"Brethren, I have written a letter unto you" (Hebrews 13:22).

Archived Devotionals

July 27, 2020

Not "If" But "When"

My Dear Friend,

      Being In His most basic parable, The Sower and The Soils (Mark 4:1-20), Jesus laid out some universal facts concerning the Christian walk. He did not say it would be easy.

     To the contrary, He warned of three very specific dangers that would negate the fruitfulness of His Word in our lives. They are fouls, stones, and thorns; or, more specifically, wrong thoughts, hard experiences, and the allurements of this world.

     Every time we receive God's Word, Satan's demonic emissaries, the "fouls of the air," will in some way suggest to our minds thoughts of unbelief, doubt, or carnal reasoning to steal the Word we have just joyfully received. We must learn to jump over these mental hurdles efficiently and continue running our race in childlike faith in God's Word.

     Every time we receive God's Word, Satan will try to use the things of this world: its many causes of anxiety, the alluring desire for more money or material things, or other desires and interests trying to capture first place in our hearts … and put Jesus in second place! Here's another challenge we must face.

     And every time we receive God's Word, Satan will send (and God will permit) adversity, or "a time of testing" (Luke 8:13). In Jesus' words, "when affliction or persecution arises for the Word's sake," the enemy's hope is that this adversity will "offend" us (Mark 4:17). “Offend” means “cause to sin” or “make to stumble.”

     More specifically, offenses occur in three stages. First, we become disappointed and disillusioned with Jesus due to shocks, wounds, injustices, losses, griefs, insults, humiliations, or other hardships or adversities. Second, in this disillusioned state, we stop closely following, worshiping and serving the Lord. Third, because no one can stand still in the spiritual realm, we fall back into our old ways of independent living and our old sins, though now, however hard we may try, we cannot find peace, contentment, or joy in them. Unless we recover from this "offended" condition, no kingdom fruit will grow in or through us the rest of our lives.

     One reason we become offended at adversities is that some of these tests of faith, patience, loyalty, and love are very hard, especially as we go farther in the Christian walk. To say less or other is to lie. But God's supernatural Spirit and care is always amazingly faithful to see us through all our adversities, however long or difficult, if we will only remain humble and willing. The Lord has promised, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

     But another reason we stumble is we go into the Christian walk with naïve, unrealistic, and clearly unbiblical expectations. Now that we're on God's side, we expect smooth sailing. Well, yes, we can now enjoy peace with God, the peace of God, and peace with other committed believers. But there's more to this Christian walk.

     We now also have a new enemy, the prince of this world and his demonic minions. They are set to stop us from growing in God's Word, walking closely with Jesus, becoming like Him, and producing kingdom fruit for Him. And they will do it if we don't heed our Lord's warning.

     When forewarning us of adversity, Jesus taught not "if" affliction or persecution arises, but "when" it does. He had no doubts about this. Neither should we. Satan will come after God's Word, one way or another, every time it is sown in our heart to prevent it from producing God's intended results in our lives and labors. Why does our omnipotent Father let him do this?

     Our Father is challenging us. He wants us to grow, not stagnate. Spiritual growth comes not by being inundated by constant blessings but by overcoming adversities and enduring difficulties - all while remaining trusting, obedient, and close to Jesus. This has never changed and never will. The Book of Acts, church history, and the current experience of deeply committed Christians worldwide confirm this. That's why Jesus chose to use the word "when," not "if," when warning us to be ready for tests.

     Oddly, we expect strong challenges as a matter of course in every other area of life. To be a medical doctor, we must endure years of rigorous studies and internships. To be a superior athlete, we must train hard and compete regularly. To be a top-flight musician, we must practice our instrument endlessly and participate in concerts regularly. To build a successful business we must work exhaustingly and limit distracting or time-consuming interests. In all these examples we willingly endure sacrifices, hardships, and pain to attain worldly goals and rewards. Yet, strangely, when it comes to being a deeply committed, student-follower of the Son of God, we imagine life will be a piece of cake!

     Let us stir our hearts to remember Jesus never said the Christian life would be easy. Let us put away our naivete and begin "count[ing] it all joy" and "in every situation give thanks" when trials come (James 1:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18), knowing well Satan wants to stumble us but Christ wants to grow us.

     Let us never again object to enduring troubles for the Word's sake. Rather, let us remember, if our Christianity costs us nothing, it is worth nothing.


Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261