Tag Archives: trials

Sanctification-Purpose

photoPottersHands_1600x1200.9994505_stdHow mysterious to think that we were made in the image of God. Do you ever feel like  we are such failures that there is no possible way I resemble any part of God. This however was God’s main purpose when He created us(Mankind) in the Garden. In Gen 1:26 it reads, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”” This was God’s purpose then and it is His purpose now.

We were made in His likeness, having the nature of God, the characteristics, personality, emotions and will, so that we could have fellowship and communion with God. Unfortunately this was short lived as sin entered mankind through Adam, and we became separated from God. Adam and Eve decided to have it there way. They became self centered and wanted autonomy as the ate of the fruit promising them that freedom. It was because of this sin original that now all mankind is born into sin, and our image no longer reflects God.

But God

But God does not change, and His purpose for us does not change either. Although through Adam we all were made sinners, “Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men” Rom 5:19a.  Jesus stepped in and makes us righteous, “so one act of righteousness leads to justifications and life for all men” Rom 5:19b. So what does this have to do with sanctification you ask? It is because God is still creating us in His image. We have, as Christians a new birth. We are born again. His original purpose is the same it is just being carried out through Jesus and not through Adam.

Conformed in His Image

It says in Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Also in 1Cor 15: 49  Paul writes  “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”   In Gal 4:19 it reads  “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”

Sanctification.

This is the end result of sanctification. We are being set apart, made holy to be transformed, reborn, recreated, into His image.  Paul promises that all things will work together for His purpose to this chief end. Fortunately or unfortunately this is usually not an easy transformation. One of God’s most effective ways in conforming us is to allow failure, bring trials and hardships, to strip away self so that our image decreases as Christ’s image increases. So let us be reminded oh Christian that on our road to sanctification there will be road blocks, hazards, and obstacles in our way. Know that they are there working for our good to conform us into the image of our God,  because that is His purpose.

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Growing Pains

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Do you ever realize that spiritual growth usually comes along with some sort of trial. It seems to be some necessary process for growth that it is paired up with pain, heartache, hardship or loss. I recently had a such an experience and spent the last couple of days trying to sort it out.

I have written recently about the idea that I like to be liked, in this post. I know I am probably not alone in this, because who doesn’t? I however may take it to a different level because I think I care too much what others think of me. That being said, I recently found out that people whom I have known for many years, and I thought were my friends are talking about me behind my back and  the comments were not complimentary. This hurt me on two different levels, one being that people who I thought were my friends are obviously not. Secondly that there are people out there that I like and called friends who don’t like me back. This causes me a lot of confusion and disappointment

After the initial sting of hearing these comments I spent time contemplating what I said, did, or  didn’t do that caused this, and what I can do to rectify it. As I was thinking on  these things, I thought of something my boss said to me the other day. She said “I don’t trust anyone, or any person that is”. I thought, how sad to go through life thinking this way. However, after this current situation I thought maybe she has a point. I have a habit of letting people into my life too easy and I open up and let down any defenses I may have. I am a person who wears his heart on his sleeve and will tell you how I feel, and it will be evident how I feel by my actions and facial expressions. Maybe I should be more guarded like my boss and not trust anyone, this way I won’t get hurt.

The more I thought about this however I realized there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. I continue to realize that I put my trust in people and my satisfaction is in their approval. The funny thing is, there is no where in scripture that says our hopes and approval should be in others, rather it is to be in Jesus and Jesus alone. Time and time again we are told to love others, not have others love us. We are told to count others more significant than ourselves, but no where does it say make others love you. This is pride speaking, I am making myself more important than I am. I am finding my worth in others, or as Paul puts it, I am putting my confidence in the flesh. He goes on to say in Phil 3:8 “indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

I have failed at this miserably, I continue to count things I do as worth, and my confidence is in my flesh and the approval of others is the measuring stick of my worth. So although I feel as though I have lost friendships and the pain is still fresh. I have learned that is because my trust was in the wrong place, myself. I had made myself and others too big .Where my faith and confidence should be in Jesus. I know I will let others down and others will let me down. As my boss said “I don’t trust  anyone, or any person that is”, but she finished this statement by pointing skyward and saying,”There is only one I trust”. This is words to live by. I wish it just didn’t have to feel this way in order to learn this lesson.

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Just Have Faith

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Today While at Church the Pastor on a few occasions said, we just need to have faith, and we just need to believe. I have heard these remarks many times before, but it struck me differently today. How many times have you heard people say when going through a difficult time “Just have faith”? I would guess probably many times, but what exactly does that mean and is it that easy to obtain such a faith that it can bring you out of the lowest of lows and during moments of seemingly unceasing pain.

I think we throw around these phrases a little to glibly.  I have gone through times when it feels like God isn’t  there at all, and if He is He sure isn’t listening. Times of prayer that go on seemingly unanswered and times when life doesn’t make much sense. I also have friends that have hit rock bottom and don’t know where to turn to next to get relief from the hardships of life. I know I don’t want to  hear, and they probably don’t want to hear “Just have faith” and things will get better.

