Yesterday our pastor Brother Dennis preached from Acts 16:12-34, teaching us how to praise God in our circumstances. He said that the Christian life is one of unfolding stories. When you look at the lives of Lydia, the fortune-telling girl, and the Philippian jailer, all which became Christians, then you see lives radically changed by their circumstances.
Too often Christians lament their circumstances in life, imagining that being a Christian means living your best life now. That may preach well at churches lead by peddlers of Christ, but it is not Biblical. In fact, the Bible teaches that the afflicted life is a learned life:
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)
Imagine trying to sell that refrigerator magnet at a LifeWay store! When life’s struggles come (notice I said when, not if), we must not panic, but praise God in those moments. We don’t praise God for the affliction; we praise God knowing that He is going to use my circumstance for my good and His glory.
I know this teaching is contrary to our natural inclinations, but we must remember that God did not and does not bring affliction into our lives. Original sin is the designer of despair, disease, and disorder. Knowing this, we can turn to Christ with confidence and faith knowing that our Lord and Savior will show us how to live:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
As Christians, we should study the life of Christ to learn how to be Christlike. That’s so obvious most Christians miss it. Nevertheless, our Lord Jesus left us many lessons to learn how we are to live and worship as Christians. He demolished the traditional model laid out by the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus taught in parables knowing it would confound those wise in their own eyes, but the simplest and lowliest of people would not only learn from Christ, they would also marvel at His teachings. We should not be living like we are still dead in our sins. Our minds should be transformed and becoming more like Christ every day:
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
The Christian who rarely learns the lessons of life through the unfolding stories he or she experiences is the baby Christian still living on spiritual milk. This can happen by not reading our bibles, not attending church and Sunday school regularly, or not praising and praying to the Lord.
We can easily get into a Christian rut where we live in our Christian ghettos never wanting to engage society for fear of conflict or confrontation. If that is you, let me gently remind you that you did not learn that from Jesus. You cannot study the life of Christ and come away expecting a life free of conflict and confrontation.
When you become an active Christian warrior, reading your Bible, praising and praying to God, and being about your Father’s work, you are literally calling spiritual artillery onto your life.
So what can you expect from a life of unfolding stories? Exactly what you are searching for, even though that seems contrary to logic. However, we have many a lesson in the Bible where true contentment is found in Christ, regardless the circumstances. The Apostle Paul gives us such an example:
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Philippians 4:13 is one of those refrigerator magnets and power verses prevalent in American Christendom, however it is usually taken out of context. Paul is not teaching your best life now; he is teaching that our best life is one found in Christ because when we go through difficult circumstances, we can do so knowing Jesus will use it for our good and His glory. We know that because we know Christ as Lord and Savior.
Do you know Him?
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Copyright © 2015 David Jeffers
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