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Is Your Faith Known?

In my last post, I talked about the need for a faith-coach. In sports, coaches are needed to overcome the challenges that an athlete faces during their competition. I believe it’s the same in our Christian walk. It’s how we’ve been coached that gets us through our challenges.

Paul tells the Thessalonian church the reason he was sending Timothy to coach them…

…so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
1 Thessalonians 3:3-5

First of all, let me say that I’m not particularly thrilled with this passage. Paul makes it clear that it’s an undeniable fact of life that we will certainly face trials. Both of the words he uses – trials and persecution – mean pressure, narrow spaces, and challenges.

The Good News is not that we have an easy life with Christ. Instead, the Lord strengthens us to overcome in all of our trials.

This is why Paul wants them to be coached. In our trials, we should never be unsettled. That word literally means to wag – like a dog wags his tail.

Too often we, as Christians, end up simply reacting to our trials. We don’t expect them. Worse than that, we don’t know how to correctly operate in faith to walk through them. God has a better way for us. Listen to what He said to Israel when He taught them the law.

The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
Deuteronomy 28:13

The Lord never wants us to be wagged – to simply react – to the challenges of life. We have been given the Holy Spirit so that we can be ready for anything that comes our way. By watching others overcome, we can be equipped for the same victories.

Unfortunately, many refuse God’s mentoring system. They end up learning to overcome by trial and error. Personally, I want to know the strategy before I enter the heat of battle.

Back in the verse from Thessalonians, Paul said that he wanted to find out about their faith – literally he wanted to know their faith. The fact is, that true faith can be seen and known by those around you.

Trials and challenges – the pressures of life – serve an important purpose. They come so that the faith that you have on the inside can become evident on the outside.

Listen to how Peter describes the result of trials in our lives.

These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7

Do what needs to be done in order to prepare your faith. Then when the trials come, as you know they will, Christ will be revealed in you.

Question: How has watching other believers prepared you for your trials?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Know When to Give Up

SunriseIn my last post I talked about the times we find ourselves wrestling against God’s plan for us. We’re looking at Jacob as an example of this.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Genesis 32:26

No, God wasn’t getting tired. No, God wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin when the sun came up. Why then did He impose a time limit? Purely and simply out of His love for Jacob. God knew that having fought all night, Jacob was getting to the end of his strength.

The Bible teaches elsewhere that God will not allow our struggles to go beyond our ability to endure. This is how God worked with Jacob. He made Jacob fight to the end of His strength. Up to this point, Jacob always found the easy way out of his troubles.

The scheme, the bribe, the fixed fight, whatever it took to win without breaking a sweat – that’s who Jacob was. God, however, knew he was better than that. He was created to father a nation. Through this experience God taught Jacob that he was able to overcome by his inner strength and determination alone, without all the scheming.

God wants to do that with us as well. He’ll allow us to get to the end of our strength so that we’ll cry out to Him. Don’t drop out of your fight too quickly. Make the determination to lay hold of the prize God has called you to obtain.

The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
Genesis 32:27-29

You would think that because he wrestled with God, Jacob would get in trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth. God doesn’t care if you struggle with Him as long as you learn the lesson He’s trying to teach you.

Up to this point in his life, Jacob had been trying to buy, fight, and steal his way to the blessing of God. Now he was to learn that the only way to obtain it is by freely receiving it from the Lord’s own hand.

He spent his life fighting God and man. Now God tells him that he has overcome. Overcome what? He has finally overcome himself. He now has the control to take his life and lay it at the feet of the Lord.

How do we know this? God gives him a new name – Israel – that means, “conquered by God.”

Perhaps you’ve been struggling in your walk with the Lord. Maybe there is an area in your life you’ve been refusing to turn over to God.

It’s time for you to give up and receive the blessing God’s been waiting to give you. Today, allow yourself to be overcome by God.

Questions: Are there areas, right now, where you’re struggling against God? What will it take for you to give up?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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