What’s your New Years Resolution?

As 2015 draws to a close many of us can probably look back at a whirlwind of a year that seemed to begin only yesterday. As I look back over the past year the faithfulness and provisions of God blow me away. We truly are a blest people regardless of circumstances or temporary bad situations.

What has God brought you through? How has He displayed His faithfulness in your life? What has He taught you?

As we think on these things it is impossible to not be thankful for the love of such a perfect Father, and to begin to look to what this New Year might mean or bring for us. Each and every year people all over the world make resolutions going into a new year… some make it longer than others.

There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing magical or extraordinary occurs at midnight on December 31, but nonetheless, we feel as if another page has been turned or another season has come upon us and this can be a good thing.

A New Year gives us a chance to access, evaluate, and set goals for our upcoming walk in life. As we enter into this New Year as Believers I hope that our resolutions center around our walk with Christ… below I will openly think about some of the things we should strive to do!

 Let’s resolve ourselves to:


  • To celebrate the birth of Jesus daily.

As we enter into this New Year the Christmas season is fresh on our minds. What a wonderful season of remembrance and celebrating the birth of our Savior! But… too often we limit the celebration of our Savior’s birth and coming only to the Christmas holiday when in fact it should be a daily celebration that we walk and live in!

Our God, perfect and holy, sent His son to pay the penalty of death for sin on our behalf! What else is worth celebrating more than that?

Jesus came into the world to redeem us because He wants to have close fellowship with us. My favorite name of God is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” I love the picture that this paints in my mind. What other religion can say that they serve a God who comes, or came, to His people to save them? None that I can think of… every other religion seeks to serve a God tat they must approach or earn their way to commune with. But our God wants to be with us, intimately involved in every aspect of our lives.

That is worth celebrating each and every day.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with remembering the birth of Christ on Christmas but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only thinking and celebrating His birth on that specific day. In reality, Scripture doesn’t provide a specific date of Christ’s birth and I believe that is deliberate for our understanding that the date itself is meaningless and not worth limiting our celebrations to… the simple fact that Jesus was born is to be part of the Christian’s thinking every single day of the year.

This year let’s make it a priority to think on and celebrate the coming of a Savior on our behalf each and every day.

  • To live like David.

Many of us are familiar with David as the young man who struck down Goliath with just a sling and a stone. But David also was the young man who had to live many years of his life on the run from King Saul who, out of jealousy of his appointed successor, put a price on his head. In many of David’s writings we can see that the theme of his life was perseverance and trust in God in the midst of unrelenting trial and obstacles.

In fact, many of David’s writings are seen today in the book of Psalm. David didn’t just suffer and persevere in silence! He trusted and sang about his faith in the Lord to be his deliver, shelter, refuge, and hiding place.

Isn’t it a wonderful goal and resolution to sing out about our faith joyfully in the midst of good times and bad?

We can see David’s faith displayed in Psalm 32:3-7. It says,

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

We can also see it in Psalm 30:11,

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness

David definitely wasn’t a perfect leader or a perfect man, but his faith is something to be admired. King David passionately pursued the Lord and His holiness with no care as to what others might think or say. David truly worshipped with abandon! Most of us know the story found in 2 Samuel where the men are bringing the ark into the city and David joyously danced in the streets… even to the point that his wife was displeased with him!

2 Samuel 6:14 says,

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.

Do we worship freely in front of others or are we afraid of what they may think or say?

Psalm 149:3 provides the avenue and instruction… we just need to lay down our pride and live with a reckless abandon in obedience to what The Spirit guides us to do. Psalm 149:3 says,

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Psalm 150:1-6 says,

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

If you could be whatever you desired and have anything you wanted, what would that look like to you? Where would Jesus fit into your priorities and lifestyle? Would you be more likely to do things your way or His?

This year we as believers should challenge ourselves to seek the Lord in the way we live. We should long to have the desires of David… the desire displayed in Psalms 27:4,

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

David possessed everything he could want when he was King, but yet as we read through his writings we see where his priorities truly were. David was a man after God’s own heart and we should strive to live with his trust and abandon Him as we follow Jesus daily.

Psalm 146:2 says,

I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

  • To have the faith of Job.

In this past year many of us have endured things we wouldn’t have wished on anyone… even our worst enemies! Some of us have experienced a loss of a job, a relationship, or even a loved one. Some of us may be struggling mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. As Christians who hold fast to the Word of God, and believe what it says, we know that these events aren’t meaningless and we aren’t suffering for no reason. It is hard to not ask “why” these things happen… but instead I think we should think of this one truth:

Our suffering only reminds us of the reprobate nature of this life. Everything around us is ultimately dying.

No matter how bad we think our situation is we should never think that God has left us or does not care. God works in mysterious ways and all things work according to His ultimate will and purposes.

