Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Encouragement: The Hope of Glory!

"...what kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" Luke 24:17. 

Have you ever felt any kind of burning in the heart when anybody talked to you when you were feeling down? And how did you feel when some one comes along on his own to encourage and uplift you when you lost all hope in life? How does it feel, when you regain all your lost hope and feel your joy restored and soul refreshed? 

Here is a true story of two real people walking back to their home about 7 miles away from the city after they felt all hopes were lost for which they were in the city for a long time (Luke 24:13-35). Then, comes an unknown traveller and joins their conversation with an interesting question. Their conversation itself showed the stranger their hopeless condition and their faces displayed sadness. He enquired why they were so sad while discussing something that happened a few days ago in the city? Then they explained to him the events with more hopelessness. The stranger walking with them, began to explain and open the Scriptures to them. Finally, when he went in to stay with them for the night, he blessed the bread and broke it. Suddenly their eyes were opened and they saw that the stranger was none else but the Lord Jesus who was crucified a few days ago. Then they realised and recollected their experience that all along the way, when He was talking to them, their hearts were burning. Immediately they walked back 7 miles to Jerusalem to convey the news of hope and joy to the disciples. Now there was great joy among them all, as their hopes were restored. In this event, we learn some important truths. How the Risen Savior met their needs and tranformed them into hopeful witnesses:

1. They were Emotionally Depressed- He Comforted them by His Company: When the Lord came near to them, they were emotionally so depressed that their faces showed their hearts condition and the Lord lifted them up by His walking with them and engaging them in an enlightening conversation. Whenever we feel emotionally down and depressed, let the Lord speak to us and encourage us through His Word and in prayer. He is alive to walk with you in times of crises too. 

2. They were intellectually Disorganised- He Enlightened their Understanding by Expounding Scriptures: They were slow of understanding and grasping all that the prophets have foretold in the OT concerning the Lord Jesus. So they were confused about what Messiah's work was. The Lord Jesus explained to them clearly concerning Himself from the Scriptures, to dispel their confusion and set truths in order. When we are not sure of certain truths about how God works, etc, we have the Lord to clarify them to us, so we can walk with Him in the light and obey His Word. Because He is alive, we can be blessed with His teachings of wisdom.

3. They were Spiritually Disillusioned- He Restored their Hopes by His Revelation: They thought the Messiah was going to deliver them and give them the Kingdom. Their hopes were misplaced. So they felt, their hopes were all dashed to pieces. They no longer wanted to stay back in Jerusalem and so were going back to their homes. Similarly, Peter also went back for fishing later and the rest of the disciples also followed him. All have lost their hopes and forgot all the great promises they received from the Messiah. Now suddenly, the Lord appeared and was restoring their lost hopes. By His revelation, He enlightened tneir spiritual darkness and restored them to the hope of glory.

In your spiritual disillusionment and confusion, the Lord will give the light of understanding by His revelation through His Word, because He is alive today. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus gives hope and brings new life to everyone who trusts in Him. This Hope of glory is yours too! 

Be Encouraged.

A.Othniel 

><> Letter # 13 (12. 4. 2009) <>< 

Encouragement: Why do Good People Suffer?

"...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience..." James 1:2,3. 

In spite of so much advancement in knowledge and Technology, the world is still full of surprises and mysteries. One such mystery is why good people suffer? Some think that one suffers due to wrongs done and as a consequence of sins committed. But if a righteous man is suffering for none of his wrong doing, what explanation is available? We have seen how Joseph suffered so innocently at the jealous hands of his own brothers and then at the cruel hands of his masters in a foreign land. Thoguh he never knew why he was going through such bad experiences, he continued to trust God and finally received the reward for his patient endurance. 

Now we see a beautiful example of a righteous man going through an incredibly horrible experience of losing all his possessions in one single day! All his children died at onetime and his own health was ruined too, at which point his own wife began taunting him to curse God and die. It is next to impossibilty to hold one's faith in an unseen God who has caused such havoc in a righteous man's life who always worshipped Him and served Him so faithfully.

The book of Job helps us to understand the why and how of sufferings good people go through. The righteous sufferer does not appear to learn about any of the heavenly court debates between God and Satan that precipitated his pain. In fact, when finally confronted by the Lord of the universe, Job put his hand over his mouth and said nothing. Job's silent response in no way trivialized the intense pain and loss he had endured. It merely underscored the importance of trusting God's purposes in the midst of suffering because suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by perfect divine wisdom. In the end, the lesson learned was that one may never know the specific reasons for his suffering; but one must trust in Sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering. 

The major reality of this book of Job in OT is the inscrutable mystery of innocent suffering. God ordains that His children walk in sorrow and pain, sometimes because of sin, sometimes for chastening (Heb 12;5-120, sometimes for strengthening (1 Peter 5:10), and sometimes to give opportunity to reveal His comfort and grace (2 cor. 1:3-7). But there are times when the compelling issue in the suffering of the saints is unknowable because it is for a heavenly purpose that those on earth can't discern (Exodus 4:11; John 9:1-3).

Here are some observations from Job's real story of suffering: there are matters going on in heaven with God that believers know nothing about; yet they affect their lives on earth. Even the best efforts at explaining the issues of life can be useless. God's people do suffer. Bad things happen all the time to good people, so one cannot judge a person's spirituality by his painful circumstances or successes. Even though God seems far away, perseverance in faith is a most noble virtue since God is good and one can safely leave his life in His hands. The believer in the midst of suffering should not abandon God, but draw near to Him, so out of the fellowship can come the comfort- without the explanation. Suffering may be intense, but it will ultimately end for the righteous and God will bless abundantly. 

"Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." 1 Peter 4;19. 

Be Encouraged.

A.Othniel 

><> Letter # 12 (5. 4. 2009) <><