Daily Devo: When Trials Comes

When Trials Come

(Isaiah 43:1-2)

In Isaiah 43:1, God is speaking to His redeemed people Israel through the prophet Isaiah. The following verse primarily applies to redeemed Israel, but it extends to all believers who have been redeemed by God’s salvation in Christ. God says to us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (v. 2). Notice that God does not say if you pass through waters, rivers, and fire, but rather, when you pass through them. There is no reason to be angry with God when trials come; there is no reason to wonder if you did something to bring it upon yourself, and there is no reason to believe that God has stopped loving you for some reason. Suffering and trials come to all people because we live in a fallen world. Affliction is a result of original sin in Genesis 3. So no matter who we are or what our situation is, difficulties will come into our lives at some point. We know that God is speaking of trials and difficulties because He cannot literally mean that we can play with fire and not be burned. The waters, rivers, and fire represent perhaps levels of trials and difficulties in this life. But what is most astonishing is that God makes three promises to us no matter how difficult our circumstances are.

God is Present With Us

First, God says that when we pass through the waters, “I will be with you.” Do you realize that in your suffering God is present with you? God is omnipresent, meaning He is in all places at all times. But did you know He is specifically present with and in believers at all times? As the people of Israel were instructed to cross the Jordan and take their land, God said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). In Psalm 23 we read that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). The very last words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20 say, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And again, Jesus tells His disciples upon His leaving that He, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:18, 20). No matter what difficulty we are going through, God is with us. He has not left us; He has not abandoned us, and He has not ceased to love us. He is always present with us, even through suffering.

God is Preserving Us

Second, God says that when we pass through the rivers, “they shall not overwhelm you.” Right away you might be rolling your eyes saying, “But I often feel overwhelmed! How can God say He won’t let me be overwhelmed?” There is a difference between feeling overwhelmed and being overwhelmed. God’s promise is that He will never actually allow us to become overwhelmed, even though we often feel overwhelmed. God knows exactly how much we are able to handle. Through His providence, He upholds and preserves us: “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous” (Ps. 37:17). The Psalmist says the same thing in Psalm 145:14 saying, “The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” It is also said that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of His power” and “in him all things hold together.” (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17). No matter what comes our way, it is God who is upholding us, sustaining us, and preserving us. The strength to endure through trials comes from God. The means to endure through trials comes from God. The encouragement to endure through trials comes from God. Do you believe that God is the one sustaining and preserving you through trials? Does this truth bring you comfort? It does for me!

God is Protecting Us

The last thing we see in Isaiah 43:2 is that God promises that when we walk through the fire, “you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” It is God who is protecting us through the fiery furnace. Not only is God present with us and preserving us through trials, He also is protecting us through trials. This promise emphasizes God’s power in trials. It does not mean that nothing really bad will ever happen to us. It does not mean that the worst is impossible. But it does mean that God is protecting us by His power to whatever degree He sees best. God is always working all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). In the midst of difficulty, David declared that, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Ps. 18:2-3). Anytime the Psalmist describes God as a fortress, a stronghold, or a refuge, this exact truth is emphasized. God protects us from worse suffering than we are already going through. Puritan William Gurnall stated it this truth as a command: “It is the saints’ duty, and should be their care, not only to believe that God is Almighty, but also to strongly believe that his almighty power is engaged for our defense and help in all of our straits and temptations” (Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, 1:28-30). In your suffering and difficulties, do you believe that God’s power is engaged for your defense and help through it all?

If you are in the midst of a trial or difficult circumstance, remember that God is the one who will always be present with you; God is the one who will preserve you and give you the strength to endure, and God is the one protecting you from anything worse. The Bible does not teach that life will be all love and bubbles. The Bible does not teach that we will always be healthy and wealthy. The Bible does not even teach us what to do if trials should come. Rather, the Bible teaches us what to do whentrials come, and it applies to all people. No matter where you are at in life, trials are coming at some point. For the believer, God promises to be there for us during those difficult times. Do not give up, but instead look to Him and trust in His promises.

Daily Devo: The Graciousness of God


The Graciousness of God

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:32

Have you ever considered all the blessings that God has given to you? Have those blessings ever made you consider how gracious God has been to you? On the other hand, have you ever felt like you lack something in your life?

