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We who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and who have received His free gift of grace should be the most bold and courageous servants for Him. But are you? Are you walking in the fullness of the gift that Jesus died to give you? There is only one you. No one else can do what the Lord has equipped you to do in this world. Are you letting Him lead you or do you have control of the reins? I'll let you ponder those questions for a while. I have had many months to think about them.
The bible is full of stories of people who faced many challenges in their lives. Some of my favorite characters are the ones who faced great adversity yet preserved and were used through it. Abraham, Joseph, Job, David and Paul all had reasons to question what God was doing. Yet their faith in Him remained strong.
When the storms of this life hit you with a devastating blow how do you respond? I know in my own life I am the most miserable when I am full of fear and I constantly question what God is doing. Or when I do things half halfheartedly. Half obedience is not obedience at all.
Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and all that he knew, to go to another land that God would give him as an inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Later Abraham and Sarah believed that God would keep His promise to give them a son even though they were way beyond the age of child bearing and Sarah was barren. (Hebrews 11: 8-12)
Yes, Abraham and Sarah had faults. It took many years for the promise of a son to come to pass. They tried to help God along by having Abraham sleep with Sarah's maid servant Hagar. It had some unpleasant consequences. (Genesis 16:1-6) There was another time where Abraham was afraid and tried to pass Sarah off as his sister for fear King Abimelech would kill him if they discovered that Sarah was his wife. (Genesis 20: 1-18)
Years after Isaac was born God again tested Abraham's faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. Abraham believed that if God did indeed let him go through with killing Isaac that He had the power to raise him up again. In the end an angel intervened. A ram was used as the sacrifice and God blessed Abraham with the promise of having too many decedents to number them. (Genesis 22:1-19)
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was unjustly accused by Potiphar's wife and spent years in prison. Then years later Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh's dream. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge over Egypt and in the end many people including Joseph's family were saved from a severe famine. (Genesis chapters 37-45) Joseph could have become bitter by the way he was treated. Instead he gave God the glory and stated that what his brothers meant for harm, God meant for good. (Genesis 50:20)
Job didn't know about the conversation that God and Satan had regarding him in Job chapter 1. He suffered through many afflictions that God allowed Satan to inflict on him. After the first 7 days his comforters turned on him and accused Job of sinning. Job's own wife told him to curse God and die. He went through more than most of us will ever experience. He questioned God. When God answered back, Job said, “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5) When Job prayed for his friends the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as before. (Job 42: 10) My favorite verse in that book is “Though he slay me yet will I trust him.” (Job 13:15 NKJV) We have to look beyond the circumstances because when we do we see God.
David was appointed king then ran for his life from King Saul. David committed murder and adultery and yet he was still called a man after God's own heart.
Paul, formally Saul, had persecuted Christians. He held the clothes of the men while they stoned Stephen to death. On the road to Damascus, he heard the Lord and went on to be a champion for Christ. Yet the Lord said that Paul would suffer much for His Name and he did. Paul was beaten with rods, stoned, ship wrecked, and bitten by a serpent. Yet when he was imprisoned in Philippi, chained and beaten he still sang praises to the Lord with Silas.
These are precious stories that should encourage each of us. Pray and ask God which ones you should explore more fully.
When all else is stripped away and we have nothing left to rely on, the only place we have to go is into the arms of Jesus. I wanted more and the Lord was faithful to deliver. Do I want to repeat the process it took to get there? No. Was it worth it? Most definitely.
Take some time in prayer. Ask the Lord if there are areas in your relationship with Him that need to change. Then dare to allow Him to do it. Change usually hurts but anything that draws us closer to the Lord is worth it.
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