule over everything He created on the earth. They, in and of themselves, did not prove trustworthy.

When tempted with pride and owning the right to choose, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (Genesis 3). This disruption to God’s plan opened a door to darkness and they invited an evil spirit to rule and reign over the earth God had given them. This evil spirit, the devil, sowed seeds of death and destruction in the lives of men and thus began his reign of darkness and chaos. (Ephesians 2:2)

No longer the safe-haven God intended, the earth began to spin out of control. Once protected by the divine hand of God, plans now had to be made to cover those who would be born to die on this planet and to secure their souls from eternal destruction once they left the confines of their mortal bodies. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8)

Temporary measures were put into place by God to cover His Children from the evil which was growing around them. With death and destruction looming over every soul, God could not allow to leave only temporary measures to remain in place. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believed in Him might not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

All who call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved. But How shall anyone know this unless they are told? How can anyone be rescued unless someone is sent to rescue them? (Romans 10:13-15)

The evil forces of darkness, the same darkness that first deceived man in the Garden, continue their attempts to capture the minds and souls of men and women each day. We must not allow the deception to rule over the lives of those who still need to be rescued. God works with us.

We have been saved, called, chosen, equipped, and sent to seek and to save the lost and to raise up more team members and our replacements (Matthew 28:18-20). God has given us angels and abilities to help us.

As long as we are in this world of suffering, we will experience some suffering along with those we are sent to rescue. We have been given special protection and requested assistance. However, we cannot allow our temporary sufferings or fear thereof to keep us from doing our job.

Like a fireman running into a burning building looking for those in need. We do not claim the fireman’s life is worth less than the child or the elderly they are seeking to save. We understand the hardships, but we also believe in the cause.

Our ship is sinking, and we have an immovable life vest. The only reason to remain aboard is to help others get into the lifeboats. We may experience some of the temporary discomforts others suffer around us, like as did our Lord. But, it is worth every effort to save the lost. 

Romans 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Why do we suffer? Because we live in a suffering world. A world headed for destruction. We are on a collision course with death.

1 Peter 5 NKJV

10 ¶  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

11  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

My Take Aways from today:

1.  Don’t expect to be treated better than Jesus.

2.  Never allow your own pain to make you doubt or quit.

3.  Find and train your replacement.

4.  Your victory is in your faith … trust God!

a.   1 John 5:4-5 – This is the victory …

b.   Be of good cheer! (John 16:33)

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Investment Opportunities


God has given you the power to create your passion.

This morning I want to lead you to discover or to re-discover your passion. It is going to be a quick and easy process that promises to give you more energy and an almost immediate return.

Sound too good to be true? God often does. Let’s begin with:

Proverbs 26:20  Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.

Without regard as to how much wood is used to start a fire, it will eventually go out unless more wood is added.

A car cannot run forever on only one tank of gasoline.

Every battery carries a limited amount of energy and will become dead and useless, unless re-charged by a higher source of power.

This principle of stored energy is also true for humans. A body needs food and water without which it weakens and loses its capacity to sustain life. According to some figures, each year more than 18 million people die from starvation of the body. However I fear even a greater number of people suffer from spiritual starvation every day. The alarming difference between physical and spiritual starvation is most often that of choice. People seldom die a physical death from lack of food when food is plentiful and in ready supply. This is not so when it comes to spiritual malnutrition.

Either by ignorance, neglect or by outright choice, many live in a severely weakened spiritual state, almost comatose, and with little or no ability to respond or make any meaningful spiritual contributions to life. Perhaps you have known someone who stopped recharging themselves spiritually, quit putting wood on the fire of their spiritual passion, or allowed themselves to avoidably run out of gas and are now looking for a place to pull over, or maybe they are sitting on the roadside of God’s will for their life.

A life with no spiritual investment will weaken and eventually lose capacity for continued participation. How does a person know when this is happening to them, their spouse, children or church? 

We are designed to live life on stored energy which we cannot borrow from the future. Without energy – we go nowhere in life.

