buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Trials meant for good”

To Stay Under

Last night, I wanted a good movie to watch. I didn’t want fluff. I wanted substance. I found Corrie Ten Boom’s story called The Hiding Place. I read the book many years ago and I had forgotten the details. I remembered it was about her life in the concentration camp.

Before the time of hardship, their family led a quiet life until the Nazis showed up in their world. The Ten Booms decided to take a stand. They decided to help anyone who came to their door. They had a safe place for Jews to come until they could make their way out of the country. It was because of that stand that eventually led to the family’s arrest.

Corrie, her elderly father, her sister Betsy and her two brothers were arrested. Her father died soon after the arrest. Her two brothers died while in prison. Corrie and Betsy were taken to the same prison and eventual concentration camp. Betsy seemed to have had the greater faith. She encouraged Corrie not to hate but to thank Jesus in everything even the hardship.

Their conditions were harsh. Betsy was beaten because she could not keep up with the work. They stayed in an infested dorm room in overcrowded conditions. But Betsy kept telling Corrie, even in the deepest pit, Jesus is deeper still. Betsy thanked Jesus for the conditions of the room – the lice kept the guards out of their space. It gave them opportunities to read the Bible and talk about Jesus to others.

This morning, I got up with the message of hope in this trying time. This is nothing in comparison to what the rest of the world suffers every day. Yes, we’ve lost some of our comfort and our normal way of life. Maybe it will come back some day, but we may be in this storm for another month or two or ten. Who knows? But hardship is the perfect way of seeing what’s beneath the surface.

Both Pastor Louie Giglio and Pastor Andy Stanley used James 1:2-5 in their messages this morning. Okay, seems important to remember that trials are for our good. Trials help us to persevere. To persevere means to remain or to stay under. James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us trials are a way for God to finish His work in us. It matures us and makes us complete. That’s why we’re supposed to find joy in our trials. God is working in us to complete what He started.

Our trials or hardships are a way of finding out what’s underneath the surface of our faith. Is it rock solid or is it made of sand? Without storms in our lives, we would never know the authenticity of our faith. Faith is a muscle that has to be tested in order to become stronger.

Jesus told Peter Satan had asked to shift Peter. Peter said he would follow Jesus to his death. But was it true? Peter needed to see what was underneath his declaration “I will die for you.” The story didn’t go as planned for Peter. He denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. Peter had to see his fault in order to become the man he was saved to become. There was a greater work that would be soon coming where he needed a deeper, abiding faith.

We may not like this time we’re in, but God has allowed it for our good and for His glory. We may want this pressure to end. But it’s best to stay under and let God complete His work. I don’t want to get through this time and not see progress on my faith journey. I want this to change me (in a good way). Pastor Louie reminded his listeners that God does not send us storms to destroy us but to refine us. This could polish and perfect us and transform us into the image of Jesus. That’s our purpose as believers in Jesus – to be conformed into His image.

God uses shifting from the enemy. He also uses shears to cut off any branch that isn’t fruitful. For the fruitful branch, He prunes in order to produce more fruit. Living the life we’re meant to live means we have to go through hardships in order to be useful to God and to glory Him. Hardships get us to the place we are meant to be and to be the people we were born to be. We cannot allow ourselves to get out from under the pressure before the work is done or the next storm we face, we may not be able to withstand it.

Corrie Ten Boom’s faith was tested. But in the end, after she was released from the concentration camp by clerical error, she went on to live a life glorifying God and proclaiming His goodness even in the deepest pit. She reminds us even in this hard time we face, He is deeper still. This is our time for shifting to see what is beneath our faith; our time of cutting off the thing that is not producing fruit and it’s time for pruning what remains to become more fruitful. Stay under as long as it takes until what God wants is polished to shine in perfection. Keep the faith – He is deeper still.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

The Word for Today

Have you ever noticed after a major event – whether it’s unprecedented weather, the solar events of late or even the death of Billy Graham – people voice their belief that Jesus is coming very soon? Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, spoke at her Daddy’s funeral about Jesus returning very soon. She talked about the day of Billy’s death related to the death of Moses. The actual day is significant in Jewish history as the day when Moses was taken to heaven (7th of Adar). Moses was taken to heaven before he was allowed to enter the Promised Land. However, he led God’s people to the very edge. Joshua was chosen to lead Israel into the Promised Land after the people mourned for Moses.

It’s interesting to hear Anne’s take on this. If Billy’s death is significant and reflects Moses’ death, then who would bring God’s people into the Promised Land? Who is the modern-day Joshua? It’s interesting to consider the name of Jesus – it’s the Greek form for Joshua. Well then, maybe we are really close to that time. Great! But if we still have to go through the desert for a few more years, then we need to buckle up and be ready to ride the roller coaster that will happen over the next few years.

