Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Are God’s people free from trouble?
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a far more exceeding and eternal   weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17).

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; (Psalm 34:19-22) 

“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal!" (Job 5:17-18)

“Before I was afflicted I went astray,  but now I obey your word.” It was good for me to be afflicted   so that I might learn your decrees.” “I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)

The fear of troubles and failure is perhaps the strongest force holding people below their potential. In a world full of uncertainty, a delicate economy, and countless misfortunes that could happen to anyone, it’s easy to see why most people are inclined to play it safe. But playing it safe has risk as well. Most people underestimate their merit and ability to recover from problems and failure, leading them to pass up valuable opportunities. We worry unnecessarily about too many things but “Worry never changes the course of tomorrow; it just saps the joy out of today” Because worry is a destroyer of happiness. If you are struggling with fear or feel that you are being oppressed by a spirit of fear, persist in making God's truth a reality in your life.  Resist  fear by filling your mind and heart with God's truth, and speaking out  God's Word until you increase in power over this stronghold and overcome it;  God's Word is your "sword of the spirit," or your weapon in the spirit world.  Try to identify or get help identifying the lie or door in which fear has become a stronghold in your life.  When you discover this truth, replace your fearful thoughts with faith in God and His Word.

Our personal goals in life and what we desire to have often reflect what we treasure or value in our hearts.   If these treasures or securities, whatever they may be, are bound to earthly things then they invite fear and worry because the things of the earth are vulnerable to both corruption and loss.  “Everything we know through our five senses is in a state of change and decay.  But when our thoughts are in God, there can be no fears, worries, defeats, or frustrations.  We are not staking our lives on that which changes, but on Him who changes not" Only faith in Lord Jesus is able to see beyond feeling and sense. Faith apprehends the promises of God which are ours in Christ. Since Christ Himself is the content of faith it is an entirely different order of things than sense and feeling. He is what enables us to face the affliction we feel, while confessing that God Himself sends it to us. This is a miraculous faith, namely, to be sure that affliction comes from God, but that it does not reveal His true heart toward us. A faith that comes from God confesses that He only intends the best toward us, despite the fullness of our suffering. This can only be learned in the crucible of trial as we exercise our faith to believe what we do not and cannot see and do not and cannot feel, but know because Holy Scripture tells us that God is no longer angry with us poor sinners. Christ has born the full weight of our sin and taken it away. No feeling could ever rob us of that work of Christ.

When you feel discouraged remember these verses:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you..”   “ The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8)

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  (Isaiah 58:11)

God is constantly reminding us not to fear because all we need is His strength.  God goes with us, before us, guides us every step of the way, and will never leave us alone.  We will not fail because God will not fail.  As we give Him our hearts day by day and delight in His righteousness and love, He is faithful to fill us with His Spirit against the throes of fear, despair and discouragement.  How significant is the supernatural power of joy!
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I may learn thy statutes.” Psalm 119:71 
Psalmist says "It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws." The distress we face will either defeat us or develop us - depending on how we respond to them. God wants to use the troubles for good in our lives. We react rudely rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. We can rejoice when we run into problems... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and will helps us to trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady."  Our relationship to God and our character are the only two things we're going to take with us into eternity.  
It has been said that discouragement is one of Satan's greatest weapons against God's saved children. Sometimes there is a bitter circumstance that comes to the life of a believer when it is not a result of a sin issue. Things might be great for a while but then you are hit with an apparent over-whelming unsolvable problem that just seems to come out of nowhere. You might be hit with a problem that involves a health crisis, persecution, abandonment issues, betrayal, divorce, relationships crisis, family problems, bad choices, Confused, not knowing for sure where to go or what to do, violence issues, death of a loved one, emotional issues, addiction or compulsion issues, occupational problems , job termination, burn out, being cheated by people, political problems, boss or employee problems, Financial crisis, temptation, hidden sin, anxiety and worries including the cares of the flesh, life, world, and devil may throw at you, etc. A circumstance like just one of these may cause one to become discouraged. Is there any help from God in all of this? Is there any hope? Where can I turn to when I am so discouraged? Well, don't feel so bad because the Bible gives us the answer.

"Success can be measured not only in achievements, but in lessons learned,
lives touched and moments shared along the way"We learn some important lesson in life, only through pain & failure. Pain is there to correct us, when responded right. A crisis will remove everything in your life that is not founded by God; it does not come to destroy but to correct and purify. Every great man and woman of God began with a crisis. It pulls the creativity out of you. You cannot stop it, just like you cannot stop a hurricane, but you can control your perception of it. Embrace it! The only proof that you are a born again and Sprit leads Christian is how you respond to a crisis. God is far more interested in refine character than our comfort.

