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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What’s on the Other Side of My Troubles?

In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 I read, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

When a crisis hits, I need to do the smart things necessary to get through it. I need to listen to God’s Word and godly advice, to make good choices, and then to keep moving forward while remembering that this will pass. It’s not going to last forever!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (TLB).

In this world, there will be times of trial and testing. It’s guaranteed! Since sin entered the world, nothing works perfectly. Everything on this planet is broken—the weather, the economy, our bodies, and even our best plans. Nothing works perfectly in this life because sin broke everything on Earth.

Isaiah 24 says, “The land suffers for the sins of its people . . . [they] have twisted the laws of God and broken his everlasting commands . . . The earth has broken down in utter collapse” (Isaiah 24:4-5, 19 TLB).

On Earth, everything is lost, abandoned, and confused. Even nature is groaning. We may even contemplate or wonder why God allowed sin and evil to enter the world; it’s because God wanted us to have a choice.

And we’re the ones who have chosen to cause evil. We’re the ones who are selfish and self-centered and cause problems in society and in our environment.

It’s good to remember or be reminded that this Earth is not heaven. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray the Lord’s Prayer—”your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV). Heaven is a perfect place with no sorrow, sickness, sadness, or stress, but we shouldn’t expect heaven on Earth. One day we’ll get there, but we’re not there yet.

So I will get through whatever trial I’m facing right now. Soon enough I will marvel at all that God did in the midst of my trouble as I look at it from the other side.

There will be more challenges to face and adversity to endure. But I can always hope in this truth: “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV).

In summary, these troubles and sufferings I face are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon me forever and ever! So I should not just look at what I can see right now, the troubles all around me, but I look forward to the joys in heaven which I have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

Any troubles I encounter should not diminish my faith or disillusion me. I realize that there is purpose in my trials and suffering. My problems and limitations have several benefits: (1) They remind me of Christ's suffering for me; (2) they keep me from pride; (3) they cause me to look beyond this brief life; (4) they give me opportunities to prove my faith to others; and (5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate his power. Therefore I can learn to see my troubles as opportunities.

The ultimate hope I can have whenever I experience a terrible illness, persecution, or pain is the realization that this life is not all there is. There is life after death. Knowing that I will live forever with God in a place without sin, trouble, or suffering should help me live above any pain that I face.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Why I Can Face the Future Without Fear

In Psalm 23:6 I read, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (NLT)

Someday my life on Earth will end, but that won’t be the end of me. I’m going to live forever in one of two places: heaven or hell. One day my physical body is going to die, but while this happens, I’ll go on, because I was made to last forever.

How long is forever going to last? Forever!

God’s Word tells me why as a Christ follower, I should be most confident about the future: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord . . . We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 NIV).

I will never know how to really live until I’m ready to die. Only a fool would go through life totally unprepared for something that everybody knows is inevitable

So I’m going to physically die someday. But because I’ve accepted Christ, I’m going to go to heaven, to “live in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6 NLT). In heaven, I’ll be released from pain, sorrow, suffering, depression, and fear. “He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone” (Revelation 21:4 The Message).

For a Christ follower, death is just a transfer, a promotion. It’s on to better things and no more problems.

Those truths should change everything! It doesn’t mean life is going to be easy. And it doesn’t mean I will always be happy, or always know what I should do, or that I will never sin again.

But it does mean I can face the future without fear. God has taken care of my biggest problem, my salvation. He is never going to leave me, and I will live with him forever!

In summary, God's goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life. I will get to dwell with him forever in heaven. God is the perfect shepherd who promises to guide and protect me throughout my life and into eternity. There are only two things that I do on Earth that I won't be able to do in heaven. One is sin and the other is to witness and assist non-believers.  

Monday, May 29, 2023

Slow Down by Learning Contentment

In Philippians 4:11 I read, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (NIV)

I’m learning that If I’m serious about slowing down, I shouldn’t start with my schedule, rather start with my heart.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). Notice that Paul says he has “learned” contentment. Unfortunately we are not by nature contented people. It is our nature to be discontent—to want things to be different, to want them to be better. But if I’m going to slow down my life, I have to learn contentment. And I can only do that over time.

Paul explains what it looks like to be content. He says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV).

Paul is emphasizing that life isn’t about things. A person who is content can acknowledge, “I didn’t have anything before I was born; I’m not going to have anything after I die. Yes, I need things, but they’re not what life is about—so I’ll just be content with what I’ve got.”

Contentment is not abandoning ambition; we need to have ambition and make the most of what God has given us. Contentment doesn’t mean we don’t have any goals, dreams, or plans for life. In fact, God says it’s good to have godly ambition.

Contentment means this; We don’t need more in order to be happy; we can be happy right now with what we’ve been given.

