buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Wisdom”

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)

Potential Maker

God wants to develop our potential. It’s His plan of developing the potential that we shy away from. I tend to run when adversity comes much like Jonah. I would rather escape on a boat to whatever exotic location far from the adversity. Adversity may be the thing though that God sends to develop our potential. It might be the only thing that will bring our character into full alignment with who we are meant to be in Jesus. James said in his letter that we are to rejoice in our trials (James 1:2). We are not to run from it but to embrace it. In James 1:4 we see we are to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” There is potential building up in us – complete, lacking nothing. We are supposed to get something out of adversity. We need wisdom to understand the lesson we are learning through our trial. James goes on to write in verse five: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Jesus teaches His disciples about being connected to a vine. John wrote about Jesus’ teaching in his Gospel found in chapter fifteen. It’s a wonderful picture of a gardener who is lovingly taking care of his orchard. For the branches that are in the mud and muck, the Master Gardener takes that branch and lifts it up. I can imagine the gardener tying that branch to something that is stable and where the branch will receive light. It hasn’t produced fruit because it wasn’t in the right environment to cultivate fruit. There is another branch that is fruitful; but in order to produce more fruit, the branch needs pruning. I am sure the pruning hurts the branch in the short-term – there is definitely cutting involved. The branch will have an open wound until a scar is formed and healing can take place.

Adversity may be the thing that prunes us to be better for God’s purpose. It may be a something that moves us into the right environment to start producing fruit. The trouble is: when we are fruitful, there will actually be more pruning involved. There will be more adversity to contend with! Oh boy – something to look forward to! This is a good thing, but we tend to ask God to remove it quickly. We don’t have the stomach to persevere. We want to cut the loss – move on; be done with it. James said “count it as joy” – we are producing fruit and will be producing more fruit because of the adversity.

I was listening to North Point Community Church getting this wisdom from the “Now what?” sermon series. The teacher was saying that every branch gets pruned. The pruned branches cause a dependency on the vine. The pruned branch experiences growth in new areas. And of course, pruning causes the branch to reach greater potential that was once impossible to achieve without the pruning. Interesting points that can be related to our own adversity battles. Like David who faced his own personal giant, David faced Goliath with a dependency on God to defeat his enemy. David reached his potential to become a mighty warrior. And David went on to become a man after God’s own heart.

Adversity is a good thing even in the midst of the battle – dependency on Jesus, increase in wisdom, and eventually a life-bearing significant fruit! Sign me up – for the battles that don’t have much pain involved; that don’t leave ugly scars; that leave me in my comfortable place. Will this develop my own potential? Will this give me an abundant life that Jesus said He came to give me? Will this make me a mighty warrior for Jesus? The new prayer for today: God, use this adversity before you chose to remove it – let your will be done. Mold me into an instrument for your purpose that will give you greater glory! (And send Jesus to bind up my wounds so that it doesn’t hurt so much.) Amen.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5

North Point Online, Clay Scroggins, March 29, 2015, “Now what – part 3”

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