Sunday, January 29, 2023



Calling the First Disciples


As Jesus began his ministry, he traveled from the Judea wilderness into Galilee to proclaim the gospel. He also began to call the men to him that would be the twelve apostles. 

Matthew tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum, which was on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 4:12-13) 

When walking alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, who were brothers, fishing. They were standing in shallow water throwing weighted nets into the water to trap fish.He called them to follow him. They did so immediately. (16-18) 

He then saw James and John, also brothers and fishermen, and called them. They were better off financially: they had a boat and hired servants.They left their boat and followed him. (20) 

Maybe Jesus was thinking of Jeremiah 16:16, where God says that, in restoring Israel, he will send for many fishers to catch men and women. 

So, Jesus now had four disciples consisting of two sets of brothers who were all fishermen. 

Note that Jesus did not invite the men to follow him. Nor did they seek him. He summoned them. He had authority to do so. John 15:16 records Jesus as saying :“you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023


Ezra read the Law before the men and women Israel who gathered before the Feast of Tabernacles. The Levites stood by and explained the readings to the people. The people worshipped, but also wept and mourned as they heard the law. 

Every reading of scripture is an encounter with God; it is God speaking.

The Word must be the center of what the church does. Acts 2:42 tells us the earliest church devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching. 

Paul instructed Timothy not to neglect the public reading of the Word.

The Word was also explained by the Levites. (8:17)

they read it clearly; explaining the words;

they gave the meaning of the text, explaining it clearly.

The Word brings repentance.They wept upon hearing it.

Obedience to the Word brings joy. They were instructed to celebrate the feast with rejoicing. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023


 The Baptism of Jesus


Jesus came to the place John was baptizing. Mark’s telling of the story is brief: “Jesus came down from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan”. (9) He tells nothing of the conversation between John and Jesus as Matthew does. (Matthew 3:14-15) 

Instead, Mark focused on what happened after Jesus’ baptism. There are three things. They all signify the inauguration of the kingdom of God. The kingdom will not be fully realized until the end of this age, but is inaugurated by Jesus, as he will declare in verse 15. 

These three things also testify that Jesus is the “mightier one” that John said was coming (7) and the Messiah\Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.

The three things are:

  1. the heavens are opened above him
  2. the Holy Spirit descended onto him
  3. the heavenly voice spoke to him.

First, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were torn open. The veil between heaven and earth was torn away for a moment. The word for “torn” here is the same word used in Mark 15:38 when the veil before the Holiest Place in the temple is torn in two from top to bottom. The word is “schisma”.

The opening of the veil between heaven and earth signifies a revelation or appearance of God. For example, Isaiah 64:1 expresses longing for God to rend the heavens and come down and make his presence known.  Some non-canonical books, also mention this as a sign of the coming of the Messiah.

The second sign is the descent of the Spirit. 

The descent of the Spirit is meaningful. Jews in the time of Jesus believed the Holy Spirit ceased speaking to Israel with the end of the Old Testament prophets. Since the Spirit did not speak, there were no prophets. To the Jewish audience reading Mark, this would be a sign that Jesus would speak God’s word. 

Additionally, the descent of the Spirit indicates that Jesus is the servant prophesied in Isaiah 42. Isaiah records the Lord saying: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him…”

The English versions state that the Spirit came down “on” him. That may not completely capture what happened. One commentator says a better translation would be that the Spirit descended “into” him. The Apostle John records John the Baptist as saying “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. (John 1:32) So, the Spirit remained with Jesus during his earthly life. 

Third, the Father spoke to Jesus from heaven. He declared that Jesus is his Son. Jesus is the Son of God. He is deity, fully God as well as fully man. He is the one God referred to in Psalm 2:7: I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”  

The Father was also pleased with the Son, showing that he was obedient to the will of the Father. His perfect obedience and righteousness was necessary so that it could be imputed to us who are in Christ. (Romans 3:21-22)

The baptism of Jesus is a Trinitarian event. Jesus, the Son, is baptized. The Holy Spirit descends upon him. The Father spoke and testified to Jesus’ identity as his Son and to his being pleased with him. And we see something else of the relationship between the members of the Godhead: love. The Father called the Son his beloved. The Father loves the Son. 

