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A Country Called Heaven series
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As God's children, our past has been taken care of and we have a glorious future. We are on the way to our heavenly home. But what about the present? Is it possible for us to have victory over our circumstances in this life? Yes, it is. The apostle Paul said, "Thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ…" (2 Corinthians 2:14).
What we must know
The way in which we meet the trials of life depends on the way we inwardly see and believe things to be. If we see things from a purely human point of view, we will be discouraged and defeated. Victory comes from seeing them from God's point of view.
To see things from God's point of view, there are some things we must know.
We must know what to expect in this life.
Trouble is a part of this life. The Bible says, "Man is born unto trouble." Sometimes Christians expect God to keep them from problems and hardship and suffering, but God has not promised to do this. Christians, as well as unsaved people, experience trials, troubles and suffering.
There is a false teaching circulating in the world which says, "Become a follower of Jesus Christ and all your troubles will be over."
Sometimes God's people are told, "God will keep you from sickness and make you successful if you just believe the right things and claim them." But God does not promise this anywhere in the Bible. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation [trouble]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Christians should not be surprised when trials and suffering come. We are part of a fallen race that is under the judgment of God. We live in a world that has rejected God's Son and thus rejected God. The Bible says that we must "through much tribulation [trouble] enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
Often we suffer and are in difficult circumstances because of our own self-will and disobedience. God is "chastening" us; He is correcting us in love. "For whom the Lord loves He chastens" (Hebrews 12:6).
We need to see the hand of God and the love of God in our chastening. When we are being corrected by God in love, the very best thing we can do is to agree with God and tell Him that He is right in chastening us. This is what David did when he was being chastened by God. He said, "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that You in faithfulness have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75).
We must know that God loves us and desires only what is best for us.
The Bible says that God loves us as He loves His own Son. The great proof of this is that He gave His Son to die for us. There can be no greater love than this. The Bible says,
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
Because He loves us as He does, God always wants what is best for us. He always seeks our highest good, even when we would gladly settle for less. God is thinking of our eternal rewards, not just things in this life.
We must know God's goal for us in this present time.
God's goal for us is not to make us happy and successful in this life. His goal for us is to make us like Jesus. The Bible says, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
How does God "conform us to the image of His Son"? He does it through difficult circumstances and the discipline of the Holy Spirit. There is no other way. This involves trials, troubles, and suffering. Therefore we must expect these things since they are a necessary part of God's dealings with us to make us like Christ.
Steps to victory
To enjoy our Christian life and to enter into all that God has for us, there are some definite steps that we must take:
Step 1: Believe that God is sovereign.
When we say that God is sovereign, we mean that God rules over everything in this world and in the universe.
He has all power in Heaven and in earth. There is nothing that can hinder or prevent God from doing what He purposes to do.
The Bible says, "He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What are You doing?" (Daniel 4:35).
God is the Creator of the universe. He has the right, the wisdom and the power to do whatever pleases Him. The Bible says, "Our God is in the heavens; He has done whatever He has pleased" (Psalm 115:3).
God causes all things to serve Him and accomplish His purposes. David said, "All are Your servants" (Psalm 119:91b).
David realized this great truth: All things are God's servants and must therefore do His will. Even the fierce and cruel things of nature—storms, earthquakes, famines—serve God and fulfill His purposes. This is true, not only of the things of nature, but also of men, kings, and nations. All are under God's control. The Bible says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord… He turns it wherever He will" (Proverbs 21:1).
Even Satan and those who serve him are used by God to accomplish His will. It was Satan who stirred up wicked men to crucify God's Son; yet Satan and his wicked followers were used by God as His "servants" to do His perfect will for the salvation of men. The Bible says,
"The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ … and the people of Israel were gathered together, to do whatever Your hand and Your counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:26-28).
Everything that happens in the universe is under God's watchful eye and His careful supervision. Does God know about our circumstances? Yes, He does. Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered.
Step 2: Believe that God's way is perfect.
There are many mysteries in life that we cannot explain. Christians suffer the same tragedies and sorrows as other people. In times of great distress, we need to hear God saying, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10a).
God's will comes to us in two forms—His direct will and His permissive will. God's direct will is what He wills to happen. God's permissive will is what He permits to happen. Absolutely nothing can come to a child of God apart from God's will—either His direct will or His permissive will.
Many things are hard for us to understand because we are seeing things from our earthly viewpoint and not from God's viewpoint. But God makes no mistakes. No matter how things may look in this world, all of God's acts are perfect. His way cannot be improved upon. The Bible says, "As for God, His way is perfect…" (Psalm 18:30).
The story is told of a man who made a clock and showed it to a friend of his who had never before seen one.
The maker of the clock opened the back of it and asked the man what he thought of its maker.
The man saw some larger wheels, and other smaller ones, some going one way and others another way, some wheels slow and other wheels fast. Seeing this seeming confusion, he answered, "I think the man who made that is crazy."
Then the maker took his friend to the front side of the clock and asked what he now thought of its maker. The man looked at the two hands of the clock moving smoothly and regularly, each one in its appointed circle, and both of them telling perfectly the time of day, and replied, "I think the man who made that is the wisest person who ever lived."
