Using the Strength that God’s Spirit Has Given You
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12, NKJV). Paul lived the kind of fight he describes. Near the end of his ministry, he could boast, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
What happens to our soul when we experience deep, personal grief? What role does grief have in our walk with Jesus? In one brief passage, Peter explains it all. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV).
I don’t know if you believe in love at first sight, but Jacob did. When he first saw Rachel, he knew wanted to marry her. “Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said [to her father, Laban], ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel’” (Genesis 29:17-18, ESV).
That’s how I felt when I first encountered Kelly, who became my wife. When we met as teenagers, I gladly would have worked seven years if it meant I could marry her. I know exactly how Jacob felt.
Pick Up Your Beggar’s Mat. It’s Your Message to the World!
How do you move forward when your circumstances say, “No way”? What do you do when your family is falling apart, you’re struggling financially, you’re discouraged and your heart overflows with pain? Is there a way forward when you can’t see a way?
Mark 2 shows us there is. When things seem impossible and we lose all hope of going on, Jesus faithfully makes a way where there is no way.
“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7, ESV).
Imagine what it was like for the disciples to hear this from Jesus. They were nearby when he performed miracles. They saw the wind and waves obey his commands. Nobody in history ever spoke with the authority that Jesus had. In his presence, the disciples felt special, valued and loved. They were encouraged and filled with hope that, no matter what obstacles were thrown at them, Jesus was there to deliver them.
Something is missing in our midst. It is gone, and we need to bring it back. A single church can’t make this happen; the whole body of Christ has to unite together in one spirit and seek God to bring it about. I’m talking about the power of Christ to change and transform people who are in tremendous need. We all have friends and neighbors and people we don’t yet know who are hurting
The Bible we read is a book of hope. The hope it gives us is not moderate, average or normal. It doesn’t inspire us toward the status quo, to merely survive and get by. The hope of God’s Word is expressed in powerful promises that lead to unimaginable results from God’s own hand. That hope leads us to destinations far beyond our wildest expectations.
In Jeremiah 32, the prophet describes a dire scene. Jerusalem was surrounded by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army. Outside the city, the enemy was building large mounts to send their troops over the walls. Any Israelite who looked down on this scene was surely filled with a sense of doom.
Jeremiah was one of them. As the terrible scene unfolded, the prophet had to watch from a prison cell.