The Christian story proclaims that all the demands of Scripture are ultimately summons, calls, invitations—beckoning us to experience true, beautiful, and good humanness. …
Woven into the fabric of Christian theology is the insistence that Jesus Christ is the truest, most perfect, most glorious human being who has ever lived—and that those who want to experience true, full, rich humanness must become like him, must pattern their lives after Jesus’ humanity (Romans 8:29, Ephesians 4:20-24, Colossians 3:1-17)
Wesley Hill in his book: Washed and waiting: Reflections on Christian faithfulness and homosexuality. (2010, p.75) Zondervan.
Help from a book 2.
This helps me explain the gospel to others and myself in way that gives hope in a world that increasingly measures the worth of everything, even relationships, based on enjoyment ans satisfaction The gospel doesn’t thwart our ability to live satisfied lives and block our potential to be. It points us toward reaching our full potential and live fulfilled lives forever as we follow Jesus Christ.
These scriptures encourage me to act out my faith in Jesus Christ and His rescue mission by: 1. spending time regularly telling Him in prayer about all of my worries and troubles. 2. asking Him for help.
I don’t mean just mentioning in prayer whatever is on my mind that is challenging me. I mean spending some time in prayer searching within my mind for everything that is bothering me and stressing me out. Then I ask God to help me trust Him to deal with those things according to His good and loving purposes.
These scriptures also reminded me to persist in asking God to transform my heart away from the inclination to do what is self-destructive and other-destructive. I have learned over the past few years that investing daily time in acting out my trust in God through prayer is more productive and satisfying than any other activity I do each day.
Psalm 142:1-6 (CEV)
1I pray to you, LORD. I beg for mercy.
2I tell you all of my worries and my troubles,
3and whenever I feel low, you are there to guide me.
A trap has been hidden along my pathway.
4Even if you look, you won’t see anyone who cares enough
to walk beside me.
There is no place to hide, and no one who really cares.
5I pray to you, LORD! You are my place of safety,
and you are my choice in the land of the living.
Please answer my prayer. I am completely helpless.
6Help! They are chasing me, and they are too strong.
내가 소리 내어 여호와께 부르짖으며 소리 내어 여호와께 간구하는도다
내가 내 원통함을 그의 앞에 토로하며 내 우환을 그의 앞에 진술하는도다
내 영이 내 속에서 상할 때에도 주께서 내 길을 아셨나이다 내가 가는 길에 그들이 나를 잡으려고 올무를 숨겼나이다
오른쪽을 살펴 보소서 나를 아는 이도 없고 나의 피난처도 없고 내 영혼을 돌보는 이도 없나이다
여호와여 내가 주께 부르짖어 말하기를 주는 나의 피난처시요 살아 있는 사람들의 땅에서 나의 분깃이시라 하였나이다
6. 나의 부르짖음을 들으소서 나는 심히 비천하니이다 나를 핍박하는 자들에게서 나를 건지소서 그들은 나보다 강하니이다
A David Prayer—When He Was in the Cave
1-2 I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy. I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail:
3-7 “As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, you know how I’m feeling, Know the danger I’m in, the traps hidden in my path. Look right, look left— there’s not a soul who cares what happens! I’m up against it, with no exit— bereft, left alone. I cry out, God, call out: ’You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’ Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low. Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I’m no match for them.
3Help me to guard my words
whenever I say something.
4Don’t let me want to do evil
or waste my time doing wrong
with wicked people.
Don’t let me even taste
the good things they offer.
5Let your faithful people
correct and punish me.
여호와여 내 입에 파수꾼을 세우시고 내 입술의 문을 지키소서
내 마음이 악한 일에 기울어 죄악을 행하는 자들과 함께 악을 행하지 말게 하시며 그들의 진수성찬을 먹지 말게 하소서
의인이 나를 칠지라도 은혜로 여기며 책망할지라도 머리의 기름 같이 여겨서 내 머리가 이를 거절하지 아니할지라 그들의 재난 중에도 내가 항상 기도하리로다
Psalm 141:3-5 (the message)
3-7 Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips. Don’t let me so much as dream of evil or thoughtlessly fall into bad company. And these people who only do wrong— don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk! May the Just One set me straight, may the Kind One correct me, Don’t let sin anoint my head.
