Resilience

So here it is again a message from the Holy Spirit speaking of how we will go through trials, yet through faith in Him, we can be over-comers.

I was listening to Focus on the Family last week and happen to catch a talk by Kay Warren about being resilient. Quite a few things stuck with me during this talk, but a couple really struck me. A couple of things she says is that life is really harder than we ever expected, that we have high expectations of what life is supposed to be like and we are shocked when things don’t go our way. She talked about how us in the western world and first world countries have first world problems.

But she also spoke about how resilience can be learned. She quoted Romans 5:3-4, but for context I believe its best to look at verses 1-5.
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Because of what Jesus Christ has done and the faith we can have in Him, the sufferings we face build character within us and can give us hope. God gives us gifts in order to have this hope and build character. One is His Holy Spirit. I believe the Holy Spirit can strengthen us when we need it. We also have hope in His word. But both of these are choices. We can choose to listen to the Holy Spirit and be tuned to His guidance. We can also choose to read and have a desire to want to read God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-2 says

1Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night

I find myself more and more desiring to know and read my Bible. I love reading it and even praying over it. It offers Hope to us. God wants good things for us, He is a good daddy.

So then I read it again in Jim Dennison’s First 15 devotional.

Jim Dennison – First 15

Believe me, I have to remind myself of this same concept all the time, that God IS causing all things to work for my good. These trials, or tests of our faith, fine tune us and refine us to draw us nearer to God and to weed out the things that cause us to turn away from God in these times. God never promises an easy and completely comfortable life. As Kay Warren reminded me, Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we will have trouble. But right after that he prays for us.

The same day when I heard Kay Warren speak, I also read in my morning devotion by Charles Spurgeon writing about Romans 14:8, If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. If we really live for the Lord, we have to take the good with the, what we perceive to be, bad. We are God’s children. Spurgeon says that “we are here to glorify Christ in our daily life”. None of us has a great day everyday. We all have days that are not so good. But we are to reflect Jesus and live for is purpose everyday.

Kay Warren’s talk is in the link below.

Finding Hope Again with Kay Warren

I wish I could say that I walked with a resilient attitude at all times, but I don’t. I have times where u feel like life is so hard and question if Gid is really causing all things to work for my good. I have continually read God’s word to be reminded if his love for me. I hope this message encourages you to be resilient. I know Kay’s message has encouraged me greatly. It encouraged me that God is bigger than the things I face each day and that only with God’s strength can I overcome my fears and step out of the dark places I can fall into.

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Are you passionate

What are you passionate about? Are you passionate about being a husband? God tells us husbands that we should love our wives as He loved the church. Are you passionate about being a wife? Wives are supposed to submit themselves to their husbands as they do to the Lord. How about the everyday and menial tasks? Are you passionate about taking out the trash or cleaning house? We are stewards of what God gives us. The Bible says that in everything we do we should do it as if as if we’re doing for the Lord.

Jesus was passionate about His love for us. So passionate that He sweat drops of blood. So passionate that He became so weak that God sent angels to strengthen Him in Him time of need.

Are you passionate about the job God has given you? Your work or job is how God provides to you. I love the work I do and God has certainly proven Himself faithful to provide through my work. Not everything I want but certainly everything I need.

Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24.

Empty hands

I feel unworthy to be writing this blog.  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit that I can pass along the things which I believe God speaks to me.  I am thankful for those who read it and hope and pray it is an encouragement to you.

I was reading last week in Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning and the verse was from Psalm 107:7, He led them by a straight way.  He talks about how change brings anxiety to a believer and we wonder why change happens.  he also quotes Psalm 30:6-7 saying I will never be shaken.  he goes on to say “Today my spirit has no hope, only fear; no joy, only great distress.  Is this part of God’s plan for me?  is this really the way that God would have me travel to heaven?”  And he says in the next paragraph “Yes, it is by this way.”

The thing about this is, just the day before I was listening to Focus on the Family and they had Cynthia Tobias on giving a talk to an audience and she was telling part of her story.  And in one part she spoke of going through divorce and holding on to certain pillars in her life and how she could depend on those pillars. And yet the last one she had was finances and finally this one fell.  All of her dependable pillars had fallen.  What struck me was that she spoke of listening to a pastor speak on the radio and the pastor said that “The things that can be shaken will be shaken so that things that can’t be shaken will remain.”

