Lord, Leave Me Alone!

Text: Job 6-7

Key Verse: "Let me alone; my days have no meaning" (Job 7:16b)

Job turns to God and complains about the difficulty of his present experience. He has given up. He thinks he will never see any relief and that he will go on like this to the end. And out of that meaningless suffering and hopeless darkness, he cries out in honest despair.

Have you ever felt that way? Lord, leave me alone. I've had enough! Why are You so intent on making life miserable for me? Why don't You just let me go? Job cries out in baffled bewilderment. Now, even at this point in the book of Job, there are some things that we must constantly remember.

One is that we know something about this scene that Job does not know. We see some purpose in this that he has not yet seen that is also true about the sufferings we go through. In every time of trial there are two purposes in view: Satan has his purpose, and God has His.

Satan's purpose here was to use the pain of Job's illness to afflict his body; to use the priggish, well-intentioned comfort of his friends to irritate his soul; and to use the silence of God to assault his spirit and break his faith. But God's purpose is to teach Job some truths that he never knew before, to deepen his theology and help him understand God much better.

God's truth was to answer Satan in the eyes of all the principalities and powers of the whole universe and to prove him wrong in his philosophy of life. God's purpose was also to provide a demonstration for all sufferers in all the ages that would follow that He knows what He is doing.

What an encouragement to those of us who must go through some times of suffering to understand that it is not always because we are sinful. Sometimes suffering is the result of our sin, and we will know it when it is. But if, like Job, you know of nothing you have done that you have not dealt with and still the suffering goes on, look behind the curtain of God's purposes, and you will see that great and eternal events are hanging upon the outcome of the struggle.

*** Written by Ray Stedman | www.raystedman.org ***

…building the body of Christ

My Best Friend

Text: James 1:2-4

My best friend was not always my best friend. At first I couldn’t stand this guy. I despised even the mentioning of his name. My skin would crawl and my stomach would turn whenever he showed up at my door. Yuck! Yuck! Why would God make this guy in the first place? Why? The world would be a better place if he never existed. It would. It really, really would.

Then one day God said to me, “I can never bless you unless this guy becomes your best friend. Get to know him well.” So began the journey of turning my worst enemy into my best friend. I knew this was not going to be an easy task. Pain and hardship always preceded the arrival of this guy. Why couldn’t he come around on a good day? Why did he always want to come over on a day when things were going bad? I asked God this question and He answered, “Because He wants to help you.” What? My worst enemy wants to help me? What’s this all about?

The Lord continued, “Remember, I want him to become your best friend. I can’t bless you unless he is. If he’s not, hard times are all you’ll ever have in life. The choice is yours.” Okay! Okay! I get the message. Best friends, my eye! I can’t stand this guy and I don’t know anybody who does. Give me a royal break, will you?

What happened next? Yep! I had a bad day and guess who came knocking on my front door? You guessed it, my worst enemy. I opened the door, looked at him a few seconds, and then slammed the door in his face. Oh, I can’t stand this guy!! A few days went by and I had another bad day. Guess who showed up? As I answered the door, I remembered what the Lord said. I looked down my nose at him and ask, “What do you want?” and he replied, “I’m here to help you.” “Oh really! Well, you’re a little late. Goodbye!!” Once again I slammed the door in his face. The nerve of that guy showing up at a time like this.

I put him out of my mind when suddenly my world caves in around me. I’m at wit’s end and I knew not what to do. My friends are all gone, my wife is mad at me, I just lost my job, bill collectors are calling me night and day, and it didn’t seem like God heard my prayers any more. What am I ever going to do? I cried out, “God, why don’t You help me?”

Through my sobs I heard a knock at my door. “Who on earth can that be?” Sad, rejected, and lonely, I walked over and opened the front door. My mouth dropped open as I saw my worst enemy standing there with outstretched arms. I’m too worn out from all my crying to say anything, so I just hung my head in shame and cried some more.

