The Way Is Not Easy

Jesus said to strive to enter His kingdom.

23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, 24 Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Luke 13:23-24 NKJV

The way isn’t easy.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying,We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.
Acts 14:21-22 NKJV

Paul suffered a great deal.

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV

But we can overcome!

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:1-5 NKJV

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NKJV

Let us keep our eyes on Jesus!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV

Jesus is coming soon. Be ready!

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
Matthew 24:32-35 NKJV

34 But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36 NKJV

Are you following God's plan for your life?    
You should.
Your plan sucks.
It really, really sucks.
Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Give your life to Jesus Christ.
Time is running out.

The Affliction of Work

No, I don’t mean the feelings of a lazy person who wishes he had been born rich and didn’t have to work. I’m talking about the affliction of trading the only truly non-replaceable part of your life – your time – for activities you would not do unless you were paid. I’m talking about the affliction of when these promises of God aren’t true.

and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 NKJV

As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 NKJV

See, work was part of God’s original plan. Before Adam and Eve sinned they had stuff to do.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Genesis 2:15 NKJV

Work is a part of the new heavens and the new earth too.

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
Revelation 22:3 NKJV

While we are on this earth, God’s gift is that our work is meaningful and enjoyable.

As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 NKJV

I have had jobs where my feelings were, “Thank God it’s Monday!” The work was meaningful, and I felt like I was really giving my all. It was a joy to go to work.

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV

I have also had jobs where I felt the the policies and procedures prevented me from giving my all and doing my best. I admit I probably still have some growing to do to fully act as Jesus would have me do in these sort of jobs. I easily get discouraged and become a clock-watcher.

Jesus is coming soon. Be ready to meet Him!

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
Matthew 24:32-35 NKJV

34 But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36 NKJV

Are you following God's plan for your life?    
You should.
Your plan sucks.
It really, really sucks.
Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Give your life to Jesus Christ.
Time is running out.

Endure Hardship

Floods. Earthquakes. Fires. Economic setbacks. Through no fault of your own, you might find yourself sleeping in your car for awhile. Like Paul wrote Timothy, take it in stride.

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV

Paul himself went through a lot.

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV

Trouble in this life is guaranteed.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19 NASB

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV

Oh, one tip. Don’t grumble!

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
1 Corinthians 10:8-11 NKJV

Instead, be thankful. I know it can be tough, but do it anyway. In my personal dictionary, gratitude is a feeling over which I have little control, but being thankful is something I can choose to do whether or not I feel like it.

Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 BSB

Depend on God’s promises.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
Psalms 23:1 NKJV

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
1 Timothy 6:8 NASB

Enduring hardship is even part of the Serenity Prayer.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, 1892-1971)

The reality is that Jesus is coming soon. Be ready to meet Him!

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
Matthew 24:32-35 NKJV

34 But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36 NKJV

Are you following God's plan for your life?    
You should.
Your plan sucks.
It really, really sucks.
Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Give your life to Jesus Christ.
Time is running out.

God’s Plan Includes Suffering

This passage “leapt off the page” at me.

10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
James 5:10-11 NKJV

I read the book of Job earlier this year and to be honest, I didn’t get that when I read it – “that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” Job lost his children, his stuff, and he had a lot of pain. But James writes the lesson is that the Lord was compassionate and merciful, so I need to adjust my thinking.

God’s plan for His Son Jesus included suffering.

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.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
Isaiah 53:4-6, 10 NKJV

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8 NASB

Paul writes that suffering is necessary.

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:16-17 NKJV

11 This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 NKJV

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 KJV

Peter says to rejoice!

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
1 Peter 4:12-16 NKJV

James says to consider trials a joy, because they’re part of the perfection process.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 NKJV

Jesus Himself promised we would have difficulties.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NKJV

Suffering is part of the discipline process.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
Revelation 3:19 NKJV

Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you do not experience discipline like everyone else, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live? 

10 Our fathers disciplined us for a short time as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:7-11 BSB

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12 NKJV

Learn to have the Psalmist’s attitude.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.

75 I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Psalms 119:67, 71, 75 NKJV

Do I see the story of Job as compassion and mercy from God? No, not yet, but I’m getting there.

Are you following God's plan for your life?    
You should.
Your plan sucks.
It really, really sucks.
Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Give your life to Jesus Christ.
Time is running out.

Amos – Yet You Have Not Returned To Me

Sometimes suffering and afflictions come from the devil. See: 
Job – Sometimes “Acts of God” Aren’t

But sometimes God Himself makes things go badly to get our attention. Consider this passage from Amos.

I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.

I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.

Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.

10 I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.

11 I overthrew some of you
    as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
    yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.
Amos 4:6-11 NIV

God is clearly taking credit for famine and other suffering. Yet the people did not seek His face. IMO if Amos were writing today, regarding the USA, God would take credit for many of the natural disasters that have hit the US in recent years.
‘”Yet you have not returned to me,
declares the Lord.
would be true too! 

I hope your trust is in יהוה, and not in man!

This is what the Lord says:

Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8 NIV

Are you following God's plan for your life?    
You should.
Your plan sucks.
It really, really sucks.
Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Give your life to Jesus Christ.
Time is running out.

Job – Why Suffering Allowed – Postscript

Reading my Bible after posting Job – Why Does God Allow Suffering?, the bold text in this passage jumped off the page.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NKJV

Suffering causes the righteous to get closer to God, to increase trust in God – though for me it has taken awhile to come to this conclusion, and my testings are nowhere near Job’s and Paul’s. But yes, my sufferings have increased my trust in God. For example, almost a year ago my daughter broke communications with me, and we have had no constructive interactions since. My post of the event has a certain shell-shocked quality: End-Times Families. It was a generally upsetting time. A few days before the incident with my daughter I had written I Didn’t Want to Know I Was This Strong.

All I could do was pray. All I can still do is pray. But the still, small voice has spoken over time through His Word: “Don’t Worry. I got this.” And I made these quoted photos.

My difficulties have increased my trust in God. There was no other option!

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.

Job – Why Does God Allow Suffering?

The main lesson of the book of Job is that God allows tragedy and suffering in the lives of the righteous. Job was righteous. He had his spiritual house in order.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
Job 1:1 NKJV

In fact, God bragged about Job to Satan!

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?
Job 1:8 NKJV

Yet God allowed Satan to kill Job’s children and take his property, and give him a painful sickness. Why did God allow all this to happen to Job? Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? I don’t know for sure, because I am not on God’s level.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:25

But everything – including suffering – works together for the good for the righteous.

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.
Romans 8:28 NKJV

Suffering and obedience are linked. Jesus never sinned, but suffering and death was part of the Father’s plan for Him.

 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8 NKJV

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV

“For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
Luke 17:24-25 NKJV

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:41-44 NKJV

Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.
Luke 23:44-46 NKJV

Our sufferings are part of Messiah’s sufferings.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
II Corinthians 1:3-5 NKJV

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
Colossians 1:24-26 NKJV

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.
Acts 9:15-16 NKJV

Suffering isn’t always a result of sin, but is just part of God’s plan to teach us obedience and bring us to maturity.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:15-17 NKJV

For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
Psalms 66:10-12 NKJV

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Philippians 1:29-30 NKJV

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 NKJV

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.