Affliction Can be Good for Us?

Daily Reading

65 LORD, you have treated your servant well, just as you promised. 66
Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on your commands. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. 68 You are good, and you do what is good; teach me your statutes. 69 The arrogant have smeared me with lies, but I obey your precepts with all my heart. 70 Their hearts are hard and insensitive, but I delight in your instruction. 71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes. 72 Instruction from your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:65-72 (CSB)

Daily Reflection

Affliction can be good for us.

How can a person view affliction as good? David writes, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes” (v.71). Trials tend to humble us. Humility softens the clay of our hearts, making it malleable in the Potter’s hand. 

The Bible says, ” God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”Psalm 46:1 (CSB) Unfortunately, many of us never search for God until there is a problem. We could spare ourselves a significant amount of pain if only we would seek God’s ways first. Nevertheless, our suffering brings us back to God, and some lessons are learned in the crucible of tribulation. 

 Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for being present in your afflictions. Ask Him for the grace to learn His ways. 

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Open Your Eyes to the Goodness

Daily Reading

57 The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep your words. 58 I have sought your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. 59 I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to your decrees. 60 I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands. 61 Though the ropes of the wicked were wrapped around me, I did not forget your instruction. 62  I rise at midnight to thank you for your righteous judgments. 63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to those who keep your precepts. 64 LORD, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me your statutes. Psalm 119:57-64 (CSB)

Daily Reflection

Open your eyes to the goodness of God all around. 

Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Do you see a half-empty-glass or is the glass half-full? The writer of this psalm was an optimist. Tradition says King David penned this psalm. If anyone could have been cynical, it was David. His life was a rollercoaster of events. One day he was held as a hero and the next he was a fugitive. Could the references of persecution sprinkled throughout the Psalm be allusions to the painful days of King David? I believe so. 

How could David write, “LORD, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me your statutes” (64)? Despite the hardships of life, David witnessed God’s hand at work in everything. No matter if Saul was chasing him threatening death, David knew God was in control. He knew this because of the time spent meditating on God’s promises. God’s Word did not shift with the winds of public opinion. David experienced God’s faithfulness through many events in his life. 

You may look at all the sin and evil in the world and wonder, “Where is God?” It’s a legitimate question, but don’t be blinded by pessimism.  God’s goodness and compassion can be seen throughout creation. You might need to adjust your perspective. Remember on the darkest of days is when God’s light can make the most difference. 

 Suggestion for Prayer

Even if you’re struggling to see it, thank God for his faithful love. Ask Him to open your eyes to His goodness all around you. 

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

What’s Your Life’s Theme Song?

Daily Reading

49 Remember your word to your servant; you have given me hope through it. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction: Your promise has given me life. 51 The arrogant constantly ridicule me, but I do not turn away from your instruction. 52 LORD, I remember your judgments from long ago and find comfort. 53 Rage seizes me because of the wicked who reject your instruction. 54 Your statutes are the theme of my song during my earthly life.
55 LORD, I remember your name in the night, and I obey your instruction. 56 This is my practice: I obey your precepts. Psalm 119:49-56 (CSB)

Daily Reflection

God’s Word is to be the melody played in your life. 

 

 What’s the theme song of your life? I am not talking about your favorite tune or playlist.  I am talking about what tune is your life playing for others to hear? In today’s passage, the Psalmist states, “Your statutes are the theme of my song during my earthly life” (54).  The writer is so in love with the Scriptures it is his source of joy. A joy that produces in his life, a glad song of constant praise. 

No doubt, he shares this song with others. Others witness that, for him, God’s command does not chain his feet but sets them to dancing. Of course, the author’s life plays sour notes when he breaks God’s law. But he thrusts himself on God’s mercy and grace to get back in rhythm. 

You can do this too! Christ gives us a heart that loves to obey. He provides us with a dance partner in the Holy Spirit. Yes, we will step on the toes of our partner. But that should never keep us from singing our song of grace. What melody are others hearing in your life? Hopefully, grace is your Lifesong. 

 

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for the grace to joyously live life. Ask Him to help you dance and sing of His goodness. If you have misstepped in the dance of life. Ask for forgiveness and rejoin the dance. 

 


If you have found this post to be encouraging, please like, comment, and share it. Also, consider subscribing to the blog to have exciting content delivered to your inbox. If nothing else, take few seconds to say, Hello! I like it when people say, Hello.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle

Am I a preacher who writes? Or a writer that preaches? To some, this may be an unnecessary division, but for many, this is a serious question of calling. I know it has been for me. This post will explore this question and give my personal reasoning of why I am a preacher who writes. (Notice, the emphasis on the word personal. Every person has a particular calling they must find and embrace. This post is my take on my unique calling.)

I desired to be a writer long before being called to the public proclamation of God’s Word. It’s hard to believe at one time; I was terrified of public speaking. I recall standing behind a podium at a technical college shaking with fear before an audience of about ten peers. I am confident my fingernails left indentions in the podium. It was the longest five minutes of my life.

I feared public speaking because I fumbled with words (I still do). I could always express myself better through the medium of writing. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, but I still feel like I write better than I talk.

