August 7, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

Principle 6

 

“Influence and Adversity”

Marybeth Whalen, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse:

I Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”  (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Have you ever stopped to consider your sphere of influence?  Perhaps you think you don’t really influence anyone, but that is simply not true.  Everyone influences someone.  If you are married, you influence your husband.  If you are a mother, you influence your kids.  If you go to church, you influence the people there.  If you live in a neighborhood, your influence extends to your neighbors.  If you go to a workplace each day, then you influence the people at work.  Never underestimate the truth that others are watching you.  When you think about it that way, you are a woman of great influence! 

 

It is difficult to realize that our influence can be increased through adversity, yet many times that is part of God’s plan to bring about good through all circumstances (Romans 8:28).  We see how three men from the Bible demonstrate this consistently.

 

Joseph: Genesis 39:2 tells us that the Lord was with Joseph.  Though his brothers sold him into slavery, he still prospered in Egypt instead of becoming hopeless.  In addition, he was falsely accused and sent back to prison where he was still able to prosper.  Joseph’s story reminds us that we are never out of God’s reach and we are never without hope.  If God is with us, no one and nothing can stand against us. 

 

Daniel: In Daniel 2:46-49 we see several examples where God enables Daniel to succeed in spite of his situation.  Circumstances that should have led to death led to a place of power and distinction for Daniel.  Every time Daniel stood up when the king’s decree went against God’s, the king’s opinion of him increased.  Several times the king and his advisers tried to kill Daniel, but instead because of God’s favor, the king placed him in charge of more, and respected him for his godly wisdom.  The men he encountered knew without a doubt that the God he served was able to do remarkable things on his behalf!

 

Jesus:  In Luke 11:52-12:1 we see two scenes.  In one, the Pharisees challenge Jesus as they try to “catch” him with their legalistic mindset.  In the other, in spite of the Pharisees’ vendetta against Him, the crowds just keep growing and growing.  Though the religious leadership of the day opposed what He was teaching, the people were drawn to Him.  They saw that He was different and that He offered something they had never had.  The crowds wanted what Jesus had. However, the more people followed Him, the more his opposition grew.  God was bringing about the message of salvation in spite of adversity.

 

Are you facing adversity of some sort today?  It is likely that in this broken world, you are.  Do not lose hope!  God can use the adversity in your life to influence others.  He can shine through you as you cling to Him.  He can gift you, just as He did in these examples, with godly wisdom and clarity that leads to a solution the rest of the world desires.  Through your difficult times, God can build a ministry.  There is salvation and hope that can only be found in God!

 

The interesting element in all three of these examples is that the threats these men faced only strengthened their resolve and their position.  Their influence increased because of the opposition they faced.  Others saw the strength of their character in action and came to trust, respect and admire them.   That is how God works.  His power is made perfect in our weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9)  His economy is opposite of ours. (Isaiah 55:8)  He clearly states that the last shall be first and the first shall be last in Heaven. (Mark 10:31)

 

The truth is that we don’t have to have looks, money, or charisma by the world’s standards to have influence.  We just simply need a heart for God and a trust in Him that transcends our circumstances.  He is with us if we have entered a relationship with Him, and that is all we need.  We don’t have to search for His presence in our lives or strive for His approval.  We already have it—and with that, we can proceed with confidence and change the lives of those around us.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to see You at work in my life, no matter how hopeless my circumstances may seem at the time.  Help me to give You praise and glory in all circumstances and to trust You to bring about good when I can’t see it.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps: 

If you are facing adversity today, look for God’s hope in that situation.  Whatever your situation may be, take note of any good you can find and give thanks to God.

 

If you don’t know the stories of the men I mentioned, learn more about their lives in the Bible today.

 

Reflection Points:   

What can adversity do for me? 

 

Will I let God use the difficulties in my life bring about good results down the road?

 

Power Verses:

Look up the verses mentioned in the devotional today and read them from your Bible.  Read the passage where they are found and not just the individual verse.  Make it a goal this week to look up each of the following passages and allow them to encourage you:

 

I Corinthians 1:25

Romans 8:28

Genesis 39:2

Daniel 2:46-49

Luke 11:52-12:1

Isaiah 55:8

II Corinthians 12:9

Mark 10:31

 

Additional Resources:

At the Feet of Ordinary Women by Angie Conrad

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_atTheFeet.htm

 

Coming Out of the Dark, ETC Corner

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/etcFeb04.htm

 

Sandpaper People by Mary Southerland

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_sandpaperPeople.htm