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Posts Tagged ‘fiery trial’

Adversity

June 6th, 2014

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 NKJV.

What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.

Today, my thoughts and comments are about “adversity.”

Adversity is inevitable and unavoidable. Adversity comes in varied forms and sizes – from mild annoyances to major problems. The source of adversity also varies – from complicating circumstances to complicated people. Adversity seems not to discriminate, intruding into the lives of one and all. The Bible is clear, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV. Assuming you can escape any and all adversity is unrealistic.

The worst thing that happened to you could become the best thing that happens for you. The final chapter is not written until you have experienced the grace and faithfulness of God and seen the providence and purpose of God in your situation. Your attitude is to be one of joyful anticipation and patience. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 NKJV.

In the Bible, just about everyone experienced adversity of one sort or another – Adam and his wife, Abel and his brother, Job and his accusing adversary, Abraham and his nephew, Esau and his brother, Jacob and his father-in-law, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and Pharaoh, David and King Saul, Paul and young John Mark, Jesus and Jewish leaders, and too many others to name. But you cannot consider adversity without including the long-suffering Job in any discussion.

One by one, everything important to Job was stripped away by one calamity after another, and then the well-meaning counsel of his friends assumed he was somehow to blame. Beleaguered by adversities, he struggled more with inexplicable questions than even the multiplying losses themselves. Job’s fundamental conviction of the sovereign goodness and faithfulness of God guided him through confusion to acceptance and understanding. Emotions in any present adversity must not cloud your abiding conviction of the character and authority of the eternal God in every adversity.  Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18/6:4-10 NIV.

The struggle of Job occupies 42 chapters; the resolution of Job’s adversity is told in brief, concluding verses, “The Lord made him prosperous and gave him twice as much as he had before . . the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first . . after this, Job lived a hundred and forty years, and he died, old and full of years.” Read Job 42:10-17 NIV. I have often heard it commonly said, “What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.” Job found that true; so will you. Psalm 46:1 NKJV.

God is not the origin of adversity to test you. He doesn’t need to be; there will be more than enough hardships in the normal course of life. But God wisely uses adversity to strengthen, perfect, and mature you. God didn’t put giants in Canaan to oppose Moses and Israel. Giants inhabited Canaan. The spies saw the abundance of the land of Promise. Read Numbers 13:17-33 NKJV. It was a rich land, overflowing with plenty – but there were fearsome giants that made them feel, “like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Their conclusion? “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” They feared the giants living there more than they trusted their God living in them. See Psalm 34:17-19 NKJV/1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV.

This day, I pray that you will remember the almightiness of God in every situation.

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Joy and Rejoicing

December 2nd, 2013

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10 NKJV.

Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “joy and rejoicing.”

For many years, our congregational welcome of the Christmas season has been with exuberant joy, expressing that joy with the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World; the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and Heaven and nature sing.” It is my conviction that the entrance to all the other good things associated with Christmas rests in your personal discovery of the true joy the celebration of His birth can bring into hearts and lives. In fact, any Godly observance of the season that does not begin with and continue in unrestrained rejoicing is inadequate and unworthy of the One we celebrate. Peter describes such joy as being, “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” See 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV.

An Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, saying, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The joy God brings is qualified as excelling; it’s “great joy!” At such news, Heaven joy could not be sparing, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” Read Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Christmas as a holiday has become many things that it needs not be but one thing Christmas, as the birth of the Savior, absolutely must be is to be celebrated with joy and rejoicing, both exuberant and unrestrained. Joy is your choice; rejoicing is your personal expression of joy. Joy abides within every redeemed person, sovereignly placed there by God. The Bible is clear; included among the other attributes the Spirit of God imparts is: “The fruit of the Spirit is . . joy.” Galatians 5:22 NKJV.

Rejoicing is an outwardly visible expression of joy which may become impacted by outward circumstances, but joy, God given and resident in one’s heart and spirit, is untouched by circumstance. Paul describes such a moment, “The grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV.

Peter affirms the same truth, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice . . [that] you may be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV. Don’t be deceived by your feelings or current circumstances. The emotions of pain and disappointment may seem to lessen or eliminate joy. If God is in you, His joy is in you as well. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV.

Here is a truth about joy and rejoicing. Joy is the original initiative of God; rejoicing is always at your initiative. Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy. Rejoicing, like faith or the giving of thanks, is an act of a sanctified will, independent of emotions or situation. This is the way that works. The greater your joy, the greater your rejoicing. Likewise, the greater your rejoicing, the greater your joy becomes. God gave you the power to renew or release joy anew.

My prayer for you today is that your joy is fully evidenced in your rejoicing.

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