“God works all things together for good to those who Love Him and are called according to His Purpose”
– Romans 8:28
“IS HE DISCOURAGED?” Someone recently asked my wife concerning me and my sickness. They had just come to know of some of my sickness these past few months, not knowing it has been like this and worse for years. When she told me I guess my initial response was to wonder “why? would they say that. Why would I be discouraged? I know over the years there have been times when I have been, but for the most part No, I have been not been but am learning to live with it and rest in the great assurance that the Lord is personally in charge of my life and what happens to me.
SHORTLY AFTER my wife HAD SHARED the persons thoughts, I thought of some things that would best summarize where and what I feel and know at this time of my life in regard to trials. I hope you don’t mind me sharing and I trust they will encourage you in the midst of what ever you are going through…below are my thoughts or my creed regarding my present trials.
1. Its not about my COMFORT, Its about my CONFORMITY- To Christ
Rom 8:28 says that “God works all things together for good to those who Love Him and are called according to His Purpose” And what is God’s ultimate purpose in the lives of one of His own?- Rom 8:29 tells us, it is that we be CONFORMED to the image of His Son. He wants to make us like His Son in out Thinking, Words, and Actions and Motivations. He wants to change us, more and more. To think from His perspective which He has given Exclusively in His Word, “Let this MIND be in you as was also in Christ Jesus…”- which is to develop the MIND of a Servant- Phil 2:5-9.;..”RENEW your MIND…”Rom 12:2; “Whatsoever things are TRUE…THINK on these.”- Phil 4:8 Our thinking is to be changed and will be changed as we habitually allow the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly- Col 3:16 and not merely know what God says in His Word BUT “PROVE ourselves doers of the Word”- James 1:22. It is when we allow Gods Spirit through His Word to see things from God’s perspective and with James 1:2 -“count it all joy when you encounter various trials…” because we understand God uses His means, one being trials to cause us to be CHANGED and CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON. Therefore we can gladly and confidently boast in the Lord “And we KNOW ALL things work together for good…that we may be conformed to the image of His Son.”
SO THE QUESTION TO ASK IN YOUR PRESENT SITUATION IS NOT -“WHY?” but “HOW?”. “HOW?” can this be used to help me be CONFORMED to the image of Christ. Does that mean it is wrong to ask “why?” certainly not, for even the most perfect Man on the face of the earth asked “why?” “My God, My God WHY have you forsaken Me.” THE LORD JESUS cried while upon the Cross. But there comes a time when the “Why” must be CRUCIFIED and replaced with the emphasis of thought and heart on the “HOW?”-
2. – IT’S NOT ABOUT MY DELIVERANCE, IT’S ABOUT MY SPIRITUAL MATURITY- IN CHRIST.
CINDEE SAID PEOPLE SEE the end as my being well, as the goal, rather than Gods end which is my Conformity to His Image- and she is right. How do I know? Because that is what God says- in Rom 8:29; Eph 4:13,16, Col 1:29. where the word “mature” is used. God uses five means to Mature His saints … including you. Do you know what those are? Let me share them with you briefly.
The Holy Spirit uses HIS WORD to Mature you- Heb 5:14
The Holy Spirit uses PRAYER to Mature you- Col 4:12
The Holy Spirit uses GIFTED TEACHERS and members of the body of Christ to help Mature you- Eph 4:7-16
The Holy Spirit uses TRIALS to Mature you- James 1:4
The Holy Spirit uses SUFFERING to Mature you – 1 Peter 5:10
THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY FIFTY COMMANDS in the book of James alone. In the midst of persecution, trials and suffering James concern is that they Grow up …that they Mature spiritually.