The next thing I knew, my worst enemy walked up and puts his arms around me. Without realizing it, I reached up and embraced him also. As I cried uncontrollable tears, I felt him holding me tighter and tighter. Suddenly, a sense of comfort came over me. What’s this? The pain was leaving.

Things didn’t seem as bad as they did a few moments ago. I stepped back a few steps and with red eyes I looked at my visitor and asked, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” He replied, “I am PATIENCE and I am here to do a perfect work. God sent me so He could bless you.” Now I understood what was happening and I stepped forward and embraced PATIENCE as hard as I could.

That day my worst enemy became my best friend and I’ve been blessed ever since. From that day forward I have clung to the message of James 1:4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The Message Bible says, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

*** Written by Randall J. Brewer ***

…building the body of Christ

The Window

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15; Romans 14:19; Philippians 4:8

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

Epilogue ... There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. "Today is a gift, that's why it is called the PRESENT".

*** Written by Sue Richardson | www.transcendinlove.blogspot.ca ***

…building the body of Christ

How To Weaken The Wrath Of God

Text: 1 Kings 21:1-29; Joel 2:13; 1 Timothy 1:15

One of the passages in the Bible that tell of the true nature of God and how to weaken His wrath is found in 1 Kings 21. It recounts the familiar story of how King Ahab, ill advised by his wife, gave in to greed and illicitly possessed a vineyard belonging to Naboth.

“And it came to pass…that Naboth the Jezreelite has a vineyard which was in Jezreel by the palace of Ahab…and Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, give me thy vineyard that I may have it for a garden of herbs…” (Verse 1-2).

The story went on with Naboth refusing to offer Ahab his father’s inheritance even when he was offered a reasonable sum of money for it. Ahab, a typical human that he was, couldn’t handle the disappointment and went to his house displeased which got the attention of his ungodly wife, Jezebel.

The vicious Jezebel devised a means to get rid of Naboth to please her husband. “So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name…and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth…saying, proclaim a fast and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out and stone him that he may die” (Verse 8-10).

Eventually, Naboth was killed and Ahab had the vineyard that didn’t belong to him. But God wasn’t blind to this atrocity as He isn’t to all the ills in our society today – rape, terrorism, murder, abortion, adultery, theft, corruption, etc. God sees and knows everything. He saw the murder of Naboth and was bitterly angry that greed, stirred by Jezebel, could push Ahab to such length.

“And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel…and thou shalt speak unto him, saying, thus saith the Lord, in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine…Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy prosperity…for the provocation wherewith thou has provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin” (Verse 17-24).

Ahab’s reign was so notorious that the Bible says “there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols…” (Verse 25-26)

Truly, Ahab deserved the wrath of God upon his household and even more. But what amazed me in this story was what followed. Unlike some who commit one crime and proceed to another, multiplying evil upon evil and thinking no one sees them and that God can’t do anything, Ahab suddenly listened to his conscience that couldn’t allow him live with the guilt of knowing that the same fate as Naboth awaited him.

He humbled himself, put on sackcloth, observed a fast and was truly sober before the Lord. What happened? Grace happened.

Ahab’s action of remorse and repentance moved God’s heart towards mercy. God always shows mercy and grants grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). He takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:11).

“He is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever…” (Psalm 103:8-9) because He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11).

As much as God cannot behold iniquity nor could withstand the prevalence of wickedness, when we turn to Him in penitence and humility, He never casts us away. Remember the prodigal son? (Luke 15:11-32). God is love and that is His very nature. He is ever gracious and His mercy endures forever.

I tell you today that no matter how terrible your crime may be, God is willing and able to forgive you. He has promised to be merciful to your unrighteousness and your sin and iniquity will He remember no more (Hebrew 8:12). All you need is to do as Ahab did. Humble yourself before the Lord, confess and repent of your sins, surrender your life to Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour today.

