Seeking Blessings

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ…

– Ephesians 1:3 (VW)

Everyone who is truly born-again is blessed. It matters not what your earthly situation is, you already are blessed with every possible spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. These heavenly blessings far exceed anything we could imagine now, and once we get to heaven, it will take all of eternity to comprehend them.

But what about now? Are there earthly blessings awaiting us that we have not yet received? Well, yes, there are. But they’re probably not the kind that first comes to mind. Here’s what Jesus said about those who are blessed. How do you fit in?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are they who have been persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you, and shall say every evil word against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– Matthew 5:2-11

Too many Christians want to be blessed with earthly benefits like good health, a decent income, and general happiness. Even though it may not seem like it, these are limited and shallow things compared to the blessings of being poor in spirit, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, or being persecuted as a follower of Jesus Christ. The blessing comes from the fact that God is closer to these kinds of people, which is better by far than any temporal benefits.

Do you fall into any of these categories? If you do, have you seen yourself as blessed and sincerely thanked God for it? If you don’t, do you think you could ask God to be blessed in these ways, knowing that even though Jesus would call you blessed, you wouldn’t see the full benefit until eternity?

Jesus also spoke about other blessed kinds of people:

  • Blessed are those who help the needy, strangers, and prisoners (Matthew 25:34-40).
  • Blessed are those who show hospitality to the poor and those with physical problems (Luke 14:13-14).
  • Blessed are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 11:28).
  • Blessed are those to whom Christ is supernaturally revealed by the Father (Matthew 16:17).
  • Blessed are those who see Christ at work, and by it, prophecy fulfilled (Luke 10:23).
  • Blessed are those who do what Jesus said (John 13:17).
  • Blessed are those who do not stumble because of Christ (Matthew 11:6).
  • Blessed are those who look for Christ’s return (Luke 12:37-38).
  • Blessed are those who are found feeding the church of Christ when He comes (Matthew 24:45-46).
  • And blessed are those who believe in Jesus without having seen Him (John 20:29).

How do you stack up? Would Jesus call you blessed?

Evil, Suffering, And God

The Messina earthquake and tsunami took as many as 200,000 lives on December 28, 1908 in Sicily and Calabria.We Christians believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, all present, all good, and worthy of our trust. We also believe there’s an abundance of evil in the world.

Now God could eliminate evil and suffering immediately, …but He doesn’t. The fact that He doesn’t seems to create problems in many people’s minds. Some see it as a logical inconsistancy, that it is impossible for an all powerful, all knowing, good God to allow evil to exist. Rather than earnestly searching the Bible for the answer, they take the easy way out by concluding God isn’t all powerful, all knowing, all good, or He doesn’t exist.

But God does exist, and there is much evidence for this fact 1. Evil also exists, for which we also have much evidence. So how do we reconcile the fact that both God and evil exist at the same time? Why would a good God allow evil and suffering?

Before I answer the question, it is important to recognize that there are two different kinds of evil: moral evil that has to do with things that are wrong, like theft, rape, murder, etc., and amoral evil that is the bad things that happen as a consequence of sin or living in a fallen world. You can loosely equate amoral evil with suffering. God doesn’t do moral evil, but sometimes He does amoral evil…

Who is he who says, and it comes to pass, when the Lord doesn’t command it? Doesn’t evil and good come out of the mouth of the Most High? Why does a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

– Lamentations 3:38 (WEB)

I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create calamity. I am Yahweh, who does all these things.

– Isaiah 45:7

Does evil happen to a city, and Yahweh hasn’t done it?

– Amos 3:6

We see here that God does do evil, but it is not the moral kind of evil. Humans are the ones who do moral evil. God just responds to our moral evil with amoral evil (i.e. suffering). But He never does amoral evil capriciously – there is always a good reason, whether we can see that reason or not. The most important question we must try to answer when we see God do or allow evil is “Why?” What are some of the reasons God does or allows evil?

