Trials Designed To End

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Debt. It sucks.

Growing up in a big family, it’s not that we were ever in a place where we couldn’t afford food or basic needs. Sometimes it was close, but my parents always did such a great job of providing for me and my siblings regardless of whether that meant that they would have to go without. However, that doesn’t mean that we did not “inherit” some of the weirdest things from other family members that wanted to help us out. For some reason couches were our thing… I don’t know why but for some reason people just gave us their old couches. We have owned green, purple, floral, blue and many other couches. Don’t get me wrong, my family was always grateful and there was never any pride, however, I remember a few years ago I just got to a point where I got tired of always having hand me down furniture. I just wanted a nice brand new sectional couch for me and my friends and family to sit on when we got together to hang out or watch movies. I remember we were driving in Collingwood, Ontario and I saw a random furniture store. So we stopped the car, got out, went in and looked around. I was so fed up with having used stuff, that right there on the spot I “bought” a couch. The reason I put quotations around the word bought is because I put the majority of the purchase on my credit card at the time. Let’s just say it was a very expensive couch. Let me first say that now I do not believe in credit cards, I don’t personally have my name on any credit cards. I have since learned the lesson of “spend less then you make” and “only spend money you actually have”, but at the time I was still figuring out the debt thing. Unfortunately, like a few things in my life, I learned the lesson that debt isn’t a fun thing to have, the hard way. My credit card was maxed out. I eventually learned my lessons when it came to money, I cut up my credit card, stopped spending more then I made, stopped eating out so much and paid it off.

I do not want to talk to you about money today though.

I remember when I made the last payment on my  credit card. It took me awhile, but I remember the very moment when I completely paid it off. As soon as I did I just felt a feeling of relief like another thing was taken off my shoulders. I was about to continue on with my day when suddenly it hit me. Trials, they end. There were times where I felt like that credit card was never going to be paid off, times where because of other expenses in my life I couldn’t make a payment for weeks, but I kept at it, I kept watching my spending, I kept putting the right things in place and eventually it paid off. I don’t know about you, but I feel like sometimes when you walk closely with God it can feel like life is just a series of battles. It can feel like life is just trial after trial after trial. But today I want to encourage you, trials do end. I don’t know what you face today, I don’t know what you have been facing over the last few months or maybe even the last few years. Today all I want to do is encourage you by saying that even though it seems like your life is just one big trial, one big battle after big battle, the trials and battles in your life will come to an end.

2 Corinthians 4:17 out of the New Living Translation: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

Somehow, at some point in our lives we have believed the lie that our struggles will never end. We will always be broke, we will always be down, we will always be struggling with this addiction or struggling with these thoughts. Today, I am here to tell you that there is an end to the things that you have been fighting against, the things that weigh heavy on your heart or the things that keep you up at night. God knows what you’re going through, remember He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He will never give you more then you can handle. Sometimes though He needs to allow things to happen in your life to put the fight in you.  We can see trials as things that will never end, things that only bring us pain and trouble, or we can take the word of God and look through it and see that the truth is that nothing is impossible with God.  These trials we face will only help develop the character in us needed to walk at a greater level with God. So today, tonight, whenever you read this, let me encourage you with a few things. Number one, don’t fight the process. Don’t try and skip the hard times in your life, don’t seek comfort, seek God. If God puts a test in front of you, run through it with joy knowing that it may be hard in the present but up the road it will be well worth it. Lastly, as you run forward accomplishing all that God has for you, as you come against opposition and troubles and trials and battles and struggles and roadblocks know that the hard times will end not in the next life but in this one. Know that if you stick it out with God, your trials will end.

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Trials Designed To End

Fulfilled

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Sometimes our knowledge can get us into trouble. It can block faith, it can stop us from stepping out and doing things that we are uncomfortable with that are necessary for our growth. However, sometimes what we know in our hearts can keep us from following what we see with our eyes.

