Discouragement may come to the godliest and most talented of God’s ministers in the church. But as we remember to reflect on God’s good providence, His willingness to let us lament before Him, and how He has rescued his servants who sank deep into despair, we can find our moorings and press on to serve Him with gladness of heart. Discouragement is no stranger to those in pastoral ministry. The pressures of preaching, teaching, counseling, and administration can be crushing—and even thankless at times. One or more of these factors may kick in: The giving is down. The budget is tight. The staff is tired. The weekly attendance is static or declining. A family is threatening to leave the church because of something the pastor preached—and the sermon was faithful to the Bible.
Life is like riding a bike. You need to keep peddling. Endurance is essential. But what do you do when you don’t feel like peddling, when you’re demoralized and lack strength?
Hebrews 12:1 reads, “Since we’re surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” What does this mean? The “cloud of witnesses” in this verse is speaking of the heroes of the faith identified earlier in Hebrews 11 — heroes who have gone before us and whom God has purposed to speak into our lives to encourage us even today!
Like many basketball junkies deprived of March Madness and the NBA playoffs, I devoured ESPN’s 10-part series “The Last Dance,” the definitive account of one of the NBA’s G.O.A.T (“greatest of all time), Michael Jordan. Anyone who watched the emergence of the Bulls in the 1990s knew that Jordan’s talent and athleticism was matched only by his drive, but I’m not sure any of us fully understood his unique ability to manufacture grudges for competitive advantage, or to either motivate or run off teammates.
“The man whom God correcteth…maketh sore…woundeth” is “happy” in the true sense – in God’s economy. Not the man who is entertained and told by false prophets that he is okay in his sin, but rather the one who endures the chastisement of the LORD and sound doctrine to his own hurt and wounding, that Christ, the Master Potter might “maketh sore” and “woundeth” then “bindeth up” and “make whole.”
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Change and being conformed into the image of Christ requires a broken and constantly repenting heart and is an essential component for the wise-virgin believer in readiness for the return of the Bridegroom for those who are being washed/purified by His blood and Word (Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Jn. 1:7; Rev. 12:11). The life of repenting (turning) from what we currently are and toward the LORD is essential to having God’s glory in us – the glory that transforms our lives into His image (2 Cor. 3:18).
I’m sure many of us will not comply, but sadly, many people will. I’m already seeing the “conditioning” before my very eyes. Much of what you’re seeing right now has been planned for awhile now. Let me give you one example. Before the ControlVirus came along, when you went to the Doctors Office, how many times did the nurse stand six feet away and take your temperature on your forehead?
So, when the mark of the beast comes, if you are going by a fake “bible” then you will take the mark if it’s “IN” your body because you were told by satan in his corruptions of God’s Word that the mark would be ON your hand or forehead, right? Am I missing something saints?
Paul taught that the bodies of Christians are holy spaces; places where heaven and earth are united because of the work of Jesus and the presence of the Spirit. Like the ground on which Moses stood before the burning bush or the space inside the Holy of Holies, your body is a holy space. To use that holy space for the purpose of sexual immorality would be like making a sacrifice to an idol in the temple (something that was wrong anywhere but was specifically a sin against the temple when it was done in the temple).
When confronted with their sins, it’s not uncommon to hear people say, “Yeah, but God knows my heart.” I usually take this to mean, “What I’m doing might be wrong, but in my heart, I’m a good person. God knows that. So I don’t think He will hold me accountable for my actions.” These folks obviously believe in God and believe in sin, but they believe that having a “good heart” is justification for their sin. God says that’s not true.