If you suffer, God comforts

I know a lot of people dealing with depression or grief. We need to remember that scripture is full of people dealing with difficult times.

Remember that Jesus’s soul was deeply grieved to the point of death and he asked for his disciples/friends to keep watch with Him (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34).

Jesus did not like the idea of having to suffer as He knew He would and ask His Father if there was any way to let the cup pass from Him, even though He was willing to suffer as He knew He would (Matthew 26:39).

Sometimes we are even torn between going to be with Jesus and remaining here (Philippians 1:21-25), but like the Apostle Paul, our job is to remain in the flesh.

Sometimes a thorn in our flesh is to keep us humble, like with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

But we know God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and as I am sure you know, that is what the enemy wants us to forget.

God offers comfort so we can comfort others, which we see in 2 Corinthians 1:2-5

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

Hang in there – you aren’t alone.

When did it become wrong to fear God?

When did it become a bad thing to fear God?

I see so many pastors (famous men) preaching that somehow people have to have to “right” motivation to have “true” Christian faith.

Somehow if people want to avoid hell but do not want to have a relationship, they have “phony” faith. Some people START with fear of God, and God moves them towards love for God. When did that become wrong?

It seems to me that we should fear God. Too many Christians want to have a genie of a God but do not want to leave sin behind. They do not FEAR the wrath of God, but want to have a “friend in Jesus”.

It used to be that hell fire and brimstone preaching led many people to faith in Christ. People left alcoholism or adulterous relationships for Christ because of fear of hell. These days, people who are wanting to avoid hell, who are afraid of what God might do to them if they do not get right with God, are condemned for having the wrong motivation.

But God’s word TELLS us to fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

It seems to me that people need to repent, turn to God through faith in Christ, and have deeds which demonstrate repentance.

Acts 26:20

20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Does it really matter if they do that because they love God or because they fear God’s wrath? Is one motivation really better than the other? I have known children who love to please their parents and so obey because of they love their parents. I have known children who fear punishment more than they desire to do what they would be punished for, so they obey because they fear their parents’ wrath. Which is better? I think each is effective and good and needed – for that individual person. The same is true for God’s children. One motivation is not better or worse.


Do not worry

Please know that you have no need to worry. Take comfort in the thought you are valuable to God.

Luke 12:25 (NIV)

25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Job 14:5 (NIV)

5 A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.



1 Peter 5:1-14

1 Peter 5:1-14

“Do it God’s way!”


1To the elders among you,

Peter is now writing directly to the leaders of the churches. But this applies to leaders everywhere.


I appeal as a fellow elder,

Acts 1:12-14. Peter was there when the church began. And by the time he wrote this letter, he would have been getting up there in age as well. Peter is reminding the elders that they have reason to listen to him – he’s earned that.


a witness of Christ’s sufferings and

Acts 3:15. Peter not only was there when the church began, but also when Christ suffered. This is more ammo to bring against people who might not have wanted to listen to him.


one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

1 Peter 4:13. Peter loads more ammo into the gun he is about to fire. Peter is saying He is a believer, was there when Christ suffered and was there when the church began. He has every right to speak as he is going to speak.


2 Be shepherds of God’s flock

Peter is reminding the church leaders that the people they are supposed to care for are GOD’S people. And he’s reminding them that GOD put them in positions of influence. He’s also reminding them that they are to be shepherds – people who guide and protect those under their care. Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:16 – If you are in a position of influence, it is because God put you there. And that’s the case whether you are own a company, or are a manager, or a teacher, or a mother, or a father, or a big brother or sister. GOD put you there. This is true for any of us in positions of influence! And since GOD put you where you are, you need to be the leader God has called you to be.


that is under your care,

Guide and protect those God has given you authority over. Don’t worry about people who are not under your leadership – don’t borrow trouble. You’ve got enough to worry about with the people God HAS put under your control. Acts 20:29-30. Be aware of what’s happening with YOUR people – you might have a wolf in sheep’s clothing among your flock. KNOW those whom God has given into your care.


serving as overseers—

            SERVE! Don’t lord it over them, be a servant leader. An overseer is a superintendent, a supervisor, someone who manages something for someone else. The people God has given you influence over are there because of God. Do what GOD wants you to do, not what the world says. Don’t try to lead using the world’s patterns, lead by the Word of God! To do that, you MUST KNOW the Word of God – you have to know Christ, and you have to know the Bible. To do THAT, you have to pray daily, minute by minute sometimes, you have to be OPEN with GOD. You have to READ the Bible. You have to study the Bible. THEN you can LEAD by the Word of God.