The Father and the Son cannot be the same person, as Modalism teaches. Otherwise, the whole event of the Father speaking to the Son from heaven could not happen. 

The baptism of Jesus is also important because it inaugurates his public ministry. We see this when the disciples sought one to replace Judas in the group of twelve. One of the requirements was that the man had to have been with Jesus from his baptism through his ascension. (Acts 1:21-22)

The Temptation of Jesus


As soon as Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit (Mark again uses the word “immediately”), the Spirit drove him, or cast him out, into the wilderness. He compelled Jesus to go into a desolate place filled with wild beasts. Before  going public with his ministry, he had to go through this crucible of testing. 

As the First Adam was tested by Satan, so was the Second Adam, Jesus. The contrast, though, is remarkable. Adam was in a beautiful garden while Jesus was tested in the desert. All of Adam’s needs were met. He had all of the trees of the garden, save one, from which he could eat. Jesus fasted. Adam was surrounded by animals that were under his dominion. Jesus was with the wild animals. 

Jesus was physically weakened during the test. But the point of the test was the same. The issue is, will you believe God’s word? 

Satan denied the truth of God’s statement that Adam would die if he ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3:4) 

Satan tempted Jesus by citing God’s word, but out of context. Matthew’s gospel shows us this by quoting the dialogue between Satan and Jesus. There may have been more tests than the three recorded. The text reads like Satan tempted Jesus continually over the 40 day period. (13)

As we know, Adam failed the test. But Jesus passed the test and relied on the truth of God’s word. 

The Jewish readers of this gospel might have also thought of another test. As Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years. Israel faced many tests which required them to believe God’s word to provide for them and protect them. 

They generally failed those tests, including their refusal to actually go into the promised land of Canaan because they were afraid of the tall people there. In contrast, Jesus trusted God, believed God, and passed the test. 

So, Jesus, as God’s Son, aided by the Spirit, is tasked with bringing in the kingdom of God, which includes the defeat of Satan, God’s adversary. The word “satan” literally means “adversary”. 1 John 3:8 says: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

The Beginning of Ministry


Jesus had now been commissioned and given the Holy Spirit. So, he began his public ministry. Mark gave us a time stamp. This occurred after John the Baptist had been arrested and put in prison by Herod. 

Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, where he was from. He preached the Gospel. His message is summarized by Mark in three statements:

  1. the time is fulfilled;
  2. the kingdom of God is at hand; and
  3. people must repent and believe in the gospel to enter that kingdom.

Since the Jews were expecting and waiting for their Messiah, Jesus tells them that the time is fulfilled. It is time for the Messiah to arrive and usher in the kingdom of God. And, Jesus is that Messiah.

That being true, the kingdom of God was at hand. It is inaugurated by Jesus as he conquers Satan’s demons and brings people into the kingdom through faith in the message of the gospel. 

So, what is the gospel? Paul summed it up for those who come to faith after the death of Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says it is that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day. 

It appears that during Jesus’s life, the requirement was that they believe he is the Messiah and Son of God. We will later study that Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God was approved and the basis for the building of the church. (Mark 8:27; Matthew 16:13-20)

Jesus also said that repentance is required. We must repent of our sins and turn to Christ in faith to be saved. Zacchaeus in Luke 19 is a great example of repentance. He was chief tax collector in Jericho and rich. He probably collected more than was due, since he mentions it in his confession. After meeting Jesus and hearing the gospel, Zacchaeus vowed to give half of his possessions to the poor and make four fold restitution to anyone he cheated. 

You can join Zacchaeus among the redeemed today. Repent and believe the gospel. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023


  1. God fights his battles and allows us to participate.
  2. Our part is faith and obedience.
  3. God’s methods may not make sense to us.
  4. Our methods are not what God wants.
  5. Do God’s will God’s way. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023



The book itself does not identify its author. The church has long believed the author to be the John Mark mentioned in Acts and 1 Peter. It is believed that Papias wrote between 90 and 100 A.D. that Mark was Peter’s interpreter and wrote the stories Peter told him while they were in Rome together. Papias did not know any of the Twelve, but was a disciple of one of the Apostle John’s disciples. 

Papias’ work, “Exegesis of the Lord’s Oracles”, has been lost. What we have is a reference to it by Eusebius in his book “The History of The Church” which was written in the 300s. Eusebius also wrote that Clement of Alexandria attributed the gospel to Mark and that Mark was a disciple of Peter. Clement died in 215, so his declaration was prior to that.