If Ahab had postponed his repentance till the next day, it could have been possible for God’s wrath to catch up with him during the night and that would be the end. There is really so much to learn from 1 Kings 21 with thorough meditation and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But this is the plain secret to weakening the wrath of God – humility and genuine repentance.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life…” “Call upon the Lord and be saved. There is salvation in no one else” (John 3:16-18; Romans 10:13; Acts 4:12).

*** Written by Jacobs Adewale (Admin) ***

…building the body of Christ

A Better Tomorrow

Text: Romans 5:5; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 6:34

The clock is ticking again! I say that because for the past couple of weeks, time had seemed to stand still for me. I felt like I was in a state of limbo and the world was going on without me. Life is a journey and if some type of progress is not being made on a daily basis, then I get uncomfortable and start asking questions. The Lord answered my inquiries by reminding me of Ps. 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I now realize that limbo is the state of “being still” and it is this condition that God will reveal Himself to me as God.

I am now convinced that behind the scenes the Lord is doing a very powerful work. What it is exactly has not yet been revealed to me but a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders and the past several days have flown by faster than normal. Hope has been restored and I feel more freedom than I have in a long, long time.

The Lord recently shared a vision with me during a Saturday night service of praise and worship. I was in a large desert, where the ground was dry and broken into a million little pieces. This, I knew, represented my life for the past three years. We have experienced a continual, unending cycle of trials and unrelenting hardships. They are unexplainable in human terms and have left my family and I battered and bruised. We have been Christians long enough to know that a valley is not a bad place to be if you and Jesus are going through it together.

A noted evangelist once said, “We discover early in life that things don’t always turn out the way we planned. But we also discover that through tests and trials, and the way of the storm, a bonding takes place with God that we never knew before.” Not once did I waver in my walk with the Lord, although I occasionally raised my arms in mock surrender and asked aloud, “When is it all going to end?”

In the vision I then looked down and saw a single blade of grass growing up out of one of these cracks in the desert floor. I knew this represented life; a symbol that light can indeed shine in the darkness. I then looked up and saw not too far ahead of me the edge of a massive mountain range. To reach those mountains and the victory they represent, I knew I must keep going forward. It was the life in that single blade of grass that gave me the hope and courage to do just that.

I now realize that my journey through this long dry spell in life is nearly over. I am reminded of the story of Elijah when he prayed for rain after three and a half years of drought. Several times he sent his servant to check the horizon for rain clouds. When none were seen the prophet prayed all the more earnestly until finally the servant returned and reported a small gathering of clouds about the size of a hand. That’s all Elijah needed to hear. Rain was coming! None was falling at the time but what the servant had seen foretold what was to come. This is what hope does for you. It foresees a better tomorrow and this gives you strength and determination to make it through whatever you may be facing today.

For years I have lived my life saying that each day is the best day of my life. I live one day at a time and I make the most of each day the Lord has given me. But what about tomorrow? I believe we should live for today and hope for a better tomorrow. If one does not believe that tomorrow will be better than today when today is full of hurt and pain, then why go on at all? The enemy’s number one goal is to rob you of all your hope because this is what your faith is applied to.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” No hope, no faith. No faith, no victory. The absence of hope will steal from you what can be a promising future. The absence of hope is the greatest contributing factor in all divorces and suicides. The Bible says not to worry about tomorrow but surely we can use hope to believe for a better tomorrow. For some, this could be considered an act of survival. David wrote in Ps. 27:13, “I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

The theme of the Broadway musical “Annie” was that one could always hope for a better tomorrow. The red-headed orphan would sing, “The sun will come out tomorrow….it’s only a day away.” If your world seems to be collapsing around you then hold on and put all your hope in the living God and believe for a better tomorrow.

Hope gives you the assurance that out of sorrow and pain, when borne patiently and truthfully, come the more abundant life. Rejoice in the words of the apostle Paul in Rom. 5:5, “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.” Hallelujah!

