"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)

Behold The Man!

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, "Behold the man"! (John 19:1-5 KJV)

Krystal Meyers - The Beauty of Grace

Suffering--A Part of God's Plan for Our Lives

Father, we thank you for our many blessings. You are so good. Lord, a very serious and thoughtful subject has brought us all here tonight—suffering. All of us, or maybe someone close to us has gone through, or is going through difficult times. Life can be so hard, but, Lord, you already know that. You suffered and died for us first. Because we know how very much you love us, we ask that you give us understanding. Your Word is not silent on the subject of trials and tribulations, so we ask you to open our hearts to your purpose in our lives. You are the Potter, we are the clay. Help us in our humanness to seek Your face now and always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You know, some people look at the Bible as stories, mere illustrations that point us to greater spiritual truths. Me? Now, I take the Bible quite literally. I believe that every word has been God-breathed or God-inspired. I believe that God Almighty actually spoke the Word and unnumberable galaxies were created out of nothingness. I believe that God used His servent Moses to deliver his people from Egypt, and that every one of those 10 plagues actually happened. And, when the Israelites fled from Pharaoh and found themselves backed up to the Red Sea with no escape in sight, well, I believe God literally parted those waters and the Israelites walked through on dry land. And Noah, I believe that he actually built that ark and the Lord God Himself sealed him and his family in, shutting the door tight when the waters came pouring down. Oh, I could go on and on!

Having said all that, it is very important, particularly as since we discuss the subject of suffering, and as we begin to study and apply God’s Word in our lives, that we realize that throughout the entire Bible there is perfect harmony and balance. Remember, 1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not the author of confusion...”KJV

I want to cite some very important verses to illustrate this fact to you. Matthew 21:22 reads, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." O.K., that’s pretty cut and dry. Actually, I like the sound of that--simple and uncomplicated!

Now, let's have a look at John 14:12-14, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Here, we learn that not only must we exhibit faith, but we can only approach the Father with our requests in Jesus’ name.

Okay, let’s look at John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” God's word further reveals that we must remain or abide in Christ and His Word before we receive our requests. In other words, we must be walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. (Not as easy as we first thought. Hmm!)

1 John 5:14-15 adds, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Ouch! This is where so many of us stumble, Jesus says we must ask according to His will.
Finally, let’s look at James 4:2b-3, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

Okay. This is sounding more and more complicated. First, we must ask in faith, being sure to ask in Jesus’ name. Then, we must examine ourselves to determine that we are in a right relationship with Christ. Oh, and we must be sure we ask according to God’s will. And finally, we must ask with the right motives. Not quite as simple as we first supposed???

These particular scriptures confirm the perfect balance that we will always find in the scriptures. You can’t just pick out a particular verse and "claim" it before you determine what the rest of God’s Word has to say on the subject. Yes, we can ask God for what we want, but we must first make sure that all the scriptures line up with our request. This is the balance I am referring to. A perfect example of the balance in God’s Word is found in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill, and a time to heal,

A time to tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them

A time to embrace and a time to refrain,

A time to search and a time to give up,

A time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend,

A time to be silent and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate,

A time for war and a time for peace.”


Now, I want us to try and apply all that we have just learned to the subject of suffering. And when I mention the word “suffering” I will always be referring to any testing, trial, tribulation, persecution, affliction and yes, the Lord’s discipline, that we, as Christians may be undergoing.
If you are anything like me, you’ve probably had more than your share of these situations come into your life. I know this because I don’t believe you would be here searching for answers to the hurts you are experiencing.

Let me start out by quoting Psalms 34:19 which says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” KJV. This verse by itself should give us great hope and encouragement. What a promise!

Now, let’s go on and take a look at where suffering comes from. First, there are the hurts we receive directly from the hand of man himself.