The word “Just” makes it seem like it is something easy to obtain. It’s like telling someone who wants to climb Mt Everest, Just go climb it. This dismisses the amount of training involved, the expenses to do it, the time off to do it and having a team of experts to help you along the way. I think faith is similar to this. It takes time to understand who and what you are putting your faith in. It takes time to learn that God is faithful to us and that we can trust Him. But this takes time like in any relationship. It takes time to build trust before you put your faith in that person. So too in putting faith and trust in God in order to believe in Him and in His word.

Let us not then loosely say” just have faith”, and “just believe”. Let’s replace it with learn how to trust in God. Spend time in the bible to learn of His character and how others who did put their faith in Him even during the hardest of times that God was faithful to them and he too will be faithful to you. It is hard to have faith in the unseen, So I tell you not to just have faith, rather fight for it, seek it, pray for it.

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Life Is Not Fair

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Life is not fair! Have you ever uttered those words before?  You probably have, because I think everyone has at one point or another. Are you going through a struggle or hardship right now, and wondering why is my life so hard? Why don’t things ever work out for me? I can tell you one thing, you are not alone. In the past week I have encountered my own struggles and heard other peoples hardships that seem there is no easy answer to. So how do we overcome these monumental difficulties in life without giving up, or going into a depression or becoming hardened?

We feel life is not fair when things don’t go the way we want them to go. But how do we know that the way we want them to go is the right way or the fair way? Isn’t this when we become bitter and resentful, when we don’t get our way? Our way can seem very fair, we can pray for a family member with cancer to be healed. Or we can pray for our children to be healthy or a marriage to be reconciled only to have the family member die of cancer, children to be sick and  marriages fall apart. And we say or think, this is not fair. But what are we comparing fair to? Are we all to always be healthy and live to 100, never get into an accident, never have an argument with our spouse, never have parents with health issues? But what are we basing these assumptions on? I think it continues to fall on the fact that we don’t want these things to happen and when they do we say it is not fair based on our expected outcome.  So what do we do when things don’t go our way, how do we overcome it?

“For the Arrows of The Almighty are in Me” Job 6:4

Let’s look at the Bible and some situations people fell into that we would call unfair. Let us first look at Job. He had lost his sons and daughters in a horrific accident, he lost all of his money(livestock) by fires and thieves, and then to top it off he was inflicted with excruciating boils from his feet to his head. What did he do to deserve this you ask? Nothing, he was a very good upstanding citizen who loved God and didn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body. It was during this time when his own wife told to curse God and die, nice wife right? I would say this would fall in the not fair scenario. So how does Job respond to all of this? I am not going to say he was giddy over it by any means, at one point he wished that he had never been born. But he never lost perspective of who he was and who God is. He said in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me I will hope in him” (referring to God).And in Job 19:25-26 “For I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” Even though Job was going through hell on earth he never lost sight of who God is or lost his hope in him.

Another great example of an unfair life is the life of Paul. Paul turned into a very godly man who went on to be a great missionary preaching the good news of the gospel everywhere he went. Therefore God must have blessed him beyond measure for being such a faithful servant right? I will let Paul respond to that question. 2Cor 11:23-28 “…with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches”. Because of this Paul shouted out to God and said “this in not fair, why are you doing this to me. I am a good person doing your work, why are you punishing me like this, why are you not answering my prayers” Actually he never said that, but he probably had every right to. Isn’t that what we would say and do say when afflictions come our way? But what does Paul really say?  Written in the same letter  we find Paul saying this about his hardships, 2 Cor. 4:17 “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”. WHAT!! a light and momentary affliction? I think after the one imprisonment I would have given up and started with the why me’s. How are Job and Paul able to have these responses to such horrible calamity?

Having the Right Perspective.

I believe Job and Paul were able to overcome there difficulties because the had a right perspective on life. Both Job and Paul kept their focus on God and not themselves. Job remembered Who God is and Paul remembered what Jesus had done for him. What is more important to us will determine what rules us. What is bigger to you in your life; your problems or God? What are you focusing on more? When Paul was in prison he wrote the book of Philippians which is known as the book of joy. If I wrote that book it would be called be book of woe is me. Paul goes on to write words like everything is trash compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. We have a choice we can either be self centered or Christ centered. One leads to into a spiral of self pity and despair filled with depression. The other leads to life, joy, peace, and ultimately to our salvation. We need to keep our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith and take them off of ourselves. Life is not fair, but not in the way you are thinking. It is not fair because we deserve death for or sins and turning our back to God, but Jesus gave up his life so that we may have eternal life, Jesus took our place on the cross taking on the full wrath of God so that we never have too. I am sure Jesus easily could have said this is not fair. I never did anything wrong yet I am being punished for everyone else.  It is with this knowledge that we may say like David did in Ps 40:16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually. “Great is the Lord”.

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