Life is combination of success, failures, rejection and more than a fair share of discouragement. How you handle discouragement affects your ability to take new risks and chances that could have huge benefits. But unfortunately, these emotions of discouragement can cripple you to the point where you avoid taking small risks that have huge potential rewards. Negative thought cycles, whether it is in the form of depression, discouragement, hatred or self-loathing tend to spiral out of control so what was originally only a minor trigger becomes inflated into a major upset. Quickly correcting this negative thought cycle before it gets out of hand is critical to ensure you can rebound back to success. While some people can immediately brush themselves off, others can enter a negative cycle of thoughts that persists for weeks, months or even years. So how can you handle discouragement so it doesn’t consume you?

Everyone faces discouragement. A discouraged person tends to withdraw from other people and doesn't want to do anything. Sometimes they don't even want to get out of bed in the morning and tends to live in the past, either a past of failures or a past of glory days, never to be repeated.  If not checked, discouragement can lead to depression. Someone who is discouraged or depressed usually finds it difficult to know how to make the changes in their lives that will lead to increased confidence, hope and spirit. The root word of discouragement is courage so it should only make sense that the feelings associated with failure and rejections often try to deal a blow to your inner source of courage.

God's Word gives us the principles that with God's help can guide you to finding courage and hope for your life. God designed us as people to look to the future not the past. Take your eyes off the past, its history, and place them on the future. Bible says "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19) 

God wants to do a new thing in your life. No matter what has gone down in the past, God has a good plan for you, a plan that no one can thwart except you. If your life seems like a desert and wasteland, God wants to show you a roadway through that desert and lead you to streams of living water. Look to the future. God is there to give you strength and courage. God spoke to Joshua “For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:5) God will not force Himself upon you, but He is there, if you will but reach out to Him. He is always as close as your breath. He is never more than a whisper away.

God knows our frame, and of what we are made. His pity exceeds that of the tenderness parent. And though He causes grief--He will have compassion. Our afflictions, which at present are not joyous but grievous, shall, when they have duly exercised in us--yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. I trust the Lord gives us a measure of patience and submission to His holy will. If so, everything shall be well--and when He has fully tried us--we shall come forth as gold!

Are you faced with discouragement? Remember, Even though you walk through the most depressing situations, your Lord will not let you go down to the depth. He will lift you up and hold you in His hands. He knows what physical, emotional and spiritual support you need during these trying times and will supply all needs in the right measure. He will enable you to hold on to His promises. When the enemy pulls your legs, the Lord will place your feet on solid grounds. When your friends forsake us, the Lord will come to give you company. He went visiting Elijah, Peter, Paul and John in their seemingly hopeless situations and lifted up their dismayed spirits. He illuminated their hearts with hope. The Lord knows what you are going through today and will give you the right support at the right time in the right measure.

Remember Lion’s den was a platform for promotion for Daniel. Prison was the platform for elevation for Joseph to the position of Prime Minister. Dungeon was the platform for writing the Scriptures down for Paul. The shade of the broom tree was the platform for re-commissioning Elijah for greater ministries. The prison was preparation time for Peter to find John Mark which ended up in the writing of a Gospel. Patmos was the arena for the revelation of Jesus Christ in His glory for the isolated John. Our Lord is working for us behind the scene. He will extend relentless support for us because we are part of His grand plan. No matter who walks out on you, the Lord will continue to support and strengthen you. Let your life be a platform of praise for who He is to you in times of adversity, disaster, suppression, oppression, rejection and isolation.

“Troubles will be no troubles, distresses will be no distresses, and dangers will be no dangers--if God's presence is with us. God’s special presence will turn. .   Storms into calms, winter nights into summer days, prisons into palaces, weakness into strength, poverty into plenty, death into life. God's presence makes-heavy afflictions--light, and   long afflictions--short, and bitter afflictions--sweet. A man in misery, without this gracious presence of God, is in a very hell on this side hell. God's gracious presence makes every condition--to be a little heaven to the believing soul.”

The Lord knows what is best for us! When there is a special need for us being in the furnace--He knows how to support us; and at what season, and in what manner, deliverance will best comport with His glory and our good. These are the two great ends, which He has in view, and which are inseparably connected together. The thoughts of what we have deserved at His hands--and what Jesus suffered for our sakes--when applied by his Holy Spirit, have a sovereign efficacy to compose our minds, and enable us to say, "Not my will--but may Yours be done!" How unspeakably better is it to be chastened by the Lord now--than to be left to ourselves for a season, and at last condemned with the world. And our present grief’s are so entirely absorbed in Him, that, softened by His love, soothed by His sympathy, supported by His grace--the trial is welcome, the affliction is sweet, and the rod of a Father's chastening, buds and blossoms into delectable fruit.