not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;

And we are to lead with the right motivation. God wants us to be willing to be where we are. God wants us to be WILLING to be the leaders he has called us to be. God wants us to have the right heart for the job – don’t be doing it out of pride, or anger or compulsion, or because no one else will do the job (although sometimes God removes other choices for leadership to make it so we have no choice but to become a leader, but if that’s the case, be sure its what GOD wants, and not what others want). Do it because God wants you to.


not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

Don’t be a leader out of greed. Don’t worry about the money – if its too little, God will provide. But instead of greed, have the heart of a servant. In fact, Peter says to be EAGER to serve. We have to have the right attitude. God not only cares about WHAT you do, and HOW you do it, but also about the ATTITUDE you do it with. Do it because God wants you to. And if GOD wants you to do something, then he will definitely provide what you need to do the job – just rely on him, and not yourself!


3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

            Don’t be bossy. Don’t take advantage of the situation. Don’t try to run people over. Don’t be a dictator. Don’t try to act like you are really something special. Don’t try to do it the way the world would have you do it – do it the way GOD wants you to do it. Be the leader GOD has called you to be. Be an example to those around you.


4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Being the leader GOD has called you to be, leading in the way that CHRIST led, by being a SERVANT leader, will gain you a crown that will last forever!


5 Young men,

Now Peter turns to those who are not leading. It says “young men”, but He’s talking to everyone who is not a leader in the current context. Of course, he’s speaking to those who are not leaders in the church, but it applies to everyone who is under the authority of someone else – wives, children, employees, citizens.


in the same way be submissive to those who are older.

In the same way that the leaders are to lead, with the right attitude, with the right motivation, in the right way, the people who are not in leadership need to follow. When the leaders of the church, or a family, or a company, make a decision, it needs to be respected – not rebelled against. Not gossiped about. Not ignored. It needs to be followed! If you don’t understand, then ask. If you don’t like it, then pray! Pray for God to reveal what HE is doing. Remember, God has put these people in the positions they are in and HE will work all things out for the good of those who love HIM. Pray for God to give you the right attitude and the ability to follow humbly. That’s not saying to not speak up, but first pray for what to say. And then pray some more!


All of you,

Now Peter is speaking to leaders and followers. He is speaking to everyone in the church. You, me, everyone in the church.


clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,

Humility is the act or state of being humble. Humble defined as “not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive”. The idea Peter is trying to express is to wrap humility about yourself and tie it on – like a woman does with a sarong. You have to wrap it just right, and tie it just right – otherwise you aren’t covering what needs to be covered and it will just fall off. You have to work at it at first; it takes practice. But eventually, you will be able to do it without thinking. You need to be humble with one another. Don’t be proud. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t try to act like you know more or are better or are smarter or are prettier or are taller or are anything that someone else in the church is not – you might be all of those things, but don’t ACT like it.  Be humble, not proud.

because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” a

            Proverbs 3:34. God will bless the humble – God will show grace and mercy to those who recognize their need for Him. When you know that GOD is in control and you’re not, then you wont be so proud. Be careful, God WILL teach that to you if you aren’t willing to learn it on your own!


6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Another definition for humble is “expressing a spirit of deference or submission.” Recognize where you belong in the hierarchy. As good as you may or may not be, God is at the top! So humble yourself, because you are no where NEAR as good as God.

When you submit to GOD, through faith in Jesus Christ, He will lift raise you to be in heaven when its time.


7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

            God cares so much for you that he gave his only son that you might live. If GOD cares for you, what more do you need? You need trust in God. You need to know who God is, and what God has done, and what God is doing, and what God will do. To do that, you need to pray, read the Bible, and pray some more! You need to know that you can trust him with your car, your house, your finances, your family, your job, your church, your life. Once you can trust God fully, on every point, in every thing, you will have no need to worry, or for medication to help you deal with depression or anxiety or any other mental condition. It’s a process. Its not usually instantaneous. So don’t go throwing your medications out the window just yet! Instead, take that first step: trust him with your soul. Then once you do that, trust him with something else of importance. And then something else. And then something else. And then something else. Until you get to where trusting God is natural. THEN you can get rid of the medications.