First, the evil that happens to us is ultimately a consequence of our sin. The evil and suffering we see on the news and experience in life is the accumulating consequences of the sin of every individual who lives or has ever lived. Think of the world like a big swimming pool, and God’s Laws like the rules posted at the pool. God posted those rules so that swimming in the pool would be safe, enjoyable, and beneficial for everyone. If one of the rules is “Don’t pee in the pool”, but everyone pees in the pool and continues to do so, it’s not God’s fault when the pool becomes unpleasant, and then foul and unhealthy. Every individual experiences the accumulating result, not just of his own peeing in the pool (which seems so insignificant), but of everyone’s else peeing in it. Likewise, everyone in the world suffers the result not only their own sins, but that of the others. Multiply the wrong that man does by billions of humans over time, each disobeying God many times in life, and the consequences are also multiplied. This is why the world is the way it is today, and why it’s getting worse. God doesn’t want people to suffer – that’s why He posted the rules. But we bring suffering on ourselves when we don’t do things His way: we don’t love others above ourselves, we don’t care for the needy, we don’t respect authority, etc.

Now God could miraculously keep the pool clean no matter how many people pee in the pool, but God is not an enabler. He does not shield us from the consequences of our actions. Since we choose our own way, we must take the consequences of our choices and learn from them. By suffering the results of our sins and those of others, hopefully we get some clarity to see that God’s way is better than our way – that not peeing in the pool is better than peeing in it.

Second, God does or allows amoral evil to limit the consequences of our sin. At the Fall, God cursed His creation. He did this, not because He was angry and wanted to vent, but to slow down the spread of sin. It’s like we were piloting a ship and, due to some fault of our own, we rammed into an iceberg. At that point, the ship was doomed to sink. But God closed the bulkheads so that it would sink slower, to give people more time to be rescued. Those bulkheads limited the passenger’s movement through the ship, but they also gave the passengers more time to be rescued. In the same way, God slows down the spread of sin by limiting man in various ways. He shortened man’s lifespan. He confused man’s languages at the tower of Babel. He sometimes destroyed those who rebelled against Him. 2 These are necessary evils to slow down the spread of sin and its consequences – things which would not have had to happen if we didn’t go our own way.

Third, sometimes God causes suffering as earthly punishment for our sin – not as the ultimate form of eternal justice, but in hope that we will repent. In the book of Judges, Israel wandered away from God many times, and each time, God allowed them to suffer when their enemies overcame them, and each time they turned back to God. Later, when Israel rebelled against God, He strengthened other nations such as Assyria and Babylon to bring them into captivity. While they were in their captivity, they repented (as seen in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel). In the last days (which I believe we’re in), man will have become so hardened to God that He will bring harsh judgments that have never been seen before (described in Revelation 6 and following). Yet man will not repent but continue to curse God:

The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to scorch men with fire. People were scorched with great heat, and people blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues. They didn’t repent and give him glory. The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn’t repent of their works.

– Revelation 16:8-11

The goal of this kind of suffering on earth is not to destroy man but to give him more reasons to repent so he won’t be destroyed in hell (the ultimate form of justice). God does not want man to go to hell (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15). Hell was created for the devil and his angels. But if man stubbornly refuses to repent, destruction is the only other option, for God will not allow man to do to heaven what he’s been doing to earth.

Fourth, God allows evil to discipline us and prove or test us in this life that we are fit for the next. It’s kinda like going through basic training, only a lot more difficult. When I joined the Air Force, I first went to basic training to prepare me for my life in military service. Basic was hard for a reason. It not only prepared me for service, it proved I was fit for service. Some recruits washed out because they were not fit physically or mentally. But for those of us who made it past boot camp, we found life in the service afterward was nothing like boot camp. It was much better. I didn’t have to crawl through mud, survive on k-rations, or be shouted at for my remaining years of service. While I was in basic training, I took the hardness like it was supposed to be: a temporary inconvenience. I treat the unfair difficulties of life today the same way. They are temporary, and one day in eternity I will see the good that will come as a result of patient endurance (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

I think people get into trouble when they think life here on earth is supposed to be comfortable and happy. That’s like thinking basic training is supposed to be comfortable and happy. Life is a preparation and test for eternity. Yes, we experience happiness at times, but that’s not what life here is about. It’s about continuing to trust God under difficult and even unfair conditions. This is faith: fully trusting in God, even when it sometimes appears He is not worthy of trust.