“The theologian T. F. Torrance tells about an incident that happened in 1944 after an assault on San Martino-Sogliano. Torrance was serving as a stretcher bearer in the conflict, and he encountered a dying soldier, 20 years old, named Private Philips. The soldier was near the end, laid out on the ground, and eager for some spiritual comfort as he passed away. Torrance leaned down, and Philips said, “Padre, is God really like Jesus?” And Torrance said without hesitation, “Yes, God is like Jesus.””—here (via wesleyhill)
"Our role as parents is not to “produce” children who exhibit certain behavior criteria, but to be mere instruments in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the heart of our children. We highly value and adhere to the wisdom of Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Hebrews, and other child-training passages in the Scriptures and realize only God transforms the hearts of our children."
“Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”—JRR Tolkien (via myquotelibrary)
These scriptures helped me to calm down and avoid stressing myself out with self-help style attempts to be a better follower of Jesus Christ. As I read this psalm, I was reminded to notice and repent of my attempts to take control of God’s work in my life and in the lives of others. These scriptures encourage me to trust in God’s power, control, and goodness. This means that I can relax in Him while serving Him with everything I got.
The words of Jesus in the scriptures below made me want to simplify following Jesus to learning to love God and those He puts in my path. I grow in my love for God and for others by becoming increasingly aware of God’s love for me as I remember the Good News about Jesus Christ’s successful mission to rescue me from destroying myself. As I remember the Good News, I keep my focus on Jesus Christ and trust God to work the Good News about Him into every aspect of my life, and the lives of those He puts in my life.
(A song by David for worship.)
1I am not conceited, LORD, and I don’t waste my time on impossible schemes.
2But I have learned to feel safe and satisfied,
just like a young child on its mother’s lap.
3People of Israel, you must trust the LORD now and forever.
여호와여 내 마음이 교만하지 아니하고 내 눈이 오만하지 아니하오며 내가 큰 일과 감당하지 못할 놀라운 일을 하려고 힘쓰지 아니하나이다
실로 내가 내 영혼으로 고요하고 평온하게 하기를 젖 뗀 아이가 그의 어머니 품에 있음 같게 하였나니 내 영혼이 젖 뗀 아이와 같도다
1God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.
2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.
3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!
Mark 12:28-34 (CEV)
28One of the teachers of the Law of Moses came up while Jesus and the Sadducees were arguing. When he heard Jesus give a good answer, he asked him, “What is the most important commandment?”
29Jesus answered, “The most important one says: `People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. 30You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ 31The second most important commandment says: `Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.”
32The man replied, “Teacher, you are certainly right to say there is only one God. 33It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.”
34When Jesus saw that the man had given a sensible answer, he told him, “You are not far from God’s kingdom.” After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.
서기관 중 한 사람이 그들이 변론하는 것을 듣고 예수께서 잘 대답하신 줄을 알고 나아와 묻되 모든 계명 중에 첫째가 무엇이니이까
네 마음을 다하고 목숨을 다하고 뜻을 다하고 힘을 다하여 주 너의 하나님을 사랑하라 하신 것이요
둘째는 이것이니 네 이웃을 네 자신과 같이 사랑하라 하신 것이라 이보다 더 큰 계명이 없느니라
서기관이 이르되 선생님이여 옳소이다 하나님은 한 분이시요 그 외에 다른 이가 없다 하신 말씀이 참이니이다
또 마음을 다하고 지혜를 다하고 힘을 다하여 하나님을 사랑하는 것과 또 이웃을 자기 자신과 같이 사랑하는 것이 전체로 드리는 모든 번제물과 기타 제물보다 나으니이다
예수께서 그가 지혜 있게 대답함을 보시고 이르시되 네가 하나님의 나라에서 멀지 않도다 하시니 그 후에 감히 묻는 자가 없더라
Mark 12:28-34 (the message)
28One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
29-31Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
32-33The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
34When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
This gorgeous photo of a 1963 Harlem fashion show is one of the many images on display at the soon-to-open exhibition, Posing Beauty In African American Culture which has been traveling throughout the country over the last year or so. The exhibition is curated by Deborah Willis, Professor…
These scriptures helped me reflect on my hatred toward Jesus. In these scriptures, Jesus admits that He is: God the Son, known also by the title Son of Man. This means that Jesus is the Lord God who became a human that perfectly lived the way all people are supposed to live: in perfect love for God the Father, and in perfect obedient submission to Him that is expressed in a perfect love for other people.
