Developing Faith through Adversity
It doesn't seem fair, does it? Paul spent his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced continual suffering. Why would God let one of His most faithful servants go through so much pain? This isn't just a question about Paul; it's an issue we face today. In our minds, the Lord should protect His loyal followers from hardships, but He doesn't necessarily do so.
Maybe our reasoning is backwards. We think faithful Christians don't deserve to suffer, but from God's perspective, suffering is what produces faithful Christians. If we all had lives of ease without opposition, trials, or pain, we'd never really know God, because we'd never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord than simply reading the Bible ever will.
I'm not saying we don't need to know Scripture; that's our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested by adversity, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we've never been challenged by hardship? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful. For example, how would Paul ever have known the strength of Christ if he had never been weakened by pain, persecution, and adversity?
Depending on your response, trials can be God's greatest means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity. If you'll believe what Scripture says and apply its principles to your situation, your trust in God will grow, and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.
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Discouragement can rob peace, joy, and contentment. But I have great news if you feel disheartened: You’re not stuck!
A faith barrier is made up of attitudes that short-circuit our trust and prevent us from obeying the Lord's will.
Growth is impossible without God, regardless of our efforts.
We cringe at news of vandalism on church buildings. But many of us don't have the same qualms when it comes to harming the temple of the Holy Spirit.
God has a purpose for your life. If that weren't true, He'd have taken you home to heaven at the moment of salvation.
Growing in Christ involves far more than just attending church, tithing, and listening to a sermon.
Waiting on God is an important spiritual discipline in our walk of faith.
It's easy to think our problems are unimportant in the eyes of God, but He doesn't feel that way at all.
In reading through the Scriptures, we see that every time one of God's saints gains a victory, he or she is waiting and trusting in the Lord.
In His Word, God commands us to serve one another.
Followers of Christ should seek a godly response to disappointments they face.
While some rewards will be given in heaven, other blessings can be experienced now.
God has gifted each of us in unique ways with a purpose in mind. His plan involves using these talents to serve Him for the good of others. Satan would like us to believe otherwise.
Jesus commanded that we serve one another, but obeying this mandate in humility is not natural for us.
I want to challenge you this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God.
Does it surprise you that Paul wrote about "the secret of being content" when he was in prison, unsure of his future?
When Jesus left His home in heaven, He didn't come to earth to be a superstar. He came to serve.
By using weak, inadequate people, God demonstrates what great things He can do.
Feeling inadequate is not a sin, but using it as an excuse is.
What three goals would you set for your life if you knew that you could achieve them?
How do you respond when someone compliments you?
No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way.
The United States of America was founded on biblical principles with the intent to guarantee freedom of worship.
Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction--toward God instead of away from Him.
Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father. But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness.
The Lord has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible.
Life is full of options. Many decisions involve a choice between following God's way or our own.
The most precious thing we can pass down to children is our faith.
To serve others before serving yourself is to practice authentic Christianity.
Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood.
We can understand why those without Christ are unable to comprehend biblical concepts, but why do those who know Him struggle?
The Bible clearly defines the following as ministries of the church: worshiping the living God, instructing and edifying believers, making disciples of all nations, and serving the needy.
Jesus made it clear that we would endure hardship in this life.
The testing of your faith produces endurance (James 1:3). Think of patience as a muscle that you have to use in order to see it build. To that end, believers should recognize difficulty as an opportunity to flex their patience.
If we truly desire to walk in the center of God's perfect will, we must become willing to cooperate with His time frame.
Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest.
God's grace is not a license to sin; instead, it's a reason to pursue righteousness.
What do you live for each day?
The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity.
It’s so easy to get up each morning, do our work, enjoy some relaxation or entertainment, and fall into bed each night without giving any thought to God’s involvement in our lives.
Nobody wore a miniature cross around the neck or displayed one in a place of worship in Christ's day. The cross was a torturous means of execution, and the mere thought of it was repulsive.
The cross is a place of brokenness, but it's necessary because there's no other way we'll ever bear fruit. But those who willingly die to themselves will produce an abundance of spiritual fruit.
Great faith begins with little steps.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Prov. 22:7). Every dollar you borrow costs you a measure of freedom.
We can rest confidently knowing that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us.
Glorifying the Lord is not limited to worshipping in church; praise ought to permeate the believer's life.
His presence within us isn't something we have to earn or acquire. Rather, it is a marvelous privilege.
Human appetites, in themselves, are not sinful. In fact, they're God-given. However, because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled.
Having the right view of the Lord will allow us to approach Him with absolute confidence
Are you letting the Lord use His character-shaping tools in your life?
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? (Matt. 25:39). Stop for a moment and consider the purpose of your life. Are you living to pursue your own interests or success?
