CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE: TRANSFORMED BY TROUBLE

“It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the Gold of Godliness.” – Madame Guyon.

GOD has a purpose behind every problem. (Read that thrice for digestion).

He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, He depends more on circumstances to make us like JESUS than He depends on our reading the Bible.

Life is a series of problems. Everytime you solve one, another is waiting to take it’s place. Not all of them are big, but all are significant in GOD’S growth process for you.

GOD uses problems to draw you closer to Himself. We learn things about GOD in suffering that we cannot learn any other way. Problems force us to look to GOD and depend on Him instead of ourselves.

“You will never know that GOD is all you need until GOD is all you’ve got.”

Because GOD is sovereign in control, accidents are just incidents in GOD’S plan for you. Because everyday of your life was written on GOD’S calendar before you were born, everything that happens to you has spiritual significance. EVERYTHING!

UNDERSTANDING THIS SCRIPTURE ROMANS 8:28-29

  • “We know”: Our hope in difficult times is based on the truths that GOD is in complete control of our universe and that He loves us.
  • “That GOD causes”: There’s a grand designer behind everything. There’s a Master plan. GOD can never make a mistake- because He is GOD.
  • “Everything”: GOD’S plan for your life involves all that happens to you- including your mistakes, your sins and your hurts. GOD can bring good out of the worst evil. He did it at Calvary.
  • “To work together”: The events of your life work together in GOD’S plan. If you will give GOD all your distasteful, unpleasant experiences, He will blend them together for good.
  • “For the good”: Much of what happens in our world is evil and bad, but GOD specializes in bringing good out of it. GOD’S purpose is greater than our problems, our plan and even our sin.
  • “Of those who love GOD and are called”: This promise is only for GOD’S children. It’s not for everyone.
  • “According to His purpose”: What is that purpose? It is that you “become like His Son.” Everything GOD allows to happen in your life is permitted for that purpose.

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will be in your darkest days.”

BUILDING CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER

We are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity. Every problem is a character building opportunity and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fibre.

What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you.

Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.

When you have been refined by trials, people can see JESUS’ reflection in you.

RESPONDING TO PROBLEMS AS JESUS WOULD.

  • Remember that GOD’S plan is good: It is vital that you stay focused on GOD’S plan, not your pain or problem. “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at CHRIST, you’ll be at rest.” – Corrie Boom.
  • Your focus will determine your feelings. The secret of endurance is to remember that your pain is temporary but your reward will be eternal.
  • Rejoice and give thanks: 1st Thessalonians 5:18. GOD wants you to thank Him that He will use your problems to fulfill His purpose. Philippians 4:4.
  • Refuse to give up: Be patient and persistent. Character building is a slow process..

You know you are maturing when you begin to see the hand of GOD in the random, baffling, and seemingly pointless circumstances of life.

DON’T GIVE UP, GROW UP!

DAY TWENTY FIVE… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: There is a purpose behind every problem. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Romans 8:28. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What problem in your life has caused the greatest growth in you? 🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: TRANSFORMED BY TRUTH.

The truth transforms us.

Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth. Sanctification requires revelation. The Spirit of GOD uses the Word of GOD to make us like the Son of GOD. To become like JESUS, we must fill our lives with His Word.

The Bible is far more than a doctrinal guide book. GOD’S Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptation, infuses hope, releases power, cleanses our minds, brings into being and guarantees our future. You cannot live without the Word of GOD!

Never take it for granted. God’s Word is the spiritual nourishment you must have to fulfill your purpose.

ABIDING IN GOD’S WORD.

In day-to-day living, abiding in GOD’S Word includes three activities:

  • You must accept its authority. The Bible must become the authoritative standard for your life: The compass you rely on for direction, the counsel you listen to for making wise decisions and the benchmark you use for evaluating everything. The Bible must always have the first and last word in your life.
  • You must assimilate it’s truth. It’s not enough to just believe the Bible; you must fill your mind with it so that the Holy Spirit can transform you with the truth. Five ways to do this: You can receive it, read it, research it, remember it and reflect on it. Serious meditation (reflection) on GOD’S truth is a key to answered prayers and the secret to successful living.
  • You must apply it’s principles. Receiving, reading, researching, remembering and reflecting on the Word are all useless if you fail to put them to practice. Without implementation, all our Bible studies are worthless. “The truth will set you free, but first it may make you miserable.”

The best way to become a “doer of the Word” is to always write out an action step as a result of your reading or studying or reflecting on GOD’S Word.