Take for example Job who was God’s pride-and-joy as it were. God allowed Satan to do a lot of extremely painful and unfair things to Job and his household. Even though Satan caused Job’s suffering, God was also implicated by letting down the ‘hedge’ so Satan could attack Job. Job recognized God had a part in his suffering and he complained bitterly about it. He even despaired of life. And yet he still trusted in God. In a moment of lucidity, he recognized that this was a test and that he would come out like gold (Job 23:10). Job continued to trust in God (Job 13:15), even though he couldn’t see God as good at the time. By the end of the book, Job passed the test (Job 42:7), and God restored double to him. This is what tests of faith are all about. They always focus on our belief in God’s character: In spite of appearances, do I believe God is really good? is He really all powerful? does He really care? etc.

I’ve read and studied the book of Job and wondered, after all was over, how Job felt about God who allowed him to suffer and his children and servants to die. How can anything make up for that? But I’ve read quite a few autobiographies of men and women who have suffered in Job-like epic ways. Those who passed the test came out grateful, not just for surviving, but for going through the suffering itself, for in their suffering they came to know the goodness of God. Here are a few examples:

Christiana Tsai (1890-1984) contracted a form of malaria that left her in pain with an extreme sensitivity to light for the rest of her life (over 50 years). She spent much of that bedridden in darkened rooms. She wrote, “For a time, each step of progress was followed by a relapse. I’d get better, then the symptoms would return, and down I’d go again. But all through the darkness, the light of God’s love never failed me. I could never tell of His great goodness to me, even if I had a thousand tongues, nor could I ever write of all His care and provision, even if, as the Chinese say, ‘the pen I hold could bloom,’…”

Helen Roseveare (1925-2016), a missionary to the Congo, was taken prisoner by rebels, beaten and raped. She said, “In the weeks of imprisonment that followed and in the subsequent years of continued service, I have looked back and tried ‘to count the cost,’ but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.”

Darlene Deibler Rose (1917-2004) was a POW in a Japanese prison camp. She lost her husband, all of her possessions, and suffered hunger, disease, beatings, and more. At one point, she thought God had left her. But afterwards, she said, “I understand something of the cost, beloved. I don’t even think about that anymore. I’d go anywhere for Him. I’ll tell you why, tonight. Because the compensations are so tremendous! I wouldn’t trade places with any of you tonight! Those were not terrible years, they were the sweetest years that God ever gave me. Because then He taught me that He would never leave me nor forsake me.”

Perhaps another illustration will help. I like watching the show “How It’s Made”. In some factories, after a product is made it goes through a bunch of harsh tests before it goes to the consumer. The purpose of the tests are not to destroy the product but to prove the product is ready for the real world outside of the factory. From the product’s point of view, it may appear that the factory is trying to destroy the product when it gets subjected to various stress tests, but that is not the case. In a similar way, life on earth is like being in a factory where we are being made and stress-tested to see if we are ready for eternity. These tests are not focused so much on doctrinal understanding, obedience to the Law, or on how well we hold up physically or mentally under suffering, but on our faith in God: Will we continue to trust in God in the most difficult of circumstances or not? These tests have to be very difficult at times to prove whether our faith is real or not. But when we continue to trust God, we sense His presence and see His goodness, as many have discovered by experience. By itself, suffering will not bring about our good. It is persevering faith in God in the midst of suffering that results in the good.

You see this testing theme throughout scripture. God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden to test Adam and Eve’s belief in what God told them (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1). God allowed Satan to test Job (Job 1:12, 2:6). God fed the Israelites manna and gave them rules about how to collect it to test their obedience (Exodus 16:4). God led the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years to test them (Deuteronomy 8:2). God left some of the surrounding nations in the Promised Land to test Israel’s obedience (Judges 3:4). God allows injustice to continue for a time to test the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:16-18). God allowed Jesus to be tested by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). Jesus allowed Satan to test Peter (Luke 22:31-32). God allows believers to be tested through suffering to prove our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). Hebrews 11 is about the faith of many biblical characters, some of which suffered agonizing deaths, yet they trusted God to the end because they were looking forward to the eternal benefits:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

– Hebrews 11:13

In the next chapter, all believers are invited to join with them in enduring suffering through faith (also Acts 14:22, Philippians 1:28-30). Difficult tests are the only way to prove faith.

