Faith Messages to build your faith

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Holy Hardships

James N. WatkinsMy understanding of “holiness” began growing up in a conservative Methodist church with an active “temperance” program. Holiness simply meant...
no smoking or drinking.

   When I attended a Wesleyan college as a theology major, I learned the “doctrine” of holiness, which left me confused as to where I was in the process: “initial, progressive, or entire”?! 

   I also learned I was actually rather “liberal” because I grew up watching TV, going to movies, and playing outside on Sunday afternoon.

   As a Wesleyan minister, I toed the doctrinal line and obeyed the official rules, without having a clear understanding of how holiness actually “worked.” Then I came across an amazing, baffling and confusing Scripture: Hebrews 5:8:

     “So even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned 
      obedience from the things he suffered.”

   What?! The very Son of God learned to be more like, well, the Son of God by the things He suffered. Was Jesus, as Isaiah writes, “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (53:3) because He obeyed His Father? 

   Or did He obey His Father because he was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering”? That’s whole other article.

   Here’s one thing I do know. The only way I have personally become more like the Lord I love is through hardship and heartaches. I have learned absolutely nothing from success, but I have learned much from suffering. That’s the message of Romans 8:29—although we much prefer the previous verse:

“And we know that in all things God works for
       the good of those who love him, who have been
       called according to his purpose.”

   And what is that purpose? The very next verse spells it out:

      “. . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”

   God takes “all things” that cause hardships and heartaches and uses them to produce in us “the likeness of his Son.” (God does not cause these “things,” but He does redeem them for good.)

   Often, we try to make living a holy life complicated by trying to explain it, turn it into three-point sermons, or divide it up into “initial, progressive and entire sanctification” so we may obtain this “second work of grace.”

   I’ve become convinced that, a) being conformed to the likeness to Christ is the essence of holiness and, b) that holiness comes through allowing God’s Spirit to shape us into that likeness through hardships and heartaches.

   And I’ve also become convinced the “good” God promises is holiness. Good is not happiness, pleasure, prosperity, a “God loves you and has a wonderful Porsche for your life” healthy and wealthy kind of good. 

   The Greek word Paul chooses for good, agathos, can be translated “of a good nature, useful, helpful, excellent, upright, distinguished, or honorable.”

   Second Corinthians 4:8-11 reinforces this concept:

    "We are hardpressed on every side, but not crushed;

     perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not
     abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We
     always carry around in our body the death of 
     Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in
     our mortal body (my emphasis)."

   God the Spirit takes all that hard-pressing, perplexity, persecution and striking down and empowers us “so that the life of Jesus may be revealed” in our lives. And that, in my simple little mind, is holiness.

Copyright © 2013 James N. Watkins

(Used by permission and Google image added)

From James' book, 
Squeezing Good Out of Bad.

 Obviously, I’d love for you to buy a copy for yourself and all your friends. But if you’re currently unemployed, email me for a free ebook."

Let's pray-  
     Father, as the only way we personally learn to become more like Jesus is through hardships and heartaches, may we look to Your help when they come our way.
   As Jesus learned obedience through His sufferings, our outlook on life should also be now, that You'll enable us to keep a good attitude through each problem we face.
   I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today’s Bible verses-

(2 Sam. 22:2) "And he said; 'The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer.' "

(Ez. 44:23) "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."

(Job 33:4)"The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."

Today’s quote-

   "What the enemy has used to try and shame you, throw back on his slimy head by living for Christ. Hurt the enemy for hurting you by living free in Christ and telling others how to live free in Christ. Take what Satan meant to destroy you, to use to destroy the enemy!

   That’s why I
(Lisa Buffaloe) share my testimony (you can watch on YouTube I want to tell others you can be free!"

Our thought today-

   As we are responsible to take care of our own bodies, we need to remember that sickness often times occurs from neglect. We need to stay in tune with God, to know what He's directing. 

Our question today-

   Does someone who's asked for prayer, want to be made well? (A response needs to be had before praying for them. Follow what God leads, and obey what He says in a given situation.)

Upcoming posts-

#47 The Dynamics of Importunity
    14th- Tuesday's post by Dr. Wesley L. Duewel

#48 Importunity is Essential in the Spiritual Realm
    16th- Thursday's post by Dr. Wesley L. Duewel

    18th- Saturday's post by Merlin Crothers

    19th- Sunday evening's post by Jean Oathout

A popular post-

Jean Oathout - When a person has hope, there is a substance of thought that's real to him. It is as true as being held in his hands.

Without hope, a person will give up...

Samples of Jean's crafts

Granny's Guide to Marriage in Verse

31 day-Devotional my personal story, 
using the information shared.

A great gift for someone who may need help
to prepare for marriage, and for those in a
marriage, who want some helpful advice.

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