God's purpose is "perfect". In it, there is . . . no spot, no stain, no weakness, no error, and no instability. It is and indeed must necessarily be as perfect as God Himself; for it originate from Him who is all perfection; and is a discovery of His mind and character. But when God's Purpose Sets itself against our flesh, thwarts our dearest hopes, overturns our fondest schemes, we cannot see that it is a perfect will. But rather, are much disposed to fret, murmur, and rebel against it.

We are in the hands of Him who does all things well, and conducts His most afflictive dispensations to those who fear Him, with wisdom and mercy! And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His Purpose.” …(Rom 8; 28)

God's Purpose may . . . snatch a child from your bosom; strike down a dear husband; tear from your arms a beloved wife; strip you of all your worldly goods; put your feet into a path of suffering;  lay you upon a bed of pain and languishing; cast you into hot furnaces or overwhelming floods; make your life almost a burden to yourself! How can you, under circumstances so trying and distressing as these, acknowledge and submit to God's Purpose; and let it reign and rule in your heart without a murmur of resistance to it?

Look back and see how God's Purpose has, in previous instances, reigned supreme in all points, for your good. It has ordered or overruled all circumstances and all events, amid a complication of difficulties in providence and grace. Nothing has happened to your injury; but all things have worked together for your good.

Whatever we have lost, it was better for us that it was taken away. Whatever Property, or comfort, or friends, or health, or earthly happiness we have been deprived of, it was better for us to lose, than to retain them.  Was your dear child taken away? It might be to teach you resignation to God's sacred will. Has a dear partner been snatched from your embrace? It was that God might be your better
Partner and undying Friend. Was any portion of your worldly substance taken away? It was that you might be taught to live a life of faith in the providence of God. Have your fondest schemes been marred; your youthful hopes blighted; and you pierced in the warmest affections of your heart? It was . . . to remove an idol, to dethrone a rival to Christ, to crucify the object of earthly love, so that a purer, holier, and more enduring affection might be enshrined in its stead.

To tenderly embrace God's perfect will is the grand object of all gospel discipline.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.’’

Therefore is part of the answer, because it points us back to what Paul has just said.  Paul has just explained that his death-like trials made for more effective, life giving ministry for the Corinthian Christians. 

When Paul considered the greatness of his calling, it gave him the heart to face all his difficulties.  We often lose heart because we do not consider how great a calling God has given us in Jesus.  The idea behind the Greek word for losing heart is the “faint-hearted coward.”  The Greek word has the idea of not only a lack of courage but also of bad behavior and evil conduct.   “The preacher should either speak in God’s name or hold his tongue.  The Lord has not sent you with a message of your own.  If heaven has given you a message, speak it out, as he ought to speak, who, is called to be the messenger of God.”   

 As we have received mercy: Paul preached his gospel humbly.  He knew his glorious calling to ministry was not due to his own righteous works; it was as we have received mercy.  Mercy, by its very nature, is undeserved.  Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  Another reason why Paul does not lost heart is, because, though all his suffering takes a toll on the outward man, yet the inward man, is being renewed and blessed!   Outward man, has the same idea as the ‘Earthen Vessels’ in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and Mortal Flesh in 2 Corinthians 4:11.  The message is the same: “On the outside, we are suffering and taking a beating.  But on the inside, God is blessing and renewing us!”  

When Paul writes “our light affliction,” isn’t writing as a kindergartner in the school of suffering.  Paul has an advanced graduate degree!

He describes some of these sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29: “Are they servants of Christ? I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn.”

stripes . . . prisons . . . beaten . . . stoned . . . shipwrecked . . . perils of waters . . . robbers . . . in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.  And those are just the physical, outward sufferings!  What about the spiritual burdens he bore, and spiritual attacks he faced? “This rich theology of suffering was forged on the anvil of his own experiences of ‘the sufferings of Christ.’” Why is our affliction light, and not heavy?  Because even the worst of our affliction, when we consider the measure of eternity, is but for a moment. 

This is partially true in the sense that most of our troubles come and go, and “this too shall pass.”  But it is also true in the sense that even a long life by this world’s standard is nothing on the scale of eternity.  Even if one were to live for a hundred years and suffer every day of their lives, by the measure of eternity, it is but for a moment.   Why is our affliction light, and not heavy?  Because of what God is accomplishing in us through our affliction: a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.   

 The Scriptures are clear: “ Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17).  Glory is tied to suffering, and God will accomplish in us a glory far heavier than any affliction we have suffered here.  “Affliction is not something to be endured in order to reach glory.  It is the very process, which creates the glory.  Through travail comes birth.”   