Man’s inhumanity to man has been well documented--since the time of Cain and Abel. In modern times, we need only go back as far as Hitler and fast forward to today. Hitler killed millions of people simply because of his hatred of the Jews. Today, we can turn our eyes toward the Middle East, a place where wars continues over peoples, beliefs, religion, oil and land.

Sadly, man, because of his sinful nature has inflicted great suffering on his own kind. Selfishness, jealously, greed, anger—the right to be right. If we are in someone’s line of fire during such times, chances are we are going to suffer the consequences.

Then, there is satan. Lord, knows he wants to keep believers from walking in complete faith and confidence with God. Luke 22:31-32a says, “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”

In Biblical times, sifting wheat was a process where the wheat was threshed upon the threshing floor to separate the kernels of grain from the unusable husk and other materials. The unusable materials were burned up as worthless. This is what satan was asking to do to Simon Peter. This is the same thing he asked God of his servant, Job.

You have probably read the book of Job. If not, I encourage you to do so. It is the story of a righteous man, living out a righteous life. Yet, in one day he lost his children, all his earthly goods and suffered great bodily attack because satan had asked to purposefully look for any failings in Job’s faith. Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “Satan sharply questions our faith and has cynicism about people’s motives for religious beliefs.”

Thirdly, and, we must consider this prayerfully, because of God’s great sovereignty all suffering is by and through the permissive will of God. Let’s look at Lamentations 3:38 and reflect on these words: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”

1 Peter 4:19 goes on to tell us, “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Let us be comforted in the fact that neither man nor satan can touch us in anyway unless it is in the permissive will of God.

Our highest example of permissive suffering is of course, Jesus Christ Himself. Dr. Billy Graham, in his daily devotional, “Hope for Each Day” writes, “The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is perhaps the greatest, most moving prayer ever uttered. In it our Lord asked that the cup of crucifixion, which was about to be thrust upon Him, might be taken away. But, then, in the very next breath He said, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39.) “What a prayer! What strength! What power!”

The apostle Paul is another example of the Lord permitting suffering in the life of a believer. Look up 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Of Paul’s suffering Dr. Graham writes, “When the apostle Paul asked God to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” God did not remove it…Dr. Graham goes on to say that “rather than complain or become angry at God, Paul joyfully submitted to God’s will. He discovered that God’s grace truly was sufficient, even in the midst of pain.”

Further Dr. Graham states, “Christ desires to be with you in whatever crisis you may find yourself. Call upon His name. See if He will not do as He promised He would. He may not make your problems go away, but He will give you the power to deal with them and to overcome them by His grace.”

Yes, God Himself sends suffering into our lives and he also disciplines us in order to prune sin from our lives, to test our faith, and much to our dismay, to correct us. 1 Cor. 11:32 states, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”

Hebrews 12:4-8 goes on to say, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the word of encouragement that addresses you as sons. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline: God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”

Hebrews 12:11-12 offers this comfort, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So, God’s Word says we are being trained (or as I stated earlier, pruned) by our suffering. How so? And, to what purpose? Romans 5:3-5, the Bible states, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

So why is it important that these produced evidences of our faith take place in our lives? Because “For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29. We are conformed to the likeness of Christ so we can reflect His glory to the world. This is confirmed in 2 Cor. 3:18, God’s Word goes on to say, “And we…all reflect the Lord’s glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

For those who do not already know of her, Joni Eareckson Tada, is courageous woman who grew up in a wonderful, loving home. Both her parents loved the Lord and their house was full of prayer, praise and songs to the Lord. In her tenth grade in high school, back in 1963, Joni learned personally the difference between having a head knowledge of God and having a heart knowledge of Him. As so often happens to many of us, and what happened to Joni, we sometimes slowly lose our passion for the Lord. Continual sin enters our lives.

In 1967, in her [keepsake] “box,” the place where she would drop notes reflecting her thoughts, the place where she kept her mementoes and other items that were important to her, Joni wrote the following, “Dear Box, I am tired of saying I’m a Christian out of one side of my mouth and saying something else out of the other. I want to honor God with my life. And so, God, I’m asking you to please, please do something in my life to turn it around, because I’m making a mess of it. If I’m going to call myself a Christian, I want to live like one!”

