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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Turning My Pain into a Testimony

In 2 Corinthians 6:4 I read, “In everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties.” (GNT)

I often think that the world is impressed with my success and how I enjoy my prosperity. But in reality they're more impressed by how I, as a Christ follower, handle adversity.

When I go through pain, non-believers around me are watching me. They’re wondering what it means to be a Christian when I’m in the same kind of pain they are. Does it look any different?

The truth is, I have the same pain as everybody else. I just have a different source of comfort.

My successes shouldn’t give me as much credibility as much as how I handle my suffering. The more honest and vulnerable I am about the suffering in my life, the more powerful my impact will be to others.

The apostle Paul was a pro at using his pain to model his message. He says in 2 Corinthians 6:4, “In everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties” (GNT).

My deepest life message will come out of my deepest pain. The world doesn’t need to see Christ followers who are perfect or have it all together. They need something real and authentic. They need to see Christians who are patient in pain, who walk faithfully in suffering.

Every area of my life where I’ve experienced pain is a testimony. Has God helped me work my way out of deep debt? That was painfulbut it’s also a testimony. God has helped me patiently endure chronic pain. That’s also testimony. Anywhere I’ve had pain and experienced God’s help is a testimony.

I should not waste my pain; and don’t waste my hurt. People all around me are going through the very thing I’ve already gone through, and they need my help. They need me to comfort them.

The greatest witness of God’s love in all of history was not Jesus’ perfect life, his sermons, his miracles, or his stories. It was his suffering.

God can use my faithfulness in suffering to great effect in someone’s life. In fact, my faithfulness in suffering could be my greatest witness! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Why I Need to Be Open About My Pain

In 2 Corinthians 6:11 I read, “We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide.” (GNT)

In order to help others who are in pain, I’ll need to be willing to share how my own pain got my attention. Pain is a warning light that tells us something is wrong and needs our attention

The apostle Paul experienced a lot of pain in his life and freely told the story of his pain to help others. When I’m sharing about my own pain in order to help others, I need to do these three things.

First, be open about my feelings. I won’t be able to mask my feelings and help others at the same time. Paul said to the Corinthian church, “We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide” (2 Corinthians 6:11 GNT). When I’m sick, do I tell others I’m not feeling well? When I’m down or discouraged, do I open up to people about it? Saying I’m “fine” is the easy answer, but it will never contribute to an honest relationship.

Second, be humble about my faults. Paul says in Galatians 6:5, “Each of us must bear some faults and burdens of his own. For none of us is perfect!” (TLB) Since I know I’m not perfect, don’t try to pretend I am. People don’t need me to be perfect. They need me to be real.

Third, be honest about my fears. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:20, “I do admit that I have fears that when I come you’ll disappoint me and I’ll disappoint you” (The Message). Have I ever been open enough to share my fears with someone, even when it made me vulnerable? The greatest Christian who ever lived admitted he had fears. That kind of honesty is required in authentic relationships.

The hurting people around me need to hear about how I’ve struggled and how God brought me throughbut they don’t need it tied up with a pretty bow.

We all have feelings, faults, and fears. It’s time I share them for the benefit of others. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Am I God-Centered or Self-Centered?

In Philippians 4:6-7 I read, “Instead of worrying, pray . . . It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (The Message)

What will I make the center of my lifeWho or what am I going to live for? There are many things I center my life around, i.e. a career, a sport, a hobby, making money, or having fun.

While there is nothing wrong with these, they make for a lousy center for life. I need something that is absolutely unchanging, that can never be taken away

There’s only one thing I can put at the center of my life that will never change and is strong enough to sustain me through life: Jesus Christ.

When my core is solid in God, I have bounce-ability. I can bounce back from stress, problems, grief or from crisis faster. I have something solid in my life that doesn’t change, and I worry less.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Instead of worrying, pray . . . It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (The Message).

Any time I start worrying, it should be a red flag, a warning sign that says, “I’ve allowed someone or something to become the center of my life instead of God."

Friday, March 17, 2023

I Grow as I Help Others Mature

In 2 Timothy 2:2 I read, The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (NIV).

If I want the special blessing of God in and on my life, I need to learn from other believers who are more mature than me, and I need to mentor believers who are younger than me.

Every Christian needs both a Paul and a Timothy. A “Paul” is somebody who’s been a Christian longer than me and is helping to train and encourage me. That person may only be a month older than me, but he or she knows a little bit more and can mentor me.