Before Jesus died, people might argue that God can’t understand the human condition and therefore unfairly judges people. However, all people are judged and condemned by the perfectly unselfish and faithful life lived by the fully human and fully God Jesus Christ. All people demonstrate selfish inclinations and choices. My desire to create lies about Jesus, to mock Him, to beat Him, and to kill Him are natural expressions of how I hate Him because He exposes my inexcusable moral vulnerability.
The perfect life of the Lord Jesus is the standard by which all people are judged as not good enough. But the purpose of His human mission was to rescue us from condemnation by paying the cost of our selfish inclinations and choices, as well as our hatred toward God while we still hated Him. All who trust in the truth about Jesus and His rescue mission will be rescued from condemnation and will be transformed toward physical, moral, and spiritual perfection in Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Mark 14:55-65 (CEV)
55The chief priests and the whole council tried to find someone to accuse Jesus of a crime, so they could put him to death. But they could not find anyone to accuse him. 56Many people did tell lies against Jesus, but they did not agree on what they said. 57Finally, some men stood up and lied about him. They said, 58"We heard him say he would tear down this temple that we built. He also claimed that in three days he would build another one without any help." 59But even then they did not agree on what they said.
60The high priest stood up in the council and asked Jesus, “Why don’t you say something in your own defense? Don’t you hear the charges they are making against you?” 61But Jesus kept quiet and did not say a word. The high priest asked him another question, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the glorious God?”
62"Yes, I am!" Jesus answered.
”Soon you will see
the Son of Man
sitting at the right side
of God All-Powerful,
and coming with the clouds
63At once the high priest ripped his robe apart and shouted, “Why do we need more witnesses? 64You heard him claim to be God! What is your decision?” They all agreed that he should be put to death.
65Some of the people started spitting on Jesus. They blindfolded him, hit him with their fists, and said, “Tell us who hit you!” Then the guards took charge of Jesus and beat him.
55-59The high priests conspiring with the Jewish Council looked high and low for evidence against Jesus by which they could sentence him to death. They found nothing. Plenty of people were willing to bring in false charges, but nothing added up, and they ended up canceling each other out. Then a few of them stood up and lied: “We heard him say, ‘I am going to tear down this Temple, built by hard labor, and in three days build another without lifting a hand.’” But even they couldn’t agree exactly.
60-61In the middle of this, the Chief Priest stood up and asked Jesus, “What do you have to say to the accusation?” Jesus was silent. He said nothing.
The Chief Priest tried again, this time asking, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?”
62Jesus said, “Yes, I am, and you’ll see it yourself:
The Son of Man seated At the right hand of the Mighty One, Arriving on the clouds of heaven.”
63-64The Chief Priest lost his temper. Ripping his clothes, he yelled, “Did you hear that? After that do we need witnesses? You heard the blasphemy. Are you going to stand for it?”
They condemned him, one and all. The sentence: death.
65Some of them started spitting at him. They blindfolded his eyes, then hit him, saying, “Who hit you? Prophesy!” The guards, punching and slapping, took him away.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”— Eleanor Roosevelt (You Learn by Living)
“Does gratitude characterize your thoughts of God? Thankfulness is a good test of faith. Its absence demonstrates that your faith is more lip service than experiential knowledge. Your days, whether easy or difficult, should be filled with thanksgiving because while life changes drastically, your God remains the same forever. He is constant—constantly good, loving, and faithful.”—
Joe Thorn (2011) in chapter 5 (p.55) of his book “Note to self: The discipline of preaching to yourself”. Published by Crossway
“You must constantly ask yourself these questions:
Who am I around?