QUESTION: What has GOD already told you to do in His word that you haven’t started doing yet?

“The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” -D. L. Moody.

DAY TWENTY FOUR… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: The truth transforms you. VERSE TO REMEMBER: John 8:31-32. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What has GOD already told you in His word that you haven’t started doing yet?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE: HOW WE GROW.

GOD wants you to grow up.

Our heavenly Father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of JESUS CHRIST.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow and persist in growing.

Discipleship- the process of becoming like CHRIST- always begins with a decision.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or destroy you, but either way, they will define you.

We become whatever we are committed to. Every choice has eternal consequences, so you had better choose wisely.

GOD’S PART AND YOUR PART.

Christlikeness is the result of making Christlike choices and depending on His Spirit to help you fulfill those choices. Once you decide to get serious about becoming like CHRIST, you must begin to act in new ways. Philippians 2:12-13;4;5.

CHANGING YOUR AUTOPILOT. To change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief and every action is prompted by an attitude.

There’s a better and easier way: change your autopilot- the way you think.

The first step in spiritual growth is to start changing the way you think. Change always starts first in the mind.

The way you think determines the way you feel and the way you feel influences the way you act.

To be Christlike, you must develop the mind of CHRIST. You take on CHRIST’S outlook and appearance. Two parts of doing this: – Stop thinking immature thoughts (self-centered and self-seeking). – Like JESUS, start thinking maturely (focusing on others, not yourself).

The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character.

Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy, but a relationship and a lifestyle.

Thinking of others is the heart of Christlikeness and the best evidence of spiritual growth.

DAY TWENTY THREE… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: It is never to late to start growing. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Romans 12:2b. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What is one area where you need to stop thinking your way and start thinking GOD’S way?🤔🤔🤔

PURPOSE THREE: YOU WERE CREATED TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO: CREATED TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

You were created to become like CHRIST.

From the very beginning, GOD’S plan has been to make me like His Son, JESUS. This is your destiny and third purpose of your life.

The full ‘image and likeness’ of GOD looks like JESUS CHRIST! GOD doesn’t want you to become a god; He wants you to become godly- taking on His values, attitudes and character.

GOD’S ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like CHRIST. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not my personality. Every time you forget that character is one of GOD’S purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances.

But GOD is not a servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality. Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for GOD’S purposes not vice versa. GOD gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven.

GOD’S SPIRIT WORKING IN YOU.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce CHRIST like character in me.

This process of changing us to be more like JESUS is called Sanctification, and it is the third purpose of your life on earth.

You cannot produce the character of JESUS by your own spirit. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes GOD wants to make in our lives.

Christlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow CHRIST to live through us.

  • You must cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work. Obedience unlocks GOD’S power. GOD waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit and it is how your character develops. While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth.
  • GOD uses His Word, people and circumstances to mold us- All three are indispensable for character development. GOD’S people provide the support we need to grow, GOD’S Word provide the truth we need to grow, and circumstances provide the environment we need to practice Christlikeness. If you study and apply GOD’S Word, connect regularly with other believers and learn to trust GOD in different circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like JESUS.
  • Becoming like CHRIST is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life. You are a work in progress.

GOD is more interested in what you are than in what you do.

We are human beings, not human doings.

GOD is much more concerned about your character than your career, because you will take your character into eternity, but not your career.

You must make a counter culture decision to focus on becoming more like JESUS. This is your greatest privilege, your immediate responsibility and your ultimate destiny.

DAY TWENTY TWO… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: You were created to become like CHRIST. VERSE TO REMEMBER: 2nd Corinthians 3:18. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: On what area of your life do you need to ask for the Spirit’s power to be like CHRIST today?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE: PROTECTING GOD’S FAMILY.

It’s your job to protect the unity of your church.

Unity is the soul of fellowship. Destroy it, and you rip the heart out of CHRIST’S Body.

HOW ARE WE TO DO THIS?

  • Focus on what we have in common, not our differences. We must stay focused on what matters most- learning to love each other as CHRIST has loved us and His church. Nothing on earth is more valuable to GOD than His church.
  • Be realistic in your expectations. Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity. Maturity is living with the tension. We must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections. Reconciliation, not running away, is the road to stronger character and deeper fellowship.
  • Choose to encourage rather than criticize. Anytime we spend comparing or criticizing other believers is time that should have been spent building the unity of our fellowship. Remember, other christians, no matter how much you disagree with them, are not the real enemy.
  • Refuse to listen to gossip. Listening to gossip is like accepting stolen property and it makes you just as guilty of the crime. People who gossip to you will also gossip about you. They cannot be trusted.
  • Practice GOD’S method for conflict resolution.
  • Support your pastors and leaders. We protect fellowship when we honour those who serve us by leading.