In Romans 8:32, the Apostle Paul puts an end to that kind of thinking, and instead shows us how gracious God has been to us. Paul has been showing how there is nothing that can be added to our salvation that we have not already received (Rom. 8:29-30), and no enemy can take away from what we have received (Rom. 8:31). On the other hand, he is about to tell us that no one can charge us (v. 33); no one can condemn us (v. 34), and nothing that comes our way can separate us from the love of God (v. 35). The entire argument of the Apostle Paul is that our salvation is fixed and sure if we have trusted in Christ. All aspects of salvation are ours, and just as Jesus said He loses none of those who are His, so also have we already received a full salvation never to be lost (see John 6:37-40; Isa. 54:10; Jer. 32:40; John 10:27-30; 1 Cor. 1:7-9; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). Our salvation in Christ cannot be taken away or lost because of the finality of our salvation, which is what Paul is dealing with in this passage.

Right in the middle of his argument, he contrasts the love of God in giving up His Son for us and the love of God in giving us all things in verse 32. If God willingly gave up His own Son out of love for you and me, why would He not give us all things which are infinitely less valuable to Him than His own Son? In this verse we see that God the Father sent God the Son to this earth to die on a cross. He came to bare the full wrath of God against our sin. God did not spare His own Son, but He gave Him up or delivered Him up. It was He who “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:4-6). Yet, “it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). It was God who crushed the Son on the cross with the weight of His wrath. Why? Because our sins were place on Him on the cross. God punished Him instead of us. God did not spare His own Son; He instead gave Him up for us all. Christ died instead of us so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. He gave Himself up for all who would believe in Him.

Paul contrasts this truth with another truth. He is arguing from the greater to the lesser. If God gave up His own Son who is infinitely more valuable than anything else, will God not also give us all things which have infinitely less value than His own Son? Those who receive Jesus also receive all things through the graciousness or kindness of God. What are the “all things” Paul is talking about here? Paul just told us in verse 28 saying, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God is actively working all things for good to those who love God and have been called to salvation in Christ. Everything that happens in our life is meant for our spiritual and eternal good. We may have many temporal discomforts, but in the end they are all working for our good, even if we cannot see the outcome. Do you believe that? Paul continues that thought in verse 32 when He says that in salvation, we receive all things. As a grace gift from God, we receive all things for the Christian life, living godly, spiritual warfare, tribulations, persecutions, trials, etc. God is the one sustaining us through the difficult times! God is the one supplying our needs when we have them! God is the one growing us in Christ! God is the one who has given us everything that we have! We do not deserve anything. Yet God has loved us infinitely and given us all things, including His very own Son!

No matter what comes our way, we have received all things in Christ because we have received all of Christ! When you are at the point of giving up, instead of looking at your circumstances, look to Christ and remember that He is enough! Remember the graciousness of our God towards us! When we consider all the little things in life God has given us (in spite of what we deserve), His graciousness shines like a white diamond on a black background. In tough times or in easy times, always remember that, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8)!

Daily Devo: Walking With God Through the Furnace

Walking with God in the Furnace
Trials…have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet. 1:7).
The apostle Peter has Isaiah 43 in mind when he tells his readers that suffering is like a refiner’s fire, like a forge or furnace. Peter is speaking to people who are facing suffering. He says they are now in a period in which they are ‘suffering grief in all kinds of trials’ (v. 6). The Greek word for trials is a word that means ‘an attempt to learn the nature or character of something. A test.’ ‘Their…faith was being slandered and maligned. Their social status, family relationships, and possibly even their livelihood was threatened.’ This is the fire of which Peter speaks, but he extends the metaphor and depicts suffering not just as fire but as a forge or furnace, which can obliterate or improve, depending on the object thrust into the fire and the manner in which it is treated.

Adversity is like a fire that, rather than destroying you, can refine, strengthen, and beautify you, as a forge does with metal ore. How does it do that? How can it do that?