What are they doing to me?
What have they got me reading?
What have they got me saying?
Where do they have me going?
What do they have me thinking?
And most important, what do they have me becoming?
Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”—Jim Rohn (via creatingaquietmind)
These scriptures remind to be happy about what Jesus has promised me in the life after death: no more marriage (<- joke, I love and enjoy my wife and enjoy being married to her). I can look forward to Jesus’s promise to us of life after death in an upgraded and purified angelic body that can enjoy an intense intimacy with Him forever. But what really helped me from these scriptures was seeing how the Sadduccees were very mistaken despite their zeal for God because they did not know and understand the words of God in the Bible, and they doubted or limited the power of God. So, notes to self:
1. Persist in seeking understanding of the words of God in the Bible and trust in the Holy Spirit to teach me about the Truth/Jesus.
2. Self-reflect on how I’m doubting and minimizing the power of God.
Putting these notes into action is not going to save me or make me a Christian, but will open my heart and mind to the correction of my mistaken thinking by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Mark 12:18-27 (CEV)
18The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus and said:
19Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother. 20There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. 21The second brother married his brother’s widow, and he also died without having children. The same thing happened to the third brother, 22and finally to all seven brothers. At last the woman died. 23When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? After all, she had been married to all seven brothers.
You are completely wrong! You don’t know what the Scriptures teach. And you don’t know anything about the power of God. 25When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26You surely know about people being raised to life. You know that in the story about Moses and the burning bush, God said, “I am the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 27He isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living. You Sadducees are all wrong.
18-23Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”
24-27Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”
This is a great article and I’m with Chris Hedges until the part near the end in which I understand him to be putting our hope in a vision of “truly educated” humanity making increasingly moral decisions and saving the world. Rather, “truly educated” humanity excels at asking great questions and finding good answers to arrogantly justify their selfish and prideful motives and behaviors as moral, which results in a never ending cycle of people self righteously oppressing others. There is nothing new under the sun. People need to stop thinking Humanity is capable of rescuing itself. We need to be rescued from ourselves by Someone who is perfectly good and able.
These scriptures capture how I feel and talk to God in prayer when I believe following Jesus Christ in a committed and faithful way calls me to “step out in faith” in a certain way in a particular situation, and I decide to obey that call. My decision to step out in faith is rooted in my understanding of the teachings, promises, Person, and rescue mission of Jesus. Other people around me may regard my decision in that particular situation as irresponsible or foolish if they are not committed followers of Jesus Christ, or if they believe I am misunderstanding the teachings of Jesus, or if they believe I am misjudging the appropriate application of the gospel in that particular situation.
Maybe my decision is foolish due to misunderstanding the teachings of Jesus or misjudging the appropriate application of the gospel in that particular situation. So I pray for understanding and correction as I trust in God to steady my decisions on a correct understanding or bless me even amidst my bad decisions and misjudgments according to His grace as He helps me follow the Way and ways of Jesus Christ. And I’m confident that God will help me grow in understanding and keep me safe according to His good will as I’m rejoicing in the teachings, promises, Person, and rescue mission of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 119:159-176 (CEV)
169Please, LORD, hear my prayer and give me the understanding
that comes from your word.
170Listen to my concerns and keep me safe, just as you have promised.
171If you will teach me your laws,
I will praise you 172and sing about your promise,
because all of your teachings are what they ought to be.
173Be ready to protect me because I have chosen to obey your laws.
174I am waiting for you to save me, LORD. Your Law makes me happy.
175Keep me alive, so I can praise you, and let me find help in your teachings.
176I am your servant, but I have wandered away like a lost sheep.
Please come after me, because I have not forgotten your teachings.
169-176 Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life! And let your promises ring from my tongue; every order you’ve given is right. Put your hand out and steady me since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel. I’m homesick, God, for your salvation; I love it when you show yourself! Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, use your decrees to put iron in my soul. And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me! I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.