Finally, do not only use hope when days are bad. Use it when things are going good for you as well. Michael Jordan once scored fifty-five points in a championship game and was asked if that was the best game of his career. He replied, “I don’t know if that was the best game of my career or not. Hopefully the next game will be the best game of my career.” Friend, may hope fill your heart and cause you to believe for a better tomorrow. It’s there for the taking. After all, it’s only a day away.

*** Written by Randall Brewer | Randall Brewer Ministries ***

...building the body of Christ

The Great Judgment Morning

Text: Matthew 7:23; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10

I dreamed that the great judgment morning
Had dawned and the trumpet had blown;
I dreamed that the nations had gathered
To judgment before the white throne;
From the throne came a bright shining angel,
And stood on the land and the sea,
And swore with his hands raised to heaven,
That time was no longer to be.

And O, what a weeping and wailing,
As the lost were told of their fate;
They cried for the rocks and the mountains,
They prayed, but their prayer was too late.

The rich man was there, but his money
Had melted and vanished away;
A pauper he stood in the judgment,
His debts were too heavy to pay;
The great man was there, but his greatness,
When death came, was left far behind!
The angel that opened the records,
Not a trace of his greatness could find.

The widow was there with the orphans,
God heard and remembered their cries;
No sorrow in heaven for ever,
God wiped all the tears from their eyes;
The gambler was there and the drunkard,
And the man that had sold them the drink,
With the people who gave them the license,
Together in hell they did sink.

The moral man came to the judgment,
But his self-righteous rags would not do;
The men who had crucified Jesus,
Had passed off as moral men, too;
The soul that had put off salvation,
"Not tonight; I'll get saved by and by,
No time now to think of religion!"
At last they had found time to die.

…building the body of Christ

An Earnest Warning About Lukewarmness

Text: Revelation 3:14-21

"Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." - Rev. 3:14-21

No Scripture ever wears out. The epistle to the church of Laodicea is not an old letter which may be put into the waste basket and be forgotten; upon its page still glow the words, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." 

This Scripture was not meant to instruct the Laodiceans only, it has a wider aim. The actual church of Laodicea has passed away, but other Laodiceas still exist—indeed, they are sadly multiplied in our day, and it has ever been the tendency of human nature, however inflamed with the love of God, gradually to chill into lukewarmness. The letter to the Laodiceans is above all others the epistle for the present times.

I should judge that the church at Laodicea was once in a very fervent and healthy condition. Paul wrote a letter to it which did not claim inspiration, and therefore its loss does not render the Scriptures incomplete, for Paul may have written scores of other letters besides. Paul also mentions the church at Laodicea in his letter to the church at Colosse; he was, therefore, well acquainted with it, and as he does not utter a word of censure with regard to it, we may infer that the church was at that time in a sound state.

In process of time it degenerated, and cooling down from its former ardour it became careless, lax, and indifferent. Perhaps its best men were dead, perhaps its wealth seduced it into worldliness, possibly its freedom from persecution engendered carnal ease, or neglect of prayer made it gradually backslide; but in any case it declined till it was neither cold nor hot. Lest we should ever get into such a state, and lest we should be in that state now, I pray that my discourse may come with power to the hearts of all present, but especially to the consciences of the members of my own church. May God grant that it may tend to the arousing of us all.


A church may fall into a condition far other than that for which it has a repute. It may be famous for zeal and yet be lethargic. The address of our Lord begins, "I know thy works," as much as to say, "Nobody else knows you. Men think better of you than you deserve. You do not know yourselves, you think your works to be excellent; but I know them to be very different."

Jesus views with searching eyes all the works of his church. The public can only read reports, but Jesus sees for himself. He knows what is done, and how it is done, and why it is done. He judges a church not merely by her external activities, but by her internal pieties; he searches the heart, and tries the reins of the children of men. He is not deceived by glitter; he tests all things, and values only that gold which will endure the fire. Our opinion of ourselves and Christ's opinion of us may be very different, and it is a very sad thing when it is so.

