The Encourager

The Encourager

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The Power of the Gospel

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Power of the Gospel

By Jeff Curtis

 

     Rome at one time was power-mad, and so is today’s world. We want to be stronger, go faster, and build bigger – but even after almost two thousand years, there is no power comparable to the gospel. The story of the cross is still “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Corinthians 1:24). James Meadows referred to it as “God’s dynamite to blast sin, tradition, paganism, and helplessness out of men’s hearts.”

 

     The gospel is not only God’s power of forgiveness; it is also God’s constraining power. Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth (on the cross), will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). The gospel is also God’s remaking power. Multiplied thousands of lives have been changed as men and women have responded to the story of God’s love. Paul stated in 2Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The story is told of a man whose life was so altered that one of his employees remarked, “He is not the same man! It’s the same skin, but there’s a new man inside!”

 

     The gospel is so important that we don’t dare “neglect it, ignore it, change it, pervert it, …or refuse to hear it.” Above all, those of us who are Christians dare not “fail to preach it.” It is still God’s power – His only power – to salvation. Today, some are preoccupied with finding new ways “to attract people to church.” Coy Roper stated, “Whatever attracts people to the church, no one will be saved until and unless we preach the gospel and obey it.” The Gospel is still God’s remedy for sin-sick people. If we don’t share it with everyone we know, they will be lost.

 

     Is it possible that, unlike Paul, we are ashamed of the gospel? Most of us would never admit to being ashamed of the gospel, but are we ashamed embarrassed to tell our friends about our faith in Jesus? Are we afraid to try to teach them because we may lose them as friends? In the Contemporary English Bible, Romans 1:16 reads like this; “I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.” I pray that God will always help us to be proud of the good news – and to act like it.

 

 

Mary Has Chosen the Good Part

by Heath Rogers

“But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42, NASU).

Martha was enjoying a great blessing. The Lord was in her home. He was using it as an opportunity to teach. Her sister Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening closely to every word spoken by the Lord. Martha was distracted with the responsibilities of being a good hostess. She had invited the Lord into her house, but she felt like she could use some help. Her frustration got the best of her, and she interrupted the Lord’s teaching and asked Him to tell Mary to help her.

Our Lord’s response indicates that Martha and Mary had made two different choices. Martha had chosen to continue serving her guests, while Mary had “chosen the good part” - to sit and listen to Jesus.

Martha’s choice had caused her to become overwhelmed, worried, troubled, and bothered. Mary’s choice was giving her a blessing that would never be taken from her.

Sometimes troubles come from external sources. We can’t help but become distracted by emergencies. However, if we are honest, we are often like Martha in that we bring troubles upon ourselves. We don’t have to overcommit ourselves and take on more responsibilities than we can handle. We don’t have to involve ourselves in every controversy that crosses our path. We don’t have to look for things to take us away from sitting at the Lord’s feet. More often than not, we are worried and bothered because we choose to be worried and bothered.

Instead, let’s choose to keep our attention fixed on the Lord. This will not make our troubles disappear, but it will keep us from being burdened with unnecessary worries.

Spiritual Endurance

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Spiritual Endurance

By Jeff Curtis

 

     Throughout history, God’s people, who have faced difficult trials, have cried out for answers, asking, “Why?” However, for the most part, God has remained silent, with no answer coming from heaven. It may be that in times of suffering, what people of faith need the most from the Lord is not answers to “why” questions, but wisdom to know “how” they should respond to difficult times (James 1:5). Some questions might be more appropriate; 1) “Lord, what do You want me to learn from this?” 2) “How can this make me a better person?” 3) “How can I use this experience to bring glory to Your name?”

  

    I’m not suggesting that if we ask the right questions, we will the answers we want from the Lord. However, it is possible that we will be enabled to deal with difficulties. Trials can destroy us if we wallow in self-pity or become angry at God because of them. But they can produce steadfastness (endurance) if we approach our trials in the proper way. James the, the brother of Jesus, said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).

 

     God allows trials in our lives to test our faith, in by doing so, His desire is that we will develop spiritual muscles (endurance). This is in harmony with the concept that weight lifters understand well. They have the expression, “No pain, no gain.” In order to develop strong muscles, an individual must have resistance, something to work against, and that involves pain.

 

     The same principle in involved in developing spiritual muscles. That’s why the Lord told His disciples that would suffer grievous trials; rejection by their own families and friends, hatred, persecution, and even death at the hands of their enemies, but He said. “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony” (Luke 21:13). In other words, trials and persecution will give us an opportunity to grow stronger, by using the defensive armor of God, along with “the sword of the Spirit” and “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16-17). So, by trusting in the Lord, and properly using His spiritual armor and weapons, we can develop spiritual muscles that turns hatred and persecution into a “testimony” of how to live. And if necessary, how to die like Jesus. Two powerful examples of this are; 1) Stephen’s testimony and prayer, all while being stoned (Acts 7:57-60), and 2) Paul and Silas’ songs of praise and prayer after being unjustly beaten and put in prison in Philippi (Acts 16:19-34).

 

     In the case of Rebekah, it was not just opposition from without that troubled her, it was also the struggles from within that distressed her, her own inadequacy and inability to conceive and child. She probably remembered the blessing of her family before she left for the land of Canaan to meet her future husband, “May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them” (Genesis 24:60). However, after twenty years of marriage, Rebekah was still without a child, and she may have thought that the Lord was playing some kind of cruel joke on her. Was she too proud or afraid to approach God in prayer about her infertility?

 

     Had she never prayed to the Lord about this on her own? Could it be that she was ashamed to request her husband Isaac intercede with God concerning her desperate condition? The text does not provide any answers to these questions. Whatever the case, in spite of her doubts and fears, Rebekah finally cast her cares upon the Lord through her husband’s prayer (1Peter 5:7), and God answered in a positive way, enabling her to conceive and give birth to twins.

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