STRENGTHENING THE CHRISTIAN

paul-and-timothy

 

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We have family Bible study almost every Sunday evening after dinner. This coming Sunday, we are beginning with II Timothy, chapter 1. A passage in that chapter stands out for me:

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling,… (II Timothy 1:8,9)

What was it that struck me about this passage? It was Timothy’s position in the leadership of the church. He was Paul’s #2 man. He was a leader above many in the growing church. Here are some of them: Apollos, Archippus, Artemas, Barnabas, Epaphroditus, Luke, Onesimos, Priscilla & Aquila, Silas, Titus, Tychicus, and Zenas. There were others. Yet Timothy needed to be refreshed. He needed to be encouraged. We may find ourselves saying, Amen, recognizing that we need to be refreshed in the Lord. We should give priority to our Bible study and our prayer time.

Let us look at what Paul said to this valuable Christian leader:

  • “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.” Is this not a clear teaching here that believers can have times when they grow discouraged, and need to be invigorated?
  • “Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord.” There are people who will put us down at any sign of our personal faith in Jesus Christ. Now, we do not have to shout or be irritating. Rather than being ashamed, we should be encouraged and devoted to our Savior. Explaining carefully, what Jesus means to you.
  • “Take your share of suffering for the gospel.” It seems to me that we prefer to have things go well. We do not like difficulties. We want to avoid suffering, if we are able. I am not suggesting that we be ready to go out and suffer! Nonetheless, the Bible makes it clear that suffering will come our way, and do not be surprised, but it may turn out to be valuable.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2)

What may seem to be unwelcome to us, may turn out to make us better people. Again, we read, Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) Difficult times will come to all of us. Especially, when the difficulty arises to challenge our faithfulness to our Savior—by a clear and kind response, we can be an encouragement to others, and strengthened in our own faith. Unwelcome difficulties come into our lives, we can either cry or praise God. If we are moved to prayer we are thereby strengthened in our faith. One thing we know for sure. God will uphold us.

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Foster

Dr. Foster H. Shannon, Green Leaf Press

Green Leaf Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 880 Alhambra
CA 91802-0880
(626) 281-7221
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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THE TRIUMPH OF THE RESURRECTION

resurrection

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

This coming Sunday we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely the most significant event in the history of the world. Jesus purposefully allowed himself to be taken to the cross, because there the Son of God suffered the punishment of God the Father for the sins of the world. He suffered for every person who will come to him in faith and confess their need of his forgiveness—without which no one can be saved. There are those who question the reliability and dependability of Christianity. The resurrection, the deliverance from death of our Lord, guarantees the reality and certainty of Christ.

When Jesus was with his disciples on that Thursday night, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)

He chose his path to the cross, because he knew that there he would make our forgiveness possible. The resurrection was and is a reality. It is not just something that we wish were true. It is true.

Jesus suffered terribly from the abuses of the soldiers. He was arrested and taken before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate understood what Jesus enemies were about. He knew that Jesus was innocent, but he lacked the courage to do what was right. So he gave in to the crowd that demanded Jesus’ death, and ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. He was taken to Golgotha, and nailed to a cross. The cross was set into the ground, and he was bleeding from the nails in his hands and in his feet. Later, to advance his death, a sword was plunged into his side.

“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” (John 19:24) “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.” (Matthew 27:50)

A large crowd witnessed all of these events.

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a righteous man, asked Pilate for the body of Christ that he might prepare him for burial.

“And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.”

He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, with the assistance of Nicodemus.

Let us reflect. We know that Jesus lived. We know that Jesus died. We know that he was raised from the dead, and that he was with his disciples for forty days after his resurrection, and that he ascended to heaven. We know the many promises in scripture that he will return to this world. The world will be redeemed, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Perhaps it is evident that there would be no Christianity, no church, no hope, were it not for Jesus Christ. The transformation of the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus; the rapid growth and development of the church would have been absolutely impossible without the resurrection. Let us be renewed and refreshed in the good news of the resurrection of our Savior. HE IS RISEN!