Later, in July 1967, while she was preparing to go away to college, her life was forever changed. Due to a diving accident, (she had been swimming and diving with friends) Joni was left paralyzed from the neck down. A quadriplegic!

Joni had several legitimate questions when this first happened to her:

  1. If God is loving—why is there suffering?
  2. What’s the difference between permitting something and ordaining it?
  3. When bad things happen, is God in cahoots with the devil?
  4. How can God expect me to be happy this way?

I'm sure you have your own personal questions regarding God’s eternal purposes for our suffering.

I have to point out that Joni asked those questions almost 4 decades ago. Today, Joni would tell you that her life has been blessed by God. Yes, blessed. She met and married her husband, Ken. She is a famous artist—patiently and painfully using her mouth to move the brushes along in order to create paintings that have inspired thousands. She has written several books, including her autobiography, “Joni”, several daily devotionals, the (one I personally highly recommended) study, “When God Weeps” as well as her latest book, “The God I Love.” She has spoken and given her testimony at several Billy Graham meetings and she has founded an organization for disabled people in foreign countries; giving them Bibles, wheelchairs and a new hope for their lives.

You can believe that satan hates this. If he can’t take away our salvation, and he can’t, oh, dear one, he wants our song.

In Exodus 15:2 Moses sings this song, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.” In Psalms 40:3, David writes, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” Again, in Psalms 96:1-2 David declares, “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.

Our song is our life’s testimony. Much to satan’s dismay, Joni still has her song, and boy does she ever sing it! Who can tell how many people have come to know Christ through Joni’s song? Who can tell how many people will come to know Christ or learn to walk closer to Him by your song?

For those of you who are going through personal suffering, let me close with a quotation from Max Lucado in his book, “In the Grip of Grace.”

There are times when the one thing you want is the one thing you never get…

You pray and wait.
No answer.
You pray and wait.

May I ask a very important question? What if God says no?"

What if the request is delayed or even denied? When God says no to you, how will you respond? If God says, “I’ve given you my grace, and that is enough,” will you be content?

Content. That’s the word. A state of heart in which you would be at peace if God gave you nothing more than he already has.

Here is how Joni answered that question in her book, “The God I Love.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you for this wheelchair! By tasting hell in this life, I’ve been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy. She goes on to say, “It was your roadblock, God, to keep me from totally messing up my life. Thank you, bless you. I would have been lost to you forever.”

At the end of her book, Joni finds herself in Jerusalem, at the ruins of Bethesda, at the very pool where the disabled; the blind, the lame, the paralyzed used to lie waiting for the waters to be stirred so they could be healed (John 5:1-9). Joni says, “You won’t believe how many times I used to picture myself here,”… “And now…after thirty years…I’m here. I made it. Jesus didn’t pass me by. He didn’t overlook me. He came my way and answered my prayer—He said no.”

She goes on to say, “I turned my thoughts, my words, heavenward. Lord, your no answer to physical healing meant yes to a deeper healing—a better one. Your answer has bound me to other believers and taught me so much about myself. It’s purged sin from my life. It’s strengthened my commitment to you, forced me to depend on your grace. Your wiser, deeper answer has stretched my hope, refined my faith and helped me to know you better. And you are good. You are so good.” “I know I wouldn’t know you…I wouldn’t love and trust you…were it not for—I looked down at my paralyzed legs, “for this wheelchair.”

She continues: “It wasn’t often I could presuppose God’s motives, but I could with this one. He had brought me to the Pool of Bethesda that I might make an altar of remembrance out of the ruins. That I might see—and thank him for—for the wiser choice, the better answer, the harder yet richer path…There are more important things in life than walking.”

