Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Events... (Part 2)

Have you ever faced difficulties before? Does it seem like you can never get a break? Is life overwhelming you? Could it possibly be that some times when things go “wrong” that it’s in fact a sign that you are doing some thing “right?” When you choose to live for God, it doesn’t guarantee you a happy go lucky life with no problems. The opposite can be true at times. When difficulties knock on your door or overwhelming circumstances flood your home, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips to help you out…

The first area we need to check when taking action is…

1. Check your vision

Whose lense are you looking through at your circumstances?

I was told recently that I have cataracts over each of my eyes in the center of my line of focus. They cloud my vision and prevent me from seeing things as clearly as I should. My vision was impaired by circumstances beyond my control however I have a choice. I can focus on what I CAN’T do or celebrate what I CAN DO. The choice is up to me. We face choices everyday when it comes to our circumstances. The choice of what attitude we carry as a result of those circumstances is up to us.

Often times we can look at our circumstances through our own clouded eyes and miss the “big picture” of what God is doing. Our eyes can miss things like God’s inner workings behind the scenes of our lives. Whether we “see” it or not, God is at work on our behalf. He has our best interest at heart. Things do not go unnoticed to Him.

Next time you face a difficulty, try to pull yourself back from your situation and see things from God’s perspective. What is going on that is GOOD that the devil may be upset about? When we choose to see things this way, it changes our whole outlook. It helps us to know how to pray and gives us a reason to keep walking forward no matter what is thrown our way.

“Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:2 (MSG)

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is…

2. Check your thinking

Has your thinkin’ been stinkin’?

Our thinking can affect things. Negative thoughts breed worry, fear, insecurity, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Thinking positively is not living in denial of the truth… it’s believing God for the impossible! It’s grabbing on to faith, hope, and peace.

Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed by the worries of this life, we can begin to start having “stinkin’ thinkin’.” All of those negative thoughts can rise to the surface… all the “what if’s” of life can hit us hard and make us feel as though we are drowning. Instead of lowering your head in despair as you look at your insurmountable circumstances, lift up your head and focus on your amazing God. He is the God of impossibilities!

Mark 10:27 says…
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (NLT)

The next time you struggle with negative “stinkin’ thinkin,” you need to take captive of those thoughts and give them to Christ.

II Cor. 10:5 says...
“Take captive of every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(NIV)

Give those negative thoughts to God and allow Him to replace them with a concrete trust in Him. His overwhelming peace will consume you as a result. The trade is worth it! Focus on things above not on earthly things. Try to have an eternal perspective… ask yourself, “Does this really MATTER in the light of eternity?” This can help you evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to GO in your thinking.

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is our thinking, and the third area we need to check is…

3. Check your heart

We can’t necessarily change what happens TO us, but we can determine what happens IN us as we respond to our circumstances. Whether we see Him, feel Him, or Hear Him, God is alive, well, and working in our lives. Knowing this fact and believing it affects the condition of our hearts when we face difficulties.

When troubles come many choose one of two routes… they either blame their problems on God and run AWAY from Him, or give their problems to God and run TO Him. Our hearts are affected by our decision. One choice brings bitterness, anger and resentment while the other brings peace, faith, and a confidence in God’s ability to provide. Guard your hearts from any dangerous parasites that may attach themselves to you in the midst of your struggles.

Matthew 12:34 says...
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

What is inside of us comes out whether we like it or not. Listening to our vocabulary and our conversation can be a good way to see what is hiding deep in our hearts. It is sometimes in the midst of our struggles that we have the opportunity to see our “ugliness” in all of its glory. Unguarded hearts can face many dangerous foes along the way. They sneak in undetected and seek to destroy us from the inside out. Beware of the poison of bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and pride… they will eat you alive. Guard your hearts!

Trust God… He has a plan and He is working it out for YOUR good.

Philippians 4:6-7 says...
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

What should we do when we face difficulties?

Trust our father

God is not surprised by what we are facing. Trust Him with the details of your life. Invite Him to join you on your journey. He is a great source of strength and encouragement. No matter what we face, He can turn anything bad that happens to us around for good. If we let Him, He will use our struggles to help minister to someone else along the way.

God has used many instances in my life to help others in their time of need. One such instance is close to my heart. My first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage after four months. It was difficult for us, but with God’s help we moved forward walking in God’s peace. One night later that year I was attending a ladies retreat and had a divine appointment. While in the restroom a young lady at the retreat miscarried. It was her third attempt at a child. Her heart was broken and I was there to hold her, pray for her, and encourage her. Because I gave my pain to God, He was able to use it to in turn help someone else.

The next time you are hurting, struggling, and feeling weighed down, remember this verse…

John 16:32-33 says...
“But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." (MSG)

When we choose to trust God and realize He has everything under control, we can rest in His peace no matter what comes our way.

What should we do when we face difficulties?

Tell our story

Find someone to share your struggles with… a circle of friends who can pray for you and with you. Just like before and after pictures… when we share our struggles and then our victories over those hurdles with others, it encourages them.

When we share our story with others of how God provided and we made it through, it helps them to know that they can make it too no matter what happens! Your life can become an inspiration for someone else.

Revelation talks about how we can defeat the devil… check it out.

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and BY THEIR TESTIMONY.” Revelation 12:11 (NLT)

Your “testimony” is your story of how God came through for you. Every time you share those instances, you are overcoming the devil and his attempts to win in your life.

The next time something goes “wrong” remember to look around to see what you may be doing that is “right.” God is working behind the scenes. Don’t give up so quickly. I can’t wait to hear all of the stories of His provision in your life. Let your life inspire someone else today!

Living to leave a legacy,

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