These scriptures have been popping up in mind when I pray over the past couple weeks. The psalm may be talking about trusting in God to build the temple of the Lord according to His will. But it teaches me to trust in God to build my home into His temple according to His will. I don’t mean home as an actual physical structure, but as a dwelling place for the family. Because of the promises of God realized in the Good News about Jesus Christ, I can and should trust in God to build our home to be a place of worshipping and loving Him. Trusting God to build my family motivates me to stay focused on Jesus Christ, stay prayerful and trust in His good will, stay joyful as I release my worries to Him, and stay thankful for His gifts to us that I don’t deserve. All this gives me a better attitude that my wife and children clearly appreciate. It also makes me a much better and harder working/serving dad and husband than when I try to build my home and raise my children by depending on money, popular wisdom, and my own power.
Jesus talks about building houses on a strong foundation of rock, not sand. The rock Jesus is talking about is His teachings. Our home needs to be built on the strong foundation of me and my wife as committed followers of Jesus Christ and the Good News. The Good News is that Jesus is God who became a man and gave His life to rescue those who trust in Him from the enemies of death, evil, and our prideful/selfish selves. Jesus promises to build us each individually into beautiful temples of God with Jesus as the foundation. I have been reminded in prayer over the past couple weeks to trust in God to raise and provide for my family according to His will as I focus on pointing myself and my family toward trusting in and following the Good News.
The Psalm mentions how having many kids is like having many weapons against enemies. I don’t have any enemies that are people trying to kill me. But this scripture really helps me as I realize how God has blessed me with more faith and trust in Him as I go through the challenges of providing and raising for each child. More faith and more trust in God gives me a more serving and loving attitude with less of a focus on myself. These blessings from God as well the joy that children are, act as weapons against my enemies. My enemies are: my own selfishness, fear of death, and the deceptions of the evil forces that want me to trust in anything or anyone else but Jesus Christ who has defeated these enemies already on the cross.
1-2 If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
3-5 Don’t you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
Mathew 7:21-27 (CEV)
21Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” 23But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”
24Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. 25Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock.
26Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. 27The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash.
나더러 주여 주여 하는 자마다 다 천국에 들어갈 것이 아니요 다만 하늘에 계신 내 아버지의 뜻대로 행하는 자라야 들어가리라
그 날에 많은 사람이 나더러 이르되 주여 주여 우리가 주의 이름으로 선지자 노릇 하며 주의 이름으로 귀신을 쫓아 내며 주의 이름으로 많은 권능을 행하지 아니하였나이까 하리니
그 때에 내가 그들에게 밝히 말하되 내가 너희를 도무지 알지 못하니 불법을 행하는 자들아 내게서 떠나가라 하리라
그러므로 누구든지 나의 이 말을 듣고 행하는 자는 그 집을 반석 위에 지은 지혜로운 사람 같으리니
비가 내리고 창수가 나고 바람이 불어 그 집에 부딪치되 무너지지 아니하나니 이는 주추를 반석 위에 놓은 까닭이요
26.나의 이 말을 듣고 행하지 아니하는 자는 그 집을 모래 위에 지은 어리석은 사람 같으리니
21-23"Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
24-25"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."
“He (God) gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favour. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them. They are “doubtful blessings” only because we are doubtful persons. Where society is rightly ordered children are regarded, not as an incumbrance, but as an inheritance; and they are received, not with regret, but as a reward. … Of course a large number of children means a large number of trials; but when these are met by faith in the Lord it also means a mass of love, and a multitude of joys.”
These scriptures help me understand that following Jesus is not about finding happiness and satisfaction. If happiness and satisfaction is my motivation for following Christ, than I will be disappointed as my life will unavoidably be filled with hardship and trouble. Hardship and trouble are a normal part of life, but in my experience, it usually works like this: the more focused I’m on Jesus and the more faithful I am in following Him, then the more troubles and difficulties I have in my life. This makes following Jesus seem not worth it in a world in which it seems increasingly normal for people to focus on doing whatever makes them feel happy and feel satisfied. I hear happiness and satisfaction increasingly used as a measure of success. I tend to think the same way: When something isn’t making me feel happy or satisfied, then I move on to something else that brings me those desired feelings, preferably immediately.