I want to emphasis to you that not many people will be called upon to endure the type of suffering that Joni has gone through. We can all thank God for that. It is difficult, if not impossible to fully address physical afflictions, but I want you to apply what you have read today to whatever it is that you may be going through. God cares just as deeply for your hurt--your sorrow as he does over Joni being in that wheelchair. You are just as precious to Him and he sees your pain and suffering.

Ultimately, Joni found the truth of Hebrews 13:5 that reminds us that God Himself has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." This promise is still ours for today. No matter what we are facing, God never lets us go through it alone. He is with us every step of the way! Keep this promise ever before you.

The Cups of God

Father, you are so good! You have blessed us forever because we have put our trust in you. Move in our lives and make us a blessing to others. Your hand has poured the “cup” and we have been filled. Filled with—the cup of joy—the cup of compassion—the cup of salvation. Bless our souls and hearts to receive your Word today. May you receive all the honor, all the glory and all the praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Most of us are all familiar with Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd”—Verse 5 reads, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The Holman Dictionary indicates that the word “cup” is frequently used in the figurative sense. [It is] the contents of the cup that are accentuated, since symbolically [it is] God [that] serves the drink…the cup might represent blessing or prosperity for the righteous person (which is what the psalmist is referring to in the 23 Psalm). Or, it can represent divine judgment or wrath. Strong's Concordance further defines “cup” in the figurative sense such as a “lot” or “fate.”

The casting of lots was common in Biblical times. Proverbs 16:33 reads, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” The psalmist refers to this in Psalm 16:5 says, “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” In the same manner, God has cast the lot and filled each of our lives with one or more “cups.”

As we reflect on this subject, and we’re only going to be discussing a few of God’s “cups,” let’s look at Lamentations 3:38 and reflect on these words: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”


The first “cup” we will be discussing today is the cup of joy.

Don’t you just love the song, "I'm Trading My Sorrows"? Well, I admit it might be a little over the edge for some of us, but I remember when I first heard it at a Beth Moore Conference. Before I knew what was happening, I was up on my feet dancing, my arms were waving in the air and I was shouting with the best of them, “Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord!” Now for a woman of my age who has been a good Southern Baptist for the past 30+ years, I’d say I’ve come a long, long way!

But, I want you to really listen the lyrics of this song. “I’m trading my sorrow—I’m trading my shame—I’m trading my sickness—I’m trading my pain. I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.”

Where are we laying them down? There’s only one place—at the foot of the cross! All the sorrow, all the shame, all the pain, all our burdens—aren’t you tired of carrying all that garbage around? Hasn’t your load become cumbersome—heavy ? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, 30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…my burden is light.”

Will we still have sorrow, sickness, pain? Most probably, the answer is a resounding "Yes"! Jesus said “…in this life we would have trouble,” but he was also quick to add, “but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus also said that we are to take up our own cross and follow him. (Matthew 16:24).

Still, there are two things that are forever nailed with Christ on His cross—the sorrow and shame of our sin. Those "burdens" are no longer our "cross" to bear! Thanks be to God, that burden was and is Christ’s alone!

That’s where “joy” comes in. The “joy” of the Lord! Scriptures says the “…joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

C. H. Spurgeon in his devotional “Daily Treasures in the Psalms,” wrote, “Joy is the privilege of the believer. The eternal God is the source of our peace. We love God, and therefore we delight in Him. Our heart is at ease in our God. We feast every day because we feed on Him. We have music in the house, music in the heart, and music in heaven, for the Lord is our strength and our song; He has also become our salvation. Nothing shall rob us of our inheritance of joy!”

Jesus tells this story, “…suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (Luke 15:8-9)

Now Jesus was telling this story to illustrate how all of heaven rejoices over finding one lost soul, but let your attention be drawn to how excited and joyful the woman was when she found her coin. She couldn’t keep her joy to herself. She went and called all her friends together to share her joy with them. Beloved, that’s how we should be over the joy of our salvation! The Psalmist writes, “…my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

Is the joy of your salvation bubbling over and spilling into others lives? Oh, dear child of God, if you never lose sight of what Christ did for you on the cross—your life will bubble over—you won’t be able to keep the joy to yourself!