People are saved when they trust Jesus Christ as Savior and choose to follow Him.
It's probably not possible to fully count all the spiritual seeds that God used to draw you to Him.
It is the Lord's responsibility to equip the chosen for the work He's assigned.
God uses Christians to spread the word that His salvation plan is available to all.
When it comes to serving in the church, people rarely request positions where they will go unnoticed.
Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power?
Those who reject the Savior are forewarned that they have settled for condemnation.
Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength.
Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). How do you define "love"?
Disunity is found in marriages, churches, and international alliances. Yet there's one relationship that is sure and permanent.
What causes us to be such reluctant servants?
Though the world is full of disorder, confusion, and uncertainty, believers in Christ have the wonderful assurance that God is in absolute control of every situation.
When we choose to cooperate with God and submit to His way, He will do amazing things in and through us.
The Bible clearly instructs us to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns.
What a privilege to be able to approach the King’s throne, knowing He listens, understands, and cares!
If you’re a believer, you are part of the awesome body of Christ!!
Hanging back instead of seeking a place to serve is a form of thievery, robbing from the Lord's church.
All of us have areas of weakness. God wants these character flaws to show us how totally dependent we are upon Him.
One of our highest callings as believers is to tell others about Christ.
Today, most men and women would rather live by preference than conviction.
The more we understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, the greater will be our passion to share the gospel.
When asking the Lord to reveal His will, we shouldn’t expect instant answers.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (Rom. 15:13). Each new generation has high hopes for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end faces disappointment.
Even in an unbelieving society, people can, as individuals, follow Jesus.
At salvation, you become a part of the body, no matter what your local church's membership rules may be.
The Lord's assuring hand at our shoulder can lead us down right paths to good choices.
The world throws confusing messages at us all day long, and we need to check our course frequently.
When Jesus walked this earth, a vast multitude followed Him. They came for all sorts of reasons—some noble, some selfish. The same is true today.
Our true identity is defined not by our past actions but by the Savior's.
Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths...
Jesus desires that we be willing to humble ourselves to serve others.
Talk about Christmas memories: you can be sure that all of the people who experienced the first Christmas never forgot it.
Practicing a lifestyle of obedience doesn't mean we'll never make mistakes. But it does require diligence if we are to succeed.
Is there something God has told you to do that seems just too difficult?
On the Christian journey, there will be temptations to stray, falsely promising to satisfy longings. Stay closely connected to Jesus through prayer and Scripture.
The cross is so common in our culture that most people don’t think twice when they see one on a church.
Teaching children to sing of their friendship with Jesus is a wise idea. But I wonder when some grown believers will learn to sing of that special relationship again?
Many Christians know they're saved, but they don't really know what to think about themselves. Let's take a little test.
Anyone who thinks of himself as a pretty good person ought to take a look at God’s assessment of humanity. He says we all come into the world spiritually dead and are ruled by Satan, his world system, and our own sin nature, or flesh.
The Lord speaks to believers so that they will comprehend the truth, conform to the truth, and communicate the truth.
One day I posed a question to the waitress at my table: "If you could ask God for anything, what would your request be?" Her answer was immediate. "I want to feel at peace."
Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace. Does your life communicate this message?
A grateful heart is most precious to God when, humanly speaking, our situations don't warrant giving thanks.
Grace builds our confidence in the sovereign Lord.
In a world filled with endless sources of information and opinions, believers need to develop a discerning spirit. Otherwise, how will we know what is true?
A bitter and resentful spirit doesn't fit who we are in Christ.
Isaiah 66:1-2 teaches us how to experience the Father’s favor.
God's plan for each one of us has our best interest in mind.
Can you find yourself on the spectrum between fear and devotion? It is my hope that you have committed to obeying God and that you are reading His Word daily to learn how to keep your promise.
There is no condemnation for those who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The rich man in Luke 16 made the tragic choice of living for himself without regard for the Lord. He also made two other mistakes...
Scripture teaches us to tell others about Jesus Christ. And while sharing the gospel is awesome, it is simply not enough. We should continue to encourage and invest in new believers.
Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it.
Time is a gift from God, and He has allotted each of us a measure in which to live and accomplish His purposes.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever (Ps. 138:8). The key to David's victorious attitude was his strong faith in the Lord.
The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9).
Let's look at God's three goals for communicating with believers...
The Holy Spirit, unlike human companions, is perfectly adequate to meet our every need.
The Lord knows what we really desire--and more importantly, what we need--even when cloudy judgment leads us astray
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14). When do I pray? Is it only during emergencies or when I need something?
No one can have intimacy with Christ without daily communication.
God isn't looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission.
Our Father may ask us to do something that seems illogical, but press forward regardless of how impractical the request may appear.
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