Where do you belong?

1 Peter 4:12-16

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

Do you ever find yourself conflicted between “do what is best for you” and “what would Jesus want you to do?” It is so easy to get caught up between the two, especially when many people around you are giving you the wrong advice. Do not get me wrong, the same people that tell you “do what is best for you” may have what they think to be “the best intentions” for you. But, is anyone’s intentions better than our God Almighty? I first want to give two scenarios for you to keep in the back of your mind.

 

Background: Both Molly and Jim have one particular thing in common. Both of them have turned their lives to Christ.

Scenario 1: Molly’s mom Beth has been addicted to drugs since before Molly was born. Beth and Molly were in the same rehabilitation center together when molly was 4 months old and born addicted to cocaine.

Scenario 2: Jim’s mom Alena has been facing alcohol abuse for 12 years. His mom not only has an alcohol addiction, but she fights manic bi-polar disorder. With Alena’s disorder, she feels the need to take an occasional Xanax to “calm herself down.” On the days that Alena does not have her medication or self-medication, she can get very psychically abusive with Jim.

Conclusion: Being grown and moved away from home, both Molly and Jim have devoted their lives, marriages, and parenting towards Jesus Christ. Recently and all of the sudden both Molly’s and Jim’s mother would like to be a part of their lives again now. Both mothers are now sober and Jim’s mom is in anger management classes. Neither of their mothers have gave a sincere apology other than “I’m sorry, I just needed a minute. Could we start over?”

If you have not noticed by now, both Molly and Jim are conflicted with an unsettling situation.

You may look at both of these situations and think they should “do what is best for themselves.” Although that option would be a fairly easy one, to shut the door in their face and decline their calls– it would not be what Jesus asked us to do. You may not have a parent like Molly and Jim asking to walk back into your life, but you may have a situation where you flesh would love nothing more than to have its’ way. It should not be hard to make a decision when it is whether or not to love or forgive as Christ has so graciously done for us. Not walking away and loving those people in our lives, despite the trespasses they make against us could impact them enough to save their soul. Do not let your heart grow cold when you have an obligation to love as Jesus has already loved you. If you are unsure of how to approach the situation, simply ask God! Your Christ-like action could stick with that person for the rest of their life, and give them a heart to seek Jesus. The Lord is very clear and direct in what he expects from us. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 tells us, “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” God does not only want us to understand these things, but EXPRESS them as well. There are two places you can either belong to– the flesh or the Spirit. It is crucial to live by the spirit and stay faithful to God’s word. We never know what people are truly going through unless they tell us– even then we may not be able to fully comprehend. We are often so quick to judge and so slow to forgive that we forget just how wrong we our as well. No one wants to share the blame in this world, but Jesus has already overcome this world. We sometimes would rather remember all the wrongs of before rather than to simply forgive– just to have an excuse for the easy route. God did not intend for life to be an easy breeze. In situations against our flesh he gives us instruction through his word. James 1:3-4 states, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If we can stop and take the time to look at people with the same point of view Jesus Christ does, then we can stand strong in the testing of our faith. We are a world of beautiful people and souls­– why should we not try our hardest to be like Jesus? It is important to be a light in the dark, especially during a fight against sin. Maybe you have forgiven someone, but are you a friend to them as well? Jesus is deeper than just forgiving us and moving on. He is there when we are low, he is also our shelter, and so many other great things promised. A person full of love from Jesus will and can be all of those things too. Stand strong and steadfast in the days of your trials, so that you can obtain his promise. I know in our minds we would do anything to stay away from things or people hurtful to us. Jesus on the other hand went to ALL men, women, and children with his love and grace. If Jesus showed grace to everyone, then so should we.

Stop and ask yourself, where would you be without Jesus and his never changing ETERNAL love and grace?

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-18 

“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:3-15

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Glory to God

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