God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble and to teach him valuable truths that he would never otherwise have learned. When Paul accepted this hardship, God used it in powerful ways. God also allows trials to come into our lives to stretch our faith, to deepen our love for Him, and to make us more cognizant of the needs of others. Are you allowing this process to take place in your life?
Most people have only heard the Sunday School version of Esther, where she is described in almost perfect, fairy tale terms. But Esther’s life was far from perfect. Like all of us, she started out struggling, learning and growing in her faith. In time, God took that imperfect young girl and used her in great ways. And in that story, we all find the story of our own lives, and we can thank God that He still uses imperfect people like us!
It is amazing to see how a skilled artist can take broken pieces of glass and carefully assemble them into a stained glass window to create a beautiful work of art. This reminds us how we were once broken and shattered by sin, but Jesus restored us into something beautiful by His grace, and now our lives can reflect His glory!
We all spend our lives searching for many things, and what we don’t realize is, our deepest search is a craving for what was lost in the fall of man. But that missing piece can only be found in one place, and that is in Christ. While the world can satisfy our longings for a short while, only Christ can give us the grace, love and peace we so desperately need. Has your search led you to Christ?
Human reasoning would have us believe that if God really loved us, He would protect us from all pain, heartache and suffering. It is vital, then, that we do not face the hardships of life with human reasoning, but rather, with the mind of Christ. What attitude did Christ have when He endured all the physical and emotional suffering that came His way, and what can we learn by having that same attitude?
No one likes to suffer. We don’t even like minor inconveniences. But the Bible makes it clear that suffering is part of God’s plan for the Christian life. So the real question is, how will you respond to suffering when it does come? Peter gives us a blueprint to follow and shows us that there are actually some surprising benefits that can come from our moments of suffering.
Although we may know the truth, suffering and trials can sometimes give us a kind of spiritual amnesia and cause us to turn inward and become self-focused. In those times, we need to be reminded that God has not abandoned us, and that there is still a bigger mission beyond our present circumstances. If you are in a place like that right now, this message will bring clear direction and renewed hope to you!
Have you ever looked down on someone because of their sinful lifestyle? What that actually reveals is that we do not understand what awful sinners we ourselves are. Today we look at a man who didn’t think he was a sinner, and a woman who knew she was, and how her awareness of her great sin caused her to express extravagant thankfulness to Jesus.
If a prisoner served his time and was set free, it would be unthinkable for him to go back and live in his prison cell. Yet many Christians who have been set free by Jesus continue to live as prisoners to their past. Jesus said if we know the truth, it would set us free, and we would be truly free. Are you saved, but still living under a cloud of guilt and fear because of your past sin? Jesus invites you to be set free today!
The world puts all kinds of labels on us to define who we are: smart or dumb, pretty or ugly, popular or unpopular, successful or failure. The truth is, all of those labels are lies! We are not defined by any of those things. Jesus met many people whose lives were shaped and limited by the negative labels society had placed on them, but His transforming power set them free from those lies and gave them a brand new identity in Him. Don’t allow other people to define you. Find your identity in Christ alone!
We all have regrets and wounds in our past. They are a part of life. But if those things are not dealt with in the right way, they can become toxic over time, damaging our relationships, hindering our decisions, and destroying our effectiveness for Christ. The truth is, if we don’t deal with our past, it will dominate our present and dictate our future. We learn from the life of Joseph that if we are willing to surrender our past hurts to God’s control, those chains will be broken, and we will be empowered to live out the mission He has for us.
If someone bought you a new car, paid for it in full, and gave you the title, would you go to the dealership every month to make payments on it? Of course not! And yet that is exactly what we often do as Christians. Our sin debt has been paid in full and our record has been wiped completely clean, but we continue to live as though we’re guilty in God’s eyes. Once you understand the truth about God’s forgiveness, you will see your standing before Him in a whole new light, and you will be free to live your life for Him without being crippled by the guilt of your past!