8 Be self-controlled and alert.

Don’t let anything control you. Don’t let your emotions control you. Don’t let your body control you. Don’t let what the world says control you. Be in control of yourself! And be alert! Look at what is going on around you. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Be aware!


Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

            If you’re not a Christian, then you probably have little to worry about – he’s already eaten you or could do so when ever he wanted and you’d never know the difference. If you are someone who trusts Christ, then the devil is gunning for you. And if you are walking in faith, he’s really out to get you. And the more you walk by faith in Christ, the more the enemy will try to derail you! He can’t take away your salvation, but he can definitely try to discourage you. He can make you doubt. He can make you not want to walk by faith. He can make you ineffective for Christ. Look out for the enemy and his works!


9 Resist him,

standing firm in the faith,

You don’t have to worry about what the devil is doing, just be aware of it and resist his attempts to shake your faith or to make you in effective for Christ. Keep  growing in your ability to trust Christ.


because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

            Like the people Peter wrote to, you are not the only one suffering. There are other people going through the same thing you are. In fact, some of us have already been there and done that and gotten the T-shirt. The thing to do is to talk about what’s going on in your life. Who knows, you might meet someone who knows someone who can help – or maybe you talking about it will help someone else.


10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,

Remember, God called you to faith in Christ! It was HIS doing. And while you might suffer now, in the end, you will be with Christ and THAT is what REALLY matters.


after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

You’re going to suffer. Its guaranteed. But hang in there. It wont last forever. And when its done, God will make it, and you, right.

11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Always give God praise.


12 With the help of Silas,[1] whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. [2]

Peter is closing the letter with greetings from different people he is with or has recently visited. But notice something, Peter said Silas was helping him write the letter. If Peter could ask a brother in Christ for help, why can’t YOU? Rely on your family in Christ. What Peter said is true. Live a life worthy of name by which you are called – Christ. Live humbly, respectfully, self-controlled, not frightened, submit to those in authority. Love one another. Resist the devil. Stand firm on God’s grace. We all suffer, but God works all things for the good of those who love him – even our suffering. GOD will make it all right, and restore you is true. Believe what GOD is saying through Peter.

[1] Greek Silvanus, a variant of Silas

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 5:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Anxious, worried, fearful? Don’t be!

Worry is a lack of faith, which is a sin. WE must trust God loves us, that God cares about us, that God has a pefect plan, and that God takes care of us.

Jesus said to not worry about what you will eat or drink or whether you will have clothing – but seek GOD and HIS kingdom and HIS rightseousness and all these things will be given to you.

Matthew 6:25-33 25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


Jesus said to not to be afraid of those who can kill the body, but to fear GOD who can kill the body and cast you into hell.

Luke 12:4-6 4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Jesus sets us from from sin, and therefore we can rest in HIS hands.

Acts 13:38-39
38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.


John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Paul said that what ever is not of faith is sin, and worry shows a distinct lack of faith, so it is sin.

Romans 14:22-23 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.


Paul said to be anxious for njothing, but make your requests known to God and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind.

Philippians 4:5-7 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peter said God cares for you, so you should casy your anxiety upon Him.

1 Peter 5:6-8 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

If we love God perfectly, we will not fear, and we love because God first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.


Turn to God. Trust God. give Him your fears and anxieties and needs and desires. Seek God’s righteousness and kingdom, and God will provide.

Acts 9

Day 9, Acts 9

Saul was on his way to Damascus to hunt Christians. Can you imagine the excitement? I mean, think how excited and crazy people get when they are going to play a sport or watch one. Hunting gets your blood up. Its the fight or flight thing. So Saul had to be feeling good.


And then God….

Saul met God on the road to Damascus. How do I know? Because he fell down at the power of the entrance of God. A flash of light from heaven came, blinded him, and he fell to the ground.

When people are in God’s presence, they fall down.

Ezekiel 1:28

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Mark 3:11

Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

John 18:6

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

He probably had no idea what had happened, I mean a flash bomb so bright he was blinded basically went off from heaven. vBut he realized he was not the one with the power. So when the voice asked “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”, Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?”

The response? “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

Its interesting that the people with him heard the voice but saw no one. I wonder if they saw the light. Scripture does not tell us.

What happened then? Saul got up. Saul was led by the hand into Damascus. Like Christ was three days in the tomb, without seeing, without eating, without drinking (as is appropriate for a dead man), so was Saul.

