Tag Archive: struggles


In the introduction to this series we discussed briefly the different types of suffering that a believer will experience over the course of their life here on earth. We understand as believers that suffering, at whatever stage and in whatever capacity we meet it, is a tool designed by God as a directive catalyst toward spiritual maturity.

As we move through this study we will gain valuable insight on exactly how God uses suffering to train, correct, strengthen, and even protect His people. When this study was first introduced to me in its original form some years ago, it changed my perspective on how I view and received adversity in my life. This is extremely important in the process of moving along the continuum towards spiritual maturity.

As we move deeper into this study you will be faced with a multiplicity of scripture. The reason for this is that a life void of scripture is a life void of power. It is the primary priority of every believer to engage in the consistent daily study, intake, digestion, metabolism, and inculcation of Bible doctrine. One of the greatest deficiencies of the modern believer is sound doctrine, resident in their souls. We tend to lean too much toward emotionalism, which has no foundation to support us when we are bearing the burdens of conflict and suffering.

Some of the core concepts in this lesson were originally presented by the late R.B. Thieme Jr., someone I have always respected as a Bible teacher and expositor. Over time, I have revisited these concepts multitudinous times and I have developed a deeper understanding and the concepts have broadened. It is not important who gets credit for this, because God is the author.

Suffering has multiple purposes and these purposes can best be understood in relation to the believer’s spiritual growth or progression towards spiritual maturity. Basically there are five categories of Christian suffering. The first two are primarily associated with spiritual childhood (the stages of spirituality that range from spiritual infancy through spiritual adolescence. These two categories are designed as punitive measures by God. The last three are associated with spiritual adulthood and are designed for the sake of providing blessings for the believer.

It is important to understand that although these categories of suffering are associated with certain stages of spiritual advancement, they can be experienced by any believer at any time. For instance, a spiritually mature believer can find themselves in a state of carnality and suffering as a means of punitive (punishment) and correction; while an immature believer can find themselves suffering for blessing through making good choices.

This study series is designed to examine the multiplicity of problems that believers encounter in the way of suffering and the divine solutions available to them in any stage of suffering. Suffering has purpose and the answer to dealing with suffering is extensively delineated through scripture. We will learn how to engage our struggles without becoming emotional, frenetic, unglued or defeated.

The five categories of Christian suffering are as follows:

Punitive

  1. Self-Induced Misery – the consequences of poor decisions.
  2. Divine Discipline – the move of God to correct poor decisions and wrong actions

For Blessing

  1. Providential Preventive Suffering – Pressure applied by God to prevent you from making the wrong decision or doing the wrong thing (Paul’s Thorn in The Flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7-9)
  2. Momentum Testing – Suffering used as a barometer to gauge the believers progression and impetus towards spiritual maturity
  3. Evidence Testing – Suffering used as evidence of a believer’s maturity and God’s sovereignty

All suffering, in some way is designed by God for the purpose blessing; the circumstances that surround the suffering will provide the clarity that reveals the purpose. The important thing is for every believer to have doctrinal orientation so that they might be able to understand the spiritual implication of the physical manifestations that are contributing to their suffering.

One of the primary problems with a vast majority of Christians is that they use emotion as a barometer and catalyst to move them through their daily encounters. God designed emotions to be a responsive mechanism not the catalyst for problem solving the issues of life. We are to have Bible doctrine inculcated deeply into our heart (the right lobe of the soul) in which a foundation is developed on which the believer can learn to apply the doctrine that they have learned to the circumstances that they encounter.

Suffering functions as a guardian for the adult believer in the same way that a parent functions with as a guardian for a child. Basically the restraints that are used and put in place for children are replaced and enforced by suffering. The dynamic of suffering serves to deplete us of our own resources and it forces us to lean and depend on God for our daily provision. Suffering makes us more pliable for the hands of the Potter.

In the same way that parents are more than disciplining agents for their children, suffering is not simply God’s way of disciplining us. Suffering is a great instructor as it demands your attention. As we are forced to use the provisions of our God, our appreciation and love for Him is strengthened and we become more in tune with His will for our lives.

As we move through this study series we continue to develop a new perspective of suffering as we dismiss both, the proclivity for asceticism and the victim complex. We will learn that when properly engaged, suffering will always catapult us toward our divine destiny.

Contrary to popular beliefs among many believers, suffering is not something to be sought out, there is no intrinsic value in suffering itself. The value is in taking the lesson and the purpose involved in the suffering and maximizing its potential. Suffering should never be a perpetual force in the life of a believer. If it is, there are other elements that must be addressed.

