Jul 25, 2011

Do Not Lose Heart!

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame… For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body…Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” ~2 Cor. 4:1-2; 6-10; 16-18


Many times in my life I have struggled with depressed spirits. These times often follow periods of stress, tension, emotional struggles, or busy periods of time. With each one, however, I ask myself why even these circumstances would cause me to doubt God’s ultimate plan and purpose, for that is all that depression is: a spirit that is troubled because the focus is not on God, but on our own cares and worries. Yet all the powers of this feeble world cannot overcome the light that is within us. Tortures that make us cringe at the thought of so much pain carry the force of a feather against these verses. For what can man do against the Spirit of the Lord? I am in no way saying that you won’t experience any pain or struggle. In fact, unfeeling as it may sound, I pray that you would suffer pain and torture for Christ’s sake, for through such trials you will be purified and refined and you will be given a crown of glory in heaven. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, the grace of God is a costly grace: “costly because it calls us to follow, and grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. Costly because it costs a man his life, and grace because it gives a man the only true life.” Depression is but a tool of Satan to distract us by directing our thoughts to earthly troubles rather than heavenly power. Do not let the things of this world come first: career, marriage, finances. Instead make the Lord your focus and let your job be a way of showing the diligent, faithfulness of Christ. Let your marriage be a way of expressing the love and devotion which Christ showed to His errant sheep. Finally, let the way you handle your finances demonstrate the way that Christ provides for His Church. Do not lose heart, brothers, for though the battle seems long and painful to us now, the grace of the Lord is sufficient to carry us through it all and bring us to a land that is free of pain and sorrow and instead is full of joy in the presence of the Lord. How precious is that thought! May you rest always on His promises and may you hide them in your heart and remember them in you darkest hours. May His name be glorified!

Your brother in Christ,


Jul 6, 2011

The Blessing of the Lord's Leading Hand

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him."

"And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are given entirely to him from among the children of Israel."

"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine, because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord.'"

Numbers 3:5-6, 9, 11-13


If you are like me, some of the Old Testament verses like the ones above can seem a bit boring and lacking in application. Before my devotions this morning I prayed that the Lord would make my reading productive. When I read these verses, it struck me that the Levites could not even choose their own occupation. Then I thought, "Well, is that a bad thing?" Do we "control our destinies," as corporate America would say? Of course not! Each and every one of us is called to follow Christ's leading in all our decision-making--including career choices.

The only difference between us and the Levites is how we determine God's will for our lives. Whereas God gave a direct decree through Moses telling the Levites what they would do, we discern this through prayer, counsel from godly authorities, etc. The end result is the same--we do NOT control our lives. If you think about it, that’s actually a blessing. Our loving, Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Heavenly Father orchestrates our lives for our good and ultimately for His Glory! This realization convicted me that I have been focusing on my own material betterment and not on finding my God ordained place in the Body of Christ.

It is so easy to focus on good goals and treat them as an end in themselves--finishing high school/college, finding a good career, finding a spouse, raising a family some day, etc... However, as the catechism puts it, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever"! That goal trumps all others! Have you taken time to enjoy God this week?

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Your brother in Christ,

Joel C.