Irenaeus, writing in the middle 100s, also wrote that Mark was a disciple and interpreter of Peter and wrote down that which Peter preached. 

So, who is this Mark, or John Mark, in the New Testament? He was born to a woman named Mary who was a believer in Jerusalem. The early church met in her house. (Acts 12:12) This is where Peter went after the angel released him from jail. (Acts 12) This house may also have been the place where Jesus and the disciples ate the Last Supper (Mark14:14) and where the disciples and others gathered after the Ascension of Jesus. (Acts 1:13-14)

Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. (Acts 12:25) But, when they reached Perga in Pamphylia, Mark left and returned to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:13) The reason for his departure is not given.

However, Paul saw Mark’s leaving as a desertion. He would not allow Mark to come on the second missionary journey, causing Paul and Barnabas to split up. Barnabas and Mark returned to Cyprus, Barnabas’ home. Mark and Barnabas were relatives. 

Mark later reconciled with Paul. About 10 years after the mission trip, Paul writes the letter to the Colossians from prison in Rome. He indicated that Mark was with him and might come to see them. (Colossians 4:10) 

Paul referred to Mark as a fellow worker when he wrote Philemon from prison. (Philemon 24) He also asked Timothy to bring Mark to him, calling him very useful to him for ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11)

Lastly, we find him with Peter in Rome. Peter referred to Mark as his son. (1 Peter 5:13)

It is encouraging to see that Jesus did not give up or write off the one who failed the great Apostle Paul. Rather, he continued to work in him and through him and even commissioned him to write an account of the life of Jesus. 

Early church tradition holds that Mark then went to Egypt to evangelize and plant churches. He became the first bishop of Alexandria, according to Eusebius.

We do not know the date on which Mark published his gospel. It was apparently written either toward the end of Peter’s life or soon after his death, sometime in the middle 60s. He may have been writing primarily to Christians in the Roman Empire, and especially in Rome itself, to reveal Jesus, his suffering and triumph, to them for encouragement. 

However, Mark would have been widely known by the time he wrote his gospel. He would have been known in Jerusalem, Cyprus, Antioch, and Rome at a minimum. So, his gospel would have been well received across the Empire. 

The Beginning


Mark tells us in the very first sentence what his subject is. It is the gospel, or good news, of Jesus. He refers to the beginning, making us think of the first verse of the Bible, when God began creation. That is appropriate since Jesus begins the new creation. 

This good news is about Jesus. His name is a variant of Joshua, meaning God is salvation. Mark also calls him the Christ, or Messiah, that brings deliverance to God’s people. 

Mark also calls him the Son of God. He is not just a prophet or good man, he is God in the flesh, come to bring God’s salvation. 

Mark’s introduction is also a confession of faith in the person, work, and deity of Jesus.

The Prophecy Fulfilled


Mark does not discuss Jesus’ birth or his genealogy. Instead, Jesus bursts onto the scene as an adult. But he has a herald. And that herald was foretold by the prophets. Mark cites them.

The first cite, in verse 2, is from Malachi 3:1, announcing that a messenger will come before the coming of the Lord and will prepare the way for him. There is here also a reflection of Exodus 23:20, where God says he will send an angel to lead Israel to the promised land. 

Verse 3 contains a quote of Isaiah 40:3. It is about one who is in the wilderness and cries out for the Israelites to prepare the way of the LORD. 

Mark shows us in verse 4 shows us that John the Baptist (or Baptizer) is this messenger. He appeared in the wilderness as prophesied. He looked like a prophet, wearing a camel’s hair robe with a leather belt. (1 Kings 1:8; Zechariah 13:4) Mark portrays him in light of the prophet Elijah. He lived off the land, eating locusts and wild honey. The other synoptic gospels tell more about John’s birth and life. Mark focused on John’s role as the forerunner of Jesus. 

John proclaimed a baptism for repentance and forgiveness to make the people ready for the appearance of Jesus the Son of God. He baptized those who repented. It is reminiscent of the requirement in Exodus 19 that the Israelites purify themselves and wash their clothes in anticipation of God appearing to them to initiate the covenant. 