Fifth, God sometimes allows evil because He will bring great good out of it in the end. One example was how Joseph’s brothers mistreated him, wanting to kill him, yet selling him into slavery. Joseph suffered unjustly for a time as a result. Yet he recognized in the end that God meant it all for good (Genesis 50:20) – even in the details of their earlier animosity towards him. This is a picture of what happened later when God allowed the Jews to kill Jesus so that both Jew and Gentile could be saved (Acts 2:22-23). God took the evil that Satan had instigated and turned it into the best thing that could happen to us. God works in this way not only to bring good to us but glory to Himself. He takes the most impossible situations and turns them around into good for those who love and trust Him.

A more modern example of this is in the autobiography of Captain James Riley. He suffered shipwreck with his crew on the coast of Africa in 1815. They nearly starved to death and became naked, abused slaves in the hot Sahara desert. His suffering was in many ways worse than that of Job. Yet after he was rescued, he recalled the many ways God showed His goodness to them during their sufferings, including some literal miracles. His biography became one of Abraham Lincoln’s three most influential books (the others being the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress), and was probably the primary work that led to the freeing of the slaves in the United States. God took one man’s suffering and brought good to millions out of it.

Sometimes God allows suffering for a combination of these reasons, but He never causes or allows suffering on earth on a whim or because He’s having a particularly bad day. God allows suffering in my life for my ultimate good, whether I can see that good at the time or not. That doesn’t mean I have to like it or that I look forward to it, but I do look forward to the benefits that will come.

So, if God causes or allows suffering, what is the difference between God and Satan? There is a big difference. Nature-wise, God is the creator of all, and infinite in all His attributes. The devil and everything else that God created are finite and totally dependant on God for continued existence. Character-wise, God and the devil are also not the same. God desires His creation to work together as designed for the good of His creation and for His glory. Satan desires to destroy whatever God does, or blame God for things, so that God does not get the glory. It is not God’s intent to cause man to suffer (Ezekiel 18:31-32, Lamentations 3:33), but sometimes God uses suffering as a means to an end, and other times man leaves God with no other option than to cause suffering.

Suffering is the norm for life here on earth. Jesus told us ahead of time that there is going to be suffering, especially for those who follow Him:

Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life.”

– Mark 10:29-30

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.”

– John 15:20

In the parable of the sower, it is assumed that difficult times will come that will cause many to fall away from God (Matthew 13:21). Paul even said that those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). But this suffering does not mean God has forsaken us. Instead, it means we are God’s sons and He is training us (Hebrews 12:3-11). So we are to trust God anyway by enduring through trials and persecution (1 Corinthians 4:12). We’re even supposed to rejoice in it, not for the suffering itself, but for the benefits that come later (Matthew 5:12, 1 Peter 4:13).

A strong faith that can survive no matter what circumstances may throw at it can only come about by a close, personal, living relationship with God. Nobody is going to trust God in difficulties merely by having a good understanding of Bible doctrine or following church dogma or practice. That is dead knowledge. It takes exercising weak faith through trust and obedience, taking God at His word, to grow in faith. It takes knowing God and seeing Him at work in your life for faith to grow strong enough to stand up to whatever life throws at it. (This is why Job continued to trust God after God appeared to act like the devil.) As that happens, God rewards faith by doing amazing things for us – even public things that those around us can see. As we see Him work when we trust and obey, our faith grows more. True faith is not blind. It trusts God because it sees God work for good.


  1. See my Personal Apologetic.
  2. Biblically, the Canaanites were probably the biggest example of this. God did not command Israel to destroy all of the people of the land, but only the Canaanites because of their wickedness. The Canaanites had always been wicked in general, but for a time there were a few good people among them, most notably Melchizedek, the king of Salem. But by the time Israel entered the Promised Land, they had become completely wicked, with no hope of repentance. Their wickedness was then ‘complete’ (as in Genesis 15:16), and it was time to end the line of Canaan.

