LifeSpots … 20-second Bible teachings for everyday believers


🆘 Bad things happen—but why?
Ed Gallagher / john524goodnews.org / December  2017
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If you missed some of the previous series—“How to love the Bible”—click here to see that series.
>> Ironcally, this ends our LifeSpots adventures, as Ed goes into end-of-life care following an unexpected illness. God be with you in every way!

A holy question   
    “Why are these things happening to me?” “I believe, but why am I under attack?” “I prayed—so why did my loved one die?” “Why did God permit me to be abused?” “Why do we suffer, when we’re good?” “I’m desperate—why doesn’t God do something?” Why? The question demands cause, reason and purpose. “Why?” appears about 50 times in Job, the Bible’s oldest book. When we ask why, we’re in company with people like David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jesus in his darkest hour—“My God, why have you forsaken me?” So here’s comfort. Your “Why?” questions—they are valid, important, and even holy.

Seeing and guiding
    Our desperate “Why?” questions demand cause, reason and purpose. When a terrible thing happens in my life, it would help if I could make sense of it, if I could see the big picture of it—past, present and future. Sometimes, I think I see a piece of the larger scene. Mostly, I do not. I am human. I am not timeless, not all-seeing, not all-knowing. I am not all-wise—I am barely wise at all. But God is! He is mine, and I am his. Because of this, I can cling to God in peace and hope. I cannot see clearly and I cannot guide myself. But like a child with a parent, I can rely on Heaven to do the seeing and the guiding for me. Hebrews 10:23.

Let it be now
    Our “Why?” questions are good and holy. Jesus himself, in his darkest hour, asked “Why?” “Why?” comes from the sacred heart of our experience. To one disciple’s perplexity, Jesus gave an immortal answer: “Suffer it to be so now.” Matthew 3:15 (KJV). This is priceless. Throughout our lives there will be things too strange for us to understand. We protest, we object, we complain. But our Lord says, Let it be so now. Do not exhaust yourself raging against it. Do not drive yourself to despair over it. Do not jeopardize your soul over it. Let it fall into my responsibility. There is a larger purpose—and together, you and I will fulfill it.

God has responded
    There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. Only two describe a time that’s trouble-free. Genesis 1—“In the beginning.…” And Genesis 2—“Creation was completed.” Then, abruptly, comes chapter 3—“Now the serpent.…” This is our life. Because of wrong choices by created beings, we find we are not on a picnic; we are in a battle. Ultimately, we receive victory, justice and restoration. But along the way, there is challenge, suffering, waiting. Praise God for blessings we enjoy, while we engage the battle! There is cause, there is reason, there is purpose. We face unknowns. But God has shared a big picture—he has responded to our “Why?”

Passage guaranteed
    Imagine yourself as a worker on a cruise liner. You serve on deck 3. After a night of rough seas and unhappy passengers, you call up to the bridge. “Hey Captain,” you say, “I’m not comfortable with what you’re doing. I’m coming up to the bridge. I’m taking your job. You can come down and take mine.” Yes, it’s preposterous. But how often, when we go through rough seas, we feel we see things better than God, could handle things better than God. Our Captain smiles. He places his hand on our shoulder. “I guarantee you safe passage,” he says. “Your assignment is to let me do my job, while you continue your work, relying on me.”

Loving God for himself
    More than 400 years ago, there was a king who loved his wife so deeply that his love inspired everything he did. It was a kingdom of glory. But then, his wife became ill. The king fasted, the king prayed, but the queen died. The king changed. He abandoned his connection with God. He became Ivan the Terrible, one of the most cruel tyrants of history. This raises a critical question each of us must answer: Do I love God for God himself—or do I love God solely for the good things he brings me right now? The key for everything is trust and connection. Are you finding God worth loving for himself? No matter what!
 
Whose will be done?
    Suppose that, from the day you first believed, you could determine what percentage of losses and sorrows God would miraculously exempt you from. Would you choose 10 percent, or 30 percent? Perhaps 60 percent? Would you want 100 percent—and if not, why not? Alternatively, would you trust yourself to your faithful Creator, with the commitment, “Not my will, but Thine be done”? Sooner or later, we must claim full comfort in our Lord. “I've said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (CEB).

Believing from the start
    At the exact time I write this, I am completing a meaningful trial that makes me ask “Why?” Two weeks of distraction, expense and anxiety—when God could have resolved the problem easily when I first took it to him in prayer. Know what I mean? So here’s counsel for us. “God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (CEB). In relationship with God, my trial is not for evil, it’s for good. I am already starting to see this. But whether I see it or not, it’s true! So if it’s true, I might as well believe it—better near the start of my trial, than at the end.

