Growing through it

It is so easy to miss Gods checks. We often get lost in our own adverse circumstances, spending large quantities of our thought life on how to escape our present hardships. My go to prayer used to be, “God, please take away this difficulty.” But, what I have learned (the hard way), is to pray first, “God please let me learn everything You need to teach me in this season of difficulty.”
When I try to jump ahead of God with quick fixes, with temporary pleasures, to release myself from feelings of discomfort, He just patiently waits for those shallow wells to run dry, and finishes His lesson when I finally, inevitably, get to His classroom.
The only thing more tragic then going through the worst season in your life, is failing to learn the precious, and costly lessons that come with it. Don’t waste a single drop of your pain, put all of it to work for you as God “Strengthens the inner man (and woman)” Ephesians 3:16. We are not made to live pressure free lives. Don’t try and run from this fact, it will it will be waiting for you when you grow to too tired to run any farther. Let peace rule your life, choose peace over worry. Pray for peace in the midst of your storms.
God has allowed this hardship because He dearly loves you, not as some kind of punishment. Receive this as a gift, because that’s exactly what it is.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
I found this on face-book and I pray that you find it as inspiring as I did. May God bless you with His Grace and Peace.
Pastor Jack

Why is this happening

God does not explain Himself, God rarely gives reasons for what He does. A lot of times the events that unfold in our lives don’t make sense to us. And when they don’t we are then confronted with the basic tenet of Christianity, the righteous live by faith.
Tragedy is hard to understand, hard to explain and hard on our faith. Some people will lay the blame at the feet of God and will become bitter towards Him. We ask for a explaination and get silence, we ask for understanding, and are left baffled. Life is a mystery, and is beyond us, and even if it was explained to us, we probably wouldn’t be satisfied. We long for sensibility, we seek explaination, we are desperate for a reason.
One of the greatest expressions of faith comes from the Old Testament. The Prophet Habakkuk lived in times that were in any way of speaking very hard on faith. He saw the righteous suffering, while the wicked prospered. And he asked God the two questions we often ask of God, why and how long? Why is this happening? And how long will it be before God does something about it?
God had revealed to Habakkuk that He (God) was going to use the Babylonians as Gods instrument of judgement on Judah. What Habakkuk could not understand, what he could not comprehend, was that for a time evil would win over righteousness and bad things would happen to good people. That for a time Gods hand would not move, His face would not be seen. Yet during this time of punishment Habakkuk was reminded by God ” The righteous will live by his faith.”
Then Habakkuk realized that even if he didn’t understand Gods way methods or timing, he could not doubt Gods wisdom, love or reliability. Then Habakkuk wrote his great affirmation of faith.
“Though the fig tree does not bud, and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” (Hab.3:17-19)
And what Habakkuk is saying here is even if everything he relied on failed, no matter the suffering, he would still trust in the Lord God.
Corrie ten Boom knew about suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. After surviving a Nazi concentration camp she said, “there is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” This is a apt analogy. Pain and tragedy is for some a bottomless pit. They see only blackness and hear only echoes of the life they used to know. And many people will claim that God is no longer present. But like Habakkuk, Corrie ten Boom reminds us in the pits of tragedy and suffering, God is still with us.
Yes pain is real, but God is real too. That’s where faith comes in. God has a plan for us and He is working that plan. We don’t always understand just what God is doing, His ways are far beyond our understanding. God sees all things at a glace. God sees both the beginning and the end of things, while all we see is only the present.
We often don’t understand why we are going though a crisis. its only afterwards, when we have had time to thinks things through, that we realize that God was right there with us all along. And for that reason, we put our trust in the ways of the Lord, believing that God is to wise to make mistakes. Also that faith believes that God is to kind to be cruel.
In Romans 8:28-29 Paul speaks of Gods grace and kindness when he wrote ” We know that all things work together for the good of those that love God, those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so He would be the firstborn among many brothers.”
These verses are important for don’t say as much as for what they do say. They do not say that everything that happens is good. They do not say that God causes evil. They do not say that everything that happens will turn out okay for everyone. What they do say is , God is at work in the world, especially in the lives of His children. Gods purpose is to make us like His Son Jesus Christ, and to that end God can and does use all things, the good and the bad, no experience goes to waste.
Faith believes that God is always in control. Faith believes we must always trust in the heart of the Lord. God knows that it is only through struggle do we gain strength. Habakkuk showed great faith when he said in Hab. 3:19 “Yahweh, my Lord is my strength, He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights.”
This is the Lords promise to us, He will keep us on our feet as we travel on the path of life. God may not keep us out of troubles, but God does promise to get us through them.
God is always here for us, God will never leave us, even when we cant see the hand of God in things, know that God is there, and know that you can trust in Him. Even when we don’t know how long the trial may be, trust Him because He is the Lord God !

