Sunday, October 21, 2007

When life hands you lemons... Philippians 1:12-14, & 18b-21

So even though he's stuck in a crummy Roman prison, Paul writes-
"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."

But this is bad? He's stuck in jail? This is bitter as a lemon- yuck! This sucks!
Hey, his imprisonment is motivating the people in the church at Philippi to pray for him and motivating other Christians to preach about Jesus, even if at the risk of them going to jail too.
Looks like God was managing to make something good come out of something bad.

Look these verses up too, because they have important lessons about how you have to see the hard times as useful, even good for you in the long run, even if they really hurt while you're going through them.

  • James 1:12 Sometimes, if you get through a hard experience, you feel better about yourself. Sometimes the hard times even make you stronger.
  • Romans 5:3-5 Difficulties may mean suffering, but that builds character (sound like some mean old coach or something, but it's true) and character produces hope- hope means that we know that we'll get through whatever it is we're facing. Once I faced my fear of needles and donated blood, I saw that yeah it hurts a little, but it's nothing I can get through and it only lasts a little while. The more you do hard things, the easier they get. Suffering>Character>Hope, which won't let you down.
  • Romans 8:28 the grandaddy of all verses for explaining why God allows (doesn't make, just permits) bad things to happen sometimes. God can make ALL things work out for the best, no matter how bad. Would FDR been the President he'd been if he hadn't sufferd from polio? Hellen Keller touched millions with her heroic example of overcoming being both blind and deaf.
God can help you make lemonade out of whatever lemons life has handed you too- even if they're there because you made some bad choices or were selfish or sinful and brought the lemons on yourself. God can use your bad experiences and hard times to make you kinder, gentler, more patient, more loving, to give you more self control, more at peace, even to fill your life with more joy.

I know I appreciate being a lowly teacher more because of all the dishes, floors, and toilets I've scrubbed. No matter what you're going through, or how much it sucks (like raw lemons) a little time, some water, some sugar, stir it all up, and presto, refreshment that's delicious and nutritious!

Here's my prayer for all of you, I guess you can pray it too:

Dear Jesus,
I know that it is almost impossible to see the good in some things that we have to go through,
But please help whoever is reading this to see that You can and will use this pain to bless them in the long run.
Meanwhile, help them to know how to find the good in any situation and in any person. Some people are so mean, or so irritating, annoying, or obnoxious. Help us all to be able to see other people through Your eyes, as Your precious children, whom You have big plans for.
Help us to remember that You have big hopes and plans for us too.
Grant us hope, even in the most miserable conditions, help us to keep our eyes and minds focused on You and the lemonade You're getting ready especially when life is so bitter, sour and tart that it downright hurts.
In Jesus name,

Me ka pule,

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