“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
This age regards the burdens of struggle/hardship/pain as simply bad, to be avoided at all cost—the loss of a job, loss of a career, loss of financial stability, loss of an image, loss of a marriage. So we medicate, distract, deny—anything to make them go away. And, when we just can’t, we direct our frustration toward God: “Where are you?” “How could you allow this?”
But . . . what if . . . these burdens are actually good things? Constructive things? What if they have a purpose? What if they’re not random things, but parts of a program to make us more mature, more focused, more rugged, more fruitful? Jesus taught that God prunes “every branch that does bear fruit,” so that “it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). And, indeed, most men will concede that—while they’ve certainly not enjoyed the struggle/hardship/pain of the past—they do like the people they’ve become as a result. They prefer their post-burden selves to the men they were before.
Maybe we’ve got this upside down. Maybe we need to think differently about struggle/hardship/pain? Maybe the words of James aren’t so crazy?
(Insp by: Wire – Gather Ministries)
Jesus loves you.
How do you feel when you read that? Do you doubt it because you’re suffering? Do you disbelieve it because there’s great sin in your life? Do you dismiss it because you’re so busy with life that you don’t have time to think about it?
If so, then remember the prayer Paul prayed for the church, saying:
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God – (Ephesians 3:17-19)
In praying this prayer, Paul didn’t doubt that God loves His people, but He did doubt that they truly knew it, really believed it, and were experiencing it.
Many Christians today know God loves them, but they know it like someone who takes a driver’s education class but never drives a car. They know it’s there but they’ve never taken advantage of the experience of its fullness!
Paul wanted the love of God, like a plant rooted deeply in nourishment and able to flourish, to be a deep root in people’s souls. He wanted the church to know that God’s love is wide enough to welcome anyone, long enough to stretch from the beginning to the end of time, deep enough to reach down to the worst of sinners, and high enough to transport us to God’s heavenly kingdom.
Believe it! Jesus Loves You!
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord (Ezk 37:11-14)~ No matter how desolate things get, no matter how dead the situation may seem, and even though everything seems like all is hopelessly lost, God specializes in bringing life to that which appears to be dead. He created man and with the breath of life, man began living. Christ walked the earth, waking those that appeared dead as if they were only asleep, calling Lazarus from the grave after days of lifelessness. And with the ultimate calling, God called Jesus from the dead, not only raising Him up, but restoring eternal life to all mankind through His payment against the wages of sin.. after we were even born into the world dead in sin! God specializes in calling things that are not as though they always were! Indeed NOTHING is too hard for Him! What the enemy intends for evil is made good by the Lord (Gen 50:20); He restores that which is depleted, taken or destroyed (Joel 2:25); and the glory of your latter times will be even better than the former (Hag 2:9). Believe and have faith in Him -that which seems to be at the end shall actually be at a new beginning for He makes all things new! Get up from that state of lifelessness and behold your salvation! YOU SHALL LIVE!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9). When soldiers are in battle, they are commanded by their leader to move forward without any fear, but with boldness and steadfastness! The leader doesn’t say go forward if you’re not scared, they don’t say go forward if you’re courageous enough. When a team takes the field, their captain expects them to perform to the best of their ability, with no regard to what may happen if they don’t perform good enough. The team that does this the best and most consistently throughout the season, becomes the overall winner, or champion! This is modeled after what God expects from us when we walk in faith of Him. Be steadfast, unmovable, fearless, moving forward in His name! These are not options.. but ‘commands’! God says that we need not be afraid or worry.. because He’s with us and for us. And if God be for us, WHO (or what) shall be against us (that we need to even be worried about)?? Sure, it’s gonna be tough sometimes, but He’s got us! We’re gonna slip up and stumble and lose control sometimes, but He’s holding us up! People will oppose you and turn against you… but HE will never leave you out to dry and in fact: The Lord said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts (Ex 33:21-23).. God will set you in a place where you will experience His greatness, be covered from His wrath and as He allows you to go forward, know that in waiting on Him you can be assured that He has gone before you. He’s got you coming and going and He commands you to act like you KNOW it! You are NEVER alone; so don’t doubt what He has created in you; but stay grounded and focused… in strength and courage – go get your blessing, though come what may; trusting Him all the way! Let your faith in Him then take you! You’ve Already Got The Victory – Fight The Battle Like You Know It!
“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:24)~~ The agony of death has been our repulsive allotment since Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Satan, who said “You shall not die,” was proved to be a liar and the father of lies. Adam and Eve began their slow journey toward physical death, and soon, through the murder of Abel, began to experience “the agony of death” first hand. From those early days of death’s entrance into our experience, it has always been “the last enemy.” We have searched in vain for the fountain of youth, the ultimate cure to the death problem. We spend billions to look a little younger and extend our short lives just a few more years, or even months or days. Death is the enemy we seek to avoid. Medical breakthroughs, changing lifestyles and ‘magic pills’ have done much to enhance the physical and mental experience of the lives we have as we age, but eventually the deterioration of our bodies and ultimately the separation of our souls remains the inevitable. Our souls, the object of the true death God spoke of, remained destined to eternal separation from Him. Death claims us in its own version of victory. But then came Jesus! Experiencing death on our behalf, by the power of God He overcame this last enemy, and put an end to the agony of death. Now, through Him, eternal life is available to our souls. When He returns and the dead are raised, death will have ultimately lost the war, and the sting of death will be gone forever. Now if that isn’t good news, there is no such thing! Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it; Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Acts 2:24, 26-27)– But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57)~ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Cor 15:55)~ The feeling of loss may seem a defeat to us when we lose a loved one…it truly hurts; but God’s promised comforter reminds us that our lost loves are now standing in Victory circle, forever rejoicing and praising The Lord our God in Heaven! Blessed be the mighty name of Jesus, without whom none of this would be. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 22:3-5) Amen!
Lost my mom this morning. On her 71st Birthday yet. Never in life have I felt a pain so strong – but my faith tells me that never in life to this point will I have felt a healing so powerful. I’m so tired from the stress, so hurt from the loss, but I will rest in Him.
If your mother is still with you, remind her of the blessing she is to you. You never know what tomorrow holds.. but I will tell you that I know that God holds tomorrow!