buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Character Building”

The Test

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.

However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.

In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).

In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.

Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.

The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.

Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?

We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14

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Chest Moves

You should know by now that I keep my ears and eyes open to prophecy experts. I love to see how God is moving the pieces around. Sometimes it’s not too obvious. We can look back at history and see God working through circumstances, but it’s a little more difficult in real-time. Take the Bush-era, “W” that is. We weren’t too thrilled when the invasion to Iraq happened. But that was just a “chest piece” move by God. We don’t like to think about World War II being a chest piece move, but it was. Israel would not be in possession of their land today (and I know there are those who do not believe they have the rights to it) if it were not for WWII.

I read last night about the Wooden era of basketball at UCLA – seven national championships from 1967 to 1973. I know that isn’t much of a chest piece move. But the dates are significant. I think it has God’s hand print on it. From what I understand coach Wooden was a godly man. I don’t know what became of those young men who came through his program, but God does and knows exactly what He used them for.

1967 was a major step for Israel to get Jerusalem in their possession once again (I know, contested rights). 1973 abortion became legalized; the US got out of the Vietnam War in 1973; and a big Jesus movement happened in that same year. There was much strife between ’67 and ’73. I remember those years being filled with protests and the hippie movement with peace signs everywhere. Everybody wanted peace. Isn’t that what we want today? Peace in every corner of this world? The trouble is there will be no peace ever until Jesus returns.

I believe chest moves are countered by the enemy. One step for God’s Kingdom when bring the enemy to the door. Each move God makes, Satan and his demons will counter, which we will be right in the middle of the conflict. There is a battle going on – first for our soul, second for our walk. If God is moving in us, the enemy is going to make sure we don’t take that step. If there is no storm brewing, then we need to check our walk. Are we in step with God?

Andy Andrews wrote in his last book that it’s the little things that take us where we need to go. It’s the small decisions not the big ones that get us to our destination. I am not a “big picture” kind of person. I like to look at details. I guess that’s the analyst in me. Someone has to help me see the big picture. I can get bogged down in the details. I rely on God to move me away from the details and show me the next thing. I figure when the right time to move comes, God will show me the way. He has done it in the past, and I expect Him to do so in the future.

One thing Andy mentioned in his book was about what’s best. He asked three questions that have to be answered in our hearts to get to the best.

  1. Do you believe God wants the best for you? Think about it. If God loves you as He does, does He really want what’s best for you? Do you believe it?
  2. Do you believe God has a better imagination than you? Ah, YES. That one seems simple enough!
  3. Looking at your life, are you living the best life God has for you? That might be a “no” at this point. But that could change in a split second.

God has something in mind for all of us. He has chest piece moves ready to happen, and He needs people ready to do His work. There are small and large things that need to take place. Some of us will get the small stuff to do; others will get the big stuff. The presidents get the big stuff. Some are chosen to run countries, some are chosen to run large companies; and some are chosen to do the grunt work to help those in charge.

We all have a part to play; however, we have to be in God’s game. The best for us is to be part of God’s plan. We don’t like this word, but we have to surrender our desires and our plans for His. If we believe He loves us and wants the best for us, why would we choose something different? What could happen if we let God have His way in us? The BEST life ever! And the best life ever could impact the world for the better for generations to come. Wouldn’t that be something?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)

Note: Andy Andrew’s book The Little Things published 2017 by W Publishing Group, Nashville, TN

Six Years and Counting

What a difference six years can make. Today is the anniversary of my Mom’s move into her heavenly home. It was extremely heartbreaking to see her depart from this earthly existence. I was by her side as she took her last breath. I remember the moment all too well. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away. The feeling of loss created a hole in my heart. The hole that I experienced on that day seems to have closed a bit more this year. The heartache is not as acute. I still miss her presence. I still miss her touch. But the pain has lessened with each passing year.

Years ago, I asked for eyes to see. I wanted spiritual insight. I believe God has opened my eyes in certain areas. But in some things I am still blind. Each year that passes though, I believe I am growing. The last four years have been significant in my growth. God put me in a place where I learned more about Him. I am still learning to trust Him in different areas of my life. He has made circumstances to see greater growth. I want to see change happening. I want to be different than I was the last year. Mom once told me I lacked compassion. It was hard to hear, but true nonetheless. God allows certain trials for our growth. I was reading in my “Streams in the Desert” devotional last night which said about trials: “The grandest character is grown in hardship.” Also written in the devotional was this: “Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there do your best.”

Pastor James MacDonald spoke this past weekend about problems we face. We have two options concerning our problems. Rationalization or reflection. Rationalization offers excuses. Reflection offers growth. Reflection gives us insight to our problem. Is the problem sin related? What’s my responsibility for the problem? Repent of any actions that have led to the problem. And handle any restitution for wrongdoing. In my past, I could say I easily offer rationalization for any problems I faced. It wasn’t my fault. But upon reflection of my past, I can easily say, most of my problems were my own fault based on my own weaknesses which led to wrong decisions.

Beth Moore’s teaching on “The God who sees” tells us from the story of Hagar found in Genesis 16 how God poses questions in order to reveal our hearts. God asked Hagar “Where did you come from and where are you going?” (Found in verse 8.) Beth says we are caught in the middle of those two questions in the right now moment. God has a strategy in the right now. He has revelation in the right now. But it takes reflection to come to the right understanding of what God is doing in the trial. Hagar was sent back to the place where she once was. But she didn’t go back the same. She had a new revelation of God as the God who sees.

Elijah had a moment when God questioned him after he ran away from the evil Queen Jezebel. Two times God asked Elijah “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9,13) Elijah offered a rationalization for staying in a cave. But God had a better option. Elijah had a task to do to move the Kingdom forward. We’re all called to tasks to move the Kingdom forward. It’s a matter of reflection of where we are right now. What is God showing us in this right now? It takes time to reflect and be aware of what God is up to in each of our lives. We can’t live in the past. We can’t live in the future. We can plan based on what we know right now. But we always have to defer to God’s plan and His future. It’s God’s story and we’re called to be a part of it. Loss comes, but there is always a brighter hope and a brighter future. Stand up in the right now and see God work through those tough times. He’s into building character!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)

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