He was the subject of curiosity, since there had been no prophets for more than 300 years. People came out to see him. They were convicted by his message and were baptized. His ministry attracted people from all over Judea, including Jerusalem. (5)

Years later, the apostle Paul met disciples of John all the way over in Ephesus. (Acts 19:1-7) Even the preacher and evangelist from Alexandria, Apollos, was a disciple of John until Priscilla and Aquila explained to him that Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:24-28) 

As he preached about Jesus coming, he said he was not worthy even to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. This was the job of a servant. Even a disciple could not be compelled to do it. John exalted Jesus, showing that Jesus was greater than he. 

Yet, Mark does not demean John. Three things show his importance. First, Mark’s use of the word “proclaiming” in verse 4 shows that John’s message was from God. 

Second, by applying the Exodus text concerning the guiding angel, Mark reveals John as having a divinely ordained purpose. 

Third, in the Malachi passage, the messenger is identified with Elijah. He was such a great servant of the Lord that he was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. 

Although John baptized, he contrasted his baptism with Jesus’ baptism. (8) John baptized with water to demonstrate repentance. But Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. This again shows the divinity of Jesus, since the Old Testament always attributes the bestowing of the Spirit to God.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


The New Testament speaks of the inheritance given to believers in Jesus.

Our inheritance is not received in this life. Rather, it is reserved in heaven for us. It is our reward. (Colossians 3:24) God qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light as he delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:12) He gave us an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32) 

This inheritance was given to the Son of God, then to us who are adopted into God’s family when we become “in Christ”. We are co-heirs with him. (Romans 8:16-17) 

This inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and fading, kept in heaven for us. (1 Peter 1:4)

Sunday, January 08, 2023



Hosea 8


Crime and Punishment (Israel’s Idolatry & God’s Punishment)

Verse 1 is a warning that invasion is at hand. The trumpet is blown to warn that the enemy is in sight. This is similar to 5:8 where the command to blow the horn is given. The enemy is probably Assyria. It is portrayed as a vulture, a bird of prey.

The background for this may be Deuteronomy 28:49, where Moses recites the curses for disobedience to the covenant: “The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle…”.  

The “house of the Lord” in verse one is not referring to the temple, but to Israel as God’s people. 

The reason for the invasion is Israel’s transgression of the covenant and rebellion against God’s law. Despite their transgressions, the Israelites claim to know God. (2) Yet they have spurned the good, or the “good one”. By rejecting the covenant, they rejected God. So, God will bring an enemy to pursue Israel. (3) 

Being pursued means to lose in a war. It again reflects language fro Deuteronomy 28, where verse 45 says:

 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your god, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you.” 

God has set judgment in motion. 

This scenario is repeated in the time of Jesus. Many of the Jews, and the Pharisees in particular, claimed to know and obey God. Yet they mostly performed rituals without a real love for God. So, Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”. (Matthew 7:21) 

Another complaint is that Israel chose kings who were not chosen or anointed by God. (4) The king was to be God’s representative, not just the choice of the people. 

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 sets forth the requirements for kings. They must be one that God chooses.

God chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. (1 Samuel 9:15) Next, the Lord chose David to be king. (1 Samuel 16:11-12) Then the Lord chose the descendants of David to be the kings of Israel. (2 Samuel 7)

When the kingdom split, the Lord chose Jeroboam to be king of the northern kingdom (Israel). (2 Kings 12) But, from that point on, men became kings through intrigue and assignation, as opposed to being chosen by God. 

God also pointed to their idolatry, worshipping idols they made. This violated both the first and second commandments. The first is to have no other gods and the second is to make no idols. (Exodus 20:3-4)

He especially noted the golden calf. Originally, two golden calves were made by Jeroboam. He placed one in Dan and one in Bethel. By the time of this prophecy, Judah had reclaimed Bethel. (2 Chronicles 13:19) That calf may have been destroyed. 