God’s Word says, “Streams of living water…" (John 7:38) will flow from whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Think a minute—have you ever been so overcome in worship, overcome by an answer to prayer, overcome by some revealed truth in God’s Word, overcome by extending a simple act of kindness towards someone or perhaps from a kindness extended toward you?

Have you ever experienced the kind of joy that flows up from your soul and strains to be lifted from your very being? I have, and I can tell you this rapture—this ecstasy—is the closest thing to being in heaven we will ever experience on this earth, and this is just a small glimpse of the joy that will fill God’s heaven. How can we not share this joy with others? Allow the Holy Spirit to make His fruit of “joy” alive and active in your life!

You want even more joy? As a Christian, serving others blesses our lives and brings us great joy. Scripture says, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)? Nothing will ever bring you more joy than finding and fulfilling your God-given purpose in this life. It could be praying for others—encouraging the brokenhearted—giving—teaching—having a part in leading someone to Christ! Have you experienced this kind of joy? Pray that God will place someone on your heart, today! Our time on this earth is so short. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Ask God to make you a worker for the harvest. Let Him send YOU!

Whatever you do, don’t let satan confuse you over God’s gift of joy and temporal happiness. Happiness tends to focus on your feelings at any given time, the amount of possessions you own or some other external factor. Joy comes from knowing Christ—being secure in his faithfulness—glorying in His forgiveness and mercy--just being still and knowing that God is God. He is your Abba, Father--your Daddy! Happiness flees in the light of the trials of this life. Real joy remains and grows stronger.

Is it always easy to have joy in our lives? No! One help is to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). In Hebrews 11:9-10 it was written of Abraham, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Are you living on this earth as if you were "just passing through", "just visiting"? Are your eyes set on God’s heavenly city? Or, have you let the “worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19) clouded your heart? Jesus Himself said, “"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Take great joy in knowing that whatever you say, whatever you do, or whatever you may be called to go through in this life you will surely be rewarded and more, recompensed, sometimes in this life, but most definitely in the next and by Jesus Christ Himself!


Let's take a look at the “cup” of compassion.

George Sweeting has said, “Life minus love equals nothing!”

Billy Graham goes on to say, “…He (Christ) willingly left the glory of Heaven and went to the Cross for our salvation…Do you have that kind of love? Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within…Do others see Christ’s love reflected in your life?”

I love the lyrics to a song that is very popular today, “We are the Body”. A portion of it goes, “If we are the body; why aren’t our arms reaching…?” Are your arms reaching? A good indicator that our cup of compassion is overflowing is the company we keep. Let me ask you a question. Who are your friends? Who do you spend your free time with? Are they the one’s who are most like you? Do they live in the same community? Do they share your same interests?

This Sunday, take a good look around at your church family. Use your eyes of compassion to seek out the lonely—let your heart show you someone who is hurting or lost. If you ask Him, the Holy Spirit will reveal this to you. Too often we neglect the very ones who need us most. For heaven’s sake, step out of your comfort zone!

Jesus was angry with the Pharisees because they were so pious. They loved to be noticed. Their considered themselves far above the common people—better than the people they were suppose to be serving in the Lord! And, oh, the rules and regulations they placed on everybody else! Jesus called them hypocrites! Take careful note that throughout scripture Jesus always, always addresses sinners with gentle compassion, but the hypocrites—the pious—the self-righteous, with His holy, just and righteous anger!

Matthew 22:8-10 tells the story of a certain king preparing a marriage feast for his son. He invited many of his friends, but they refused to come. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

Luke 14:12-14 speaks further on this subject, “Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Can you imagine inviting someone from a “street corner”, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind into your home? Yet, that is exactly what Jesus did for each and everyone of us. We were the “poor”; Max Lucado calls us “beggars in God’s soup kitchen”; we were the crippled; “crippled” by our sin. We were “blind”; blind to our need of a Savior, and whether or not you want to admit it, he found some of us on some “old street corner”. Yet, He has invited us in, and not just into just anyone’s home—we’ve been invited into the house and family of God!

