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Cause Joy Not Grief

 

Why Cause Grief?

 — by Dave Branon


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Obey those who rule over you, . . . for they watch out for your souls. —Hebrews 13:17

Pastors make an easy target for criticism. Every week they are on display, carefully explaining God’s Word, challenging us toward Christlike living. But sometimes we look to find things to criticize. It’s easy to overlook all the good things a pastor does and focus on our personal opinions.

Like all of us, our pastors are not perfect. So I’m not saying that we should follow them blindly and never confront error through the proper channels. But some words from the writer of Hebrews may help us find the right way of thinking about our leaders who are presenting God’s truth and modeling servant leadership. The writer says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account” (13:17 niv).

Think about that. Before God, our pastor is responsible for guiding us spiritually. We should want that burden to be joyous, not grievous. The passage indicates that causing grief for the pastor “would be of no benefit” (v.17 niv).

We honor God and make things better for our church when we give honor to those He has appointed as our leaders.

Our gracious Father, thank You for the person
You led to our church as pastor. May we provide
encouragement and support, and may You protect
our pastor from error in both word and actions.
Pastors who preach God’s Word need a good word from God’s people.

The fruit of suffering

From: Our Daily Journey

Feb
16

Luke 23:32-49

Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Read Romans 8:282 Corinthians 1:3-4, andGalatians 4:13 to see some examples of God redeeming suffering for the sake of others.

How might your suffering develop empathy in you for others who suffer? How might Jesus want to serve others through your pain?

“How are you doing now?” my friend asked as we walked down the path. The last time Adrian and I had spoken, I had told him that my wife and I were not able to have children and the pain this had brought us.

“On the whole,” I said, “we’re doing better. I guess we’re trying to focus on the upside of being childless and the opportunities it brings. You know, like being free to travel.” “Yes,” Adrian said, “although that can take you only so far.” We walked a little farther before he explained what he meant.

“There was no upside to Jesus’ suffering. His crucifixion was a dark, barbaric event. And Jesus never tried to find a positive side to it. Instead, He did something else entirely.” “Go on,” I said. “Have you ever noticed how many people Jesus ministered to as He hung on the cross?” Adrian asked. Then he said, “He ministered to His mother . . . ” “You mean, putting her in John’s care?” I inquired (John 19:26-27). “That’s right. He ministered to the thief crucified next to Him, and to the people who crucified Him (Luke 23:33-34,39-43). His death ministered to the Roman centurion who came to believe in Him (Luke 23:47), and He ministered to us—forgiving our sins through His sacrifice. All of this was done in the middle of Jesus’ suffering, before things came good at His resurrection.”

I thought deeply as we continued down the path.

“Yes, there may be some benefits in being childless, but you will also find it difficult and lonely. If you follow Jesus’ example, however, out of your suffering will come opportunities to minister to people in ways you otherwise couldn’t. For Jesus, crucifixion was a mission field. And with Him, the fruit of our suffering can be service to others too.”

Can You See Her?

From: Getmorestrength.org

Feb
16
2014

“and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”Luke 7:38

For most of us, prostitution represents a rather repulsive aspect of the underbelly of society. Given our disdain for such a godless practice, my guess is that few of us have ever thought about the people trapped in the “industry,” let alone the thought of taking the love of Jesus to them. We are far more prone to think of prostitutes with Simon the Pharisee’s sanctimonious aloofness—an aloofness that Jesus never felt.

Simon, the “good” person in town, was repulsed by the prostitute who had gate-crashed his party. The text indicates that he watched with revulsion the outpouring of her love at Jesus’ feet. His buttoned-up, spit-polished religious life had shut her out. Jesus, on the other hand, extended love and forgiveness to her and welcomed her in. What a contrast!

Lisa DePalma is the founder of a ministry to prostitutes on the dark street corners of Chicago. I have been stunned by Lisa’s stories of her work with these shattered lives, and I’ve been gripped by her example of what it means to extend the heart and hands of Jesus to them. Always used and never loved, these prostitutes hear—some of them for the first time—that God has wonderfully loved them through the person of Jesus.

To those of us who have a hard time feeling love and compassion for this kind of woman, Lisa writes these pleading lines.

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

Her face instead of her clothes? Her eyes instead of her body?

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

She has a name instead of a label, a broken heart instead of a hard one

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

The image of God instead of an object of scorn

Her worth to the Savior instead of her worthlessness to the world

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

His heart of forgiveness instead of your heart that judges

His blood that covers instead of your rules that condemn

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

And when you do see, what then?

What then? That’s a great question! Getting over a self-righteous, condemning attitude toward people who are not like us—and overtly sinful as well—is not an easy thing. Our “goodness” has a way of backfiring on us when we become proud that we are not like them and think of them as hopeless objects of God’s judgment—if indeed we think of them at all. The good guys in Jesus’ day were constantly shocked that He cared about sinners. But as He said, He came to seek and save those who are lost.

Getting over our infatuation with how good we are begins by asking ourselves if we want to be like standoffish Simon or like the compassionate Jesus. I choose Jesus! I’m tired of how I feel when I am self-righteous and proud. I find that following His lead to love the lost is a breath of fresh air in a stodgy and stagnant world of people who are taken with their own goodness.