I realize it sounds kind of cryptic but I’ll explain what I’m talking about. I think to some extent we have all experienced the “grass is greener on the other side” feelings at one point in time or another. I was actually kind of surprised when I came across this exact situation in the Bible. I was reading through the book of Psalms and got to chapter 73. I’ll summarize it by saying there was a man who was following God and he couldn’t help but notice the wicked men around him. More specifically he couldn’t help but notice the way that they seemed to prosper in all that they did. Check out vs 3, “For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” vs 5, “They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.” It’s actually a really interesting read, as the writer goes on about this man observing the wicked, you can almost feel this man being lured in when he sees that the wicked don’t seem to struggle with anything. Eventually though the man tries to get down to the bottom of things as he tries to figure out why these evil men seem to be prospering. He has no success until vs 17 where he goes into the sanctuary of God and then it says he discerned their end.

vs 16-17 “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”

I want to move forward, but notice how he couldn’t figure it out in his own mind. He just didn’t understand, it was a divine perspective that finally made things clear. Anyway, he goes on to realize that even though they seem to be prospering they have been “set in slippery places”, they are destined for ruin. The man’s mind almost switches to an eternal perspective. “How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!”

I think Isaiah 57:20-21 sums it up really well:

“For the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.”

Now to bring things into this millennia. I know of this couple. They are literally, as far as appearance goes, the perfect human beings. They are both models that travel the world doing work for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, so on so forth. Seriously, not to sound weird but they both have perfect smiles, perfect hair, perfect bodies. Regularly because of their work they travel around to these exotic places and post videos of themselves at parties, surfing in the nicest countries, sky diving. Stereotypical perfect people things. On the outside they look like they have it all together. But something I know is that these people have no peace. The reason they do all of these things is to try and fill this emptiness that they feel inside. They are always trying to find fulfillment by trying to top last years trip or last years vacation, or by trying to set a new record of likes on a specific picture they might post on their Instagram.

It made me think about my life, I can have the perfect job, I can have the most beautiful girlfriend, I can have the most amazing car. And at first it may fill me, I honestly have been able to fill that void many times by doing adventurous things or buying the latest and greatest. But it never lasts. Sometimes we get so fixated on things, we say, “if only I had that body, or if only I made that amount of money a year, if only I drove that car or if only I could date that person or be on that platform.” But it’s never enough. It will never be enough. But here’s the thing, we always think it will be.

I remember looking at the couple and thinking to myself, “they literally have it all.” Sure I’ll admit that a part of me wanted to live that lifestyle, but here is where my 22 years of acquired wisdom comes in. Sometimes you need to overwrite what your emotions are telling you and what your eyes see and realize that it is a means to nothing but emptiness. One day, the couple that I mentioned, they will lose their youthful good looks. They will have great pictures and memories of doing many things but the void won’t go away. They will probably spend a life time trying to fill a puzzle that they don’t have the right pieces to.

John 10:10 “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else will be added unto you.”

Here’s where Christians, I find, can get into trouble. It’s almost like a few of us are extremists and think that if we seek God out, somehow this means  we can’t have the body or the vacations or go do the amazing things that others do. That is so far from the truth. It’s when we try to do the these things apart from God that we get into trouble. God has the most amazing life planned for you. You know it but I’ll quote it, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  We can not chase the lifestyle without God. Nothing will ever be enough, no car, no amount of money in the bank, no person, because there is only one thing that can bring us fulfillment. That is a life lived with God. I’ve come to a place where I kind of feel bad for the couple I mentioned earlier because at the end of the day, what’s the point? Where’s the purpose? Where’s the peace and the joy and the true love? Here’s a question, without the Spirit how can you live, without the fruits of the Spirit? Let me encourage you, don’t skip over God. You don’t have to wake up one day and ask yourself “what if?”. God is good to supply your every need, He is good to give you direction and He will give you fulfillment. Stop chasing the lifestyle and start chasing the One who gives life. Then you will be fulfilled.

Fulfilled