Growing in Trials

“If we never fall, we can never get up.”
“Sometimes you need to hit the bottom to know that you are falling.”
“Mountaintops are great, but fruit only grows in the valley.”

These are a few of my favorite sayings. They inspire me when I am feeling low, burnt out or just plain tired of fighting the good fight. We all experience trials, some worse than others, but none the less, we all experience them. If we take each trial and treat it as an opportunity to grow than maybe we could all stop grumbling and start growing.
Take each moment that you are given as the gift that it is. Allow God to be the maker and creator that He is in your life. He never stops trying to help us grow, to help us to change from a fallen sinful man into a godly worshipper of Him. For some of us, that can only come in the form of trials.
Learn to thank God for everything and allow Him to use each and every moment, good and bad, to change you, to make you more like Jesus. For in this suffering there is hope, there is peace, there is healing.

As always, God Bless you till we meet again…

Suffering

Suffering (Photo credit: Loulair Harton)

Dead Faith

Dead Faith
(Read James 2)
Are you all talk and no action? Are you filled with ideas, but none of them ever come to fruition? If you answered yes to one or both of the above questions then you probably have dead faith.
James 2 is how I want to live my life.  He tells us that in order for our faith to be alive it must be active. I’ve said it before, and I feel it worth saying again; faith is not faith unless it is tested. To say that you have faith is just words; to show your faith in action is truly faith. To give when you have little or none to spare, to show compassion to someone when they have hurt you; that is true faith.
James tells us in v. 14-17 that if we claim faith, but do not use that faith to bless others than our faith is dead. He goes on to tell us that even the demons have faith, so us having faith is not special. What does make us having faith special is our actions based on that faith.
Don’t be confused with works having anything to do with salvation, or buying your way into Heaven. The only way to Heaven is to be born again and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You are called to be Christ-like, that means that your faith, like His, must be action based.
If you see a need fill it to the best of your ability; THEN share your faith. If I am cold and hungry I am too distracted by my suffering to hear your words about God’s love. If I was an unbeliever I would think “yeah right, God loves me? Why then am I suffering?” Times are tough, money is tight, most of us have enough to get through today. For many of us there is no “security” financially for the future anymore. But I am here to tell you that we can still meet the needs of a hurt and dying world. Most of us have clothes in the back of our closet that we haven’t worn in years. Most of us have blankets that have been sitting in the linen closet “just in case”. Pasta is cheap, so is rice and beans; we can offer a meal to those that may not have enough to eat tonight.  My point is, don’t say that you want to make a difference for Jesus but never put those words into action. DO SOMETHING!!!!!! ANYTHING!!!!!!

 

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith (Photo credit: hannahclark)

 
No soldier when they are enlisted, when called to battle says “I’ll be right there.” or when he is asked to serve says “I will do that later.” He gets up and serves; he has action behind his title of soldier. We march in the army of God. Our mission is to win souls for the kingdom of Heaven. So what are you doing in your mission?
I want people to see Jesus at work in me and through me; the only way to make that happen is to show my faith by my actions; actions that are God based and Christ-like. Too often today I see people wearing the “title” Christian, but that’s all it is, a title. They walk around sour and negative, the weight of the world on their shoulders. They sputter and complain, they take and never give. Well I’m here to challenge all of us (myself included) that call ourselves Christians to rise above the mediocrity that we place ourselves in. Rise above our circumstances, rise above our fears and limitations that we set on ourselves. Rise up and put our faith into action! It’s time to show the world that our faith is a living breathing force in our lives. It’s time to revive that “dead faith”.