It will be melancholy indeed if we stand out as a church notable for earnestness and distinguished for success, and yet are not really fervent in spirit, or eager in soul-winning. A lack of vital energy where there seems to be most strength put forth, a lack of real love to Jesus where apparently there is the greatest devotedness to him, are sad signs of fearful degeneracy. Churches are very apt to put the best goods into the window, very apt to make a fair show in the flesh, and like men of the world, they try to make a fine figure upon a very slender estate. Great reputations have often but slender foundations, and lovers of the truth lament that it should be so. Not only is it true of churches, but of every one of us as individuals, that often our reputation is in advance of our deserts.

The Kind Of People We Ought To Be

Text: 2 Peter 3: 1-18

Jesus is coming again! In this piece, we shall notice that belief in the truth of the second coming of our Lord is urged in the New Testament as a present incentive to holiness of life and whole-heartedness in service. If we believe Christ is coming again, this belief must affect our behavior. Look up the following and notice that the truth of our Lord’s return is linked with the question of conduct and service: Luke 12:43; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 1:10; Colossians 3:2-5; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2:11-13; James 5:7-8; 1 John 2:28; 3:2. Now notice the argument the apostle uses in 2 Peter 3:11, and study the following comments by that old-time expositor, Albert Barnes, who wrote:

“The fact of the imminent return of Christ ought to be allowed to exert a deep and abiding influence on us, to induce us to lead holy lives. We should feel that there is nothing permanent on this earth; that this is not our abiding home, and that our great interests are in another world. We should be serious, humble and prayerful, and should make it our great object to be prepared for the solemn scenes through which we are soon to pass.

“A habitual contemplation of the truth that all we see is soon to pass away would produce a most salutary effect on the mind. It would make us serious. It would lead us not to desire to accumulate what must so soon be destroyed. It would prompt us to lay up our treasures in Heaven. It would cause us to ask with deep earnestness whether we are prepared for these amazing scenes should they suddenly burst upon us.”

In 2 Peter 3, there are five (5) characteristics of the Christian in whose life the truth of Christ’s return is a practical hope.


Study verses 11 and 14 and ask yourself: What would my immediate reaction be if I were suddenly told that the Lord was coming in two hours’ time? Many Christians, on receiving such a message, would need every bit of two hours to prepare for His coming. Apologies would have to be made (Matthew 5:23-24); debts would have to be paid (Romans 13:8); books would have to be burnt (Acts 19:19); loved ones would have to be warned (Genesis 19:14); cheques would have to be written (Malachi 3:8); confessions would have to be made (Matthew 18:15-16), etc. etc.!

Well, the fact is He is coming and He may come soon, and the practical effect of this truth should be an incentive to holy living. If we are expecting Him to come we shall desire to be found of Him ‘spotless’ and ‘blameless’ (verse 14; Colossians 3:2-5; 1 John 2:28).


Study verse 13 carefully. That does not mean that we as Christians are not to be interested in the improvement of social conditions etc. As a matter of fact, most of the great institutions existing today for the amelioration of suffering, the care of the poor, the abolition of bad living conditions, etc., were initiated by Christians e.g. Lord Shaftesbury, Dr Barnardo, Elizabeth Fry.

We have a definite contribution to make to the society of which we form a part. We are to shine as lights (Matthew 5:16); and to be as salt (Matthew 5:13), exercising a purifying influence in the community in which we live. But, this world is not our home; we are only pilgrims passing through on our way to Heaven. We are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20).

We are not pessimists because we believe that this poor old world is doomed, but we are optimists, for we also ‘look for a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.’ So, we cannot afford to be ‘worldly’ Christians, living in bondage to the sins and follies of this world (Matthew 6:19-20; Titus 2:12-13; 1 John 2:15-17).


Verses 9 and 15 remind us of the Lord’s wonderful compassion towards those who are perishing (John 3:16), and we who are His servants should share His deep concern for the salvation of men and women.

