Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trials, Grace AND Wisdom

Hebrews 10:32 - But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings.

Certain things change when one becomes a Christ follower. I don't mean a Christian, but a Christ follower. One who hungers and thirsts for Him. One who craves His Word and is changed by His words. Many will say they are a Christian but don't go to church, don't believe all the Bible is true, support the very things God calls abhorrent, even believe God is not all He claims to be. They believe God is good but fail to understand His judgment. They are able to justify their actions believing God is love and He'd understand...after all, there are others who are worse.

Like I've said, certain things change. When we come to Christ we see things differently; we have an understanding unlike what we had before. We change as we grow in Christ. We are, hopefully, more aware of our sin and while some churches call for a specific time of confession, we are called to repent of our sin immediately...and we are able to go directly to God. Hebrews 4:16 alludes to this: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Last Sunday our pastor's son Aaron preached a good word. The title of the sermon was Remember.

There were two points that stood out to me. One was, paraphrasing: We are to grow and mature in Christ. You have everything if you have Christ. You can't be valuable to Him unless you're going through something. It's the trials that build us up. Through the trials we see God work, we become strengthened, we grow. There's something greater on the other side. There's a blessing. In this trial we find truth and see what He wants us to see, but these trails must be faced. They must be walked out.

It's true sin has caused us to have to have trials in our life. God allows them...the purpose of which is to look to Him for strength and wisdom...and to glorify Him when we do. If we are in God's will He will get us through it.

Aaron continued by saying when we are in Christ and following Him we can at times seem as though we have gotten lost somewhere. We question whether we've done something wrong because our trials are not there. We wonder if this is a time of rest or if we have missed something somewhere and have fallen away from Him.

His response was to remember...what Christ has done for us. If we haven't had a trial lately does it mean I am not the same as before? Have I grown spiritually weak, fallen away and far from God? Do I feel condemned? Remember! Remember when your eyes were first opened to the things of Christ. You don't go from darkness to light without remembering that moment. Then we are to stand fast on that.

I certainly remember that day! I was in a trial at the time and that is exactly when we are most vulnerable to receiving Christ, when there's nowhere else to go for help. I remembered just about every second of the day my eyes were opened to the glory and grace of God.

If we feel, now that we are in Christ, that things are different, he pointed out it may seem like we are lame. That lameness can be healed. He shared an account of a man with a withered hand whom Jesus healed. If we feel we've become withered or maimed, it doesn't mean we've been cut off. The withered or maimed areas can be healed. Just stand in your faith in Christ. Come to grips with areas of your life that may be a problem; i.e. anger, bitterness, judgment, those things that grow and fester.

And more that spoke volumes to me: Esau was willing to give up his inheritance for a bowl of stew. (Genesis 25) He placed little value on this birthright. If we are in Christ we should not forget the true birthright He has given us. Don't let anything take it away; don't be tempted to give it up for some worldly possession. Nothing is more important than that birthright. If we are experiencing anything, take it to God. Ask for support from your church family. But remember His grace toward you that one particular day you saw the truth of who He is.

I believe we don't always realize we are in a struggle. Maybe it has been there a long time and we live with it somehow. It surfaces occasionally as a reminder. And some struggles are more difficult than others. Some people are stronger than others...hopefully, in Christ, not in their own strength.

God has granted His grace when we received Him as our Savior.  We need to be ever thankful and mindful of that. We have not been cut off from Him if we are faithful to Him in even the small things. Let me end with this and isn't it amazing, a little break from my wisdom from the Proverbs and it shows up again. Go figure!

James 1:2-6 - My brethren, 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. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

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