You Are A Work In Progress

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.— Hebrews 5:8-9

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” That is, from first to last He is the perfect example of how we should live our lives by faith. If we have any question as to how we should live our lives, then we should look to Jesus first of all as an example of what to do.

Interestingly enough, if we look to Jesus as revealed in our verse for today, what we learn from His example is that the model of our faith had to suffer. Jesus’ life was a life that included suffering and His suffering was not gratuitous. It had a purpose. Through His suffering Jesus learned obedience. He learned how to remain obedient to God even though He was suffering. He learned not to use suffering as an excuse to disobey God’s plan for His life. He learned how to stand fast in faith through it all and obey God.

Further, we learn from Jesus’ example that His obedience to God needed to be perfected. Jesus, of course, lived in sinless perfection. However, He still needed to go through the sufferings He went through in order to become ready for His great task in life. Every experience He had and every suffering He endured prepared Him for the cross.

If the author and finisher of our faith needed to learn obedience through suffering, then how much more do we who are mere followers of His example need to learn obedience through suffering? Perhaps we need to look at the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life in a new light. Instead of complaining about them, perhaps we should consider them valuable experiences that qualify us for the tasks God has planned for us. If we go through these trying times in faith and obedience, then we will be ready for what God has in store for us.

You are a work in progress. You are being perfected by suffering for the tasks God planned for you from all eternity. You are working on your advanced degree in the specialty God thinks you are best suited for. Stand fast in faith, then, and learn obedience from what you are going through.

Desiring God’s Best For Your Life

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength—Isa. 40:31

Do you desire God’s best for your life? Unfortunately, many people miss out on blessings because they are unwilling to wait for His timing. Scripture encourages believers to be patient.

Your patience is refined when you are going through difficult times, when you’re frustrated with the waiting and tempted to act outside of God’s will. Always seek His wisdom, and follow the instruction you receive. Remember that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength” (Isa. 40:31).

The Lord Comforts Us Through Trying Times

Heavens and earth, be happy! Mountains, shout with joy! The LORD comforts his people. He is good to his poor people.— Isaiah 49:13

There is always a reason to be happy. Although the people of God may go through trying times, there is always a reason for joy. We live in a creation controlled by the Lord and He is good. If the ultimate source and origin of all things is good, if the providential sustainer of all things is good, then there is no reason to allow sorrow and sadness to overtake and overwhelm our lives.

Although the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life still cause us problems, we can experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The heavens and the earth have good reason to be happy and the mountains have good reason to shout for joy.

You may be going through a lot of trouble right now, but there is still good reason to be happy. The Lord is comforting you and being good to you, despite everything that is going on. This comfort and goodness is merely a foretaste of the comfort and goodness that is yet to be revealed to you.

And if you go outside and listen closely, you may be able to hear the mountains in the distance shouting for joy about you.

When A Crisis Brings Doubt

Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.—Psalm 86:1

When life is moving along smoothly, it’s easy to say, “God answers prayer.” But a crisis can bring doubt, especially if the Lord is not responding as quickly as we might like. That’s when we may be tempted to bargain with God as if He could be manipulated into acting on our behalf. However, the goal of prayer is not to get God to do what we want but to bring our concerns to Him, trusting that He will answer in His own way and time.

Waiting on the Lord is fairly easy when we’re not facing anything urgent. But difficulties and suffering tend to make us impatient. We may even begin to find fault with God, thinking that if He truly loved us, He would intervene and bring relief.

As we seek the Lord for help, David’s prayers in the Psalms provide wonderful patterns for us to follow. He faced many dire situations and continued to turn to God. He recounts God’s character—gracious, good, ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call on Him. These characteristics are the basis for trust.

Knowing who God is enables us to trust Him through the crises of life. Because He is faithful, we know that He will keep His promises. His holiness causes us to examine our life and repent of any sins that are hindering our prayers. And His mercy, grace, and love give us the comfort we need to endure hardship.

How Much Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

“So, you think you’re pretty special?” the father asked the child. “Well, you know what? You are!”

God thinks of us the same way. In His eyes we are special and unique in so many ways. He made us in His own image. That’s pretty special don’t you think? We are all God’s children and because of that He loves us without end. No strings attached. He loves us so much that He also disciplines us when the need arises.

Fathers love their children without measure. No matter how big the mistake, the father loves the child anyway. God loves us the same way. He also knows when we sin and He knew that there was no way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins except through the blood of His own son Jesus.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s a very special love don’t you think? God sacrificed His own son so that we could be free from our sins. Wow!

Remember. The next time you start feeling as if you are unloved or that no one cares, Jesus is right there whispering in your ear, “I love you so much that I died for you. Take my hand and let’s walk together forever.”

Are You A Shining Example of God’s Love?

“Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”—Deuteronomy 8:5

No one likes to be disciplined because it usually involves a degree of pain either emotionally or physically. When we are disciplined by God we scratch our head and wonder why. Suffice it to say God has a reason for it at that moment in time.

God’s word says in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” declares the Lord. There you have it. God doesn’t expect us to understand. Instead He desires that we remain faithful in our walk with Him no matter what our circumstances might be.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

In other words, when God disciplines us, we are the better for it. The next time you feel the weight of God’s discipline on your life, just realize He is polishing off the rough edges of your life so that you can be a shining example of His love for you.

Are You A Living Sacrifice?

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.— Romans 12:9

In Romans 12:1 the Apostle Paul beseeches the members of the church at Rome to present their bodies as a “living sacrifice.” A living sacrifice is a life lived in surrender to the will of Jesus Christ, rather than a life lived for its own sake. Most of the rest of the book of Romans gives us some idea of what it means to be a living sacrifice. Romans 12:9, for example, gives us three items that should be part and parcel of the sacrificial life of a Christian.

First, our sacrificial life should be a life of love without hypocrisy. Hypocritical love is love that is two-faced. On the one hand, there is the feigning to be what one is not a false impression of love given to another person. On the other hand, however, there is the real motivation of the heart a hatred and contempt for the other person. Paul’s teaching is that our love should not be like that. It should be sincere, not fake. The sacrificial life of love surrenders its masks.

Second, our sacrificial life should be a life that abhors evil. Perhaps this seems to some as an “It goes without saying” proposition. Of course the true Christian should abhor evil. However, we live in a world where that which is good is said to be evil and that which is evil is said to be good. It’s not always easy to go against the spirit of the times and abhor evil. Our sacrificial life of love, therefore, must conform itself to the word of God and the mind of Christ so that we will have the courage of right conviction to help us obey Paul’s command.

Finally, our sacrificial life should be a life that clings to what is good. We must not just abhor evil; we must also cling to that which is good. Once we conform ourselves to the word of God and the mind of Christ and come to know the difference between evil and good, we should abhor the former and cling to the latter. The sacrificial life of love is not allowed to be half-hearted in these matters.

The sacrificial life is, indeed, sacrificial. We don’t get to do what we want, but what Jesus Christ the King wants.