Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
Persecutions and trials are not something most people look forward to. No one wants to be persecuted or put on trial for anything. This becomes especially true when someone is innocent of doing anything wrong.
When a person is summoned for a court hearing to be tried, he usually gets very nervous, especially if innocent. He runs out quickly to find a good lawyer to defend him. He wonders if he will be able to prove his innocence. Many will start to fight back saying that they are innocent. In the process of fighting back, some will end up committing a crime.
It is common to hear of people slandering or cursing their accusers. They run to the media to try and clear their name. Or they try to flee and never face their accuser.
Paul tells the people of the Thessalonian church that he boasts about what they are doing in the face of persecution and trials. They are staying strong and true to God’s word and holding on to their faith.
Over the years, not every believer has acted liked the Thessalonian church. The trials can be real court trials against them, but often they are just trials in life to test their faith. The little day-to-day struggles are trials that test what a person is really like. Slander and lies are the persecutions that many face.
As believers are faced with these types of persecutions or worse and the many types of trials in life, they are given a choice as to how to react to them. Many begin to curse the person or situation, or they get angry with God for allowing it to happen.
Believers are to hold on to their faith and trust God through every situation. They are to not give up on God and take the way of the world.
Persecutions and trials will come your way. Jesus promised them. You have a choice as to how you will react to those situations. They may be big and grand persecutions, but usually they will be the little things in life each day.
Will you give into the trial and act like the world?
Or will you hold on to your faith that God is in control?
Hang on to God and the trial will come to an end in His time.
I pray today that you will have faith in God’s abilities; that you will hold on to God during trials; that you will focus on God and His promises in persecutions; and that you will shine as a witness of Jesus in this world.
“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:56
After celebrating the Passover feast with the disciples, Jesus went to the garden to pray. While there some leaders of the law came with some soldiers and arrested Him. Jesus states that all that was happening had to occur, because it was prophesied by the prophets of God. Those prophecies had to be fulfilled.
When a person assembles something together for the first time, there are a set of instructions to be followed. There is always a set order in how to assemble the object. If the instructions are not followed in correct order or some of the steps are entirely skipped, the object will not be assembled correctly and will not work.
People try to skip steps in order to complete it faster or because they think that they know what they are doing. Often when this happens another part does not work correctly or does not fit in correctly.
In this passage, there were a set order of things that had to occur in the life of the Jesus and the disciples. God had already set in motion what had to happen and how it was to happen. This was regardless of how it looked or felt by anyone.
In the life of a believer, God has set things in motion. He has a plan for your life in how things should occur and when they should occur.
Some of the prophecies that were made about you are that you would be persecuted, that God would give you strength, that you would be hated, that God would give you victory in the end, and that you will have eternal life.
The challenge with this is that some of those prophecies are not very comforting or easy to accept. All of the things that God allows in your life are being used to build you up and make you more like Jesus.
It was not easy for Jesus to go to the cross. It was not easy for the disciples to see Jesus go to the cross. But it was necessary. They had to keep moving forward in the path God laid out for them. The events had to occur.
The events in your life must occur to build you. Trust God as they occur today.
I pray today that you will know the prophecies of God for your life; that you will know God is in control; that you will trust God’s plan for your life; and that you will grow closer to God through the events of your life.
Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me–how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the LORD; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them. Ezekiel 6:9-10
It was because of the sins of the people that God chose to destroy Jerusalem and place all the people in captivity in Babylon. In the process of doing that, God kept a remnant alive. Those who survived would realize what their sins had caused and would repent of those sins. The few left would turn their hearts back to God and the purpose of the calamity would be fulfilled. The captivity was not to just destroy the people, but to get them to turn their hearts back to God.
From the beginning of time, God has always wanted to have a relationship with mankind. He always wanted to be able to spend time with people and bless them with a full life. Never once was the final purpose of what happens to just be destruction.
God allows calamity and trials in the lives of those who follow Him for a purpose. Sometimes it is just to test the person and see if he is really following Him or not. Other times it is to draw the person back to God.
When a person begins to go through a hard time because of sin, he will realize how good he really had it when he was following God. At that point, he may turn back to God, hating the sin he had fallen in to. Some will fall away from God and give up on Him, while a remnant will turn back to Him during such times.
Throughout your life, God is working out all things to keep your focus on Him and to make you more like Jesus each day. Some of those things may be calamity. They may be painful and hard to go through, but the purpose is still the same.
Keep your eyes and life focused on God. Strive to be more like Jesus everyday. In that way, all the things you are going through will be for a good purpose. And God will not have to strike you to get your attention.
I pray today that you will be more like Jesus; that you will not fall away from God in hard times; and that you will turn from all sin in your life towards God.
