Why We Need To Thank God Even If We Don’t Feel Blessed

Christians regularly say, “God is great!” Then in the following breath, we express gratitude toward God for His decency in an explicit circumstance. I heard it when the life of a debilitated kid was saved. What’s more, when a biopsy returned considerate. Also, when an occupation in peril was spared. What’s more, when an insubordinate adolescent swung back to God.

Be that as it may, shouldn’t something be said about when the youngster passes on or the test outcomes return “disease” or the activity is lost or the adolescent stays away forever? Is God great at that point? Would we be able to at present be thankful to God?

Truly. God is great constantly. The Bible says as much. God can’t be great one minute and not the following. He can’t be great in one circumstance and not another.

A Facebook post I read quite recently made me think about this reality. The Facebook companion stated, “God is great!” And then she nitty gritty all the ongoing positive happenings throughout her life as the confirmation.

This truly disturbed me. In any case, at that point I understood I’ve done it as well. I’ve expressed gratitude toward God and proclaimed His decency when things turned out the manner in which I’d trusted. In any case, was that in light of the fact that my conditions were simple? Shouldn’t something be said about the occasions when my conditions are hard? Would it be a good idea for me to just express gratitude toward God when my life is free of inconvenience and trouble? Is that the main time God is great?

The Bible trains that our conditions don’t manage or characterize God’s integrity. God’s character manages His decency. God is great constantly. In this way, we can live with a consistent mentality of appreciation regardless of our conditions.

God is Good All the Time

Here are a couple of certainties from Scripture to enable us to build up a right comprehension of the decency of God:

God’s will for our lives is great (Romans 12:2). Some of the time – indeed, regularly – His will incorporates preliminaries and trouble that He utilizes for our refinement.

In every way, in all conditions, our great God is working for our great. “Furthermore, we realize that in everything God works for the benefit of the individuals who adore Him, who have been called by His motivation” (Romans 8:28).

The confirmation of God’s decency empowers us to “offer gratitude in all conditions” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to announce in simple occasions and tough occasions, “God is great!”

Living in the Truth of God’s Goodness

Since God is great constantly, regardless of our conditions, how about we enable that reality to affect our day by day lives and the manner in which we talk and identify with others. Here are a couple of proposals:

Keep in mind that God is great constantly. Not exactly when things are going the manner in which we need them to.

Express gratitude toward Him for His integrity in each life circumstance.

Be delicate to people around us who are confronting troublesome and difficult conditions.

Proclaim His decency in each condition, especially in the difficult occasions.

Changing our comprehension about God’s integrity can change how we approach each situation of life and every individual we experience. God is great constantly!

For what reason Should We Be Thankful?

A few Hebrew and Greek words are deciphered as “thank,” “much appreciated,” and “thanksgiving” in the Bible. In any case, they all mirror reality that our great God merits the appreciation and acclaim of His kin. Appreciation is the correct reaction to God and His effortlessness in our lives.

God needs our thanksgiving and directions us to be grateful. He needn’t bother with anything from us however He expects us to react to his identity and what He does with appreciation.

“I needn’t bother with the bulls you forfeit; I needn’t bother with the blood of goats. What I need rather is your actual on account of God; I need you to satisfy your pledges to the Most High. Trust me stuck in an unfortunate situation, and I will safeguard you, and you will give me greatness.” (Psalm 50:13-15, NLT)

We don’t merit anything, yet God gives. We don’t merit absolution or salvation, yet God expands it. Each beneficial thing in our lives is a demonstration of elegance from our adoring and kind glorious Father. Indeed, even quality and perseverance in the midst of trouble are elegance endowments from God

Offering gratitude to God for His leniency and consideration is a gift and a benefit. It moves our demeanor and makes us more mindful of God’s action in our lives. It lowers us and enables us to see exactly how really extraordinary our God is!

Would it be a good idea for us to Thank God Even When Times Are Hard?

The Apostle Paul demonstrated to us generally accepted methods to express gratefulness to God in spite of our conditions. Preliminaries, trouble, and abuse filled Paul’s life, yet he intentionally worked on thanksgiving. He called the congregation to a consistent state of mind of appreciation even in the midst of trouble. For example, when the congregation in Thessalonica endured abuse, Paul composed:

“Cheer dependably, implore constantly, offer gratitude in all conditions; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).

