After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God Stand firm in it!
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Extending Amazing Grace
From: Our Daily Journey
After coming to faith in Jesus, John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” made the dramatic change from being a slave trader to influencing the eighteenth-century movement to abolish slavery in England. But he didn’t fully turn to Jesus in the moments when he first famously cried out to God when he thought his ship was sinking. In fact, Newton admitted that he likely wasn’t a true believer until much later.
Newton’s faith would grow and flourish after his first close friendship with a believer, someone who not only instructed him theologically, but also helped him to receive the gift of grace. No longer crippled by his fear of God, Newton would never be the same.
Newton’s story illustrates the need for believers to find mentors in the faith, a truth reflected in Paul’s letter to Titus, where the apostle instructed this church leader to remind the believers in Crete of their new life in Christ. No longer were they “foolish and disobedient” or “slaves to many lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). Instead, they’d been saved, not because of their behavior, but because of God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). In His grace, God had not only cleansed their sin but through the Spirit given them “a new birth and new life” (Titus 3:5).
Paul wanted Titus to “insist on these teachings” (Titus 3:8) so the believers could leave their old life behind and embrace the things of the kingdom of God. They would need mentors like Titus to help them live with Christ-like gentleness and humility.
We can take encouragement from stories like that of John Newton and the church in Crete. Not only can our faith in God be strengthened through fellow believers, but we too can be used to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Never-forsaking God
What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.
“I will never…forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these?
We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing— that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.
Talk to Me
From: Bob Seagress, Author
“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14 (NASB); “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
I was walking in my backyard among our palm trees on a beautiful sun-filled Arizona morning. Worry had stolen thankfulness from my heart because I didn’t know how to protect my much-loved trees from what I had read about that morning: voracious beetles were eating the famous palm trees of Pasadena.
Even though we live surrounded by farms and agriculture in the northern part of the Phoenix valley; I was worried about our little grove of palm trees. I was lost in concern that those nasty Pasadena beetles might be planning a trip over the mountains from California to Arizona.
Strangely, I began to hear, “Talk to Me.”
I had heard the same words several times last week as I was intently struggling to write monthly articles for publishers I’m committed to. I had begun wondering whether I was having brain issues. Having experienced a massive stroke and two other life-threatening medical problems within the last year, I thought perhaps I had more damage than I was aware of. Then, it dawned on me that maybe the Lord was trying to get my attention, so I started to pray.
I explained my concern and asked Him to take care of my palm trees. I felt at peace and trusted Jesus as I prayed in His name, as John 14:13-14 had told me. I felt confident because Jesus had promised that if I would ask Him directly for “anything in His name,” He would do it. Feeling free to ask for protection for my palm trees, I claimed the power of Jesus’ name.
To be honest, I felt a bit childish in talking to Him about such a small concern. But, I’ve discovered that being childlike in Jesus’ presence brings comfort and relaxation.
I came to understand that my Lord wanted me to stop getting lost in intently being concerned about how to change things by myself. Spending a good part of my life isolating from my emotions and how much I needed both Jesus and other’s help has caused the loss of much joy for both myself and my family. Having been raised to never show anyone when you are hurt, or afraid; I had thought my heavenly Father also expected this of me.
My palm trees taught me that I usually didn’t talk to Jesus as a good, trustworthy friend (John 15:14) who was concerned about what was bothering me. I was afraid of bothering Him with small things because He is so important and deals with such important things. My talking about beetles seemed to be a self-centered attitude.
Then, my heart opened in a new way to Jesus —I felt He loved me and wanted to talk to me about everyday life. He wanted to know what was bothering me, even if was beetles. With this understanding came wonderful warmth and relaxation.
I learned that if God’s children will talk to Jesus about what tightens them up and leave it with Him, they will start learning about what prayer really is. We will find a peace and relaxation that nothing in this life provides. Our families will stop missing out on a lot of joy and peace that we forfeit when we don’t talk to Jesus personally about our strain, worries, and fears.
Claiming the power of Jesus’ name during our prayers, we are strong in the trust that Jesus is in charge and will deal with what is bothering us. Talking to Jesus about everyday life is a recipe for satisfaction.