1 John 2:12-14 – shows us there are three stages to Growing up spiritually … little children … young men… and fathers… each stage brings about maturity, and no matter where you or I am at in our walk, God is using one of the five mentioned means above to MATURE YOU. So therefore in my trials I know it’s not about my deliverance but about my MATURITY. And so I can rest in Him who loves me best- Rev 1:5 – as can you dearly beloved.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT PAUL’S PRAYERS and you know something of the background of the book in which he wrote those prayers for those at Philippi, Ephesus, Colossae… you see his main emphasis in his prayers is on the spiritual Maturity of the believers in difficult and trying times. It is not that he is not caring BUT he has the bigger picture in mind as he wrote to the believers in Colossae, namely,” …so that we may present Every Man COMPLETE/ MATURE in Christ. For this purpose I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.”- Col 1:28-29.
PAUL KNEW THE BIGGER PICTURE is that each saint may be presented before the Lord as mature as is possible for that saint to be. Please note, when the word “saint” is used in1 Cor 1; Eph 1; Col 1 etc …he is speaking to people who are living- not dead! The word simply means those who are set apart for Gods purposes} And this dear friend you and I must ALWAYS keep in mind is, it is not about our deliverance form circumstances but our MATURITY in and Through these circumstances God brings into our lives, and to readily embrace them, and to mature by His Spirit through them. And this we will do, by Gods Grace if we chose to respond His Way to them.
The third thing I am learning:
3. Its not about me, it’s about my GLORIFYING God – in the midst of my circumstances.
When Jesus was in Gethsemane in John 12 we read ,”Father GLORIFY Your Name.” Jesus had asked the Father if there was another way, other than the Cross? But if not, then so be it, but if not then the bottom line was the Father being Glorified through Him. Indeed, this is always THE BOTTOM LINE- the glorifying of our God- Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1Corinthians 10:31.
Jesus had a Preference – if there is another way. But His preference was in subjection to the Priority of the Father- ” Glorify Your Name.” You see it is all right, and indeed some preferences are good, BUT they must ALWAYS be in Subjection to the Great priority of The Father’s Glory. And until the Glory of the Father becomes the Priority of our living- we will not be able to say- “Its not about me…” because in reality we will see everything from a self centered, self orientated perspective rather than from the Bigger picture which is … it’s All about Him.
THESE ARE THREE THINGS THAT THE LORD IS working into my being through my constant sickness. I don’t know I could have worded it like this before until Cindee shared that someone had asked if I was discouraged. At times yes, but only because I have taken my eyes off the Eternal grand perspective and have misplaced that Glorious theme with looking at what it means to me, rather than how much it can mean to Him-as I learn and struggle to respond joyfully to His wonderful dealings in my life.
In reality, the greatest sadness is not being able to travel as much and share of Him who loves me best and His precious and Perfect Word. In the meantime, I am comforted by these three great truths.
1. Its not about my Comfort, it’s about my Conformity to Christ- Rom 8:29
2. Its not about my Deliverance, it’s about my Maturity in Christ- James 1:4
3. Its not about me, it’s about Glorifying Him- John 12:28
I trust this little devotional and sharing of my heart will be an encouragement to you to keep pressing on and what ever difficulties you face ,remember precious and dearly beloved one, … its about your CONFORMITY to Christ, MATURITY in Christ and the GLORIFYING of the Living Christ.
It is when we concentrate on COMFORT, DELIVERANCE AND OURSELVES that we often miss the opportunity to be CONFORMED to His Image, MATURE in Christ and GLORIFY the Risen Christ.
QUESTION FOR YOU AND ME – In the present difficult circumstances some of you find yourself in, which group are you more concerned about; Comfort, Deliverance and your self OR Conformity to Christ, Maturity in Christ and Glorifying Christ. This is my daily battle as I am sure it is for you. The CHOICES we make will determine …what or whom …it is all about. Yes after many years of sickness and weakness I would love to be pain free and enjoy good health and pray for it, But the bigger picture is allowing God to use these trails to bring about that which will glorify Him most in and through me. My great need is …Himself, not healing…though I do ask for it.
We thank God for those of you who have chosen to identify with us in ministering and for the encouraging notes we have received…thank you for your love and concern…pray for our maturity and ability to be more useful to the Master.
Praising God for His love Sovereignty and for Grace to understand His purposes in present tense Trials.
Your Friend and brother