Pablo Picasso plus friend.

Following God may bring more (and) May be testing your faith or character:

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. –  GENESIS 12:10

When famine struck, Abram went to Egypt where there was food. Why would there be a famine in the land where God had just called Abram?  This was a test of Abram’s faith, and Abram passed.  He didn’t question God’s leading when facing this difficulty.  Many believers find that when they determine to follow God, they immediately encounter greater obstacles.  The next time you face such a test, don’t try to second-guess what God is doing.  Use the intelligence God gave you, as Abram did when he temporarily moved to Egypt, and wait for new opportunities.


Lying only brings more:

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” GENESIS 18:15

Sarah lied because she was afraid of being discovered. Fear is the most common motive for lying.  We are afraid that our inner thoughts and emotions will be exposed or our wrongdoings discovered.  But lying causes greater complications than telling the truth and brings even more problems.  If God can’t be trusted with our innermost thoughts and fears, we are in greater trouble than we first imagined.


See them as opportunities for growth:

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.   GENESIS 35:10

God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which meant “he struggles with God”. Although Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trials, his new name was a tribute to his desire to stay close to God despite life’s disappointments.

Many people believe that Christianity should offer a problem-free life. Consequently, as life gets tough, they draw back disappointed.  Instead, they should determine to prevail with God through life’s storms.  Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable; you might as well see them as opportunities for growth.  You can’t prevail with God unless you have troubles to prevail over.


Finding hope in:

“ ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers – their treachery against me and their hostility towards me, which made me hostile towards them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies – then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them.  They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.  Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them.  I am the LORD their God.  But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God.  I am the LORD.’ “  LEVITICUS 26:40-45

These verses show what God meant when he said he is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6). Even if the Israelites chose to disobey and were scattered among their enemies, God would still give them the opportunity to repent and return to him.  His purpose was not to destroy them, but to help them grow.  Our day-to-day experiences and hardships are sometimes overwhelming; unless we can see that God’s purpose is to bring about continual growth in us, we may despair.  The hope we need is well expressed in Jeremiah 29:11, 12: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’ “  To retain hope while we suffer shows we understand God’s merciful ways of relating to his people.


Don’t question God’s goodness in:

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. – JOB 2:10

Many people think that believing in God protects them from trouble, so when calamity comes, they question God’s goodness and justice. But the message of Job is that you should not give up on God because he allows you to have bad experiences.  Faith in God does not guarantee personal prosperity, and lack of faith does not guarantee troubles in this life.  If this were so, people would believe in God simply to get rich.  God is capable of rescuing us from suffering, but he may also allow suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand.  It is Satan’s strategy to get us to doubt God at exactly this moment.  Here Job shows a perspective broader than seeking his own personal comfort.  If we always know why we were suffering, our faith would have no room to grow.


Your life is not too complex for God:

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood.  – JOHN 1:3-5

Do you ever feel that your life is too complex for God to understand? Remember, God created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for him.  God created you; he is alive today, and his love is bigger than any problem you may face.


Jesus controls the storms of life:

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  –  MATTHEW 8:25

Although the disciples had witnessed many miracles, they panicked in this storm. As experienced sailors, they knew its danger; what they did not know was that Christ could control the forces of nature.  There is often a stormy area of our human nature where we feel God can’t or won’t work.  When we truly understand who God is, however, we realise that he controls both the storms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart.  Jesus’ power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face.  Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him.  We should never discount his power even in terrible trials.


©Kingsway International 1973.


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