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No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters.

How do you handle suffering?

No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters.

How do you handle suffering?

 
The challenge of Christian suffering, especially the recipient of unjust or perceived unjust suffering, has the potential to wreak havoc in our minds. No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters. In fact, enduring suffering, even unjust suffering, “is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”
 
It is common for Christians to assume that if they live a righteous life they will not have to suffer in this life. However, this is simply not true.
 
What if you truly were the most righteous person on earth, would you still have to suffer? Well, this is precisely the scene that we see taking place in the opening of the book of Job.
 
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:8-12) 
 
In the following passages, we read that Job suddenly had all of his wealth removed, his servants were killed, and even his children were killed. How does Job respond? We find that he remains the most blameless and upright man on the earth. Even in the face of unimaginable suffering, Job remained faithful. Some time goes by, and it happens again.
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:1-10)
 
Job had lost everything and gained pain, sorrow, and suffering. His possessions, family, and health were gone. Yet he still held fast to his integrity and would not curse God.
 
The majority of the remaining chapters of Job have to do with him asking God why he is suffering and his so-called friends wrongly assuming that they knew the cause of Job’s suffering.
 
After many chapters of conversations of these four humans attempting to probe the mind of God, God answers Job. He never directly answered the question of why Job was suffering, but instead, responded by asking Job questions; questions that Job could not answer. However, every question that God asked, caused Job to see that God is sovereign and has a plan for everything, including Job’s suffering.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
     I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
     Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:1-5a)
 
Job wanted to know, “God, what did I do to deserve all of this suffering?” God answers by revealing that He is omniscient, He is omnipotent, He is in control of all things, and He did so by asking Job question after question. Every unanswerable question that God asked Job caused Job’s eyes to become more aware of the infinite gap between his mind and the mind of God.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
     and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
     things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
     I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
     but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
     and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

Recap:

Job suffered immensely, yet he never learned why. He didn’t get to read the first two chapters of the book that bears his name. However, we get to see the earthly struggles of Job and through the window into the supernatural realm, we get to hear the conversation between God and Satan. As we peer into the window of heaven revealed for us in those opening chapters, let us always remember that God is sovereign even during trials, persecutions, and suffering.
 
In the end, Job’s suffering lead to him having a better understanding of God, a better understanding of himself, an even deeper faith in God, and Satan losing. May the same be said of us of us!


Should You Choose a Church Based Upon Your Race?

Should you choose a church based upon your race?

The Apostle Peter, writing to a racially diverse group of people from different regions, cultures, ancestries, said of them, “But you are a chosen race…” (1 Peter 2:9). Why was Peter calling people of many races “a” race?

Race, or ethnicity, has to do with common ancestry. For instance, the Jewish leaders relied heavily on their ancestry lineage to Abraham. They believed the genetic link to Abraham made them right with God. However, Jesus infuriated the Pharisees by letting them know that, even though Abraham was their genetic father, Satan was their spiritual father.

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.You are doing the works your father did.”They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (John 8:39-44)

These particular Jews were related to Abraham by blood, but not by belief. As the New Testament progresses, we see a new race of people becoming increasingly revealed that transcends earthly ancestry and traditional views of race. The new race is created by God Himself. And it is a race that is not made up of one particular skin tone. In fact, this new race of people cannot be determined by outward appearance. It is a race of people who look incredibly diverse, yet have all been born-again into thesame family of God.

In the book of Acts, we see that salvation come first to thousands of Jews (a people racially connected to Abraham)1 . Later, the same gospel that saved the Jews on Pentecost was proclaimed to the Samaritans (a racially mixed group of people, part Jew and part other)2 .If this wasn’t shocking enough, Peter was commanded to go and preach the gospel to even the Gentiles (a people with absolutely no ancestral affiliation to Abraham)3 . As Peter was preaching the gospel to them, a whole household of Gentiles is saved. This was so shocking to the Jewish leadership that Peter was called back to Jerusalem to give an account for what he had done. After Peter’s eyewitness account, the Christian Jewish leaders finally realized that salvation through Christ was for people of all races. “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (Acts 11:18).

It took years to convince the Jews, and even the Apostles, that all races were saved in exactly the same way and that unity in Christ was far more important than unity in a race. As Christians, they now had ancestry that superseded any other. God was their Father, Christ their Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwelt all of them. Racial reconciliation was more and more realized as the Christians understood mankind’s universal need to be reconciled to God by Jesus Christ.

The new race of people was utterly mixed from the human perspective: Jew, Ethiopian, Samaritan, Gentile, Roman, Asian, and etc.…  All different shades of skin, but one shade of soul; forgiven by the same sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. These believers had different blood, but the same belief in Jesus Christ. They had different earthly fathers, but one Heavenly Father.

By the time Peter writes 1 Peter, we see that he has fully realized that the body of Christ is a beautiful gathering of people from all different ancestries into one new race in Jesus Christ.

So, should you choose a church based upon your race?

Of course not! To do so is a radical slip backward in our understanding of the work of God in redemption to create a new race. To emphasize our skin tones or genetic differences is to return to the racial discrimination that Jesus abolished. Such ethnic emphasis divides and disregards the unity that we all have in Jesus Christ.

Remember, the Apostle Peter was writing to a racially diverse group of people, yet he did not emphasize their differences at all. Instead, the first two chapters were spent emphasizing their sameness, same: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, mercy, grace, regeneration, inheritance, etc.

So, as you look for a local gathering of believers to be a part of, don’t look for a group that represents your skin tone the best, look for a group of people that reflect God’s glory the best.
 
~ Trey Talley

References

1. Acts 2:22, 41

2. Acts 8:4-12

3. Acts 13:34-48




 

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Denton, Texas 76205
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