Monthly Archives: February 2013

THE PURPOSES OF DIFFICULTIES

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By:  C. Stanley

 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Rom. 8: 28-29 (NLT)

 

If we could choose the number of difficulties we would face in a month, most of us would pick zero. Yet the Lord sees value in troublesome times. Through His mighty power, He uses trials to achieve His plans.

 

One of God’s purposes for us is a growing intimacy in our relationship with Him. But He knows we struggle to put Him first over our own interests. Many of us place higher priority on family and friends than on companionship with God. For others, finances, the workplace, or even pleasures interfere. When the Lord sees our attention is drifting away from Him, He might use hardships to draw us back so that we’ll give Him His proper place.

 

Another reason God allows difficulties is to conform us to the image of Jesus. Pain is a tool that brings areas of ungodliness to the surface; God also uses it to sift, shape, and prune us. The sanctification process—the building of Christlike character into our lives—starts at salvation and ends with our last breath.

 

A third aim for stressful circumstances is to reveal true convictions. Our faith is tested in tough times. It’s easy to say, “God is good” when things are peaceful. But when everything goes awry, what do we believe about Him? At such times, do our words and actions reveal an attitude of trust?

 

King David endured many heartaches—a disintegrating family, personal attacks, and betrayal by those close to Him. But through trials, he gained deeper intimacy with God, stronger faith, and more godly character. Won’t you let the Lord use your present situation to accomplish His good purpose?

YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY THE OPINION OF OTHERS

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By:  J. Walker

 

He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts…  2 Corinthians 1:22 (NLT)

 

You are not defined by your feelings. You are not defined by the opinions of others. You are not defined by your circumstances. You are not defined by your successes or failures. You are not defined by the car you drive, or the money you make, or the house you say you own (even though the bank really owns it).

 

You are defined by God and God alone. He identifies you as his own (2 Corinthians 1:22).

 

The thing is, if you don’t know who you are, then you are vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the concrete, solid, gospel truth is that you are who God says you are and no one else has a vote in the matter.

 

Jesus was able to face the incredible demands of his mission because he knew exactly who he was. He knew that he mattered to God, and that gave him confidence to move purposefully in faith.

 

You are God’s precious child and he created you in a way that pleases him. Because you are identified with Christ, you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

 

Because God defines you, you can stop accepting how others have defined you. You can stop accepting how others have labeled you.

 

  • Ask God to help you believe and accept what he says about you.

 

  • How would your life change if you fully accepted that God is pleased with how he created you?

THE WALKING DEAD

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By:  K. Sim

 

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. – Col. 2: 13 (NLT)

 

The Walking Dead, a critically acclaimed, award-winning postapocalyptic horror TV series, is set in the aftermath of a virus infection that turned humans into zombies—the walking dead. The series focuses on a small group of uninfected human beings, led by a deputy sheriff, seeking a safe haven from the dangerous hordes of the “walkers,” and a cure to the disease. At the end of Season 1, viewers were told that the French doctors might have found a cure. But, alas, a cure was not found that soon, for having the antidote would have signaled the premature ending of a lucrative TV series.

 

Before you became a Christ-follower, you were once the walking dead—infected by a deadly disease. “You were dead because of your . . . many sins” (Ephesians 2:1). As an undead, you lived “in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil” (Ephesians 2:2).

 

Unlike the characters on the TV series, we don’t have to try and create a cure or seek a safe haven. God has graciously provided both. “God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Thankfully, the antidote isn’t dependent on our popularity or successes. “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!” (Ephesians 2:5). “It is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8).

 

We have a safe haven. God has “raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). You are no longer the walking dead, nor are you to live like one (Ephesians 4:17). For in Christ, you’ve been made alive!