So then, why should we deny Christian fellowship to someone just because they are different from ourselves? That same song I mentioned earlier goes on to say, “God has paid much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come.” Only God has the right to say, “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:10).

What joy we’ll experience as we stand before our Savior and He says to us, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” Are you ready to lay down your life for someone who just doesn’t fit? Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Do you honestly think we were Christ’s “friends” when he laid down His life for us? No, he loved us first, even though He knew what we were like on the “inside.” All He’s asking of us is that we stop looking on the “outside” of a person. That’s what we must do for the young girl who may be wearing a belly or nose ring—for the young man with tattoos all over his body—for the couple who are constantly at each other’s throats. Remember, Jesus was called the “Friend” of sinners!

Charles R. Swindoll, in his book “Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life” wrote, “People who impact others are real to the core; no alloy covered over with a brittle layer of chrome, but solid, genuine stuff right down to the nubbies. They’re authentic.” Be authentic! Take the time right now to “lay down your life!”


This is a difficult subject to approach, but most of us at one time or another have drank from the “cup” of affliction.

Affliction can be the cup that God uses in our lives to form us into the image of Christ. “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

Silver, once considered more precious than gold, must go through the crucible, or “fining pot” to remove the dross, or impurities so that its beauty and worth can be revealed. In the Bible, dross is often referred to as a symbol for sin. So it is with our lives. We, too, must sometimes pass through God’s fire of affliction to remove the impurities or sin in our lives.

Affliction will either crush us or it will make us stronger in our faith. Like the prodigal son, affliction can cause us to come running back to the Lord when we, like sheep, have gone astray. The psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Ps. 119:67).

Billy Graham relates this story, “A friend told me of a non-believer who came to him in the midst of a troubled day. Knowing my friend was a Christian, the man asked, “If I get born again, will all of my problems go away?” “No,” said my friend, “but you will have the power to deal with them. God will give us wisdom, power and courage. He will surround us with brothers and sisters in Christ to help carry our burdens, and even provide us with insight and practical assistance…If God dismissed all our problems with a single stroke, we would be left defenseless, unequipped to meet the inevitable attacks of the enemy of our souls.” We all know who that is, satan!

Joni Eareckson Tada in her devotional, “More Precious than Silver” wrote, “I have watched Christians go through tough times yet hang on to God’s grace. Maybe you’re such a person. Day-to-day heartache is your routine, and problems seem to have a permanent place in God’s plan for you. Yet you’re faithful—or should I say, you hold on to God’s faithfulness. What God is doing with you is like what he did with the barley loaves and fish. Jesus broke the bread. And out of the brokenness, he multiplied the blessing so thousands would be nourished."

Joni goes on to say, “Yes, it hurts to be broken. But sometimes that’s part of God’s plan, especially if he wants to use you to feed others. It’s a way your faithfulness can be multiplied. Out of your brokenness, the blessing can be bestowed on more people than you ever dreamed possible. And here’s the thing, if you’ve been broken by the hand of God, you can be certain nothing will be wasted. God will gather up and use all the hurt; not a bit of it will be discarded or cast aside.”

What suffering or affliction are you going through right now? Loneliness—a lingering illness—loss of a loved one? Do your arms ache to hold a tiny infant your arms? Are you suffering from depression? God is in the business of making “…beauty from of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3b ).

There is no greater proof of this than the cross. The cross—a symbol of shame, torture, grief and pain, is now held up high as a symbol of hope and of salvation. Like the finest silver, God will turn your heartbreak into something of meaning and worth. God did it at the cross and he can do it for you.”

