No Guarantee of An Easy Life…

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2 Corinthians 4:5-10 (KJV)

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Contrary to popular but poor theological teaching, salvation does not guarantee an easy life.

It is tempting to present Christianity as a safe haven from which to watch the world swirl past—then one could open the door to allow in joy and blessing, but hardship could not squeeze through.

That brand of religion might sell well in the world marketplace, but it isn’t real.

The truth is, Christians cannot escape conflict or ridicule.

The biblical principles we hold dear often seem like foolishness to nonbelievers. What’s more, defending our faith and sharing the gospel will frequently draw criticism or anger from listeners. But Scripture counsels against keeping quiet and blending in (Matt. 5:14-15).

In fact, we are to welcome disagreement as a way to grow our faith.

Consider this: Our belief system is named for a man who so thoroughly challenged the status quo that religious leaders called for His death.

Jesus Christ was at the center of controversy during His ministry and very likely all through life. That’s why the biblical record so often shows Him slipping away for time alone with God—He was seeking direction and receiving strength. While Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human.

He knew the sting of rejection and the taste of fear, just as we do (Heb. 4:15).

As believers, we are called to be peacemakers, but that doesn’t mean isolating ourselves from all who oppose the church. Accept conflict as inevitable and reach out anyway.

You can have a powerful impact simply by being the person God called you to be—His child.

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Turning Mourning Into Joy…

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Matthew 1:18-25 (KJV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

To find examples of wise, godly reactions to disappointment, you’re more likely to turn to Psalms than to Matthew.

But the very first chapter in the New Testament tells the story of an upright man’s reaction to painful and disheartening news.

Joseph—Jesus’ earthly father—was a righteous person. A godly man wants a wife who shares his desire to honor and obey the Lord, and Scripture indicates that Mary was exactly that sort of woman (Luke 1: 45-55). So imagine how stunned Joseph must have been when Mary returned from a long visit with her relative Elizabeth and told him that she was pregnant.

Moreover, she was claiming no man had touched her.

Any way Joseph looked at the situation, it appeared grim. And yet Matthew 1:20 says that he “considered”—in other words, he sought a wise, righteous response.

God entered Joseph’s life in a dramatic way to confirm Mary’s story and put a stop to his “quiet annulment” plans.

The Lord turned Joseph’s mourning into joy.

Mary had told the truth—strange and startling as it was. The couple would bear the intense public censure of an early pregnancy, but Joseph stopped thinking about what others would say. God had blessed work for him: to raise the Messiah alongside a faithful woman.

Followers of Christ should seek a godly response to disappointments they face.

Since the Lord always has a plan, the wisest reaction is to anticipate the good He can do and await His timing.

God certainly blessed Joseph for his willingness to “seek first His kingdom” (Matt. 6:33). 

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