When Struggle Becomes Real

Struggle is real, with change comes struggle and real change sometimes puts you through a real struggle.  Jesus was about to make the ultimate change when He went to the cross.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus asked His Father to take the cup of suffering from Him.  I try to think of what that must feel like to know that you are about to die a painful death… it scares me that I may run away from the pain I would have to feel.  Jesus did not run He gave it to God.  All that fear He left in God’s hands to use for the Glory of God.  Jesus knew that it was through this suffering that we would have a way to God.  In our lives the suffering that we face can do the same thing.  We can use that suffering to draw people to God or turn them away.  In my life I have suffered and made people suffer.  It was not my plan to hurt those I love the dearest.  I struggled with addiction for nearly 15 years.  It was a struggle to want to stay alive most of the latter days of my addiction.  But God… Through that suffering I am able to talk to people that most others who have served God there whole life cannot.  I can use that suffering I went though and put my family though to bring people to God, just like Jesus.  I am no Messiah but I am made in His image and so are you.  How you deal with struggle with show people a lot.  You see a person’s true character when they are suffering, so use it for the Glory of God to draw people to the Lord.  A healthy attitude is contagious especially when people can see that you are struggling but still have the joy of the Lord.  So do not wait to catch it, be a carrier!

Life Application or Just Making It Through

 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

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Reading the Bible is a multi-faceted assignment. At first glance you may read the Bible leisurely. Some people find it to be an entertaining book, with lots of stories, romance, adventure, and a conclusion where good wins against evil. Sometimes, as Christians, we read it very casually the same way. We know it’s about God and that it’s important, but we read it with no implications for our life, as if it were a fictional entertainment book.

At other times we read the Bible at a different level. Maybe you read it because of an assignment. At class you may have been told to read the book of Genesis and identify the major characters in the book. In that case, you are reading it with your eyes focused on one specific thing.
I challenged myself to read through the whole Bible in a year. This resulted in a just doing it to get it done, checking it off their check list of things to do. This is what I tended to do when I read the Bible straight through… afterwards I felt happy that I read the Bible straight through but I also felt empty because there was not too much of it that I actually retained. Besides the stories that I already knew for the most part.
Recently I have been looking at the Bible in a different way… I get my pen and pad of paper open up to whatever book I am reading through and I take it nice and slow. I let the Holy Spirit speak to me. I look for practical application because I need this to be the living Word of God in my life.

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Finally, during those times I really come to the Bible to study it, to know it, and to know God, who it is all about. In this case, I don’t come with a set number of verses to read for the day. I don’t looking for some agenda of characters or stories. No, instead I come prepared to let the Bible speak to us. I want it to impact my life, and transform my minds and our actions to be more in line with what God wants them to be.

All these approaches have their time and place. You may get someone to read the Bible simply for its entertainment value, but the Holy Spirit uses it to speak to their heart. You may need to get your mind off a busy schedule and just want to read the Psalms and enjoy God’s Word with no agenda. Other times, you may need to study one specific aspect of God. Each time we approach God’s Word, no matter the reason, we have to understand how we approach it. This week, we are going to learn how to study the Scriptures. It’s the building block for everything else we do. Some of it you may already know and you just take it for granted. But it is extremely important that we come to Scripture the way God wants and intends us to.

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Why do you read the Bible? Do you find yourself reading it for pleasure or requirement? Do you read it like a fiction or non-fiction book? Do you have a plan and commitment to reading the Bible? Why or why not?

Our Testimony gives our Faith more Fire!

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“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.   By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” (Heb.11:1-3)

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As Christians, we all desire to have a good testimony and we all do! Whether you have been a Christian from birth or for three hours we all have a testimony that brings God glory. I was an alcoholic for ten years and God broke the chains of that addiction. That testimony I now have is an excellent tool to use to show that God really is who we say He is. I prayed for a year that God would take me out of that darkness and I believed that God would do it. It is like Hebrews 11:3 says, “…that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” These verses are often called the definition of faith which is true but my definition of faith comes from seeing God work in darkness that had me stumbling around in darkness for years. There was a tipping point that we all have to choose to “really” serve God or just be a fan of Him. That happened for me when I was delivered from addiction. Now I have that testimony to tell people that are in the same boat because God came to heal the sick.

Our testimony refers to many aspects of our Christian behavior and appearance, or what we call our walk. Many people outside of the sphere of Christianity would consider these words to be a code of some kind. But through the influence of the Holy Spirit, we have a supernatural understanding of the importance they play in our life. Hebrews 11 begins by telling us what faith is and how, through faith, our elders in the faith obtained a good testimony. We find that a good testimony is not built by a single act or a solemn promise. Rather, it was obtained through a lifetime of faith and obedience to God’s will. While understanding that a single act cannot build a good testimony, we must also know that a single act cannot destroy it either. Tempering our life with an attitude of humility and repentance before the Lord will help to develop and ensure that good testimony. How has faith helped you to build a good testimony?