Adversity Into Advantage

Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – This verse does not say that all things will be good for God’s children (the “called” who love Him). It is certain that they will not. But it is also certain that “in” all things God “will” work for our good. God turns adversity into advantage.

My Advice – When you are going through a rough patch, don’t let it get you down by focusing on the trouble. Instead, start looking for the good things that God is working out for you through the trouble, it will give you a lift.

 

What Becomes of Suffering?

Romans 5:3-5We also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – It sounds perverse at first reading. Rejoice that we suffer? But that is not what it says. Rejoice in suffering. The suffering itself is not something to rejoice about. But in the suffering, we can rejoice about the permanent improvements it is making in us, involving our ability to persevere, the development of our character and our capacity for hope.

My Advice – Persevere through suffering. There is hope at the end. And once you come through it, your character will be further developed.

But Take Heart!

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We have to live in this world, so we will (not may) have trouble. But as believers, we are also in Christ so we can have peace. Why is this possible? Because Christ has overcome the world and if we are in Him we are overcomers too.

My Advice – Do not be surprised when problems arise. Jesus warns that they will come. But He also promises that you can have peace despite the troubles. If you do not have peace it is either because you are out of fellowship with Him or you are not trusting Him enough. Take care of these, and you will get the peace.

Leaving All, Receiving Many Times As Much

Luke 18:28-30Peter said to Him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come, eternal life.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Few have to make these kinds of sacrifices for God, but when they do, it is a comfort to know that they will receive back many times over.

My Advice – Do not fret over things sacrificed for God. After all, they were only temporary anyway.

Because of Him

Mark 13:13 – “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – There are a lot of reasons that people may hate us, but being hated because of our relationship to Christ is nothing to be ashamed of or to fear. Rather we should stand firm in the face of such opposition and not compromise to gain favor.

My Advice – Do not try too hard to gain the world’s favor. It is likely that you will be subjected to a certain degree of dislike or ridicule because you profess to know Christ. Do not be ashamed of this. Be proud of it.

Take Courage

Matthew 14:20, 32But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink…Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him…and when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The wind did not die down and the waves did not calm when Jesus took Peter’s hand. Life is full of trouble and will likely be until He calls us home. But He is with us in the storm, and will immediately take our hand and lift us above the waves if we let Him. The waves are still there, but they are not a danger.

My Advice – The picture in our entryway (see below) is a favorite. It reminds me that Jesus is always within reach. That while He does not always calm the sea, He will not let us sink. That He can lift us above the waves if we let Him. That in heaven (the boat) there will be no more waves or wind. When the storms of life seem about to overwhelm you, remember the picture and remember the lesson.

Screenshot (294)

Suffers With Christ

Screenshot (273)

Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.

Screenshot (274)

My Musings – Trials and suffering are an inevitable fact of life for the Christian. Just like a newborn baby, it seems like no sooner are we born again than we are being slapped around just to make us to cry. Or so it seems. Certainly, our new adversary the devil will do everything he can to discourage us, keep us from growing and just make us cry. But Satan is not the source of all the “slapping.” Sometimes God will also permit difficulties in our lives. These may involve some crying too, but that is not their real purpose. God wants us to take that first breath of spiritual air. He wants us to learn to live the new life we have begun in Him. He wants to instruct us, train us, develop us, and yes, sometimes discipline us. To learn to walk in faith, He knows that we will have to take a few spills along the way. Just like our physical parents, He is there to make sure we do not hurt ourselves, to pick us up and to help us along our way.

But that is not all. Just like our physical parents are there to protect us from actual harm from bullies, our heavenly Father is also there to protect us from any real or lasting harm from that ultimate bully, Satan. While God wants us to learn how to stand up for ourselves, He is always there to make sure things do not get out of hand. With the insights that we gain by fixing on eyes on the unseen, perhaps, we can better understand and appreciate why we must encounter so much trials and suffering in our earthly lives. In so doing we will be in a better position to endure “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering,” which are “light and momentary,” by focusing on the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Maybe we will even stop seeing the cloud in every silver-lining.

My Advice – Trials and suffering should not catch us off guard. Nor should we consider it strange when we do encounter them. For Jesus very clearly told us we would encounter persecution in this world, simply because we were His followers. In fact, He said if we will unwilling to “carry our own crosses” and follow Jesus (a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief) we could not be His disciple. These are hard sayings, but we must understand that Jesus not only willingly carried Hs own cross; He was nailed to it and died on it for us in order to give us eternal life. It is the promise (His promise, sealed by His blood) of that eternal life that makes the suffering and trials here on earth bearable.

Coming Soon – An updated version of my Bible study “Got Spiritual Milk?” will soon be available in the Store link on my home page. What you see above is a short excerpt the chapter dealing with the ninth of twelve “steps” discussed in the study.

Screenshot (275)