In the same sense, believers are not to take on a victim mentality when faced with suffering and adversity. They should engage it with faith and certainty that a sovereign and omniscient God is in complete control. When the believer uses all of the Divine assets at their disposal, there are no circumstance that can negatively impact their peace and state of happiness. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

Advertisements

 

“Christianity is not a religion of  suffering. Bible doctrine explains suffering, and metabolized , applied doctrine alleviates suffering in the soul. There is no asceticism in the protocol plan of God. Despite false teaching to the contrary, suffering for its own sake is not a legitimate Christian objective.

 

 

 

Tragically, many Christians never learn the doctrine of suffering. To their way of thinking, Adversity creates an aura of spirituality. Presumptuously claiming to follow Christ in His sufferings, they attach importance to their own pain as if it brought them closer to God. They distort their lives to fit a crippling false doctrine. They assume God honors self-sacrifice and commands them to suffer. This malignant idea breeds arrogance, destroys capacity for life, and blasphemes the character of God.” (R.B. Thieme Jr.)

 

 

 

Dr. Rick Wallace

 

 

One of the most crippling forces in this ethereal journey of Christianity is asceticism. When the Christian believer does not understand suffering as it relates to God’s divine plan, they erroneously apply value to being in a state of suffering. Too many believers have adapting suffering as their lot in life. They fail to realize God’s purpose in it for them, so they miss the chance to advance. God has no desire for you to be miserable, but He will use whatever means is necessary to insure your success in fulfilling your designed purpose. Paul endured suffering to insure that he would not be destroyed by his own arrogance (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

 

 

 

Suffering always has a purpose, whether for correction, protection, testing, or blessing. It is not God’s desire to destroy your happiness, but to provide you with the resources and assets that will solidify your happiness irregardless of your circumstances. Inner happiness is not circumstantial, it is based on the immutability of God and your position in His royal family. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

One of the questions that finds its way to me from believers seeking guidance more incessantly than all others is: How do I get past the pain? Within this one question lies many others: How do I move on? How do I forgive? What did I do to deserve this? Where is God when it hurts?

One of the most difficult things to do is recognize the hand of God moving in the midst of your pain. The pain of heartbreak and loss can be crippling, paralyzing, and even blinding. Pain has the power to stop you dead in the middle of your tracks and it has the weight to buckle your knees. Being a person intimately acquainted with pain, I can easily empathize with those that are engaging the enigmatic conundrum of pain. One of the most insightful books I have ever read on pain was a book entitled: :Where is God When it Hurts? ~ by author Phillip Yancy. In addressing this topic I thought it would be appropriate to borrow that title.

As I stated earlier, the ability to sense the presence of God in your circumstances can be stifled by the excruciating force of pain. The loss of a loved one, betrayal or abandonment by a loved one, and many other painful experience can squeeze you so tight that the very breath that sustains you seems to leave your body. It takes all that you have within you to rise each day and face the uncertainties of what was once a very simple and sequacious life. The question arises: Where is God in all of this? When the pain won’t subside and the malevolent force of its merciless cruelty, will not allow you to seek refuge from its pernicious assault, what do you do? When you look for a moment to simply recompose yourself, but the deafening sounds of the cries of your soul will not allow you to rest, how do you maintain? When every breath that you take seems to collapse your chest with wreathing pain, where do you turn? When it seems that God has abandoned you to the chaos of the moment, what is left?

I would simply like to make one point. God has never and will never leave you. It may be dark right now, but Solomon said that God dwells in the darkness. God knows all that you are going through right now. He is perfectly cognizant of the depth of your pain and the severity of your struggle. One day, you will be able to say, like King David, “If it had not been for the Lord, who was on my side, I would have been destroyed.”

My friend, you are not alone. Pain is a part of the process and though it is uncomfortable, it is profitable. Your pain is developing character within you that cannot be obtained through any alternative measure. It is building a resolve of faithfulness and commitment to the cause of the kingdom. Your pain is revealing those in your life whom you can trust, and those whom you can’t. Pain has a way of thinning the air of all of the impostors in your life masquerading as friends. Pain frightens the inauthentic people in your life. It makes them uncomfortable and drives them into the distance. It is disappointing, but very necessary that they leave. They were a distraction and hindrance to your growth and advancement.

Pain draws you nearer to God as you yearn and seek his presence. The most awesome thing to me about being a Christian is the uniqueness of the relationship between the Savior and the saved. You see, only in this faith can the believer say that their Lord has shared in their pain. You may say what you will about God being indifferent to the pain of His people, but what other God can boast that he has literally come down as a man and experienced the same pain? So, when you are going through, know that there is nothing that you are experiencing that our Savior has not already experienced before you. You are not alone. In fact, Christ wants to carry that pain for you. Give it to Him. Dealing with pain is never easy, but with God all things are possible. You are a child of the King. Lift your hands and give God praise, for He will soon reveal the great things that your pain has produced. ~ (Bishop) Dr. Rick Wallace

To support Life Solutions and Rick Wallace Ministries Click Here

October 22, 20l2
Set Free
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32 NIV).