The signs of the times tell us that the coming of the Lord is very near (James 5:8). How wonderful it will be for us when He comes! But how solemn for those who are not ready to meet Him and to whom He will say Luke 13:27! Let us buy up every opportunity of bringing the gospel to those whose need is so desperate (John 4:35).


Verse 17 tells us this. Of course we must expect conditions in the world to get worse; but a world that has rejected God and His Son, and that has spurned the divine remedy for sin and every malady of man, can never get better apart from divine intervention. It is in this desperately sin-stricken world that you and I, who love the Lord, are to find encouragement, hope and inspiration in the calm assurance that our Sovereign Lord, who is on the throne, will shortly step down and put all wrongs right. To know God and to know the mystery of His intention for the coming days, this is the secret of assurance and peace (Isaiah 26:3).


This is what verse 18 suggests. Do you know Him as your Saviour, Friend and Lord? If not – Job 22:21! If you do know Him, how much do you know Him? (John 14:9). Do you share Paul’s ambition? (Philippians 3:10). The way to grow in grace and to know Him better is to be much alone with Him in prayer (Matthew 6:6), and to meditate upon His Word (Psalm 119:97).

Let us pray that the daily anticipation of our Lord’s sure return will inspire us to live lives that are well-pleasing to Him, to live in the light of eternity, to reach out for the salvation of others, to be quiet and confident in the midst of international confusion and chaos, and above all, to know Him whom to know is life eternal.

*** Written by Francis Dixon | Words of Life Ministry | www.wordsoflife.co.uk ***

…building the body of Christ

Prelude To A Blessing

Text: Genesis 32:1-31; James 1:2-4; Proverbs 3:5-6

For quite some time now I’ve been meditating on the story of Jacob and his wrestling match with God. Gen. 32:28 tells us that he struggled with God and prevailed and I believe that if we also want to prevail in life and come out on top then we likewise have to enter into a struggle with God. Like Jacob we need to grab hold onto God and His promises and not let go until we receive the full manifestation of that promise. There is, however, one aspect of this story that I have pondered for quite a while and was unable to discover the reason for or the significance thereof until now.

 The Lord has enlightened me considerably with some further insight into this remarkable event in the life of Jacob that I want to discuss with you now. Let’s take a moment and focus on Jacob’s limp.  After a long night of struggling with God, the heavenly agent whom Jacob held on so tightly to touched his hip and threw it out of joint. For the rest of his life Jacob walked with a limp because of his wrestling match with God.  Why did this happen? Was Jacob getting the best of his visitor so the angel had to do this in order to get the advantage? Of course not! The old boy had wrestled all night and was near exhaustion as it was. So what was the reason for Jacob’s limp?

First of all, we know Jacob wanted to get blessed. He said with bold determination, “I will not let you go until you bless me!” What happened next? The blessing? No, the limp! Jacob received his limp before he received his blessing. Remember that. Next, let’s analyze what it means to have a limp. It means that you will always need someone or something to lean on and you will also have a struggle doing what you want to do. I believe the meaning of Jacob’s limp is that if you want to walk in the blessings of God then you will have to learn to lean on Him because many struggles will come your way.

Forget the idea that being blessed by God means you’re on a beach somewhere drinking pineapple juice as you swing on a hammock between two palm trees. My friend, this is not reality. We are in a war and being saved does not mean you will live on “Easy Street.” Jesus said to “count the cost” and He told Peter you could receive a hundred-fold return on your giving “with persecutions.” There’s the struggle. The decision we all must make is whether or not we want to confront these struggles in order to walk in the blessing of God.

