Why Bad Things Happen…

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Isaiah 45:5-7 (KJV)

5 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

I admit that I often don’t understand why bad things happen.

Even so, I believe that God has a purpose for everything He does or permits.

My faith is rooted in the biblical principle that says the Lord is sovereign (Ps. 22:28).

He is in absolute control of this universe, the natural and political climate of this earth, and my life and yours.

When we are in the midst of a trial, it is hard to resist crying out, “God, Why is this happening?”

Sometimes we get the answer and sometimes we don’t.

What we can be sure of is that nothing happens by accident or coincidence.

He has a purpose for even our most painful experiences.

Moreover, we have His promise to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Seeing in advance how the Lord will work evil or hurt for our benefit is very difficult, if not impossible.

My limited human perspective doesn’t allow me to grasp His greater plan.

However, I can confirm the truth of this biblical promise because the Father’s good handiwork appears all through my pain, hardship, and loss.

I have experienced Him turn mourning into gladness and have seen Him reap bountiful blessings and benefits from my darkest hours.

As believers, we must accept that God won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that His ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9).

He sees the beautifully completed big picture.

We can rely on the fact that God is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our world seems to spin.

Careless in Our Thinking…

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1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (KJV)

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble.

That’s dangerous.

Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence.

Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down: the Devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh.

Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: “sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20).

Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations.

He stokes our pride so we’ll be blinded to our own vulnerability to stumbling.

Christians need to be continually on guard.

Since ignorance–of the nature of sin, the strategies of the Enemy, and our own areas of weakness–sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking.

Anytime you find yourself excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, you’ve lost your sensitivity to the Lord.

God’s Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps.

If you’ve drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting full responsibility for it.

Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction–toward God instead of away from Him.

The next step is harder.

Respond with gratitude for the Lord’s chastisement.

Every time believers fall into sin, God lovingly works to bring them back into a fellowship with Him.

His discipline may be painful, but it’s always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with our Father.

Personal, Continuous, and Always Available…

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (KJV)

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God’s care for us extends even to the details of our lives.

He knows when His children hurt, and He longs to offer comfort (Isa. 49:13).

The Lord’s compassion is personal, continuous, and always available.

We receive His comfort through the Holy Spirit, who lives within us.

There is no situation or time when He is inaccessible to the believer—we can be consoled and reassured at any moment, day or night.

Consider how the compassion of God was demonstrated through Jesus’ life.

He interacted even with the “untouchables”—people whose bodies were infected with a contagious disease (Luke 17:11-14).

And no sickness of ours will prevent Him from caring for us.

When Jesus saw people with medical conditions, in compassion He not only healed them physically but also gave an even greater comfort—new life through the forgiveness of sins.

And while our infirmities may remain, the Lord lovingly strengthens us to persevere (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

As for the messes we get into, notice how Peter’s betrayal of Christ was met with forgiveness and reinstatement (John 21:15-17), and Thomas’s doubts were answered by Jesus Himself (John 20:27).

Our mistakes won’t stop Him from loving us. Even to His enemies, Jesus left the way open for repentance.

God’s comfort and care are adequate for anything we face, whether it’s poor health, insufficient finances, or family trouble.

Then, once we’ve experienced His consolation, we’re to become bearers of comfort to others (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Remember, people everywhere are in great need of His compassion.

Too Important to Neglect…

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1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV)

17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father.

But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness.

Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor.

Prayer is too important to neglect.

Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray?

God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers.

The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.

Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work?

I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours our blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life.

Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond?

God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers.

Restoring The Fallen…

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Galatians 6:1-5 (KJV)

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

The Lord doesn’t want the members of His body to live in isolation; believers are intended to function as a loving family who actively care for each other.

One of our responsibilities as part of God’s household is to come alongside a brother or sister who has stumbled.

Paul specifies that those “who are spiritual” are to restore the fallen ones to fellowship with the Father and the family.

“Spiritual” doesn’t mean some elite group of pious leaders; it refers to any Christians who are living under the Spirit’s control.