A genuine view
    Someone might have told you that when you trust God, you are delivered from adversity. This is not a genuine Bible view. Praise God—there are some times when we do receive deliverance from adversity! But at all times, we receive deliverance in adversity. Job cried out “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15 (NKJV). Isaiah, discouraged, testified “Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God.” Isaiah 49:4 (NLT). John the Baptizer, dying in a dungeon, was the greatest man who ever lived. Luke 7:28. Jesus himself was not delivered from the Cross, but in the Cross. In your adversity, you can trust your mighty Deliverer.

The greater glory
    Life takes its toll physically. But spiritually, it can be a different story. “Even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (CEB). This is our inside miracle, and the devil cannot stop it. God takes our every loss, trial and sorrow, and reshapes it into something meaningful for our present growth and final joy. “Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison.” Verse 17. In your struggle, visualize this “stockpile of glory”! Believe it—God is producing something incredible in you, and for you.

Into the sanctuary
    An ancient songwriter looked at prevailing evil, and sank into depression. Then, by the Spirit, he entered God’s sanctuary—where suddenly he understood. Psalm 73:17. The sanctuary is our hiding place. It’s where righteousness and peace “kiss each other.” Psalm 85:10. The sanctuary is the heart of God, torn open for us. The sanctuary is our guarantee that in the end, everything works for good. The sanctuary is the Cross of Jesus. There at the Cross, we see ultimate suffering and total relief; extreme sacrifice and perfect victory. Bring your trial now to the Cross of Jesus. Enclosed in God’s sanctuary, you will find everything you need.

>> Sorry—end of our LifeSpot adventure. Why not write some for yourself?

LifeSpots are excellent for personal inspiration …
and for church bulletins & newsletters
> New LifeSpots appear by every Thursday
LifeSpots may be republished noncommercially with this credit & source:
Ed Gallagher (john524goodnews.org)

Current LifeSpot Series

🙏🏾 “If my people pray …”
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Pointers & tips on prayer … drawn from the Bible & from life … for individual prayer + prayer together … pointed & brief … a new item added every week (except December & January)
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⛪️ Christian faith

🔑 Prayer–praise–healing

🏮 Christian service

 Resurrection–return–judgment–death

🌼 Church

📖 Scripture–the Word

😓 Crisis, trial

🍒 Wise living

🌋 Holy Spirit

🎄 Extra—LifeSpots for Christmas & New Year
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🌄 Life in Christ

⛪️ CHRISTIAN FAITH—LifeSpots
> Is Christian faith viable? … It remains the largest community of faith worldwide, but sometimes it appears confused, weak, ill advised and persecuted … is Christianity still a reasonable choice? … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Seven blessings of Revelation … Seven incredible blessings spoken by Jesus in the Bible's closing book …these will change your day, and perhaps your life … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Stand for something! … Four people in modern times who took a costly stand—prompted by their sense of duty and their faith in God … two women and two men who speak into our experience today … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Stories of rescue … Four dramas that illustrate God's big drama for getting us rescued from our natural fate … USL  view-download  … A4 view-download
> The beginning … Uncertain about the end? … grab some answers from the beginning … USL view-download A4 view-download

Archived LifeSpots are best accessed from your computer, rather than your mobile device.

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🌄 LIFE IN CHRIST—LifeSpots
> A covenant in Christ … The everlasting covenant—God's agreement, contract, commitment and guarantee that we're safe in him forever—do you know it? … photo seriesUSL view–download … A4 view–download
> Abide in Christ … How often we strive to abide in Christ, but striving is the opposite of his promise to abide in us!—will you accept and rest in his promise right now? … USL view–download A4 view–download
> In Christ Dominant theme, transforming reality, astonishing privilege, profound truth, incredible presence—no shortage of superlatives. Is this sublime experience yours right now? … photo seriesUSL view–download … A4  view–download
> It’s about life … How's your life?—even in dark days, can you feel the sunshine? God can make your life brighter and more beautiful … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Path of humility … The last thing most of us in modern society want to follow is a path of humility, but take it from God—it's the one true way for ultimate peace and success … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Pure victory … Impurity, selfishness and pride—three big sins, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all of them—will you claim your victory? … USL view–download A4 view–download

🏮 CHRISTIAN SERVICE—LifeSpots
> Connecting for Christ … You can have a significant influence for Christ right where you are, each day you live … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Heroes for us … Inspiration from twelve Christian heroes spanning the 17th to 20th centuries—some of whom you've probably never heard of … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Lead like Moses … An 80-year-old with an embarrassing résumé gets called to shape desperate slaves into a holy community—how does he do it? … photo series USL view–download … A4  view–download
> Leading from within … History and nature challenge our common view of influential leadership—are you ready for this? … photo series USL view–download … A4  view–download
> Living as a disciple … If you know yourself to be a sinner, you're the one God is looking for to become a learner, a follower, and a listener … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Living as an apostle … How can we break this gently?—our traditional view of apostleship is not God's view of it, according to the New Testament—so let's discover God's view … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Make it better … One solid look at the world can make us feel powerless to help—but for believers, there are four things we can do that will make a difference … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Share the news … No surprise: our modern view of what it means to be an evangelist doesn't square with God's perspective in the New Testament—so let's consider God's view … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Three steps with Jesus … Step one is to follow him—can you guess steps two and three?—these steps are not for specialists, but for all who choose to followphoto series … USL view–download A4 view–download