C.H. Spurgeon in his devotional “Daily Treasures in the Psalms” wrote, “Is there a voice weeping? In what language does it speak? Weeping is the eloquence of sorrow. It is an unstammering orator, needing no interpreter, but understood of all. Let us learn to think of tears as liquid prayers. My God, I will weep when I cannot plead, for You hear the voice of my weeping.” He goes on to say, “You may have times of weeping, but let them be short. Get Up! Cast aside your sackcloth and ashes! Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

One way we “cast aside our sackcloth and ashes” is to constantly remind ourselves of God’s past deliverances in our lives. Manna, the bread of heaven, fell every morning. Jesus, the Bread of life, the One who helped us through all our earlier trials, will not leave us in our present hour of need. He is ever with us!

Perhaps, the thought of dying holds the greatest fear for you. Dear child of God, it need not be—Christ went that way before us! Before he was to be crucified, he prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He anguished and groaned before His God “...his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44.)” I can imagine the Lord kept Psalm 23:4 close to His heart. It says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.”

The New Century Version of Hebrews 4:15 reads, “For we have no superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible—He Himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned.” Jesus, God Himself, fully shared all our experiences. Every pain, every hurt, even unto death so he could sympathize with us in our weaknesses!

I want to tell you a story of when I was a small child somewhere between the ages of 6-10. Our family used to love taking long drives along Main Street in Anytown, USA. No one in my family ever seemed to notice that at a certain point during this drive, I would be huddled down in the floorboard of the back seat, my face pressed into the mat and my heart gripped with fear. You see, along that drive we passed by a funeral home and right next to the funeral home was a cemetery. To this day, I don’t remember how or what I had learned of death that terrified me so, but its fear held an icy grip on my heart.

Age and spiritual maturity eventually helped to ease my terror, but I have always hated the thought of death. I still do. Does this conflict with the fact that I am now a Christian? Absolutely not! It’s natural to hate death. Scriptures says, “He (God) has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God has written it in our hearts that we are meant to live eternally. Death is our enemy, but because of Jesus’ resurrection death is a defeated foe! Because Christ lives, we, too, shall live. Death has been overcome and swallowed up in Christ’s victory on the cross.

Carrie E. Breck wrote this poem,

Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be?
When with rapture I behold him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory
I shall see Him by and by.

How do we know we shall see Him? You see, the story didn’t end at the cross. Jesus has risen! “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34b). We’re not left to walk this valley on our own! Jesus, God Himself, is interceding for us, through every trial and tribulation we face. Not only that, but “…He sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our sorrow” (2 Corinthians 1:5).

Jesus spoke further on the subject of death, “Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 12:26-27)!

And, Jesus, our “Pillar of a Cloud,” is up ahead of us and has promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).

Whatever the reason may be for God sending affliction your way, take it as a blessing from His divine hand. God knows what you are going through and if you should ever question His love for you, keep this scripture ever before you, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).


I pray that no one ever has to drink from the “cup” of God’s wrath. That would mean you have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ who declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

"…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Someone had to stand guilty as charged for sinning against the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY of whom Habakkuk spoke, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Someone had to pay the penalty—Someone had to die—that Someone was Jesus Christ.

Maybe these words from Max Lucado will give you a better description of what God has really done you and me (and I’m going to be paraphrasing just a little):

"When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, he also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope, to adopted children with no fear. Here is how it happens: You come before the judgment seat of God full of rebellion and mistakes. Here lies the great dilemma: God, because of His justice and great holiness cannot dismiss your sin, but because of His great love, He cannot dismiss you. So, in an act which stunned the heavens, He punished Himself on the cross for your sins. By this act, God’s justice and love are equally honored. And you, God’s creation, are forgiven. But the story doesn’t end with God’s forgiveness…It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but he does more. He gives you His name, Christian.”

So, you see, Jesus drank willing from the cup of God’s wrath. He knew the Father wanted to bring us back into His family, so He willingly took our place. He took upon Himself our disobedience—our sin—and nailed it along with Him on that cross. This is God’s mercy revealed and His grace gift to all of us!

