Tuesday, January 1

Puzzled By Life's Trials? There's Help!

What are you planning to do this year to improve spiritually? I suggest taking in God's Word. No surprise there. Read with the Holy Spirit's help. Read in order to KNOW God more intimately. Last year I read 5 different devotionals in addition to reading through Scripture. As a pastor, I have that luxury. Perhaps your job or schooling prevents such a time constraint. I understand that, having been in the labor force for many years--construction, sales, etc. But we can do something. And certainly more Christians could do more. Well, one devotional I am going to read this year has as its preface the following (in part). Compiled by Diana Wallis, she culled out of the writings of great preachers of the past such teachings as might aid our spiritual examination and improvement. I include the following for your beginning-of-year encouragement. And maybe you'll get your hands on a copy of this or another good and challenging devotional and stick with it throughout the year. God bless you richly!! Here's an excerpt from Wallis' compilation:

The preachers quoted in this volume weren’t of the smile-God-loves-you variety. They didn’t sugarcoat life. Take this, for example, from a sermon preached by Arthur John Gossip shortly after the death of his wife:
I do not understand this life of ours, but still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can run away peevishly from the Christian faith. In God’s name, run to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if, as he says, there are somehow, hidden away from our eyes as yet… wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through.… Already some things have become very clear to me. This to begin, that the faith works, fulfills itself, is real, and that its most audacious promises are true.… Further, one becomes certain about immortality. You think that you believe in that. But wait till you have lowered your dearest into an open grave, and you will know what believing it means.
 When facing calamities large and small in our own lives, surely we can take heart from such testimony as that.   
That the gospel is clearly proclaimed in these pages may seem superfluous in a book whose audience likely already believes in Christ. But, first, these preachers did, after all, proclaim the gospel. And second, the gospel is the great joy of believers. So be reminded, and meditate on the truths of it.

Wallis, D. (2001). Take Heart: Daily devotions with the church's great preachers (6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

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