Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Sometimes when we are on this Christian walk certain things occur or things don’t occur or they linger in our lives. Things that we thought should have already been cleared up or fixed and we begin to ask God why and our faith waivers.
Am I the only one? Anyone experienced this?
Things Occur: We find ourselves in a situation that seems to overwhelm us and God just does not seem to be part of the equation or answer. Let’s look at some examples:
- Your wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend leaves you
- You or a loved one are in a near fatal accident
- You or a close relative are diagnosed with a terminal illness
- A natural disaster wipes out your home, town or city
- We get ourselves into deeper trouble than we can get out of alone
All that comes across your mind is “Where is the good in any of this mess? God, where are You?”
In this writing we will call these Storms of Life
Things Don’t Occur: Other times we find ourselves in a situation where we’re expecting something to happen and it appears that you are at a standstill with no results at all or the end result is not what you wanted or desired or expected! A few examples:
- You find yourself facing charges for something you did or maybe even didn’t do. Either way you need some divine intervention.
- You breakdown and seek God’s help in jail or court, praying diligently, sincerely and contritely repented of all your sins committed but are sentenced to a greater amount of time than even imagined.
- You pray for healing and it seems that your illness is getting worse
- You pray for your finances to improve and you lose your job, your house and/or your car
All that comes to mind is, “God where are you?
In this writing we will call these Tests of Life
Things Linger: Other times we find ourselves having repented of our sins and given our life over completely to Christ yet it appears that all the problems we hoped would clear up or go away are still here and may be getting worse.
- Addictions of all kinds seem to be threatening to undo everything you are reaching for in your new life of Christianity (Porn, Desire for Drugs, Cursing, etc)
- Family conflict still occurs, people continue to bring up things you used to do before knowing Christ
- You have done your time in jail/prison, paid your dues to society and are now out trying to live a life pleasing to God and make it in society – yet you still receive scorn, mis-trust and put-downs feels like your past has you trapped and no forward progress will come
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about each of these things.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
All things? YES ALL THINGS, if you love God and are in the family of God. If you are called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for good. This passage of scripture was written by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Rome – to those who had already professed their belief in Jesus Christ. This passage is not for those who do not believe in God or for those who have not committed their life to Him. It is a promise for those of us who are His Children and have received salvation.
In this writing we will call these Thorns of Life
Ok let’s back up and read some scripture to correlate to our areas being covered to day.
Things Occur: Storms of Life – Let’s check out a portion of the story of Jonah
Jonah 1:4-10 (NLT) 4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” 7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.
First off let’s get the record set straight, Jonah was a child of God but he got himself in a horrible mess disobeying God. In his disobedience he jeopardized everyone around him. The storm did not just come down on him but everyone that was in close proximity to him!
This did not even count the fact that the whole town of Nineveh was in danger of perishing if Jonah did not obey God! Jonah’s disobedience landed him in the middle of a storm, then in the belly of a fish in the sea. You might ask, where is God in the violent storm, all of this destruction and isolation?
I am sure that you have your own Storm of Life that you can remember that relates to Jonah’s, however I will share the revelation that I received from this story that I felt was important for us to read.
- God used the Storm, the Ship, the Captain and the Shipmates to allow Jonah to confess his sin and stop running from God’s Word.
- Once Jonah confessed his sin, the Lord used the Fish to get Jonah alone where the only voice he would be able to hear is God’s.
- It was in the belly of the fish that Jonah repented of his sin and committed himself to follow God’s Word without getting off track.
- God was present the whole time, working out His plan and purpose for Jonah through the storm, the captain, the ship, the shipmates and the great fish.
Jonah 2 (NLT) Jonah’s Prayer – Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. 2 He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! 3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. 6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. 9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” 10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Due to Jonah’s obedience to God, the people of Nineveh repented of their sins and were saved from certain destruction!
When God says “All Things Work Together for Good” He means just what He says.
If you are in a Storm of Life today, go to our Father God in prayer and ask Him what He wants you to do. He will send shelter from the storm even if it is in the belly of a fish! He loves you and will answer, you’re His child and He has a good plan for your life.
Things Don’t Occur: Tests of Life – Sometimes, we find ourselves in over our heads and we call upon God to help bail us out it doesn’t seem that God even shows up at all. In fact it seems that things have wound up even worse! Where is God anyway? Let’s check out a portion of the story of Paul –
Acts 26:9-16 (NLT) 9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene.10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. 12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’ 15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future.
After Saul (who was renamed Paul by Christ Himself) repented of his sins, now an appointed minister of the Gospel – you would think that he would be living a life of great prosperity and have a large following of believers that showed up to services each week. But no, Paul lived a life of a missionary and was repeatedly beat, stoned, imprisoned and even shipwrecked – God allowed these Tests of Life to come in Paul’s day to day world.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (NLT) 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.
