Be careful! In a desire to be great, one might cease being any good. Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal. Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra. A promotion might promote a person right out of their sweet spot. For the love of more, a person might lose their purpose. Greed makes a poor job counselor.
Examine your gifts; know your strengths. Romans 12:3 says to “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities.” Proverbs 15:16 says, “It is better to have little with fear for the LORD than to have great treasure with turmoil.”
Don’t let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design!
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”—Genesis 3:17
Christians tend to categorize sins, rating some as small and inconsequential, and others as huge and far-reaching in the damage they cause. In reality, no one sins in isolation. Each act of disobedience affects not only the sinner but also others in both the present and the future.
If we were to separate Adam and Eve’s sin from its context, few of us would convict them of great transgression. All they did was swallow some fruit from a tree with a “do not eat” sign. Today people think nothing of ignoring commands—even biblical ones.
But God has a totally different view of our sins. Each one is followed by negative consequences. Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to pain and frustration in two basic areas of fulfillment—relationships and meaningful work. The whole earth fell under sin’s curse, and all people born since then have entered the world with a sin nature that alienates them from the Lord.
That first rebellion plunged humanity into a terrible condition. Civilization is now plagued by ramifications of the sins committed by millions of human beings throughout the ages. Is it any wonder the world is in such sad shape? Sin not only causes suffering; it also robs us of God’s best. The Garden of Eden is closed and locked to sinful mankind.
The good news of Christ’s grace and forgiveness is our only real hope in this fallen world. Though unpleasant, focusing on sin’s consequences is necessary at times to remind us of the greatness of our salvation and to move us to obey God, even in the small things.
“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence and skill in all kinds of crafts. . .”—Exodus 31:3-5
When you are doing the most in what you do the best, you pop the pride buttons on the vest of God. In the movie Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell defended his devotion to running by telling his sister, “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”
When do you feel God’s pleasure? When do you look up into the heavens and say, “I was made to do this?” When it comes to being you, you were made for the part. So speak your lines with confidence!
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.— Romans 10:9-10
There is the heart of a person and there is the mouth of a person. When it comes to salvation, the two should be in harmony with one another. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is who the Bible says He is, then your mouth should also confess that Jesus is who the Bible says he is. If you do these two things, then our verse for today says you are saved.
Although Paul doesn’t explicitly say it in this context, the Bible teaches that the person whose heart truly believes and whose mouth truly confesses will also start down the road towards a Christ-like life. It was James who explicitly made this point. He said, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (James 2:14). Indeed, Jesus himself said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24).
The heart full of faith in Jesus will confess that faith and will begin, however imperfectly, to walk in that faith.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. II Corinthians 1:3-4
Although we live in a world full of trials, troubles, and tribulations, we do not live in a world that only has trials, troubles, and tribulations. We live in a world where there is also the comfort of God. In the midst of the difficulties of life, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort sends us the comfort we need to help us go through everything that comes our way. Indeed, He sends us the comfort we need to overcome all these things.
People who have received the comfort of God in the midst of affliction are better able to be used by God as a source of comfort to others who are going through the same kind of affliction. There is little doubt that the best comforter is the one who has already been comforted by God in the relevant area of life. Such people know the comfort of God can help overcome Satan’s attempts to harm us and know how to help others in need to receive the comfort of God.
Like everyone else in this troubled world of ours, you have been going through various and sundry afflictions. The God of comfort, however, is preparing to send you the very thing you need to help you persevere and overcome.
Keep your eyes and ears open, then, for the comfort that is about to come your way.
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.— Hebrews 5:8-9
Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” That is, from first to last He is the perfect example of how we should live our lives by faith. If we have any question as to how we should live our lives, then we should look to Jesus first of all as an example of what to do.
Interestingly enough, if we look to Jesus as revealed in our verse for today, what we learn from His example is that the model of our faith had to suffer. Jesus’ life was a life that included suffering and His suffering was not gratuitous. It had a purpose. Through His suffering Jesus learned obedience. He learned how to remain obedient to God even though He was suffering. He learned not to use suffering as an excuse to disobey God’s plan for His life. He learned how to stand fast in faith through it all and obey God.
Further, we learn from Jesus’ example that His obedience to God needed to be perfected. Jesus, of course, lived in sinless perfection. However, He still needed to go through the sufferings He went through in order to become ready for His great task in life. Every experience He had and every suffering He endured prepared Him for the cross.
If the author and finisher of our faith needed to learn obedience through suffering, then how much more do we who are mere followers of His example need to learn obedience through suffering? Perhaps we need to look at the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life in a new light. Instead of complaining about them, perhaps we should consider them valuable experiences that qualify us for the tasks God has planned for us. If we go through these trying times in faith and obedience, then we will be ready for what God has in store for us.
You are a work in progress. You are being perfected by suffering for the tasks God planned for you from all eternity. You are working on your advanced degree in the specialty God thinks you are best suited for. Stand fast in faith, then, and learn obedience from what you are going through.
Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength—Isa. 40:31
Do you desire God’s best for your life? Unfortunately, many people miss out on blessings because they are unwilling to wait for His timing. Scripture encourages believers to be patient.
Your patience is refined when you are going through difficult times, when you’re frustrated with the waiting and tempted to act outside of God’s will. Always seek His wisdom, and follow the instruction you receive. Remember that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength” (Isa. 40:31).