In the third grade, I was nominated to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Although tonsillitis forced me to leave the meeting early, I was able to hear the children’s author, Avi, speak. This experience planted the idea of me becoming an author. (On a side note, I think my wife attended the same conference.)

During High School, I was an awkward fellow. Antisocial and bitter, I spent time writing poetry. It was my therapy. It helped make sense of all the thoughts and emotions in my brain. My mother took noticed and encouraged me to submit my work to a poetry contest. In the end, one of my poems was published in a collection album.

These events, along with others, made me think I would live with paper and pen in a remote cabin. However, God had other plans. God’s ways do not always make sense to us ( see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When I dedicated my life to Christ, on December 16, 2001, I assumed I would begin to write as a Christian writer. I desired to be a novelist (I still do.) As I started surrendering my plans to God’s sovereign rule, I felt the Spirit press me to preach and lay aside my dreams of becoming an author. I was not to write (or not yet). God even lead me to burn a book of poetry I penned before my conversion. I was no longer the person who wrote these pieces. These poems were, in a sense, the old me.

There was a time whenever my eyes closed; I would see the word, PREACH. I knew God was calling me. Kicking and screaming I submitted to God’s prompting. However, I knew God would somehow give me the go-ahead to writing…one day. It wasn’t until pursuing my undergraduate degree that I felt a release to write. I am convinced God led me to lay, my Isaac of writing, down on His altar. I was to write, but solely for his glory. My motive changed from seeing my name on a book cover to glorifying  Him.

So why do I feel that I am a preacher who writes instead of a writer who preaches? Again, this may be a trivial distinction to some, but in my case an essential difference. I wish I could find the words to convey how I know that I am to pursue preaching over my writing but I cannot. All I can say is, it’s about obedience for me. 

Last week, in my reading of Haddon W. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, I came across a paragraph that spoke volumes about this topic. He writes,

Paul was a writer. From his pen we have most of the inspired letters of the New Testament, and heading the list of his letters is the one to the Romans. Measured by its impact on history, few documents compare with it. Yet when Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome, he confessed, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1 :11-12 RSV). Paul realized that some ministries simply cannot take place apart from face-to-face contact. Even the reading of an inspired letter will not substitute. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you… who are at Rome” (1:15 RSV). A power comes through the preached word that even the written word cannot replace. 1 [Boldened emphasis mine]

I consider myself a preacher-writer because the primary medium for salvation is through the foolishness of preaching (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). Nevertheless, I will preach, and I will write all for the glory of God.

What about you? Do you preach and write too? How do you distinguish the two? Or you may have another calling altogether. I would like to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

 

 

 

 

  1. Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching. 3rd Ed. I(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic) 2014. 3

Expository Preaching: Governed, but Empowered

When I was a kid, my brother and I owned a blue one-seater go-cart with a warped frame. (Come to think about it, the brakes didn’t work. Thank the Lord for His protection.) We loved it. The dirt roads of the community that I now pastor was riddled with ruts from what one neighbor coined as “The Blue Devil.”
As I recall, behind the accelerator pedal the previous owner placed a bolt to prevent the lever from being floored. The Blue Devil was governed. I am reasonably sure, in our youthful quest for speed, that home-made safety feature met a hacksaw blade. Who needs caution when driving a go-cart without brakes called The Blue Devil,” right? We had a need for speed. We threw caution to the wind!
Earlier in my ministry, that need-for-speed-caution-to-the-wind mentality unintentionally crept into my preaching. I came from a Christian tradition that was not known for the sequential exposition of the Scripture. In fact, in some congregations, expositional preaching was viewed as lacking in the Spirit.
In this environment, I was pressed to preach hard, fast, and with a great deal of charisma, which is not all bad advice. However,  I see how as a young minister, I drifted into a performance trap. I thought I needed a new and fresh word that others had not heard yet. (By the way, that’s a recipe for heresy.)
In those days, my sermons were topical, which again isn’t necessarily wrong. But I selected passages  I thought would “preach.”  I was looking to impress the congregation (and possibly God too.) My sermons were ungoverned. Often, they would race in a direction the original authors never meant them travel. My sermons were always about the Word of God, but they weren’t always the authoritative Word of Lord.  There is a difference!
Now, I see the importance of a governor (maybe not on go-carts called the Blue Devil), but on sermons for sure. All preaching should be governed by the Spirit-inspired author’s original purpose for writing the passage being considered. This is the goal of faithful biblical preaching. This is expositional preaching. A biblical expositor mines the Scriptures for this original meaning and then moves to apply it to modern life. As John Stott stated, the preacher “stands between two worlds.” A preacher should hold firm the with one hand the ancient world of the original authors and with the other hand grasp the congregation’s world.
What about the Spirit? Isn’t expositional preaching boring? It can be. But it doesn’t have to be dry as cracker juice. Although this method of preaching is governed by the text, it is empowered by the Spirit. By staying tight to the text, we safeguard ourselves from speeding away from what God’s intended message.
If you are unfamiliar with the expositional method here are some great videos on the topic.

The Gospel Coalition

The Front Porch