Foster H. Shannon
P.S.
By Robert J. Morgan, is available at GoGreenLeaf.com. It includes music and lyrics to the most loved Hymns of all time. This is your chance to take advantage of it at a great price!
 

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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PROMISES

We Have God'sTelephone Number! Jeremiah 33:3

We Have God’sTelephone Number! Jeremiah 33:3

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Here is a passage of scripture that is very good to start the new year with:

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

No anxiety—no worry? Wow! Don’t we have concerns? Do things always go well for us? How can we not be concerned? Where do we get the idea of not being concerned? I think, because in Jesus Christ we find the fulfillment of all of our needs. Even in disappointments we know that he will be with us.

1. We are loved of God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

2. Believing in Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of sins, and are enfolded into God’s family.

“For all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

“it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16,17)

3. God gives us purpose.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

4. We are enabled of God.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:4-7)

5. We are assured of a marvelous future:

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (I Corinthians 15: 49)

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” I Corinthians 2:9)

“Thou dost show me, the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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WE ARE NOT ON OUR OWN

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

As we believe in Jesus Christ, we know that we are not alone. He is our Savior who forgives us of our sins, and enables us to lead a life that is worthy of him. Yet those who believe in our Lord may tend to discouragement. That discouragement is seen in many Christians as they withdraw to the shelter of their homes and their churches—feeling incapable of dealing with a world that is in a mess.

But our God encourages us! “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (II Corinthians 2:14)

God has worthy things for each one of us to do. He is our leader; he is our guide; he is our teacher. He teaches us how we should live, and what we should do.  Belonging to Jesus Christ, we are to be engaged in the work of God. But we look at ourselves and find ourselves insufficient. We need to keep firmly in our minds whom we are serving. God does not ask us to operate on our own strength—he promises to be with us.

There are no limits to God’s power and authority. He created our planet, our solar system; the Sun that makes life possible. He has created billions of galaxies, and within those billions of galaxies are billions of stars. His Universe is incredibly vast. He has created every atom, every molecule—and he has made us with all of our gifts and abilities. He raised Jesus from the dead. He invites us to share in his work, to be his witnesses, his ambassadors. We are reminded of his limitless power.

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,” (Colossians 1:11)

We are very limited when we depend upon our own strength—but with God all things are possible.
We are at the beginning of the college football season. The players don’t just show up for the first game! They have had spring training—and then weeks of preparation for the first game. We need to be preparing ourselves in daily Bible study–gaining knowledge–so we are ready to speak up and to act on behalf of the kingdom of God. We should expect to be challenged in the world in which we live.

“For it is the God who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6)
“With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?”  (Psalm 118:6)


Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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JESUS DOES NOT WANT YOU TO WORRY

GodsYellowPages-sm2

Why Worry if you can pray? If you CAN’T pray, THEN you have something to worry about!

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

What do we worry about?

1. What do other people think of me?

2. Will I be able to pay my bills next month?

3. Do I have an unrecognized disease or ailment?

4. Will I succeed in getting a job?

5. Will we have enough money when I retire?

6. What does God think of me?

The Philippians passage reminds us that we are not to be anxious or worry about anything. It affirms that the remedy is in our prayer life: supplication, thanksgiving, and requests. Prayer is very important for everyone who believes in God. Worry and distress drain our energy. They cause us to concentrate on our problems rather than on the solutions. They cause us to lose focus and to let our imaginations run amuck, so that in our thought processes we seek to solve problems that will never arise. There is something about praying about these concerns that brings us to the assurance that we have not been left alone. If something is on our mind, it is very important that we share it with God.

“Cast all you anxieties on him for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7)

Thanksgiving helps us to remember what is good: The love of God, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that the destiny of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is with God for all eternity. That God guides us into much that is good for us: righteousness, justice, compassion, goodness, truth, love for our neighbors. That God is concerned for our needs and will provide for them as we trust in him and seek to serve him.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or what shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

This scripture passage reminds us that our priorities are important. Some of our difficulties may result because we seek the wrong things. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves wholly to him; we are a part of his family. We trust in him, we enjoy him, we delight to do his will. We know that he is with us and will not fail us! It is true that times of unexpected crisis come, that we find greatly disappointing and even shattering. We should turn to God first, but we must also avail ourselves of friends and family. We should not go it alone!

