August 15

Today's Bible Reading
            I Samuel 5, 6, 
            Romans 5
            Jeremiah 43
            Psalms 19
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
            I remember those times of going through some breaking and difficulty in my life, remembering these verses, and praying, “Thank you, Lord, but I believe I have all the patience and perseverance that I want right now.” That was when I learned what produces it, and I was weary of the tribulations. The truth is…you cannot have things like character and hope without the tribulation. So here are some awesome and often misunderstood truths.
            Just take a glance at the incredible result of this tribulation Paul introduces here. He says, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” It is at this point in our lives that we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ's interests and purposes in other people's lives. Jesus has an interest in every individual person. This is the point at which we are no longer completely guided by our own interests and desires; in fact, this is one of the greatest tests of a relationship with Jesus. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus, and for others. Paul's entire purpose in life was that he might bring others to Jesus. He always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I become all things to all men that I might, by all means, save some.” (I Corinthians 9:22)
            When someone thinks that to develop a holy life, he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others.  He is on a pedestal, and useless, and eventually fruitless. 
            Paul is letting us know here that he had learned to be a doormatwithout resenting it. He made statements like, ''I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren...'' (Romans 9:3) Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all. For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement, and Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.
            So we must be aware that the kind of love that is poured out toward others by the Holy Spirit begins with tribulation and testing. We must be broken and bleed in order to bless. That kind of love becomes spontaneous and is maintained through discipline. 
            They asked the sculptor how he made the horse. He replied, “I took a rock and knocked off everything that did not look like a horse.” Today, God is at work in your life, chipping away everything that does not look like Jesus. Receive with gratitude that work of God in your life because the results will be incredible.
            In Algeria, the Berber peoples may comprise as much as 40% of the population. The Arab majority has long sought to impose their rule, culture, and language, and resent Berber involvement. Their forebears were once Christian and many thousands have turned to Christ.  Pray that this will increase.