As I have mentioned previously in this Blog series of Thankfulness, I am often asked, â€śHow can I be thankful when I am having a bad day? Am I supposed to thank God for a crummy day?â€ť The short answer to this is â€śYes.â€ť So-called, â€śbad daysâ€ť are only bad when we are caught up in our own selfish perspective. Most so-called â€śbad daysâ€ť are really the opportunities God is providing us to minister, despite our own reluctance to do so.
An example of this is in Acts 8:1-4 & 11:19. God had commanded the Apostles in Acts 1:8 â€śbut you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." But, in Acts chapter seven, we find the majority of the Apostles and the church still huddled in Jerusalem, well within their comfort zone. God could have left them there but, in His great mercy, He sent a period of persecution to disperse them. In the midst of this persecution and what has become known as the â€śdispersion,â€ť many were converted, churches were planted, the gospel spread and we received the book of James. Acts 8:4-5 â€śTherefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.â€ť Acts 11:19 â€śSo then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.â€ť
There is much to be thankful about, when it comes to persecution and difficulties, if we are only able to take our eyes off ourselves and keep them on Jesus.
Paul, the great missionary, recognized this. At one point in his ministry, he was beset by a serious illness. He would later look back on this with thankfulness, relating in Galatians 4:13-14 â€śbut you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.â€ť Because of Paulâ€™s illness, not only was a church planted in Galatia but we have the book of Galatians as well.
I have come to call these events â€śappointments with destiny.â€ť I take this from Ephesians 2:10 â€śFor we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.â€ť It is my firm belief that, irrespective of lifeâ€™s circumstances, God is on the throne and He is in charge of these events. I believe we can always be thankful that, in Godâ€™s sovereignty, opportunities to share Christ and minister are coming about that, if all were at peace and ease, would never be possible. Let me share with you a few of these we have experienced over the past few weeks.
Realtor and Bible study: In all the chaos and confusion of our move, God brought about a Bible study through the realtor who is advising us.
U-Haul Storage: It is a lot of work and very disconcerting to put almost all of your possessions into storage. Yet, in the midst of this, we were able to share Christ with the movers and the managers of the storage unit. In fact, the manager had just moved to Houston and we were able to connect his family with a new church.
Health (my teeth): In the middle of all this I have had a tooth crack, another needing an extraction and a third needing a crown. In addition, we have had to change dentists, due to changes in our healthcare coverage. We were at first disappointed in this, as our dentist also attended our church and had been in a Bible study with me. God, though, brought us into a new clinic where I have been able to share Christ and distribute Bibles, Bible study aids and devotional materials to the employees.
Health (Elâ€™s knees): In the midst of Eleanorâ€™s treatment for her arthritic knees, we have been able to testify concerning our faith in Christ, our marriage and distribute Bibles and books to employees at the clinic.
Plumber: We had a number of surprise leaks with our house during the renovations and sale. It was a blessing, though, to be able to share Christ and give out New Testaments, Four Spiritual Laws and Evidence Demands a Verdict to plumbers. One prayed with me to rededicate his marriage and he and his wife returned to church attendance.
Renovation of home: It can be trying and chaotic to have your floors torn up, counters removed and walls painted. These were all opportunities, though, to share Christ, call men to repentance and pass out Bibles, tracts and evangelistic books to workers.
Alarm system: We thought we had to remove our alarm system so a technician came out to remove them. Then they called and said, no, it was a mistake and to put them all back. During this three-hour process, I was alone in the empty house with the technician. I was able to share Christ with him, he committed to a renewed devotion to the Lord and church attendance. He also took a New Testament and committed to reading it daily with his wife.
Let me encourage you. As the sovereign God intervenes in your daily schedule and moves you out of your routine, look for opportunities to share Christ. Then, thank the Lord that He does not leave you to your own worldly devices and pursuits but trusts you with trials and difficulties--knowing you will use them to share Christ to His glory.
Let me encourage you to recognize that, with a correct response to chaos, difficulties and persecutions, comes rewards in heaven. Not everyone will have these rewards but those who respond in faith will receive them. This, above all else, should cause you to be thankful--that God considers you trustworthy to be an example of faith in the midst of trials. God is giving you an opportunity to accumulate crowns and blessings in heaven that those who live a life of ease will never have. It is by this that we understand Philippians 1:29 â€śFor to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,â€ť As a result of this suffering there comes Christian maturity as well as future blessings--as taught in the following passage: 1 Peter 1:6-7 â€śIn this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;â€ť James 1:2-3& 12 â€śConsider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces enduranceâ€¦Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.â€ť
To be considered trustworthy by God to stand the test of trials; To be blessed by God with greater faith and spiritual maturity through trials; To receive eternal rewards from God after we have endured trials to His glory; To be able to share Christ, minister and bring glory to God in new and unforeseen ways because of trials. Now for these things we can be truly thankful. Ephesians 5:20 â€śalways giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;â€ť
By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon Director â€“ Grace Community Int. Grace Community International goes mobile! The Grace Community International free app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is now available on the App Store. Listen to sermons and workshops delivered at conferences around the world. Keep up-to-date with Rev. Mahon's blog. View Grace Community International's ministry photo albums. Search "Grace Community International" on the App Store today!
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