Thursday, February 2, 2012

endure. grow. hope.

inspiration: Jonny Sharp BROUGHT IT tonight!

this week has been surprisingly "fast", which is good in a sense.
God is doing some incredible things in my life and selfishly, i look forward to the weekends to be able to see people i don't see during the week; but i always look forward to thursday nights - to spend time with my Seacoast family - people who have poured into me and encouraged me in my walk over the last year. people who i genuinely love being around. people i love worshiping with. people i love serving with.

and tonight was no different.

tonight, jonny sharp brought an amazing message about Romans 5:3-5:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
last week, i wrote about Ernest's message on peace.
but this week, jonny brought a powerful word about suffering.

now, in the general sense of the word, peace and suffering don't normally go together.
when i think of peace, i actually think of the absence of suffering.
but Jesus brings something different to the table. a third piece of the puzzle, if you will: hope.

we all face storms and trials in our lives.
we all face suffering and persecution.
but it's not the storms or trials or suffering or persecution we face that make us or break us.
it's how we handle those situations.

jonny shared 3 pieces of wisdom tonight about how we handle our trials:

we can endure.
we can grow.
there is hope.

suffering = perseverance.
perseverance = character.
character = hope.

suffering is not all bad. the best way i can explain this is through a running anecdote.
i love to run. it wasn't always this way. and some days, i love it more than others.
but when i first began running about a year and a half ago, i couldn't run more than half a mile.
but i persevered (and, trust me, i suffered) and pushed forward.
i trained my body and endured it all so that i can be able to be where i am now.
able to run (not fast, but i can do it) for extended periods of time.
i'm still in the midst of persevering (and, trust me again, suffering) to be able to run a half marathon.
but based on my experience in running and seeing where God has brought me (no seriously, his mercy is surrounding me every time my feet hit pavement), i have hope for running 13.1 because i remember when i couldn't even run the .1 

that was a lighthearted anecdote, but we must take the sufferings we face and turn them into something positive for the Kingdom.
it's not easy, but if we are truly Christ followers and if we truly believe in who He says He is, then we have hope and that should give us the same hope.

God is faithful in everything He says and promises.
that faithfulness may not manifest in the ways we want or expect, but He is true to His word.

jonny shared a story of working at a gas station and feeling like he was at a dead end. and a very dear friend of mine came to my mind and i immediately began to pray for him; pray for something good to say in this blog that would spark a passion for God.
something that would change his life.
but sadly, i don't have those words.
all i have is a story that rings truth to the grace and mercy of God to use our weakest moments to bring a glorious light to His Kingdom.

so to my friend (you know who you are), know that God has you where He has you right now for a purpose. He's working in you and preparing you for the great plans that lie ahead (and i know that He has great things in mind for you). know that you won't be prepared for those things unless you endure this season.
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" -2 Corinthians 4:17
the afflictions we face today will prepare us for the glory of tomorrow.
the sufferings we endure now are preparing us for that; we need only to cling to Christ and know that everything we face is for a purpose and for His glory.

what trials are you facing today that you need to cling to Christ for?
how has God worked in your life before to build up in you endurance and hope?
use those memories to propel you forward. God is faithful. always remember that.

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