illustration by Tim Bower

Today: Psalms 71:19-24; Acts 6; Acts 7:1-19; 2 Samuel 15:13-37; 2 Samuel 16:1-14

Psalms 71

“You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again.” Psalm 71:20

Even in the midst of troubles, God can give us peace, strength, and joy if we hold onto Him. God doesn’t promise an easy life. In fact, Scripture clearly imply that our lives here on this earth will include hardships. But our joy and peace doesn’t need to hinge upon our external circumstances.

A lot of false prophets peddle a Jesus who isn’t found in the Bible. They push a worldly Jesus who promises you wealth, popularity, power, and perfect health. But Jesus promises us none of those things. He had none of those things on this earth and neither did His disciples.

I briefly got involved in a church like this when I was in college. Their charismatic services were very exciting. But I soon realized that their teachings just didn’t make sense.

They taught a “name-it-claim-it” doctrine that if we “claim” something, then Jesus MUST do that thing we have claimed. But Jesus answers to no man…

They engaged in prosperity teaching which is that God wants us all to be very rich. I heard some crazy sermons twisting Scripture all around to “prove” this. But Jesus and the disciples were all poor.

They taught that we should always have perfect health and that God ALWAYS heals us. They believed that if someone was NOT healed, it was because their faith must be weak. But Paul had some sort of ailment, a thorn in his side, that God refused to heal. Jesus Himself was tortured and executed. All of the disciples were tortured and imprisoned. And all except for John were also executed. Was their faith weaker than ours?

This is such terrible teaching and it isn’t found in Scripture anywhere. Churches like this can be very popular because these snake oil salesmen tickle people’s ears and egos. But these teachings are just lies. I soon left that church.

People with worldly vision prefer the winning-lottery-ticket Jesus. But I want the REAL Jesus. His spiritual rewards are worth MUCH MORE than any earthly riches.

Acts 6

Any organization growth can be difficult and that included the first Christian church. People were soon butting heads and complaining just as they often do in our churches today. Many people leave church and even forsake their Christianity because of human problems they observe in the church. But our churches are comprised of sinful humans and there will always be some sort of issue. You know the saying, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it because then it won’t be perfect anymore!” Don’t confuse the frailties and imperfections of humans with GOD. He is perfect. We are not.

We find ourselves fallen, stuck here on this fallen planet, surrounded by fallen people. But God works through us anyway. There is much to be learned and gained from iron sharpening iron. Our character benefits when we get involved, stick it out despite the problems, and work to make OURSELVES lights that God can shine His love through.

"Absalom" painting by Tucker Albert

2 Samuel 15-16

What a low point in David’s life. He was on the run again but this time from his own son, Absalom, who wanted to kill him. David responded with mourning and humility. Later he asked his men to “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” (2 Sam. 18:5) David’s response when he was rejected, hunted, and mocked was very Christlike.