January 30, 2008

Standing Firm in the Storms of Life

Part 2

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s Truth

We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 6:6 NLT)

 

Friend to Friend

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God for every storm we will ever face. Every storm is an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see them as He sees them - opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms. How can we face the storms of life?

 

The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with vicious storms and harsh realities. In his writings to the church at Corinth Paul offers five truths that - when applied - will enable us to stand firm in the storm.

 

Truth 1: We must live a pure life.

Truth 2: We must seek understanding.

Truth 3: We must learn to be patient.

Truth 4: We must practice kindness.

 

When bad things happen, we cry out in desperation for someone to care! More people come to Christ during a crisis than at any other time. Kindness is simply compassion at work, love in action. We need to constantly refocus our success-targeted eyes, crucify each self-promoting heart motive and look for the needs around us. The choice to minister that is, in any way, made on the basis of self-promotion is worth nothing and becomes an affront to the very heart of God. I often wonder just how amazed we will be when we get to Heaven and find the unlikely, unknown but devoted servants of God exalted above all others – rewarded for their quiet and often unseen acts of kindness.

 

A preacher once described his mother as a woman of great compassion. One day he came home from school to find her sitting at the table with an elderly, homeless man. Apparently, she had gone shopping, met the man on the way and invited him home for a warm meal. During their conversation the visitor said, “I wish there were more people in the world like you.” The woman said quickly, “Oh there are! You just have to look for them!” The old man simply shook his head and smiled, “But lady, I didn’t need to look for you. You looked for me!”

 

Needs constantly parade before us day after day but we don’t see them! We are too busy to see the broken lambs He sends our way. We view them as intrusions, annoying interruptions in our very important schedule. These uninvited and unscheduled guests may very well be divine appointments sent by God. The warning of Hebrews 13:2 is a haunting one. “Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it.” How many angels have we missed because we were too busy!

 

Perhaps we fail to be kind simply because we don’t care enough. A little girl was sent by her mother on an errand. She was gone far too long! When the little girl returned, the mother demanded an explanation. The little girl said that on her way she had met a friend who was crying because she had broken her doll. “Oh,” said the mother, “then you stopped to help her fix her doll?” “Oh, no!” replied the little girl. “I stopped to help her cry!” We are never more like our Father than when weathering relationship storms with kindness and love. Jesus says that if we really love God we will really love each other. Kindness and compassion are directly related to the health of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The truths in 1 John 4:20 are clear, “If people say, "I love God," but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars. Those who do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have never seen.” We can be very religious and not care enough! Kindness does not look for reasons! Compassion doesn’t ask for limitations. It searches for opportunity! .

 

Truth 5: We must experience and practice love.

We not only need God in the midst of the storm, we need each other! The essence of love is tested within the context of relationships. Paul writes that we must “prove” ourselves by being patient and kind. How we handle relationships exhibits the depth and validity of God’s love at work in and through us.

 

Ephesians 4: 2-3 Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. (NCV)

 

Learning to build healthy relationships is crucial to a fulfilled life. Someone will always be disappointed, disgruntled, or displeased with us. We have a choice to make – to honor God by waging peace or venerate Satan himself by entertaining conflict in relationships. God is committed to unity. If we don’t make “every effort” to eradicate discord, a storm may come to help us do so.

 

I have a friend who raises and works with horses. She once explained how a group of thoroughbred horses confronts an enemy. They stand in a circle, facing each other and, with their back legs, kick out at the enemy. Donkeys do just the opposite, facing the enemy and kicking each other! Enough said.

 

When golf balls were first manufactured, their covers were smooth. Golfers soon discovered that after a ball had been roughed up a bit they were able to get more distance out of it. Manufacturers then began producing golf balls with dimpled covers. Life is a lot like that. It takes some rough spots to make us go our farthest. It takes some storms to teach us that God is faithful and will provide the strength to stand firm. The Apostle Paul knew all about storms. As a fully devoted follower of Christ, Paul was despised, slandered, mistreated, abused and poor. He had every right to be angry and distressed but instead chose joy. “We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10 NLT) Because joy is a deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control, it only stands to reason that the highest joy will come through the greatest pain. But that only happens when we choose the right attitude toward pain. Here it is!

 

James 1:2-3 Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (NLT)

 

When was the last time you threw a party to celebrate the trials and storms in your life? God’s ways are higher than our ways and most human reactions are in direct opposition to the paradoxical ways of God. Honestly, there are times when what He has asked me to do simply does not make sense – to me. And there we find the problem. Faith is a matter of blind obedience, not human logic. At the heart of every storm is victory – waiting to be claimed!

 

What storm is raging in your life today? What step do you need to take in order to experience His strength for that storm? Your Father stands ready to meet you in your darkest hour. He longs to wrap His arms around you until the winds die down and the waves are stilled. Right now – surrender. Celebrate the storm that dashed your battered life on the shores of His unyielding love.

 

Let’s Pray

Lord, thank You for being with me every step of the way – especially in the storms of life. I praise You for Your sufficiency in my life and for Your love that never fails. I pray that I will learn how to stand firm in the storms ahead and grasp the lesson each storm holds. I want to please You, Father. Change my comfortable heart to an obedient heart, a heart that is always ready to praise You – no matter what!

In Jesus’ name

Amen

 

Now it’s Your Turn

When you face a difficult situation, where do you turn first for help?

What is your attitude about the storms in your life? How does that attitude need to change?

Examine your life for any sin that is blocking God’s power. How can you eliminate that barrier?

How can you best prepare for the storms ahead?

 

More from the Girls

I hate storms, but have finally come to terms with the fact that they are certain. So is God’s deliverance. Sometimes He delivers us from the storm and other times He delivers us in the storm. Either way, God is with us. Need encouragement? Visit my new website to find free resources that will help you weather the storms in your life. “Strength for the Storm” is a CD that will guide you through the steps of storm survival.

 

 

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

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