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“I just want to thank Jesus for how hard things are…”
Posted by: Grace Community International | more..
850+ views | 210+ clicks
Bible Quiz: Each week this blog will begin with two questions. The answers are at the end of the blog. Have fun!!

According To the Bible
1. The historical and architectural locations related to Jesus’ Passion were venerated by Christians. (For instance, the garden where Jesus spent His last night in prayer; the hill “Golgotha” upon which Jesus’ cross was placed; the tomb where Jesus was buried and then rose from the dead - all became important to the early church and were visited by both Apostles and new believers.)
2. The ability to cast out demons (deliverance ministry), prophesy and perform miracles are all signs that a minister is “Spirit-filled.”

Dear Prayer Warriors,

In this narcissistic age of prayer, we are sometimes taught that it is an act of faith to go ahead and thank God for answers to our prayers before we even hear His response. It is an age when many Christians are taught to naturally assume that what they want is God’s will, simply because it will make them happy. Ask a gathering of Christians the question, “God wants me to be happy, doesn’t He?” and many will answer with an unequivocal “Yes!” In fact, most people believe that He is obligated to keep us happy. We live in an age when many Christians believe that all pain, poverty, sickness and toil is a result of sin or a lack of faith. We live in an age when so-called prophets and apostles stand on platforms, shake their fists in the face of God, screaming, “In Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name” - demanding miracles, blessings, healings and more. In this age, it is hard to believe there was a time in the not-so-distant past when a man or woman at a prayer meeting would come to the front and kneel, pray and submit to God. With head bowed, they would humbly say, “I just want to thank Jesus for how hard things are now.”

Their request was not that God do their will but that, in the midst of trials, they would grow in faith to His glory. Their prayer was not that God would do their will but that they would understand what God was teaching them, that they might do His will. I can remember that day. It was a day when men and women in the church would ask Jesus for something, and if He said “No” or “Wait,” then they would thank Him for having a better understanding of their needs than they themselves did. It was an age when godly men and women did not make a spectacle of themselves, jumping up and down on a stage, hands clapping over their heads, like backup singers in a rock band, but it was a time when godly men and women, in reverence, sang stanzas such as

“Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh,
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear
To check the raging doubt, the rebel’s sigh
Teach me the meaning of unanswered prayer.”


“Sweet hour of prayer sweet hour of prayer that calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known
In seasons of distress and grief my soul hast often found relief
And oft escaped the tempters snare by thy return sweet hour of prayer

Sweet hour of prayer sweet hour of prayer Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless
And since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.”

Let me remind you there was a time when mature Christians believed such "shocking" truths as:
- God was near and in control whether they felt it or not;
- There were struggles for the soul to bear, rather than to be delivered from;
- Resenting these times of struggle was akin to a sigh of rebellion;
- The “rebel’s sigh” in the midst of these struggles needed to be checked;
- We are to trust God that some of our prayers are not His will and will not be answered;
- We are to accept that there is a world of care in which God wills us to live;
- We are to accept that there are seasons of distress and grief which are, indeed, His will for us;
- In the midst of this, we do not give Him orders but we “seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace.”

There was a time when men prayed “not my will but Thine” - a time when godly men and women actually said, “I just want to thank Jesus for how hard things are, and I want to ask that you pray that I will understand His will in the midst of this trial.”

That is why I have the following section in the Thanksgiving section of my Prayer Notebook. Below I have copied it exactly as it appears - pretty much self-explanatory. I reflect on the devotional thoughts, I meditate on the verses and I thank God for each bullet point. You may want to have a section in your prayer notebook where you thank God for your trials, where you “seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace,” – it sure beats “the root of bitterness” and “the rebel’s sigh."

Dear Lord, Thank You for the painful and harsh men, circumstances and times in the wilderness You have brought into my life to help, train, rebuke and redirect me to a new and greater way. I often resent this at the time, even though I know in my heart of hearts that the only way I would have listened, and having listened been mature enough to take this new direction, was for You, my Lord, to have used such painful and sorrowful events in bringing it about. I thank you because I know that You know best and not me. I thank You because You knew that without these events my life, my faith, my ministry would not be what it is today. I thank You that You are more concerned about my wellbeing than about my reaction to Your goodness. Thank you Jesus…

"For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." (Hebrews 12:10)

"Thou, who hast shown me many troubles and distresses, Wilt revive me again, And wilt bring me up again from the depths of the earth." (Psalm 71:20)

"The Lord has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death." (Psalm 118:18)

"For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives." (Hebrews 12:6)

a. People - "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 50:20)
1.) Enemies
2.) Rebukes & Corrections
3.) Humiliations
4.) Self-perceived lack of recognition
"Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house....Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." (Genesis 40:14 & 23)

5.) Used for others’ success
"And he restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh's hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." (Genesis 40:21-23)

6.) Injustices
"Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies, what I did not steal, I then have to restore." (Psalm 69:4)

7.) Forgotten
"Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." (Genesis 40:23)

b. Circumstances - "It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes." (Psalm 119:71)
1. Failures
2. Hardships
3. Pains & Sorrows
4. Sickness
5. Poverty
6. Refining fires
7. Self-perceived unmet needs
"If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children." (Psalm 73:15)

c. That I would not compare my circumstances with that of the wicked. For their prosperity is the judgment of God, while my want, trial, difficulty, illness or persecution is the loving care of my heavenly Father for my good. My circumstances are always grace while theirs are always judgment.

The wicked
- "Therefore God gave them over…" (Romans 1:24)
- "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!" (Psalm 73:2-3 & 18-19)

"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (Hebrews 12:5-6, 10)

d. Times of Barrenness or Fruitlessness
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

May God grant us all a heart of thankfulness and trust in all of God’s wise decisions concerning our day-to-day lives.

By His mercy,
II Corinthians 4:1
Rev. John S. Mahon
Director – Grace Community Int.
Tyumen, Russia (deep in the heart of Siberia)

Answers to this week’s Bible Quiz…
1. False - Nowhere in the Gospels, the Book of Acts nor the Epistles, does any Christian, for any reason, revisit any geographical location associated with Christ. This was a real eye opener for me. I assumed that the historical locales associated with Jesus’ life would be important to the early Christians. In the Old Covenant, pillars, trees and other indicators of where important spiritual events took place were common-place. Also, in the ancient near-eastern pagan cultures of the time, the erecting of historical pillars and monuments at the location of historical events was the norm of the day. It is significant that neither the Apostles, the early Christians nor the early church engaged in this practice. In the New Covenant we do not go anywhere to get close to God, for Christ lives in us. In the New Covenant we do not go anywhere to be close to the Holy Spirit, for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the New Covenant we do not go anywhere to get closer to God the Father – Jesus offers immediate access, 24/7, from anywhere on earth. In the New Covenant the most important physical proof is the changed life and not a physical location.

2. False – Jesus Christ warned of this misconception early in His teaching ministry when in Matthew 7:21-23, He exhorts that “Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” The ability to do miracles proves nothing. Any demon can do a miracle. For a quick look at the types of miracles satan can perform read Job chapters 1-2 and Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18; 9:11 and make a list of the types of miracles demons can perform in just these two instances. Our application from this is given in I John 4:1 – the ability to do miracles proves nothing. The testimony and test is the changed life and the holy, eternal, inerrant, written Word of God, not miracles (I John 5:9-13).

Now ask yourself – what other things about the Bible do I believe which are in reality false? From now on when something is taught about the Bible your first questions will be – “What Book, Chapter and Verse establishes this?”

Category:  Jan. 2013 - Russia

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