Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hard Times

Chuckle: "The only people who listen to both sides of a family quarrel are the next-door neighbors."
Quote: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  --Helen Keller
    "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly" (Philippians 1:12-14 NIV).
Paul is in prison in Rome. While there, he learned (and teaches us) that God can use even our most adverse circumstances for His glory. He can use the hard times in our lives to grow us spiritually and to use us to accomplish his purposes.
God's people should prepare for hard times. "Now I want you to know brothers . . . what has happened to me." Good people will have bad experiences while living in this fallen world. Our Lord told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33 NIV). Then he goes on to say, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." Peter said, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (I Peter 4:12 NIV).
Paul was a classic example of this truth - he suffered much. He said, "I have worked harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and have been exposed to death again and again . . . (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV). "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him" (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
God's people should keep hard times in perspective. ". . . what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (vs.12). Notice that Paul did not direct attention to himself and his suffering, but focused on the good that came from his hard times. There's a big difference between suffering for the spotlight and suffering for the Savior. We must be careful which we do.
When we suffer, the emphasis should not be on how much we suffer, but, rather, on what God was able to accomplish through it - how He used our struggles to accomplish His perfect work. Paul told Timothy, "This is my gospel, for which I suffer even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's Word is not chained" (2 Tim. 2:8-9 NIV). Our struggles can become vehicles by which we bring glory and honor to Him.
"The trials of our faith are like God's ironing. When the heat of trials is applied to our lives the wrinkles of spiritual immaturity begin to be smoothed out."
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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