Profitable Servants

And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith. So the Lord said, If you have faith as a mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, Come, sit down to eat? But will he not rather say to him, Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.

– Luke 17:5-10 (VW)

Does this passage appear confusing to you? What do unprofitable servants have to do with the apostle’s request for more faith? The one seems totally unrelated to the other. But there is a connection, and the answer begins with finding the common theme in what Jesus said.

After the disciples asked for more faith, Jesus spoke about faith. But He didn’t tell them how to obtain what they wanted. He only described what true faith would allow them to do. If they had the tiniest amount of that kind of faith, they would be able to command a tree to pluck itself up by the roots and plant itself in the sea. I would think my faith very strong if I had a faith like that. But Jesus said that is the smallest kind of faith.

Then Jesus appeared to change the subject without answering their question. He spoke about the working relationship between a slave and his master, which relationship the disciples were familiar with. A slave puts his master’s interests before his own. Only after the master’s needs are satisfied are the slave’s needs satisfied. This is a slave’s duty, and he is never commended for doing his duty. Such a slave only does what is expected of him.

What is the common theme? It doesn’t take much thought to see that the theme is obedience. The tree obeys the apostle, and the slave obeys his master. Obedience is what ties the two illustrations together. But it is not just any kind of obedience: it is heartless obedience. If you have enough faith to command a tree to plant itself in the sea and it obeyed you, you wouldn’t thank the tree for doing so. It merely did what you commanded it. Likewise, the unprofitable slave who does only what he is commanded to do has no reason to expect thanks from his master because his heart is not in it. If he were given an employee evaluation, it would be mediocre at best. But what do these illustrations have to do with acquiring faith? Much.

For one thing, although it’s easy to read it that way, Jesus is not telling us to give up hope of ever being anything more than unprofitable slaves 1. He is not trying to discourage us. On the contrary, He wants us to be profitable slaves, but that doesn’t come about the way most of us think

We Christians tend to serve Jesus Christ out of a sense of duty. To be sure, there are some things He requires of us, such as continuing to forgive those who sin against us (Luke 17:3-4). But in serving our Lord, we shouldn’t seek to do the minimum required of us. If we love Him and trust Him, our love and trust will lead us to go beyond this.

After he was saved, Paul’s life revolved around sharing the gospel with everyone. Jesus had saved him for this very purpose; it was his duty. But Paul didn’t just do his duty…

…Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so with me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my exulting void. For if I preach the gospel, there is no glory to me, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might gain the more;

– 1 Corinthians 9:13-19

Paul’s mission was sharing the gospel with the gentiles. But his reward would not come merely from doing this, for that was his calling, his duty. He had no expectation of thanks for doing his duty (compare verse 16 with Luke 17:9). Instead, Paul expected a reward because he went beyond his duty by not taking advantage of his right to live off the gospel. Paul had this right, but he didn’t use it so that his mission would be more effective. To support himself, he also made tents 2. This is where faith came in, because even though Jesus commanded evangelists to live off the gospel, he expected Jesus to reward him for presenting the gospel freely.

Other believers have also gone above and beyond the call of duty. Some Christians in the early church sold themselves into slavery to reach lost slaves for Jesus. It happened again among the 18th century Moravians. On August 21, 1732, Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann sailed from Copenhagen to the Dutch West Indies to sell themselves into a lifetime of slavery to reach the lost African slaves for Jesus. Others followed, many of which died of tropical illnesses. These people served Christ in faith, and many came to salvation because they went beyond the call of duty.

If you want more faith, even as small as a grain of mustard seed, don’t just do your duty: give all of yourself.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. …

– 1 Corinthians 9:24


  1. We are slaves of Christ. The leaders of the early church called themselves slaves of Christ (Philippians 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1, Revelation 1:1). Most of our Bibles translate the word as ‘servant’, but the word means a slave or bondservant, someone who is fully devoted to serving his master. But their obedience was not a slave’s heartless obedience. They didn’t just do their duty. They gave their all, even their lives.
  2. Acts 18:3

The Key To Understanding Job

And so it was, after Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, that Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath has been kindled against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

Job 42:7

This is the key verse to understanding the book of Job. It is not a book about Job or about suffering but about the character and nature of God. God’s statement to Eliphaz, “…you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has,” should stir up serious and confusing questions in your mind, for on the surface it appears Job’s friends spoke right about God and Job didn’t. But God said the exact opposite was true. Why? What did Job’s friends say that was wrong and Job say that was right about God? I’ve studied this and have a plethora of notes that I hope someday to organize and post. (The first two parts have already been posted.)

