Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Blog Message, Part 2, "CRASH TEST"

(our series is adapted from a study on James done by Rick Warren)
3 Ways That The Wrecks (Problems) Add Value To My Life

1) (WRECKS) Problems purify my faith. He uses the word "testing", as in testing gold and silver. You would heat them up very hot until the impurities -- the dross -- was burned off. Job said "He has tested me through the refining fire and I have come out as pure gold." The first things trials do is test our faith. They purify us. Christians are a lot like tea bags. You don't know what's inside of them until you drop them in hot water. Then you know. Your faith develops when things don't go as planned. Your faith develops when you don't feel like doing what's right. It purifies your faith. Christians are like steel; when they're tested they come out stronger.

2) (WRECKS) Problems fortify (make stronger) our patience. "...the testing of your faith develops perseverance." He's talking about staying power, not a passive patience, but staying power, endurance. The ability to keep on keeping on, the ability to hang in there. The Greek here is literally "the ability to stay under pressure." We don't like pressure and we do everything we can to avoid it. We run from it, take drugs, drink alcohol, go to Disneyworld, anything to get away from pressure. But God uses problems in our lives to teach us how to handle pressure, how to never give up. There was a time in my life I prayed for patience, and the problems got worse. Finally, after a while, I realized I was a lot more patient than when I first started out. How does God teach you patience? By everything going your way? No. God teaches you patience in traffic jams, in grocery lines, the waiting periods of life. We live in a comfortable and convenient society. Everybody wants it now. If I can't have it now, forget it. Endurance, today, is a rare quality. Lombardi said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

3) (WRECKS) Problems sanctify (purify) my character. They make me like Jesus. They help me mature. They help me to grow. "The testing of your faith produces perseverance that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." That's God's long range goal. His ultimate purpose is maturity. God wants you to grow up. He wants you to mature. In the Christian life, character is the bottom line. So many Christians I talk to have absolutely no idea of God's agenda in their life. They don't know what's happening and as a result they are overwhelmed by their problems.
God's number one purpose in your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. God is much more interested in building my character than in making me comfortable. If God is going to make me like Jesus, He's going to take me through the things Jesus went through. There were times when Jesus was lonely, fatigued, tempted to be depressed and discouraged. The Bible says there are two ways that God makes us like Jesus, don't miss tomorrow's blog and we'll talk about those 2 ways!