What is God showing us through our trials? What is He teaching us in our suffering?

In this upcoming year I hope to have the faith of Job, more specifically I hope to remain steadfast in times of trial and to hold on to Jesus at all cost.

When Job had lost it all he still didn’t fail to recognize God’s faithfulness. Job 1:20-21 says,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

This year I wish to have the faith of Job throughout suffering and trial and to take the advice of King David as found in Psalm 27:14,

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!


I am more than excited to enter fresh into a new year pursuing Jesus. What are your New Years resolutions?s

Advertisements

Do your actions show it?

A wise man by the name of Mahatma Gandhi once said,

“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”

In fact He was also quoted saying,

“Action expresses priorities.”

We are told in Scripture that Christians WILL bear spiritual fruit. Bearing fruit for a Christian has NEVER been an option… if you are saved you will bear fruit in some way throughout your walk with Christ. If one isn’t bearing fruit then that person is not a believer! Simple enough.

James 2:17-26 nails that fact down. It says,

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation.

I would say that what a person truly believes cannot be separated from the way they act. C.G. Jung once said,

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

Mitch Albom once said,

“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.”

But it isn’t just semi-modern men who believe in the importance and necessity of action… in Titus 3:14 Paul urges believers to action by saying,

Here is another way that our people can learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs and so not be unfruitful.

In 2 Peter1:8 the writer Peter prods believers to be fruitful as well when he said,

For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.

As believers we must allow our beliefs to transfer into our actions.

You may read this and immediately dismiss the entire thing thinking that it is obvious… well; unfortunately, one of the biggest hindrances to modern day evangelism is the lack of an evident life change among professing believers.

What I am saying is this… too many Christians get “saved” from the world only to continue to live like the world!

Let’s say that you wake up one winter morning and turn on the news only to see that it says it is going to snow throughout that day. What would you do? I would bet that you take a coat with you when you head out the door for the day!

If you say that you believe it is going to snow your dress should show it… if you told someone you thought it was going to snow and you were wearing shorts and a tank-top people probably wouldn’t take what you said you believed very seriously.

In Exodus we see a promise of an action from God that prompted action from those who believed. Exodus 9:18-25 says (emphasis added),

“Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field.

What if the Egyptians who heard and feared the word of the Lord simply believed it and kept on living and doing what they always had? Well… their slaves and livestock would be pummeled to death by hailstones sent by the Lord! Could we say they truly believed?

If we hear and believe then we must live and act like it! Belief without action accomplishes nothing and actually demonstrates disbelief!

What does this mean for us? What do we do to take action in our faith?


  • Live a life of worship.

First, we must live like we are called to live. If we understand the meaning of worship then we understand that it is something that we are to never stop doing.

Romans 12:1-2 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We are God’s creation. We have been bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ, therefore, we are not our own. The price paid for us was steep, so ultimately our lives aren’t our own to keep. We are called to be living sacrifices, and people must see our daily sacrifices out of worship to the Lord.

How do you worship daily through your life?

Do you show others respect? Do you gripe and complain or live joyfully? Are you self-centered or servant-hearted? What do people see when they observe you? Just another person living day-to-day? Or, a son or daughter of God?

  • Live as a Missionary.

 We are all called to missions. The problem is many of us don’t live up to that calling.

Matthew 28:19-20 gives us that call when it says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Obviously we all aren’t called to foreign missions… but how do we still live missionally?

James 1:27 says,

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Isaiah 1:17 continues on that train of thinking by saying,

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

We can be missionaries to a fallen world by living like Jesus did. Afterall, that is what it means to be a follower of Jesus if I’m not mistaken. There are so many applications to this thought that it is ridiculous to remain action-less.

Dr. Randy Stinson at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a strong proponent of adoption, both foreign and domestic. He tells people that we are all called to help in the adoption process, “to care for orphans,” and what that looks like for each of us may be different. We may adopt ourselves, support orphanages, provide education, or give financially for those who are called to adopt.

But that is just one example of living missionally. We can do service projects, volunteer, donate, etc… We should serve the world and the people in it in order to reach them where they are.

As believers we should be hands-on with missions.

Hebrews 13:1-25 says,

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

James 2:14-17 says,

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

To be on a mission is to have a plan. Plan to show Christ through everything you do.

Henry Ford once said,

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

We are to build a reputation for Christ… and we can only do that by doing.

  • Cherish the Church

 This final point is often either misunderstood or ignored… especially within the American church.

Too often we fall victim to the trap of fighting internally instead of loving externally. We must ask ourselves what this looks like to the world! Why would anyone want to get involved in our “messed up” family when they have one of their own that they already can’t escape?

Do we truly cherish the church? Does it show?

We have all read the love language between Christ and the church as a whole in Scripture. In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

 Christ gave Himself up for the church, but we can’t even give up our preferences in the small things to serve her. What is wrong with us? We must strive to live our lives building up and serving the church of Christ. If our faith causes action then our churches should benefit!

