It is God's abiding love that keeps us attached in grace and purpose for His glory. We, alone, would quickly fall away into our sin, and forget who we are in Christ, just as the Israelites did throughout the O.T., especially in Judges, chapter two. The Holy Spirit is the glue who keeps us stuck together. Justification means that not only has God forgiven and accepted us, He has covered us with the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, we are pleasing to God.We who are justified by faith now have peace with God. Thus we are to rejoice in our hope (of what He did for us and Heaven to come), and rejoice and glory in troubles. The abundant love of God was shown to us when He reconciled us to Himself, by the death of his Son, while we were still unworthy sinners and His "enemies." And, to top it off, God assures us of our salvation, and motivates us to rejoice and glory in Him, no matter what happens or what we go through. Because, He has gone through more.
· As pastors, we must know what it means to rejoice in suffering (Phil. 3:10 ff; Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 10:13; James 1:2-4)! We must be able to surrender our attitudes and experiences to Christ, whatever the cost, even if it means suffering. We must be committed to surrendered prayer, bringing all problems, joys, and concerns to the Lord. We must be willing to be mentored by a more mature and experienced Christian.
· Surrender your pride and self-determination. This will help give you the desire to grow and mature in the faith, and recognize that Christianity is not a spectator sport.
· Repentance does not save us; repentance is only the realization of our salvation. We must place our focus on the cause (Christ), not the effect (what we do), then the effect will flow from a natural desire, and create growth and maturity.
· We need not be frustrated when we have Christ. Our confidence is in Christ and His character-not self-esteem, but Christ-esteem!
· True service is doing something for another which we do not usually like to do (2 Cor. 12:15). Christ no longer will hold our sins against us. Our identity is who we are in Christ, and nothing else.
· Once we fully realize that the love of Christ has been poured out in us, then we can identify ourselves in Him. We will be able to identify Christ's interests in others over against our own interests (John 15:3; Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 9:22).
· Our faith must not be guided by our desires or our needs. When we think we are important and special and others are not, we are of no use to Him. All we do is isolate ourselves. God calls us to be salt and light. Our goal is not to serve, but to be His child, to keep our eyes on Him, to keep our mind on Him,and that devotion will lead us to serve.Trials work in favor for us (Rom. 8:28) and not against us. They actually promote spiritual growth!
· Trials build faith and character, allowing us to be better used to glorify God. Trials are not a personal attack against us; but, rather, they allow God to work in us in a deep way, to be of better use to Him for others.
· Faith helps us love! Love is that Christ died in our place. All this happened in God's timing (John 17:1; Acts: 2:23; Gal. 4:4); thus, we need to trust God in His timing and not ours.
· Christ will meet us in our deepest need. The love that flows from us is not from us, but from God through His Spirit (1 Cor. 13). We cannot prove love; we can only respond and obey it. Love is not from our nature, but from the work of the Spirit within us. The response is to put Jesus first (John 15:12; 21:17; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John: 7) and let Him work in our lives. Thus, God will bring us to people and situations we do not normally like so we may learn true love. Love is also disciplined, constant, and spontaneous.
· Discipleship is our response to His love, to be passionate and obedient to our Lord.
· We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours!
1. What frustrates you in life? How will faith help you not to be frustrated?
2. How can you show that faith and obedience are fruits-proofs, not instigators of the Christian life?
3. Our confidence is in Christ and His character, not in self-esteem. So, how do you apply this "Christ-esteem," that your self-worth is not about who you are, rather who you are in Christ?
4. How can you identify Christ's interests in others over your own interests? How does faith help you in this?
5. A lot of Christians think bad things happen only to those in sin or those that have little faith, that if you have enough faith, you will only receive blessings. Is this Biblical? If so, why? If not, why? Consider Scripture, not the teachings of other people!
6. How can you come to see trials and problems as means of allowing God to work in you in a deep way to be of better use to Him, and for others? What do you gain when you have gone through a trial?
7. Why does God need to use suffering to build us up?
8. The response of love is to put Jesus first. So, how can you do this?
9. How can you learn to be better and have more character by acknowledging and learning when God brings you to people and situations you do not like?
© 1992, 2001, completely updated and revised 2004 R.J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word http://www.intothyword.org/