Also, from jail in Rome, Paul energized the Philippians:

“Try not to be on edge about anything, yet in each circumstance, by supplication and appeal, with thanksgiving, present your solicitations to God. Also, the tranquility of God, which rises above all understanding, will watch your hearts and your brains in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

Paul realized that notwithstanding when our physical conditions are critical, God is available and God is working for our great and His wonder. Deliberately concentrating on giving Him thanks opens the way to satisfaction and harmony even amidst grief and battle.

4 Reasons to Thank God in a bad position

Regardless of whether we’re amidst some preliminary, trouble, or despair right now we can in any case thank the Lord for his identity and what He has improved the situation us.

The essayist of Psalm 118 sets the case for us. He knew inconvenience. His life had not been simple. He had been sold out and assaulted. What’s more, he had felt gotten in a miserable and risky circumstance with no chance to get out.

Be that as it may, amidst those preliminaries, he additionally encountered God’s own mediation for his sake. In Psalm 118:8-14, the psalmist vouched for God’s liberation and offered his thanks. In this section, we discover various motivations to express gratitude toward God when we confront times of inconvenience:

God is our shelter – When storms are seething surrounding us, we can generally discover wellbeing in God’s quality. He is our haven from the tempest. “God is our asylum and quality, an ever-present help in a bad position” (Psalm 46:1). Other individuals may not be completely dependable, but rather God can generally be trusted. Other individuals may not generally be trustworthy, but rather we can rely upon God in any and each circumstance. Like the psalmist, when we’re stuck in an unfortunate situation, how about we say thanks to God that He is our asylum. When we shroud ourselves in Him, He will be our safe house!

God is our defender – When individuals and conditions battle against us, we don’t need to ponder or stress over triumph. God Himself runs with His kin and battles for them (Deuteronomy 30:3-4). At the point when the psalmist was encompassed and swarmed by his foes, triumph got through the name of the LORD. Do you ever feel “swarmed by adversaries?” Call on the name of the LORD. Express gratitude toward Him that He is your defender!

God is our quality – “The LORD is my quality, and my melody; He has turned into my salvation” (Psalm 118:14). God spares! He will convey us through issue with the quality of His strength. He is our motivation to sing, so given us a chance to lift a melody of acclaim and thanksgiving to the God who is our quality!

God is great constantly! – Because God is great, He is working in the entirety of our conditions for our definitive great and for His brilliance!

Our great God is our asylum, our defender, and our quality! On the off chance that we can name no different gifts throughout our life today, we can express gratitude toward God for these. How about we express gratitude toward Him today, particularly in a bad position.

Truth About Mistake

The previous evening I had a fantasy that I was facilitating a narrating gathering. Partially through my execution, encompassed by companions and outsiders, I understood that I was distinct exposed. I began blundering through my words, went thinking about something irrelevant, and lost my group of onlookers. They began getting up from their seats and prattling to one another, abandoning me chattering, in the crude, amidst the room.

This fantasy was a blast me-over-the-head evident similitude for my nerves about composition my new book about recuperating want after injury. It’s an unbelievably helpless story, so it bodes well that I would describe in my birthday suit in the fantasy. What truly cracked me out, however, wasn’t the way that I was stripped: it was that I continued committing errors with my words. That is the thing that lost my gathering of people. Indeed, even my exposed butt couldn’t keep their advantage when the story was terrible.

Having something you truly need—like a book bargain, a grant to a school you truly need to go to, or a relationship you esteem—is in reality quite startling. Imagine a scenario where you commit an error. It’s a certain something in the event that we get dismissed by the distributers or the grant goes to another person. We’ll never need to fizzle if something or somebody keeps us from attempting. Yet, on the off chance that we do attempt, we’ll just have ourselves to fault if the entire thing goes up on fire. This dread keeps us away from extremely going for the things we need (or, you know, facilitating stripped narrating gatherings). We are frightened of committing errors.

Having opportunity, however, implies having decisions, and having decisions implies fouling everything up occasionally. When we let conditions or other individuals impede what we need to do, we’re giving other individuals a chance to experience our lives for us. We’re surrendering the uncommon and valuable opportunity to mess up, take in a couple of exercises, and attempt once more.