Contrary to what the misinformed may believe, receiving the blessings of God is not a joy ride in the park. It’s a journey into a war zone where strength and endurance will be needed with each step you take. Every morning Jacob had to lean on a cane when he got out of bed. It was a struggle to get from one place to the next. But…the man was blessed! Experience teaches us that the rewards of getting blessed by God far exceed whatever struggle you may go through if, that is, you are willing to pay the price. And what price is that? You must learn to lean on God and not the arm of the flesh. Success is not free nor is it cheap. Indeed, there is a price to pay for success.

We all need to realize that success is born out of adversity. Tests, trials, and oftentimes failure come to all who believe. When they do, a decision must be made as to what your attitude will be in the midst of these afflictions. Do roadblocks signal the end of your journey or are they stepping stones that lead to a place that is “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20)?

Success that is birthed as a result of tests and trials can be compared to a farmer putting manure in a cornfield before the planting season begins. As manure is used to fertilize the soil so the seeds can grow, so do tests and trials help develop within us that special character trait that causes us to never give up and press on in the good fight of faith.

It will also help to realize that adversity is the devil’s response to your progress and this is why James 1:2-4 instructs us to “count it all joy” when tests and trials come our way. Paul gives us the assurance that “if God be for us, who can be against us?” In Christ we always win if we don’t quit. As wonderful as the blessings of God are, it is a certainty that these blessings are not for the faint hearted. God said in Ps. 89:19, “I have given help to one who is mighty…” and the book of James tells us that the unstable and double-minded man should not “suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”

If a struggle comes your way, rise up above it and know that you and God are stronger than anything the devil throws at you. Remember, Jacob’s limp came before his blessing. Likewise, the cross came before the empty tomb. Any struggle can rightfully be called a “prelude to a blessing.” It’s always darkest just before the dawn. If you are in a struggle then hold on tight like Jacob did because a blessing is on the way. Hallelujah! Every time something goes wrong use your faith and focus on the blessing that is sure to follow. The difference between losers and winners is that losers focus on the limp whereas winners always focus on the blessing.

This is the key to having a victorious life. Rejoice over the fact that your cup is half full instead of complaining that it’s half empty. With this attitude you’ll breeze through anything the devil throws your way. Anything! Just don’t lose your focus. Yes, the struggles will be there. They will always be there. Jacob’s limp never went away and Paul had his “thorn in the flesh.” But thank God, His grace is sufficient for us!  It's true, the more you focus on something the bigger it gets. Little molehills turn into giant mountains when all you do is focus on them. The same applies to the blessings of God. Wimps focus on limps whereas overcomers focus on the blessings.

Jacob was tired and exhausted but when he spoke he focused on the blessing. He said, “I will not let You go until You bless me.” Also, nowhere in scripture does it say he ever spoke one word about his limp. Wimps with limps always gripe and complain about their problems. They say “woe is me!” and by doing so their struggle gets bigger and bigger.  But winners are different. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and they focus on the prize at the end of the race. Winners focus on the blessing and if we will do the same then the blessings will flow into our lives on the crest of every wave.

In life, circumstances rarely go as we’d like but in Jesus we can rise up above it. Being blessed does not mean you will have no more struggles. Jacob still had his limp. Being blessed does mean you can rise up above your trials and live on a higher plane than where your problems are.  The good news is that once the blessing is manifested the pains of your struggle are quickly forgotten.

Jesus said in John 16:21, “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” The key is to focus on the blessing and not the struggle. So go ahead. Rise up and be blessed!

*** Written by Randall Brewer | www.rjbrewerandcompany.com ***

...building the body of Christ.

Generating Thirst In Others

Text: Matthew 5:13; James 2:14-26

Table salt without pleasing flavor is useless,
Like a weak Christian lacking “good works”;
For the world is in need of divine examples
Of how to live within the Kingdom’s framework.

There are many souls craving spiritual waters,
To have their endless abyss of thirst quenched.
Are we testifying of God’s love to reach those
In strongholds- where they’re firmly entrenched?

Unless there are obvious and significant change
In the personal behavior of our everyday lives,
The World will have no real motivation for faith
When there’s no evidence of transcendent lives.