 

 

One of Jesus’ Miracles

 

 Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus Christ

Two Men

 — by Anne Cetas
Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. . . . Jesus wept. —John 11:33,35

Two men were killed in our city on the same day. The first, a police officer, was shot down while trying to help a family. The other was a homeless man who was shot while drinking with friends early that day.

The whole city grieved for the police officer. He was a fine young man who cared for others and was loved by the neighborhood he served. A few homeless people grieved for the friend they loved and lost.

I think the Lord grieved with them all.

When Jesus saw Mary and Martha and their friends weeping over the death of Lazarus, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). He loved Lazarus and his sisters. Even though He knew that He would soon be raising Lazarus from the dead, He wept with them (v.35). Some Bible scholars think that part of Jesus’ weeping also may have been over death itself and the pain and sadness it causes in people’s hearts.

Loss is a part of life. But because Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (v.25), those who believe in Him will one day experience an end of all death and sorrow. In the meantime, He weeps with us over our losses and asks us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

Give me a heart sympathetic and tender;
Jesus, like Thine, Jesus, like Thine,
Touched by the needs that are surging around me,
And filled with compassion divine. —<poem_author>Anon.
Compassion helps to heal the hurts of others. From: Our Daily Bread

Vision and Darkness

From: My Utmost for HIs HIghest

When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him —Genesis 15:12

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light-that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God . . .”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

give what you have

From: OurDailyJourney

Romans 12:4-8
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you (Romans 12:6).

Meditate on Philippians 1:6and apply it to the way you use your time, talents, and treasures today.

How can you put the talents and resources God has given you to better use? Why is it important for us to give back to God?

Last year, a few foreign exchange college students from Saudi Arabia celebrated Christmas with our family. When they arrived, they told us they had never experienced a Christmas in the US and were looking forward to it with great anticipation.

When it came time to exchange gifts, we carefully explained to our guests that the tradition of giving gifts to those we love was one way we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ—God’s greatest gift to the world (John 3:16).

As one who has received the gift of God’s Son, I sometimes wonder what I can give in return. It’s helpful to realize that God simply asks us to give what we have (Romans 12:6). He doesn’t ask us to be more than we are. He simply asks us to do our best with what He’s given us.

Each of us has something of substance to give. We can give our time to assist a person in need. We can give our money to support a kingdom effort. We can help by volunteering our talents in helping others. It doesn’t matter how much natural ability or resources we possess. What matters to God is whether we make good use of what we have been given for His kingdom, whether big or small. Paul wrote that whatever we do for God with the gifting He’s given us, we should do it “well” (Romans 12:7).

Doing our best is the best gift we can give Him in return for sending Jesus to rescue us and for the gift of new life. What we give back won’t be enough to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven, but it will help.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

He did his Duty

From: inspirationalarchive.com


 To augment his schoolteacher salary, for a number of years, back when corner stores were better known than supermarkets, my dad filled in as a grocery store clerk at one of the larger such stores in our community. The cash registers in those days rang up sales but only after someone tallied up the sale total. Dad could run his pencil down a long column of figures listing customer purchases and speedily arrive at the correct sum.

Later on, after the corner stores went the way of the dinosaur, Dad had another career as a taxi driver, first driving for a local cab owner and later buying the business and running it for some years—although in this case “business” means one car, used as a taxi and also as his personal vehicle.

We never went anywhere with Dad, even out of town, that he did not meet someone he knew. His three jobs had one thing in common—they kept him in the public eye. He was so well-known that we were sure that in any city in the United States he would meet someone he knew in the first half hour.

My mother suffered from several different chronic illnesses. As the years passed, they grew worse, even as a total of five children were born in the family. We all lived in a house with only four rooms, a circumstances I’m sure was shared by many of our neighbors in those post depression and war years. Perhaps, however, some of those families had more ready cash than we did. Even though Dad usually taught all day and worked at the grocery all evening, with all the medical expenses we incurred, there wasn’t enough money for us to own a car. Dad hitched rides to school with other teachers during most of his teaching career. There was a bus he occasionally rode to and from the grocery store, but many times he saved the dime by riding the distance of around four miles to and from his extra job on his bike.

The bike was about the only way he went anywhere. Mom often had to call a taxi to take her or us to the doctor because the bus required walking at least a country block to the bus stop and Mom’s asthma seldom allowed her to do so. Dad however, usually went places on his bike. For me, as a pre-schooler, there was a little wooden seat Dad called his “buddy seat” that was fastened to the “boy” bar of his bike. That way, as he rode, I was always right in front of him and encircled by his arms.

At that time I used to stutter and I had a serious inability to pronounce the letter “R.” As we rode along, Dad, ever the teacher, would talk with me, encouraging me to think ahead about what I was going to say so I would be able to get it out without error.

He used to take me to town on Saturday mornings and one place I loved to go was the junk yard. Dad was always working on bikes for one of us kids and he would scavenge the junk yard for parts. One time, how-ever, he incurred my mother’s wrath by taking me with him to a pool parlor. Mom didn’t think much of pool parlors.

Some years later, after the grocery closed, Dad worked as the night manager of a pool room for a year or two. Mother never did like that. She thought that as a school teacher, Dad was compromising his integrity by working in such a den of inequity.

I was always proud that my father was a well-respected man. I used to think being a teacher made him a special kind of person, but today I realize that the most special thing about him was not his career, but the way he persevered. The mantel of respect always falls on those who consistently do their duty and that’s what my father did.