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11,12)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
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ARE YOU HAPPY?

roadmap2023

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

HAPPINESS = “The state or quality of being happy; the pleasurable experience that springs from possessions of good or the gratification of desires; enjoyment , blessedness. Good fortune, prosperity.” Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary

Do we not understand that all of us want to be happy? There are few, if any who want to be unhappy. So what makes us happy and what makes us unhappy? We have basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, warmth, friendship, good health. If we are severely deprived of any of these things, we will probably not be happy. If we have these things, is it assured that we will be happy? I think not, because we are capable of almost limitless desires. Both the lack of those desires or the possessions of those desires can make us miserable. Consider the possessions of the very wealthy: two homes, six homes, eight cars, very expensive art work and artifacts, limitless traveling, yachts, etc.

When do possessions stop providing for our needs, and become a burden that make us the slaves of our possessions?

“Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have. For he has said; “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16:26)

Some people can lose a job and still be happy. Some people can lose substantial sums of money and still be happy. Faith in God and in his care for us can make a major difference. Others can have similar experiences and be miserable. There are severe disappointments that hurt all of us deeply. Many may be delivered by the passing of time and confidence in God, while for others such an experience may leave wounds never to be healed.

Would you like a one way ticket to Mars? “Mars One will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024. Our last unmanned mission will be launched in 2018. Join the Mars One community and participate in our mission to Mars.” Mars One reports that more than 200,000 men and women from around the world have responded to the first call for “astronauts”. There are some problems: they do not yet have the capacity to bring you back, the atmosphere of Mars is thinner than that of Earth and is 95% carbon dioxide. Nine months of weightless travel can have a very debilitating effect on your body. I am inclined to think that many of these 200,000 are unhappy with their present situation, and looking for something new. We must ask, what does it take to make you happy?

The scriptures teach us how to be happy. Believe in Jesus Christ and trust in him to forgive you for all of your sins. We are loved of God and created in his image. Recognize that he has worthwhile work for you to do. He invites us into his eternal kingdom that is beyond our imagination, but absolutely good.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (I Corinthians 2:9)


Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.

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EVIL MEN WAX WORSE AND WORSE IN BOKO HARAM

Nigerian School Girls

Nigerian School Girls, photo courtesy of Breitbart

 

The news from Nigeria is disturbing, upsetting. Unfortunately we know that there are troubles all over the world. But somehow the kidnaping of almost 300 school girls, who may be compelled to become Muslims, who may be sold into slavery, or who may be used as prostitutes—especially offends us. The Boko Haram is a blatant manifestation of the powers of evil. We must pray, that even at this late date, the girls may be found and delivered from their evil captors.

Many people are calloused, they feel that they cannot be troubled with the pain of others. They may find the problems of the world to be over whelming. And there is something to be said for that. We cannot become so absorbed in the problems and pain in the world that we cease to do the things that we ought to do or fail to live the life that we are appointed to live. Nonetheless, there are events that must engage our concern.

In situations similar to this, some ask, “Is it in our national interest to get involved?” I think that it is in our interest that justice triumphs over violence; that righteousness prevails over indifference; and that mercy prevails over disinterestedness, and that help is given where it may be effective. There are many passages of scripture that rebuke us if we do not care—if we are indifferent. The difficulties of this situation are formidable—but we should pray.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:16,17) Everyone helps his neighbor, and says to his brother, Take Courage! (Isaiah 41:6) 

It is helpful to ask why do we and many people over the world care? What difference does it make? It is the teaching that we have had from the Bible for 3000 years. Because of that teaching many understand that life is a gift of God; that every person is created in his image. That is, life is significant and valuable. This has not been so—in much of history—and it is not so in many places today. Some resort to believing in a rigid fatalism. The consequence is indifference: “whatever will be, will be” Many believe in reincarnation, if you die you will come back as a something.