Take time to study this for yourself and see how far down the rabbit hole you go.

God Remembers

“And God remembered Noah…”

– Genesis 8:1

God does not forget like we forget, but He does remember.

Once a year my wife and I fly from our home in Nevada to visit my parents in New Jersey. When the visit is over, we fly back home. The trip takes about five hours. If the flight is during the day, I like to look out the window to see where we are. Below I see cities and towns and the Appalachian mountains. Later I see the Mississippi river, then the plains, followed by the Rocky Mountains. But when the canyonlands of the southwest come into view, I know soon the pilot will remember to adjust the controls to begin our descent. It was always the pilot’s intention to land the aircraft at our destination, but first he had to fly the plane at cruising altitude for a while before he put that plan into action. It would have been useless to ask the pilot to land the plane early, for then we would not have arrived at our intended destination. In the same way, some time must elapse before God “remembers” and acts to begin a new phase of His plan.

In Genesis 7, God sent the flood to destroy all life on the earth except for Noah and those with him on the ark. For forty days and nights, the floodwaters increased until they covered everything. But it was never God’s plan for the human race to live on a permanent cruise. When the 40 days were over, God remembered Noah by turning off the heavenly spigots so the waters could begin to recede. God said earlier the rain would last for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4), and in the fullness of time, He acted to save Noah.

God remembered other people in the Bible, and every time He remembered, He acted in some way to change their circumstance…

  • In Genesis 19:29, He remembered Abraham by saving Lot. In the previous chapter, the patriarch reasoned with God to save his brother from the doomed city of Sodom. When God did so, He acted by sending His angels to bring Lot, his wife and daughters out of the city before it was destroyed. So God remembered Abraham.
  • In Genesis 30:22, God remembered Rachel. Like the other wives of the patriarchs, Rachel was barren. But in God’s perfect time, He acted to enable her to conceive. Earlier in Genesis 21:1, God “visited” Sarah to enable her to conceive, which is another way of saying He remembered her. God also remembered Hannah the same way in 1 Samuel 1:19, 2:21.
  • In Exodus 2:24, God remembered His people suffering in Egyptian slavery. God had told Abraham his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13), but only at the end of the four hundred years did He deliver them from their oppressors.
  • In Luke 1:72, Zechariah gave praise to God for remembering His people by sending Jesus to save them. Hundreds, even thousands, of years had passed since God promised to send a Savior, and in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), He acted to do so.

In each of these examples, God’s people were going through a difficult phase of life. Those who knew the character of God waited patiently for Him, trusting in His wisdom and timing. When we call on God to remember us in our suffering, it is not because we think He has forgotten us (…at least we shouldn’t think that way), but because we desire Him to act now on our behalf. Before He acts, we wait patiently for Him to remember us. But whether we trust Him or not, He will do so and bring us into a new and better phase of life. For a time, life is hard, then God makes it better. Knowing God remembers is the basis of our work and prayers of faith.

For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them.

– Hebrews 6:10

God does not always act in ways that are beneficial to us. If we rebel against God, He allows it to go on for a time to give us ample opportunity to repent. Just as when God remembers for good, there can be a long period of time before He acts to repay our evil, but eventually He does so if we remain stubborn and refuse to repent.

  • In Jeremiah 14:10-12, after hundreds of years of repeated warnings, God remembered the sin and idolatry of His people and acted to punish them.
  • On a much larger scale, God will soon remember “Babylon”, the great anti-God world system (Revelation 16:19, 18:5). At that time, He will cause her to drink to the dregs the full cup of His wrath.

