Challenges

Hold Fast !

Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. Revelation 2:25


Jesus asked, "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 Sometimes, as we look around us, we wonder if He will. There are so many - individuals, congregations, denominations - who haven't held fast anything, but have piece by piece or wholesale given away the most precious truths in the universe, exchanging the Word of God for a bowl of weak, watery, unsatisfying something.

Jesus has called us to hold fast what we have. We don't know everything about God's will, His plan, His purpose, or His activity, but what we do know, we are to cling to. We have His Word - I could reach out my hand from my chair right now, and touch or pick up 15 separate copies of the Bible, plus what's on my computer - and we are to hold fast to it. And this isn't merely the physical printed Book. As wonderful as it is to be able to own 15 copies of the Bible (there are places in the world where a single copy, or a single book of the Bible, has to suffice for an entire congregation), it's not enough to own them, or even read and study them. Someone who's drowning in Bibles, yet lets what it says slip through the fingers of his mind as water slips through the fingers of his hands, might as well never have seen a Bible in his life.

I trust in Jesus for my salvation, but why do I still struggle with sin?

I trust in Jesus for my salvation, but why do I still struggle with sin?

After receiving e-mails from thousands of people over the years, we've concluded that all believers have to struggle to maintain their faith. Some folks have to struggle more than others, but generally everyone has some level of difficulty.

It's the people who have no guilt or realization of their eternal state who make the Christian walk seem all the more difficult. Show me a believer who says, "I never have to worry about backsliding," and I will show you someone who is already deep into apostasy. We're all running in a race, and God doesn't care how many times we stumble. The only thing He cares about is who makes it to the finish line.

Life's Challenges: Pointless or Pointillism?

When I was in high school, my saintly art teacher tried her best to give us rural hooligans some culture. The jury is still out on the results. But, in the study of different styles and artists, we learned about pointillism. The definition reads as follows:

A late 19th-century style of painting in which a picture is constructed from dots of pure color that blend, at a distance, into recognizable shapes and various color tones.

The artist, George Seurat is one such artist who incorporated pointillism. His famous work, "Sunday Afternoon On the Island Of La Grande Jatte," has made its way into popular culture, as well as into the Art Institute of Chicago.

When Things Look Bleak, Do You Still Trust God?

Genesis 50:10-20a NRSV
Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good."

The story of Joseph is always amazing to me. I keep coming back, again and again, during different experiences in my life, to this particular verse and to the reality that was Joseph’s. You see, I’ve heard many preachers extol the honors that Joseph received, how he went from a slave to becoming Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. But that’s not quite the entire story.

Quilter from Texas

Quilter from Texas

When We Run From God

When we struggle with addiction or any other challenge, we may say and do things we wouldn’t normally. We may choose to disobey God as Jonah did in the Old Testament.

When we run from God, we have preferred our own will instead of God's.

The storm will come as it did for Jonah. Our storm may not be a physical raging sea, but it could be raging emotions, a storm in our marriage, rebellious children, financial chaos, loss of a job, or foreclosure of our home.

If our children rebel, we don’t stop loving them. They can still turn to us, their parents for love and support, and we’ll give them both.

In the same way when we find ourselves discouraged or convicted about sin in our lives, we can turn to God. No matter what we’ve done, God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

In speaking of God, 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) says, He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

In Trouble? You have a Privilege and a Future

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble! I will deliver you--and you shall glorify Me!" Psalm 50:15

In this portion of the divine Word, you will discover:
1. your present portion--trouble;
2. your constant privilege--prayer;
3. your future prospect--deliverance.

1. Your present portion is TROUBLE.
You must expect trouble, and will certainly be deceived if you expect to escape it. Sin is the parent of trouble--and our sin-cursed earth its fruitful soil. Trouble springs up all around us, and appears in an almost infinite variety of forms.

Every connection we form,
every character we bear,
every office we fill, and
every relation we sustain--
is a fruitful source of trouble!

We shall have...
trouble in mind,
trouble in circumstances,
trouble in body;
trouble from almost every quarter!

Is Obeying God Simply Resulting in Hardship for You?

"Does Job fear God for no reason?"
Job 1:9 ESV

This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, Job. But there are many today who might be asked the same question with justice, for they love God (after a fashion) because he prospers them; but if things went badly for them, they would give up their boastful faith in God. If they can clearly see that since their supposed conversion, everything has gone well for them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house.

Spiritual Abuse by Clergy

1. Some clergy say there is no domestic violence in their church. Maybe in “that bad area of town,” but not in their church.

2. Some clergy report no man in their church would hurt a woman.

3. Most clergy lack education and training in domestic violence issues.

4. Most clergy don’t preach against domestic violence in their midweek or Sunday services.

What Should My Response to Suffering Be?

2 Thessalonians 1:3-8 NRSV
We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t address the persecutions of the Thessalonians in the same way that we often address persecutions. If you think about it, most pastors tell us that our faith is exemplified when we take authority over Satan and believe that our trials will disappear based on God’s love. But Paul, rather than preaching that, says that faith is based on persevering through afflictions.

We need to ask ourselves what we believe.

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