She also spoke about how, through this time she used to sing the lyrics of Rock of Ages

Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;

In my morning quiet time lately I have been praying these same words.  I used to, and sometimes fall back into this trap, think that I could manage my environment and things around me to navigate the issues I face.  I honestly believe God has given me the gift of administration and skills to manage things and activities, I believe I can step back and see the big picture in things fairly well.  But I have to keep reminding myself that God is one who is truly in control of things and that He orchestrates my circumstances.  I just have to be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and be seeking it continuously in order to follow God’s will and His straight way.

Spurgeon goes on to say that “The obscuring of you faith, the darkness of your mind, the fading of your hope – all of these are simply God’s method of maturing you for the great inheritance you will soon enter.  These trials are designed to test and to strengthen your faith.

I keep reminding myself of an image of being refined, like a silversmith or tinsmith refines the metal he is working with, he works the metal over and over again until he has the pure metal he is seeking.  God is refining me  throughout my life, getting rid of the impurities of my life and making me more like Jesus, so that on the day He calls me home I will be able to stand before Him and walk victoriously in His presence.  God doesn’t want or need our skills and abilities that we develop, God develops them within us.  He wants us to come to him with empty hands and an open heart, giving our whole heart and soul to Him.  Like Psalm 107:5-6 says when we cry out to God He will deliver us.

They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.

We need to let the Master work within us to make us into the masterpieces we are meant to be, as painful and unpleasant as it it is at times.  Let Him work within you.  Grab hold of Him with both hands and let Him lead you.  If you are clinging to things of this world , its not possible to grab Him with both hands.  Life can be overwhelming and incredibly hard at times.  The thought of leading a family, raising kids in this age can be paralyzing.  But I was reminded just today that God gave us a spirit of strength and power.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

But God does cause all things to work for the good of those who love Him, loving Him with all your heart and soul and strength, not some, but all.  He is faithful and will continue the good work He has started.

Switch ft. Dillon Chase – Symphony

 

Blameless

For a while now I have had this idea and motivation to be blameless in all aspects of my life, my marriage, work and relationship with others. The Bible tells us that Job was blameless and upright, or the King James version says perfect and upright. Yet, God allowed his circumstances to be turned horribly bad, he lost everything he had, his health turned for the worst and he lost his family. Yet he never lost his faith and confidence in God.

It’s so easy to focus on our circumstances when things go south instead of on the creator of our circumstances. I remember reading that Oswald Chambers says God designs our circumstances. For me when things go not so well, I tend to look at what I have done and the decisions I have made to see where I went wrong. I do believe we have choices to make and that we can make wrong choices which lead to consequences that aren’t pleasant. But we can also still make the right choice and God will put us through trials to test our faith. He does this to refine us and draw us nearer to Him. In these times we need to put our confidence in Him and not our own abilities or wisdom.

In reading Philippians 3 recently, Paul talked about having confidence in the flesh. He says that if anyone had reason to put confidence in the flesh, that he had more reasons. Essentially he says, he knew the law as much as any pharisee, he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, so much zeal that he was killing Christians and blameless when it came to being righteous through the law. But in retrospect, he considered it all rubbish and knowing these things a loss compared to knowing Jesus.

He ends these statements with, I believe, an incredible statement and prayer. He says “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

I believe this prayer and statement will put us on the road to being blameless, that this desire to know Jesus will transform our lives in an incredible way and will please Him. This is no guarantee things will be easier in life, but being drawn nearer to God should outweigh the bad. In looking at it, it is a very simple statement. Knowing Jesus, what a simple desire to have, yet I believe the rewards are far beyond our thinking.

First, we have to have faith that Jesus is real and believe how good He is and what He was done for us. Then we can start the journey of knowing Him.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Pleasing Him, having faith, and being obedient should be priority. We should have a desire to be able to one day stand before Him and hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

Paul also goes on the say in Philippians 3 that he can’t get right with God through the law, he can only get right with God by having faith in Jesus, having a righteousness based on faith. Jesus bridged that gap for us, Hid knew we couldn’t get right with Him through the law, so to make it right “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So I believe a big part of being blameless is having that unwavering faith in Jesus, changing our mindset and perspective of trying to be obedient with Him and walking with Him daily. Sometimes this includes the sharing of Jesus’s sufferings. But we should be able to find joy in knowing that through these sufferings we can be considered worthy to be called His child.

