It’s my wife’s birthday today!
She is a great woman who, to me, is a model of balance.
Her love for God runs deep, as does her love for her family.
She is totally dedicated to serving and glorifying God with her life. Yet, she takes care of herself and stays active and fit.
She always looks great too.
No question about it; she is a beautiful woman both inside and out and I am proud to call her my wife of 37 years.
As I think about it, what I have written is a paraphrase of what a woman ought to be according to Proverbs 31, and Cathe is just that.
So happy birthday, Cathe!
Is your marriage in trouble? Is it hanging by a thread?
Does it seem like it is headed for divorce?
I have good news for you. . . .Hope is on the way.
This Sunday, my message at Harvest Riverside and Orange County will be “Hope for Hurting Marriages.”
So come with an open heart and an open Bible and let’s see what the Lord will do in your hurting marriage.
Our service times at Harvest Riverside are 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30 am. Harvest OC service times are 9:30 and 11:30 am.
It will all be webcast live at www.harvest.org
This will also be a good message for you singles out there, as we will explore what marriage is all about.
And she replied, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Today we are going to talk about it,” I said. And we talked. The result of that conversation was that she made a recommitment to the Lord. She died a month later. I am so glad we had that conversation, although it was not an easy one to have.
A few years passed, and I got word that her husband Bill was very ill, and I was asked to go see him. I was getting ready to leave for a speaking engagement, so I planned to visit him the next day. But again, I felt impressed by the Lord to go see him right away. We had a candid discussion, and I once again presented the gospel. Bill said he wanted to put his faith in Christ, so we prayed together as he committed his life to Him. I caught my plane, and when I landed, I received a text that Bill had died.
I know it is awkward and difficult to broach these subjects with unbelievers—especially family members. But you have to do what is right. And you will be glad you did.
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
— 2 Corinthians 6:2
BTW,this is taken from today’s devotional which you can sign up for for free at www.harvest.org
The Christian life is the greatest life there is. God takes a life that was empty and aimless and, worst of all, headed to a certain judgment, and he turns it around and transforms it. That is more than enough right there. But in addition, he removes the guilt that haunted us, fills the emptiness inside of us and literally takes residence in our heart. This all comes as a result of the gospel believed and followed.
That is the good news. But we also need to know there are some new problems that come along as a result of becoming a Christian. You get rid of an old set of problems, and you inherit new ones. As Bible commentator Ray Stedman put it, “A Christian is one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble.” We need to be aware of the fact that the Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground. In fact, the Bible tells us, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV).
Why Does God Allow Adversity?
But why does God allow trials and hardships in the life of the Christian? Let me give you a few reasons.
First, adversity levels us and keeps us humble. Prosperity has a tendency to make people proud and self-sufficient. We don’t think we need God when we have a wallet full of credit cards, a lot of money in the bank, investments and good health. So we sort of ignore God. But when an economy goes south or the stock market crashes or our home burns to the ground, we turn to God because we are reminded of what really matters. As the psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67).
When the people of Israel were poised to enter the Promised Land after years of wandering in the wilderness, God gave them this warning: “When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:11–12 NLT).
We talk about the problem of pain, but let’s talk about the problem of prosperity. Prosperity brings responsibility. I am not an owner of anything; I am a steward. Everything God gives to me is a gift, and I am held responsible for what I do with the resources that are at my disposal. So we must take the responsibility of prosperity seriously and make sure that we remain dependent on God.
God Shouts in Our Pain.
When life gets really hard and adversity strikes, we pray – and so we should. But sometimes when life is going reasonably well, we sort of forget about prayer. In his book “The Problem of Pain,” C. S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Second, adversity teaches us eternal truths that we would not otherwise learn. I avoid pain at all costs. That is why I don’t run. I have tried it, and it hurts. I have even had people say, “Just run a little. You know, walk, and then run from here to there.” So I do it. And I hate it. I avoid things that cause pain.
We want to get into shape, but we want a pain-free workout. We don’t want to hurt. We don’t want our muscles to be sore the next day. But as the expression goes, “No pain, no gain.” And what is true for the gym is also true of life. No pain, no gain. If you are looking for a pain-free life, then you are not going to grow spiritually.
Pain reminds us of a deeper need, which is a need for God. And he will teach us lessons in the valleys that we never would have learned on the mountaintops, things we need to know and things we need to share with others.
Think about some of the greatest lessons you have learned in your life. They have come through adversity, haven’t they? And those are the things that you pass on and share with others. You remember those times when God came through for you.
Third, adversity gives us a new compassion for others who are in pain. When you go through adversity, you have a new consideration of others. It has been said that success builds walls, and failures build bridges. If everything is always perfect and life is always firing on every cylinder, people don’t relate to that. But they do relate to a person who is going through or who has been through pain.
The apostle Paul said, “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
We need to continue in the faith. Some may say, “Well, my faith has been tested, and I can’t handle this.” But the faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted. With all respect, the faith that cannot make it through adversity is not real faith.
Real faith gets stronger through hardship, not weaker. It becomes more resilient. It doesn’t fall apart. Emotions come and go. The Bible says, “The just shall life by faith” (Romans 1:17 NKJV); it doesn’t say the just shall live by feeling. So press on. And when you are facing adversity, don’t focus on emotions that fluctuate. Remember that God is there with you. And remember that he is in control.
It’s a day like any other day. You get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast. And then “it” happens:
A call from a loved one or police officer telling you there has been an accident.
A call from your doctor about a test he did and you need to come in right away.
A note on your counter from your spouse saying they are done with the marriage.
A new pain in your body you have never noticed before.
The list goes on.