There are some indicators which we can use to gauge our current capacity and our stored energy levels. Let’s discuss three of the top ten signs a person is spiritually running out of gas. Then we will discover one simple fix. First, let’s look at these energy level indicators. One indication you are running low:

1.   It’s been a long while since you filled your tank.

o   Old gasoline turns into a sticky varnish like substance.

o   Stale bread dries out, becomes tasteless, and molds.

o   Un-replaced batteries tend to corrode.

o   Even wood rots and crumbles into dust after a while.

2.   You’ve come a long, hard or fast way since you filled your tank. (Distance – Difficulty – Speed, all 3 determine depletion rate)

o   The farther and the faster you go, the more often you will need to fill up again.

o   The demands on energy dictate the consumption and the frequency with which we must recharge.

o   Wood burns more rapidly on a bigger fire. (But it also produces a greater heat which often meets greater needs)

3.   You are dangerously close to shutting down

o   Slowing down – Are you looking for a place to pull over.

o   Left with no reserve of energy to access – Do you lack motivation

o   Growing colder by the moment – Have you been losing vision..

Don’t be fooled into thinking you are ok simply because things are happening around you.

·        It could be the other batteries in the pack providing the power you’re seeing

·        You might be riding on someone else’s bus

·        Eating from someone else’s table

·        Or warming by someone else’s fire

This can happen with your job, your career, marriage; family; friends; and even your church involvement. This morning we are not asking how your job, your family, or you church is doing … we are specifically discussing our personal spiritual strength and the contribution we are making to God’s overall plan.

When we take inventory today, let’s take inventory of our own lives and remember: Taking an honest inventory is the first step.

Many of you may already know that you are running on empty, but you simply don’t have the energy, the motivation or the vision to do anything about it. Oh, you might have energy, motivation or vision for some other things, but not for what you know God has called you to … not like the energy, motivation and vision you used to have.

Take the person who has plenty of energy and motivation for things which they should not be doing … it’s not that they lack passion – it’s rather they have misplaced passion and misplaced potential. Remember, today we are focusing on God’s will and how your life benefits His Kingdom plan.

Perhaps you have never found, or cannot now find passion which you know you should have but don’t have. It’s just not in your heart!

Jeremiah 17:9  "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

Let me clear something up for you … It can be a dangerous thing to follow your heart … as a Believer in Jesus and the Bible, we embrace the responsibility to lead our heart and we do this by making an investment.

Have you ever heard someone say: “I don’t want to, but I want to want to”? This is often the testimony of someone who has let their fire go out. But there is good news!

You can change your heart even when you don’t want to. You know the difference between right and wrong. Don’t let the enemies of your life deceive you to believe you don’t know what to do.

You don’t have to live life without energy, motivation, vision and passion for your marriage, family or future, and especially concerning your personal relationship with Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

What can you do to invigorate or re-invigorate your life? It takes only one step and you can take it today. What step? What can you do? How can you lead your heart, obtain or regain energy, motivation, vision and passion?

Matthew 6:21  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

On February 11, 2011, I was traveling on the road and stopped to eat at a restaurant. It was a Friday night and there was a talk show on the television facing my table. The host, Jimmy Fallon, was interviewing the actress Jennifer Anniston and it was her 42nd birthday. She had just returned from Super Bowl 45 in Dallas which had been played on the previous Sunday. It had been her first time to attend a pro ballgame. She decided to go with friends but had no care and no connection to the process or the outcome. She had always been indifferent to football other than thinking some of the players were cute.

When asked what she thought of the game now … she was pumped. (For those of you in other parts of the world who aren’t familiar with the American slang, “Pumped” – in this sense it means “really excited”, “full of energy”, “Passionate”!) At any rate:

Her body language on the show that night showed how excited she was about the game and even though she still did not know the names of the players, (she referred to Brett Favre as that guy who retired and came back to play again) … nonetheless – she was pumped.

The reason she gave the drastic change stemmed from the pre-game advice she received from her friend, Adam Sandler. She said that Adam had told her that in order to enjoy the game she needed to place a bet on one of the teams – which she did. She bet on the Packers while Sandler took the Steelers.

Now she didn’t know the players, had never followed or even seen a pro football game, and really didn’t care anything about it … that is until she made an investment. Then – all of the sudden –  her passion came alive. She began to care and got involved in both the process and the outcome.

