Blog Banners.001Difficult circumstances can either TRANSFORM or DEFORM us.
The outcome will depend on how we respond to it. 

Will we respond in faith or in unbelief?

The apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans:

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)

How did Abraham keep himself from wavering in unbelief?

1. Grew strong in faith.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Coupled with hearing the Word is obeying the Word.

Abraham heard the word directly from God in Genesis 12. Not only did he hear, but he also obeyed. And as he obeyed, he saw that God followed through with what He communicated.

Our faith will grow as we hear and obey the Word. The book of James says that we shouldn’t merely hear the Word but also obey it lest we end up deceiving ourselves.

2. Gave glory to God.

Abraham’s eyes were fixed on the One who called him, not on the circumstances nor on the people around him. That didn’t mean he never had his moments. But because Abraham’s steadfast gaze was upon the One who holds his future, he honored God even in the difficult moments. God ultimately got the glory as a result of Abraham’s faith.

As John Piper would often say,

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Faith coupled with contentment that we have all that we have in Him will evidently surface in our life if it’s there. We don’t even have to manufacture it. People will notice and consequently glorify God.

3. Remained fully convinced.

Abraham was told that he will have a son that will give birth to a nation. And when God did, his faith to trust in God’s word was tested. He was asked to sacrifice Isaac at Mount Moriah. While he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, God stopped Abraham from doing so and provided another sacrifice on Isaac’s behalf.

But whatever was in Abraham’s mind at that moment, he was fully convinced that God would either give him another son or raise Isaac back to life. He was fully persuaded that God had the ability to do either.

Being fully convinced doesn’t mean we will always know the outcome. But even in the midst of uncertainty, Abraham was certain of one thing: God is both willing and able to fulfill His promises.  He never turns back on His Word.

Author C.S. Lewis declared,

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

Will you continue to trust Him and remain fully convinced?

Storms are a natural occurrence in life.

Your boat gets rocked and water might even get into the boat. When those times hit, it is very possible that we switch into panic mode.

The disciples of Jesus were shaken because of the storm.  I probably would be too. But here’s the thing:

It doesn’t matter what goes on outside the boat as long as Jesus is in it.

Because Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I can trust that I can face any storm as long as He is with me.

He is both the Peace Maker and the Peace Giver.

He is able to make us at PEACE WITH GOD and give us the PEACE OF GOD.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Here’s a message I shared to explain this further.

Fear has a way of taking over.

Fear stops us dead on our tracks, hindering us from moving forward in faith.

Jesus was with His disciples on a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a squall hit. (Mark 4:35-41)

It wasn’t unusual for storms to build on the Sea of Galilee. When the cold air from Mt. Hermon which is north of the lake mixes with the warm mist of the Sea of Galilee, explosive weather results.

And it usually comes without warning. (Luke 8:24)

How I wish life’s storms come with warning. Unlike Hollywood movies that have background music to prep us when a bad scene is about to happen, unfortunately, life doesn’t have that.

But it is critical to remember the last thing Jesus told you before the storm hit.

In the case of the disciples, Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side.” (Mark 4:35)
He didn’t say, “let’s go under” nor did He say, “I will be the only one to go to the other side while you all drown.”
He said we will all cross over to the other side.

Never doubt in the dark
what God has told you in the light.

Jesus’ word should be more than enough. Because God said it then that should settle it.

While the disciples are panicking, Jesus was sleeping.

Their question to Jesus, “Don’t you even care?”

This is predictable and typical. This is our normal response when we go through a difficulty.

My parents are about to split up, God, don’t you even care?
My sister is pregnant out of wedlock, God, don’t you even care?
My brother has cancer, God, don’t you even care?
My friend falsely accused me, God don’t you even care?

Here’s a lesson I’ve seen through the years.

If God brings you to it,
He will bring you through it.

His promise is that He will be with us to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

 

 

Life’s ups and downs may lead you to ask these questions.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Moses went through several ups and downs because God was preparing him for not just a journey but a task that will deliver God’s people from slavery.

Our personal story is often connected to a larger story.
It is very possible that our view can become so myopic that all we see are the things that concern us.

I love what the great evangelist D.L. Moody said, “Moses spent his first 40 years thinking he was a somebody. He spent the next 40 years learning he was nobody. He spent his third 40 years discovering what God can do with a nobody.”

It is often that God allows us to go through fire to melt away the very things that keep us from the purposes of God.

God had to strip Moses of his pride, selfish ambition and arrogance before He could use him for His glory.

God’s training ground usually is made up of life experiences that will contribute to the ultimate assignment God has for us. (Os HIllman)

God is the Divine Orchestrator. Remember what He said in Romans 8:28 (The Message)?
“He (God) knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”


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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelknights/

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I spoke to a lady this afternoon that was going through a major crisis.

Bankrupt business.
Failed marriage.
Wayward son.

But she came to me not asking for counseling. Neither did she come to seek help regarding her situation. She came to me to ask how she can serve in church.

It was impressive what kind of perspective she had… that though she was going through difficulty (which is a huge understatement), she wanted to look for opportunities to get the focus off herself and onto serving God through the church.

I remember what Pastor Jim Laffoon said many years ago that stuck with me. He said,
“When the devil attacks your camp, launch an all out war against his.”

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith.”

While we live by the grace of God, we concurrently need to wake up each morning in fighting mode.

We don’t march toward victory, but we march from victory. And as we do, we march out fighting.

Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

We are saved by grace and we live by grace. But somewhere in there, we fight and work with all our heart because of the very grace that’s been bestowed.

Adversity is defined as a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty.

People respond to adversity in many ways – from apathy to panic and everything in between.

According to Paul the apostle, one of the goals of adversity is so that it can push us to rely on God.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

This is what John Piper said…

Adversity by its very nature is the removal of things on which our comfort and hope have rested and so it will either result in anger toward God or greater reliance on Him alone for our peace.

And his purpose for us in adversity is not that we get angry or discouraged, but that our hope shift off earthly things onto God.

God’s main purpose in all adversity is to make us stop trusting in ourselves or any man.