DAY TWENTY ONE… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: It is your responsibility to protect the unity of your church. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Romans 14:19. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What are you personally doing to protect the unity in your church family right now?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER TWENTY: RESTORING BROKEN FELLOWSHIP.

Relationships are always worth restoring.

Paul taught that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity.

Because you were formed to be a part of GOD’S family and the second purpose of your life on earth is to learn how to love and relate to others, peacemaking is one of the most important skills you can develop.

HOW TO RESTORE A RELATIONSHIP.

  1. Talk to GOD before talking to the person: All your relationships would go smoother if you would just pray more about them. No one can meet all of your needs except GOD.
  2. Always take the initiative: It Doesn’t matter whether you are the offender or the offended. GOD expects you to make the first move. Go to them first. Delay only deepens resentment and makes matters worst. In conflict, time heals nothing; it causes hurt to fester. Acting quickly also reduces the spiritual damage to you.
  1. Sympathize with their feelings: Use your ears more than your mouth. Focus on their feelings, not the facts. Begin with sympathy, not solutions. The cliche is true: People don’t care what we know until they know we care.
  2. Confess your part of the conflict: If you are serious about restoring relationship, you should begin with admitting your own mistakes or sin. Also ask GOD to show you how much of the problem is my fault. Ask, “Am I the problem? Am I being unrealistic, insensitive, or too sensitive?” Confession is a powerful tool for reconciliation. Accept responsibility for your mistake and ask for forgiveness.
  1. Attack the problem, not the person: You can fix the problem if you consumed with fixing the blame. You will never get your point across by being cross, so choose your words wisely. “In resolving conflicts, how you say it is as important as what you say.” You are never persuasive when you are abrasive.
  2. Co-operate as much as possible: Peace always has a price tag. Sometimes it costs our pride; it often costs our self-centeredness.
  1. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution: Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem. We can reestablish a relationship even when we are unable to resolve our differences. GOD expects unity, not uniformity and we can walk arm-in-arm without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue. Reconciliation means you bury the hatchet, not necessarily the issue.

But when you work for peace, you are doing what GOD would do. That’s why GOD calls peacemakers His children. Matthew 5:9.

DAY TWENTY… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: Relationships are worth restoring. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Romans 12:18. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Who do you need to restore a broken relationship with today? 🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER NINETEEN: CULTIVATING COMMUNITY.

Community requires commitment.

Only the Holy Spirit can create real fellowship between believers, but He cultivates it with the choices and commitment we make.

It takes both GOD’S power and our effort to produce a loving christian community.

  • Cultivating community takes honesty. When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other.
  • Cultivating community takes humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.
  • Cultivating community takes courtesy. Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other’s feelings and being patient with people who imitate us. The fellowship of the church is more important than any individual.
  • Cultivating community takes confidentiality.
  • Cultivating community takes frequency.

Fellowship requires an investment of time.

NINE CHARACTERISTICS OF BIBLICAL FELLOWSHIP.

  1. We will share our true feelings(authenticity),
  2. Encourage each other (mutuality),
  3. Support each other (sympathy),
  4. Forgive each other (mercy),
  5. Speak the truth in love (honesty),
  6. Admit our weaknesses (humility),
  7. Respect our differences (courtesy),
  8. Not gossip (confidentiality), and
  9. Make group a priority (frequency).

DAY NINETEEN… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: Community requires commitment. VERSE TO REMEMBER: 1st John 3:16. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: How can you cultivate today the characteristics of real community in your small group and your church?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: EXPERIENCING LIFE TOGETHER.

Life is meant to be shared.

GOD intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN REAL AND FAKE FELLOWSHIP.

  • In real fellowship, people experience authenticity. Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection and being hurt again. Why would anyone take such risk? Because it is the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy.
  • In real fellowship, people experience mutuality. Mutuality is the act of giving and receiving. It’s depending on each other. You are not responsible for everyone in the Body of CHRIST, but you are responsible to them. GOD expects you to do whatever you can to help them.
  • In real fellowship, people experience sympathy. Sympathy is not giving advice or offering quick, cosmetic help; sympathy is entering in and sharing the pain of others. Sympathy meets two fundamental human needs: the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated.

