Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shepastor: "The Blessing of Trials"

Romans 5: 1-8 (God’s Word Translation)Now that we have God's approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. 2 Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor. So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God. 3 But that's not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. 8 Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us.

In today’s Shepastor, the Apostle Paul emphasizes that since we have been justified by faith, “we have peace with God.” No longer separated from God by sin (disobedience) that wars against our very souls, we are now united in Christ and given peace that surpasses understanding. We praise God for this victory! However, Paul goes onto say, that we not only praise, or as one version puts it, “brag” about this new peaceful relationship in Christ, but we can also “brag” when we face tribulation, or trials, or great difficulties, because, trials – difficulties do some things for us.

Paul says it like this…

We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“The Blessing of Trials”

A few years ago as my son and I were driving home, the sun moved behind the clouds suddenly, and small droplets of rain began to fall upon the windshield. Earlier that week, he’d had a science project where he had to write a mock weather forecast. Remembering his assignment and his own predictions about what the weather in the coming days would be, our son looked at me and said, “Mommy, rain was not in my forecast.” As I thought about his innocent words I responded, “Son, rain was not in my forecast either.” He didn’t realize that I was referring to more than the physical elements of water droplets falling from overburdened clouds packed to capacity with water.

I was referring to the rain that intermittently falls in life. I was referring to the misfortunes, mishaps, unexpected disappointments, and what we call inconveniences of life. I was referring to those unexpected events that come about when we were planning for sunny days, peaceful moments, relaxation, or just peace.

Rain was not in our forecast. The doctor coming out of the office after reviewing our labs and saying that the white blood count cell was too high or the psa level was too high and cancer may be looming. Rain was not in the forecast – That unexpected call from the school saying that your son or daughter was in an accident, you’d just seen them in the morning, happy, bright and bouncing and now you are wondering will they live – rain was not in the forecast – you thought you were being called in for a promotion and instead the boss looks across the desk with an apology and says they just can’t afford to keep you – rain was not in the forecast – the expectant mother going for an ultrasound, only to discover that there no longer is heartbeat in the ball of flesh developing in her womb – rain was not in the forecast!

Intellectually, we know, we understand that in every life some rain must fall, but we always hope that it will hold off at least for one more day. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purposes, but deep down within, we are just hoping, just praying, just standing with bated breath that our forecast – sunny skies with periodic overcast will only produce some droplets, but not a rain storm. Rain is not wanted in our forecast!

However, in every life, some rain will fall. Just as rain is necessary for the flowers to bloom and for the ground to grow grass and for our fields to be watered, the rain, the trials, the difficult circumstances that confront us in life are necessary to make us what God has created us to be.

Every now and then, God causes some rain to fall in our lives to make us strong. Every now and then God allows some tough situations to come into our lives so that we will be able to stand the storms that are coming on down the road. Storms help us to appreciate the good times. Storms help us to remain humble. Storms make us compassionate – if we will allow it. Trials can either make us bitter or better.

We have a choice. We can either trust God, cry out to Him in our pain and trials and seek His face and direction or we can recoil, become bitter, hateful, depressed, isolated and ultimately ball up and die.

The tree that never had to fight
for sun and sky and air and light
who stood up in the open plain
and always had its share of rain
never became a forest king
but lived and died a shrubby thing
good timber does not grow with ease
the stronger wind, the stronger trees
- Douglas Mallock

Walking with Christ does not shield you from the trials and struggles of life. Walking with the Lord does not immune you to the pain and toil that every child of God must face. Walking with the Lord will, however empower you to look for the lesson in whatever you face. It will give you hope, and strength and endurance to face each day and to praise the Lord at all times.

It will however transform you from the caterpillar to the butterfly. God will give you wings to fly, he will make your feet like hinds or deer feet so that you can walk upon the high places. Trials can be a blessing. Struggle can lift you to a higher plain. We can “brag” even when we are going through because we know that God loves us, that God is there with us, that God has great blessings in store for us.

Though others may look and wag their heads, some are hoping for your downfall, some are waiting to plan a party after (they hope) you fail or just give up – but the child of God, through faith, must endure hardship like a good soldier, remembering that we are not out to please man, but to please our enlisting officer, who is Jesus Christ.

“Harder yet may be the fight, right may often yield to might, wickedness a while may reign Harder yet may be the fight; right may often yield to might; wickedness a while may reign; Satan's cause may seem to gain. There is a God that rules above, with hand of power and heart of love; if I am right, he'll fight my battle, I shall have peace someday.”

Trials will come, rain will fall, but there is God who rules above, with hand of power and heart of love and He will fight your battles and give you peace. Rain may not have been in your forecast, but rain will fall The good news is that God has an umbrella!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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