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16
As Jeremiah spoke the words God had given him, most of those words were not exactly the most comforting, kind words. They were often words of judgment and coming destruction. Yet, Jeremiah found great joy in those words and was glad to eat them. Despite the challenges and trials that Jeremiah had faced, he was glad to bear God’s name before the people. The words of God brought life and meaning to his life. Jeremiah was glad to bear God’s name on his life, despite the persecution he had to go through.
The world tries to say that the Bible is just a good story, but that it is not really from a god. It is often believed to be just a great book of stories made up by men. It is seen as one of the greatest literature books of all time.
The reason the Bible can be listed as the greatest literature of all time, is that it is in reality, God’s words. It was written by men who were under God’s inspiration, filled with His Holy Spirit. Thus the words of the Bible can bring about life. Any one who has life, also has joy.
It is easy to see the Bible as just a bunch of do and don’t regulations, however, it is much more than that. It gives you the instructions on how to really live life to the fullest. It tells you who God is, what He is like, and what He desires. It provides everything that you need in this life.
As you go through your life, day by day, you also need guidance. You need to know who God is, what He is like, and what He desires. All of this can be found in the Bible.
God will reveal Himself, first through the Bible, then through His Holy Spirit in your life. You cannot know too much about God. There is always more to learn. As you get to know God more, you will have more and more joy in your life. That joy will be there despite the trials of this life.
Are you finding joy in His Word today?
Spend your time with His Words today.
I pray today that you will know God more and more; that you will find joy in His word; that God will make the Bible come alive to you; that you will gladly bear His name in public; and that you will gladly speak His words to this world.
Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood–because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. Isaiah 7:4
While Ahaz was the king of Judah, the nations of Aram and Israel had worked together to try to destroy the city of Jerusalem. Having two nations together against one, made their armies very large and powerful. King Ahaz and all the people were scared and did not know what to do.
Speaking through Isaiah, God told them to not only be careful, but to be calm and not afraid. They were to no longer shake with fear because of the armies coming against them. God describes those two armies as just pieces of smoldering firewood.
Smoldering firewood is not a very large threat. It can break out into flame and cause a lot of damage, but at the same time it can easily and quickly be put out before it bursts into flame. If a fire is smoldering it only takes a little water to put it out. Once a flame is going, it will take a lot more water to put it out.
As you are going through life, there will be times that there will be smoldering firewood in your life. There will be situations that are brewing underneath the surface threatening to burst into flame and destroy your life.
At times these smoldering pieces of firewood may only be one thing, but other times it will be multiple things all at the same time. Bills, health, vehicles, jobs, family, natural disasters, and the list goes on. Usually it is more than one thing happening that puts pressure on you.
God wants you to trust Him in every situation. When you put all of your trust in God, you will be calm and not afraid. There is nothing to fear when God is on your side.
Jesus paid the price for your life and said He would never leave you. Since He did that, you have a reason to be calm in spite of all the threats going on around you in your life. All those threats are just smoldering firewood that God can control and put out, in His time and way.
Trust God today and be calm.
I pray today that you will know God is in control; that you will know the peace of God in your life; that you will not fear any threats in your life; and that God will calm your heart and mind.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: Proverbs 3:1
People hear this statement that there is a time for everything, but most do not want to believe or accept all of those times. Solomon continues on with listing many different things that there is a time for. Some of these are: to be born, to plant, to heal, to laugh, and to dance. People like these things and want more of them. These are the good times in a person’s life.
The other side of his statements, however, state that there is also a time: to die, to uproot, to tear down, to weep, to mourn, and to be silent. These are the ‘negative’ times in a person’s life. These are the times that very few people look forward too. Yet, God has ordered them in each person’s life.
It is easy to look at the good times of blessings from God and enjoy them. Everyone wants to be happy and have life go smoothly.
Yet, there are supposed to be times that are not so pleasant. Jesus said that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it will only be a single seed. Things have to happen to make things grow larger.
Take a look at the book of Acts. Until the persecution of all believers started to rise, the gospel message did not spread very far. It stayed among the Jews in a very small area. Once persecution set it, many people scattered and spread the message. The process was not fun, nor easy, but it brought about new life in the end.
When you live your life based on times of being happy, you will be disappointed and you will miss out on many other blessings in this life. It is in the difficult and painful times in life, that God can show up and do miraculous things. It is in those same times that God can move you to a new location in life to do great things through you and for you.
God is the one who is in control of everything. He has a time for every event that occurs in your life.
Are you trusting God in all the seasons of your life?
I pray today that you will know God’s plans for your life; that you will know God is in control; and that you will know God’s purpose for events in your life.