“In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”~ Psalm 16:11

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We believe that God loves us and cares for us, but there are times when we feel upside down. It could be our children, our health or our job, or trouble with people who are important to us. Or it could be our concern for the problems in the United States and in the world.

What do we do when problems engage us?

We believe that Jesus is the answer. The Bible teaches that God is willing and gracious, pleading with us to return to him and to receive his love. Though he is offended by our sin. God teaches us the truth of his word, and draws us to himself. He has personally involved himself in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.

God sent his Son, Jesus, by the Virgin Mary. When Jesus came of age, he performed miracles, bringing dramatic healing to many. Jesus is the leader of all who will follow him. We may be Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox et. al. We must recognize that our leader is Jesus. He is the founder and leader of the entire church.

Jesus is a first-class example for us

His mission was to teach, heal and build. We are to pay attention to his teachings. We are to learn from his compassion. He tells us that he will forgive us, and we are to forgive others. The leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees did not welcome Jesus as a gift from God. Under the Roman leadership, this group lived well, and were an important part of the government.

Thousands of people in Israel sought Jesus’ teachings, his authenticity, and his power to heal. His success did not go down well with the leaders in Jerusalem. They wanted him to be out of the way, and they sought to kill him. Jesus knew what was ahead; he had spoken to his disciples that he would be killed and that he would rise again. You remember his prayer at the Mount of Olives:

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Then Judas betrayed him and led a group of soldiers to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“When morning came, all of the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death, and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 27:1,2)

The leaders of the Jews took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate questioned Jesus. His conclusion was that Jesus was innocent. Jesus had not broken any laws. A crowd of the Jews yelled for his crucifixion, and warned Pilate that they would send word to Rome that Pilate had not been cooperative.

Pilate gave in and ordered the crucifixion – an unbelievably painful execution. Along with that, were derision and insults from the soldiers. All four gospels give us the picture of the crucification. If you follow their accounts, you witness incredible cruelty!

At the time of his death, Jesus cried out, “It is finished”. (John 19:30)

Yes, he died. He was the Father’s sacrifice for our sins. Sin requires payment and Jesus took the guilt upon himself and bore the punishment for our sins. Because of the mercy of God, we can look to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus is our example in giving up his life for our salvation. He is our example in the way that he spoke in parables, with reason, and teachings from the Old Testament. We who believe in Jesus have the responsibility of telling people about him. God is not indifferent to our sin. He seeks to speak to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, convicts our consciences, teaches us the truth of his word – and draws us to himself.

Disobedience to God brings suffering to the world

 It was evident to the honest and open minded person, that the power of God was working through the miracles of Jesus Christ. God created us moral and responsible beings, and His will is for our good. He has given us the great responsibility to love him, serve him, follow him—or choose to reject him. Much of the time suffering is a consequence of sin.  Not all misfortune that befalls individuals is the result of a person’s own misdeeds. but all of the misery and unhappiness—all that is unfortunate—derives from the willful disobedience of people to the will of God. It is a reminder of the awfulness of sin; that all Creation suffers because of man’s rebellion against God. Sometimes the picture becomes very dark, but the awfulness of this condition need not persist. In His mercy and love, God has provided the way, in Jesus. He IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. In His presence there will be no crying, no tears, no death, no sadness, no sorrow.

Will we ever fully understand what Christ has done for us?

Wishing God’s Love and Life for YOU,

Foster H. Shannon
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.
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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.