Gold is a precious metal, and if you put it through fire it may soften or melt but it will not kindle or go to ashes. However, gold can be filled with impurities that indeed can be destroyed. If put through the fire they burn off or rise to the surface to be skimmed off by the goldsmith. In a sense, the fire ‘tries’ to destroy the metal put into the fire but only succeeds in making it more pure and beautiful.

Not Peter likens Christians with saving faith in Jesus Christ to gold filled with impurities. Mixed in with our faith in God are all sorts of competing commitments to comfort, power, pride, pleasure, and self. Our faith is largely abstract and intellectual and not very heartfelt. We may believe cognitively that we are sinners saved by God’s grace, but our hearts actually function on the premise that we are doing well because we are more decent or open-minded or hardworking or loving or sophisticated than others. We have many blemishes in our character. We are too fragile under criticism or too harsh in giving it. We are bad listeners, or ungenerous to people we think are foolish, or too impulsive, or too timid and cowardly, or too controlling, or unreliable. But we are largely blind to these things, even though they darken our own lives and harm other people.

Then suffering comes along. Timidity and cowardice, selfishness and self-pity, tendencies toward bitterness and dishonesty—all of these ‘impurities’ of soul are revealed and drawn out by trials and suffering just as a furnace draws the impurities out of unrefined metal ore. Finally we can see who we really are. Like fire working on gold, suffering can destroy some things within us and can purify and strengthen other things.

Or not. It depends on our response. Peter urges his readers in various ways not to be shocked by suffering (1 Pet. 4:12), not to give up hope. While suffering, they should ‘commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good’ (1 Pet. 4:19), promising that ‘the God of all grace…after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong’ (1 Pet. 5:10). Peter is saying that the fiery furnace does not automatically make us better. We must recognize, depend on, speak with, and believe in God while in the fire. God himself says in Isaiah 43 that he will be with us, walking beside us in the fire. Knowing him personally while in our affliction is the key to becoming stronger rather than weaker in it.

Adapted from ‘Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering’ by Timothy Keller (pg. 227-229)

Daily Devo: Giving God Thanks for God

Giving God Thanks for God

As I was thinking about thanksgiving this week, I decided I wanted to read more about what the Bible has to say about thanksgiving. I know that for myself, I am often quite ungrateful. I know that I have many things to be thankful for, but when your health is failing, you have no job, the bills are piling up, and there is no money for food this week (again), it is easy to lose sight of the things we ought to be thankful for and instead focus on the things we do not have. To put it negatively, the more we look at our circumstances and the things we do not have, the less thankful we will be for the things that we do have. Let us then look at what the Bible says about giving thanks.

As I was digging into Scripture last week to learn more about thanksgiving, I realized how much the bible actually has to say about giving thanks. Although we cannot cover everything on the subject, I did notice that a phrase is repeated in the Old Testament 11 different times. Perhaps you have read it or heard it in a song: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.” This phrase is used a total of 11 times in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Chr. 16:34; 2 Chr. 5:13, 7:3; Ezra 3:11; Ps. 100:5, 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1; Jer. 33:11). In this phrase, the Biblical writers give us two reasons to thank God, and they have far less to do with our current circumstances than they do with God’s own character.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. The first reason to give thanks to God is that He is good. God is worthy of all thanks and praise because He alone is good! Jesus said that no one is good but God (Luke 18:19). But more than that, He is allgood! The Puritan Thomas Watson spent the time in his ‘Body of Divinity’ demonstrating God’s goodness. He shows from Scripture that:

  • God is a universal good—He contains all goodness all the time.

  • God is an unmixed good—He is perfect without any badness in Him.
  • God is a satisfying good—He is the souls chief desire, and He alone can satisfy it.

  • God is a delicious good—He is not only satisfying, but He is the greatest delight, joy, and pleasure.

  • God is a superlative good—comparatively, He is infinitely better and excels all other things in goodness.
  • God is an eternal good—no matter what happens, and no matter how bad things get in life, He is always and forever a good God.

Can there be anything added to God’s goodness? He alone has all goodness and He has it all the time because He is Himself good! We can trust that this God of goodness is always working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called (Rom. 8:28) because His goodness never changes and never ends! Watson concluded, “Thus God is the chief good, and the enjoyment of God forever is the highest felicity of which the soul is capable.”

Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever. The second reason to thank God is for His everlasting steadfast love. Not only is God always and forever a good God, but His love never changes or ends. If we are in Christ, He has loved us with an everlasting and unending love! In fact, He has loved us with the same love with which He loves His own Son (John 17:22-26)! We share in the same love that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit all share with each other! More than that, His love remains ours consistently, continually, unendingly, undiminishingly, infinitely. No matter what you are going through, if you are in Christ, then God loves you with a perfect love all the time. Even when it feels like His love is hidden, He stills loves you and still cares for you, and in spite of our difficulties, He knows what’s best for us. In fact, trials are sometimes the proof that He does love us as He refines us and grows us (Heb. 12:5-13)!

When we speak of giving thanks to God, we often think about all the little things in life that we can thank Him for, and rightfully we should. But let us not merely consider the roof over our head, the friends and family we have, and the turkey dinner; instead let us also consider the God who gives us reason to give thanks because of who He is and what He has done. He has taken us in and given us an eternal home; He fills our hearts with eternal satisfaction, and He has brought us into His family and loved us as His very own children! He is worthy of our thanks because He alone is good and His love endures forever! This thanksgiving, let us give thanks to God for God Himself!

– Jared Baergen –

Daily Devo: The Sufficiency of Christ in Suffering

The sufficiency of Christ in suffering

“As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” 

Colossians 2:6 — 

Not long ago, I had an evening visit from a friend whose name is Dan. He stops by on occasion to talk to me about life and how to deal with suffering. He is new to the whole suffering thing, so he is often questioning me for some extra perspective. Not that I fully understand suffering, but he knows I have been going through it for over 6 years while he has only been suffering for 6 months. This last time he stopped by, we talked about how no matter what we are going through, and no matter how bad things get, Christ is sufficient. We had a very encouraging conversation, and seeing his suffering a bit differently was a big help to him.

I want to ask you the same question and share some of what I shared with Dan. Is Jesus enough for you? When the bills are piling up, or it is getting harder each day to go to work, or your health is failing, or you are not sure where the next meal will come from, or whatever the situation is, have you learned the secret to being content? Do you see Jesus Christ as enough for you?

As my friend and I talked, I realized I needed to explain what I meant in more detail. So, to help clarify, we ended up reading Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. In it, Paul talks about how Jesus Christ is sufficient for us in all things. After his introductory greeting, Paul begins by declaring that the man who was born in Nazareth just over 2,000 years ago was actually God in the flesh. Jesus was and is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). All things were created by Him, through Him, and for Him (Col. 1:16-17). The fullness of God was incarnate in Jesus as a man (Col. 1-19), and because He obeyed God’s law perfectly where we broke it, and He took the punishment we deserve on the cross, by faith we can now be totally forgiven and reconciled to the God of the universe (Col. 1:20)! “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). And that is just the start!

In chapter 2, Paul tells us that Jesus is the author and object of all wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). He is far better and truer than any other philosophy or religion out there because He is the truth (Col. 2:8). If we have trusted in Him alone to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, then we have received His fullness and are complete in Him (Col. 2:9-10)! We have everything we need in terms of our eternal destiny in Christ, and nothing can take that away from us (Rom. 8:38-39)! More than that, if we have trusted in Christ, we have also been united to Christ (Col. 3:1-4). This means that when He died, we died to our old way of living; and when He rose again, we were raised to live in obedience to Him! Paul tells us to set our minds on these things and not on things of the earth. Practically for us, instead of focusing on our suffering and circumstances, we must look to Christ who, as Paul has been making clear, is sufficient for all our needs! We died with Him and were raised with Him! When God looks at us, He sees us as perfect as His own Son (even though we fall far short of perfection). Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)! We can be in the most intimate friendship with the God of the universe through Jesus Christ! Christ is our very life (Col. 3:4)!

