Running away from our problems will never solve them. I am sure you have heard that saying several times in your life. Running away is the easy road out of a sticky situation. How many times have you bolted from something that you didn’t like?
Have you ever waited for something you really wanted and in the middle of the wait you decided it was taking too long and you bolted? Maybe you’ve gone through a hardship and decided to leave because you felt you didn’t need to deal with it. I know of several times in my life I’ve done just that. Waiting is a hard thing to do, especially when you don’t see any results of your waiting. Waiting requires endurance. Endurance shows our character. How do we respond in hardships? What is the first thing you do when you are tried or tested? Do you whine and complain about the situation you are in? Is the first thing in your heart anger towards God for letting the trial come?
Take a ring, or a small item like a pebble, and place it in one of your hands. Curve your fingers around it as if you were making a loose fist. You are the ring or pebble and God is your hand. Nothing comes to the ring/pebble without His hand allowing it to come. Often times we don’t understand why we have to go through hardship. We can find in the epistle of James some answers.
James 1:2 – 4 (HCSB)
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
How can we consider a trial a “joy?” In order to really understand these verses we have to look deeper than the first few words. We can see that trials test our faith. It would be one thing if God created us all to be robots walking around on this earth just doing the commands He programs in our memory. We wouldn’t need faith for that. God created us with our own free-will and this allows us to make choices. These choices can be good or bad.
God wants us to see and know what we believe. He wants us to call on Him for help and guidance. He wants us to see our need for Him. The more we need God, the more our faith builds up in us! In other words, when we call out to God in our need, and He answers, our faith is built up. Even when we wait for the answer, this builds our faith.
There is power in waiting. I like how the Bible in Basic English puts it:
Romans 5:3 – 5 (BBC)
“And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting; And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope: And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.”
The “power of waiting” is endurance. It is patience. Whenever we have to wait for something, we have to endure. Be it a little thing like waiting in line at a store, or a big thing like waiting for God to answer our prayers; it requires endurance.
We know that “good things come to those who wait.” I am not sure where that saying originated from, but it is true when it comes to endurance. We are given a reward for our endurance.
We can see in James 1:2 – 4 that the testing of our faith produces endurance. Endurance and patience are interchangeable. They are synonyms of each other. God wants us to become mature sons and daughters. He doesn’t want us to stay young in our thinking and in our reactions.
When we were just learning to walk and talk, the first thing out of our mouth was, “MINE!” Baby’s are born selfish. They cry when they need changing, they get angry when they don’t get fed on time. You always have to teach them how to share, play nicely with others, and to think of others more than themselves. This is in the natural and it is the same for the spiritual.
When we first become a Christian and ask Christ into our heart as Lord and Savior, we are babies. We have to learn how to walk in the Lord. We have to learn God’s will instead of our will. We have to learn endurance.
Endurance means (Strong’s #5281): “Constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, patient endurance. It is the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness, and defeat.”
Hebrew 10:36 (NKJV)
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”
There is always a reward for enduring. I teach guitar to many students. The biggest complaint is that it is hard work to play the guitar. They have to practice throughout the week to be able to come back to me and have a lesson to progress into the next lesson and eventually to be a good guitarist. Some of my students were expecting to just pick up the guitar and be able to play. This never happens. A great guitarist has many many years of practice behind them and it shows with the reward of playing the guitar well. This is a small example of endurance, but I think you get the idea.
What are you going through right now? Do you have what it takes to endure?
We have to remember it is not what we go through, but how we go through it. Often I find myself in a circumstance I hate being in. Ultimately, my character, and what I am really made of, comes to the surface.
God wants you to see your character and respond accordingly. We have to remember who we are in Christ. We are warriors! We are over comers! We have resources to grab a hold of inside of us to help us stand as we go through the fire. But just think of the silver that is coming out in the middle of this refining fire process in your life! God gives you grace to endure. Endurance is staying even under pressure. Endurance is the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship. It is the active, energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance. This will bring spiritual maturity, and we won’t bolt again!
I have a bracelet that says, “Endurance” on it and I wear it whenever I need to remind myself to endure and not bolt. Find something you can do to remind yourself to “keep on keeping on” when the going gets hard. We are over-comers and we will endure and become mature, lacking nothing in Christ!
Jacob learned the hard way that bolting is not the answer. But he did confront his past and reconciled with Laban and Esau. In essence, Jacob’s past experienced revival and reconciliation.
What events in your past do you need to confront? Allow God to show you areas that you need to look at. Not to make you feel bad about yourself, but to deal with it once and for all. Don’t let your past overcome you, but you overcome your past as Christ is standing right with you every step of the way.
I remember teaching on this subject at a ladies Bible study. There was a lady there who became upset over the subject. She didn’t think it was of God to have to go back to something in her past to move forward. In fact, she was downright vocal during the class. All her words were negative about the subject I taught. She expressed that I was wrong and teaching wrong ideas. To be honest, I was a little taken back by her actions and reactions. But realizing now that her violent reaction was a sign that there were things in her past that needed to be confronted and her flesh was acting out. It let me know that I was right on target in teaching about confrontation of our past.
Jesus brought revival to Peter’s past. Peter denied Jesus three different times before the rooster crowed. In other words, Peter was faced with telling the truth of his connection with Jesus three different times before the next morning. All three times Peter denied even knowing Jesus, when earlier Peter said Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Also Peter said if he had to die with Jesus he would, instead of denying him (Matthew 26:35). After Jesus was crucified and buried Peter decided to go back to his original occupation of fishing and Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and a couple of other disciples went with him. They went out and fished all night but didn’t catch anything. Jesus came and stood on the shore and told them to “cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6). So they did and they were unable to bring in their nets because of so many fish. John said it was Jesus and Peter plunged into the water to be with Him. The disciples came to shore and brought up the fish. Jesus asked for them to bring some of the fish and come and eat breakfast with Him.
