Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What is the number one thing I hear from those who are working a program of recovery?
"Life is hard!"
What is the number one thing  I hear from those whose struggles aren't found in addiction?
"Life is hard!"
What is the common thread between these two?
"Life is hard!"
You know what? I have found that to be true in my own life.
"Life is hard!"

I like how James 1:2-4 reads in the Message Bible.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Did you catch the way the verses were phrased?
"Under pressure, our faith-life (or what we truly believe) is forced into the open for everyone to see."
Pressure brings out the real "me".
Pressure shows me my real heart. Do I trust God, or has it all been a show and sham.
Pressure is where I find out the truth about myself. I either have changed or I am merely playing the religious game. Also, according to James, we should not run away from those situations and circumstances where we are under pressure but allow God to work through us. When we do, we find that we are being grown and matured to look more like our elder brother, Jesus.

Romans 5:3-5 reads:
There's more to come. We continue to shout out praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy, such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary, we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

It would be different if God merely took us through hard times, or allowed difficult situations to come to us and we remained the same, as far as our character mattered. But through the hard times, God works in us to change our nature and character. To mature us and grow us so that we learn to rely on God and not be tossed about like paper in the wind. 

It is in these hard times that we get a view of God that we don't get any other place.
We see him moving and leading us to become the people of his heart.
The people who will occupy his Kingdom rule here on earth, sharing their story of how this God was the real-deal God who delivered them out of the darkness of addiction and sin.

Far too many people who lay claim to the name of Jesus only live their relationship with him through their mouth. By that, I mean that they only talk about it. They are first to speak up against something or someone, yet let the hard times come and you don't see much of "God" flowing from their lives. The real colors of a follower of Jesus come spilling out when life happens.

Israel, the nation, saw God work in ways and miracles that no other nation had seen before. Yet these God-workings took place in the wilderness places where no one would dare have gone. You know what that tells me? That God does his best work in the middle of our problems and strife. He rises up to reveal himself in ways that we would not see in any other situation. When life is good, we don't really look for God do we? We tend to enjoy the moment and soak up the "sunshine" so to speak. But let the problems start rolling in and our attention quickly turns to God. I don't want to be a fair-weather follower. I want to be the same whether my life is going through a season of not having any problems, or I am drowning in a tidal wave of trouble. I am going to follow Jesus and let him lead me all the way.

Let God work in you today.
Let him grow you and show you how to live no matter what your situation may be.

God on you....

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