Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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11 Pain that produces gain – Part 2

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

“8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

Not only can pain direct and inspect but third, it can also:

  1. Correct

Sometimes it takes pain to bring us to the point of repentance and put us on a different path. The story of the prodigal son reminds us that it took the pig pen to bring the son to his senses. Sometimes pain and failure are the only way to learn the lessons that we need to. It’s likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove, yet how many of us actually learned by being burned! Sometimes we only learn the value of something by losing it. As Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes.” Not only can tough times correct but fourth they can also

  1. Connect

When someone in a family dies loved ones come from near and far for the funeral. People typically come together in the tough times. Difficulty not only draws people together, but it can also draw them closer to Christ, as David said in Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray” Calamity can serve to bring us together and cause us to connect in ways we would not do separate from suffering.   Sometimes when people get bad news from their doctor about their physical condition, it causes them to come to church as they seek to come back to God. Not only can pain connect but fifth it can also:

  1. Protect

Problems can actually be blessing in disguise when they prevent you from being harmed by something more serious. Recognizing that problems can actually protect requires having a proper perspective, the kind of perspective that Joseph had when he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” When we see problems as possible protection it will change how we approach them. The truth is God is the only true “surge protector!” not only can problems protect but sixth they can also:

  1. Perfect

Problems when responded to correctly can serve to change us and build our character. The truth is that God is far more interested in your character than he is in your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you’re going to take with you into eternity. As Paul pointed out in Romans 5:3-4, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Sometimes it takes the school of suffering to perfect us. David recognized this when he said in Psalm 71:19-21, “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? 20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” It’s here that we find that trouble was actually a treasure. It was a blessing in disguise because it became a benefit to David. Often the graduate degree of spirituality comes from attending the University of distress and difficulty. Not only can problems perfect but seventh they can also:

  1. Project

Paul said in Philippians 1:12-14, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” Problems actually served to propel the gospel forward, sometimes problems force us to focus on what is really most important. We may not like calamity but it focuses us so that we can further God’s cause. Paul’s chains while problematic actually served to communicate Christ to everyone around him. They also caused other believers to be bold and confidently communicate Christ without fear. Someone once said, “For God to make manifest the fact that He gives songs in the night, He must first make the night!” We may not like the storms but sometimes we need the winds of adversity to get us where we need to be and doing what we are called to do. Sometimes trouble is simply the factory that God uses to produce the right type of product in our lives. Hardships and trouble in the hand of God can turn out to be some of our greatest treasures. God is at work in your life, even when you do not recognize it or understand it. He’s in the storm with you calling you to seek Him and be a water-walker, not a boat bobber. We may want to cling to the comforts but challenges remind us that the only one worth clinging to is Christ. What about you do you see the gain in the pain or are you so focused on the problems that you are missing the purpose?

 


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10 Pain that produces gain – Part 1

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

“8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

Trials and tribulations are nothing new to God’s people. Just read through the Bible and you will soon discover that it is filled with stories of difficulty and distress. The Hebrew children had their fiery furnace, Daniel had his den of lions and Joseph faced the pain of both the pit and prison on his way to the palace. Paul was shipwrecked and beaten and Peter was sent to prison. John was exiled at Patmos while James was beheaded. David fled from Saul while Samson had his eyes put out and that is just to name a few. As Psalm 34:19 says: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” What we need to remember is that Jesus didn’t promise us security from the storms He promised us security in the storms. While He never promised us an easy passage, He did guarantee a safe landing. What we view as a problem God can turn into a present, because only God can bring blessings out of our burdens. One of the profitable ways that God can use our pain is to:

  1. Direct

Sometimes God uses difficulties to direct our lives. Sometimes He has to light a fire under us to get us to move. Problems can point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Proverbs 20:30 says, Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.” Sometimes we need pain in order to take a different path. We may not like the pain but without it we would be stuck wandering the same dead end streets. After we have gone through tough times we tend to worry less about what the world thinks, and our appetite for sin seems to lose its taste. You see problems can actually serve to plow our pride under. Yes God could have kept Daniel out of the lions’ den, Paul and Silas out of jail, and shadrach meshach and abednego out of the fiery furnace, but there were benefits and blessings in these burdens. Is God trying to get your attention? Is it possible that He wants to use difficulty to direct your life? Not only can God use problems to direct but also to:

  1. Inspect

People are a lot like tea bags, if you want to know what’s inside then just drop them in hot water! Challenges reveal our character and even though we don’t like pain it has a way of revealing where we are really at. What about you has God ever tested your faith with a problem? 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” There is a story told about a young woman who went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen.  She filled three pots with water.  In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minute she turned off the burners.  She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl.  Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  She then asked her to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.  Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?” Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently.  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.  The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior.  But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.  The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked the daughter.  “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity wilts and becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.  When the water got hot the bean releases what was inside it, bringing flavor and fragrance to its circumstances.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? “When it rains it pours. Maybe the art of life is to convert tough times to great experiences: we can choose to hate the rain or dance in it” Joan Marques. So what does the heat reveal about your heart?