The Judeo/Christian perspective is different. We believe that every life is precious; that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus gave us the story of The Good Samaritan, who went out of his way to save a person, who had been beaten and robbed and left by the side of the road to die. As Christians we value life because it is good when we walk in the will of God, and because we anticipate the promises of God in a blessed and complete life in eternity. We can always pray, and be ready to help those who are in need—even if at the time we are not sure
how to help.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church an in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21)


Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.

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Praying for the People of Syria

A Syrian refugee child cries at the Al Zaatri refugee camp. Photo courtesy of Nick Tann

A Syrian refugee child cries at the Al Zaatri refugee camp. Photo courtesy of Nick Tann

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

The civil war in Syria seems endless and is daunting, discouraging, and dismaying. It has gone on for over three years. 150,000 people have been killed, including many children. The numbers who have been displaced, injured, and have had property destroyed are awful. According to a recent United Nations report, attacks by pro-government forces are leading to mass casualties, malnutrition and starvation. 90 percent of explosive causalities are civilians. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are in temporary camps in Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey The nations of the world, including the United States, seem not to know what to do.

One response is to say that this is their problem—not ours. I have been rereading and studying Isaiah for Lent. The message of God in Isaiah deals with Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria among many other nations. It is apparent from the scriptures that God cares for the nations of the world. God gives us the promise of Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” If we believe in God, it is not proper for us to ignore or turn away from the problems of others. Jesus said that the second great commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is apparent from scripture that our neighbors involve many more than the people next door. In John 3:16, we read “God so loved the world”. It should be obvious to believers that we should pray for the people of Syria. We may be limited in what we can do, but it is not appropriate for us to ignore the troubles of others.

Many explanations for these troubles are found in the Bible. Galatians 6:7,8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Proverbs 13:15, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” What is happening in Syria is the consequence of human sin—disregard of God and the word of God. The consequences of unbelief and ignoring of God are severe. Psalm 9:15, “The nations have sunk in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid has their own foot been caught.”

The lesson for us—is that to choose a way contrary to the God of the universe will lead to disaster. As we see the troubles of others, we should look to ourselves, and remember that we reap what we sow. There are many people in our nation who think that we can get along fine without God. They are mistaken! God’s purpose for us is life and light and salvation. The words of Jesus: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.

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There IS Gain With Pain

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Mark 2:  The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

Mark 2: The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

The knee replacement surgery, which I experienced on the 10th of January, and the accompanying slowness of recovery and pain has caused me to reflect again on what the Bible has to say about temptation, difficulties, and trials. The Bible makes it plain that all people will suffer in one manner or another, and that the end result can be beneficial. Suffering takes many forms: disappointment, failure, illness, financial losses, mistreatment by others, etc. The experiences of the unbelieving are not necessarily beneficial, but the difficulties of life can lead the believing to draw closer to their Lord. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6,7)

One of the greatest of Christians, the apostle Paul, suffered from a thorn in the flesh. We do not know what it was, but it must have been severe, otherwise he would not have mentioned it. In II Corinthians, chapter 12, he tells of a special blessing; being caught up in the spirit to Heaven and experiencing marvelous things. But our Lord must keep the lives of even the best of Christians in balance. Thus, Paul writes,

“to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.”

God’s purpose for us is that we may grow in his grace:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

Why do we need to be tested? As we look to the scriptures, we find good reasons:

1. To keep us from being conceited. Conceit is overweening self-esteem; having an excessively fine opinion of one’s self. All of us have gifts and abilities, and in some areas find ourselves more able than others. It is all too easy for us to think that we are not only more gifted and skilled–but that we are superior to others.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

2. That we may never forget our need of God and draw near to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

3. That sanctification, our growth in grace, may continue as we reckon with factors in our lives that do not belong.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Our conclusion: Temptations, illnesses, disappointments will come. Some of our suffering, we bring on ourselves through our own sins, carelessness and bad decisions, but much of it comes from the world, the times in which we live. We are to draw near to God for comfort and strength; to seek his will; and to reckon with our faults

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Psalm 118:5)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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