We’re still called to be the salt of this planet,
Demonstrating victorious lives as saved brothers;
As Christians, we’re supposed to add loving flavor.
We’re responsible for generating thirst in others!

Author's Notes
Loosely based on:
Matt 5:13; Jam 2:14-26

Learn more about me and my poetry at:
By Joseph J. Breunig 3rd, © 2014, All rights reserved.

Joseph Breunig, Author/poet
Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory

...building the body of Christ

No Want

Text: Psalm 23:1

Key Verse: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want" (Psalm 23:1)

Because the Lord is my shepherd, I do not lack anything. He satisfies my needs. That is the place where God wants to bring us. He wants us to be independently dependent upon Him, to need Him alone. It struck me as I was studying this psalm that there are really only two options in life. If the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want; but if I am in want, then it is obvious that the Lord is not my shepherd.

It is that simple. If emptiness, loneliness, despair, and frustration exist in our lives, then the Lord is not our shepherd. Or if anyone or anything else is shepherding us, we are never satisfied. If our vocation shepherds us, then there is restlessness and feverish activity and frustration. If education is our shepherd, then we are constantly being disillusioned. If another person is our shepherd, we are always disappointed, and ultimately we are left empty. If drug abuse is our shepherd, then we are wasted, as one rock artist said recently. But if the Lord is our shepherd, David says, we shall not want.

It occurs to me that if Jehovah is to be our shepherd, then we have to begin by recognizing that we are sheep. I don't like that analogy, frankly, because I don't like sheep. I come by my dislike honestly. I used to raise sheep. In high school I was in the 4-H Club, and I had a herd of sheep and goats. Now goats I can abide, because they may be obnoxious, but at least they're smart. Sheep are, beyond question, the most stupid animals on the face of the earth. They are dumb and they are dirty and they are timid and defenseless and helpless. Mine were always getting lost and hurt and snakebitten. They literally do not know enough to come in out of the rain. Sheep are miserable creatures.

And then to have God tell me that I am one! That hurts my feelings. But if I am really honest with myself, I know it is true. I know that I lack wisdom and strength. I'm inclined to be self-destructive. Isaiah said it best: We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). I know my tendency toward self-indulgent individualism, going my own way and doing my own thing. That's me. I'm a sheep. And if Jesus Christ is to be my shepherd, I have to admit that I need one. It is difficult, but that is where we must start. Once we admit that need, we discover the truth of what David is saying. We shall not want.

*** Culled from Ray Stedman's Ministry Devotional | www.raystedman.org ***

…building the body of Christ

Where Are Your Tears?

Text: Hebrews 7:25; Proverbs 11:30; Mark 16:15

There are tears in the sinner's eyes,
Habits of sin binding heart, hand and feet;
Broken with shame at his sin and defeat,
Hot burning tears coursing down his hot cheek -
There are tears in the sinner's eyes.

There are tears in the sufferer's eyes,
Long weary hours of disease, weakness, pain,
Praying that health be restored once again;
Waiting for healing, but waiting in vain -
There are tears in the sufferer's eyes.

There are tears in discouraged eyes,
Misunderstood by the ones who should know;
No one to love, to compassion bestow,
Fainting, discouraged, with hope burning low -
There are tears in discouraged eyes.

There are tears in non-Christian eyes,
Calling to idols of wood and of stone,
Calling in vain, Christ and Saviour unknown,
Comfortless, helpless, without God, alone -
There are tears in non-Christian eyes.

There are tears in the Saviour's eyes,
Tears for those sinning, discouraged and ill,
Tears for straying ones, out of His will,
Tears for millions unreached by us till -
There are tears in the Saviour's eyes.

But where are the tears in your eyes?
Can you not weep with millions who weep?
Have you no tears for the other lost sheep?
Jesus is weeping! Are you still asleep?
Oh! Where are the tears in your eyes?

*** Written by Wesley L. Duewel ***

...building the body of Christ