Friend to Friend
For fifteen years, Leeanne was emotionally and verbally abused by her mother. Every day she heard that she was a stupid worthless failure. Her mother told her that she was “ugly” and “fat” and “not good enough.” “No man will ever want you,” she scorned.

Leeanne grew up afraid of women and hating herself. “Why can’t I be different?” she wondered.  She believed her mother’s estimation of her and lived in defeat. Leeanne grabbed attention any way she could, and by the time she was twenty-three, she had three abortions on her medical record. The guilt and shame of those abortions compounded her feelings of worthlessness.

But something amazing happened to Leeanne when she was twenty-four. She accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and became a new creation. She knew that God forgave her the moment she asked – totally and completely. However, Satan continued to remind her of the terrible mistakes of her past.  How could I have killed my children?  What would my friends think if they knew the truth? I can never let anyone know about my past. Some things are simply unforgivable in human eyes.

Leeanne met and married a wonderful Christian man. They began their life of ministry as he pastored a church in a small community. God blessed them with three wonderful children, but still the shame of her past lingered.

“I felt so unworthy of my husband’s love,” she said. “I felt I wasn’t good enough to be his wife.  I never told him about my past. It was a secret that weighed me down.”

Leeanne went to a women’s retreat and picked up one of my books, Your Scars are Beautiful to God.  For the first time, she began to heal from the wounds her mother had inflicted on her little girl heart.  She realized that is was Satan who continued to taunt her with those lies and make her feel as if they were true. Then she did something that really made the enemy mad.  She forgave her mother. Even though her mother had since died, she forgave her as if she were standing before her that very day.

Leeanne imagined Jesus erasing away all her faults, especially the ones that her mother had so maliciously written on the chalkboard of her mind. “All gone,” she said. “I’m set free.”

But there was one more step to Leeanne’s freedom. See, as long as she kept her past a secret, she would never be totally free. “I prayed all day and night for the courage to tell my husband about the three abortions, and I finally did. No one in the world knew about the abortions but me.  I had to tell my husband the secret so Satan could not use it against me any longer.”

“Finally, I did it. I told him the truth. But he did not react the way I imagined he would. He held me in his arms and cried. ‘I can’t believe you have held on to this for so long alone,’ he said.”

Leeanne went on to say…

“I am no longer shameful. I am pure.”

“I am no longer ugly. I am beautiful.”

“I am no longer unlovable. I am dearly loved.”

Leeanne recognized the lies. Leeanne rejected the lies. Leeanne replaced the lies with truth. She is now walking in the truth as a holy, chosen, dearly loved, child of God.

Let’s Pray
Dear LORD,   thank You for setting me free from condemnation.  Thank you for Your grace – receiving the gift I don’t deserve, and for mercy – not receiving the punishment I do deserve.  Thank You for making me a new creation in Christ – pure, holy, cleansed.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

October 16, 2012

Master Designer
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10, New English).

Friend to Friend
Our son was born to be a builder. From the time he could hold a plastic red hammer in his toddler-sized hands, Jered began hammering imaginary nails into the coffee table, fixing everything that was broken in our house, and drawing crayon blueprints of various objects he planned to build. No wooden surface in our home was safe from Jered’s scrutiny or design.

Since my husband enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, he decided to build Jered a miniature workbench beside his own in the garage. Several nights each week, Dan and Jered headed out to the garage to pound and hammer and do what they called “man stuff.” I thought it was cute – a philosophy that would drastically change in the years to come.

I knew we had a true builder on our hands when Jered built a clubhouse inside our garage. And what a clubhouse it was – complete with four walls, a roof, windows and a door, carpeted flooring and a window air conditioning unit – all of which he scrounged from neighbors, dumpsters and piles of discarded wood at construction sites. He built a jewelry box for my birthday and a toy box that held his prized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If we needed storage cabinets in our garage, Jered drew up blueprints and built them. When we moved to a house with small bedrooms, Jered designed and built a queen-sized bunk bed over a built-in desk and book shelves to conserve space in his room. We no longer bought furniture. Jered simply built it. Looking back, I did not realize that those crayon blueprints and plastic tools would pave the way for our son’s career. Today, he owns his own construction business and is a master carpenter and builder.

Jered reminds me of another young man who was destined to become a builder – Jesus. Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter by trade and taught Jesus everything he knew about being a master carpenter. It was not uncommon for the son to carry on his father’s business in those days. I often wonder if Jesus didn’t have a little workbench beside Joseph’s. I am sure Jesus must have followed His daddy around, hammering alongside His father’s true blows. I imagine Joseph had to remove a few stray nails driven by Jesus and even repair a few of his Son’s “jobs.” Did Jesus make a jewelry box for His mother or did He build a piece of furniture that Mary treasured like I treasure everything Jered has ever built for our home? Jesus was and is the ultimate Architect and Builder.

