Bill Young KNLS.ORG, World Christian Broadcasting Alaska... Sun, 30 Apr 2017 20:35:02 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Pray to Learn Obedience in Times of Suffering Today, our beatitude for prayer is . . . Blessed are those who pray to learn obedience in times of suffering.

For some students the learning process is more difficult than it is for other students. The circumstances in which learning takes place may have some bearing on the degree of difficulty. Students who enjoy an easy access to comfortable facilities and are encouraged by well-trained, personable instructors, will usually experience fewer complications in their learning process. On the other hand, students who face long distance commuting, unfamiliar cultures, language barriers, and impersonal instructors are challenged by hardships that can be daunting, making the learning process very stressful.

The apostle Peter wrote some very timely encouragement to Christians who experienced hardships in their efforts to remain obedient to the principles of faith they had learned. Peter wrote, “My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy when Christ comes again in glory” [1 Peter, chapter 4, verses 12 and 13].

Peter wanted the beleaguered new Christians to realize they were a special community of people, learning to live their faith in the midst of a hostile environment. The apostle said that their efforts to be obedient to the faith they were learning would suffer opposition because the object of their faith—Christ himself—had also been opposed.

We sympathize with an ancient generation of believers who had to endure times of suffering for their faith. But in these modern days we may not be as willing to accept hardships while we are learning and growing in our faith. We much prefer to be well thought of in our circles of social relationships. To believers long ago and to us who believe today, Peter’s words are important and will help us grasp who we are as people of faith and the nature of our commission in life. Listen to Peter as he adds these words in his letter: “ . . . you are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. You were chosen to tell of the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light . . . Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul. People who do not believe are living all around you and might say that you are doing wrong. Live such good lives that they will see the good things you do and will give glory to God . . .” [1 Peter, chapter 2, verses 9-12].

Occasionally, elementary school children enjoy a special learning time when they are invited to “show and tell.” They regale their fellow students about a family vacation and show photographs or souvenirs collected along the way. In a similar manner, Christian faith also calls for demonstration. We want our faith to be honored by neighbors and all the people with whom we interact in our places of work and communities. Sometimes, our faith is honored. At other times, our faithfulness to principles and actions may be criticized and even rejected.

Despite what others may think or say about you, the Lord regards you as a precious possession in his spiritual family. Sin and suffering hardships is our human dilemma. But God’s grace and truth has come in the person of Jesus. Instead of grimly facing a Day of Judgment, grace comes to save us and teach us how to trust what Jesus himself trusted. The apostle Peter wrote: “Christ suffered but he did not threaten. He let God, the One who judges rightly, take care of him” [1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 23].

]]> (Bill Young) Bill Young Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:44:51 +0000
Pray On Behalf of Others Today, our beatitude for prayer is . . . “Blessed are those who pray on behalf of others.

Praying on behalf of someone is referred to as intercessory prayer. Deep within us there is godly passion for the welfare others. We pray for God to step in and act for the good of people we care about and whose special needs we may know intimately. But intercessors may also pray to the Lord on behalf of people they have never met but are genuinely concerned about their needs. Praying for others requires courage in the face of daunting fears. It also requires trust and a willingness to accept the manner and timing of God’s responses to our intercessory petitions.

The Bible records some notable intercessors. Abraham prayed on behalf of an entire city that God had condemned for the corrupt and evil life styles of the citizens. Moses prayed on behalf of liberated and thankless Hebrew people who seriously contemplated returning to slavery because they were thirsty and bored with a daily diet of food. Job prayed for so-called friends who publicly judged and blamed him for his own troubles! But Job believed he had a heavenly intercessor and he replied to his accusers with these words, “. . I have one who speaks for me in heaven; the one who is on my side is high above. The one who speaks for me is my friend. . . . .He begs God on behalf of a human as a person begs for his friend” [Job, chapter 16, verses 19-21].

Perhaps there is no greater challenge to praying for others than when we pray for people who disregard our interest, or more importantly, for people who reject God’s interest! Praying for others is challenging, but it is also the only attitude for people who have the love of Christ in them. Jesus is the ultimate example of an unselfish intercessor. He was, and is, passionate about lifting a major burden from our fallen lives. He is concerned about the sin in our lives and the judgment awaiting us. We are bewildered that he not only prayed for our forgiveness, but that he also died for our sins.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to believers in an ancient city called Philippi and instructed them to develop an intercessory attitude. Paul wrote: “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide, instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” [Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4].

