MARCH 8
   
Today's Bible Readings
     Exodus 19
     Job 37
     Luke 22
     II Corinthians 7
 
MEMORIZE TODAY
''For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." (II Corinthians 7:10)
 
GODLY SORROW NOT TO BE REGRETTED
            Occasionally a strange minister will come our way. That minister could be called the Rev. Dr. Trouble, or Rabbi Hurt, or perhaps Bishop Pain. It is inevitable that this minister will visit all of us. The question is how will you respond to the trouble and the pain in your life.
            A good translation of our memory verse today is found in the NIV. ''For the wound which is borne in God's way brings a change of heart too salutary, but the hurt which is borne in the world's way brings death.'' Now let me give you the Herrod translation - ''the wound which is borne in God's way brings a change of heart that is so good you don't have any regrets for the wound. You gladly receive the wound, the hurt and the trouble. Because you bore it in God's way it produced a change of heart. The change of heart is so great that you have no regret for the wound but the hurt that is borne in the world's way brings death."
            The difference between people is not the absence of trouble, but the attitude toward the trouble that comes to them.
This verse tells us there are two ways to bear the troubles that come to you in your life ...God's way and the world's way. How will you respond to the pressures brought into your life by this strange minister? God sends pressures that we might experience the comfort of God. The Holy Spirit is ''one who comes to stand beside us, to defend us, to champion our cause, to encourage and strengthen and comfort us.'' You cannot be comforted until you grieve.
God sends the pressures and the resources that we may be equipped to comfort others.  Every time God leads me  a new area of truth, He brings somebody across my path that needs exactly what I have learned. That also works in the reverse, and I have been the recipient of great wisdom from others who have walked where I will never walk.
God sends the pressures that we might be emptied of all self-reliance. If God is going to teach us to rely on Him, the first thing He has to do is destroy our faith in ourselves. It is only when self reliance has been destroyed that we will focus totally on Him. (II Corinthians 1:8-9)
God sends the pressure that we might exhibit the power of God. ''But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. '' (II Corinthians 4:7) It is only as trouble comes into our lives that God can deliver us and bring glory to Himself.
God allows the pressures that they might be expressed in our life the very life of Jesus Himself. (II Corinthians 4:10-12) The life of Jesus resides in my body and He wants to get out and touch the lives of others, but there is only one way the life of Jesus can flow, and that is through a wound. God allows wounds to come into our lives so that His life can work in others.
            As I look at the full panorama of God's activity in my life and ministry, I am reminded of something a famous psychiatrist once wrote.      ''Someday, given time, the most difficult experiences of our lives will become to us the most precious."
 
PRAY FOR THE WORLD
            The Republic of China that we know as Taiwan has an exploding population that now numbers more than 28 million souls. The people of Taiwan do not want to be a part of mainland China, but China insists that they belong to them and should be a part of their government. This has been a constant source of difficult negotiations between the United States and China. We are very friendly toward Taiwan and even provide weapons and advice for their security and   protection.
           Taiwan remains the only major Han Chinese population in the world where the spiritual breakthrough is yet to come. They have been hit hard by their persecution from the Mainland and by natural disasters such as the earthquake in 1999 that left 2,400 dead, and 43,000 homes destroyed.
            Perhaps  the  greatest  need  for you  to  focus  on  today  as you  pray  for  Taiwan  is the  need  for training   Taiwanese Christian leaders, and particularly the pastors. This area is improving, but it is still an area of deep and serious concern.
 
A WORD FOR YOUR WORLD TODAY
''The strange minister of pain and adversity will visit every saint." Ron Dunn