Yes, God is the Master Creator, but His greatest creations are not made of wood or stone. Jesus was and is the creator of eternal masterpieces like you and me. His blueprint for our lives is second to none. His plan is the Word of God and is without flaw or error as it molds us into the image of God – a process that is sometimes painful.

I once promised myself that I would never buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was, buying a town house that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it. Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made, and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.
I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from the walls, and rusty appliances were replaced. We basically gutted the whole place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not happy!

I will never forget the day I woke up to see a toilet sitting at the foot of our bed. It was at that moment I resolved to never set foot in another house that required so much work. I am so thankful God does not feel that way about me.

Honestly, I used to wonder why God didn’t just demolish the old me and build a new one. Then He did just that – through a two-year battle with clinical depression. While sitting at the bottom of that deep, dark and slimy pit, the Father lovingly stripped away old fears and insecurities. From the walls of my heart, He tore the rotten attitudes, undisciplined thoughts and unholy desires that had walked me to the edge of my pit – then pushed me in. He replaced rusty old dreams with new ones and basically, gutted my life to build a new one, a better one, and a stronger one.

I know there are days when the plan of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness, and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm-tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker, the Master Designer, even though our faith is small, and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it – perfect.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Today, girlfriend, set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender, power and victory in His hands. Now that is a great plan.

20 Then Job arose and (Z)tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,

(AA)Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The (AB)Lordgave and theLord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-22, NASB)

22 (AC)Through all this Job did not sin nor did he [m]blame God.

As I sit here preparing for my sister’s funeral I am reminded of a sermon preached at the funeral of another close relative. The preacher was also a relative and he also drew his topic from the above text. The topic was posed as a Question: Can God Trust You With Trouble? Out of all of the multitudinous sermons I’ve heard and preached, this one resonates through my soul fluently and incessantly. What I have learned is my faith is not substantiated by the fruit of my conquered moments. It is not justified by the bounty I have accumulated. My faith is validated and confirmed in the midst of trials and adversity. So today I pose the same question to you: Can God trust you with trouble?

When we look at Job in the whole of this passage we see a man that has lived his life in a way that was pleasing to God. In fact, God gives Job one of the most stellar reviews of anyone in the Bible. Let’s look at how God describes Job in chapter 1.

And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? (Job 1:8, AMP)

God uses words like blameless and upright to describe Job. I want you to take notice of something extremely relevant to the apprehension of this message in full. At the very same time that God is giving Job this sparkling pure review, He is volunteering him for the spiritual and physical hail storm of the ages. “Have you considered my servant Job…” God is saying to Satan if you are looking for someone to test, I volunteer Job. Understand this; if God volunteers you, you are definitely prepared for the moment.

Why would God offer up His best to endure the worst? I will tell you why. In the legal world whenever there is a testimony given the opposition has the right to cross examine. In other words, the testimony is not allowed to simply stand on its merits, it must hold up under cross examination. The same is true with the Christian life. When you make your proclamation of faith you must understand that at some point your testimony will be cross examined by the vicissitudes of life. No matter how tight you walk the line. No matter how often you pray. Irregardless to the depth of your scriptural knowledge, you are going to have to endure the cross examination of the enemy.

For all of Job’s loyalty he reaped disaster. For all of His righteous living he encountered darkness. For every passionate prayer he prayed he was met with news of death and loss. As we move through the book of Job we learn that he did not understand his heartache. He could not lay a finger on its source; however, the one thing he knew is that he had not done anything to deserve it. Wait, maybe he did. When you live within the will of God and walk in your purpose, you put yourself dead in the crosshairs of the enemy. When you make your proclamation of for God I live and for God I die, you become public enemy #1.

The scriptures tell us that in all of this, Job did not sin. Not only did Job refrain from sinning, but he found a way to praise God in the midst of his pain. When I think about this, that same question keeps ringing in the back of my mind: Can God trust you with trouble? When all of the eloquent words in the world can’t rescue you, and the unadulterated force of the enemy is leveled against you and your loved ones, will God be able to trust you with that pain?

When you can’t pray away the loneliness, will you still praise? When you can’t speak away the darkness will you still show gratitude? When in return for your love your friends become your accusers, will you still proclaim the greatness of God? Oh, it’s easy to shout his praise when all is well in your life, but when the phone rings only to bear more bad news, can you still sing of his worth?

Your legacy will be established through the way you engage your trials. Your greatness will be unveiled as you press inexorably toward your mark. Will your story reveal your valor or that you simply folded under the pressure? God wants to trust you with trouble, can he?