Have you been compromising in the little areas of life? Don’t be fooled. This leads to spiritual death. Scripture says, “Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (1 Cor. 5:6b)? This is God’s way of saying that when we let a little sin into our life, our whole being is permeated with its stench.

An old Puritan, in the “Valley of Vision”, wrote, “Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.” That Person is God Himself!

Today, are you mourning over the life you have been living? Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you wish you could start over. Wonderful! God is the God of new beginnings. You can start today. Welcome Christ into your heart; let him set up holy housekeeping. He will begin to redecorate the shambles of your life. The psalmist wrote, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Oh, please know that our feeble attempts to “be good” will come to naught. The Bible says our own righteousness is as “filthy rags” before the Lord God Almighty. I recently learned that “filthy rags” is literally translated as "menstrual cloths". Can you imagine how repulsive this is to our heavenly Father?

Rather, clothe yourselves with the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The righteousness He offers was provided for you at the Cross. His spilled blood is a covering for you. Yes, God still sees blood when he looks at your life, but this is the precious blood of the “Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). The perfect Substitute and Sacrifice for your sins. Christ has become for us “….an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).

If you have never asked Jesus to come into your life, here’s a list of things waiting for you:

  • God has become your reward. Genesis 15:1 KJV reads, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
  • You are no longer under any condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
  • You are a member of the family of God. 2 Corinthians 6:18 says, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
  • You have eternal life with the Father. John 11:25-26 says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
  • You have complete access to God, anytime, anyplace. Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."
  • You are an heir with Jesus Christ. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” God has put everything in heaven and earth under Christ feet. You join with him in that inheritance!
  • You will never be forsaken. Hebrews 13:5 says, “God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (James 4:13). Won’t you say this simple prayer with me?

Father, I know I am a sinner. Sin has separated me from you. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, has risen from the dead and now sits at the right hand of Your throne. Your word says, “…everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Joel 2:32). I accept Your forgiveness. I turn away from my present life of sin and look forward to my new life with you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so I may walk daily with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, you need never fear drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. The wages for your sin (death); past, present and future, have been paid in full. “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 5:9). This day walk in God’s great love for you. Accept His mercy and His rich grace.

Perhaps, you are already walking with the Lord, but you have somehow, somewhere along the way lost your first love—Jesus Christ. It may be that your heart is crying out for revival…for some new touch from the Father’s hand.

Revival comes when we realize that God, the LORD God almighty, delights in us:

  • 1 Kings 10:9 reads, “Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you…”
  • Psalm 149:4 says, “For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”
  • Psalm 147:11 says, “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
  • Psalm 35:27 reads, “…The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant” (Psalm 35:27).
  • And, Psalm 22:8 reads, “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Is God silent? Psalm 28:1 reads, “To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”

Max Lucado wrote, “…I only know His timing is always right. I can only say He will do what is best…Though you hear nothing, He is speaking. Though you see nothing, he is acting. With God there are no accidents. Every incident is intended to bring us closer to him.”

The answer? Delight yourself in Him. This is His desire for you:

  • Psalm 43:4 reads,“Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.”
  • Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Delight yourself in God’s salvation:

  • Psalm 35:9 reads, “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.”

Delight yourself in God’s law:

  • Psalm 1:2 says, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
  • Again, Psalm 112:1 reads, “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.”

If you prayed that simple prayer of faith today, won’t you share in your great joy with someone today?

If you are experiencing a “dry season” of life right now, let us pray this prayer together:

Father, you have filled us with many cups. Let the cups of joy and compassion overflow in our lives so we may be a blessing to those around us, for this is your great desire for our lives. Grant us the grace to joy in our "cups of afflictions" because you have promised that "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Thank you for the many blessings in our lives. Help us to always remember your kindnesses toward us. We love you, Lord. Bless each person who hears these words, may your “face shine upon them” (Numbers 6:25). In Jesus’ name. Amen.