"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Struggles Were Jesus’ Struggles, too

Featured Friday Guest Blogger: Timothy Howe


MY PRAYER: Lord Jesus, when it all seems to be unraveling, we cling to You. When we are tempted to think that You, in Your divine state, cannot perceive our condition with its all too real human problems, remind us that You came among us and handled the human condition. Our struggles, pains and sorrows are not beyond Your comprehension, they do not escape Your notice. You walk with us in the midst of our struggles and encourage us to plod on, inspire us do reach higher, convict us to untangle ourselves from that which holds us back. You lift us out of despair into the confidence of hope. Let us hear your words spoken to our struggles for your name sake.

REMINDER FROM GOD: You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of Me and My rule.

You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by Me, Who is most dear to you.

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for Me. I’m food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see Me in the outside world.

You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in My family.

You're blessed when your commitment to Me provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into My kingdom.

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

{Matthew 5:1-12}

NOTE TO SELF: I really don’t want to admit this, but I have found that deep down I am selfish. I want to have good things in life and I want to avoid bad things. But the reality is that in this world we get the good and the bad. During the difficult times, we might be tempted to question if God understands our predicament.

Rest assured, He does. Jesus became a popular speaker followed by large crowds. His messages captured in Matthew 5-7 speaks directly to difficult circumstances that we will inevitably face during our lives. As we face those challenges, He turns expectations upside down. Jesus neither teaches his followers to avoid, nor tolerate, life’s problems, but instead to count them as blessings.

I wonder if the crowd really understood what he was saying. They were looking for a hero to rescue them from the Romans, perceived as the main problem for Judah during that time. Yet this is not what Jesus did throughout the course of his ministry. He did the unexpected.

Jesus lived out these very words. He demonstrated what it meant to be humble, to suffer, and to be persecuted. Jesus did not remove the problem. He accepted life’s difficulties and embraced our suffering in the process.

Jesus’ message in Matthew 5:1-12 might seem too “other worldly,” too divine to be of realistic help for us mortals. But the fact that Jesus would go on and live out the these very teachings shows us that it is the very human Jesus who explains to us how to handle our very human condition

{When faced with life’s difficulties, trust that He who overcame the same challenges, will give us His strength to overcome ours.}

thoweAbout Tim Howe: Tim serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Gilroy, CA and teaches Christian Studies at California Baptist University in the Online and Professional Studies program. He has served 21 years in ministry including 8 years overseas in the Mediterranean Basin. His dual passion in ministry is developing future leaders and overseas missions. He life loves are his family, history, theology, baseball and travel. Please visit his blog, www.timothyhowe.blogspot.com, to find more valuable teachings.

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