Thursday, April 21, 2011

Encouragement from J.I. Packer

I just read a really encouraging passage of truth from one of my favorite authors, J.I. Packer, from his book "God's Plans for You." I thought I would share it with you~

"It is a mistake, as we saw earlier, to imagine that the good of which God works is our unbroken ease and comfort. God's goal is, rather, our sanctification and Christlikeness, the true holiness that is the highway to happiness. Constant ease and comfort, therefore, are contentment from their knowledge that God is making everything that happens to them a means of furthering and realizing their glorious destiny. 'Whatever is good for God's children, they shall have it,' wrote Richard Sibbes the Puritan, 'for all is theirs to further them to heaven. If crosses be good, they shall have them; if disgrace be good, they shall have it, for all is ours, to serve our main good.' To understand this statement is to have the secret of abiding contentment in one's grasp" (119).

God never promised Christians an easy or comortable life. In fact, He promised us trials, suffering, and persecution! How do we maintain our joy in Christ through these seasons of pain? By remembering that God is still in control, that He still has a plan, and that He will work everything together for good for those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1 Peter 5:8: Our Enemy

1 Peter 5:8: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

I'm not sure where the image of the devil as a cute little red creature with a tail, horns and pitchfork came from, but I know that it certainly didn't come from the Bible. It makes me sick around Halloween to see children dressed as little devils. It made me so uncomfortable in high school that our school mascot was a demon (which is why I had no school spirit and never purchased a class ring, demon t-shirts or other paraphernalia!). Why do I take things like this so seriously? What troubles me is that the world is making light of something that is gravely serious. The Scriptures don't paint Satan as a cute little mischievous creature. The Scriptures paint Satan as a savage beast out to kill.

Peter warns Christians in this verse to be "sober" and "alert." We are to be on our guard against spiritual attack at all times, protected by our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:13-20). Though it is a grave mistake to give Satan too much credit and focus on Him too much, it is also a tragic error to ignore him altogether. There is a spiritual battle going on that we can't see with our own eyes. We must remember who our enemy is and be on our guard against his devious schemes, temptations, and outright lies. How do we do this? Stay in the Word, which is the only truth, and pray that God will "keep us from temptation, and deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13)

The reason Peter instructs us to be "sober" and "alert," is because we have an "adversary, the devil." If you are someone who thinks she has no enemies, think again! As Christians, the devil despises us. What does he spend his time doing? This verse tells us that he "prowls around like a lion, seeking someone to devour." He is a troublemaker. He isn't just a bit mischievous, he is a thoroughly vicious and evil beast. What is he trying to devour? Well, the good news is that he can't take away your salvation. However, he can attempt to weaken your faith, rob you of your joy, and make you an ineffective and unproductive Christian. Right now, I feel that I am under attack from the enemy. I know that as someone in vocational ministry, he especially hates me and wants to destroy my work. He is relentlessly trying to discourage me and bring me down. Perhaps this is the reason that the average tenure for a youth minister is 1 year! Its hard to persevere while under attack.

That's the end of the verse, but I don't want to leave you on such a depressing note! As I said before, while we must soberly understand the reality of demonic assault, we also shouldn't give the devil more credit than he deserves. Remember that the devil's power is nothing compared to the all-surpassing authority, dominion, power, and majesty of our God. God is still in control. Satan knows all too well that his demise is coming, and he will be cast into eternal torment one day soon. Until then, we don't have to be afraid of him, because we have God on our side. Satan and his minions are nothing before Him. They tremble at the sound of Jesus' name. He has the victory over evil, and as believers, we share in that victory. We don't need to be afraid...just alert. Be aware that you have an enemy who is trying to bring you down, but you also have an infinitely more powerful God who loves, protects, and cares for you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Caring for the Orphans~

James 1:27 says this: "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

There's no getting around it...God has called Christians to care for the orphans. This means, that as believers, we're called to be ministering to the orphans of this world in some way or another. This could be by adopting an orphan either domestically or internationally. It may mean committing to daily prayer for the orphans to be protected from harm and placed in loving Christian homes. It may mean giving financially to orphanages or families who do feel called to adopt. Or it could mean flying overseas and ministering to orphans all over the world firsthand.

My sister Julie and her husband Flynn have felt called to adopt a baby from Uganda. They are just starting out in the process, and need all the prayer and encouragement they can get! Please commit to praying for them and consider making a donation if you are led~