To have a “Timothy” means there is somebody in my life who hasn’t been a Christian as long as me, and I am helping build that person's faith. I am offering my Timothy encouragement and discipleship as he or she grows in the Lord.

So as I have a Paul and a Timothy in my life, I am also a Paul and a Timothy to someone else.

The things you have heard me say in the presence of many entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV).

There are four generations in that verse. Paul says to Timothy that he helped mentor him, Timothy must find somebody to mentor, and then that person can find somebody else to mentor.

Mentoring is as easy as taking someone to breakfast once a month and asking, “How’s it going?” I just need to be a friend. Listen to, encourage, and pray for that person. I don’t have to be the perfect Christian to do this. I just have to be willing.

When I do, I will receive a blessing from God in my life that I cannot imagine. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Hard times and trouble are the way God gets my attention and He can use them to point me toward my purpose

In Job 36:15 I read, “God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.” (GNT)

Even when I’m not aware of it, God is directing my life. “A person may plan his own journey, but the LORD directs his steps”.

God likes to direct me through his Word. When I read and study the Bible regularly, that’s often all he needs. But at times I may not spend enough time reading His Word, so another way he’ll guide and direct me is through pain.

God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes”.

We put a bit in a horse’s mouth, using the discomfort to point the horse in a different direction.

In the same way, pain guides and directs me and often turns me in a new direction.

King David realized, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees”.

God whispers to us in our pleasure but shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone. It never leaves me where it found me. God can use it to point me toward my purpose.

I don’t have to be glad that I’m experiencing pain. But I can ask God to use my pain to guide me in the right direction and thank him for all the ways he will provide for me. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

I’m The Only One Who Can Share My Life Message

In 1 Thessalonians 1:8 I read, “Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word . . . The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!” (The Message)

God put me on Earth for a special reason. He wants to say something to the rest of the world through me. It’s called my life message.

Any time I say, “This is what God’s doing in my life,” I’m giving my life message. Any time I say, “I was praying about this, and here’s what’s happened,” I’ve given a life message. Any time I say, “I’ve got this problem I’m struggling with, but God is helping me,” I’m sharing my life message.

I’m the only one who can share my unique life message. Nobody else can do it for me. And if I don’t share my life message, the world gets cheated.

God wants to use me because the best messages are personal messages. The most powerful message comes through a person. I’m so glad that when God wanted to share his message of love, he didn’t email it. He came in person. The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ came to Earth so we could see what God is like.

God has a message to share with the world, and instead of writing it in the sky, he wants to share it through my personality; he wants to share it through me.

The good news is that I don’t have to be perfect to share my life message. I just have to be honest, real, and authentic. Just say, “I don’t have it all together, but here’s what God is doing in my life. Here’s the difference Jesus Christ has made.”

If I don’t share my life message with others, they may never hear about what God can do for them too.

My life message is mine alone. No one else can share it. So what will be the communication of my life? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

What Will Be My Contribution?

In 1 Peter 4:10 I read, “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.” (TLB)

What will be the contribution of my life? Will I use my God-given talents and abilities to benefit myself or others? God wired me to make a difference and to make a contribution in this world. I’m not here just to take up space. Based on how God wired me, what is the greatest contribution I can make? How can I make a difference?”

The Good Samaritan is an example of someone who had margin in his life so that he could make a contribution. In the story? A guy was mugged, attackers beat him up, robbed him, and left him for dead. The first guy who came walking by had no margin in his life. He was in a hurry and walked on.

Another walked by. “I’ve got my own agenda. I’ve got my own goals and ambitions. I’m too busy. I don’t want to be associated with that guy anyway.” And he walked past.

Third guy had every reason to pass. But he stopped anyway. He put this total stranger on his donkey, took him to the nearest hotel, and told the manager “You feed him, you clothe him, you restore him to health, and I’ll pay for it.”

When was the last time I helped someone in need? If it’s been so long that I don’t even remember, I probably don’t have any margin in your life. But this guy did. He had the time margin; he left early enough to stop along the way to help somebody in need. He had financial margin; he was able to give away his money. And he had energy margin; he was able to help because he wasn’t stressed out.

Every day, I walk by people I could help. But if I’m either overloaded or only focused on my own life, I can’t stop to help anybody. I can’t make a contribution.

There are only two kinds of people: givers and takers. Which one will I be?