At The Cross

Steve Arterburn

As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross.  That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ.  But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.

As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way.  You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks.  Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.

Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere.  He had similar emotions.  The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38).  He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible.  But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39).  Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.

You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life.  But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions.  As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.

A Partial Fast

Steve Arterburn

Do you feel like your being swallowed up by life?  Fasting can be an effective means of keeping you from being consumed by your surroundings.  Daniel’one of the leading Jewish young men taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar’undertook several disciplines in order to maintain his faith and identity.  His decision to fast was one of the most visible ways by which he avoided being fully absorbed into that culture.  

Daniel did something in particular that you might find helpful.  He frequently practiced partial fasts in which he abstained from certain items but not from food altogether.  A partial fast is a limitation of food or drink but not a complete abstention from them.  A good way to develop the discipline of partial fasting is to begin with a fast from lunch one day to lunch the next.  You can choose to give up soda or certain types of food you’d normally eat during this time.  Instead of eating, take time to pray and read your Bible.  

A normal fast can often be more disruptive to daily life’and that’s a good thing at times.  But at other times you may sense the need to support your prayers or spiritual activities with fasting, but feel the need to sustain your food intake.  In such times, you may give up certain items’and these don’t have to be limited to food. How about fasting from video games, Internet surfing, or television?

Bringing Our Hard Questions To God

Steve Arterburn

Life often seems unfair, doesn’t it?  Because of this many men conclude God is unreasonable in his demands.  This is what a man named Job thought.  As you probably remember Job was a man who lost his all of his children, his wealth, his health, and his reputation.  

In the midst of his suffering, Job cried, ‘How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble! Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither.  Like the shadow of passing cloud, we quickly disappear.  Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me?  Who can create purity in one born impure?’ (Job 14:1-4).

That’s a good question’one that most of us have asked in one form or another.  Job persisted in his questioning because deep inside he believed God to be good, even though he was suffering terribly.  He was honest with his emotions and questions, but he never stopped seeking God.

Are you suffering?  Have you lost someone you love?  Have you received bad news from the doctor?  Lost your home or job?  While working through the pain and unfairness of life, you may have to be satisfied with trusting God, even though you simply don’t understand.  But be assured’if you trust God and seek him in the hard times, your good Father will respond with blessing and faith.