Stages & Phases, part 4

Stages & Phases, part 4

 Continuing the Hardship Phase . . .

Years ago, a Pastor was leading his home group. One night a woman came to visit the group and then continued to attend, which was great. But, this woman was going through a difficult time and not handling it very well. She wanted to use the group time to vent and complain. One night, after she left, some of the other group members complained to Jim about it. Jim sat and pondered for just a moment. Then he said, “You know, God has sent this woman to us. We are going to have to learn to love and help and encourage her. If we don’t do this right, we’re going to get a whole lot more like her because God will know that we need more practice!”

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3  and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

So – when we go through adversity, the Lord wants to do these things for us:

  • Bind (bandage) our broken hearts
  • Set us free from captivity
  • Release us from darkness
  • Comfort us in our sadness
  • Provide for us in our grief
  • Give us a crown of beauty
  • Give us the oil of gladness
  • Give us a garment of praise
  • Make us STRONG – “oaks of righteousness” (the oak is no wimpy tree – it is solid, it has permanence)
  • Plant us in HIM . . . let your roots go down DEEP and then . . .
  • We will display his splendor!   Hallelujah – when you see someone who has come through adversity victoriously – doesn’t that display the splendor of God?!!!  That’s BEAUTIFUL!

 


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New Beginnings

New Beginnings By Kevan Wain The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Scientists tell us that the earth rotates around the sun on a rock-steady 23.5-degree axis―which just happens to be the perfect orientation to support…

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Stages & Phases, part 3

Phases & Stages

Part 3

We have discussed “The Amazement Phase,” “The Reality Phase,” and started, “The Hardship Phase.”  Let’s continue with the hardship phase, recalling John 16:33.

“I have told you these things so that IN ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Hallelujah! We have a Savior and King who has overcome the world!  If we remain IN HIM – we can have peace, no matter what it is that we are going through! Here’s what He says,

“Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

When you go through adversity, don’t hide! Don’t isolate yourself. Cry out to God. Seek out godly friends who can help you. Let them encourage & exhort you, and even correct you if necessary. Don’t get mad at them. Receive wisdom. God’s encouragement may bring some correction into your life, but correction isn’t meant to condemn you, it should motivate you to move forward and find a better way for your life.

For those of you who are helping someone through adversity – be careful not to judge. Be careful that if a correction is needed, that you do it with love, out of concern, not from a heart of judgment.

Years ago, I was at a fellowship meeting, and a woman came in whose sister had just died. She was crying, and we were praying for her.  One man in the group, loudly proclaimed, “The joy of the LORD is your strength, sister.”  Well, what he said is right, and biblical. But the WAY he said it was judgmental as if to say that because she was sad, she was somehow spiritually weak.  Wow, what an attitude!  That’s what people call a “Job’s comforter” – a person who thinks he is right and helpful but ends up making the other person feel worse! In the book of Job, there were actually three men who are considered “Job’s comforters.”  And yet, even within their lack of compassion, there are nuggets of wonderfulness. Listen to this passage:

“. . . if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14  if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15  then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. 16  You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.” (Job 11:13-16)

I love that.  Sometimes, I’ll go and sit at Beaver Creek State Park, and watch the water flowing by. And I remember that scripture and I am so thankful that I can remember my troubles that way. They happened – but they’re gone now, never to return, waters gone by!

We will examine the Hardship Phase further . . . STAY TUNED!


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Stages & Phases, part 2

Phases & Stages

Part 2

Last time, we discussed “The Amazement Phase” and, “The Reality Phase.” We talked about the new Kingdom we have entered and our new King. His ways are higher than our ways. God does not change, but we do! This is a life-long journey, worth every effort we put into it.

We hear, “A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you.” Wow. That is a high standard!  Therefore – we have a choice to make. We can continue handling things the way we have always handled them and get the same results we have always gotten, or we start to put His kind of love into practice.

I LOVE the word “practice.”  Because that is, what it takes.  Practice!  I didn’t just wake up one morning playing Beethoven’s Pathetique on the piano!  I had to go through a process that included a lot of training and practice!  So we learn a principle from God’s ways, like  . . . ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’ – and we practice that for a while.  We learn the “one another” scriptures, all of which are life changing IF we will put them into practice!  It takes a lifetime of practice. We fail. We make mistakes. Repeatedly, we have a choice to make – 1) give up & go back to our old way of doing things, or 2) we brush ourselves off and try God’s ways again.  If we yield to that process and allow ourselves to be changed by it, there will be more beauty – especially beauty in our relationships!

The Hardship Phase

Life brings hardships.  We live in a world that has been tainted and corrupted by sin. Because of that, there is sickness. There are storms, earthquakes, pestilence — just plain TROUBLE!  Sometimes the people we talked about can bring us into hardship because of the decisions they make. There is divorce, child abuse, financial difficulties, work issues. I could go on and on.  We all face adversity in one form or another. We may go through this phase multiple times over many years.

We have all seen people face adversity.  Some face very mild adversity and they whine and complain, and it only makes things worse!  We can learn from the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years as an example of what NOT to do. Yet, we do it too! Others go through unbearable, unspeakable things, and they turn to the Lord and somehow, they come through it with grace, dignity, and even joy!

Proverbs 24:10 – If you falter in time of trouble, how small is your strength!

There is so much encouragement in the Scripture. During these hard times, it is so good to have relationships like those that we have here – friends to encourage us. Mentors to exhort us. Jesus, himself, in John 16, was talking to his disciples, reminding them how much he loved them, and sharing with them what they would face in the not-so-distant future.  Then he tops it off by saying this:

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things so that IN ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Stay tuned for more “Phases & Stages,” coming soon.


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War

  War “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV) I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel weak. As Christians, we are fighting in a war.  We are facing many…

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