I don’t know when the Church will be removed from this earth. I do believe it will happen one day, whether I see it from this side of heaven or not. Jesus said it would happen. He said it. I believe it. However, I have been wavering over the whole “pre-Trib/post-Trib” event. I have concluded it really doesn’t matter when it will be. What does matter is the fact we are to be ready regardless of the time of His appearing. We have to be able to endure the hardships until it’s time to meet Jesus face-to-face, whether in death or in the clouds. Only God knows the timing of events, we’re just told to be ready for them. We are told to endure through them so that we will receive our crown of life (James 1:12).

It’s hard not to know the future, what life will bring over these next few years. We might have a vision of how life is supposed to look. I have found though, it’s not always like the vision. Actually, it never looks the same. It’s a matter of trust in God to sort through our desires and refine them to match His desires for us and for His Kingdom. Unfortunately, our plans may have to burn in the fire of God’s refinement before we see anything come to fruition. Just be prepared for it. Trust Him to refine our vision because His plans are the best for us. It will be greater than we could ever ask or imagine.

Maybe this message is just for me. I have trouble enduring any hardship. I typically just quit when it gets too hard. I balk at the first “no” I hear. I turn into the scared little five-year old girl who runs to Mommy or Daddy to take care of the problem. At this time of my life, there is no Mommy or Daddy to run to. Mom died a few years ago and Daddy isn’t able to comprehend my need anymore much less fight for me. However, I have a heavenly Daddy that can take care of any need, any problem, or any fight that I could ever face. Sometimes I forget this though.

Endurance is the key to a greater faith. It’s the purpose of the trial. No matter what we have to get through, we can trust Jesus to lead us to the other side. It’s what He does. We’re called to trust Him in the process. It will always lead us to a better outcome than whatever we expect. No matter if it doesn’t happen as we expect, we are to be faithful in the process. Just do the next thing that Jesus leads us to. Every step has been ordained by God to strengthen us and to make us into who we need to be – who He has envisioned us to be since the foundation of this world. He saw us then and sees us now as that person – complete and fully formed in His image.

So whether or not Jesus is coming back soon, endurance is the word to bring about a greater victory. What a testimony we will have when we finally make it through those pearly gates. I can’t wait to hear yours. It’s going to be epic! The angels are already rejoicing in heaven over the victory Jesus gave us by His blood and we can believe it on this side of heaven. Victory has already been claimed. Endure, my friend. The end is almost here. Wait for it! Don’t quit when it gets tough, it’s just the beginning of something greater. Okay, I needed that; I hope you did too!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Chasing It!

The start of a new year brings a fresh perspective. After taking stock of what happened last year, I am deeply concerned with my state of affairs. I cannot recall any growth opportunities that caused me to stretch my faith muscles. That’s not good. I never want to be the same at the end of a year as I was at the beginning. For this year, I want opportunities for growth. But do I really understand what I am asking?

The Passion Conference happened over the last few days. Levi Lesko was the closing speaker this year. His message for the young ones gathered at the Georgia Dome was to chase their destinies. He said that we are all destined for impact; we are to shake the gates of hell! He talked about endurance and fragrance. Endurance means to stay under. Fragrance only happens when something is pressed down. The only way to destiny is through pain and struggle.

Pastor Levi reminded the group that the apostle Paul thought it was an honor to be trusted with pain. God used Paul’s pain to bring a greater message. God never wastes painful trials. He is always glorified when we come through the trial. However, Satan also uses pain to turn us away from God. He will start to suggest that God doesn’t see our pain; that God has forgotten us. He will lie to us and tell us all kinds of things to destroy our faith. It’s our choice who we believe.

John Piper started Tuesday morning with the message on the essence of evil. He said that the only way to understand the glory of God; understand the price Jesus paid and the glory of our lives is to understand the essence of evil. We have to see the total picture of who God is and who we are without Him. Thanks to Adam and Eve, we are born with this sin nature. But it wasn’t the eating of the fruit that caused the sin, but they desired something more than God. Dr. Piper took us to Jeremiah 2:10-13 to show us how we exchange God for worthless things (idols). Israel had forsaken God to run after other gods and we do the same thing.

We desire things that are good and pleasing to the eye; we will not be denied even if it denies God. I was reminded in a teaching by Randy Frazee that God is a jealous God. He doesn’t like to share. I believe we have brought God down to our level. We no longer have a reverent fear of God. We casually toss out His name as “Oh, my God” or “Jesus Christ” as ways of expressing surprise or a curse depending on the circumstances. But do we realize what we are actually saying? The Israelites trembled at the sound of His thunderous voice. They knew that God could strike them dead because of their great sins, and they wanted all communication to go through Moses.