🔑 PRAYER–PRAISE–HEALING—LifeSpots
> Four forgotten miracles Two men robbed of communication, a servant with a slashed-off ear, a woman bent low for 18 years—insignificant people with significant affliction, healed by the Christ who lives today … USL view–download … A4  view–download
> In conversation with God … Prayer is the way in which we include God in our conversation—mind with mind, spirit with Spirit, friend with friend—beats the ritualistic model every time! … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Praise power … Praise: a devil-defying choice of attitude, an act of faith that connects with Heaven and changes everything—will you consider making it a big part of your life? … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Priesthood of prayer … "He has made us priests"—it's in the Bible—and a primary role for priests is to intercede for others—will you come into a priesthood of prayer? … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Also check out “If my people pray” … a new resource … pointers & tips on prayer … for individual prayer + prayer together … pointed & brief … a new item added every week … USL view-download A4 view-download

🌼 CHURCH—LifeSpots
> Bring back church! … Think Christian faith is on the wane? … think again … solid growth is happening, but only as we get back to original church … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Can we love? … How many commandments are there? … at least 11, since Jesus added a massive one … but is your church keeping the 11th commandment? … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Change and church There was once a leader who brought "too much change, too fast," and people were scared … that would be Jesus … how do you relate? … photo series … USL view-download … A4  view-download
> Connecting … Disconnection, isolation … it's the scourge of modern life … but a super opportunity for you and your church … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Five ways to help a church die … Sounds depressing, but it's not! … recognize five dynamics that can kill a church off, but also see God's encouraging solution … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Five ways to help a church live … Surrender it and rattle it—two of the five, to arouse your curiousity … blunt but encouraging directions from God’s Word that can get your church going … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Gift of pastors … The shepherd–pastor: despite efforts to demerit this concept, it remains the Bible's dominant model … does your pastoral shepherd have your support? … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Healthy church … Leadership and love … two of five critical dynamics for church health and growth … check out the other three, and take advantage of our "precious and fruitful hour" … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Living church, dying world … The world is dying, but is the church living? … let's reclaim Jesus' commission, and his promise … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Praying church … Church growth Jesus' way: get rid of the noisy majority, so the quiet minority can sneak in and find a place to pray … do you support this strategy?  … photo series … USL  view-download  … A4 view-download
> Sins of the church … Steady yourself for a challenge over four popular sins, pointedly described in the Word … we have some repenting to do! … USL view-download A4 view-download
> The power and the glory … No matter what your question, the answer lies in these words: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." … A message for you personally, and for your church … USL view-download A4 view-download

 RESURRECTION–RETURN–JUDGMENT–DEATH—LifeSpots
> Good news of judgment … Judgment is not the bad news we dread—it’s the good news we need! … six reasons why, straight from God’s Word … USL view–download A4 view–download
> I am coming soon … It’s a belief that might appear absurd in today’s world—but it’s truth that comes from Heaven … the return of Jesus Christ to Earth is real, believable, imminent and public … will you put faith in the ultimate solution? … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Minor prophets—major message … Judgment is there—but so is mercy, Messiah, trust and blessing … in these 12 short Bible books you’ll find plenty of challenge for your life—but more than enough hope to leave you confident and encouraged … USL view-download A4 view-download
> The return … It's not Earth upgrade we can expect—it's Earth restart—Jesus will return in your future, but has he arrived in your present? … USL view–download A4 view–download
> We will rise … The real you, the real me, will rise again—not so much to an "afterlife" as to the true life for which our present life is a preparation—let's get set for it! … USL view–download A4 view–download

📖 SCRIPTURE–THE WORD—LifeSpots
> Daily bread … "Give us this day our daily bread"… chief request in a preeminent prayer … let's follow our hunger to the table of the Lord … USL view-download … A4  view-download
> How to love the Bible … This series of nine LifeSpots is for those who are new to the Bible—how and where to start, how to choose a version, what approach to take, how to make it real … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Live the Word … The Scriptures call for deep study, imagination, comparison, acceptance and action … see recommendations on how to make Bible study enjoyable and effective … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Powered by the Word … God's Word is "the sword of the Spirit" … a chief weapon to defeat evil … see how it can give you the power you need … USL view-download A4 view-download
> The good word, now! … The Bible holds the exact prophetic message that our world needs … like the ancient prophets, will we risk our popularity to understand and share God’s headlines about the future of our society? … a series especially suitable for a new year … USL view-download A4 view-download
> The Word and the church … Churches often focus on programs, procedures, styles, policies … big mistake! … we thrive when we focus on "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," so let's give top place to the Word … USL view-download A4 view-download
> And … be sure to see the eBooks page for “Powerful texts of the Bible"