Then the Lord spoke to a man in Damascus through a vision. He was very direct, and very exact as to where He wanted the man to go – including who to ask for. The Lord told the guy, Ananias, the Saul had seen he was going to come and lay hands on him to receive sight.

Apparently one can object during a vision. Ananias objected, making clear the danger Saul had presented for those who trusted in Christ – how he was supposed to come and arrest people (I’d imagine he didnt want to die). But the Lord was clear :“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

What was Ananias’ response?

So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

My wife, Lori, pointed out to me that immediately after laying hands on Saul, Ananias addressed him as brother. This was before baptism. Scripture records no decision having been made for Christ by Saul, no sinners prayer was prayed, nothing happened other than Christ confronted Saul, blinded him, Saul fell  to the ground, and Christ told Saul what he would do, and then Saul was healed. Yet Ananias addressed him as brother Saul – a fellow believer in Christ. Saul had no part in his salvation, other than to be the recipient of it.

It was after he believed, after he was healed and could see that he was baptized, and it was after baptism that he ate (after three days without vision,  food or water). This tells us how important obedience through baptism in the Lord’s name was to Saul, personally.

I have heard much about how we should not take celebrities and have them teach or share the gospel or [fill in the blank] yet. But Saul was preaching that Jesus was the Lord within days of his conversion – and he kept getting stronger and confounding the Jews by proving Jesus was Lord.

Then when the Jews began to plot his murder, instead of confronting and defending himself – he ran away. This is not the behavior one would normally expect from hero of the faith. This is a man who loved God, loved others. He wanted to proclaim the Word of God. Yet he was lowered by his followers in a basket through a hole in the wall so he could be safe. He went back to Jerusalem.

The believers there didnt trust Saul – but God provided yet again. God provided a Barnabas, who spoke up for Saul, giving Saul’s testimony of what happened on the road to Damascus and while there. Then for a while, Saul was able to proclaim Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem. The Greek Jews wanted to kill him. So the believers sent him to Tarsus, where he was from – I suppose the thinking was he would likely be safe in his home town.

Saul must have been quite the persecutor, because after his conversion (when he quit ravaging the church), scripture tells us in verse 31, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”

What does it mean to “fear the Lord?” The Greek word is ‘phobos’. The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines phobos as:

1.            fear, dread, terror

a.                  that which strikes terror


This is translated a few times as respect or awe or reverence. But mostly, its fear – as in BE AFRAID. The church FEARED God. They recognized God’s power. For this reason, the church continued to increase.

The church was built up. It continued to Increase.

How? People were sharing the truth about Jesus – they were sharing the Gospel.

John 3:3 reads,

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” There must be new life.

John 3:16-18 tells us,

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

This tells us if we believe, we have eternal life, if we do not, we are judged.

God tells us in John 3:36,

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

This tells us that if someone does not obey, they do not believe, and the wrath of God is still on those them. This tells us if you believe, you will obey. Do you obey? Is YOUR life one of obedience, showing you faith, or disobedience, showing a lack of faith?

The church FEARED God, and were comforted by the Holy Spirit.

Moving on….

Paul was not the only prominent person spoken of in this chapter. We see Peter was traveling, and he healed a paralytic, at which point many believed.

Peter also prayed for a woman, Tabitha (AKA Dorcas), and she returned from the dead. I doubt this is a common occurrence – even then. There seemed to have been lots of healing,but only a few recorded instances of dead people coming to live. Dead people dont seem to return too often, at least not after a few minutes. I mean, our dog died recently, but after a bit of mouth to mouth and a few compressions, she revived. This wasnt like that. This woman had been dead. The people had to send for Peter who was in another town. And they had already washed her and set her in a bedroom (for mourning, I suppose), before the sent for Peter in another town. When he arrived, the widows talked with him,showing her wares to him, before he sent them away and prayed and told her to get up. She did. I mean there was not any yelling or screaming on Peter’s part, no drama, just a quiet expectation of her obedience. And many people heard and believed.

I think many people come to Christ in a moment of crisis or healing. We seem to respond better then – perhaps because our mind is more inclined to believe during those periods in our lives when we need a miracle?

For me, the miracle is not a healed person or a resurrected person – but a forgiven person. It amazes me how we can take our salvation for granted. This is a God whom we should FEAR. Jesus said to be afraid of him who can DESTROY SOULS – he was not speaking of Satan, but of GOD.

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