The more we remind ourselves of who Christ is, what Christ has done, and how we have everything we need for life and godliness in Him, the more we learn to trust Him through our circumstances. And the more we learn to trust Him through our circumstances, the easier it will be to endure difficulties. This is one of the lessons I have had to learn through my own suffering. And I can honestly tell people that I’m thankful for my suffering because it has taught me to love Christ and see Christ as all I need. It is my hope and prayer that you too can begin to see Christ as sufficient for you, and find encouragement in knowing Him. Do not look at your circumstances, but look to Him! The more you meditate on Christ instead of dwelling on your circumstances, the easier it will be to trust Him and endure through the tough times. “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Christ is enough for me. Christ was enough for my friend Dan. Is Christ enough for you?

– Jared Baergen –

Daily Devo: Responding to Suffering

d8710e88-2c22-4d79-b63b-ccffb924db15

Responding to Suffering
—Psalm 63:3—

No matter what the situation is, many of us do not handle suffering well. I know I sometimes do not. We complain, we are impatient, we do not trust God, and on and on. Our natural response is the opposite of trusting God and being joyful through our suffering. Instead, we usually challenge God and behave badly (I’m speaking from experience, in case you were wondering). We think that our problems should be fixed right now, and until they get fixed, we are cranky and we doubt God’s love towards us. But how many of us could actually say that we are praising God in spite of our suffering?

In Psalm 63:3, David first declares a fact—“the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life.” Second, David resolves a response—therefore “my lips will praise Him!” Last time we looked at the steadfast love of the Lord which is better than life in Psalm 63:3a. If you missed the first part a few weeks ago,  you may want to check it out. Today we will look at David’s response to God’s infinite love in spite of his suffering.

Second, David resolves a response. In light of this truth or fact about God’s love, David resolves “my lips will praise You.” Oh, it is indeed a most difficult task to praise God in the midst of difficulty, but when your trust is in the Lord and you remember that His love is better than life, then we can, and we must, give Him praise! He knows what is best for us, and He always does that which is for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Oh, we must praise Him! Consider how good He has been to you: If you are in Christ, it is His doing (1 Cor. 1:30). Did you deserve His saving love? Did you earn it? We only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)!

More than that, consider the blessings He has given you: Do you have a family? Do you have friends? Do you have a house? Do you have food? So many things could be added to this list! God has given us so much through His love! Is there any reason we should not praise Him for His love? Is there any reason we cannot trust Him through our suffering?  Is there any reason why we should not count it all joy during trials? Blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial (James 1:2-4, 12)! Sure everything may not be exactly the way we want them to be, but when we focus on the goodness of God and His steadfast love, we know He is doing what is best for us even if we cannot see it at the moment. May all those who recognize that God’s steadfast love is better than life resolve to say with David—in spite of my suffering, “my lips will praise Him!”

Stay encouraged! Keep fighting the good fight of faith and health. Lord willing we will look at the sufficiency of Christ in suffering next time. May Christ’s name be exalted!

– Jared Baergen –

Daily Devo: The Steadfast Love of the Lord

The Steadfast Love of the Lord
—Psalm 63:3—

When times of difficulty and trial come into our lives, what do we look to for hope? When our circumstances are constantly changing, and everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong, what assurances do we have of security? What or whom do we trust in during those times?

During a time of difficulty in King David’s life, he put his trust in God. He desired God and wanted to know Him better. Instead of being downcast about his circumstances, he placed his faith in God and diligently sought Him above all else. The soul, which is distraught and unsatisfied by the world, can only find comfort and the ultimate satisfaction sought, in God. At perhaps David’s lowest point, he finds comfort in the love of God, which is better than life: ”Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Ps. 63:3).

In this passage, David first declares a fact—God’s “steadfast love is better than life” (v. 3a). Second, because of this fact, David resolves a response—therefore “my lips will praise You” (v. 3b).

First, David declares a fact. No matter what life offers, God’s love is better than anything. David recognized this during the hardest time of his life and declared that God’s steadfast, enduring, unfading love is far better than anything this world or this life could ever offer. The love of God was sufficient for him. When life isn’t going our way, or maybe some terrible illness or trial has come upon us, we can be encouraged knowing that the steadfast love of the Lord is indeed better than life! His steadfast love extends to the heavens (Ps. 36:5); it endures all the day (Ps. 52:1); it is good (Ps. 69:16); it is satisfying (Ps. 90:14); it holds us up when our feet slip (Ps. 90:18), and it endures forever and ever (Ps. 118; 136). The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life because it is beyond compare, beyond description, and without end. It is good, able to save, able to protect, and able to comfort.

