Posts Tagged ‘Trials


Tests, Trials and Temptations! Oh my!

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This is the first message in our new series based on the book of James.  This message is based on James 1:1-18.



God Made This Day

This is the day the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.  — Psalm 118:24 (NIV)
As kids we learn a call and repeat song about how “This is the day (echo)!  That the Lord has made (echo)!  I will rejoice (echo)!  And be glad in it (echo)!”  Too often we forget that song.  We do not rejoice and we are not glad in the day that God has given to us.  We get bogged down in the junk of life to actually do what the song says.  How can we have joy and gladness today when life is so hard?
I have been talking to so many people lately about the toughness of life.  People have been coming to me with prayer requests, broken relationships, loved ones dying and disappointments and failures.  My friends and family members deal with struggles and various kinds of pain on a daily basis it seems.  There is no gladness, no joy.  There only seems to be pain, trials and drama galore.
I think that it takes work to have joy and gladness.  It takes effort to remind ourselves of the blessings versus the trials.  It takes a great deal of energy to rise above the circumstances and the situations we find ourselves in and have true joy.  We cannot ignore the pain of life, but we can choose to deal with it in a constructive manner.  Pain produces strength (no pain, no gain?).  Pain gives us endurance.  Pain stretches our faith.  There is joy, even in the trials, for the trials lead to Christian character (James 1:2-3).  It’s hard to remember this nugget of truth when we’re in the midst of the trials, but when we come through on the other side, we’ll know that God works everything out for good.
PRAYER: Father God, You know what this day holds. You know what trials and tests will come my way. You know what pain I am dealing with in my life. Help me to remember that You made this day so that I will rejoice and be glad in it. I want to rise above the situations and circumstances of life to honor you and give you praise. In Jesus’ name I praise you today, amen.

How Many Shoes Does God Have?

You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop”.  It typically means that things are going well, but one is waiting for the inevitable hiccup, bump in the road or piano to drop on one’s head from a very tall building while walking down a busy street in Chicago.  We human beings can be quite pessimistic about our lives.  We’re too pessimistic for our own good.  What happened to hope and anticipation?  What happened to optimism?  Is there any justifiable reason to have hope in our world today?  Why does there always have to be “another shoe”?  Why are we waiting for the other shoe to drop instead of waiting for the next blessing or revelation of God’s presence in our lives?

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” — Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

The Greek word translated as hope literally means a confident expectation.  The author of Hebrews makes a great connection between faith and hope.  The faith that one has in Jesus Christ is directly related to the hope of His return.  Our expectation of Christ’s return is rooted in our faith in what we cannot see.  Faith is hard, but I wonder if hope is harder.  I can see the evidence of God all around me.  I know that He is there and He created all of the beauty around me.  But when it comes to hope for a bright future, I keep wondering how many shoes God has and when the next one will drop.

The book of James says to rejoice in trials because they produce perseverance and endurance.  They strengthen our faith.  They make us more mature.  God knows what He is doing and I have to take comfort in that and believe that there is a plan for my life and hope for my future.  And some days, that’s all I can do.

PRAYER: Lord, I struggle with understanding Your will and plan for my life.  I struggle with the trials and tests I sometimes have to endure.  Give me strength for my journey as I walk through this life with You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


The Stronghold

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:9-10 (NIV)

What oppresses you?  How has life beaten you up and dragged you down?  Has the weight of life crushed you in the last week?  In the last year?  In the last five years?  Ten?  Twenty?  How have you dealt with this sense of being oppressed by life?

I think that too often we try to deal with the struggle and weight of life on our own instead of turning to God.  Perhaps God is too busy.  Maybe He doesn’t want to be bothered.  He doesn’t want to bother with little insignificant me, right?  Wrong.  God is big enough to handle all of the problems of the world and He cares enough about you to handle yours as well.

In Psalm 9, the Hebrew word for “refuge” is the same word that is translated as “stronghold”.  It literally means “high”.  Like the high, protective walls of a city, God is a strong refuge where we can go in times of crushing trials and trouble.  In verse 10, we are encouraged to seek God and trust in Him because He will never abandon or forsake us.  God will never turn His back on you and me.  He will never leave us.  We must continually seek after God and ask of Him for He cares about us.  He really does love you and He really does love me.  He proved it by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  Every sin we could possibly commit, He can and will forgive because He loves us.