Crisis. . . it hits fast and hard and takes no prisoners.
Pain has knocked on your front door and has now moved in without your permission.
And it refuses to leave.
So what do you do now? I’m glad you asked that question!
That is exactly what I will be dealing with in my message this Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County in all of our services.
Join us live or online.
For more information, go to church.harvest.org.
I am dealing tonight with issues like:
Can you be happily single, and for that matter, married?
What qualities should you look for in a potential mate?
What about living together before marriage?
Is sex ever allowed before marriage?
I will deal with this and much more tonight, in my message at
Harvest Orange County: “Hope for Lonely Hearts.”
It starts at 7:00 PM, PST.
It will be webcast LIVE at www.harvest.org.
Have you been hit with an unexpected crisis? Are you wondering what to do?
When Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was sick they sent word to Jesus saying “The one that you love is sick” (John 11:3). They did not tell Him what to do; they simply brought their need before the Lord. And that is what we ought to do as well.
#1 When the Israelites criticized and turned against Moses…
Moses “cried unto the Lord” (Exodus 15:25). Have you been unfairly criticized for something you did? Have you been misrepresented or misunderstood? Cry to the Lord like Moses did.
#2 When King Hezekiah received a threatening letter…
He “Spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14). Has someone threatened you in a letter, e-mail, or text? Have they tried to do you harm? Like King Hezekiah, bring it to the Lord.
#3 When John the Baptist was beheaded…
His disciples, “went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:12). When crisis comes (and it will), go and tell Jesus. He is listening and He cares!
These thoughts are from the message I just gave at Harvest from my new series, Hope for Hurting Hearts.
To see the whole message, go here:
A lot of people believe in making New Year’s resolutions, but personally, I believe in resolution. Every one of us should have resolution in our lives. We need goals. We need objectives. We need aspirations.
Here are the words of the apostle Paul after years of walking with God:
“I do not consider myself to have “arrived,” spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal – my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. “(Philippians 3:12–14 Phillips)
When I was 21, I thought I had come so far. And in many ways, I had, because it was only a few years before that I was living in complete darkness, without God in my life, without any knowledge of the Bible. But now I realize I have so far to go. I realize I have a lot to change.
“I do not consider myself to have ‘arrived,’ spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. …” Paul recognized this about himself, and I hope that we see this in ourselves as well. I hope that we all realize that we are but a work in progress, that we have a long way to go spiritually. If the apostle Paul saw that, then certainly we need to see that, because this truly was a man of God.
Not only did the great apostle realize that he had a long way to go, but he also realized that he could not live in the past: “I leave the past behind. …” We cannot be controlled by past mistakes or live in past victories.
So if you have blown it in the past year, learn from it. And don’t do it again. Make changes in your behavior, in your habit patterns and in your choices that would cause you not go to down that road again. Learn from your mistakes.
At the same time, don’t live in past victories. If God did something wonderful in your life this past year, that is glorious. Be thankful for that. But now a new year is before you with many new opportunities.
Press on for what God has for you. That is what Paul was doing: “With hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal. …” The original language of this verse includes the word agonizo, from which we get our English word “agony.” This reminds us that our lives are a walk of faith. There are challenges, difficulties and obstacles that we will face. As the expression goes, “No pain, no gain.” Paul was straining to move forward.
By the way, these words were not given to a spiritually elite group of Christians. They were not given to pastors or only to those who are called in the ministry. They are given to every follower of Jesus Christ. Every believer is called to press on.
You see, often it is the little things that bring us down – not the outright sins. Sure, we get to those in time. But it is the little things that ultimately lead to the big things. It is the gray areas that ultimately lead us to those black-and-white areas. That is why we have to look at these things carefully and ask ourselves a few questions:
- Does it build me up spiritually?
- Does it bring me under its power?
- Do I have an uneasy conscience about it?
As the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NLT).
I don’t want to be under the power of anyone or anything but Jesus Christ. So ask yourself these questions about the things you think you have the freedom to do.
In the life of every Christian, there will come a temptation to compromise, to back off, to not take a stand for what is right, to not say what is true. We are all going to be faced with this temptation in one way, shape, or form.
You never will be temptation-proof any more than you will be bulletproof. But at the same time, if you are walking closely with God, sin will not have the impact it had on you before. To what you are going to yield yourself and to whom you are going to yield yourself is your choice.
Character is not made in crisis; it is only exhibited. It may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
Do you have that character? Are you compromising in your life as a Christian? Are you doing what is right, even in the little things? Because if you don’t deal with compromise in the little things, then it will lead to the big things.
That is why it is a good time at the beginning of the new year to have some resolution–not a bunch of silly resolutions that you make and can’t keep, but resolution. Purpose. Commitment. It is having the dedication to say, “I want to do the right thing.” Because you decide the evening of your life by the morning of it.
This Sunday at Harvest, I will be giving a message with the title
“How to Live Life Well.”
I will also be showing a video clip from my interview with Chuck Smith as we look at him reflecting on his life.
This message will be a great way for you to begin this new year.
For more info, go to www.harvest.org.
We will have a special time together and we revisit the amazing story of Charles Ward Smith.
You may be surprised to know that despite his ready smile Chuck has faced many setbacks and major tragedy in his life.
That makes his optimistic faith only more impressive.
In addition to finding out about his life and philosophy I will ask Chuck some unexpected questions that I am certain you will enjoy.
We will have a special set of songs from our Harvest worship band from the “Jesus movement” days as well as a set by my friend,Dennis Agajanian.
This will be broadcast live at www.harvest.org at 7:00 PM,PST
and will not be archived at present.
So,don’t miss it!
This is going to be captured in HD for later viewing as well.