Happiness is a choice. In other words, I can be as happy as I choose to be! Furthermore, I can’t blame unhappiness on circumstances. If I’m not happy with my current circumstances, I’ll likely not be happy with different ones. We live on a broken planet, and nothing is perfect; there will always be something wrong in life.

God wants me to learn to be happy in spite of difficult situations by trusting that he will give me exactly what I need when I need it. Learning contentment is a process. So commit to starting that process today!

In summary, we can learn to be content with whatever we have or whatever our situation is. The secret is doing everything through Christ who will provide us strength. This includes my work situation. We can learn to rely on God's promises and Christ's power to help us be content. He will supply all our needs, but only in a way that he knows is best for us. Often a desire for more or better is really a longing to fill an empty place in my life. The answer will be in our perspective, priorities, and source of power. The power we receive in union with Christ is sufficient to do his will and to face the challenges that arise from our commitment to doing it. As For me, as I contend for faith, I will face troubles, pressures and trials. As they come, I can ask Christ to strengthen me. True contentment is enjoying what I have right now rather than waiting for something else to happen. It means that I'm happy with what I have. Peace of mind will beat relentlessly chasing for more every single time.  

Friday, May 26, 2023

Get Rid of Stress by Giving Up Control

In Matthew 11:29-30 I read, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

If I’m living life on overload, It’s because I’m trying to control too much. I think it all depends on me. I believe things like, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me. I’ve got to hold it all together. I’ve got to make it all work.”

The truth is that I am not the general manager of the universe. The greater my need to control, the more stressed I’ll be.

Jesus has a different plan: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30 NIV).

But taking something else on? That too sounds like an addition to my burden. I don’t need to take on more. I’m already carrying way too much!”

We need to take another look at what Jesus is saying here in Matthew 11 when he tells me to take his yoke on myself. Not growing up on a farm, I have not really seen a yoke. A yoke is a single piece of wood that brings two farm animals together, so they can share the burden of a load. A yoke is not a harness. When you put a harness on one animal, it has to pull the whole load. But with a yoke, you team up two or more animals, so the load is shared; it’s lightened. A yoke makes life easier on the animal, not harder.

So when Jesus tells me to take his yoke upon myself, it’s like he’s saying, “I never meant for you to carry all your problems by yourself. Let me help you! Team up with me, partner with me, and I will help you carry the load.”

So If I’m feeling stressed right now in a situation, it means I’m not yoked to Jesus Christ. Stress is a warning sign. It tells me that I’m trying to control things and carry too much on my own.

Every time I get disconnected from Jesus, the stress in my life will go up. I may be a follower of Jesus Christ, but if I’m overloaded at this moment, I am not yoked up to him.

But every time I get reconnected and yoked up, Jesus helps me pull the load. And my stress goes down.

It’s tempting to think that the antidote to stress is escape. But the problem is that stress is in my mindso I end up taking it with me wherever you go. I can be just as stressed lying on a white sandy beach as I am right in the middle of my problems at home.

The answer is to give up control, to accept the yoke of Jesus. And when I do, God will give me peace. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

How to Trust God in a Season of Waiting

In Micah 7:7 I read, “I trust the Lord God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.” (CEV)

God’s Word is clear that I’ll go through different seasons in life. One season that God talks about over and over is the season of waiting.

But I can trust that while I’m waiting, God is working. A season of waiting doesn’t mean that God has stopped working. In fact, he’s taking me through that season because he’s using the time to work in my circumstances for my good.

The truth is, I’m going to spend much of my life waiting. And so, if I don’t figure out how to trust God while I’m waiting, I’ll spend a lot of life not trusting God.

God is never in a hurry; he’s eternal! And as he’s working, he wants me to learn how to trust in him as I wait

However, I ask, “When, Lord? When is it going to happen?” And God’s saying something like, “You can trust me with this.”

It’s in our culture and nature to say, “Don’t wait! Get things as quickly as you can.” But it goes against God’s blessing for my life—because God’s blessing comes through times of waiting. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “[God] has set the right time for everything. He has given us the desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does.” (GNT).

I need to consider the time I'm waiting for something right now. And my frustration with how slowly things are happening. 

There’s a promise in God’s Word that not only tells me God is working but also how God is working. I need to claim it while I’m in my time of waiting: “I am the Lord, and when it is time, I will make these things happen quickly” (Isaiah 60:22 NCV).

That’s how God worked when he sent Jesus into this world. The world waited thousands of years for him to come the first time. And then he came at just the right moment.

We’ve been waiting 2,000 years now for Jesus to come again. When will that happen? As God says, it will be at just the right timeHis time. That’s when he’s going to return.

I can apply this same truth to my time of waiting. Remember that a delay is not a denial. When I think God is saying, “No,” he may just be saying, “Not yet. Will you keep trusting me through this?”

Micah 7:7 says, “I trust the Lord God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer” (CEV).

This is the kind of faith that God blesses.