 

 

 

Being a Blessing To Others, In Spite Of Your Conditions…

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philippians 2:17-18
“But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”
    What do you think Paul is saying to us here? What does it mean to be “poured out as a drink offering…”? It means to be sacrificed for the cause. What cause? Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ! Paul in this case was being persecuted because he was trying to witness for Jesus. He was being “sacrificed” for the service of your faith! Are we willing to be sacrificed for the sake of another’s faith? What does that even mean? It means that every person has the right to know that Jesus died for them so that they may have eternal salvation. It means that we may be called into uncomfortable situations; it means that we may be unfairly persecuted; it means that we will suffer; it means that we will have to sacrifice. But for what? For the sake that perhaps through your sufferings maybe just one person will see the joy of the Lord upon you in your time of despair and come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It means that in spite of what our conditions are we NEED to be a blessing to the world around us. We need to show them that Jesus is enough. We need to show them that He comforts us. We need to show them that He speaks to the brokenhearted and wounded.
It is not easy to be a Christian, especially in these dark times. It is a sacrifice to be a Christian in today’s society. Television programs are geared for the worldly, radio is geared for the worldly, and movies are geared for the worldly. Christians have a very small niche in these markets. It is hard to resist all of the temptations. We cry and moan about the conditions of the world. We complain and grumble, but what are we doing to make it better? Are we being a blessing despite the conditions around us? Are we being a blessing despite OUR conditions? How do we stand out in a world gone mad? Stand out for Jesus that is. Paul tells us in V18 “And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”
    What is Paul saying? He is telling us that no matter what the circumstances, we must remain joyful. Imagine what it would be like if instead of walking around like the world and grumbling about everything that is wrong with it, we try to be joyful that God is still on the throne? Can you imagine what it would be like if instead of when we are tried and suffer we would show the world that Jesus is still in control of our lives? How can the world tell if we are different being a Christian if we look like them? When we suffer we should still be able to share the joy that is the salvation of Jesus. We live in a world that wants instant gratification; they want to see the results now! They want to know that there are benefits to being a believer. Jesus saves us the instant we ask for forgiveness and ask Him to enter into our hearts. How is that for instant results! But what does the world see? They see a sour faced bunch; they see a group of people who say, “God bless you…”, “I’ll be praying for you…” But where is the fruit of that faith? Works will not get us into heaven that is not why we do them. We do them because it is the example that Jesus left us. Because in spite of what is going on in our lives we must still be a blessing to the world around us. Showing this broken and hurting world that there is hope; and that hope is found in Jesus Christ alone. This cannot be done with mere words; we must show with our actions. James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Our works are for the blessing of others. It is to be a testimony of the love of Jesus. It is to show the world that in spite of what may be going on in your life that the love of God is the most important part of your life. It should be a testimony that God is bigger than any problem.
    Philippians 2:14
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
    What happens to us when we are treated unfairly? Do we not grumble? Do we not dispute what is happening to us? This is not the example that Paul gives us. Nor is this the example of Jesus.  We get caught up in the woes of this life and in turn we give up the joy of the Lord. Romans 8:17 “…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him…” It’s human nature to want to defend ourselves when we are treated unfairly. But Paul tries to convey to us, remind us, that this is not the way of the Lord. We must keep our joy in the Lord always under every circumstance in our lives. And most importantly, we need to share that joy with others.
    Nothing quite compares to meeting a person who is in the middle of suffering a trial and they have the joy of the Lord upon them. But more remarkable is this, THAT THEY SHARE THAT JOY WITH OTHERS! We tend to hold people like this in high regards; as we should, after all they are witnessing to us the perfect love of Jesus. Despite hanging on the cross. Despite the torment and disrespect. Despite all of it, Jesus still asked His heavenly Father to forgive those that were treating Him unfairly.
    When we suffer wrongs and count it as blessings and share those blessings with others; we are sharing the perfect love of Jesus. Then will we be, “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,” This is what it means to be a blessing to others in spite of your conditions.

As I sat here this morning typing this out a red cardinal came an perched itself upon a branch outside my window and stared in at me (or so it seemed, maybe it was only looking at its own reflection) I am reminded that God takes care of all that bird’s needs. I am also reminded that there is no clothing that could compare to the splendor of that birds feathering; the “clothing” that God gave it. Why do we worry so much when God clearly has it all figured out. We just keep getting in the way with our rationalizing everything. The beauty of this bird gave me joy and I wanted to share it with you. Wish I had my camera handy so I could have taken a picture of it. Have a blessed day. (This piece was written about 7 years ago and I edited it this morning.)