This message contains graphics. If you do not see the graphics, click here to view.

Click to view this email in your browser.

There Is Hope

This content is drawn from: Proverbs 3:1-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, my life was dramatically changed by a stroke that came when I was 44 years old, affecting me and the lives of everyone near me. In over three years since that time, I have not driven a car (I used to drive daily); I have not gone for a run (I used to run three or four miles on a whim); I have not gone for a bike ride alone (I used to be able to go for long rides in the evening); and I have not done complex legal work (my job used to have me working on more than 20 transactions at the same time).

One thing I certainly have done, however, is spend a great deal of time seeking the Lord and trying to understand the nature of suffering. This month’s devotions are insights God has brought to me, most of them lessons I am still struggling to learn. The Lord keeps bringing me back to my need to trust His Word (Psalm 33:4) and His plans (Romans 8:28).

Are you suffering? If so, I hope these devotions and verses on which they are based will give you strength and encouragement today.

INSIGHT:
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through… the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Standing Strong Through The Storms

BOLDER AND FEARLESS

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14

The Apostle Paul indicates that another reason why the gospel was actually advancing during his imprisonment was the bold courageous witness of other believers who had lost their fear.

Two Chinese itinerant evangelists who carried Christian books with them were arrested in Anhui Province during their ministry. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) put them in jail and beat them. The guard beat the face of one until it bled and then took his shoes away in the cold of winter. Then they poured cold water on him throughout the winter. He became deformed from the harsh treatment. Both were kept in jail for six months.

They had led two people to the Lord in that prison location before they were arrested, and when they were released from jail after six months, there were over one hundred new Christians in the area from the seeds that these men had planted. The two people that they led to the Lord spread the message to others. The work grew even while the itinerant evangelists were in prison.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, fourteen Christians continued their witness while in prison by reading scripture aloud. By the time they were released, they had read through the entire New Testament and forty-four inmates professed faith in Jesus Christ.

Pedro Pablo Castillo shares a similar situation in Nicaragua where half of the four thousand political prisoners became Christians. On the eve of their release, they prayed, sang and read scripture to celebrate their pardon. Castillo returned to the jail to urge them to let Christ shine in their lives whether in jail or outside.

We shared earlier about Pastor Tu in Vietnam—leader of the fastest growing house church network. Pastor Tu spent three years in prison for his evangelistic ministry. When he was released, he found his house church network had grown three hundred per cent during his imprisonment years.

I received a Christmas card from him the following year that read: “…God greatly gives our church 20,203 more new believers this year. Hallelujah!”

RESPONSE: God’s kingdom will advance when I overcome my fear and become a bold and courageous witness to the power of the gospel.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to trust You fully and become a dynamic force in boldly advancing the growth of Your church.

Bible Gateway

Tozer In Christian Leadership

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Irreconcilable Hostility

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.—Ephesians 6:12

In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men and women conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Humans, our fathers held, had to choose sides-they could not be neutral. For them it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on God’s side they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. People looked forward to heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them….

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. People think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full. This World: Playground or Battleground?, 4-5.

“Lord, we’ve lost too much by becoming friendly with the enemy. Help me to be willing to take a stand for righteousness, to choose clearly to be on Your side against the enemy, to pay any price—and then to look forward to laying down my sword later in heaven. Amen.”

Bible Gateway