From outward appearance it would seem that he did not live a blessed life. That even though he gave his all and decided to follow Christ and share the Good News of the Gospel with all that he encountered, he was still being punished for his past sins.
But that is not the whole story. You see God used Paul, a man who was known as a persecutor of Christians to be one of the greatest missionaries that the world has ever seen! He became Apostle to the Gentiles (all of us not born Jewish), thousands came to know about our Father God and His Son Jesus Christ who gave His life for the sins of the world. He was able to write about ¾ of the New Covenant (Testament) while he was under lock and key in prison!
Yes God used the Tests of Life to be Paul’s Testimony, to show that He is a righteous and faithful God! When the Apostle John penned
Revelation 12:11 (NLT) And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
He was speaking of Apostle Paul and all those who have lived as Conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Even Jesus told us that to be persecuted for His sake is a blessing!
Matthew 5:10-12 (NLT) 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Some people may tell you that you are experiencing all of these bad things due to old life. That God does not hear your prayers and that is why you are not being delivered. That you might be a Christian now but God is still punishing you for your past sins! They are liars and the truth is not in them! When you are following God, doing all that He has commanded of you, know that God is the one who allows the Fiery Tests of Life to come to strengthen us and shape us for HIS glory. Sometimes when God seems like He is nowhere around, He is working in our lives the most! Put your dancing shoes on and Praise God today that He has found you worthy to be in the Fire!
1 Peter 1:7 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Let Christ be Glorified! Let people see our Father God and His unconditional love as you walk through the trials of life – praising our God and lifting up His name! For He is Good and deserves all praise! He is working All Things Together for Good, whose good? His Good and yours too!
You see your reward and mine are not here on earth for men to give us praise – it is in heaven above and God will say “Well Done!”
James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Things Linger: Thorns of Life – Last but not least, what about the things that we continue to pray for God to deliver us from? But yet they seem to be ever present?
- Do you have an ailment in your body that it seems God will not heal?
- Are you still tempted by a particular sin? So you need to keep tight barriers and accountability partners so that you don’t fall into the pit?
- Have you been up for parole and been denied, yet again?
2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NLT) 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God uses even these things in our life to keep us focused on Him. He is Good and His grace is all we need! In our weakness He is our strength! Be encouraged by the Word of the Lord!
Psalm 73:26 (NLT) My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
Isaiah 40:29 (NLT) He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT) This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
1 Corinthians 15:43 (NLT) Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
Hebrews 11:33-35 (NLT) By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.
If life had no challenges, no thorns, what would we need God for? We would not need a Savior if we could handle it on our own. We would not need to have Faith in God, if we could fix everything ourselves. Because God is good, He loves us and He wants to have a close relationship with His children, He allows us to have problems so that we can trust in Him!
In our businesses, schools and organizations we have Team Building Exercises to build Trust amongst one another. If this is important among mankind, then why would God desire less?
In our Christian walk what a Testimony we have to share with others of what God can do for them, because we know what He has done for us!
TESTIMONIES OF ALL THINGS WORKING FOR HIS GOOD!
- Some of us have struggled with Chemical Dependency, but today we are free because God is Good! No longer do we hurt family and friends to get the next fix – God has delivered us!
- Have you lost a job, become homeless, or had to raise a child alone without a spouse? God is Good and is your Provider!
- Some of us had other addictions – Anger, Lust, Money, and Power. No longer do these addictions run our lives, we are children of the most High God and serve only Him. We have been set free because God is Good!
- Has your heart been broken? Has your spouse left you in divorce? God is the great heart mender! The Holy Spirit was sent to be our comforter! He is Good no matter if you are married or single! His plan for your life is good!
- Has your spouse cheated on your marriage and had relations outside of your marriage bed? God is able to keep you and your spouse even in this great time of trouble! Some have had their families healed – forgiveness, peace, unity and love now reign because God became the center of their marriage! God is Good, He created marriage for our good!
- Each and every one of us who has been to jail/prison or is still incarcerated have a testimony of God’s Goodness! The peace, love, understanding, salvation and mercy of God while still behind bars is an un-measureable proof of God’s Goodness!
- Are you a widow? A widower? God wants to be your peace and comfort you beyond all understanding? God is Good!
- Have you lost a child? Does it seem that God took your baby home before their time? He knows what is best for them and for you. He wants to comfort you in your time of mourning – your baby is dancing on streets of Gold today, God is Good!
Our FATHER GOD is GOOD! He knows all about your struggles and trials of life and He is working ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR OUR GOOD!
TRUST HIM, PRAISE HIM, & CELEBRATE HIS GOODNESS TODAY!
Donnie & Genie Ojemann