For good or for evil, you can count on the fact that God always remembers. One of the differences between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous know God remembers, so when they sin (for everyone sins), they repent, seek forgiveness, and trust in His mercy and forgiveness. But the wicked don’t know God remembers. They continue in sin because they’re unaware of the consequences of their rebellion. They don’t believe God will pay them back for their actions.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

– 2 Corinthians 5:10

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

– Revelation 20:11-15

This is why, in the book of Acts, the need for salvation in Jesus focused on the final judgment rather than where people would spend eternity. The roads to both heaven and hell go through the judgment seat of Christ.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

– Acts 17:30-31

Of course, everybody sins. Everybody does things that offend God. If God were to remember our sins, we would have no hope. (“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” – Psalm 130:3) But God has provided a way for sins to be forgotten for those who humble themselves and repent. This Way is based solely on God’s remembering Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice. Jesus’ death on the cross is the sole means by which God forgets our sins.

You can use this fact to your advantage. You now have a choice as to how God will remember you. He can remember you for good, or He can remember you for evil. He can remember you for eternal life, or remember you for eternal torment. Billions of people have gone to hell when they didn’t have to. It takes virtually nothing on your part for Him to remember you for life. All you need to do is humble yourself before Him, repent and put your trust in Jesus, and God will remember you for life. I strongly recommend you choose life.

“…he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

– Acts 10:42-43

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will by no means remember any longer.

– Hebrews 8:12

VoS Second Edition Giveaway is hosting a give-away for the second edition of my book, How To Gain Victory Over Sin. The give-away is August 19 to 27. You could be one of 10 winners. Click the link below for more information.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How To Gain Victory Over Sin by Andrew Bernhardt

How To Gain Victory Over Sin

by Andrew Bernhardt

Giveaway ends August 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

VoS Second Edition Now Available

Cover image for book Victory Over SinThe second edition of my book, How To Gain Victory Over Sin is now available. As with the first edition, this one is free in e-book form from Google Play, Smashwords, or here. Kindle users’ have to pay 99 cents because Amazon won’t let me charge any less. Because the book has more pages, the price for the paperback is a little higher than the first edition, but it’s still pretty cheap ($7).

This new edition contains additional articles on sanctification, plus an appropriate and helpful chapter from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s excellent book, All Of Grace. The original content has been updated slightly, and as before, there’s an over-abundance of endnotes if you need them.

I also completely redesigned the cover, using imagery related to the book’s dandelion illustration.

Information about this book, and my first book, Seeing Jesus, is available on my books pages.

How To Gain Victory Over Sin – Second Edition

Cover image for book Victory Over SinIt’s been two and a half years since I published my book How To Gain Victory Over Sin. Since that time, I’ve been working on updating and expanding it. The second edition is now virtually complete and I’ve received my proof copies from Amazon to look over. Aside from tweaking the cover and correcting any last-minute typos, the book should be available within a month.

While the first book hasn’t been a best seller (I don’t have a big company doing advertising for me), it has done well. Google Play currently shows a 4.7 star rating, and a 4.6 star rating. The e-book is free through Google Play and Smashwords. Kindle charges 99 cents over which I have no control. The printed book is 6 dollars. The second edition will also be a free e-book, and the printed edition might go up a dollar since the book is bigger.

Here’s a short excerpt from the second edition…

Two thousand years ago, a couple of missionaries established some churches in what is now central Turkey. The region was then a Roman province called Galatia, and the missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, were on their first missionary journey.

The first city in the province they came to was Antioch of Pisidia. When they arrived, Paul preached the message of justification by faith apart from works of the law of Moses. Many Jews and Gentiles gladly heard and believed the message, but some Jews who didn’t raised a persecution against the missionaries and ran them out of town.

In Iconium, Paul again preached the gospel. As before, many believed, and many didn’t. The Jews who didn’t believe stirred up the people to violence, forcing Paul and Barnabas to flee from that city as well.

In Lystra, they proclaimed Christ to the people again, but the Jews from Antioch and Iconium followed them there and moved the crowds to stone Paul to death. Thinking he was dead, they dragged him out of the city. But Paul survived, and, ignoring the danger to himself, he revisited those same cities, urging the new believers to continue in the faith and endure the persecutions that would result. But it wasn’t long after Paul and Barnabas left the region that the young believers allowed the enemies of the gospel to come in and teach a different “gospel,” and this is where the letter to the Galatians comes in.