The simplest levels of fellowship are the fellowship of sharing and the fellowship of studying GOD’S Word together. A deeper level is the fellowship of serving, as when we minister together on mission trips or mercy projects. The deepest, most tense level is the fellowship of suffering, where we enter into each other’s pain and grief and carry each other’s burdens.

Real fellowship happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives.

  • In real fellowship, people experience mercy. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice. You can’t have fellowship without forgiveness. Everytime you understand and affirm someone’s feelings, you build fellowship. GOD’S mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others.

Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behaviour. Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt overtime. Trust requires a track record.

You were created for community.

DAY EIGHTEEN… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: You need others in your life. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Galatians 6:2. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What one step can you take today to connect with another believer at a more genuine, heart-to-heart level?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: A PLACE TO BELONG.

You are called to belong, not just believe.

We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family and none of us can fulfill GOD’S purposes by ourselves.

While my relationship to CHRIST is personal, GOD never imtends it to be private. In GOD’S family you are connected to every other believer and we will belong to each other for eternity.

Following CHRIST includes belonging, not just believing. We are members of His Body- the church. The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. You discover your role in life through your relationships with others.

Membership in the family of GOD is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The church is GOD’S agenda for the world . The church is indestructible and will exist for eternity.

WHY YOU NEED A CHURCH FAMILY.

  • A church family identifies you as a genuine believer.
  • A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. John 3:16; 1st John 3:16.
  • A church family helps you develop spiritual muscle.

The Body of CHRIST needs you: GOD has a unique role for you to play in His family. This is called your “ministry” and GOD has gifted you for this assignment. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

You may also have a wider ministry, but that is in addition to your service in a local body. JESUS has not promised to build your ministry; He has promised to build His church. You will share in CHRIST’S mission in the world. The church is GOD’S instrument on the earth. A church family will help keep you from backsliding.

It’s all in the church.

He created the church to meet your five deepest needs:

  • A purpose to live for.
  • People to live with.
  • Principles to live by.
  • A profession to live out.
  • And power to live on.

Worship helps you focus on GOD; fellowship helps you face life’s problems; discipleship helps fortify your faith; ministry helps find your talent; evangelism helps fulfill your mission.

There’s nothing else on the earth like the church! The christian life is more than just commitment to CHRIST. GOD wants you to love real people, not ideal people. You are called to love imperfect sinners just as GOD does.

You become a Christian by committing to CHRIST, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.

DAY SEVENTEEN… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: You are called to belong, not just believe. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Romans 12:5. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Does your level of involvement in your local church demonstrate that you love and are committed to GOD’S family?🤔🤔🤔

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: WHAT MATTERS MOST.

Life is all about love.

Because GOD is love, the most important lesson He wants you to learn in earth is how to love. Of course GOD wants you to love everyone, but He is particularly concerned that you learn to love others in His family. This is the second purpose of your life.

JESUS said, our love for each other- not our doctrinal beliefs- is our greatest witness to the world.

GOD wants you to be in regular, close fellowship with other believers, so you can develop the skill of loving. Love cannot be learned in isolation.

Through fellowship we learn three important truths.

THE BEST USE OF LIFE IS LOVE

Love should be your top priority, primary objective and greatest ambition. Love is not a good part of your life; it is the most important part.

Life without love is really worthless. GOD says relationships are what life is all about. Four of the ten commandments deal with our relationship with GOD, while the other six deal with our relationships with people. But all ten are about relationships! The point of life is learning to love GOD and people.

Love will last forever. Love leaves a legacy. How you treated other people, not your wealth or accomplishment, is the most enduring impact you can leave on earth.

“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” – Mother Theresa.

Love is the secret of a lasting heritage. We will be evaluated on our love. Love is what you will be evaluated on in eternity. One of the ways GOD measures spiritual maturity is by the quality of your relationships.

When you transfer into eternity, you will leave everything else behind. All you are taking with you is your character.

Time is the most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you will never get back. Your time is your life. That’s why the greatest gift you can give to someone is your time.

Relationships take time and effort and the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Love focuses so intently on another that you forget yourself at that moment.

THE BEST TIME TO LOVE IS NOW.

Because you don’t know how long you will have the opportunity. If you want to express love, you had better do it now.

The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.

DAY SIXTEEN… THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE. POINT TO PONDER: Life is all about love. VERSE TO REMEMBER: Galatians 5:14. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Honestly, are relationships your first priority? How can you ensure that they are? 🤔🤔🤔