There are times when we can become so focused on our circumstances that we end up doubting God loves us, though (Ps. 77:8). Yet, God’s love has not ceased! His love may appear to be withheld for a season, but let us never forget that His steadfast love endures, and it never ceases because God never changes (Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6). We often look at our suffering and think, “How could God love me and allow all of these trials and difficulties in my life?” Yet, the very fact that God is allowing the suffering in our lives is proof that He loves us as His children (Heb. 12:5-11). Suffering is part of being a child of God (Rom. 8:15-17). God loves us as His children and therefore allows difficulties, trials, and discipline in our lives to make us more like Christ (Heb. 5:8), not because He has stopped loving us, but because He actually loves us! Think of it another way—if we have trusted in Jesus Christ to save us from our sin, we are united to Him and share in the same love He shares with God the Father (John 17:22-26). If you are struggling to see God’s love right now in your life, don’t miss this. In Christ, you share in the same love God the Son shares with God the Father, and He will never stop loving you because He will never stop loving His Son! No matter what difficulties come our way, we can stand firm in trusting the Lord because His steadfast love is indeed better than life! Stay encouraged; keep trusting the Lord, and remember that His love for you hasn’t changed! Next time we will look at the second half of Psalm 63:3 where David praises God in spite of his suffering.

– Jared Baergen –

Daily Devo: Our Identity

d8710e88-2c22-4d79-b63b-ccffb924db15
I have always been someone who tries to be transparent, so I will be honest with you all when I tell you these past few months have been rocky.  My devotions have slacked, my prayers have stopped, and I feel myself merely going through the motions.  I’m at the point where I am sick of being sick, tired of not
having a job and having to live at home, and ready to move on with my life. There are many days where I feel completely pathetic and question what my purpose is. Feeling lost and afraid, I find myself having a sense of emptiness.
In wrestling all of these thoughts however, I have realized one thing.  My identity was not and is not being found in Christ.  You see, if it were, it wouldn’t matter what my job was, or where I was living, or what the status of my health was; because my identity would be found in something that was not affected by my circumstances.  Isaiah 54:10 says “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”  God’s promises and love for us are not shaken nor broken by the shock of an event.  They remain firm and constant, and are the only dependable things we can cling to.
Had my identity been sought in Christ prior to this all, I may not be feeling the way I am now.  As I journey through what it looks like to have my identity found in Christ, I must fill my mind with reminders of who God says I am.  God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He says that nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:35) and He says that I am chosen in Christ. (Ephesians 1:4)   If you are feeling alone today, discouraged, or ready to give up, I encourage you to question where your identity is lying.  Are you finding your satisfaction and worth in things of this world or are you finding them in Christ?  For me, I know I was and still continue to seek my identity in things of this world, but I am slowly learning and journeying through the process of what it looks like to find my identity in Him.

-Tristyn Roe –

Daily Devo: Wait for the Lord

93800a

Psalms 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

 Lately I feel like all I do is wait.  As each day passes, I wait for that day where I will feel better and feel normal again.  I feel like waiting has to probably be amongst one of the toughest things to do and something we all don’t really like.  We find ourselves frustrated when we’re waiting behind the slow car in the fast lane or waiting on food to be delivered to our table.  We are always in a rush to get to the next place or to the next thing, yet God sure does not seem to be on the same bandwagon.Quite honestly if I evaluate my life, I feel like a lot of my life is spent waiting.  So many times throughout scripture we see that Jesus causes others to wait as well.  In church this last Sunday, we went over the passage in the gospels about Lazarus being raised from the dead.  If we look specifically at the gospel John in chapter 11 we can see this story played out.  “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. “While this is only the beginning part of the story, we immediately see that Jesus waited TWO DAYS longer after hearing about Lazarus’ illness before deciding to do anything.  Because Jesus did this, Lazarus ended up dying.  However, the story does not end there.  While Mary and Martha were left with the confusion a lot of us are faced with in the time spent waiting, it was only because they could not comprehend God’s timing.  You see, to us on the outside, it appears as though Jesus waited too long.  But to Him, his arrival to Bethany came at the perfect timing. Those two days that Jesus stayed where he was gave him the perfect occasion to work a miracle. He was able to show His power and was glorified through the resurrection of Lazarus’ dead body. The truth is, and scripture speaks to this, if God is glorified…we are to be satisfied.  So as I wait today, I am trying hard to cling to the promises that Jesus offers. I am trying hard to trust that God knows what He is doing and trust that through all of this He may be glorified.  While at certain times I wish that God would use someone else’s suffering to be glorified through, I am trying to have faith like so many in scripture and am choosing to wait until the glory of God is someday revealed.

