Challenges Come At Us From All Sides

James 1:1‭-‬27 MSG

Faith Under Pressure:

I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.

He loves to help.

You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer!

Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way.

The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.

So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:1‭-‬27 MSG


So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though,

on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 MSG

Courteously and Respectfully

Regardless of my outcome or income I want my life to reflect God’s Word, not mine, not some one else who is well known, but God’s Word alone.

Here it is,

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
1 Peter 3:13‭-‬18 MSG

But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15 AMP

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [Isa. 8:12, 13.]
1 Peter 3:15 AMPC


I just finished day 3 of the @YouVersion plan ‘Living Hope: A Countdown to Easter‘ (link at bottom) here is what it delivers:

“Follow Me.”

Peter sat in grief and darkness, his days marked by God’s silence. He had publicly denied knowing Jesus just before Jesus was dragged away to be crucified. And now for the past few days, Peter had to process his grief and guilt without any expectation that the pain would stop. 

But during the early morning of the third day, Jesus’ tomb was found empty and the stone rolled away.

As Peter huddles in fear with the other disciples—trying to process the day’s events—Jesus suddenly appears to Peter fully alive

Instead of letting Peter live with the shame of his past mistakes, Jesus pulls him aside and asks him a question that propels Peter into his purpose: 

“Do you love me?”

With this question, Jesus invites Peter to reaffirm the relationship He’d denied. Jesus’ power over death and darkness meant that,

Peter didn’t have to stay defined by his past mistakes.

He could still embrace the call on his life and become the leader Jesus always knew he could be. 

Like Peter, you have the opportunity to say “yes” to loving Jesus and being loved by Him. No matter how messy your life looks, or how far from Jesus you feel, there is nothing that can separate you from His love.

Your past mistakes or current problems do not dictate your purpose when your life is rooted in Christ alone. 

The resurrection reassures us that

  • no situation or mistake is impossible for God to redeem.
  • There is no fear Jesus cannot conquer and
  • no life He cannot heal.
  • No darkness can stand against the power of the risen God who conquered death on our behalf.
  • There is nothing our God cannot do. 

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for conquering death for me. I’m thankful that nothing can separate me from Your love, and no mistake can disqualify me from Your plans. Today, remind me of who You’ve called me to be. And when I start to feel unworthy, help me remember to reflect on Your resurrection and rejoice that

You alone are my salvation.

I love You, and today I choose to follow You.

I pray this in Jesus name and for Christ’s sake, amen

God’s Word

Then they took hold of Jesus. They took him away and they brought him to the house of the leader of the priests . Peter was following them, but he did not go near Jesus. People lit a fire in the yard of the house and they sat round it. Peter went and he sat with them. A girl who worked there then saw Peter in the light from the fire. She looked carefully at him and she said, ‘This man also was a friend of Jesus.’ Peter replied, ‘Woman, that is not true! I do not even know him.’ After a short time, someone else looked at him. ‘You also are one of their group,’ he said. Peter replied, ‘Man, I am not one of them.’ After about an hour, another man said, ‘I am sure that this man was a friend of Jesus. He also is from Galilee.’ Peter replied, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about.’ While Peter was still speaking, a cockerel sang loudly. Then the Lord Jesus turned round and he looked at Peter. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: ‘You will say tonight that you do not know me. You will say it three times before the cockerel sings in the morning.’ Then Peter went out of the yard and he wept a lot.
Luke 22:54‭-‬62 EASY

Early on the first day of the week, Mary from Magdala went to the hole in the rock. It was still dark. She saw that someone had removed the big stone from the front of the hole. So she ran to where Simon Peter was. He was with the other disciple , the one that Jesus loved. She said to them, ‘Somebody has taken the Lord’s body out of the hole. We do not know where they have put him!’ So Peter and the other disciple started to go to the hole where Jesus’ body had been. Both of them were running. But the other disciple ran faster than Peter ran. So he reached the hole first. He bent himself down and he looked inside the hole. He saw the long pieces of cloth that were lying there. But he did not go in. Simon Peter had run behind the other disciple. When he arrived, he went into the hole. He saw the long pieces of cloth that were lying there. Also, he saw the piece of cloth that had been round Jesus’ head. This was not in the same place as the long pieces of cloth. Someone had put it carefully in a separate place. The other disciple had reached the place first, and now he also went inside. He saw and he believed. They still did not understand what the Bible already said. It said that Jesus had to become alive again after he had died. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.
John 20:1‭-‬10 EASY

When they had finished eating, Jesus spoke to Simon Peter. He said, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these other disciples love me?’ Peter answered, ‘Yes Lord , you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs .’ Jesus asked him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was sad because Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ So he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I really love you!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Take care of my sheep. I am telling you what is true. When you were young, you put on your own clothes. Then you went to any place that you wanted to visit. But when you are old, it will be different. You will hold out your arms and someone else will tie your clothes for you. Then they will take you to a place where you do not want to go.’ When Jesus said this, he was showing how Peter would die. His death would show how great God is. Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Follow me.’
John 21:15‭-‬19 EASY

You just finished day 3 of the @YouVersion plan ‘Living Hope: A Countdown to Easter’. Check out all 3 days here:

Wake The Dead (others Rose When Christ Died)

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance.
Matthew 27:50‭-‬55 NLT