Fix You – Tough-Times Growth – Part 2
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
Sometimes, bad things happen even to those we’d call ‘good people’. Knowing a Sovereign God who could command a whole legion of angels to meet your every whim, but for some reason doesn’t, might be frustrating at times. So why doesn’t God sort out all our problems? It’s not that God isn’t bothered by your pain. Your pain hurt God so much that He sent His Son Jesus to carry it, to bear it, to redeem not only it, but to redeem us. And then God wants to bring us closer to Himself. He wants us to have good qualities that reflect Him; He wants character, perseverance and hope.
Instead of gift-wrapping those qualities and handing them to us on a plate, He puts us in situations where we have to develop them. Those sorts of situations are not usually nice. God’s using your exact situation to discipline you: to disciple you. ‘No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way’ (Hebrews 12:11).
When you pray for blessings, you might be thinking of achievements, money, or that special someone stepping right into your life. But there’s more to be gained in this life than those things: God sees the bigger picture of your character development. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 give an alternative definition of ‘blessed’. Special mentions go to the poor in spirit and the persecuted. When we do eventually leave this life, and meet God face to face, what will we actually get to take with us? Wrong way to say it: Jesus will take us with Him. And when He takes us, He will take the character He has developed in us. Won’t you let Him develop His character in you?
Heavenly Father, I’m a fixer upper – work Your mercy and miracles in my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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Tough-Times Growth – Part 1
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
The Bible is surprisingly full of people having really tough times. It seems that after thousands of years of getting to know God, mankind still hasn’t been able to get its collective-head around our good, loving God allowing us to face ‘times of trial’. It’s a tough question in theory, but it’s much harder again when you’re living the tough times in reality.
Bad things happening in life is a sad reality of living in a fallen world. Following Jesus is not a ticket for a life free from pain. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, ‘Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows’ (John 16:33). But He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, ‘But take heart, because I have overcome the world.’ This is the good news in a nutshell. God so loved that world that He gave us Jesus. Jesus has overcome our trials and sorrows. He did it all. So we turn to Him when we fail. He forgives. He picks us up. And we can respond again, knowing we have within us His grace to forgive and His grace to grow.
If you break a bone in your leg, the bone will actually heal stronger than it ever was originally; the break will heal, then another layer of bone will grow over the area, reinforcing it. That’s how God works – not just in your body but in your life. For our hearts, being broken could be the start of finding your strength in God. Being broken is finding our forgiveness, our acceptance, and our strength—in Jesus.
Heavenly Father, help me remember that brokenness is a process of being stronger and better – if I allow You to do that in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ Exodus 33:12
Sound is important to our daily lives. But noise (chatter) isn’t. Noise is classically defined as ‘unwanted sound’, and it’s a bigger problem today than ever before. Maybe it’s the same with our Christian faith. Never before have we had as many resources, preaches, podcasts, e-books etc.
But there is a risk. With all this chatter (noise), God’s voice can be harder to hear. Think back to Paul’s day and there was a similar problem:
‘Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 4:15). There were lots of people with helpful advice, but few people to be a ‘spiritual father’ (the type of really wise, holy individual who’d devote themselves to your growth). Think back another couple of thousand years and even Job had his own form of noise pollution: the world famous Job comforters. It seemed like they were saying the right thing – after all, they loved Job. But in the end, they turned out to be just a bunch of nosey, noisy neighbors.
Learning to hear God’s voice above all the others is vital. It takes dedication and practice to listen for Him, it’s the most worthwhile Voice you’ll ever hear.
Heavenly Father, help me to shut out the chatter and zone in on Your voice – Your Word – so I can hear the voice that will give me guidance and support in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Suffering in Style
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, Philippians 1:29
It may not be the kind of message that will see your non-church friends sprinting into a Sunday service, but Jesus never hid uncomfortable truth. ‘Taking up your cross’ wasn’t just poetic language. It meant something very visible for the people of the early church, and they knew it wasn’t nice.
It was this kind of preaching that made the disciples question Jesus’ choice of message, but He didn’t shy away from it. The Bible seems to ask the impossible when it tells us to think of times of suffering as opportunities for punching the air in joy. It seems to have a different outcome in mind to the rest of us;
‘When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…When your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.’ (James 1:3)
We want to be happy. But God wants us to see things from His point of view, leading to holiness. Then, our happiness isn’t based on shakable things.
Joy depends on Jesus, happiness depends on happenings. Paul said that he’d
‘learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.’
The secret? He saw things from God’s point of view, not his own. He had God’s perspective, right priorities and knew the best source of Power.
Heavenly Father, help me to know that the times of “suffering” – for You, are times that I grow and expand and You shape and mold me into someone stronger and better. Help me accept that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Whether you know it or not, you’re being watched. Not by Big Brother, but by other people. And especially by God, ‘For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth.’ (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Sports players, celebrities and sadly even politicians provide society with shaky role models. Even though they’re shot into the limelight, it doesn’t take much scratching to discover all sorts of junk lurking beneath the surface. At a time when things we used to rely on are falling apart, it’s the church’s chance to offer an alternative. So the question you need to ask is- ‘what are you modelling’?
There are countless ways to bless people around you. Is your friend going through a tough time? Take them out for a coffee and encourage them. Are your friends counting the pennies? Give them a generous treat. Has your church leader asked you to serve coffee? Go the extra mile: clean the kitchen while you’re at it. Darkness might be all around but your good deeds can penetrate any gloom. A little love goes a long way,
‘For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are’ (Romans 8:19).
Heavenly Father, help me to be a bright spot to those around me, someone who can reflect Your nature and character. In Jesus’ Name, Amen