At Passion, Francis Chan began his message with an opening prayer, which found him on his knees in great wonder about coming into the presence of the God of the universe. We should not take His presence lightly. He should not bring God down to our level. I know God is full of love, grace and mercy. But He also has the right to judge us; His wrath is saved for the day of total destruction. He deserves our reverence. He is the One who spoke everything into existence. He is the One who formed us in our mother’s womb and breathed life into us. He knows us intimately. Our desire should be to know Him as well.

What delights God is our desire for Him. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37) – your total being should desire God above all things. Faith in Him pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Satan’s number one goal is to go after our faith. Dr. Piper reminded us that the ultimate triumph of the cross was to bring us back to God. Because of Adam, the relationship with God was broken. But Jesus restored the relationship by the way of the cross.

As I contemplate these messages and my desire for this year ahead, I am reminded that I need to embrace the cross. Jesus paid for my sins so that I can have a deeper relationship with the God of the universe; the great I AM. If it takes pain and suffering to know God intimately then I need to embrace whatever cross I need to bear in order to deepen my love for Him. If I want to grow, reading books isn’t going to do the trick. It’s living out of faith. It’s taking the next step wherever it leads. It’s trusting God’s Word over what I think. Although I am no longer 25, there is still a destiny I need to chase. It’s still out there waiting on me to discover and pursue with abandon. If you are still breathing, yours is out there too. Let’s make this the best year ever – chasing God’s desires – no matter what!

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)

The Capacity

I like listening to different teachers. I stumbled upon a new teacher on Sunday. I’m not sure of the quality of his message, so I won’t give the person’s name. However, one thing stood out as I listened. “Count it as joy.” It’s not that noteworthy in just a simple statement. The passage in the Book of James (1:2), tells us to count our trials as joy. It seems impossible. But if we have our eyes upon Jesus, and realize that if He has brought us to the trial, then it is for our good. It is a test of our faith, which develops perseverance in us. We’ve heard this before. But what the speaker said about the future was noteworthy.

What if the amount of joy we exhibit here is reflected and experienced there in greater portions? If we practice joy here, then maybe we will have a greater capacity of joy there. Maybe the treasure we store in heaven is more than what we originally thought: i.e. good deeds, giving sacrificially, etc. Maybe it’s how we respond to events as well. The treasure from this life is stored for us to use there. This life is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s our practice field. This life determines our eternity. God has a purpose in our trials. It is shaping our character; character that will be used in heaven. Our gifting here is sharpened for eternity. This life is not all there is. There is so much more than we could ever imagine.

The message made me think of a lecture I heard on brain capacity. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a noted brain researcher, said that we only use only a fraction of our brain’s capacity (something like 6%) here on earth. She believes that we are given the greater capacity for our eternal life. We don’t know what eternity will actually be, but I believe it’s going to be nothing like we imagine it to be.

I heard another message this past weekend about replacement theology (my term). Louie Giglio talked about replacing bad habits with good, although the way to do it was not to take out the bad. His theory was to start with good habits. The good habits displace the bad. This theory points to the “renew the mind” passage in Romans 12. One of the places to start with good habits is to get under the authority of the Bible. Memorize, meditate and let it dwell in us. Our capacity to know God grows as we learn more about Him through His Word.

Another thought came from a message from Clay Scroggins at North Point Community Church. His message was on identity. Events happen in our lives. What we believe about the events shape our identity. We have to replace our beliefs of what we believe about ourselves with the message that God says about us. We become who we believe we are. My pastor says “our past doesn’t shape our future.” It doesn’t define us either. We have to replace the recorder of negativity in our minds with the recording of Scripture (memorize, meditation, dwelling in us) that displaces the negativity.

Events shape us. We can count the event as joy; receive the trial as a test of faith. We can renew our minds by replacing thoughts that are not true by the truth of God. If we are His, then we are not alone in our trials. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We are never separated from His love. His love endures forever. We can replace our mindset with the truth of God, and let it build a foundation in which we can take a stand. The capacity is there to grow us into the new creation we are in the process of becoming. Scroggins said “You can do what God has for you to do when you see yourself how God sees you.” We will achieve what the mind believes – as Henry Ford said “if you think you can’t or if you think you can; you are right either way.” The capacity to change is right in front of us – if we believe it.

It’s time to replace thoughts and renew our minds; our minds are a terrible thing to waste. The capacity is there for much more joy than we could ever imagine. Let’s just get through this next trial with a smile on our faces. God says He’s got this, and He has us in the palm of His hand. No other better place to be. Count on it! I believe Him. Do you?

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Post Navigation