All Things Work Together for Good

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” If I had to choose only one example of this verse coming true in my life, it would be my brother’s death.

My only sibling, Jason, was fourteen months younger than me. Growing up we were similar athletically and academically. But during high school he started partying and abusing drugs. He dropped out of school and received his GED. We were encouraged when Jason enlisted in the Army. He joined the 82nd Airborne, which involved jumping out of planes. He said he developed pain in his knees. We don’t know if that was true or an excuse to obtain prescriptions from the military hospital. Either way, this is when he became addicted to pills.

Jason separated from the Army after four years of service. He started breaking into people’s homes and raiding their medicine cabinets to satisfy his addiction. He was arrested and I still remember how difficult it was the first time we visited Jason in jail. We had to speak to him on opposite sides of the glass. He was released, but soon after was arrested again. Unable to find a job because of his criminal record, he moved across the country hoping to rejoin the military. That was the last time we saw Jason. A few months later, I received the phone call from my dad that Jason had overdosed in a motel room.

How Did Jason’s Death “Work Together for Good”?

I was in my early twenties, single, and teaching elementary school at the time. I threw myself into my work, hoping to stay distracted from the grief. It didn’t work. I was struggling. Continue reading “All Things Work Together for Good”

Five Ways Job Is a Type of Jesus Christ

After Job suffered, he served as one of the clearest types of Christ in the Old Testament. Job longed for his Mediator, Advocate, and Redeemer throughout his trials, and then he became a picture of the Person, Jesus Christ, to his friends.

1. Job’s Sacrifice and Intercession Turned Away God’s Wrath

Job 42:7-8—And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”

God said His “wrath was aroused against [Job’s] friends.” How could God’s wrath be turned away? This was hundreds of years before the Mosaic law instituted the sacrificial system, but even then it was clear an offering needed to be made for sin. Seven is the number of completion, which means Job’s offering pictured a perfect sacrifice on his friends’ behalf. Continue reading “Five Ways Job Is a Type of Jesus Christ”

Job Shows Perseverance Doesn’t Mean Perfection

Job is the New Testament example of a persevering saint. James 5:11b says, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job.” How did he persevere? He persevered the same way everyone perseveres—by maintaining faith in God. Twice Satan predicted he would curse God, and at one point his wife even told him to do so (Job 1:9-11, 2:5, 9). He rebuked his wife saying:

“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (2:10a).

Basically, he said, “As readily as we accept God’s blessings, we must also accept the trials.” Then he succinctly described what it means to persevere when he said:

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (13:15a).

He declared that no matter what happened to him, he would maintain his faith in God.

Be Encouraged Comparing Yourself with Job

Comparing ourselves with Job can be discouraging. Who wants to think they must endure trials as well as he did? We should be encouraged though because he was far from perfect. Trials bring us closer to perfection, which means we are not yet perfect. Sin has affected every part of us, including the way we respond to trials. Job is an example of this.

James 5:11 says, “You have heard of the perseverance (or patience) of Job,” but did he look patient? Did he remain calm, speaking up only to give praise to God? Did he “count it all joy” when experiencing his trials, or did he express frustration and even criticism of God, regarding his suffering?

Job’s Criticisms of God

9:23—“If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent.”

This is a strong accusation. He said God mocks the pleas of those killed. Continue reading “Job Shows Perseverance Doesn’t Mean Perfection”

Blessed by Persevering Through Trials

We need to expect trials, and persevering through them can be easier when we understand the blessings! James 1:12 and 5:11 state:

  • James 1:12—Blessed is the man who perseveres trials;
    for when he has been approved,
    he will receive the crown of life which
    the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
  • James 5:11a—Indeed we count them blessed who persevere [through trials].

The Greek word for “persevere” is hypomonē, which is the same word for “patience” in James 1:3 and 4:

Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (hypomone). But let patience (hypomone) have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Many Bibles translate “patience” as “perseverance” or “endurance.” This is fitting because patience allows believers to persevere. I prefer “persevere,” because “endure” sounds like tolerating or putting up with. Persevere is synonymous with success. Those who persevere through trials are victorious. They are triumphant and blessed as a result. Some of the blessings, such as maturing from trials, occur in this life. Other blessings occur in the next life when we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

A few years ago I was experiencing a trial, and this is part of a message one of my heroes, Dave Zumstein, sent me:

It may seem glorious to you to be a mighty man leading mighty men into battle. I think it is glorious to God to see a man quietly, but strongly, striving to fight the good fight amidst difficult times. When the call comes for difficult times, oh that we might be that type of man.

Continue reading “Blessed by Persevering Through Trials”

“Let” Trials Make You Better Instead of Bitter

Even though God uses trials for our good, it’s still tempting to become bitter. When people are suffering, there is greater potential for them to question, criticize—or worst of all—turn from God.  James 1:3b–4 reads:

…the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

I would love to say, “Trials always produce patience, and patience makes you perfect and complete, lacking nothing,” but sometimes it would be more accurate to say, “Trials produce bitterness.” Perhaps you can think of people experiencing a trial and they said something like, “How could God let this happen to me? I do not deserve it! I wish I could give Him a piece of my mind!” If we’re honest, we can probably think of times trials did not produce patience or maturity in us. Instead of making us better, they made us bitter.

