Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thorns in the tulips...

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV) - emphasis mine

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5 NIV) -- (this is the verse I cling to when things get heavy)

Currently, I am completing Beth Moore's "Living Beyond Yourself." It is on Galations 5:22-23 and the Fruit of the Spirit. I covet all the variations of the fruit. I pray at least that I can be instilled with most of them. In reality, I know that on this side of Heaven I won't be able to proclaim victory in this area. One that I would love to have is... wait for it.... Patience. Is it just me or did I just hear a gasp and followed by "oh no!!?" I know - I know, we should never pray for patience because then God's tests us in this area.

That may be true but doesn't He allow us to be tested in all the areas of our lives. It's easy to say to Him, "allow me to be nicer to people" because let's face it, we can all be a little nicer if we just put forth a little effort. But and so on -- they are a little different aren't they? The Fruit of the Spirit is just that -- evidence that we are one of His own. He doesn't not say that we are required to show these attributes, however the Word says we cannot bear fruit apart from him - meaning Jesus. (John 15:4 NIV - paraphrase) Perception is reality to most of us. In this world in which we live the mantra exists "what you see is what you get." So, if you don't walk the walk or talk the talk of patience, fruit, joy, love, kindness, etc... you're not exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit. But how many of us would really and truly do whatever we had to have all the attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit. The Christian in us says "sure I can endure anything for my God" but when it comes down to it, could you? Could I? I can't imagine having something happen to my child or husband. What if I lost my sight or was maimed in some way? What if we became destitute and homeless? How would I feel then? Would I shake my fist and curse the Lord my God as He allowed this to happen to me or would I muster the courage and faith of Job or Paul -taking it so far as "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." (James 1:2 NIV) I pray that the Lord doesn't test me on this but yet if He were to do so, then I guess I would know my answer for sure. Currently, I would say "yes -- that I would be strong in the Lord." When we go through things, no matter how big or small they may seem on the scale of injustices, we are to cling to the cross like a piece of driftwood in the rising sea. We are to cling to it as if it were the only piece of salvation around us. After all, the cross of Christ is the only way we can be assured of aquiring the fullness of the Fruit of the Spirit for all eternity. That still begs the questions "what about the suffering on earth?" or "You don't know what I am going through..." I can only tell you that the Word of God tells us that Christ knows exactly what you're going through. God cries tears and hurts for the suffering and evil in this world. It is foretold in the scriptures that these times must come to pass before the 2nd coming of Christ. I feel the Earth and it's inhabitants are going through spiritual labor and there is no amount of anethesia to take away the pain. (1 Thessalonians 5:3) Jesus asks us to lay down our crosses and follow Him. We are to lay down all the burdens us and all that distracts us for the main purpose of knowing Him. At times we are immobilized or burdened with situations that we can't imagine laying down or finding any "good" in them. The Psalms speaks of this "it was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decress. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold." (118:71-72 NIV) The Apostle Paul spoke of his affliction is 2 Corinthians: "to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." (12:7 NIV) I can honestly say that I personally have an affliction or two that keeps me humble and keeps me close to the Father. I have included a link to one of my favorite Mercy Me songs -- "Bring the Rain." This song puts into words why we go through "things." It is my prayer that God speaks to your heart today and brings you peace in whatever situation you find yourself in at this point in your life. I can assure you through faith that there will be better days. I have also included a link to the words in case you want to sing along or meditate on the truth they speak. Once again, I pray that the Lord will use these words to minister to your hurting heart in this hurting world. Dear Heavenly Father -- at times of great distress we need you Abba Father to come along side us to hold us, shelter us and to calm us as we go through the storm. Father I pray that you will be with each person that needs you. I pray that you sustain them and see them through to the other side. Thank you Father for being with me during so many dark nights and chaotic periods of my life. I thank you that you still call me one of your own. I pray Father that you heal the hurts of this world and give all of us strength to hold on when the rain comes down. Thank you and I love you. In the sweet name of Jesus AMEN Application:

  • Are you going through a trial or tough time? If so, go to His word and meditate on the scriptures. I have supplied a few up in the post but there are many more to medicate and heal the soul.
  • Pray that the Lord will give you guidance and a glimpse of light from the dark. Pray that He will will show you how to run the race he marked out for you.
  • Pray for our country and your fellow man. Pray that the Fruit of the Spirit is evident through all of us.


Dana said...

I could use work on patience :)

Beth Moore spoke last year at LPL about trials, it was really great.

I liked Matt's illustrations yesterday on what happens when we surrendor and your right - God tests us in all areas ;)

Great post!

Paula said...

I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about when I sat down but I realized that a lot of people around me are struggling. That along with Matt's discussion yesterday prompted me (along with the Holy Spirit -of course!!)