I as of late tuned in to a radio meeting with Dr. Adi Jaffe, who has some expertise in disgrace and shame in treating addictions. He calls attention to that the main definition we as of now have for recuperation from habit is back to back long stretches of restraint. Somebody who is reluctant to stop drinking since it’s the main thing that causes him get past the day may never appear to a 12-step program. A man attempting to stop who backslides may be ashamed to the point that she stays away forever to her 12-step gathering. Jaffe contends that concentrating less on restraint and more on ability building and stress methods for dealing with stress may urge more individuals to get help, coordinate backslides as an ordinary piece of recuperation, and improve the situation after some time. In the warmth of the opioid emergency, we require better approaches to address dependence, and making a touch of room for oversights inside a recuperation procedure could spare lives.

We likewise live in a period of expanding mindfulness about social substances like savagery against ladies, understood racial inclination, and rights for trans individuals. These thoughts are moderately new in our way of life, and keeping in mind that the vast majority of us are behind the general thought of human rights for everything, we don’t have a considerable measure of work on contemplating what that really implies. It can appear to be a few people leave the womb knowing the best thing to state, so we feel dumb when we are befuddled or have inquiries concerning these mind boggling themes. Opening up a discussion about these essential issues is a standout amongst other approaches to grow our brains, yet we won’t do it in the event that we think we’ll be disgraced for saying the wrong thing. We should concede that obviously we don’t have any acquaintance with everything and give ourselves and each other more space to learn. All things considered, the error isn’t generally what is important. What makes a difference is our main event next.

Read This For Something Good

We as a whole need to carry on with the best life we can. A few of us feel secured by our conditions, and the vast majority of us have surrendered to the way that we’ll never be multimillionaires. In any case, that doesn’t mean every one of us as people can’t make without a doubt the most out of what we were given. Nothing will at any point come to you on the off chance that you just wish it to be valid. On the off chance that we need to live satisfied lives, we need to realize that we merit it, at that point go procure it.

1. Think positive.

Before you can even get yourself propelled to begin moving in the direction of an objective, you need in the first place an uplifting outlook. Realize that you can achieve what you’re embarking to do, paying little respect to what extent it takes or how troublesome the undertaking is. Advise yourself that you’re doing what you’re improving the situation a reason. Regardless of whether it be a money related reward, self-improvement, or basically to demonstrate to yourself as well as other people you could achieve the errand, start in light of the conclusion to keep yourself considering where you’re going, and where you will in the end wind up.

2. Treat others well.

We’ve all heard the adage “Decent folks complete last,” and we’ve all observed the cliché CEO mogul who acts like a jolt to everybody around them. In any case, in truth, that CEO presumably goes home to a mammoth manor that is either totally unfilled, or loaded up with a family he never has room schedule-wise to appreciate. Treating others compassionate along your way to progress is of most extreme significance. You would prefer not to get to the highest point of the mountain and acknowledge you’re the just a single there. Make a point to give others a lift on your way to the best, and you’ll discover the climb substantially more agreeable.

3. Put your everything into all that you do.

You’ll never go anyplace by putting anything not as much as your full exertion into all you set out to achieve. Devote yourself wholeheartedly to your objectives. In the present occupied and focused world, not advancing your best exertion can be deplorable. Think about the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare: If you stop along your way to progress, somebody will fight against eminent loss and grab it immediately from you. It might be troublesome now and again to move forward, yet once more, remember the end, and you’ll discover the drive you have to continue moving.

4. Continue climbing.

The thing with progress is, you’ll just be fulfilled for a brief timeframe in the wake of achieving your underlying objective. When you at last arrive, you’ll understand you need to prop up much more remote. Consider Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. I’m certain he felt achieved in the wake of setting world record after world record. In any case, he didn’t quit running, and unquestionably didn’t quit endeavoring to beat his own particular past best occasions. When you hit your first objective, assess what you’ve achieved, and set the bar much higher. As far as possible to the measure of achievement you can achieve is simply the one you set.

5. Take after your heart and dreams.

On the off chance that the way you’re without anyone else way, you’ll never discover achievement. Don’t simply emulate your folks’ example since you think you need to. Try not to accept a position that is futile to you and anticipate that significance will one day come to it. Do what makes you cheerful. Conditions may hinder you finding the ideal employment at the present time, however that doesn’t mean you can’t sharpen your aptitudes in your leisure time to improve yourself a possibility for when that position opens up. In the event that your concept of achievement is raising an adoring, mindful family, don’t feel that working 12 hour days to help them will help; odds are, it will simply drag you advance far from what you truly need. When you make sense of what you truly need throughout everyday life, you’ll discover approaches to influence your conditions to work for you, rather than the a different way.

