Bible Study: Trial Is God's Blessing

Gospel Reflection: Trial Is God’s Blessing

It’s written in the Book of James 1:2-4, “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” From the verses, we can see that God blesses man and perfects man through trials and refinements. So when we are in trials, we should seek God’s will and face the trial with a positive attitude. In this way we can make up for our deficiencies and tempered our will in adversities. Eventually we can satisfy God’s will and requirement and be commended by God. Since ancient times, those who were used by God or blessed by God all experienced tribulations. They obeyed the environment God arranged for them and stood testimony for God, so that they gained God’s blessings. Moses was refined in the wilderness for 40 years, until his hot blood was ground away and he had the true faith to be fit for God’s use, to shoulder the heavy responsibility of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Abraham offered up his only beloved son, Isaac, to satisfy God’s heart. Finally he received God’s blessings for bearing testimony for God in the trial. Job upheld his faith to God after his property had been stolen and his children lost their lives. Finally he stood the testimony for God and gained God’s blessings. Peter experienced hundreds of trials in the journey of following the Lord. Finally he was nailed upside down on the cross for the Lord, and achieved obedience unto death and love to the utmost. In the Book of Daniel, it says, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried” (Daniel 12:10).These words tell us that only by experiencing trials and refinements can we be made purified and get changed in our life disposition. The Lord said, “Whoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). “God’s refinement of man is not merely for the sake of a one-sided effect, but for the sake of a multi-faceted effect. Only in this way does God do the work of refinement in those who are willing to seek the truth, in order that man’s resolve and love are made perfect by God. To those who are willing to seek the truth, and who yearn for God, nothing is more meaningful, or of greater assistance, than refinement such as this.”   » You might be interested in reading more: • A Reflection on How to Overcome Trials and Tribulations From a Story • What to Do When You Lose Faith in God in Setbacks • What Should We Do When We Face Trials? Learn From the Story of Job

the birth of the Lord Jesus

Why the Pharisees Could Not Recognize the Lord Jesus Was the Messiah

By Liu Fang Two thousand years ago, the Israelites desperately longed for the coming of the Messiah, but when the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, finally arrived, the Pharisees actually nailed Him to the cross, and as a result, the Israelites were subject to God’s punishment—the destruction of Israel. This bitter failure really calls for our reflection: How come the Pharisees who had believed in God for generations resisted God? Now it is already the last days, and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. At this critical time of welcoming the Lord, how can we avoid following in the footsteps of the Pharisees? As we all know, at the end of the Age of Law the Israelites, according to the prophecies in the Scripture, all longed for the Messiah to come and save them. At that time, the Pharisees, after hearing the prophecies about the coming Messiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6), and “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), began to fancy what He would be like based on the literal meaning of these prophecies. In their mind, the One who was to come must be called Messiah. Since He would come to rule, He must be someone who would be born into a royal palace with a heroic bearing and commanding presence, who would grow into a great warrior like David and lead His people to drive the Romans out of Israel, rescuing them from the oppression of the Romans. However, the fulfillments of the prophecies were not as the Pharisees had imagined. When the Lord Jesus came, He was neither called the Messiah nor born into a royal palace. Instead, He was born in a manger and grew up in a poor carpenter’s home. His external appearance was not as majestic and extraordinary as they had fancied, but was very ordinary and normal. He didn’t lead the Israelites to overthrow the rule of the Romans, but walked among the people preaching the way of repentance, and taught them to practice forgiveness and tolerance and to love others as themselves. Seeing the Lord Jesus, who was ordinary and normal, not like the Messiah they imagined, the Pharisees stubbornly held on to their own notions and imaginings, concluding that He couldn’t be the coming Messiah, and seized upon every chance to condemn and resist Him. Even though the Lord Jesus performed many miracles and expressed many truths, from which many people recognized that He was Christ, the Pharisees didn’t have the slightest intention to seek. Regardless of how profound the Lord Jesus’ preaching was or how many miracles He performed, they obstinately rejected His work and even incited the people of Israel to resist and condemn Him. Later, they went so far as to collude with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus—the Messiah who had come, committing a heinous sin and offending God’s righteous disposition, and ultimately were subject to God’s punishment—the destruction of Israel. The failure of the Pharisees is really worthy of our self-reflection. They treated the prophecies about the Messiah based on their own conceptions and imaginations, which led to them becoming the ones who bitterly longed for the arrival of the Messiah but nailed Him to the cross. We all know that the prophecies in the Bible are about the things that God will accomplish in the future, which cannot be fathomed by us humans. So how should we treat them in a way that is after God’s heart? The Bible says, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:19-21), and “Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). These verses tell us that the prophecies are all from God, which cannot be commented on at will by us. We cannot interpret them literally, or rely on our own notions to speculate on them or determine their meaning, because they will only be fulfilled according to God’s own plan. God’s work is wondrous and full of His wisdom, which cannot be fathomed by us humans. If we define God’s work based on the literal meaning of the prophecies, we are liable to resist God and ultimately be destroyed by our own conceptions and imagination. Compared to the Pharisees, there was a group of people who approached the prophecies of the Messiah in a different way. When seeing the Lord Jesus, who was ordinary and normal in appearance and not in accord with their fantasies about the Messiah, they didn’t hold on to their conceptions and imaginings but focused on listening to His words, and finally recognized through His words and work that He was the coming Messiah. Just like Simon Peter—he once said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Why could he say these words and recognize the Lord’s identity as Christ? This is because he found that what the Lord did was totally beyond what humans can do, that what He said contained the truth, and that He possessed the essence of God and “the words of eternal life.” The woman of Samaria is another example. When she…

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