I hate to break it to you… but there is no perfect church because they are made up of imperfect people like me and you.

Don’t neglect the body of Christ. Serve her without complaint or grumbling.


Do we show that we love Jesus or just talk about it when it is convenient? The world is watching us. We are under constant observation. If we are going to talk the talk then we must walk the walk.

I am a Child of God

 

1 John 3:1 says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

At New Hope we as a congregation have really latched onto singing a song by Bethel called, “No Longer Slaves.” It truly is a wonderful song about breaking the chains of fear and recognizing the work of God in our lives.

In this song there is a powerful declaration made lyrically. The writers conclude the choruses and the bridge with the simple statement, “I am a child of God.” Really, at first glance nothing seems too astounding or revolutionary about this statement because many of us have sat through countless Sunday School classes as children where we were told that exact thing… maybe in a more boring fashion.

But… in reality, there is no statement more revolutionary.

John 1:12 says,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

What greater love has Christ shown to us than calling us His children?

Being a child entails and encompasses so many of the other things we already know about God and His sacrifice on our behalf.

What does being a child of God really mean?


  • Children will be instructed

To “instruct” means to direct, to provide with knowledge, and to train or inform. Like any good parent God does these things with us… His children.

Proverbs 4:1-4 says,

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”

As children of God we not only have the right to be instructed by God… but we also have the right to learn and obey!

Proverbs 3:1-2 says,

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

1 Corinthians 14:20 hammers home this idea of continued instruction and growth when it says,

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

It is actually simpler than the world would like us to believe! We understand that our walk with Christ is a process and we should be continually looking more and more like Jesus, but it is hard. If we want instruction and knowledge we are told in Scripture that as Children of God all we have to do is ask for it.

Proverbs 2:1-5 says,

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

There are many ways in which God responds to this “asking” and instructs us as His children. We have been given His Spirit to guide us, we have been given a direct line to the Father in prayer through the death of Jesus, and we have Scripture to instruct and inform us in the ways of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Rejoice! As a child of God you have been granted access to more knowledge than you can ever contain… the important thing for us to remember is simply to take God’s instruction!

  • Children will be disciplined

This is the advantage that many of us may consider a disadvantage…

Nobody likes to be disciplined. It is rare that an individual tells on himself or herself, or a criminal asks the judge for a harder sentence. Discipline isn’t fun… but it is often necessary.

Proverbs 13:24 puts it this way,

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

We understand that discipline isn’t done, or shouldn’t be done, out of anger, frustration, or spite… but rather it is an act of love to steer or guide someone away from something harmful or detrimental to them. Proverbs tells us that a parent who doesn’t discipline their child doesn’t love them…in fact they are said to hate them! It is for this reason that we know God disciplines us as His children.

Hebrews 12:5-11 says,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So… God disciplines us because He loves us. As children what do where do we go with that information?

Proverbs 12:1 says,

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

We should take the Lord’s discipline and learn from it. Discipline isn’t something to hate the discipliner for… rather it should cause us to love more deeply.

  • Children will be nurtured 

Psalms 103: 13 says,

The Lord is like a Father to his children, tender, and full of compassion to those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are, He knows we are only dust.

We are children of a tender Father who is full of compassion. If that doesn’t call for a loud hallelujah then I don’t know what will.

When snooping around online I found an article on a health website that had 8 things to do as far as nurturing a child goes. When reading those points all I could think about was, “That is exactly what God does for us… His children.” Those points were,

  • Encourage your child to express his or her feelings; respect those feelings. Let your child know that everyone experiences pain, fear, anger, and anxiety.
  • Keep communication channels open.
  • Listen to your child. Encourage questions. Provide comfort and assurance. Be honest.
  • Encourage your child’s talents.
  • Spend time regularly with your child.
  • Foster your child’s self-worth. Help your child deal with life’s ups and downs. Show confidence in your child’s ability to handle problems and tackle new experiences.
  • Discipline constructively, fairly, and consistently. Use discipline as a form of teaching, not physical punishment. Help your child learn from his or her mistakes.
  • Love unconditionally. Teach the value of apologies, cooperation, patience, forgiveness, and consideration for others.

How thankful are we for God and His gentle nurturing?

  • Children will be protected

My personal favorite part of being a child of God is the benefit of God’s protection that comes with it.

Psalm 91:1-10 says,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 34:7 says,

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

There is no problem, enemy, or force of Satan that is more powerful than our God. In our weakness His strength is magnified. In our trials His grace is evident and His mercy is liberating.

Psalm 46:1 says,

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Isaiah 41:10 says,

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The Lord is present. As God’s children we must merely ask.

Psalm 34:4 says,

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Because we are Children of God we have nothing to fear.