Improving Your Spiritual Health

The otherworldly component of health can be the most close to home bit of the perplex when endeavoring to put each of the eight measurements of wellbeing together. For the most part, individuals get a kick out of the chance to carry on with an existence with importance and reason. At the point when these objectives are met, it places concordance in one’s life, and the others they encircle themselves with.

All in all, what would you be able to do to enhance your profound wellbeing? It’s best to make sense of what procedures work for you. Since profound wellbeing includes one’s qualities, convictions, and reason, it tends to be accomplished in a few different ways—both physically and rationally.

1. Investigate your profound center. By investigating your profound center, you are basically getting some information about the individual you are and your significance. Ask yourself: Who am I? What is my motivation? What do I esteem most? These inquiries will lead you down a street where you will contemplate yourself and enable you to see things about yourself that will enable you to accomplish satisfaction.

2. Search for more profound implications. Searching for more profound implications throughout your life and breaking down happening examples will enable you to see that you have control over your fate. Monitoring this can enable you to accomplish a cheerful and solid life.

3. Get it out. Communicating what is at the forefront of your thoughts will assist you with maintaining an engaged personality. Following a prolonged day or a noteworthy occasion, you may feel befuddled and not have the capacity to comprehend your emotions. By recording your contemplations, you might have the capacity to think clearer and advance.

4. Attempt yoga. Yoga is a physical strategy that can help enhance your profound wellbeing by diminishing enthusiastic and physical strains at the forefront of your thoughts and body. Yoga is educated at all extraordinary levels and can enable lower to pressure, help the insusceptible framework, and lower circulatory strain and also diminish tension, discouragement, weariness, and a sleeping disorder.

5. Travel. It’s valid! Setting aside time for yourself to movement to an ameliorating spot or some place new can do ponders for your psyche. When you are at a place where your brain can keep out diversions and help you reflect and rest, you will have a superior association with yourself. This enables you to weed out stressors and set your psyche on the correct way for generally wellbeing. A few exercises to participate in when on an excursion can be working out, talking with a guide or consultant, contemplation, or taking a transitory promise of quiet.

6. Think emphatically. When you begin seeing things throughout your life in a positive way, you will end up speculation contrastingly and refocusing your psyche to an upbeat, sound place. When you kill pessimism and re-outline how you think about specific things and circumstances, you’ll see yourself being more loose.

7. Set aside opportunity to ponder. While dealing with your chance and every day undertakings can be hard, it is critical to commit time to interfacing with yourself. Regardless of whether toward the beginning of the day when you wake up, amid your meal break, or before you rest, take five to 10 minutes to contemplate every day. Fitting intercession and unwinding into your way of life will free your brain and encourage a more grounded association with your profound wellbeing.

TALKING ABOUT SELF-RESPECT? WAYS ON IMPROVING YOUR LIFE

 

 

At the point when all is said and done, the main thing that truly matters in life is being upbeat. Not simply content, not simply fulfilled, but rather satisfied and full of significance. This is a hard objective to reach, and one that is difficult to satisfy constantly. Life is a progression of waves, of pinnacles and troughs, of high points and low points. Nobody is glad constantly. We tend to encounter a larger number of lows than highs, and those lows can be substantially more extraordinary than the highs are. It’s uncommon to be in a low point in your life and not know it, but rather it’s very simple to live well and to not completely value it.

The most ideal approach to enhance your life is to have sense of pride. To request that others treat you the way you’d treat them – with sympathy and regard.

Here are twelve different ways to build your sense of pride and enhance your life.

1. Try not to enable yourself to be utilized

Individuals will endeavor to exploit you for the duration of your life. Acknowledging when this is going on can be troublesome. Individuals are frequently shrewd and manipulative.

2. Know when to state no

Some portion of having sense of pride is having the capacity to turn individuals down when you would prefer not to accomplish something. Be responsible for your life. Tell individuals ‘no’, and adhere to your oath.

3.Don’t feel forced to make everybody like you

Not every person you meet will like you, and that is alright. It would be bizarre in the event that they did. Individuals are unique, individuals like distinctive things. A few people aren’t pleasant individuals. Life goes on. Be that as it may, don’t utilize this as a reason to be discourteous and dreadful to individuals since “who cares what they think?”. Treating others the way you’d get a kick out of the chance to be dealt with is a vital piece of having sense of pride.

4. Have respectability

Respectability is maybe the most essential and slippery of those qualities indispensable to a feeling of dignity. It implies considering yourself responsible to your own particular good code and standards, and staying up for what is correct – notwithstanding when (particularly when) it’s not advantageous to you by and by to do as such. The more ethical route is an intense one to tread, yet it’s interminably fulfilling.

5. Defend yourself

Try not to enable yourself to be a sucker. In a perfect world, everybody would be pleasant to each other and we’d all get along. Lamentably, this present reality isn’t that way. When it truly comes down to it, you need your own particular back and get your hands filthy to shield yourself.

6. Know yourself, know your value

Believe in your capacities. Everybody is great at something, regardless of whether you haven’t made sense of what that something is yet. Continue attempting new things until the point when you do. You have esteem and you matter. Keep in mind that.

7. Do what makes you glad

In the event that being upbeat is the most critical thing throughout everyday life, at that point doing whatever makes you glad is the most ideal approach to guarantee you make the most of your life. For whatever length of time that it’s not harming any other person, do whatever it is you appreciate doing.

8. Invest your energy astutely

Try not to tragically think cash is the most imperative product throughout everyday life. Time is. Spend it carefully, doing the things you adore and with the general population who matter most to you. Once the time is gone, you can’t get it back. Try not to be a man loaded with lament on their deathbed, thinking about every one of the things they ought to have finished with the time they had. Your life is finishing one moment at any given moment.

9. Organize the vital things throughout your life and adjust them

We regularly attempt (and all the more frequently come up short) to juggle an extensive number of various things. Organize which ones extremely matter to you and to your self-development and spotlight on these, figuring out how to adjust them with the goal that you can strongly and sensibly deal with every one of the parts of your life.

10. Think, don’t cure

A standout amongst the most vital exercises to realize with regards to having dignity is the means by which to manage life’s issues in a sound and productive way. It can be very enticing now and again to suffocate your distresses at the base of a container. The best thing you can do to keep yourself engaged and sound rationally is to ruminate frequently. It’s an aptitude – hone it. Nobody is impeccable at it straight away, however stay with it and it will assist you with becoming a superior, more joyful individual over the long haul. Remember that the thought isn’t to quiet your musings, yet to give them a chance to precede tranquilly and delicately reminding yourself to attempt and spotlight on breathing and keeping an unmistakable personality.

Make Good Things Happen

 

I’ve never lived outside of Kentucky. Most of my life has been spent right here in Warren County. On our honeymoon, we toured for a week in Mexico. On mission, I’ve been to Honduras (twice) and to Haiti. We lived in Louisville for 6 years, while I studied at the seminary; then we came back to Woodburn. And I’m still here. It’s always been a dream for me to see more of the world. Item #13 on my personal bucket list is to “see the churches and museums of Europe,” but I never really thought I would. Until now.

Last August, in honor of my 20th anniversary in ministry, the congregation gave us the trip of a lifetime, to the place of our choosing. So let me tell you what we’ve chosen to do for our trip. Kacy and I will be taking a 2-week cruise along the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea! Along these shores are some of the most important cities of antiquity—places like Marseille, Florence, Rome, Athens. I will finally be able to see the ancient churches and museums that I’ve only read and dreamed about.

Remember, I have a background in art history and a passion for church history. I’ll not only be able to visit Arles (where Vincent van Gogh lived and painted), I’ll also visit Athens and Rome (where Paul walked and preached) and Crete (where Paul and Titus planted churches). I know some of you were hoping our journey would include and excursion to the Holy Land—and I was, too—but we’ve chosen this particular itinerary based on what options were available during our time of travel.

Also, we chose based on the plan that would allow us to see and visit the greater number of places. As long as we live, we may never have an opportunity like this again. That’s why we’re so deeply appreciative of the gift. This is the priceless trip of a lifetime. Kacy and I will go, we’ll take it all in, and we’ll come back and share our stories with you. I only wish you were all going with me—truly, I do. I’ll be out of the pulpit a couple more times than usual this summer, and I’ve lined up a great schedule of teachers and preachers.

Some of them are from inside the church and some are from outside; all of them will be fantastic! You don’t want to miss a single Sunday or Wednesday. Travels aside, this is going to be a summer to remember for all of us at Woodburn! We’ve got Vacation Bible School coming up and students of all ages going to camp. Lord willing, we will hire a new Student Pastor and prepare to launch Journey Church. This summer, we’ll celebrate new salvations with baptism at the creek, and we’ll celebrate all the volunteers who make good things happen in the life of our church.

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Shame of Doing Nothing

The evangelist Billy Sunday told a story about a Christian who got a job in a lumber camp where the workers had a reputation for being ungodly. A friend, hearing that the man had been hired, said to him, “If those lumberjacks ever find out you’re a Christian, you’re going to be in for a hard time!” After a year, the man decided to return home for a visit. While in town, he met the friend who had predicted that he would receive ridicule and persecution from the workers in the lumber camp. “Well,” asked the friend, “did they give you a hard time because you’re a Christian?” “Oh, no, not at all,” the man replied. “They didn’t give me a bit of trouble—they never even found out!”

There is such a thing as an undercover Christian. Jesus himself said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8.38). In other words, it’s shameful to be a secret Christian. Shameful, but apparently, not impossible. The most famous incognito disciple was Joseph of Arimathea. All four Gospels tell us about Joseph. Matthew tells us he was rich, that he wrapped Jesus’ body in a long sheet of linen, and that the tomb was Joseph’s own.

Mark emphasizes that Joseph was an honored member of the Jewish High Council (the Sanhedrin), and that he was waiting for the kingdom of God. He says that Joseph took courage in approaching Pilate. Luke calls Joseph a good and righteous member of the Sanhedrin, who had not agreed with the decision and action of the council to condemn Jesus. John comes right out and calls him a fearful “secret disciple.” What was Joseph afraid of? The opinions of his peers. Their judgment, perhaps.

He was afraid he could lose status, his social position. Having seen the unjust rush to execute Jesus, Joseph had real reason to fear physical danger. Nevertheless, he was on the council itself—he was in the position to make an actual difference, if anyone could. Had Joseph taken a public stand for Jesus, would it have changed the outcome? Probably not. But at least he would have taken a stand.

He finally reached the point where he would rather face the public danger of coming out for Jesus than to face the private shame of doing nothing. So he steps forward. Coming forward when he does and asking for the body took courage, because in doing so, he was declaring his love for Jesus. The word used in the Gospels indicates that Joseph had to beg for Pilate’s permission. A condemned man had no right to burial—that was part of the shame of crucifixion. It’s shocking that Pilate even allowed it.

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Holiness is To Be Set Apart

 

Holiness. It means to be “set apart,” to have a purpose determined by God. How much is holiness worth to you? They say that a thing is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Craig was a young man, fresh out of college and buried under a mountain of student loans. Having just begun his first job in the city, Craig began flirting with a woman at work. Of course he was a country boy way out of his league—she looked like Heather Locklear on Melrose Place, and he looked like Screech on Saved by the Bell.

One day the woman mentioned how much she loved sushi. She said she wanted to try this new sushi restaurant downtown. Realizing his opportunity, Craig asked if she would want to go there for lunch with him. It was a date. Craig’s first sign that things were not going to end well for him was when the menu came without any prices listed. The woman ordered some kind of sampler platter with one of everything; Craig just pointed to some Japanese word on the menu without trying to pronounce it. At the end of the meal, the ticket was delivered: $150. At the time, Craig was living on a weekly food budget of $30.

Afterwards, he said that no woman was worth it, that no meal was worth $150, especially when the whole meal was nothing but cold lumps of rice and raw fish. What’s your holiness worth? Jesus of Nazareth died at the age of 33, having lived approximately 12,000 days. The Gospel writers devote most of their work to the last 3 years of his life, or about 1100 days. But the real focus is a single day, his last day—24 hours—beginning Thursday evening after sunset and lasting through Friday.