 Yes, our affliction is light!  Our affliction is light compared to what others are suffering.  Our affliction is light compared to what we deserve.  Our affliction is light compared to what Jesus suffered for us.  Our affliction is light compared to the blessings we enjoy.  Our affliction is light as we experience the sustaining power of God’s grace.  Our affliction is light when we see the glory that it is leading to.  We really can say with Paul, “our light affliction.”  

We do not look at the things, which are seen, but at the things, which are not seen: Paul was saying this especially about his own life and ministry.  In the world’s eyes, Paul’s life was an incredible failure.  At the height of a career that would reach much higher, according to world standards, he left it all for a life of hardship, suffering and persecution, with eventual martyrdom.  But Paul recognized that the world only sees the outward, not the unseen eternal things.    When we look at the things, which are seen, all we see is our light affliction, and it doesn’t look very light then!  But when we look at the things, which are not seen, then we see and appreciate the eternal weight of glory.  

Paul isn’t saying that all afflictions automatically produce glory.  It is possible to allow suffering to destroy us, and to let affliction make us bitter, miserable, and self-focused.  But if we will look to the things, which are not seen, then, our affliction will work in us an eternal weight of glory.

The path of affliction is sanctified by the promises of God, and by the consideration of our Lord Jesus, who walked in it Himself, that we might not think it too much to tread in His steps. Yes, it has been a beaten path in all ages; for the innumerable multitudes of the redeemed who are now before the eternal throne, have entered the kingdom by no other way. Let us not then be weary and faint--but cheerfully consent to be the followers of those who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises!

If, after much tribulation, we stand accepted before the Lord in His glory, we shall not then think much of the difficulties we met with in our pathway to glory. Then sorrow and sighing shall cease forever--and songs of triumph and everlasting joy shall take their place! Oh, happy transporting moment, when the Lord God Himself shall wipe every tear from our eyes!

Until then, may the prospect of this glory which shall be revealed, cheer and comfort our hearts! Thus far the Lord has helped us. He has delivered us in six troubles--and we may trust Him in the seventh.

Whatever storms may arise, we have an infallible and almighty Pilot, who will be a Sun and a Shield to those who love Him!

As long as we live, new trials will be needful. It is not that the Lord delights in grieving us and putting us to pain; on the contrary, He rejoices in the prosperity of His servants. No, it is not for His pleasure--but for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness!

Perhaps you may have observed a bird, in a hedge, or upon the boughs of a tree; if you disturb it--it will move a little higher--and thus you may make it change its place three or four times. But if it finds, after a few trials, that you continue to follow it--it takes wing at last, and flies away!

Thus it is with us! When the Lord drives us from one creature-rest, we immediately perch upon another! But He will not allow us to stay long upon any. At length, like the bird, we are sensible that we can have no safety, no stable peace below! Then our hearts take flight and soar heavenwards, and we are taught by His grace to place our treasure and affections out of the reach of earthly vanities. So far as this end is accomplished, we have reason to be thankful and say, happy -rod--that brought me nearer to my God! The seed of sorrow on earth--shall reap a golden crop of joy in heaven! The apostle tells us, "Our light affliction, which is for a moment--works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" A grain of affliction--works a weight of glory! A short moment of pain--works an eternity of pleasures! Therefore saints, be of good cheer! Here is comfort for you--your best days are yet to come!

When Life Gets Hard, We are reminded that this world is not our home. We are passing through to the promised heavenly land and Jesus has overcome this world so it will not be able to keep us from him. Christ is victorious over sin and Satan! Christ is victorious over death and Hell! Christ has promised eternal blessings to the adopted children of God! The power of the world, the realm controlled by Satan, was defeated when Jesus accepted his Father's will to go to the Cross. He broke and defeated the power of sin and death. He brought life and immortality to light. He insured that death would not have the final say. So in the middle of sorrows and trials, we can take heart and have peace. Not because things are easy, but because the hard things of this life are temporary and are preparing for us an eternal glory. Our peace is not in the absence of strife or troubles, but in Jesus and what he has done to make our future sure! The good news is that Jesus knows what we are going through. He ran this same obstacle course of life. His heart was broken by sin and faithlessness in those he loved. He knew pain in the body and pain in his heart. Jesus was the perfect finisher of the race and he is the author of the book on how to run the race. This same Jesus Promised. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This world offers trouble but Jesus has overcome the world. And if Jesus Christ can overcome the world, He can come over your life and overcome your anxieties and make all things work together for good in your experiences. In Christ we can have peace. He said: “In Me!” Our peace comes from being in union with Christ.

+Bishop M.A. Lalachan