Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sunshine Behind the Storm #3: And I thought life was supposed to be easy...

Here is the third post in the blog series Sunshine Behind the Storm! Anna Bachinsky blogs over at Daughter by Design, where she writes especially concerning singleness. She has allowed me to put a wonderful post she did here on this blog for you all. To see the original post on her blog, you can go here: http://daughterbydesign.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/and-i-thought-life-was-supposed-to-be-easy-2/

Praying that this blesses you as much as it did me when I first read it! 

http://rejoiceinthelordalwaysrejoice.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Sunshine%20Behind%20the%20Storm

I used to think that just because I was Christian life would automatically be “easy.”After all God Almighty, Creator of the universe was on MY side… everything I went through would be a piece of cake, right?

My life would be full or rainbows, butterflies, and happy feelings.

I’d wake up feeling abundant joy every morning and go to sleep with a huge smile on my face every night.

Life would always make sense.

My prayers would always get answered just like I wanted them to.

And I’d never have to go through one more valley again.

But that is so far from the truth.

No one gets a “get out of hard stuff in life” card. Especially not followers of Christ.

But before God taught me that trials would be the greatest blessings in my life I used to think that they were the worst things that could happen to me.

I used to even think that they were some kind of spiritual “sign” from God. That I was not being a “good enough Christian”. That I was doing something wrong. That I somehow deserved them and if only I fixed whatever it was I was doing I would live a problem-free life.

But that’s obviously not the case. Bad things happen to good people. It’s a part of life that we must all come to terms with. The sooner the better.

And when I think about people who lived hard lives one person in particular comes to mind. One very important person. A person I know very well. Jesus.

And the interesting this? He CHOSE to come down on earth to live that life here. He left the glories of heaven, the thousands of angels constantly exalting Him, the streets of gold… to live in a dark, broken world where he would be despised, rejected, and crucified… Wow. Who from us would choose to do the same? Leave the comforts and glory of heaven for a cruel world that wouldn’t ever understand who it is that walked among them? I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. But Jesus did.
As Jesus’ followers… I think that’s what God meant when He says in His Word that we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

Our cross is the life that He has planned for us to live.

A life where we become more like Christ every day.

A life where we serve Jesus by serving others (just like Jesus did).

For Jesus, His ultimate goal and purpose in life was to pick up that cross… to carry it to Calvary… to be crucified on it. That cross is what we often think about when we come to Jesus in prayer. When we remember His sacrifice for our sins. It is because of Jesus hanging on that cross  that we all have the free gift of salvation.

Often times when I think about “picking up my cross” it makes me cringe. Who wants to do that? It seems so hard. So burdensome. I mean, doesn’t God want me to enjoy this life? To be happy?
The answer to that is “yes”, of course! God originally created humans (Adam & Eve) for His enjoyment and for companionship. But we all know where the story goes from there…

And now that we are redeemed through what Christ did on the cross we can all have a relationship with Him and we can enjoy the life He has given us… but that doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy. After all, we still live in a sinful, fallen world.

And one of God’s purpose for us in this life is so that through constant communion with Him and His Word we will become more like Christ every day.

So we can shine His light to the dark and broken world.

So we can be His hands and feet to hurting people.

So we can live a life of servanthood, just like Jesus did.

And becoming like Jesus requires going through things Jesus went through. It requires leaving a life of comfort and living life like Jesus did.

I read this quote by Rick Warren recently Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.”

Honestly when I read this at first, I thought to myself “Wow… it all makes sense now. The heartaches and pain I’ve been through. The hardships. The rejections. The loneliness. Everything.”

And it made me realize that maybe I’m on the right track in life… that maybe this is exactly where God wants me to be.

Going through a few trials that test my faith.

Going through a period of loneliness that makes me depend on Him alone.

Not knowing what exactly lies ahead so that I can trust Him and His plan for my life over my own. So I can say “His Will be done, Not Mine”…

There are two ways you can look at the challenges in life. You can look at them as problems that you don’t want to deal with OR you can look at them as opportunities. Opportunities where you can learn to grow more like Jesus.

Think about the fruits of the spirit, which we should all develop and possess after growing in Christ and becoming more like Him.

Love… how will you truly learn to love until God puts people into your life that are difficult to love?

Joy…how will you learn to have joy until you find yourself in a place where you’re not even happy with circumstances in life and your joy can only come from God alone?

Peace…how can you learn to have peace until you are put into a stressful situation where all you want to do is stay up all night and worry + be anxious about your life?

Patience… how can you learn to be patient unless God gives you something in life that you really want but you have to wait on His perfect timing for?

Gentleness… how can you learn to be gentle unless you find yourself in a situation where you are arguing with someone and are tempted to say harsh words that you can’t take back?

Self-control… how can you learn to have self-control until you first have something you want to indulge in that will require you to have self-control to restrain yourself from doing it?

Faith… how can you learn to have faith until you find yourself in a place where all your options are gone.. your first plan, your back-up plan… and every plan after that and  you can only trust in God alone to get you through?

