Spoiler Alert! Maturity Is Not Vicarious

Last week’s post reflected on struggles and challenges. I paid attention to the number of times I would think or say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how to” since then and I am ashamed. I need a “why?” app on my phone to get me to think before quickly resigning to the ‘ain’ts’.This summer has not been comfortable or convenient. But there is no season without opportunities or distractions, right? It is not the issue or the circumstance or the person. It is my response, my attitude, my alignment. When I think that a lapse of time means I have matriculated to a next or new level, I have yet another opportunity to learn or master a lesson. There is no age, no ancestry, no acquisition, and no human/earthly connection that can provide guarantees.

If you don’t learn the lesson the first time, God allows additional trials as instructors.

Trials are Lessons

Points ‘a’ and ‘c’ are based on faith.
Point ‘b’ is based on obedience.

Nothing in life is instant. We put limitations and carnal expectations on God. Where prosperity and success are in scripture, time is missing. We want to assign time. We have a “right now” perspective. A skewed perspective can lead to (1) lust of the flesh; (2) lust of the eye and/or (3) pride of life.

The lust of the flesh challenges the will of God and preys on physical appetites
• Things that gratify us
• Engages us through our senses
• We are invited to become fulfilled outside the will of God
Lust of the eyes challenges the Word of God
• Appeals to self-interests
• Tests God to make Him prove Himself
• It eats at our confidence in God
• I want to be placated or pacified (I need to know I’m important)
• More credence is placed on what we want to get out of something
• Fairy tales and fantasies are developed
• I make claims to stuff in the role(s) I have given myself
The pride of life challenges the worship of God
• Pride will make me want to prove my point
• God designed man to be in charge of the world; Satan got it by default (I John 5:18-20)
• Temptation is present to rule my world, destination
• Failures pointed out in significance, security and acceptance
• Not Christ focused but ‘me’ focused

Hebrews 12:1-13 – As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? “My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.” Endure what you suffer as being a father’s punishment; your suffering shows that God is treating you as his children. Was there ever a child who was not punished by his father? If you are not punished, as all his children are, it means you are not real children, but bastards. In the case of our human fathers, they punished us and we respected them. How much more, then, should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! Our human fathers punished us for a short time, as it seemed right to them; but God does it for our own good, so that we may share his holiness. When we are punished, it seems to us at the time something to make us sad, not glad. Later, however, those who have been disciplined by such punishment reap the peaceful reward of a righteous life. Life up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths, so that the lame foot may not be disabled, but instead by healed.

James 1:2-4 – My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trails come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trails, the result is the ability to ensure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Colossians 3:2 – Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.

Psalm 34:19 – Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all

Ecclesiastes 5:1-6 – Be careful about going to the Temple. It is better to go there to learn than to offer sacrifices like foolish people who don’t know right from wrong. Think before you speak, and don’t make any rash promises to God. He is in heaven and you are on earth, so don’t say any more than you have to. The more you worry, the more likely you are to have bad dreams, and the more you talk, the more likely you are to say something foolish. So when you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He has no use for a fool. Do what you promise to do. Better not to promise at all than to make a promise and not keep it. Don’t let your own words lead you into sin, so that you have to tell God’s priest that you didn’t mean it. Why make God angry with you? Why let him destroy what you have worked for?

Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!

I John 5:3-4 – For our love for God means that we obey his commands. And his commands are not too hard for us because every child of God is able to defeat the world. And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith.

During Our Trials of Life
1. Respond to trials – obey God
2. Regarding Unlovable people – love them
a. James 4:6 – But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
3. Regarding Temptation – lean on the Lord
a. Trust in the Lord
b. Do not depend on yourself
4. Seek God’s will
a. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom
i. Proverbs 3:5-7 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong.
ii. Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, “If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me.

Identify the source(s) of each trial and thank God
Philippians 1:29 – For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in him, but also by suffering for him.

Recognize that “I am not what I’m in (problem/suffering)
I Peter 5:10 – But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.

We OUGHT to rejoice in our suffering. I know it is surely difficult to do this. But when we do not walk by faith which comes by the Word of God we are susceptible to an ungodly attitude. This attitude comes our as grumblings, and complaining. It is caused by a lack of trust in God and therefore we look for a quick escape. Obedience to God leads to contentment, not stuff and things and easiness. A Godly attitude is reflected in forgiveness, trusting God and patience. II Corinthians 12:9-10

Our attitude shows in our actions and our actions reflect our witness. Am I Godly or ungodly, especially during trials? The battle is won or lost in the mind.

Our Guidelines For Victory
1. Study God’s Word
a. II Timothy 2:15-19
b. If I can’t apply it, it will not work for me when I need it to leaving me in a cycle of pain and confusion
2. Pray without ceasing
a. I Thessalonians 5:17
3. Fellowship with saints
a. Acts 2:42; 46-47
b. We pay a price to deny the need for belonging
c. We are designed for community not isolation – interdependence
d. Be careful to not judge character (Romans 14:4) but meet the needs of others (Philippians 2:3)
4. Walk by faith
a. James 2:17
b. Hebrews 11:6
5. Obey God’s Word
a. Psalm 119:118
b. Psalm 119:129-130

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