A friend recently shared with me that she is inspired by God when she reads scripture I post on Facebook. So, I'm thinking if God uses these little lessons he is giving me to talk to other people how can I not share what he gives me? Is that not what a disciple should do?
Lately Christ has placed me in James. If you have never studied James I highly recommend it! It's great for many reasons. It's not overly complicated so even the newest Christian could follow along, it's not terribly long so you don't get bogged down with the length and best of all it's FULL of inspirational words that really apply to daily life. Not that the rest of the bible isn't! It is so easy to understand that I'm studying it with Shanea for school about three days a week. She loves it and best of all she gets it!
The first lesson in James I've been shown that has spoken buckets to me is this;
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kids, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1: 2-4
Think about that for a minute. God is telling us that we must go through trials to develop faith! When I saw Christianity from the outside (before knowing Christ) I felt like all Christians lived in some sort of "happy land" and well I kind of thought maybe they were a little unrealistic in their outlooks on life. I knew life was hard and things were not always easy. Heck things were hardly ever easy! They were down right tough and really miserable at times.
"Why are things in so hard for a non-Christ follower and so seemingly easy for a disciple of Christ?"
This was the million dollar question. I have theories on this, but I won't bother you with those. I will give you scripture and have God's word tell you why.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1: 5-6
When a non-believer is faced with trails and hard times, 9 times out of 10 you see them resort to their own understanding. Not having a "code" to fall back on what else can be expected? I remember feeling so lost and anger. Not to add confused and frustrated. Thinking "why doesn't this God love me? what did I ever do to him to be so badly mistreated? it's not like I'm a BAD person!" Very self destructive lives we can lead without Christ in our hearts.
After becoming a believer and still as a believer, because it is a daily surrender remember, I have learned to lean on Gods word for guidance. Like the scripture above. It tells us that a life with Christ is full of trials, then the second piece reminds us that those trails are for Him and that if we ask him for guidance He will give it! We only have to ask with real faith and belief in Him. Sounds simple right?
How do we keep our sinful human nature from becoming resentful for the hard times we endure with God leading us? How do we keep a positive happy outlook on things that can seem dim?
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 4-7
When I was first introduced to this thought "rejoice in the Lord always" I have to admit I thought, "that is one crazy ego trip this God is on!". And with no other reason then me simply wanting to put 100% of myself into it (if you can't do something 100% don't bother) I did. I rejoiced in Him with ALL my heart. I allowed myself to believe He was my everything. And wouldn't you know it I actually felt His awesome and powerful love. I felt peace in my heart for the first time EVER! Not contentment but real peace! When you spend time with the Lord in His word and in prayer you will be amazed at how it makes you feel. The peace and joy He gives when you really submit yourselves to Him is unbelievable!
"I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4: 12-13
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
You only need to have faith in Christ and submit yourselves to him knowing He will provide your true needs. The hardest part here for a non-believer is learning what a "need" actually is That was the hardest part for me to come to realize then to accept. Trust in him, have NO expectations on Him and you will find the peace you are after. In him you will have strength!
|This cross was a representation at our woman's retreat this spring of letting go and finding peace. For me it represents my deepened love for Christ as well as many forgiven and forgotten hurts.|