In the Midst
Heidi & Rolland Baker,, Authors: 1.cbn.com
I used to think most of the Christian walk was about “toughing it out” — enduring suffering, living with disappointment and struggling through hardship. But I have realized something very precious, especially in the last year, as God has been teaching me and training me.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
Suffering has purpose. Understanding this changes how we feel about undergoing it.
Having joy because of trials in this way bears so much fruit. It actually leads us to a place where we are truly mature in Christ and lack nothing. Joy fills in the gaps.
In 2 Corinthians 8:2 , Paul writes, “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (NIV)
Joy doesn’t change circumstances, but it does change our attitude toward what we face. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is part of the Holy Spirit’s character (see Galatians 5:22). He loves to bring “the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
What about you? Are you a carrier of joy or misery? How would people describe you? Would they say you lighten the atmosphere around you, or do you add to the heaviness? Being joyful is not the same as being happy. Happiness depends on outward things, but joy wells up from within.
All of us can feel relief and contentment when we have come through a hard time. We can rejoice and praise God for how He has brought us out of it. But the challenge is, how joyful are we in the midst of it?
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Ephesians 1:5
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 9:10-24
It is at once a doctrine of Scripture and of common sense, that whatever God does in time he predestined to do in eternity. Some men find fault with divine predestination, and challenge the justice of eternal decrees. Now, if they will please remember that predestination is the counterpart of history, as an architectural plan, the carrying out of which we read in the facts that happen, they may perhaps obtain a slight clue to the unreasonableness of their hostility. I never heard any one among professors wantonly and wilfully find fault with God’s dealings, yet I have heard some who would even dare to call in question the equity of his counsels. If the thing itself be right, it must be right that God intended to do the thing; if you find no fault with facts, as you see them in providence, you have no grounds to complain of decrees, as you find them in predestination, for the decrees and the facts are just the counterpart one of the other. Have you any reason to find fault with God, that he has been pleased to save you, and save me? Then why should you find fault because Scripture says he pre-determined that he would save us? I cannot see, if the fact itself is agreeable, why the decree should be objectionable. I can see no reason why you should find fault with God’s foreordination, if you do not find fault with what does actually happen as the effect of it. Let a man but agree to acknowledge an act of providence, and I want to know how he can, except he runs in the very teeth of providence, find any fault with the predestination or intention that God made concerning that providence.
For meditation: Some talk as if the doctrine of predestination is the enemy of the Christian. Scripture lists it as one of the “all things” that work together for good to them that love God and which prove that God is for us (Romans 8:28-31).
Fellowship with God
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.’ 1 John 1:3
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11–6:1
That which is the Father’s employment is our employment. I speak not of you all; he knows whom he has chosen. We cannot join with the Father in upholding all worlds, we cannot send forth floods of light at the rising of the sun, we cannot feed the cattle on a thousand hills, nor can we give food and life to all creatures that have breath. But there is something which we can do which he does. He does good to all his creatures, and we can do good also. He bears witness to his Son Jesus, and we can bear witness too. The ‘Father worketh hitherto’ that his Son may be glorified, and we work too. O Eternal Worker! it is his to save souls, and we are co-workers with him. You are his husbandry, you are his building; he scatters the seed of truth, we scatter it too; his words speak comfort, and our words comfort the weary too, when God the Spirit is with us. We hope we can say, ‘For me to live is Christ;’ and is this not what God lives for too? We desire nothing so much as to glorify him, and this is the Father’s will, as well as Jesus Christ’s prayer, ‘Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.’ Do you not see, brethren, that we stand on the same platform with the eternal God? When we lift our hand, he lifts up his eternal arm; when we speak, he speaks too, and speaks the same thing; when we purpose Christ’s glory, he purposes that glory too; when we long to bring home the wandering sheep, and to recall the prodigal sons, he longs to do the same. So that in that respect we can say, ‘Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.’
For meditation: The essential first step in doing the work of God is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:28–29). Faith in him is not only the route to salvation, but also an appointment as God’s fellow-worker (John 14:12; 2 Corinthians 6:1). Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and so are his followers (Matthew 5:14).