Following Jesus is about knowing and accepting the Truth. The Truth is Jesus Christ and the story of His rescue mission. Difficulty, challenge, and pain are the unavoidable circumstances of the fallen world that we live in. Following Jesus Christ is also difficult, challenging, and painful. It could be difficult, challenging, and painful physically and emotionally if you are being persecuted by people and evil forces. It could be difficult, challenging, and painful emotionally as people reject you, judge you, and hate you because of Jesus Christ. It is also painful to deny and manage our natural desires that God tells us to not let dominate us such as lust, greed, and hate. It is challenging and painful to give up your dependency on money and power to feel safe.
But the Truth is that we are all doomed without faith in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He gave us at the cost of His life. He gave us forgiveness by willingly enduring incredible spiritual, physical, and emotional pain as He served God by lovingly serving all people who betray Him. The Truth is that we were purposed to follow His life of giving ourselves to serve and glorify Him by following His example of lovingly serving those people who betray us and don’t deserve our love. The Truth is also that the Holy Spirit is within the followers of Jesus and comforting them by reminding them of the Truth. By seeking, knowing, and following the Truth with faith, then the happiness and satisfaction of trusting in God accompanies the difficult, challenging, and painful experiences that are promised to those who follow Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 44:15-23 (CEV)
15A large number of Jews from both northern and southern Egypt listened to me as I told them what the LORD had said. Most of the men in the crowd knew that their wives often burned incense to other gods. So they and their wives shouted:
16Jeremiah, what do we care if you speak in the LORD’s name? We refuse to listen! 17We have promised to worship the goddess Astarte, the Queen of Heaven, and that is exactly what we are going to do. We will burn incense and offer sacrifices of wine to her, just as we, our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders did when we lived in Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah. We had plenty of food back then. We were well off, and nothing bad ever happened to us. 18But since the time we stopped burning incense and offering wine sacrifices to her, we have been dying from war and hunger. 19Then the women said, “When we lived in Judah, we worshiped the Queen of Heaven and offered sacrifices of wine and special loaves of bread shaped like her. Our husbands knew what we were doing, and they approved of it.”
20Then I told the crowd:
21Don’t you think the LORD knew that you and your ancestors, your leaders and kings, and the rest of the people were burning incense to other gods in Jerusalem and everywhere else in Judah? 22And when he could no longer put up with your disgusting sins, he placed a curse on your land and turned it into a desert, as it is today. 23This disaster happened because you worshiped other gods and rebelled against the LORD by refusing to obey him or follow his laws and teachings.