John 21:15 – 17 (NKJV)
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.””
Now this is a scene of restoration and confrontation all at the same time. Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” He could have asked so many questions that would have been acceptable like, “Why did you deny me?” or “Do you fear me?” He asked Peter of his love and devotion to Him.
Peter was repentant in his answers as he cried out the words, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Jesus restores Peter right in front of the company of the other disciples.
Jesus was raising Peter up to be their leader and to feed His sheep. He didn’t and couldn’t entrust this position to someone who didn’t love Him. Jesus is so careful to not give His flock over to just anyone, but only to those who truly love Him. For when we, as ministers, love Jesus with our whole heart, we will tend His flock with care.
Ministers who don’t love Jesus won’t have a passion to see souls saved. They won’t stay in the ministry when it gets hard except for those who truly love Christ. Jesus asked Peter three times if He loved Him. The same amount of times Peter denied Him. This was total and complete restoration from his past mistakes. It was as if Jesus was reaching into Peter’s past and taking the heart that was dead because of sin, and pumped life back into it again. Love will conquer all. Jesus’ love will make things brand new again.
Jesus didn’t leave Peter in his sad condition. It was Jesus agenda to raise him up in front of his peers and place him into leadership again. This is His desire for you and me too. He died on the cross for the sins we committed and He died on the cross for the sins committed against us. What He did is complete. This covers anything in our past that doesn’t bring life to us.
There is a revival of our past that Christ wants to bring to us. Even though it is painful or it might cost us something, it is well worth the revisiting.
Revival of your past may include:
Everyone of us have regrets from our past. Worrying about our past is wasted energy. You can’t change your past, but you can change your present and future. If I try, I can think of many regrets. You have to find a place to make peace with what you did or what what you didn’t do. Remember that it doesn’t define who you are. Our past doesn’t have to devine us if we have a determination to make different choices and a different mindset then before.
2 Corinthians 5:2 (Amplified Bible)
“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”
No body is perfect, not even you. We all make mistakes. We are all imperfect. Making mistakes is part of life. That is why Jesus went to the cross; to save us from our sin and past mistakes. Lay your mistakes down at Christ’s feet as an offering. It is what is in your hand. It is what you are aching over. Offering it us to Jesus is the only thing you can do. He has a way of taking our mistakes and regrets and making something new from them. He makes beauty from ashes, even from ashes that was set on fire from your own match!
Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
It is all for God’s glory the changes He makes in you and I! We are His masterpieces and He is proud of His creation.
Once we have asked for forgiveness of the wrong we have done, and mean it, God forgives us. The enemy is the one who puts guilt on us. First he entices us to make bad choices and then, once we do, the enemy will try to put guilt on us. Either way it is torment. Don’t fall for this!
We are all guilty of sin. We are born into a fallen, sinful world. We are sinful by nature. Knowing we don’t have to live this way because of what Jesus did on the cross frees us. He took our place even though we were the ones who are guilty. Releasing the guilt and forgiving yourself brings freedom to your spirit.
Jeremiah 33:8 (Amplified)
“And I will cleanse them from all the guilt and iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will forgive all their guilt and iniquities by which they have sinned and rebelled against Me.”
Shame is a heavy heavy burden to carry with you everywhere you go. I know as I have experienced it in my life. Shame can be very painful and stressful. It torments us and seeps into every pore of our being to the point you feel your aroma is exuding shame.
Shame can come with those sins we are ashamed of. Sins we would never want anyone to know we committed. Shame can come from an adult figure who might have said to you; “Shame on you!” We can feel shame over a choice or something we have said.
Shame locks us in a prison cell. But the truth is we have the key to unlock the cell door and let ourselves out. Listening to good counsel and heeding what the Bible tells us to do will unlock our shameful prison. When the enemy tries to put that shame back on you, you tell Him you are forgiven and a new creation (2 Cor. 5:2). Remind yourself that Christ took all your shame on the cross and it was crucified there. It is finished!
Proverbs 13:18 (Amplified)
“Poverty and shame come to him who refuses instruction and correction, but he who heeds reproof is honored.”
Isaiah 54:4 (NKJV)
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”
Isaiah 61:7 (NKJV)
“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.”
We all experience disappointments in our life. It is what we do with those disappointments that shows our character. Are you rehashing your disappointments and thinking about what could have been? We have to place them in God’s hands.
I am sure Joseph was “disappointed” when his brothers sold him into slavery. If it were me I would have been deeply hurt and probably would have experienced un-forgiveness. Yet, God was with Joseph in every step of his life. God was with him in the pit. God was with him in Potpher’s house. God was with him in prison, and ultimately God was with him when he went to the palace.
Put your expectations in God and not man. Man will let us down always, but God never will. He has the perfect plan for our lives. He can turn a trial into a triumph you just wait and see. A disappointment can be a blessing in disguise. It could change your viewpoint or mindset over something. Our disappointments can be re-appointments as we place them in God’s hands.
So what about you? Is there anything in your past that you are having a hard time getting over? Now is the time to release, forgive, and be revived in your past so you can press forward to what God has waiting for you. No more road blocks to your destiny. Freedom to be yourself and to experience all that God has for you!
Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Kris Belfils