We Must Choose to “Let” Trials Make Us Better Instead of Bitter

The wording of James 1:3-4 is odd. If we never read the verses before we would probably expect them to say, “…the testing of your faith produces patience, which makes you perfect…” Instead, there are instructive words: “let patience have its perfect work.” The Greek word for let is echō, and it’s a verb because James is commanding us to do something. We must “let” trials “work.” Echō means, “To have, hold, own, possess, lay hold of.” Here are two places it’s used:

  • Matthew 3:13–14—“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need (echō) to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’”
  • Acts 2:44–45—“Now all who believed were together, and had (echō) all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had (echō) need.”

Of the 712 times echō occurs in the New Testament, 613 times it is translated as “have,” because it is not simply about accepting trials in our lives. We must take ownership of them. Instead of resisting trials, we must embrace them. This is how we “let” God use them for our benefit. The alternative is to fight against trials, which hinders the “perfect work” they can accomplish.

Before doctors administer a shot, they say, “Relax. Try to remain as calm as possible. This will hurt, but it will be worse if you resist.” The doctor is telling you to accept what is about to happen because failing to do so will only make an already painful situation even worse. It is the same with trials. We cannot avoid them. They hurt, and we make them worse when we resist. Instead, we must accept them, trusting God wants to use them for our good and His glory. This is how we “count it all joy” and “let” trials make us better. Continue reading ““Let” Trials Make You Better Instead of Bitter”

“I Will Make Him a Helper Comparable to Him”

In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” The Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer. It means “help” or “one who helps.” The word occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament, including twice in Genesis 2, first in verse 18 and then in verse 20 when Adam named the animals and could not find “a helper comparable to him.”

Four Reasons Wives Should Be Encouraged Being Called “Helper”

Some women might find it offensive to be identified as their husbands’ “helpers,” but the title is not a criticism of Eve’s insufficiency. Instead, it is an identification of Adam’s inadequacy! In the Amplified Bible Genesis 2:18 reads: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone.’” Woman is the helper man needs because he is not sufficient without her! God created woman to remove man’s deficiency. In Holding Hands, Holding Hearts (pp. 26–27) Richard and Sharon Phillips write:

To call a woman a helper is not to emphasize her weakness, but her strength. Not to label her as superfluous but as essential to Adam’s condition and to God’s purpose in the world. Helper is a position of dignity given to the woman by God Himself.

1. Ezer Describes Great Strength and Support

Ezer is never used in Scripture for something negative, such as a sycophant, minion, or slave. Consider these verses:

  • Deuteronomy 33:29—Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help (ezer) and the sword of your majesty!
  • Ezekiel 12:14—I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help (ezer) him, and all his troops.

Considering this context, identifying woman as her husband’s ezer reveals her as a powerful and influential companion. Continue reading ““I Will Make Him a Helper Comparable to Him””

3 Blessings When Choosing God Over Family

There aren’t many situations more difficult for Christians to face than those involving choosing God over family. Consider the following:

  • A loved one claims to be a believer but wants to marry an unbeliever. So you’re unable to support the relationship.
  • Family members invite your child to stay with them, but you know they’ll be a negative influence on them. So you have to decline.
  • A relative is living in habitual sin and you have to confront the person.

There are examples in the Old Testament of individuals having to choose God over family members. For example, Moses called for the execution of the individuals responsible for the Golden Calf. This meant some Israelites had to kill their own relatives. Exodus 32:27 says:

“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’”

King Asa was one of the greatest reformers in the Old Testament. When he purged the idolatry from the land, he had to punish even his own grandmother. 1 Kings 15:13 records:

[Asa] removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah.

In both of these situations it would’ve been very easy for those involved to choose loved ones over God.

Jesus is the premier teacher and example when it comes to choosing God over family

Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37; see also Luke 14:26). He taught the closest relationships in His life weren’t with His physical family, but His spiritual family. Matthew 12:46-50 records:

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

I tend to think God is repetitive when He wants to make sure we don’t miss something. This account occurs in each synoptic gospel; it’s also in Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21. Jesus minimized His earthly relationships to emphasize His spiritual relationships were with those who obey His Father. Continue reading “3 Blessings When Choosing God Over Family”

Where true greatness comes from…

Marriage Gods Way author Scott LaPierre - Where true greatness comes from
Jacob blesses Pharaoh (Genesis 47:7-10)

Where does true greatness come from? The answer is revealed in one of the most unique meetings in Scripture. Joseph rose to a position of great prominence in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. When he brought his family to Egypt he introduced his father, Jacob, to Pharaoh. Genesis 47:7-10 records the meeting between these two men:

Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”
And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

Two Very Different Men

Pharaoh was the ruler of the known world. He was the wealthiest, most powerful man in his day. He lived a life of luxury and extravagance few can imagine, even being an object of worship by his people. This helps explain why four centuries later God destroyed Pharaoh and his nation with the worst plagues ever known. The Lord convinced the world there’s only one God, and it’s not Pharaoh. Before that though, nobody was greater or more impressive than Pharaoh. At least from an earthly perspective. Continue reading “Where true greatness comes from…”