Be blessed,

Bishop Rick Wallace

Christian Impact

 

Foundation Scriptures: Hebrews 3,4:1-8; Isa. 26:3,4

Key Verses Is. 26:3

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.” (Isa. 26:3)

 

I have read and believe that a true state of happiness is the most difficult state for a Christian to achieve.  In order to apprehend the veracity in this statement, one must be willing to be honest with themselves; next they must have the ability to detach themselves from the euphoric world in which they have become engrossed.  Allow me to paraphrase: Wake up and smell the coffee! Please understand that I am not saying that it is impossible, I am simply pointing to all that comes against us to rob us of our contentment and joy. We will find out shortly that in Christ all things are possible.

 

Through experiential progression, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how determinedly and agonizingly we strive to escape the pain, heartache and despair that life so opportunistically places at our feet, we will inevitably endure asperity and anguish.  Christians don’t like hearing that.  We want to be told that post salvation life will be a metaphorical cakewalk.  The truth is, we have been promised that there will be a great deal of trials and tribulation.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33)

 

The Greek word used for tribulation here is “thlipsis” which means: pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress.  This word carries the connotation of taking something that is free and unfettered and compressing it with the objective of producing something better.  The same word is used of crushing grapes and olives in a press.  “Thlipsis” is, in essence, spiritual bench pressing, making a stronger and more formidable Christian soldier.  So, our struggles are quite a necessary part of our spiritual progression.

 

This does not mean that inevitable trials and distresses will be easy but they should not produce fear, anxiety, or bitterness.  At the same time Jesus promised tribulation, he also promised peace.  How is this so?

 

“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32)

 

At the time of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, the disciples would all in some way forsake Him and flee to the safety of their homes.  Though they would leave Him, He would not be alone, because the father would be with Him.  We have the same promise.

 

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ “ (Heb. 13:5)

“For He Himself is our peace.” (Eph. 2:14)

 

Therefore, our peace is not in the absence of trials, but in the perpetual presence of our Lord and Savior.  As believers, we tend to paint illusions of grandeur; we have all the right responses to the struggles and vicissitudes we face.  Painting over the realities of this harsh world, we give the appearance that life is all peaches and cream; when in fact, the pressures against those who believe in Christ are a thousand times greater than those of the unbeliever.

 

At first glance, the aforementioned statements present a gloomy and dark picture and may be somewhat discouraging to those who are new in the faith; However, I believe that it is of vital importance that all Christians face the facts.

 

Fact One: We reside as aliens in a world that is under the rule and Lordship of Satan.  We are considered aliens because although we reside here, our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil. 3:20)

 

Fact Two: The world by its very nature is hostile toward Christians.  Christ declared that since the world hated him, it would hate us also.

 

Fact Three: We are dead centered in the midst of a spiritual warfare, the angelic conflict.  We are both, participants and spoils of this war.  There are spiritual forces that are constantly moving against us.

 

In summary, the Christian is constantly facing tremendous, powerful, insidious pressures, and often, the greater your capacity for service, the greater the believer can be used by God, the greater the pressure on every side — the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 

In the beginning, I stated my belief that a true state of happiness is the most difficult state for the Christian to achieve.  I did not say it was unattainable, for it is very much within the grasp of every believer.  Then why is it so difficult to achieve? It is difficult because believers have taken on the worldly view of ephemeral elation, happiness of the moment.  The celerity at which happiness enters and exits the lives of believers is astounding.  To most, happiness is circumstantial, depending on situational occurrences.  This produces instability and ineffectiveness.  God, through His infallible Word, has promised perpetual joy.  This joy is irrespective in nature; it is not dependent upon external circumstances; it does not dwarf in the face of adversity and it burgeons in response to the development of our relationship with Christ.  This joy is closely related to the peace God has promised.  They are always found in close proximity to each other.  Our joy and peace are produced through constant abiding in Jesus Christ.  So allow me to reiterate this truth: Joy and peace are not produced through the circumvention of life’s storms, but are perpetually present despite them.

 

When your mind is fixed on Jesus; when your heart is settled in love, there is no storm, no disappointment; no heartache that can rob you of your joy and peace, even in the midst of the storm.  We are forever coalesced to the Prince of Peace.  “For He Himself is our peace.(Eph 2:14)  The Greek “eirene” (eye-ray-nay) carries the meaning of state of rest, quietness, calmness, an absence of strife, and tranquility.  It also carries a connotation of “being united with” as well as “to bring an end to hostility”.  So in essence, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) is the culmination of “being united with Christ” whereas he “brings an end to hostility”, thereby creating a “state of rest” in which there is “an absence of strife” and a sense of “calmness” and “tranquility”.