How did she go from not caring to caring? How did she go from low energy to high energy? How did she go from cold to hot? What connected her to the game, its process and the final outcome? – It was her investment! And BTW – the Packers won over the Steelers 31 to 25. Some of you will see her again today in another 2024 Super Bowl commercial.

(Some of you might be having a hard time with me quoting Jennifer Anniston to prove the point here in church today, but believe me when I tell you – the principles of God’s Word are true and the work without regard as to who you are or where you make your investments.)

Your heart follows your investments. Each investment will stir and strengthen your passion.

In conclusion – I challenge you to do two things with me this morning:

1.   Take inventory of your stored energy levels.

a.   How long has it been since you were filled with passion for the purpose to which God has called you?

b.   How far, fast and difficult has the journey been?

c.    How close are you to shutting down or just quitting?

d.   Are you looking for a place to pull over or stop?

2.   Make an investment.

a.   Stir your heart and begin a renewed adventure today.

b.   God has given you the power to create passion and energy.

c.    Re-Fuel yourself for the journey ahead.

d.   God has given you the greatest investment opportunity known to man.

e.   Invest in the will of God for your life … everything else will follow.

It will need to be an investment of something you really care about. Money – time – attention … … what are you protecting, what are you holding back on God … give God your best and He will do the rest!

Make an investment in the things you value most.

Your life won’t change without you!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

A Study of the Miraculous Part 6 Blessings Belong to God



What does a person do when they have done all they can, and it’s just not enough? What do you do when hard work, good advice, right living didn’t fix it? How can we change the inevitable?

Mark 10:27  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

2 Kings 4 contains the account of a woman with a desperate need. There was nothing more she could do. She and her family were in a difficult situation, and it wasn’t her fault. She never expected to be in such need. Things had gone downhill quickly. Good people in a bad place.

2 Kings 4 NKJV

1 ¶  A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”

2  So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”

3  Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors — empty vessels; do not gather just a few.

4  “And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”

5  So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.

6  Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased.

7  Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”

Some of the principles we have reviewed so far include:

·        God will never ask us to do what we cannot do.

·        Prescriptions from God are like recipes for success.

·        Don’t let anyone talk you out of a miracle.

·        Full vessels limit God.

This evening we will review the fact that:

What we do with the little we have is what we will do with more.

This truth is confirmed by Jesus as recorded in:

Luke 16 NKJV

10  “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

11  “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12  “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

13  “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

14  Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.

15  And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

The Pharisees were lovers of money, not lovers of God. They justified themselves before men but were actually an abomination in the sight of God.

The woman we have been studying in 2 Kings 4 was just the opposite. She showed her dependence on God when she had nothing as well as when she had abundance.

In verse 1 she went to ask the prophet what to do when she only had a little jar of oil. In verse 7 she went back to the prophet to ask what to do when she had a house full of oil. She knew she was no better off rich than she was poor if she wasn’t pleasing God.

She still needed God. You think a little jar of oil can be troublesome … think of how much trouble a whole house full of oil could cause you!

Moses cautioned the children of Israel to not forget God once they received their miracle. (Deuteronomy 6:12) Don’t forget God! 

The more we have, the closer we need to be to God.

It is clear from this account that God intended for the woman and her sons to enjoy life. The priority for God is always to set us free and bless us with abundance. Each account from Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his time in Egypt, young David hiding from Saul, to the jailer in Philippi, God sets the captives free and blesses them beyond their need.

The prophet Elisha told the woman: “Pay your debt” first, and then “you and your sons live on the rest.”

What you do with what you have shows who you are and what you believe.


·        What do you need God to do for you? Ask Him.

·        How can you participate with God? Do it.

·        When the miracle happens, put it back into God’s hands.

·        Don’t allow God’s blessings to make you forget God.

·        Blessings belong to God.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

What We Know


John 13:23  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Scholars widely agree that John was humbly referring to himself in this passage, as the disciple whom Jesus loved. We believe John wrote this account under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit while reflecting back on the event which had taken place in his life perhaps 70 years earlier.

As a young man, the Apostle John presented himself as ambitious, intolerant, and a bit vindictive, (Mark 10:35-37; Mark 9:38; Luke 9:54 respectively). Spending time with Jesus must have changed all of that. We know John was much older he wrote this, but we also know:

Life does not always change people for the better, but time with Jesus will.