Intercessory prayer is more often practiced by people who live an intercessory life style. To early-day Christians the apostle Paul wrote: “We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses, and not to please only ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbors for their good, to help them be stronger in faith” [Romans, chapter 15, verses 1-2]. In both letters, the apostle punctuates his exhortation by pointing to Jesus. To the people in Philippi Paul said, “In your lives you must think and act like Christ” [Philippians, chapter 2, verse 5]. To people in Rome, Paul wrote: “Even Christ did not live to please himself . . .” [Romans, chapter 15, verse 3].

Praying for and caring about others is the response of an intercessory heart and unselfish life style. It is also a daring way to live. Some people will bless you for it. Some people will thank you to let them alone! Whatever you might experience, interceding and caring about others is what the Lord experiences in his efforts to intercede for you and for all people. Your prayer life will develop a quality of blessing and reassurance when you stand in the gap for another person.

]]> (Bill Young) Bill Young Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:41:40 +0000
The Cross & Endurance Nearly everyone admires a person who endures, hangs on, or refuses to quit when facing difficult circumstances. We applaud these people and call them “champions” because they don’t give up. The Bible encourages Christians to endure challenges to their faith. The writer of a New Testament piece called Hebrews offered words to followers of Christ that are timely words for us today: “We have around us many people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back” [Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 1].

Biblical history reveals special heroes who endured persecution because they believed in God, and believed in Jesus whom God sent to be the Savior of the world. But why did these men and women endure and stay the course when threatened and persecuted? The 11th chapter of Hebrews tells about the faith of Old Testament figures like Noah who built an ark and saved his family from a devastating flood; like Abraham who left the security and prosperity of his homeland to wander like an immigrant; about Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Samuel – people who resisted temptations to quit in the face of tragedy, abuse, isolation, imprisonment, and death. The writer describes them as “people known for their faith” [Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 30].

Living by faith has always called for endurance. Opposition against Christians is still being practiced in our modern times. Some oppose Christianity by prohibiting all efforts to recruit converts to faith in Christ. Some oppose Christianity by using coarse humor to play down the importance of family values, sexual virtue, or faithfulness in marriage. Some oppose Christianity by objecting to public school teachers being asked to encourage basic morality in students by modeling ethical values while at the same time developing scholarly achievement in the classroom instruction.

The writer of Hebrews was also thinking of the challenges to faith in his own era. Believers were often banned from business opportunities—indicted and jailed, even executed . . . and all because they persisted in following Jesus. How did they stand up under such pressures and opposition? More importantly, how can our faith in Jesus endure in these times?

Endurance starts with what God has done in Christ. The Hebrews writer wrote, “We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back” [chapter 12, verse 1]. What gets in our way? What sin might easily hold us back from living faithfully? Could it be that we have a tendency to focus more on our grievance with those who oppress us, rather than on the grace that God continually provides as we grown in faith?

In this same chapter of Hebrews, we read the source for enduring all opposition to our faith: “Let us look only to Jesus, the one who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him” [chapter 12, verse 2]. The Christian’s ability to endure difficulties in this life rests on the enduring faith that Christ demonstrated and the joy with which he moved toward the future. He is our model for our own developing faith and heavenly expectations.

The difficulties that followers of Christ face changes from generation to generation, but God’s promises of mercy and love are unchanging. The promises are based on the resurrection of Jesus from death, and the power of Christ’s life in believers who endure because they know the best is yet to come. Here is the promise: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer . . . be faithful, even if you have to die, and I will give you the crown of life” [Revelation, chapter 2, verse 10].

]]> (Bill Young) Bill Young Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:39:24 +0000
The Cross and Cultures We live in a multi-cultural world. The flow of monetary trade, immigration of people, and information technology is accelerating our global awareness of ethnic values and customs. Into this mix of tribes and tongues and traditions enters the biblical story of Jesus and his crucifixion. We might say the crucifixion story is cross-cultural, and that phrase is not meant as a play on words.