 

 

This union with Christ is birthed through the channel of faith.  God wants to provide a place of rest, but it has to be obtained through the promises of His Word, received by faith.  Let us take a look at Hebrew 4:1,2:

 

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it, For indeed the Gospel was preached to us a well as to them; but the Word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

 

 

The first thing we notice here is the conjunctive adverb “therefore”.  This word indicates that there is a preceding clause as well as a subsequent clause.  The subsequent clause is easily identified as it immediately follows the conjunctive adverb, but where is the preceding clause?  The answer is: In the previous chapter.  The original text of the Bible was not separated into chapters or numbered in verse.  This was done later as a means of reference.  So we will have to look beyond the confines of these numbered boundaries.  The preceding clause that completes this statement is found in Chapter 3, verse 19, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

 

In Chapter 3, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that the first generation of recently freed Israelites failed to reach the peace, tranquility, and abundance of the promise land.  The writer quotes a passage from Ps. 95:7-11 that reinforces the cause of this failure to reach the promised place of rest.

 

In Chapter 4 he jumps from the past to the present and exhorts or admonishes the readers not to fall short of the promised rest.

 

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as them; the Word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with “faith” in those who heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)

 

Here lies the very thing that separates those who are able to attain true peace and happiness and those who are not —faith!  They received the promise just as we have, but it did not profit them.  They had the promise, but did not stand on it.  We have thousands upon thousands of promises in the Bible.  It has been estimated that there are in excess of 33,000 promises and of these, over 7,000 promises that God will have a direct and positive impact on those who will trust and believe in Him.

 

The problem with the Israelites in the wilderness was the spiritual ineptitude, the inability to see past their circumstances and trust God to perform that which he had promised.  They received the promise, but it was not encapsulated by faith.  Faith not only empowers, but it protects the promise.  Faith guards against anxiety, doubt, despair, impatience, and fear.

 

We have to face the fact that as Christians, we are going to be tested; we are going to endure trials and tribulations; we will be battered by the storms of the suffering and compounded by the vicissitudes of life; however; God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.  God is saying, “You believed enough to trust Me with salvation, trust Me to provide you with that peace that transcends all understanding.  Trust Me to provide you with that happiness that is inexpressible.  Trust Me to anoint you with the power to fulfill your destiny.”  He is standing before you telling you that His grace is sufficient for you.

 

God has bequeathed us His infallible Word, we only need to take hold of the promises that are before us.

 

When we are able to grasp the understanding that the absence of trials and storms in our lives is not indicative of the potential for joy, peace, and fullness, but rather, our joy, peace and happiness is afforded and sustained despite the presence of life’s trials, we are then able to enter that rest.  We will be able to “count it all joy”.  We will be able to enter into our divine purpose with an unbridled pertinacity, overcoming every trial by faith.

 

As the burdens of this tedious life press us down and drain us of our strength, we can rest in the calm assurance that God’s grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness.  We will be able to withstand the nefarious attacks of Satan while resting under the shadow of the almighty.

 

The Israelites in the wilderness could not enter the rest of the Promised Land because they did not receive the promises of God with faith.  So then faith is a prerequisite for peace, and we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17)

 

It is time to uncover the secrets of God’s Word.  It is time to uncover the secret that says: “If I delight myself in the Lord, he will give me the desires of my heart.”

It is time to uncover the secret that says: “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread.”

It is time to uncover that secret that says: “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.”

That secret that says: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

That secret that says: If I “wait on the Lord and be of good coverage, He will strengthen my heart.”

I’m talking about joy inducing secrets.

The secret that says: “He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”

That secret that says: “When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take care of me.”

That secret that says: “No weapon formed against me, shall prosper.”

I’m talking about shackle loosing secrets.

The secret that says: “My defense is of God who saves the upright in heart.”

The secret that says: “Fear not for I am with you.”

The secret that says: “At my first defense, no one stood with me, but God stood with me, and strengthened me.”

The secret that says: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.”

I invite you to do as I do.  When darkness falls on my life, I call out the name of the Lord.  I can call Him any time of the day.  I will call Him in my moments of weakness.  I will call Him and tell Him about my troubles.  When I call Him, I can say, “Father, I stretch my hands to thee, no other help I know, if thou withdraw thine self from me, where else shall I go.”  I can say, “Precious Lord take my hand lead me on and let me stand.”  I can say, “Guide me over Great Jehovah, a pilgrim through this barren land.  I am weak but thou art mighty hold me with though powerful hand.”  I can say as the Psalmist, “Restore in me the joy of your salvation.

 

I can call Him down in the midst of the storm.  When I call Him, I say, “Lord, I need healing” or can simply speak those two worded prayers: hold me; keep me; protect me; bless me; shelter me; guide me.  No matter what happens I know when I call Him, He answers.  I invite you to join me in this place of rest.

