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There is a verse in today’s Bible reading with which we all struggle on occasion.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35)

We love the idea of unending love.

We don’t love the idea of trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger and threats of death.

If we have one idea, does that mean we won’t have the other?

Paul’s life and the lives of millions today proves that both can exist at the same time in the same life.

Christ’s love carries us through the trials, not simply to the trials.

As a child, when I was injured or emotionally wounded, did that mean my parents didn’t love me? Of course not.

In fact, they were often the ones helping me to find comfort and healing and understanding.

Faith is not a matter of living in a cocoon.

Instead, it is a matter of living in fellowship with the Father. It is a matter of living with an empowered, instructed, encouraged state of purpose that keeps putting one foot in front of another until one’s arrival in glory.

God’s love for us abides.

Let’s keep moving forward in serving Him with an abiding determination to build His kingdom until we move to the place with no more trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger and threats of death.

A place where only love abides forever.

As always, I love you

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Christians being killed in Iraq because of their faith.

The same is happening in Nigeria.

The culprits are hoodlums masquerading as religious zealots ostensibly on a mission to purify their regions of any theology-based threat to their radical, ultra-conservative Islamic belief.

It’s perhaps happening elsewhere and we just haven’t yet heard about it.

Persecution on a non-fatal level is far more widespread, however. Churches are being destroyed or prevented from building.

Congregations are being forced into hiding in order to continue meeting.

Christians are losing jobs because of anti-Christian peer pressure brought against employers or company managers.

Christians are being alienated at work because of ethical principles that won’t go along with the unethical behavior of colleagues.

You and I are likely not encountering anywhere near the degree of religious persecution being faced by believers in some other nations. We should pray for them. And we should learn from them.

If Satan has his way, however, oppressive persecution found in other nations toward Christians will eventually take up residence here.

Until that day comes, let’s do three things.

First, let’s promise in advance that we’ll never compromise on our faith, no matter the pressure we face.

If teens and smaller kids can stay loyal to the Lord when a rifle is pointed at their heads, then we certainly can, too.

Second, let’s look for every opportunity to pray for Christians facing such pressure. God is stronger than Satan and prayers of other believers helps to provide a “covering” of God’s Holy Spirit strength and wisdom for those engaged in spiritual warfare.

Third, let’s look for every opportunity to tell others about the displays of determined faith being exhibited by our overseas spiritual siblings. Even non-Christians will be impressed by the character and determination of people whose love for God and love for people is so strong that they’d give up their lives rather than give up their faith.

The Apostle Paul experienced persecution on a recurring pattern. Why? Because of his overt faith.

He saw that it was growing against other believers, yet Paul wanted them to remain strong in faith because of the great reward in heaven.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:19)

I can’t help but to think of the excellent example of Stephen when he was being killed — with Paul’s pre-conversion approval — rather than cave into the religious leaders’ coercion to renounce Christ.

No matter how often or how difficult the hassles attributable to our faith becomes, let’s always profess faith in Christ and encourage others to embrace Him as well.

That way, we’ll arrive in glory no matter how tough the storm of persecution, whether we’re the subject of breakroom gossip or we’re in the crosshairs of a fanatic’s rifle.

As always, I love you

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None of us need reminding from others that we are imperfect.

We do a real good job of proving it to ourselves over and over again.

One of us struggles with cursing.

One of us struggles with greed.

Another struggles with porn.

And yet another keeps falling into the cesspool of gossiping.

The list goes on for life after life after life.

Your life.

My life.

Many Christians don’t like this roller coaster of sin and forgiveness, sin and forgiveness, sin and forgiveness.

But it’s that path we’re on until we’re walking the streets of gold.

You’d think that after we’ve been forgiven countless times for the same sin we seem bungee-strapped to, we’d reach the point of simply stopping that particular behavior.

But we fail again.

And again.

Against the backdrop of this pathetic pattern, we can find hope from the words of the Apostle Paul.

He knew exactly what you and I face with our “stumbling block” sins with which Satan so easily entangles us.

Read carefully his words recorded in Romans 7:21-25 –

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul struggled with recurring sin.

We struggle with recurring sin.

Paul escaped the sentence of eternal death resulting from that sin. He did so by accepting Christ as Savior.

Please escape the same penalty. Please make sure you’ve accepted Christ as Savior.

You’ll still fall. But you’ll have the peace of knowing that that day is coming when you’ll fall no more because you’ve been lifted up forever.

As always, I love you

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Most parents have told their kids that “cheaters never win and winners never cheat.”

Well, the principle is important and should be communicated.

The reality, though, is that cheaters sometimes do get an edge in various settings.

At least temporarily.

  • A better job promotion than the honest person.
  • A better real estate deal.
  • The date with the pretty, rich girl at school.
  • Holding up the championship trophy — before the rules-breaking scheme is discovered.
  • More popularity with community bigshots who love the spotlight on themselves but resent the spotlight on what they did to get there.
  • These are just a few ways that unethical people can sprint to the front of the pack via unsanctified words and deeds.

    It’s a crucial life skill to be at peace with second place or third place…. or last place…. when it comes to maintaining our personal integrity.

    What matters most is how God sees our decision to reject cheating.

    We’re to do what’s right, no matter the earthly outcome.

    And sometimes that means “losing” to cheaters.

    God will always provide for us if we’ll abide in His way.

    I was reminded of this truth today while reading from Proverbs 19.

    “It is better to be poor than dishonest.” (verse 22)

    I’d much rather go through the day with an empty stomach than with an empty heart.

    An empty stomach is only a temporary problem.

    An empty heart can very easily become an eternal problem.

    The next time you’re tempted to cheat, to compromise on your ethics, to disregard the Holy Spirit’s warnings to reject that temptation, please recall Proverbs 19:22.

    Being poor is a temporary problem before the eternal windfall.

    Dishonesty is a poison pill that leads to an eternal fall of another sort.

    Choose wisely.

    Choose truth.

    Choose life.

    As always, I love you

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    I need to give more loans to God.

    Perhaps you do, too.

    If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and He will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17 NLT)

    Find someone today who needs a financial or time-investment gift and lend to the Lord.

    The returns on your investment will be out of this world.

    As always, I love you

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