Prayer

Dear God

I bring my burdens to you and you know my situation. You know I cant make it without you. Comfort my heart, give me strength, and help me carry on. AMEN

Forgiveness

How do you deal with sin ? Some people will say “what sin?” Others will admit they have made mistakes but don’t want think about them, because its makes them feel bad. Besides that’s in the past, they’ll just try and do better in the future. Still will try and make up for their sins. To try and balance the bad with the good. And some will act like they have won the lottery. They think Gods gives them a free pass on sin. That its Gods job to forgive them. Its like they are saying “oh well I messed up, but its okay God will forgive me anyway.” Like its a automatic thing that God does.
Jesus tells us that our sins must be forgiven, but we have to ask for that forgiveness, it isn’t a automatic deal with God. We must ask for forgiveness !
Now we usually think of sin as things like lying, stealing, swearing, and cheating. And when we do these things we are breaking the commandments given to us by God, we are crossing a line. We are not only crossing the line, we are missing Gods target. And that target is a life of righteousness and peace for us and others. We also hurt God who is holy and righteous and only wants what is best for us. God loves us and wants us to be the best we can be.
We all know that sins are the bad things we do (lying, cheating, stealing ). But did you know we can sin by the things we don’t do ?
Things like a wife or mother that needs a hugs and we don’t give it. A husband or father that needs to be asked how his day went. Or a child that needs just 10 minutes of undivided attention, or a bit of encouragement. A lonely person that just needs a friend, or a ministry that could use a bit of support.
Everyday we run across opportunities to do something, to shine for Jesus, to let Jesus shine through us. But by not doing these things we miss the target, and we have sinned.
We owe God our love and obedience, our best efforts. We owe God our gratitude, our service, and our worship. We need to look at what our lives could be and compare that to what we have made of our lives. If we are truly honest about it we can see, we have come up way short, we are way behind of what God wants for us and we just cant catch up!
The only way, the only solution is for God to forgive us. Then we can move forward. With our relationship with God, and our lives. And God made that possible through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ! ” When you were dead in your in your sins, God made you alive with Christ.” (Col. 2:13 ) God forgave our all our sins, God took them from us and nailed them on the cross of Jesus! When Jesus on the cross, it was to forgive the sins of all who believe in Him. Past present, and future, Jesus paid the price for them all. He sacrificed for their sins once and for all when He offered Himself. ( Heb. 7:27 )
Yes we do need to our sins to God, but don’t drive yourself crazy if you can’t remember each and everyone of your sins. God knows what they are, and God knows if we are truly repentant. Our forgiveness doesn’t depend on if we remember to confess every little thing, but upon the righteousness of Christ, received by faith.
But confessing our sins to God is not the only thing we are told to do, oh no. We are also to forgive others their sins against us. Yep, we are to forgive others too. Read Matt. 6:14-15. It sounds like the price of Gods forgiveness is forgiving others , if it was we’d all be in trouble. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if there were someone reading this, that is finding it hard to forgive someone. Does our inability to forgive someone mean we can’t be forgiven by God? No, see Gods forgiveness is not conditional. Gods is a gift of Gods grace. Gods forgiveness can not be earned, nor is it deserved. It is a gift. A gift of Gods grace to us. As Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:7 ” in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of Gods grace.”
So just what did Jesus mean when He said if we don’t forgive we can’t be forgiven? If we read Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus this in a parable. In this parable Jesus tells about a king who wanted to settle up accounts with his slaves, one of which owed the king 10,000 talents. But the slave didn’t have the money to pay what he owed. So the king forgave him, and he didn’t have to pay it back. But when that same slave would not forgive anther slave that owed him a 100 talents, and had the man thrown in prison, the king when he found out about it, had the slave tortured and thrown in prison, saying ” I had mercy on you, shouldn’t you also have mercy on others?”
This parable is not about business, but about life in the Kingdom of God. meaning that if we live by the values of righteousness mercy, and grace, that’s good. But if we don’t we cant expect mercy either. That not judgement, that’s reality.
When we forgive others we live in Gods kingdom of grace and mercy. When we refuse to forgive, we place our self in danger of cutting our self off from Gods forgiveness.
We forgive not because it comes naturally, because it doesn’t. And not because they deserve it. And not because we understand why they did what ever it was they did, if we could explain why, there would be no reason to forgive. Not even to feel better about our self, though we will. No, we forgive because Gods kingdom is a kingdom of grace and mercy and forgiveness, and we want to live that kind of life. We forgive because God has forgiven us.” Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ( Eph. 4:32 )
We all have someone we find it hard if not impossible to forgive. We just cant find it in our hearts to forgive them. Forgive them anyway, do it because God forgave you. Do it because of Gods grace and mercy shown to you. Do it because Jesus commands us to, and because we trust in Him. And if you cant forgive right away, keep praying about it until the grace and mercy of God overwhelms your heart.
There is something else that is equally as important as getting and giving forgiveness, and I believe that we all struggle with this, and that is self forgiveness.
We all have things in our past, things we are not proud of, all of us!
There once was a man that in his former life had done things he was not proud of. He had lied, cheated. He had been a bully, used drugs, drank and got into fights, even spent time in jail.
But, his wife and sister prayed for him, and started speaking to him about God and Jesus, and the salvation that could be his. And even though he resisted for years, they never gave up. And by the grace of God they lead him to Christ.
But even though he had given his life over to Christ, he had one big problem. He just could not forgive himself for his past. For years he held onto the past. For years his past haunted his mind.
It wasn’t until just a few years ago that he finally let go of that past life and forgave himself. And it wasn’t by his own power, but though the grace of God and because of Gods mercy, that he was finally able to forgive himself. It was because Jesus came into his heart and life and forgave him first.
Brothers and sisters, we are to ask forgiveness. We are to forgive others. And just as importantly, we are to forgive ones self. I know I have finally done so.