The words of Jesus in the Bible continue to interrupt our quest for life and happiness by focusing attention on our greatest need; the need to have our sinful guilt and condemnation taken away. Jesus angered the people of his day when he said they would die in their sins if they refused to believe in him. When they demanded to know who he was, Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that I am he. You will know that these things I do are not by my own authority but that I say only what the Father has taught me . . .” [John, chapter 8, verse 28].

Following a joyous entrance into Jerusalem by people who praised him, Jesus struggled within himself because he knew that very expression of praise would soon turn into shouting calls for his death. He spoke these words: “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people toward me. Jesus said this to show how he would die” [The Gospel of John, chapter 12, verses 32-33]. John also wrote a brief letter years later to believers and reminded them that Christ “is the way our sins are taken away, and not only our sins but the sins of all people” [1 John, chapter 2, verse 2]. All people? Are all people from all the countries of the world being drawn toward Christ whose death on the cross provides salvation?

Unfortunately, not all people who make up our multi-cultural world are attracted to forgiveness of sins. Is this because of God’s predestined preference? Is it because of language barriers or poverty and under-privileged education? The word all in biblical scriptures most often refers to all types or manner of. For instance, the apostle Paul wrote about the problem of loving money because it “causes all kinds of evil” [1 Timothy, chapter 6, verse 10].

When Jesus was crucified, his enemies did not intend for that horrible act to become the universal symbol of atonement and saving faith. Jesus’ sentence to death was the ultimate insult of humanity against the holiness of the Creator.

No one witnessing the dying of Jesus on the cross immediately perceived God’s reason for such agony and humiliation. We know that at least one soldier, standing at the foot of the cross, sensed the connection between the darkened skies and the trembling earth quakes and the goodness of the man he helped to execute.

]]> (Bill Young) Bill Young Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:17 +0000
The Cross and New Beginnings The apostle Paul described a contrasting view of Jesus that probably represents his own conversion to Christ. Paul wrote: “In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!” [2 Corinthians 5:16-17].

What changed Paul? At one time, he arrested Christians and threatened their lives. His sudden endorsement of Jesus and his followers angered fellow religious leaders. And truthfully, Christians themselves were bewildered and nervous. Was Paul a “new creation?” How did it happen?

Many Bible passages report Jesus saying something about “new.” For instance, Jesus spoke about a new commandment for loving others – “as I have loved you” [John, chapter 13, verse 34]. Those words may be telling us what changed Paul the persecutor of Christians to Paul the Christian! We believe Paul’s changed life started when he realized how much he was loved by God. He discovered that the cross on which Jesus died was not the end of a troublesome teacher. It was the beginning of a story about unparalleled, divine love for sinful people.

After his conversion to Christ, Paul told believers in the ancient city of Corinth that Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave were “most important” [1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 3]. Paul said that his preaching meant nothing and all their faith was worthless if Christ has not been raised from death. Then, he added a very sobering statement; “If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still guilty of your sins” [verse 17].

The resurrection of Jesus opened the door for new beginnings. Jesus is the source for changing people into new personalities with new goals and new perspectives about life. Instead of being proud of family heritage, education, wealth or racial superiority, sinful people are grateful for their forgiveness and new creation fashioned by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul wrote in another letter to believers, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” [Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10].

People have always been perplexed about Jesus being raised from death. There are people today who question the resurrection of Jesus, and we do not criticize anyone who may be asking for some assurance that Jesus was raised from the dead. We invite you to consider the biblical evidence for his resurrection in the eye-witness reports from disciples like John, Peter, James, and Paul’s dramatic encounter with the resurrected Lord in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 9. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus has always been, and continues to be, the central element of Christian faith.

Jesus Christ changed the apostle Paul and he is a good model for us. We are more than human beings struggling to keep pace with the everyday demands of hunger, security, shelter, health, peace, companionship, and aging. Humanity was originally created in God’s image but our sinful humanity needs a new creation that comes from our belief in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Believing in Jesus’ death on the cross will save us from our sins, and believing in his resurrection from death will re-create new life in us. We will develop a new love for others and a new purpose for living. We will build a daily confidence in the Bible’s truth that liberates us from false ideas and superstition. And, because Christ has been raised from death, we will look forward to our being raised from death because he promises he will make “everything new” [Revelation, chapter 21, verse 5].

]]> (Bill Young) Bill Young Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:31:44 +0000