 

May God bless, keep, and prosper you, even as your soul prospers!

 

Sincerely,

Bishop Rick Wallace

 

 

 

Trouble Don’t Last Always!

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalms 30:5)

Allow me to pose a rhetorical question: Where does the trouble, pain and the trials of our life come from?  If you were to survey believers and non-believers alike each would have their own theories.  Some would tell you that suffering is the victims fault.  They will reason that the suffering person must have done something that displeased God.  Believers will confidently point to the just nature of God, which, in their minds, supports their rationale.

Others will insist that pain, trials, and all suffering simply happen by chance.  Their postulation is based on the ostensible sporadic dispersion of pain and suffering.  There are no common denominators, both sinners and the saved, the rich and the poor, white and black, all suffer.  Though all suffering has purpose, nothing is without purpose in God’s divine plan,  I have become convinced that no amount of research will deduce an irrefutable conclusion to discovering the where’s and why’s of suffering .

What we do have, however, is pragmatic and empirical evidence that how we receive and respond to the trials and vicissitudes of life have a direct bearing on our ability to endure.  One of the most influential truths in confronting one’s struggles is that your trials are temporary.  They are impermanent situations that will produce permanent advancement in this ethereal journey called Christianity.  In essence, trouble don’t last always.  The latter statement may not be grammatically adequate to the eyes of some of my academician readers, but I’m giving it to you the same way my mother gave it to me, so I humbly request your tolerance in the matter.

Physiologically, we are all the same, irregardless to race, religion, or economic background.  Yet, there are some who crumble under the pressure of life’s struggles and then there are those who, despite the difficulty of the moment, face their trials head on and overcome them triumphantly.  There is, however, a common denominator in both instances:  For the person who succumbs to the pressure of their struggles, the common thread is despair, the belief that there is no way out.  The person who perseveres has that one thing the latter person does not have -hope!

What is hope?  Merriam-Webster defines hope as thus: to desire with expectation of fulfillment, trust, reliance; desire accompanied by expectation; one that gives promise for the future.  Therefore, hope travels beyond the boundaries of wishful thinking.  Hope, according to Merriam-Webster, is desire conjoined with expectation; the word of focus being expectation.  One may desire what he wills, howbeit, expectation, by its very definition requires prospection, the foundation of that which we desire.  There must be something considered that influences hope.  Thus, hope is never empty desire, but desire married to reasonable expectation.  For the Christian warrior, this reasonable expectation, or faith as we call it, materializes within the fertile soil of trust, trust in God.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Heb. 11:1)

So, the very essence or nature of hope is faith.  Faith is not only the quintessence of hope, it is the sustainer.  We know that faith comes through the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  This means we are to engage the struggles of this life with the promises of God in mind.  We are to always have hope.

To some, hope is that illusive jewel that evades capture at all cost.  There are some who find hope to be an alien concept.  To them, hope is unattainable.  They live each day in the darkness of perpetual despair.  In the absence of hope, one is forced to turn to other coping mechanisms; illicit drug use, sexual deviancy, violent paroxysms and other destructive behaviors.  The absence of hope is despair, and despair chokes the life out of its victims.

I mentioned that hope can be quite illusive to some, for the spirit filled believer, this should not be the case.  Since we walk by faith, the very substance of hope (Heb. 11:1), we should be able to count it all joy as commanded by James (James 1:2), and glory in tribulations (Romans 5:3) as exhorted by Paul.

We are able to count it all joy because we trust and lean on Jesus and not our finite perspicacity of His ultimate plan (Prov. 3:5).  We are able to glory in our tribulations because God has promised to work all things for the good (Rom. 8:28).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight in glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17)

Paul says that our afflictions are momentary, not only that, they are also working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  What you are going through is temporary.  The heartache and pain you feel will pass.  That vehement sense of sorrow and that immobilizing sense of loneliness will be replaced with joy unspeakable.  This, in itself, should produce a double investment of hope; the hope resting in the knowledge that my afflictions produce eternal blessings and reward, as well as the hope that comes in knowing that “Trouble Don’t Last Always”.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The Word of God guarantees that there will be struggles, adversity, and disappointments.  This insures us that problems will arise in the life of every believer.  The direct source of this pain and difficulty becomes irrelevant in the scope of its reality.  Knowing its origin will not eradicate its existence.  We must not become so engrossed in the task of locating the place of blame that we fail to properly respond to the situation itself. So many of us spend enormous amounts of time and energy placing blame, hoping it will release us of the burden of the moment.  The primary focus must be on how we respond to these hardships.  As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to face the difficulty with an inexorable faith in our God to bring us through.