This story helps us understand a great truth concerning life. We are here on earth, and we see only the "earthly side" of God's working, and thus we fail to see His perfect design and plan. The "wheels" are going every which way, and they sometimes seem to have no purpose or design.
But, one day, we will see the "heavenly side" of God's actions. We will see His perfect design and plan for our life, and we will say, "Lord, I praise You and thank You. Your way is indeed perfect."
Step 3: Believe that God is good.
When trials and difficulties come to us, Satan likes to put wrong thoughts into our mind. He may suggest something like this: "Either God is not good or He doesn't love you. How could a good God let this happen to you?"
If we accept Satan's wrong thoughts, they will lead us into self-pity and depression. The truth is that God loves us and He is good, no matter what our circumstances are. The Bible says, "Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good: for His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 106:1).
Step 4: Surrender your will to God.
There is something within us which decides everything and controls everything. What is it? It is our will.
What does it mean to surrender our will to God? It means to will what God wills, in all things and at all times. This allows God to work out His perfect plan in our life. A great saint said, "Our wills are ours to make them Yours."
Step 5: Believe that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Nothing that comes into the life of a child of God is accidental. All that comes to us is either ordered by God or permitted by Him. If we truly love God, all things that come to us work together for our eternal good. The Bible says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
We may not see how all things are working together for our good, but we can know it because God says so.
The reason why all things work together for good to them that love God is that God is sovereign. All things are His servants, and He causes them to work together for good to His children who love Him.
Take Joseph, for example. He was next to the youngest of Jacob's twelve sons. He was a godly young man and especially loved by his father. But his older brothers were jealous of him and they hated him. They sold him into slavery in Egypt and told their father that no doubt a wild animal had killed him.
While he was a slave in Egypt, Joseph suffered terribly. He was falsely accused by his master's wife and spent two years in chains in prison for something he did not do.
Had God forgotten Joseph? No, not at all. In time Joseph was honored by Pharaoh and put in charge of everything in Egypt. Later, when a great famine came, Joseph was in the position to save his brothers and their families from dying of starvation. He brought them to Egypt and cared for them.
Whatever God permits to come to me will be for my good by the time it reaches me. Few things could be worse than what Joseph's brothers did. Hating him and selling him into slavery were terrible sins. They meant evil to him, but God permitted it, and by the time it reached Joseph, it was God's will for him.
Though Joseph could not see it then, it turned out to be the greatest blessing in his whole life. In time Joseph saw God's hand in the whole matter. He freely forgave his brothers and said to them, "You thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…" (Genesis 50:20).
The Christian's secret of a joyful life
When Jesus lived here as a Man, He endured hardship, trials and suffering; yet He was the most joyful person who ever lived. What was His secret? It was twofold: He trusted His Father and He thankfully accepted His circumstances as His Father's will for Him. I, too, can know joy and rest by doing these two things:
Trusting my Father
Trusting God means looking beyond my circumstances and seeing God. Nothing happens apart from Him. He is absolutely supreme. There are no second causes in the life of a child of God.
I deal directly with God, and not with my work, people or things. Everything comes to me through my Father. I believe His Word—God is working all things together for good to them that love Him.
The testimony of Jesus in the gospels is that He had a heavenly Father who was always with Him. On one occasion Jesus and His disciples were in a small boat when a violent storm came up. The disciples feared for their lives, but Jesus was peacefully sleeping in the boat. He had a Father in Heaven and He trusted His Father. I, too, have a Father in Heaven and I can trust Him in the "storms of life."
Thankfully accepting my circumstances as my Father's will for me
The Lord Jesus was doubted by John the Baptist; He was rejected by His own people; He was blasphemed by the religious leaders. But He did not fret nor become angry. He said, "I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."
How was our Lord able to thank the Father in such difficult circumstances? He saw all these circumstances as His Father's will for Him. He said, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Your sight" (Matthew 11:26).
Even when facing death on the cross, the Lord Jesus did not look at the evil men who hated Him and plotted to kill Him. He did not even look at Satan who was behind it all. Instead He said, "The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11b).
If I want to know joy and rest, I must not murmur and complain, but say to my Father, "Father, I thank You, for all that You have permitted to come to me is Your will, and Your will is good."
A Quiet Time—in the Book of John
"If you would be much like Christ, you must be much with Christ."
A Quiet Time is time set aside to be alone with Christ and learn from Him. Develop the habit of meeting with Him every day!
- You will need your Bible, a pen, and paper.
- Before you read each day's Scripture portion, thank the Lord that He has promised to be with you at all times. Ask Him to teach you.
- Read the Scripture portion at least three times.
- Observations: What does it say? What does it mean? What does this passage teach me about Christ my Lord?
- Ask, "How can I apply this to my life?"
- Pray, using the ACTS outline:
A… Adore and worship God.
C… Confess sin.
T… Thank the Lord for all He is and all He has done for you.
S… Supplication…Ask the Father in Jesus' name for your needs. (See John 16:24)
Jesus Christ is "the Word"—the One who expresses God.
He was "with God," and He is God. Everything was made by Him.
How can I apply this truth to my life?
I need to realize that Jesus Christ is God. He is greater than anything that may come my way today.
(Here's the "John" Scripture Reading Schedule in PDF format which you can print out for easy reference.)
Scripture Reading Schedule