Perseverance… how can you learn to persevere with Christ until you fail or fall a few times… and need to get back up again and keep on trying?

When you start looking at challenges in life as opportunities… things change.

Temptations become opportunities to practice self-control.

Waiting becomes an opportunity to practice patience.

Stress becomes an opportunity to practice peace.

Discouragement becomes an opportunity to practice joy.

No, the situation doesn’t change. What’s going on in your life doesn’t all of a sudden disappear. But you will handle it differently. With a better attitude. With a purpose. And in the end… it will help you become exactly who  you want to be: like Jesus.

If you’re going through a difficult time in life right now don’t be discouraged.

Look at whatever you’re going through as an opportunity.

An opportunity to grow, to learn, to become more like Christ. Don’t waste this opportunity no matter how hard it may be, trust God with it. And don’t forget… the bigger the storm, the bigger the testimony!

Keep on holding on to Christ and following Him… and He’ll bring you through to the other side and help you learn a few things along the way. :) Be blessed! - Anna… ♥

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – James 1:2

~~~

Thank you so much Anna for letting me post your blog article here! God bless you as you serve Him!


 

Monday, 4 November 2013

All Our Afflictions are Appointed by Our Loving Heavenly Father! ~ Arthur Pink

How blessed I am to have some friends on Facebook who are willing to point me to the Lord! :D I certianly need to read more by these writers once I have time! :)

All our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father! ~ Arthur Pink

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9


Realizing that it was the chastening hand of God upon him, David refrained from murmuring. It was not the silence of sullenness, but of meekly acquiescing to the rod. When we are in our right minds, we shall have nothing to object against God's dealings with us, or dispute with them. God is sovereign in the acts of His providence--and therefore an important branch of our obedience unto Him lies in suffering His will, as well as in doing His will. That obedience is evidenced by refusing to repine against Him by the utterance of any impatient words.

Shall vile dust and ashes censure the providential dealings of the Most High God, or impugn His goodness? Let all God's treatment of us be both wondrous and righteous in our eyes.

"If our hope is in God for a happiness in the eternal world--then we can well afford to reconcile ourselves to all the dispensations of Divine providence concerning this world." (Matthew Henry)

The consideration that all our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father, should silence all complaints. It did so with David. He knew they came not by chance, but according to divine appointment.

After months of acute suffering, and still in agony of body, the last words of John Calvin were, "Lord, You grind me to powder, but it suffices me because it is Your hand."

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Leslie Ludy ~ Even Fleas are From God!

 From Sacred Singleness by Leslie Ludy (p.107-109):
"Precious sisters, let us never profane the sacred sacrifice of our King by seeking the benefits of Christ without the cross! Just as He gave up His life, so we are called to give up ours. It doesn't matter what makes us happy or what makes us feel good. Yes, the way is narrow and rocky and causes us pain, but that's the very road Jesus walked - and may it be our greatest privilege and joy to follow in His steps.

As I've said before, on the other side of sacrifice is aways joy. Jesus obtained the reward of His suffering after He had conquered sin and death, and sat down at the right hand of His Father. That's His pattern. First suffering - then reward. As 1 Peter 5:10 says, 'May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you' (emphasis added). And Paul reminds us, 'God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love' (Hebrews 6:10). when we lay our all on the altar, no matter how painful the process is, we can be confident that there are unspeakable treasures of joy awaiting us on the other side of the suffering...No suffering that we embrace in obedience to Jesus Christ ever ends in misery and death. That wasn't Jesus' story, and it won't be our story when we follow in His steps. God specializes in happily ever after. Just read the end of the Bible and you'll see what I mean...

No matter what our situation in life, we should not go around being 'ticked off' about it. Rather, God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 'In everything give thaks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' And in Philippians 2:14. 'Do all things without complaining and disputing.' If we are feeling angry, unhappy, miserable, or ticked off about being single (or any other circumstance in life), we shouldn't merely admit it and call it honesty. Rather, we should admit it and call it what it is - sin. We should ask God to forgive us and cleanse us by the power of His blood. And we should lean upon His grace to turn and walk another way, joyfully embracing whatever path God has placed on us, just like Jesus, who endured the cross...

In Authentic Beauty I wrote about Corrie ten Boom being challenged by God to give thanks for the fleas that inflicted her prison cell. She told her sister, 'Betsy, there is no way that even God can make me thankful for a flea.' But once she began rejoicing in the fleas, she soon found that these annoying little insects truly were a gift from God. The guards were so disgusted by them that they avoided going to check the sisters' prison cell every night. Betsy and Corrie were free to read their Bible, pray, sing and witness to other prisoners - something that would have been impossible had the guards come to check their cell. It was like a little taste of heaven on earth, and it would not have been possible without the fleas."
What a challenge this is! Of course, it makes more sense when read in the context of the whole book, but I was really challenged through it today to stop complaining so much about the trials of life but rather to look to Christ who endured the cross for me! Praying that this would help you too, dear brother or sister in Christ!