Many imagine John’s mother to be the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Based on that belief, John and Jesus were cousins. This would help to explain several other occurrences mentioned in the Gospels.

At any rate, it is accepted that the last living Apostle of the Lamb, the Apostle John, was in his mid to late 90’s when he wrote the letter we know as First John. Given this, John walked with Jesus for 3 ½ years during the earthly life and ministry of Christ, and then followed Christ for another 7 decades after the cross. Through these years John learned the lessons of love and proved the value of his personal decision to follow Jesus.

A lifetime removed from that young Galilean boy who was cleaning the nets with his father, John had become a fisher of men. This is the elder Apostle who writes to us in hopes it will change our lives. Listen to this everlasting truth while we consider What We Know. Humble John writes:

1 John 5 NLT

10 ¶  All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11  And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

13  I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

14 ¶  And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.

15  And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

16  If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.

17  All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

18 ¶  We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.

19  We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20  And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

21  Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

Since we know what we know, keep away from those things that might take God’s place in your heart.

What are some things that want to take God’s place in our lives? 

It’s been almost 4 decades ago since I first came across this passage and asked myself that same question. How can I identify those things that want to take God’s place in my life? After much prayer, counsel, and consideration of the scriptures, I concluded God had given mankind richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). It has never been what we have that takes the place of God in our lives, but rather what has us.

It is not about what you have, but what has you.

Here are the 5 categories of blessings God has given us to enjoy and not to worship. When any one of these comes before God, our lives are out of order, and we are headed for disappointment.

1.  Love

a.   God is love but love is not God. (1 John 4:8)

b.   We are admonished to not love the world. (1 John 2:15)

c.    Samson (Judges 16:4) fell in love with Delilah.

d.   The love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10)

e.   Misplaced love is a recipe for disappointment.

2.  Sex

a.   The first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve was “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28)

b.   He knew what He was saying.

c.    Sex outside of the covenant of marriage is sin. (1Cor 6:9)

                                         i.    A person is not having sex, sex has them. (2Pet 2:14)

d.   Sex is the way a person can talk, look, touch, or think about another person to whom they are married. Without that God blessed covenant – it is sin. (Exodus 20:14)

e.   Again – they are not having sex … sex has them!

f.    This is a sure recipe for disappointment. (Proverbs 5)

3.  Money

a.   Money is neither good or bad … it’s how you use it or how it uses you. (1 Timothy 6:17-18)

b.   God wants you to have money. However, He does not want money to have you. (Mark 10:24)

c.    Jesus said you will serve one of two masters. (Matthew 6:24)

                                         i.    God

                                        ii.    Money

d.   Serving money will be a recipe for disappointment. (1Tim 6:10)

4.  Power

a.   God gives us power over serpents and scorpions … not over people. (Luke 10:19 & Ephesians 6:12)

b.   God expects us to use our power to serve people, not to become their lords. (1 Peter 5:3)

c.    If you want to be great, you must become the servant of all. (Mark 9:35 & Mark 10:44)

d.   The devil promised Jesus power over the whole world if Jesus would only worship him. (Luke 4:6-7)

                                         i.    It’s no different today.

                                        ii.    If you have power … it comes from another source, and it must be used to benefit that source’s desire. (John 8:44)

e.   The source of your power owns and controls you. (Romans 6)

f.    Getting hooked up to the wrong power source is a recipe for disappointment.

5.  Position

a.   Jesus said the pride of life is an enemy of God.

b.   Pride of (Greek) – ‘bios’ = livelihood, i.e.: biography.

                                         i.    One should never be trusted to write their own autobiography. (lol) (Proverbs 25:27)

                                        ii.    Many times these works would be more correctly categorized as a “Lie-ography”. (Acts 5:1-11 & Pro 25:14)

                                      iii.    Lying to get a job is wrong. (2 Corinthians 11:13)

c.    Protecting your position with man instead of your relationship with Jesus is a recipe for disappointment. (Jeremiah 2:8)

Jesus loved John and time with Jesus changed John’s life. John wrote in his old age to encourage us to embrace that same life change he experienced.

1 John 5

10  All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true …

19  We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20  And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

21  Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

Time with Jesus! Do you know Him today? If not, why not? Let’s pray …