Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Standing Firm in Distressing Times

By Peter Thomas (summary only - 4th November 2012)

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness".

1. Don't be alarmed. It will happen - Jesus will destroy evil - there is No doubt.

2. Don't be deceived. Satan likes us to focus on him. Either too much or not enough. We have to be careful as he is a lion but don't need to give him special place or extra attention or give him glory when things go "wrong". Satan is doomed to destruction. Isaiah 14

3. Don't forget God is in control.
The rulers of this world are not in control but God.

Christian kindness and gentleness is greater than satan's strategies. We need to be approachable and in the world penetrating it - not on top of it or separated. Satan can't reproduce the Christ character.

4. Don't forget who is in control of your life. Jesus must be Lord of my life.

Friday, November 23, 2012


By Angela Bhandal

Suffering – what is this? Suffer/suffering: to undergo something painful or unpleasant, whether a physical injury, emotional pain, grief or loss.

Mentioned 34 times in my Bible concordance Not really a topic that is talked about much because often it is deeply personal and maybe it’s something that is not well understood amongst Christians; also we as humans don’t really like to suffer so we might try and avoid it. However, the Bible paints a different story about suffering and actually how normal it is in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

Question: In what ways can we suffer? When did this suffering have a starting point for humans?

The fall of man found in Genesis 3:1-24 We can see that suffering entered into human existence when Adam and Eve’s spiritual eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked – this bothered them to the point where they hid from God. Separation – Sin – Suffering. Even though they were tricked or deceived by Satan they were the ones that ultimately disobeyed God. And because of this they were about to experience suffering.

So the consequences we read about include Adam and Eve experiencing both physical pains, in the labour Adam had to exert to now make a living from the now-cursed soil and in Eve’s childbirth; also mental anguish as one of their sons murder another. Their story established the biblical perspective that suffering is a consequence of man’s broken relationship with God and the foolish choices that human beings make. So we can see that suffering and sin go hand in hand.

But do not be dismayed my dear friends because even God can use suffering to help produce something good and of great worth in us. When a woman is pregnant she can really suffer and have a hard time and when that time of labour is there for the baby to be brought forth or produced, it really is a time of great suffering – pain, anguish, fear, hopelessness, the feeling of dying but not quite – you live to tell about it!

Women suffer greatly when giving birth. But what is so amazing, is that as soon as the baby is born, the pain is gone and you forget what you have just gone through. You are now marvelling at this new life that you are now cradling. The sheer delight and overwhelming love and joy you feel towards your newborn baby makes all that you went through worthwhile. It is also a time of great relief that the pain and suffering is behind you. So just as childbirth ends not in death, but in the introduction of a new life into the world, so human suffering is intended to renew rather than destroy.

There is one story in the bible that speaks deeply to my heart regarding human suffering and that is the story of Job. This book explores the particularly difficult problem of why the righteous suffer. Job is described as blameless and upright. His suffering cannot be ascribed to personal sins; Job truly is a victim. His suffering is caused by the vindictiveness of Satan, who seeks to embarrass God by causing Job to curse the Lord. What blows me away is Job’s response in all of this.

After receiving the news that all 10 of his precious children has been crushed to death, he falls to the ground and does something extraordinary – after tearing his expensive gown and shaving off his beautiful hair, he falls to the ground in worship. Let’s read that now. How proud must God have been towards his servant Job at that moment? How humiliating for Satan. And we know that Satan pressed a second time for another go at Job. What could be worse than losing a child, let alone 10 of them? And we know that God once again allowed Satan to visit Job and inflict his skin with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.

And in all of this, Job did not sin in what he said. He accepted good from God and also trouble. What an amazing attitude to have. If we put ourselves in Job’s shoes, how would we feel towards God? I think I would have many questions staring with “Why God?” We are so blessed to have this story to learn from and the viewpoint by which we see this story unfold. We have a unique perspective because we already have the answer to the big “why” question.

We know that it is a test for Job brought about by Satan’s accusations against God regarding this blameless and upright man. And I really believe that this book can help us when crossing difficult and painful situations that cause deep suffering in our lives. We can be encouraged that God knows that we are strong enough in Him to endure whatever hardship it is that you are facing. Maybe like Job, we are being tested to see what really is in our hearts and what our attitude will be towards suffering.

Remembering that what Job was crossing was a test ultimately from God and that all of heaven was watching. Maybe God also wants to show to Satan that this child will not curse me but continue to honour and worship me. We must also remember that now matter how difficult or painful the situation is that we are in, God is still in control. His grace is enough. His faithfulness is enough. His eternal love and compassion is enough. Sometimes when things don’t make any sense at all, all God wants us to do is to trust Him. You know, Jobs story doesn’t end at the point where his suffering was great. Job’s story ends with God making him more prosperous again and giving him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed him with another 7 sons and 3 daughters.

Do you think this took away the pain of him losing his other children – no. But all these things that God restored unto Job, helped to lessen his pain and suffering. Even when things are restored, suffering can still be there but its intensity is less. Over the course of Job’s long and fruitful life, he would have found great joy and gladness with his new children and their offspring but I don’t think he would have ever forgotten his children that passed away in tragic circumstances.

Suffering is part of a normal Christian life. If we have never experience suffering and hardship, you should be asking yourself ‘why?’ Our saviour was a man who was familiar with sorrow and suffering (Isaiah 53:3).

In 1 Peter 4:12-19 Peter talks about suffering for being a follower of Jesus Christ. He tells us to not be surprised at the painful trials we face but to rejoice because one day it will all be worth it – that is when we reach heaven! Hallelujah. Be assured that no pain or suffering can follow us there. It will be how it was in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve walked with their creator. So it will be with us.

So if you are suffering deeply in your heart, or in your body, maybe with a loved one – whatever it is be assured that God is trying to build up your character. Romans 5:3 say that “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope…” All these character traits will help us to resist any attacks from the enemy and help us to stand firm and continue to worship God just as Job did not matter how difficult your circumstances may be. Amen