그리하여 자기 아내들이 다른 신들에게 분향하는 줄을 아는 모든 남자와 곁에 섰던 모든 여인 곧 애굽땅 바드로스에 사는 모든 백성의 큰 무리가 예레미야에게 대답하여 이르되
네가 여호와의 이름으로 우리에게 하는 말을 우리가 듣지 아니하고
우리 입에서 낸 모든 말을 반드시 실행하여 우리가 본래 하던 것 곧 우리와 우리 선조와 우리 왕들과 우리 고관들이 유다 성읍들과 예루살렘 거리에서 하던 대로 하늘의 여왕에게 분향하고 그 앞에 전제를 드리리라 그 때에는 우리가 먹을 것이 풍부하며 복을 받고 재난을 당하지 아니하였더니
우리가 하늘의 여왕에게 분향하고 그 앞에 전제 드리던 것을 폐한 후부터는 모든 것이 궁핍하고 칼과 기근에 멸망을 당하였느니라 하며
여인들은 이르되 우리가 하늘의 여왕에게 분향하고 그 앞에 전제를 드릴 때에 어찌 우리 남편의 허락이 없이 그의 형상과 같은 과자를 만들어 놓고 전제를 드렸느냐 하는지라
너희가 너희 선조와 너희 왕들과 고관들과 유다 땅 백성이 유다 성읍들과 예루살렘 거리에서 분향한 일을 여호와께서 기억하셨고 그의 마음에 떠오른 것이 아닌가
여호와께서 너희 악행과 가증한 행위를 더 참을 수 없으셨으므로 너희 땅이 오늘과 같이 황폐하며 놀램과 저줏거리가 되어 주민이 없게 되었나니
너희가 분향하여 여호와께 범죄하였으며 여호와의 목소리를 순종하지 아니하고 여호와의 율법과 법규와 여러 증거대로 행하지 아니하였으므로 이 재난이 오늘과 같이 너희에게 일어났느니라
Jeremiah 44:15-23 (The Message)
15-18The men who knew that their wives had been burning sacrifices to the no-gods, joined by a large crowd of women, along with virtually everyone living in Pathros of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: “We’re having nothing to do with what you tell us is God’s Message. We’re going to go right on offering sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, keeping up the traditions set by our ancestors, our kings and government leaders in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem in the good old days. We had a good life then—lots of food, rising standard of living, and no bad luck. But the moment we quit sacrificing to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out offerings to her, everything fell apart. We’ve had nothing but massacres and starvation ever since.”
19And then the women chimed in: “Yes! Absolutely! We’re going to keep at it, offering sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out offerings to her. Aren’t our husbands behind us? They like it that we make goddess cookies and pour out our offerings to her.”
20-23Then Jeremiah spoke up, confronting the men and the women, all the people who had answered so insolently. He said, “The sacrifices that you and your parents, your kings, your government officials, and the common people of the land offered up in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem—don’t you think God noticed? He noticed, all right. And he got fed up. Finally, he couldn’t take your evil behavior and your disgusting acts any longer. Your land became a wasteland, a death valley, a horror story, a ghost town. And it continues to be just that. This doom has come upon you because you kept offering all those sacrifices, and you sinned against God! You refused to listen to him, wouldn’t live the way he directed, ignored the covenant conditions.”
Mark 13:5-13 (CEV)
Watch out and don’t let anyone fool you! 6Many will come and claim to be me. They will use my name and fool many people.
7When you hear about wars and threats of wars, don’t be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn’t the end. 8Nations and kingdoms will go to war against each other. There will be earthquakes in many places, and people will starve to death. But this is just the beginning of troubles.
9Be on your guard! You will be taken to courts and beaten with whips in their meeting places. And because of me, you will have to stand before rulers and kings to tell about your faith. 10But before the end comes, the good news must be preached to all nations.
11When you are arrested, don’t worry about what you will say. You will be given the right words when the time comes. But you will not really be the ones speaking. Your words will come from the Holy Spirit.
12Brothers and sisters will betray each other and have each other put to death. Parents will betray their own children, and children will turn against their parents and have them killed. 13Everyone will hate you because of me. But if you keep on being faithful right to the end, you will be saved.
13.또 너희가 내 이름으로 말미암아 모든 사람에게 미움을 받을 것이나 끝까지 견디는 자는 구원을 받으리라
Mark 13:5-13 (The Message)
5-8Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming.
9-10"And watch out! They’re going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’re placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world.
11"When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.
12-13"It’s going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me.
”Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.
“My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.”—Abraham Lincoln (via myquotelibrary)
These scriptures helped remind me of how I have been going through a cycle:
1. I remember I’m saved by God from my enemies (evil, death, and sin) by trusting in Jesus and the story of His rescue mission.
2. So I joyfully trust in His love, power, and victory to save me with amazing grace.
3. But eventually or soon, I forget the good news that I have been saved. I forget that I have everything in Jesus Christ. As a result, I start to become afraid and feel vulnerable. I start to try and cover up my vulnerability or distract myself from it by independently pursuing fun and power in selfish ways.
