Have you ever felt that your personal struggle, temptation, or challenge is especially burdensome? Perhaps you feel your thorn in the flesh is unmentionable. You might consider it more shameful, embarrassing, or onerous than the burdens that others bear. You keep it to yourself, instead of letting other saints help you with it.
Or maybe it weighs upon you so much that you speak of it incessantly. It follows you constantly, like a thick cloud of oppression. It keeps you from experiencing the full joy of God’s presence.
Did you ever ask God why you struggle with this thing instead of something else? Would you swap your burden with someone else’s? Do you wish you didn’t have to deal with this particular difficulty? You’re not alone. Continue reading
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” Acts 8:4.
This statement has always run counter to what I’ve observed in the my two decades of ministry. If evangelism is to happen, then every factor in people’s lives have to be perfect. After things are going well in the marriage, with the kids, with finances, at work, and with friends, then life is stable enough to think about telling someone else about Jesus. But, as long as even just one piece of our life’s puzzle is out of place, then we shrink back into ourselves to lick our wounds and figure it out.
Guess how often Satan is going to make sure that you have a struggle going on if it will keep God’s people from preaching the gospel? Always.
Not Christians in the first century! Like coals of a fire when a large log is thrown onto them, they spread and catch onto other tinder. How frustrated Satan must have been during the early decades of Jesus’ church! Nothing he threw at them worked; those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
How could that be us again? We tell of other things that are important to us. The gospel must become important. Our faith must grow.
Are you telling the gospel?
#evangelism #devotional #struggles #gospel
Last Sunday night, a young non-Christian man asked me why a couple was suffering so much, going through many struggles, now that they were Christians.
If he was satisfied with the answer or not is uncertain. But what is certain is this: the closer we get to the truth, the more the Evil One, the father of lies, will assail us. Continue reading
Archie Moore, the longest reigning light heavy weight boxing champion in history (1952-62), once got knocked down early in a fight. He got back up and won the match by knock-out. Afterwards a reporter asked him, “Archie, what were you thinking while you were on the canvas?” He said, “I thought, Hey, I’m the champ! I don’t belong here!” We all get knocked down from time to time. “We all stumble in many things.” Even Paul described himself as once “knocked down, but not out” (Phillip’s translation). If you are down, feeling like you’re worthless, thinking you are a failure, would you please remember that you’ve been created in God’s image, you’ve been given forgiveness and eternal life by Jesus Christ. God says, “Hey, you are mine! You’ve been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and adopted into my family. You don’t belong down there on the mat. So, stand up, take your place beside your fellows, and fight the good fight.”
I have one long-term struggle and trial that I would gladly trade. The others, as bad as they are, I suppose I’d keep.
But what would I trade that one struggle for? Another might be worse. One assumes that this Thing that causes so much grief is the most horrible, consequential, shameful, dishonorable, costly of all. Any other struggle must therefore be lighter and more bearable. But would it? It’s probably typical that we think that our pain is the sharpest, our hurt the deepest. However intense the affliction, we have the assurance that our sufferings have a purpose, to refine our souls, and no temptation is greater than we can bear.
Some years ago an Insight blessed my heart and relieved my mind: my struggles do not define who I am; my identity is not wrapped up in my inner conflicts. That was, and is, a liberating thought.