When the trials and tribulations of life come, do not try to deal them on your own.  Do not turn away from God in hopes of handling them by yourselves.  Seek after God and run into His loving arms of refuge.  He is a stronghold for your heart and your soul.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for being my stronghold and refuge.  Please guard and protect my heart, soul and mind today with Your powerful arms of love.  I ask for Your guidance and leadership in my life today.  I ask for Your forgiveness in Jesus’ name, amen.


Has God Forgotten About You?

Do you ever think that God forgets about you?  That He doesn’t see you in your trials and suffering?  That He pushed you to the back burner and is focusing on more pressing issues at the present time?  I’m sure that that is how the Israelites felt in their bondage and suffering in Egypt.  Look at verse 23 of Exodus 2:

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. – Exodus 2:23 (NIV)

They had to be thinking, “Where is God?  He promised us that we would be His people!”  The next verse might be misunderstood:

God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. – Exodus 2:24 (NIV)

What does it mean that God “remembered His covenant?”  Did He forget about the Israelites?  The Hebrew word in this verse does not mean that God forgot about them and suddenly remembered that they were in slavery.  It means that He called His promises to mind.  He looked upon them and said that the time was right to do something about their plight.
It would be wonderful if God moved according to our timeline.  If when the first hint of trouble comes, God moves and removes it from our lives.  If when the least bit of a difficult trial or test rears its head, God would take it away from us.  But one of the things that I have learned is that faith doesn’t always grow when things are easy.  It is in the trials and the tests that we learn and grow and mature in our faith.  God may seem distant and silent, but He knows what we are going through.  He sees the trials and the suffering.  He is going to move and do something.  The time isn’t quite right yet.  Pray that your faith will grow in this test that you’re going through.  Pray and ask God for the strength to not only survive the test, but to have the power to grow through it.
 PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, I pray that You would move in my life today.  I ask that You would remove anything from me that is hindering my growth in You.  I ask  that You would make my paths straight today and keep me from wandering from Your side.  Give me strength to endure the trials and the troubles that today may bring.  In Jesus’ name I ask all of this, amen.

Exodus 2

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

The Birth of Moses

2 Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”

19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

20 “And where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become an alien in a foreign land.”

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.


How To Suffer Well

James 5:11-12 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
We do not know how to suffer well.  We’re so used to our creature comforts and immediate gratification of our every want and desire that we have no patience.  We have no tolerance for suffering.  We expect our lives to be free from trouble, free from want and free from suffering.  When troubles come along, we don’t know how to persevere.  We expect someone to come in and save the day for us.  
Sometimes we have to suffer, so we’d better learn to do it well.  Life has its ups and downs and we will find ourselves having to persevere through times of trouble and difficulty.  Instead of throwing in the towel, we need to learn to press on, persevere and keep going with the compassion and mercy that the Lord provides for us.  In His great compassion and mercy, God gives us strength to persevere.  James says to consider Job’s story.  He persevered through great trials and tribulations and never gave up nor did he question God’s purpose and plan.  He suffered through extreme difficulty and God blessed him for it.  
So when you come up against trials, tests and tribulations today, don’t throw your hands up and give up.  Don’t throw in the towel and quit.  Don’t whine and complain and say, “Why me?!?”  Ask the Lord for His compassion and mercy.  Ask the Lord to give you strength to overcome and to press on, even in the midst of suffering.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I admit that I do not like to suffer.  I know that You can provide strength and courage to press on and persevere in the midst of suffering.  So if I must suffer in this life, I pray that You would indeed grant me the strength I need to keep the faith and to press on through the trials and tribulations.  Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, who even endured the cross for my sake.  In His name I pray, amen.

Working It Out For Good

NOTE: This post is based on a post from September, 2013.

On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaamto call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) – Nehemiah 13:1-2 (NIV)

God is amazing!  We read throughout Scripture that He is able to take bad situations and work them out for good.  I think about the life of Joseph.  I think about the crucifixion.  I think about Romans 8:28 (NIV):

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God is able to work everything – even the bad things in our lives – out for the best.  He can take our heartache and turn it into joy.  He can take our pain and turn it into strength and perseverance.  He can take our chaos and turn it into peace.  God can take the bad and turn it into good.  We have to trust Him and know that He is working it all out.  He is bigger than our problems and our battles.  He is bigger than our struggles and troubles.  He is bigger than our doubts, worries and fears.  God is good and He will work the troubles in our lives out for good.
PRAYER: My Lord and my God, help me today to see Your amazing ability to turn my struggles and weaknesses into something good.  I have doubts and failures and troubles and pain.  How I need You to give me strength to overcome them.  How I need You to take the bad things of my life and make them good.  I know and believe that You can do that, O God.  Thank You for hearing my prayer, amen.

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