4. God lets me endure the terrible consequences of my choices so that I will learn to always remember the good news that I have been saved by Him according to His grace, and to trust in the promises of Jesus Christ.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I remember a time several years ago when I came to the conclusion that following Jesus is the only way to live that is worth living. And then I was remembering how I forgot that as I stopped reminding myself of, and enjoying daily, the good news and the promises of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 106:6-15 (CEV)
6We and our ancestors have sinned terribly.
7When they were in Egypt,
they paid no attention to your marvelous deeds or your wonderful love.
And they turned against you at the Red Sea.
8But you were true to your name,
and you rescued them to prove how mighty you are.
9You said to the Red Sea, “Dry up!”
Then you led your people across on land as dry as a desert.
10You saved all of them 11and drowned every one of their enemies.
12Then your people trusted you and sang your praises.
13But they soon forgot what you had done and rejected your advice.
14They became greedy for food and tested you there in the desert.
15So you gave them what they wanted,
but later you destroyed them with a horrible disease.
우리가 우리의 조상들처럼 범죄하여 사악을 행하며 악을 지었나이다
우리의 조상들이 애굽에 있을 때 주의 기이한 일들을 깨닫지 못하며 주의 크신 인자를 기억하지 아니하고 바다 곧 홍해에서 거역하였나이다
그러나 여호와께서는 자기의 이름을 위하여 그들을 구원하셨으니 그의 큰 권능을 만인이 알게 하려 하심이로다
이에 홍해를 꾸짖으시니 곧 마르니 그들을 인도하여 바다 건너가기를 마치 광야를 지나감 같게 하사
그러므로 여호와께서는 그들이 요구한 것을 그들에게 주셨을지라도 그들의 영혼은 쇠약하게 하셨도다
6-12 We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents; We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people. After our parents left Egypt, they took your wonders for granted, forgot your great and wonderful love. They were barely beyond the Red Sea when they defied the High God —the very place he saved them! —the place he revealed his amazing power! He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot —he paraded them right through! —no one so much as got wet feet! He saved them from a life of oppression, pried them loose from the grip of the enemy. Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors; there wasn’t a single survivor. Then they believed his words were true and broke out in songs of praise.
13-18 But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing, wouldn’t wait to be told what to do. They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert, provoked God with their insistent demands. He gave them exactly what they asked for— but along with it they got an empty heart
These scriptures helped remind me of why I should be celebrating and telling people about Jesus everyday: God rescued me from my enemies, God is kind and merciful, God’s love never quits on me, God is victorious over all enemies, God is powerful and He gives me His power and strength to serve Him and follow Jesus.
I actually don’t have any people physically attacking like the writer of these scriptures does. But I do have spiritual enemies that want me to forget they are already defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross. They want me to forget their defeat and fear them when they harass me so that I will try to depend on some power other than Jesus Christ to rescue me. I do have the enemy of death that I fear when I forget that Jesus Christ has also defeated death on the cross. I also have the annoying enemy that is the part of me that hates God, disbelieves that God loves me, and desperately depends on anything else but Jesus to live happily. This enemy within me is also defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross.
He grows my faith in His love and power when I’m reminded of the good news about the victories that Jesus Christ achieved over humanity’s enemies (sin, death, satanic forces, our own hate for Him and others) when He gave up His life while being murdered on the cross. I am less fearful, more joyful, and feel like celebrating and telling others about this good news.
Thank God because he’s good, because his love never quits. Tell the world, Israel, ”His love never quits.” And you, clan of Aaron, tell the world, ”His love never quits.” And you who fear God, join in, ”His love never quits.”
5-16 Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God's now at my side and I'm not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me? God's my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies. Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people; Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities. Hemmed in by barbarians, in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Hemmed in and with no way out, in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in; in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt. I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me. God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation. Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? ”The hand of God has turned the tide! The hand of God is raised in victory! The hand of God has turned the tide!”
17-20 I didn’t die. I lived! And now I’m telling the world what God did.
“As a teacher, I can never let that one discipline problem choke out my passion to teach. It would be like letting one passenger block all the others from getting on the plane and standing there for days.”—Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher (via coolcatteacher)