One quick warning; in our understanding of temporary struggles we must not be guilty of “my time thinking”.  Our hope must not exist solely in the belief of immediate extraction by God from the problem.  We operate by God’s time table and should never postulate that he has to respond by ours.  If we only hope for an instantaneous resolution, our faith may be shaken by delay.  We can, however, take solace that in His own time, God will deliver. -”Trouble Don’t Last Always.”

We must also focus our hope on that eternal reward for our faithfulness.

I was once told that the strongest qualities of a Christian shine brightest in the fierce winds of adversity.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  (1 Peter 1:6,7)

You will never realize what’s inside until you are tested.  Testing, through struggles, unveils the genuineness of your faith.  Testing brings the mature Christian to a point of focus; on God and purpose.  The most indestructible mineral and the hardest surface known to man is a diamond.  A diamond is created when a lump of coal is placed under immense pressure.  In the same way, the pressures of life’s many struggles and vicissitudes develops character, integrity, and fortitude, that jewel we know as the Christian soldier.  The question then arises: Can we prosper in the midst of adversity?  The answer is: We must!

Adversity is the fertile soil in which the seed of prosperity must be planted and cultivated.  Satan would have you believe that your trials are meant to destroy you.  He will tell you that God has forgotten about you.  God has promised, however, never to leave nor forsake you.  Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,  but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  Proverbs 24:16 informs us that the righteous man can fall and rise again, meaning that even when our storm is of our own doing, we can still rise and recover.

The promises of God’s Word should produce a transcending peace that consumes all anxiety, stress, and fear.

We should be able to walk in the strength of knowledge that our trials are temporary -Trouble Don’t Last Always!

We must process a non-oscillating faith in God to deliver.  Satan will use our wavering faith as an orifice to come in and totally dismantle our hope.  So, when the lone winds of suffering creep into your paradise -count it all joy.  Put on the whole armor of God and prepare to take a stand.  Rev. 2:10 says -”Do not fear any of those things you are about to suffer.  Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into the prison, that you may be tested and you will have tribulation ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”  Let us fist take notice of the word “indeed”; indeed implies without question that trials will come.  Secondly, the term “ten days”; which should not be interpreted literally, but is symbolic of a relatively short period -Trouble Don’t Last Always!  We are to be faithful, even until death.  This sounds like a directive of no surrender; no retreat.  We are to focus our hope on that crown of life and press toward the mark.

The story of Job is brought to remembrance.  There are not too many that have suffered to the extent of my man Job.  I’m sure that while he tarried under the pernicious attacks of Satan, he wondered when or if it would ever end, but through an unrelenting and unwavering faith, he found that, trouble don’t last always!

I can envision David, surrounded and outnumbered, crying out to God, don’t hide your face from me.  Though the odds are stacked against him, he stands in faith, knowing, trouble don’t last always!

As I take mental flight, I can see Mary and Martha weeping because of the untimely death of their brother, Lazarus.  I can imagine the overwhelming grief and vehement sense of helplessness. However, I see Jesus standing at the opening of the tomb and speaking the words: Lazarus, come forth!  At their darkest hour, Mary and Martha learned trouble don’t last always!

I can even see Joseph, traded into slavery by his brothers, living as a slave and then as a prisoner, but Joseph remained steadfast, a bedrock of faith.  In time, he was promoted to the second highest post in all the land of Egypt.  After the death of his father, Jacob, he addressed his brothers with courage and forgiveness.  He said to them, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  He was ultimately saying, I’ve been through the storm and rain, but I made it.  You see, trouble don’t last always!

Understand this; the aforementioned faith warriors understood something about this faith walk.  They had an experiential and erudite understanding that in order to obtain the prize, you must travel through the storm.  In apprehension of the prize, they experienced the reality that trouble don’t last always!

From this very thing we extract hope.  A hope that assures us that weeping endures for a night (temporary) but joy comes in the morning. -Trouble Don’t Last Always!

We rest in a hope that is anchored in the fact that our light and momentary afflictions are weighing for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  It is an domitable hope that is sustained and substantiated in the fact that God works all things for the good.

So, as each of you face the vicissitudes and struggles of this life, anchor yourself in the same hope as the faith warriors of times past.  Focus on the outstretch hands of God.  Tell yourself that this trial is just a testing of my faith.  You look at yourself in the mirror and say, trouble don’t last always!

Feeling lonely?  Trouble don’t last always!

Feeling overwhelmed?  Trouble don’t last always!

Facing an uphill struggle?  Trouble don’t last always!

God’s grace is sufficient for you.  Trust and believe.  Live each day to the fullest.  Live a life grounded in hope and the efficacious power of passionate and effectual prayer.  Fulfill your destiny!

God bless

Bishop Rick Wallace

Author: The Invisible Father

%d bloggers like this: