Tag Archives: Trials

You have to learn contentment

Contentment is not something you simply obtain.

Ron Coale, Rev.

Ron Coale, Rev.

You do not wake up one day and find that you are suddenly content.  Neither do you just get old enough and that makes you content.  Contentment is something that is learned.

Paul said, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11).  Paul admits that he had to learn contentment.  It was not one of his personality traits, nor was it a special ability that he had.  It was something that he had to learn from the time he was very young until the day that he wrote these words to the Philippians.

As a young man, Paul sought his fortune and fame, as do other young men.  He thought he found it in the profession of a Pharisee.  As a young Pharisee during the time of the first persecution of Christians, he excelled.  He was poised for greatness because he was in on the movement from the “ground floor.”  He had been recognized for his zeal and was commissioned to root out and destroy Christians wherever he could.  But even though he made a name for himself, he still found no contentment.

He found no contentment when he finally met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus, but this is where his lessons in contentment began.  He was blinded after the encounter and did not know if he would ever get his sight back.  He needed to learn to accept his blindness.  He could either have felt pity on himself, or make use of his life as he could.  But God had another plan.  And so the trials, troubles, sufferings and persecutions began until one day, in a letter to his friends, he writes, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Contentment begins with knowing God (Matt. 6:31-34.)  A person will never be content living in this world if they do not first learn how to live a Godly life.  If you come to the point in your relationship with God that you seek Him first, then you learn how to live Godly.  But it doesn’t stop right there.  You must learn not only how to seek Him first, but to depend on His love for you; that you will be okay under His leadership, love and care.  In short, you must learn not only how to seek God first, but to give Him your problems and stop worrying over them; depend on Him being bigger than any problem you could ever have.  These are hard lessons to learn.  Oh, it is not so hard to take our troubles to God, but it is difficult for us to leave them with Him.  We show this by worrying about our troubles.  You can already see how to live a stress free, content life when you have nothing to worry about anymore.

Contentment benefits living in this world (1 Tim. 6:6-9).  We must understand that we absolutely own nothing.  We must have the higher view of our life; that we brought nothing into this world, and when we go, we will take nothing out.  Even our legacy is not in our hands, it is in the hands of those left behind.  It is a false understanding to think you have made a difference in the world because any difference you made or not, is in the hands of those you leave it with.  It is not under your control.  We are on a pilgrimage that is preparing us for heaven.  Yes, God can miraculously make us prepared for entrance to heaven when the time comes, but in His infinite wisdom, He has seen fit to teach us about our upcoming life in heaven now.  The sooner we see that life does not surround ambitions of the world, the sooner we will live a content life.  This way, we can go to our jobs and places of work with joy and not stress.  In fact, we can be happy all day long because we realize that the things now trivial, were once big things to us.  You can easily see how contentment is learned by just having the proper perspective on life in general.

Contentment comes from seeking first a life with Jesus. (Heb. 13:5-6)  It comes by understanding that He means what He says and says what He means.  He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  You cannot get any more content in life than to live a life understanding that the one who holds you in His arms is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He won’t drop you or let go.  Babies trust their mothers all the way up to the time that mommy makes them do something that they don’t like.  They are content in their mothers arms until mommy does something that they don’t like.  It may be giving a bath, or changing a diaper, but whatever it is, this is where the trust is lost.  When they realize that mommy just did something for their overall good, even though it was uncomfortable for a spell, then the trust is returned.  The baby learns how to trust their mommy.  Likewise, Christians should learn how to learn contentment by growing up in the Lord; communing with Him and learning how to trust Him.  You can easily see that the closer and more often you are with the Lord, the easier it is to be content.

So Paul says that he had to learn contentment.  He is no different than any other man.  We all must learn how to be content.  Is your life troubled?  Do you feel so overwhelmed that you think you need to see a counselor to help you get your life back on track?  Do you have the tendency to turn to drinking or drugs to give you peace?  Then you are seeking an instant, microwave portion of contentment, but it does not exist.  You must learn how to be content.  God will make sure that, one way or another, you will learn how to be content with Him.  The only question is: just how much tribulation, trials or suffering you must go through to learn contentment.

 

Christians killed for faith nearly doubled in 2013, group finds | Fox News

Christians killed for faith nearly doubled in 2013, group finds

By Joshua Rhett MillerPublished January 10, 2014FoxNews.com

Rev. Faye Pama Musa, 52, was one of 2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88). (Courtesy: Open Doors)

Rev. Faye Pama Musa knew immediately why suspected Boko Haram militants burst into his home last year as his wife prepared dinner in the family’s northeastern Nigeria home. His stance against Christian persecution in the divided African nation had long made him a target.

Musa, who served as the general overseer of the Rhema Assembly International Church and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno, saw the intruders near the front door of his home in Maiduguri as his wife, Mercy, prepped food. One of the couple’s daughters, Zion, had spotted the armed men just seconds earlier jumping a fence.

“Today you are a dead man,” one of the gunmen reported said on May 14 as he dragged Musa to the porch. “Call your Jesus to help you, Mr. CAN man!”

Zion Musa then begged the attackers to spare her father, a request met with a misfired bullet that caused her to faint. She survived but her 52-year-old father – a man who worked closely with Open Doors, a nondenominational group tracking persecuted Christians worldwide – did not.

Musa, according to the group, was one of 2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88).

But North Korea — a country of more than 24 million, with an estimated 300,000 Christians — remained the most dangerous country worldwide for Christians for the 12th consecutive year, followed by Somalia, Syria and Iraq.

“Like others in that country, Christians have to survive under one of the most oppressive regimes in contemporary times,” according to a release on the report issued Wednesday. “They have to deal with corrupt officials, bad policies, natural disasters, diseases and hunger. On top of that, they must hide their decision to follow Christ. Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long political prison sentence. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-Un.”

A sub-Saharan African country — Somalia — was ranked second on the organization’s list for the first time. Islamic extremism is the primary source of Christian persecution in the country of more than 10 million and while the capital of Mogadishu is under more moderate Muslim control recently, converts from Islam are threatened with execution, sometimes by the al-Shabaab militant rebels.

“In Somalia, a Christian cannot trust anyone,” one Christian reportedly told an Open Doors researcher. “One false confidence and you literally lose your head.”

Syria, meanwhile, which had not previously cracked the group’s list of top ten most oppressive places for Christians, ranked third last year. Like in Somalia, Islamic extremism powered the prosecution, according to Open Door officials, and many towns that previously had large populations of Christians have become ghost towns.

“The face of persecution in Syria has changed,” the group’s World Watch List reads, adding that nearly half of rebels in Syria have a jihadist background. “The influence of these groups that are linked to Al Qaeda and other extremist factions has risen considerably in the past year.”

More than 80 percent of people worldwide identify with a religious group, according to 2011 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of those, 2.2 billion, or 32 percent, identified themselves as Christians, followed by 1.6 billion Muslims (23 percent) and 1 billion Hindus (15 percent).

The survey also found that roughly 1.1 billion people, or 16 percent worldwide, have no religious affiliation, making that segment the third-largest religious group globally and roughly equal in size to the world’s Catholic population.

via Christians killed for faith nearly doubled in 2013, group finds | Fox News.

Shelter in a Time of Storm

TTPsalm 91:1-6  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surley he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover the with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

Each of us will at some point of out life experience those “dark hours.”  These are the times when we feel that no one cares; no one is listening.  It is at these times when we feel all alone against the raging storms of life and there is no hope for ever being happy again.  We feel like giving up and allowing the destroyer to have his way with us.  But, friend, these are also the times when the saints have God protecting and shielding us from the rages of the storms of life.  We have a shelter in a time of storm.

God is always our protector, but He does not only do that by soaring in the lofty heavens, looking down like the ever watchful eagle, He also is very near to us.  When the “noisome pestilence” of life finally drives us mad with desire to give up, He is there, covering us with the feathers of His wings.  In this way He takes the brunt of the storm upon Himself; He is our shelter and warmth until the storm passes over.  He holds us steady so we won’t fall to certain destruction.  Why then do we not feel His ever presence?  This happens all too often and we don’t “feel” Him there because we are too busy looking on the storm instead of snuggling into His loving embrace.  Like the young, we too are disappointed that there is a storm so we cannot go out into the radiant sunshine an frolic for a little while. We are looking at our circumstances instead of our situation.

No one likes to go through a trial—a storm of life.  They are not fun because we can’t go out and do what we want to do.  Instead, we must stay inside under shelter.  And here is the key—we cannot do what we want to do!  The storms interrupt our plans.  They always come at the most inconvenient times.  They are never on our schedule of the day; our things-to-do-list.  They are most troublesome by nature.  But, it is only from the place of protection that we can be delivered from the storm; that we can be shielded from the trial.  AND, whether we know it or not, it is in these times that we get closer to God.

Almost always, when a trial comes in our life, do we run to God for our help.  Amazingly, the unsaved, unrepentant, atheist will do so as well.  They are always willing to accept prayer for them in their time of trial or despair.  They want to have the protection and hope that comes from a loving relationship with God, but don’t want to stay under His wing.  Like a child on a playground who wants to climb the monkey bars on his own falls off and gets an owey, when the hurt comes, when there is pain, he immediately runs to mommy.  Why is that?  They want protection, warmth, shelter and security.

So friends, if you are going through a trial today, if you have been going through some despairing times, the very best thing for you to do is to run to God, get under His wing, snuggle up to Him, and wait out the storm.

“Nice words preacher, but can you be a little more practical?”

Yes!  Go to the word of God.  Open your Bibles and read some comforting words.  Passages that will often meet the needs in times of trouble are mostly in the Psalms.  There is much healing and relief in these passages.  But that is not all.  Pray!  If you cannot find your way to God, ask Him to find you.  If you seek Him, He will find you.  And, when He does, He will protect you, love you, warm you and shelter you from all of the storms of life.

~Pastor

Help for Sifted Saints in Trials

Luke 22:31-34 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

A shipwrecked man managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship. Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames. Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a mighty advantage. Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, “We saw your smoke signal and came.” Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.

The trials and adversities of life are never pleasant, but in them we learn the secrets of His presence. None of us wishes for trials or adversity, but it is through them that God refines the metal of our lives and molds us into His image. Just as metal is placed in a furnace and heated to a white hot state so the dross can be removed, God allows us to enter the furnace of affliction so that He might refine and purify our lives.

In our text, Simon Peter is made to understand the fact that he is about to be tested. He is encouraged in this revelation by the fact that the Lord Himself will take an active part in his trial. I know people who are going through adversity. I know they face battles and trials that cannot be imagined. However, I also know there is hope! This passage lets us know that we do not have to fail in the attacks of life. We do not have to crawl away in defeat, never to be heard from again. Anyone can endure the trials, tests and adversities of life. Even if you have failed, you can still rise from the ashes and salvage what Satan has attempted to destroy. There is Help For Sifted Saints.

“Satan Is Determined To Destroy Your Life with trials!”

Jesus tells Peter that Satan has made a request to have “all” the disciples to test the reality of their faith. The word “desired” means “to demand, to ask for oneself.” The word “you” is plural in nature. It is a request for all the disciples. His demand is that he might “sift” them. This is an agricultural term that refers to the savage process of separating the husk of the wheat from the grain. The wheat was crushed under foot, then it was agitated, or thrown into the air. The chaff, or husk, was blown away by the wind and all that was left behind was the good grain. Satan wanted to tear at the heart of God by proving that there was no reality to the faith of the disciples. Satan believed that he could crush them, sift them and that nothing would be left but a lost heart. He had already done this with Judas! He believed that he could do it to the rest.

We battle a determined enemy. He wants nothing more than to cut the heart of God by sifting our lives. He wants to prove that we are phonies. He wants to show God and the world that there is nothing to our professions of faith. He wants to destroy everything of value in your life.  The Bible tells us in 1 Pet. 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”  He wants to ruin your testimony. He wants to destroy your home. He wants to wreck your influence. He wants to take away everything of value in your life and leave you with nothing but a devastated shell of what you had!

If he can get you to believe a false profession, he will. If he can get your eyes off Jesus, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your family, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your church, he will. He will do everything he can to cut the heart of God and ruin your life! He will use whatever tactic he deems necessary to get you to fall, just like he did to Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:1-6. He will never stop until you fall, or you die!

If the devil gets his way in your life and you succumb to his attacks, remember this: Your sin doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone around you! It is the absolute height of selfishness to live just to please yourself, while having no regard to what your sin is doing to your family, your church and to others in your sphere of influence! Surely you will agree with the Bible where it says in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”! David’s sin with Bathsheba, (2 Sam. 11), affected him, Bathsheba, their baby, Bathsheba’s husband, and the house of David for years to come! You never walk away clean when you choose to walk away in sin!

“The Saints Have A Powerful Ally In Their Corner during trials!”

While all the disciples were in Satan’s sights, Peter received the promise of intercession. Jesus was praying for them all, but He spoke especially to Peter, because He knew that Peter was about to take the biggest fall, v. 34. Sin isn’t a maybe in our lives, it is a given!  The Bible tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10).  All the disciples failed the Lord that night, Mark 14:50 “…they all forsook him, and fled.”  But Peter went beyond simple failure into the realm of outright denial of any relationship to Jesus when he said in Luke 22:57, “…Woman, I know him not.”

The times of testing and failure will come in our lives, but in the midst of them, let us take courage in the fact that we have Someone pleading our case, taking our part, praying for us in Heaven:

  • Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
  • Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
  • 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Satan may have his devices and his schemes to tempt us and try us, but he doesn’t have the last word! In the midst of his scheming and planning, Jesus “butts” in to stand by our side until the trial has passed! He will never leave us, regardless of the task or trial.  He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”, (Heb. 13:5.)

Just because a temptation is offered to you, that does not mean that you have to fall into sin. Jesus has equipped us with all the resources we will ever need to be able to withstand anything the devil throws at us:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
  • Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
  • James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

“No Failure from trials Should Ever Be Considered Final!”

Jesus makes it clear that Peter will fall, “when thou art converted”, means “when you have repented, or come back to me”, but that his fall will not be the final statement of his life. He was going to be restored and he was going to be used of the Lord in a great way. His preaching at Pentecost, and the great acts of faith of his life are some of those ways.

People may come under this kind of attack someday and fall into sin. Some have fallen and have already come back. Others have fallen and are still in that fallen state. It is comforting to know that your fall does not have to define your life!

God has made provision for the cleansing and the restoration of those who fall into sin. Those provisions include Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness. When we come clean about our sins and turn from them, the Lord will forgive and restore the fallen one to a place of service and blessing.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This truth is illustrated in the life of the Prodigal Son and what happened when he returned to his father, Luke 15:11-24.

When a person walks away from the things of the Lord and goes into sin and stays there, it means that one of two things is true:

  1. They were never really saved.  1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would not doubt have continued with us: bur they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

  2. They are in open rebellion and are subject to the wrath and chastisement of the Lord.  Rev. 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Genuine faith will falter, but it will never utterly fail! Peter came back because he was saved. When he was sifted, it was proven that his profession was genuine. There was some chaff, but there was a grain of real faith too!

When a believer falls into sin, those who genuinely love them will seek to restore them, Gal. 6:1-2. They will not condone or support their sinful actions, but they will not abandon them completely either!

“Never Say Never during trials!”

When Peter hears this prediction he, in typical Peter style, boasts of his love and devotion to the Lord. He vows to go to prison or even to death to prove his allegiance to Jesus. Peter forgot a very important principle of life, “Never Say Never!” No one is above falling into the snare of the enemy. Only when you are in his sifter can you know exactly what you will do! It is a dangerous thing to rely upon yourself and your ability to withstand temptation and testing.  The Bible says, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12). We’ve all seen someone act in certain ways and we have said, “I would never do that!” Be careful!

You are weakest in the area of your greatest strength! That may sound like a contradiction or a paradox, but it is true nonetheless! When you begin to think you have an area of your life absolutely conquered and that sin cannot possibly occur there, you will tend to let your guard down. When that happens you can be sure that the enemy will target you for sifting! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”  If you have the feeling that “It can’t happen to me!”, you are in danger of falling today!

The way an Eskimo kills a wolf is grizzly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. First the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the Arctic night. So great becomes the craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more–until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!

Such is the power sin has to destroy our lives. Thankfully, it does not have to be that way. Jesus has done everything necessary to provide a plan of salvation that will work for all people. He has promised to pray for us and to see us through the times of temptation and sifting. He has promised to receive, forgive and restore us when we do fail. There is no need for anyone to allow sin to devastate their life. If you want help as you face the times of sifting in life, you will find it in Jesus, and in Him alone!