😓 CRISIS, TRIAL—LifeSpots
> Bad things happen—but why? … An important series of 10 LifeSpots, looking loss and death squarely in the face … USL view-download
> Confronting anxiety … There's reason to be anxious about the world, life, eternity and church … but even more reason not to be anxious! … USL view-download A4 view-download 
> Counsel for crisis Character is not discovered when things go well, but when things fall apart … see God's counsel for that experience … photo series  USL view-download … A4  view-download
> It’s going to be good! … Into our suffering, displacement and darkness comes healing, restoration and light … your present and future really can be a delight! … USL view-download … A4 view-download
> Resolving anxiety …  Anxiety is a sign of how wicked we are … now that's settled, let's lay our anxiety on the One who loves us, lifts us up, and carries our loads … photo series … USL view-download  …  view-download
> Sound of sheer silence … A prophet who lived nearly 3,000 years ago speaks to our troubling situations today! … see how, like Elijah, we can come to grips with fear and failure by listening in silence with God … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Stories of trust … Brother Yun, Calvin Fairbank, Susannah Spurgeon, Viktor Frankl, Armando Valladares … heard of them? … be inspired by their testimonies, and more … USL view-download A4 view-download

🍒 WISE LIVING—LifeSpots
> Christ & culture—choice time … The internet and social media—potentially larger forces of change than almost any in history … there are choices we must make about security, truth, respect, privacy, focus, and love … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Decisions … Most things that happen to us in life come from our own options—but despite poor choices, we can select our destiny with Christ—see eight decisions that really count … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Family treasure … Family is a "little church" given in trust—find inspiration and encouragement in your family dynamics … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Four respectable sins … Indignation and accumulation—these are the first two—take a look and decide if these or the other two have any remote application to you—or perhaps to someone you know! … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Four truths about time … Time is Heaven's gift placed daily at your door in 24-hour segments—you customize it, you determine its value. you develop its width and breadth … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Friendship treasure … Do you receive and give the gift of friendship?—friendship energizes hope, affirms faith, inspires courage, conveys wisdom, transmits joy—and it symbolizes our relationship with Christ—“I have called you friends" … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Gift of health … “I pray that you may enjoy good health”—that's in the Bible—see how you can sign up for Heaven's health plan … USL view–download A4 view–download
> God’s rest … The climax of Creation week is a shock—something significant in the air—have you experienced God's finished work?—do you enjoy his family time? … USL view–downoload A4 view–download
> Humble yet? … "Proud humanity"—history in two words, a lifelong struggle for us all—understand the problem, and see your solution in Jesus … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Legacy … Just as important as the legacy you receive is the one you pass on—not only to family, but to all within your influence—see how God is your legacy forever … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Life on Earth … The world is on its way out, and we must come to grips with that—the good news is that Jesus has promised to come back and welcome us into new life in a new world—ready for that? … USL view–download A4 view–download 
> Money talk … More than 2,000 verses in the Bible talk about money—our hearts frollow our treasure, so it's a critical subject—see eight counsels that can help increase financial peace in your life … photo seriesUSL view–download … A4  view–download
> Thriving on life … Christian belief can bring joy into your life—as long as it's the genuine thing rather than religious ritual—eight counsels from God's Word that can help your life become better than ever … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Vision for God … The farther we see, the farther we go—Scripture encouragement to look beyond your immediate situation and see the suffering God behind, over and in all things … USL view–download A4 view–download

🌋 HOLY SPIRIT—LifeSpots
> Holy Spirit and you … So far, what’s your experience of the Holy Spirit? … if you're uncertain, this is a must-read—open your life to new levels of intimacy, motion, power, true baptism, and holiness … USL view-download A4 view-download
> Power in the Spirit … Earth, wind, fire and water—take these away, and what's left?—no wonder essential elements raise this question: Have I given the Spirit essential power in my life? … USL view–download A4 view–download
> Spirit gifting … The core word for "grace" and for "gifts" of the Spirit is the same—which means if you are under the grace of God, you're 100% eligible for Spirit gifting, too! … photo series … USL view–download … A4  view–download
> The Spirit and the gifts … Surprise: the New Testament nowhere tells us to discover our spiritual gifts—but it does tell us to learn about them, desire them, practice them, protect them … photo seriesUSL view–download … A4  view–download
> Also … be sure to see the eBooks page for “Spirit Gifting … a Bible study guide on how God empowers people for Christian service"