Psalm 27:1 says,

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?


There is nothing more freeing than being a Child of God. John Adams once said,

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.

God is our Father and educator and there is nothing more freeing than salvation. If you have been reborn as a child of God walk in that freedom… if you haven’t been born into His family all you have to do is ask, it is an open invitation.

Damascus.

I’ve never been a fan of pain. I don’t know many people who are.

If God is SO good then why do we suffer?

We hear that question a lot nowadays and I fear that much of it spawns from a misunderstanding we have about our God. Our God’s goodness isn’t inter-related or dependent on current events, politics, national or international affairs, the money in our bank account, our successes or failures, or our sickness or health. Or God’s goodness is connected to one thing only… Jesus Christ.

Since God is the source of all goodness, then what God does for his own sake ultimately benefits us. Therefore whatever glorifies him is good for us. This includes both or good times and bad.

What do we do in times of suffering? What is God accomplishing?

Below we will discuss some things to keep in mind in times of suffering.


  • God may be creating you into who he wants you to be.

We have heard it said that our stories and experiences have shaped or made us into who we are today. I wholeheartedly agree.

Think about it… it is common sense that we learn from our past experiences and sufferings.

The first time I touched a hot stove burner or a sharp razor edge I learned that I didn’t want to do that again. Many of the things we are going through currently are shaping us into something that can be used by God. Only God can take the ugliness we are currently in and create something beautiful from it.

We see this in Scripture with the story of Saul. Saul was an angry man who persecuted, tortured, and killed Christians. Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee in Jerusalem after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He swore to wipe out the new Christian church and destroy the Christian movement.

One day Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest any Christians that were in the synagogues and an amazing thing happened. Let’s pick up this story in Acts 9:3-19,

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul encountered the very God He had been persecuting and was never the same again. Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He arose and was baptized into the Christian faith. After his conversion, Saul’s name was changed to Paul, and he spent the rest of his life serving Jesus and teaching people about him. He became a missionary to people all over the world. Suddenly, instead of being the person who hurt other Christians, Paul became persecuted himself for Christ’s sake.

What are your experiences doing within you? Is God using situations and circumstances in your life to make scales fall off your eyes?

What is your suffering causing you to see?

  • God may be using your pain.

It’s hard to imagine that God would have to use something like our pain to accomplish His purposes and to achieve proper glory for Himself… but we see it Biblically displayed. John 11:1-16 speaks of a story that may be all too familiar to many of us. In this story a man named Lazarus is sick and dying and His sisters are begging for his life to be spared from death. John 11:1-16 says:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

How many of us have had a loved one die unexpectedly and we just don’t understand why?

Many of us may read that passage and say, “Why did Jesus say that this illness wouldn’t lead to death.” Was Jesus wrong? Did he underestimate the severity of the illness that had befallen Lazarus? Absolutely not. Pay attention to how He follows up the statement,

“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

God desired to receive glory through that miracle. Its purpose was not so much for the life of Lazarus, or for the love of Mary and Martha, as it was for the glory of God.

We see the glory of God in the remainder of the story. John 11:39-44 concludes,

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so men might recognize Him as God through His display of divine power.

God may be displaying His power through you and your life!

  • God may be “trimming” you up.

My grandma has bushes and flowers in front of her house. They look nice… but like any plant they have a tendency to get unruly. What does she do to solve this problem? She prunes them. She trims them up and shapes them into what she desires or sees as “fit.”

What would you say if I told you that we are a lot like a rose bush? We have the ability to made into something beautiful… but we have to be pruned or trimmed up.

John 15: 1-8 says,

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

A gardener prunes to what they see as fit, a painter paints to their liking, and God uses our circumstances to mold and shape us to what He sees as fit and acceptable.

Michelangelo didn’t leave the statue of David as a block of stone. He took his chisel and pounded on it with his hammer. He chipped away at that stone until he created something wonderful.

What is God chipping away from you?

Isaiah 48:10 says,

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

God refines us in our suffering and explains why in the following verse when He says that it is for His own sake that we are refined.

It is important for us to remind ourselves that our suffering or pain, the chaos we see all around us, the things put upon us that we don’t understand aren’t because God doesn’t love us or because He is a sick twisted God. In actuality, God is like a dentist or doctor who sometimes has to inflict pain on us for the betterment of us or our bodies as a whole.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, “A Grief Observed” about this very idea. He said,

But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. … What do people mean when they say “I am not afraid of God because I know He is good”? Have they never even been to a dentist?

In our suffering God may be making us better… refining us, and making us stronger through the darkness that we may feel that we are in.

We are pruned for God’s glory and for our ultimate good! What good is a half pruned rose bush? Don’t stop the process because it hurts a little… see it through and make the pain mean something in your life.


I would like to close with this excerpt from a message given by John Piper.

Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at forty, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.