Living Sacrificially

Being a husband and a father can be quite the daunting task.  Listening to Tony Evans this afternoon, the lack of leadership from the fathers in our country ad world is one of our biggest social issues, which I have believe for quite some time.  At times I pray what Solomon prayed to God.

“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9

Solomon was obviously aware of the task and responsibility at hand, leading the country of Israel after David, his father, had passed away. He was essentially asking for a hearing heart, one that would hear God’s word in leading Israel.

In reading Roman 12, Paul tells us that we can’t conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed and renew our mind, because its only then will we be able to test and approve what God’s will is.  There are lot’s of things the world is telling us a husbands and fathers as to how we should live, but God’s image of a husband and father is very different and not the easiest was to live.

So we must live sacrificially, which, as Pal says in verse 1 is one of our acts of worship.

Living sacrificial, offering our bodies as living sacrifices, is an act of worship.  Its hard at the end of a long day at work, or possibly any day, and still have some gas in the tank for our families.  Our main job most likely starts once we come home from our day job.  But God has some awesome promises.

Psalm 37:3-4 says, Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Also, can also be assured that we will face storms in leading our families.  But God is our refuge, its only in Him we should lay our full trust.  As we face these storms God will walk with us through them and we grow through them.

Charles Spurgeon says, The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm.

It is also a great truth that the Christian faith has been designed by God to give believers happiness in this life as well as true bliss in heaven above. And despite the following truth that “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV), experience tells us that sometimes the sun is eclipsed.

But we can rest assured that the Son never gets eclipsed.  The Son will also walk with us through our Storms.  As with Peter when he stepped out of the boat, He will extend is mighty hand when when we reach for Him.  We shouldn’t doubt and ask for God to increase our faith.
Its not easy walking through these storms, I do wish sometimes God would just make things easy, even to just catch my breath, even for a little bit.  But as Spurgeon also says, We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.
I grow each day in my awareness of how much I need God to help me with my role and calling as a husband and father, even to just get through the day.
I believe we can also rest in the promise of Romans 8.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We can be victorious through our hardships and trials only because of what Jesus has done and the fact that He loved us first.  Things may not be easy but the battles never are, but we can know and be assured that we will be able to rest in the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus.

Righteous

Righteousness, being right with God. I was reading in my Spurgeon devotional this morning about how Jesus’s agony on the cross at the time God turned His face to Jesus was far more agonizing than the hardships of life we face. Spurgeon says “We distress over what feels like a slight turning away from our Father’s love from us but God actually did turn His face away from His Son.”

Spurgeon goes on to reference Philippians 3:10 where Paul says he wants to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul desires to know everything about Jesus, including his dying in the cross and the agony that went with it. I believe in order to know someone we have to know them in the good times and the bad.

The bit that caught me though was the verse just before this. Verse 9 says “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Paul realized that it was only through a real and living relationship and faith in Jesus could he be made right with God. Paul says before this that essentially nothing else mattered and that all other things were garbage compared to being found and living in Jesus.

Our pastor yesterday preached on why Jesus had to die on the cross. The first reason he gave was that we needed to be rescued. From the time of the first sin our being made right with God was taken away so there had to be a plan put in place to fix this. Also, and to the point Paul is making, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. See, the OT sacrifices just covered up sin, nothing actually took away the sin. But Jesus’s death on the cross actually took away our sins so we could be right with God and actually be in His presence. Jesus endured the agony of being outside of God’s presence so that we could have opportunity to be in God’s presence, any time we wanted and not just once a year by one person.

I remember watching the movie the Passion and seeing Jesus being flogged and thinking why are they beating Him so much, then I realized the flogging was the sin of the world on His back. My sin on His back!

I love Easter and what it means to us as believers. I love going to church on Sundays and have found my desire to worship growing more and more, but especially love going to church on Easter Sunday.

I hope this Easter you take time to really reflect why we celebrate Easter and ponder what Jesus did so we could celebrate it. And not just in Sunday, but starting on Thursday night when the passover happened and He started the process of making us right with Him.