– Jared Baergen –

Daily Devo: My Portion Forever

Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12

After Paul has instructed us to rejoice in the hope of heaven, which we talked about last time, he now instructs us to be patient in our affliction as we await the day when all affliction will come to an end.

Patient in Affliction. Just earlier this week, I read a prayer request from someone who is really struggling with some difficulties right now—with health, decisions, relationships, finances, you name it. It seems like everything that could go wrong is going wrong. My heart really went out to this person, even though I don’t really know her that well, because I know what it’s like. I’ve been there, and I know how easy it is to feel like you are all alone, like there is no hope, and that everything is coming down on you.

Here in Romans 12:12, Paul is instructing Christian’s to be patient in affliction, but for the person who is in the furnace of affliction, the only question really is this—How am I to be patient in affliction? In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says that the God of all comfort comforts us in our affliction so that we might be able to comfort those who are in any affliction (2 Cor. 1:3-4). I want to focus the rest of this devotional in answering the question “how am I to be patient in affliction” from the standpoint of one who has been through affliction. In other words, I want to share with you how I have been comforted through affliction so that you too might be comforted, and therefore might learn to be patient in your affliction. Here are several practical lessons I have learned through affliction:

Keep your eyes fixed on heaven

Remembering that we are Pilgrim’s here on earth and our time is short always encourages me to keep running towards Christ as I keep my eyes fixed on heaven (Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21:4; Rom. 8:18). See last week’s post for more on this subject.

Pray without ceasing

Prayer is an absolute necessity if we are to suffer with patience and joy. We will deal more with the topic of prayer when we come to Paul’s specific command to be constant in prayer.

Remember the example of Christ

Jesus went through the most profound suffering in His life. The Bible tells us that He learned obedience as a man through His suffering (Heb. 5:8) and, therefore, He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). God is using our suffering to make us more like Jesus, and during that time, Jesus is our comfort because He alone can sympathize with our weaknesses. If He learned obedience through His suffering, I can welcome suffering knowing that God is using it to teach me obedience, which is ultimately for my good and His glory.

Meditate on God’s unfailing goodness

It is easy for us to meditate on or constantly think about our problems all the time. We can get so focused on everything that seems to be going wrong or what will come next that we forget to fix our eyes on the One who is good, and His goodness never changes (Mal. 3:6). The more we meditate on the goodness and greatness of God instead of our problems, the easier it will be for us to endure (see Psalm 77). This is why I believe the Psalmist declared with boldness, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Ps. 119:92). The Word of God helps us fix our thoughts on God instead of our problems leading us to joy as our hearts learn to trust in Him. 

Realize that God is preparing you for something

Whether God is preparing to use you for His glory in this life, or whether He is merely preparing you for glory in heaven, God is preparing you for something. Paul tells us that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Further, God is working all things together for your good, if you are in Christ and love Him, because God is a good God (Rom. 8:28). The God who has comforted you in affliction may be preparing you to be the source of comfort to another brother or sister going through affliction (2 Cor. 1:4). 

There is much more that could be said, but I hope for now that you will be encouraged to continue on no matter how difficult your circumstances, and instead fix your eyes on the God instead of your circumstances. How are we to be patient in affliction? Keep your eyes on heaven; pray without ceasing; remember the example of Christ; meditate on God’s unfailing goodness, and realize that God is preparing you for something. Stay encouraged! Lord willing, we will deal with the last part of Romans 12:12 on prayer next time. To God be the glory!

– Jared Baergen