“That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:15 (KJV)
God is calling His people to be the message, to live the sermon, so the world that is sick of hearing sermons may see a sermon lived out! How can we be the message? How do we experience the power of genuine faith at work in and through our everyday lives? If I am going to be the message, I must ask and answer some tough questions and be honest with myself. The first question was: What will be the core of my faith?
Here’s another question to answer: What will be the character of my faith? Character is developed as we grow in Christ. Becoming a Christian is a decision. Being the Christian we have become is a process that takes a lifetime. It’s the adventure of faith lived out in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ve discovered two ways to grow in my life. I can put God’s Word in my life daily through prayer and Bible study, and God will allow problems and trials to build my faith. The first way really prepares me to handle the crises when they come. If I’m not putting God’s Word daily into my life, I will not pass the tests that are sure to come. My first reaction to problems and trials may be much like yours. Run from them! Resent them! But James offers us a different perspective on how God uses them to develop our character. God is far more concerned about our character than our comfort. Look at what James teaches us:
“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.” James 1:2-4 (Ph)
When Christ is the center of your life, every problem has a purpose. Life becomes an obstacle course and every pain offers hidden gain when we respond with faith believing God to use even the trials as His means to develop character in our lives so that our life message is consistent with what we say we believe. We believe that God is in control and that He loves us. We believe that all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose. When we respond to the problems, pain and trials in life with faith, a watching world is able to see a sermon that shouts with more clarity than anything we may preach to them. God told Paul that His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. The greatest barrier I’ve found in my life is not the weaknesses or obstacles in my path but my small way of thinking. I get to focusing more on the barriers than on God and forget what I should always remember. It’s God’s promise to me and to you if you suffer from small thinking at times, too. Why not meditate on it today and let God use it to shape your character into the image of His Son. Here’s the promise. You already know it:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)