Thus God refers to only one calf, the one in Dan. He vowed to break the calf into pieces. (6)

There were other idols in Israel, though. As they broke away from the worship of God as prescribed in the covenant, they began to add other gods to their worship. This happened many times in Israel’s history, but certainly Solomon put it into motion by building high places and altars for the gods of the foreign women he married among his 700 wives. (1 Kings 11:1-8) 


Looking To Nations Rather Than God

Part of the covenant was God’s promise to protect Israel from its enemies. (Deuteronomy 28:7, 10) He proved his faithfulness by delivering Israel many times. Yet, Israel in Hosea’s time did not turn to God for protection. Instead, they made alliances. Specifically, they made an alliance with Assyria, which would not protect them. This was Israel sowing the wind. (7)

Now, the consequences of that alliance came upon them. Assyria came to invade and destroy. This was Israel reaping the whirlwind. Further, their crops did not grow (another covenant curse) and, if they did, others, particularly Assyria, would devour them. 

Even when the alliance worked, Israel was crippled by the amount of tribute they had to pay. (10) Israel put itself in a no win situation by trusting men rather than God.


Forgetting God; Experiencing Wrath

Israel was so involved with its idolatry that they forgot God’s law and even thought it to be strange. So many in our culture are this way today. They are ignorant of the Christian faith and the Bible, but criticize it anyway where it would restrict their behavior. 

Because of all of this, God vowed to destroy Israel despite its strongholds and fortified cities. They would be taken into captivity in Assyria, which Hosea compares to a return to slavery in Egypt. (13) 


As there was a trumpet to announce judgment of Israel, there will be a trumpet that sounds for all mankind, announcing the return of Christ and the following judgment which determines the eternal destiny of all mankind.

Hanging out with the people of God does not make you one of them. Doing what God requires, believing and trusting Jesus for salvation, is what makes you one of them. 

We must be diligent to read and know Scripture so we can live in a way that is pleasing to God, and so we can explain it to those who are outside the faith. 

Friday, January 06, 2023

Don't Worry

 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all you anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

"Worry is a form of pride because it involves taking concerns upon oneself instead of entrusting them to God. Believers can trust God because, as their Father, he care for them." ESV Study Bible note. 

Sunday, January 01, 2023


Paul begins chapter 5 writing: “therefore, since we have been justified by faith”. He wrote this because he used chapters 3 and 4 to establish that we are justified by faith and not by works. Having established that doctrine, he now wants to show believers what this means to them.  

Justified means to be made right with God. We are not right with God in our natural state because we are sinners and sin separates us from the Holy God. (Isaiah 59:2) We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (3:20, 23) Verse 10 even calls sinners enemies of God. 

But, having come to Jesus Christ in faith, placing our trust in him alone for forgiveness and eternal life, we have be justified by God’s grace through faith. 

Having established that we have been justified by grace through faith, Paul tells us that we have blessings that arise from our justification.

The first blessing is peace with God, which we have though the Lord Jesus Christ. (1) Before coming to Christ, we did not have peace with the Holy God. Our sin separated us from him. We followed the world opposed to God and the prince of the power of the air. We were not righteous. We were objects of God’s wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-5)  

But now, that has all changed because of the work of Christ on our behalf. We have peace with God. This is not a matter of subjective feelings. It is an objective fact. God is not our enemy. He is not out to get us. He sees us in Jesus his Son, whom he loves. And he loves those who believe in him. 

I was a legalist as a young believer. In my defense, I heard many more sermons about law than about grace. Although I was a pretty good kid, I always felt that I could not measure up to God’s standards. I was right about that. 

But I was ignorant of the full effect of grace. I did not understand that the work of Christ brought peace with God, that I could live in the love of God rather than the wrath of God. When I learned I had peace with God, I also learned to have peace of mind, resting in his grace and love. My subjective feelings followed my understanding of the objective truth. 

In verse 2, Paul wrote of the second blessing we have as a result of being made right with God. We obtained access to this grace through faith. This grace includes our justification, our being made right with God. 

This grace is not a one time event. It is a grace that continues forever. It includes eternal life and the ability to stand before God at the final judgment without condemnation. We are eternally saved by God’s grace, which we come to through faith in Christ. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God (grace), not a result of works, so that no one may boast”. 

Although this grace is an objective fact, it should result in subjective feelings of peace. We no longer worry about God’s wrath. We want to please God, but we do not see God as angry with us or out to get us. 

It is important that we do not project our feelings for our earthly fathers upon our Heavenly Father. Your father may have been abusive. He may have been absent. 