The epistle to the Galatians is somewhat unique among Paul’s letters to the churches. It is the only one where Paul did not give thanks to God for his readers. Instead of thanksgiving, Paul expressed his alarm:

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different “good news”…

This church had some serious problems…worse even than that of the carnal Corinthians. Only in this letter does Paul warn his readers of a curse, and only in this letter does he come close to losing his temper. After all the suffering he went through to bring the gospel to them, Paul was frustrated to see them falling away so quickly. Why was this happening?

When Paul departed from Galatia, he not only left behind new believers, he left behind the Jewish legalists that persecuted him. With Paul gone, they were able to freely attack the churches with the Law of Moses.

But Paul didn’t abandon the young Gentile believers. Having witnessed the same problem in his home church as well, he traveled to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to address this very issue with the other apostles.

Guilt: What To Do With It

Are you struggling with feelings of guilt? Are you ashamed of something you have done recently? Perhaps your whole life has been one failure after another. You’re powerless to do what is right. You can’t stop doing the things you do. While you may have given up a long time ago, there is hope. You just have to look beyond yourself and look to God who already has provided a solution to your problem!

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

– Luke 18:27

When it comes to guilt, you’re not alone. Everyone has done wrong. Some people pride themselves in being ‘law-abiding citizens’, however there is not one person who has not broken God’s law and offended Him in some way. It’s human nature.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

– Romans 3:23

God is absolutely righteous (morally good), but we are not. We may try to do things that please Him at times, but even our best is futile in God’s eyes:

We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.

– Isaiah 64:6

The problem with the wrong we do is that it cuts us off from God. He cannot look on sin because it goes against His nature, and He will not violate His nature.

Your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

– Isaiah 59:2

The wrong things we do cut us off from God. The Bible calls this separation “death”:

The soul who sins shall die.

– Ezekiel 18:4

For the wages of sin is death…

– Romans 6:23

The short-term consequences are bad enough. The long-term consequences are unthinkable. Unless sin can be dealt with, we will spend an eternity in hell, separated from God forever:

“The Son of Man [Jesus] will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

– Matthew 13:41-42

It sure sounds hopeless. And it would be, except that God still loves sinners…

God loves you!

These are not just empty words. He proved it by providing a way out of our dilemma. Two thousand years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay the penalty of sin for you and I. He lived the perfect life we could not live, and then He willingly died a shameful and agonizing death on a cross in our place so that we could live eternally with God!

For when we were still without strength [i.e. without hope], in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:6-8

Jesus’ death was no accident. It was part of God’s plan from the beginning. 700 years before His birth, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus:

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. … By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. … He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

– Isaiah 53

God did not have to do this. But He loved you and me so much, He sent His Son to pay the complete penalty for our sin. To prove that Jesus’ death was acceptable, God raised Him from the dead, and now Jesus is at God’s right-hand, interceding (mediating) for those who trust in Him. It is His intercession that ensures those who trust in Him will never be separated from God:

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:33-39

Once you place your trust in Jesus, sin no longer separates you from God because Jesus’ blood continually cleanses you from your sin:

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

– 1 John 1:7

Once you place your trust in Jesus, you are perfect as far as God’s acceptance of you is concerned:

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

– Hebrews 10:14

I have placed my trust in Jesus Christ to save me. You can too. All you have to do to be saved is:

1. Recognize you are guilty before God,

2. Recognize God’s offering of mercy through Jesus Christ’s death,

3. Desire no longer to live for yourself but for God,

4. Ask God to save you, trusting only in Jesus’ work on the cross.

When you’ve had it with the results of doing things your way, try God’s way. Turn your life over to Jesus. He lived the perfect life you could not live, and died to pay the penalty for your sin.

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

– Ephesians 2:8-9

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

– 2 Corinthians 5:21

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 6:23

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

– John 3:16-17

There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

– Acts 4:12

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

– John 6:40