A key element in this process is the attitude of the one who seeks to restore a fellow Christian.

A Spirit of Gentleness:

This isn’t a time for harshness, anger, judgment, or condemnation. Our goal is not to heap pain and guilt upon a hurting brother or sister but to show mercy and forgiveness (2 Cor. 2:5-8).

A Spirit of Humility:

Those who have a superior attitude look down on a fallen brother and think, I would never make those mistakes. But the humble know their own vulnerability. Instead of judging others, they examine their own lives in order to recognize and deal with areas of weakness.

A Spirit of Love:

When we love others, we’ll willingly sharing their burden. This requires an unselfish investment of our time, energy, and prayer on their behalf.

How do you react when a fellow Christian has stumbled?

One of the ugliest human traits is our tendency to feel better about ourselves when another person misses the mark.

Instead of sharing the latest gossip about a fallen brother or sister, let your heart break, and come alongside to love and help.

Nothing Done Haphazardly…

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Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

In eternity past, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned and created heaven and earth.

Yet even before Adam breathed his first breath, the Lord knew sin would enter the world, causing mankind to be separated from Him.

However, a plan for our redemption was already in place, and in the fullness of time, the Son of God came as a baby and lived on the earth.

The Lord doesn’t do anything haphazardly.

Every plan of His is predetermined and meticulously carried out at just the right time. And this truth doesn’t apply to just the big events in human history.

Since He has a specific plan for every believer, He works to accomplish His goals in each Christian’s life. He ordained the day of our birth, has complete knowledge of what each day will hold, and knows how long we’ll live on this earth.

And just as He did when Christ was born, God will, in the fullness of time, execute each part of His will for your life and mine.

However, although His plans for us are good, the only way we’ll see His purposes fulfilled in our life is by submitting to Him.

He’s promised to work all things for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Are you letting the Lord have His way in your life?

Even when the need seems urgent, a person with a spirit yielded to God waits patiently for the heavenly Father’s plans to unfold at just the right time.

The One with complete knowledge and wisdom knows what He’s doing. Wait for the fullness of His time.

An Overwhelming Assignment…

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Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

When a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37, 39).

What an overwhelming assignment!

In our own strength, none of us can live up to this obligation, but the Lord has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible.

The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Gal. 5:22).

In fact, the other eight qualities are really just descriptions of its expression.

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see the Lord’s love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn’t deserve such pleasant treatment.

This fruit is not produced by trying harder to muster good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with.

Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grape-vine. The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does.

In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.

Agapelove is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us–it’s God’s doing, not ours.

Even the adoration we offer the Lord is not something that we can produce in our own heart apart from His assistance.

Though the command to love is enormous, God’s grace makes it possible.

Addressing Momentary Trouble…

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Psalm 37:23-28 (KJV)

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.#ordered: or, established
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.#ever: Heb. all the day
27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
28 For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

When we’re going through an intense time of adversity, it seems we usually focus exclusively on the momentary trouble.

We frequently fail to see any value whatsoever in our suffering.

God, however, has specific purposes for bringing us through times of hardship.

One reason He may allow adversity in our life is to teach us to hate evil.

Now, you may be hesitant to use the word hate in any situation, and yet this is exactly what the Word of God instructs us to do. Psalm 97:10 proclaims, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord.”

Isn’t it true, however, that we often don’t act as if we hate evil?

In many instances, in fact, our tendency is to play around with it, keeping it close by for our own amusement, and making excuses for its presence in our lives. We may say, “Well, I can’t escape evil in this world. It’s all around me! I guess the best I can hope to do is to try and manage it appropriately.”

What a deception this is.

We are not commanded to manage or manipulate evil; instead, we are instructed to hate its very presence. Psalm 37 says, “Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever” (v. 27).

When we see evil, we are to turn around and run in the opposite direction!

Yes, we live in a world that is permeated by evil, and we cannot avoid it at all times. However, we can remove ourselves from particularly tempting situations.

The heavenly Father can help us recognize the evil one’s pitfalls in our life. Pray and ask Him today for the wisdom and strength to avoid such traps.

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