God is for us. Romans 8:32 says as he gave us his Son, he will also graciously give us all the things we need.  He wants what is best for us. He works for our sanctification, making us more like Christ, because that is what is best for us. 

This grace makes us rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (2) Glory comes from God. It is his nature and character. When we are with God in eternity, we will get to fully experience the glory of God. Jesus said he will return in the glory of the Father. (Matthew 16:27) Jude 24 says we will be in the presence of his glory. 

Think about this: If the glory of angels made men and women fall to the ground, if the transfigured Christ made Peter want to stay on the mountain forever, imagine how great it will be to experience the glory of God for eternity. 

We who once scorned God’s glory and fell short of it will get to participate in it. While we have received many blessings from Christ, all of the promises have not been realized. Some will only be realized at the end of this age.

We also wait now for our future glorification. At the resurrection, we will receive glorified bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:43 says our body was sown in dishonor, but is raised in glory. We will be morally perfect. Our new body will be a spiritual body. 

We have borne the image of sinful Adam, but we will bear the image of the sinless Christ. 1 John 3:2 says “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”. 

The word “hope” here does not mean a wish. In the New Testament, “hope” means a sure confidence. We are not uncertain about our future glory. We are certain that believers will be restored. 

The glory that Adam lost by sinning will be restored, but in a greater sense, since we will be fully and finally conformed to image of Christ. As Romans 8:29-30 says, those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Those whom he justified, he will also glorify.  

Once glorified, we will not know suffering. But, at present, we do. Yet, because we presently rejoice in the hope of future glory, we can rejoice in our present sufferings. (3) It is an interesting contrast, since one reason we rejoice in our hope of glory is that there will be no suffering at the time. 

Paul knew about suffering. He had been beaten, stoned, and imprisoned. He was shipwrecked, spending a night and day in the sea. Yet, he did not indulge in self pity. Instead he rejoiced in his sufferings. 

It makes me think of Paul and Silas in Philippi. They were beaten with rods, put in prison, their feet fasted into the stocks. They did not sit around moaning and complaining. Rather, they spent the night praying and singing hymns to God. (Acts 16:25) 

One reason we can rejoice is that suffering, or affliction, accomplishes much in our lives. Paul gives us a list of things that come to us as we suffer. It is a “chain of reasoning” as John Murray says, to prove that we may rejoice in suffering. 

First, suffering produces endurance. Sometimes, when we are afflicted, we cannot fix it. We have to endure it. It might be sickness or grief or financial stress. Sometimes we have to wait patiently for the suffering to end (or at least get better).

That produces endurance. Suffering makes us tougher. When you have endured a trial and kept the faith, you get tougher and you endure the next trial better than the last. That is why you often see people who have suffered showing great faith and even joy in the Lord.

Paul tells us that endurance produces character. As you endure, you focus on what is important and you grow stronger in faith. Some of the greatest Christians you will meet have endured much suffering and grown in character as a result.

Finally, character produces hope. When we endure suffering, we grow in hope because we see the faithfulness of God to get us through difficulties. We develop hope that God will see us through anything. And we have even more hope in glory, knowing how great it will be to be delivered from all suffering when we get to heaven.

In addition, this transformation that occurs in us through suffering is evidence that we have been changed by God, that we are the “new creations” of 2 Corinthians 5:17. 

That changing further strengthens our hope of future glory. We know that God is indeed working in us as Philippians 1:6 says, and that he will continue working until he brings it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ.

As further evidence of our hope, God poured his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave to us. (5) Every believer has the Holy Spirit. He is God dwelling with us. 

His presence in us shows that we will be spared from God’s wrath at the final judgment. As Ephesians 1:14 tells us, he is the guarantee of our full inheritance, which is eternal life in the presence of God. We know that we will not experience God’s wrath later because we experience God’s love now, through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness that we are the children of God. 

So, we will have hope in suffering and as a result of suffering. And we will not be shamed in our hope; we will be vindicated. 

When Jesus returns, when we are resurrected, we are vindicated in our hope as we are raised to be with him for all eternity, an eternity where there is no sin or suffering, only joy and worship in the presence of the Lord Jesus who gave himself so that we can enjoy eternity with him. 

All of these blessings and benefits belong to those who are in Christ. If you have not come to Christ in faith, I urge you to start this New Year by coming to Jesus and being saved.