If you knew you had only 24 hours to live, what would you do? Jesus chooses to eat his last meal with his 12 closest followers, and as you can imagine, there are things Jesus really wants to say to them. He pours out his heart in what will be his final words to them, and then he prays. What does he pray for? What is Jesus’ dying burden?

The Marriage Struggle is Real

 

In the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus teaches about the bond of marriage, the disciples respond with their conclusion, “It’s better not to marry” (19.10). Jesus doesn’t disagree. In 1 Corinthians, after Paul answers questions about marriage, he adds, “If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. But if you do get married, it is not a sin” (7.28).

Try writing that verse at the bottom of your next Valentine’s Day card. Everybody seems to know that the Bible is anti-divorce; verses like these make the Bible sound anti-marriage, too. It’s not a sin to get married, Paul says, but it’s probably better if you never do.

Why does he hold such a tepid view of Christian marriage? Two reasons, and the first is spiritual. It’s not that Paul thinks marriage isn’t a good thing—for some people, at least. It’s that marriage for Paul is clearly not the most important thing—not even for married people (7.29). Serving Christ is best. Even if you are married, he says, you mustn’t focus only on your marriage; pleasing the spouse matters, but pleasing Christ matters most. Your life is not about marriage—it’s about Christ. The second reason Paul points believers away from marriage is practical. He explains, “Those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you these problems” (7.28).

In other words, marriage is hard. It can be a lot of trouble, which comes as a surprise, since the bridal magazines and wedding planners never tell a couple what it means to promise “for worse.” When things actually get worse, the lovers are bewildered. If the misery lasts for very long, the pain can become overwhelming. Many wives and husbands finally end the marriage just to relieve the pain, having also never been told that divorce brings its own form of pain.

Don’t say Paul didn’t warn you. Simply speaking, marriage involves pain, because life involves pain. Of course as a society, our pain tolerance is very low. Our great-grandparents came through World Wars and the Great Depression, but we can’t get through a normal day without some form of medication or escape. The wedding vows handed down from previous generations are honest about the old sources of pain in marriage: poverty and sickness.

Those external threats were what couples used to fear—the threat of debilitating illness, the challenge of putting food on the table. Truly, little irritations don’t matter when you don’t know where the next meal will come from, or when you have Nazis. Lacking such fears, married couples now have the luxury and liberty to turn against one another over issues less-related to death and life— internal threats related to relational dysfunction or bad habits. For the man and woman who can’t even keep their friendship alive, the marriage struggle is real.

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Spur One Another

Sisters and Brothers, As kids, it was easy for us to find out what the future would hold. We just asked the Magic 2-ball. The ball always seemed to know, although it didn’t always give a clear word for moving forward. Sometimes, the answer was downright non-committal.

No telling how many times I asked a question, and the same, aggravating response floated into the window: REPLY HAZY TRY AGAIN. I’ve been alive long enough now to know that the future always looks hazy. You and I never know what will happen next. We can’t know—and not knowing can make us anxious. Knowing how everything turns out would make all the difference, but that knowledge belongs only to God.

The problem is, since I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I’m inclined to forget that God does know. He sees it all from beginning to end, like a magnificent parade from above, all at once. The future belongs to him, and he determines what happens next. We can trust him with the future, because God is always and forever the same. His holiness, his perfection, his purposes never change. Even so, that doesn’t make God predictable. He is beyond us, infinitely greater and wiser, and we’ll never figure out his ways. We know he is always going to do something good, always going to rescue and bless us. Still one thing is for sure: God will surprise us every time. He’ll always do something new, never being much for repeating himself.

God loves to create and do new things— Why? Because he can. A friend taught classes in country line dancing. She loved to teach dancing, but she had one major frustration. Whatever single dance she would teach first, that’s the dance the class would want to do all night long. Apparently, rather than learn another new dance, people would rather do the one dance they know over and over again. Forever.

The problem with sticking with what we know is that all we know is past; yet we serve a God who is ever calling us forward into a new future. God says, “Do not remember the former things. Forget all that. I am about to do something new!” (cf. Isaiah 43) Are you ready for God to do something new in your life and in our life together at church? Ready or not, if we’re going to walk with the Lord, he only leads us in one direction. Forward. This is why the church’s theme for 2017 is Live Forward. We want to spur one another on toward living out of expectation (and not out of memory).

Thanks so much to the Little Rock Fencing Company for sponsoring my blog!