BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as you read this booklet ( EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).
We continue our examination of what it means to live the blessed life available to all who place their trust and confidence in Jesus Christ; the life that we call the zoe life.The Bible tells us that the source of this zoe life is God the Father.In JOH 5:26 Jesus said; "For just as the Father has life (zoe) in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself."This life then comes to us as spiritual blessings when we live "in Christ." The Bible tells us that when we live in Christ we share in the zoe happiness of God, because we are literally living the life that God has in Himself.
One of the ways that we connect with God is by having an effective prayer life.An effective prayer life will bring God's power into our lives.Prayer opens the door for God to accomplish in us what is best for us.JAM 5:16 tells us that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." and 1JO 5:14 gives us this assurance: "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." It isn't necessary that we put together a glorious prayer that we think will impress God, or that we try to get His attention by endless prayerful repetition.We should be comfortable simply talking to God like we would talk to our very best friend, someone that we can always go to anytime we are in need.When we ask for God's help, we should acknowledge our helplessness, our humility, and our total dependence on Him.And we must be willing to ask Him to do what is best for us, and not just what we want Him to do.
Although we often pray only when we have a serious problem and think that we have nowhere else to turn, prayer is not designed just to get us out of trouble. PHI 4:6; tells us; "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." When we pray we are to tell God what we want by making a clear and honest confession of all of the circumstances, even if it means that we admit to something we would rather forget.Then we must focus on God and not the problem, and we always remember tobe thankful for all that He has done for us in the past.
When we pray we must also remember that we can never expect God to eliminate all suffering from our lives.We can't ask Him to cancel out the law of volitional responsibility, which means that sometimes we have to pay for our own mistakes. GAL 6:7-8 tells us; "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."This is a warning: Whenever you make a bad decision based on wrong priorities, or when you place your desires over your respect and love for the Lord, do not be surprised if you suffer for it.
There is the other kind of suffering that sometimes drives us crazy—this is the undeserved suffering where we feel like victims and we question whether God is really being fair to us. It is the kind of suffering that drives so many people away from their faith in God.Undeserved suffering can be described as suffering that we don't bring upon our self. It can be anything from a minor set back to something major like a serious illness or the loss of someone we love.In any case, undeserved suffering will bring up questions and doubts in our mind. How can God be all-powerful and allow us to suffer?How can a just and merciful God allow some of the nasty things that go on in this world?Why doesn’t He always answer our prayers, even when we pray the right way?Why doesn't God reach out and comfort us when we are hurting?These are questions that some cosmic believers will use to deny the very existence of God. But they are good questions, and we don't always have the answers.However, we do know that we are commanded to bear up under suffering and trust in God.
There are some Christians who believe their life in the temporal world will always be one endless picnic if they are "good" Christians.They believe that those who suffer are the “bad” people who have offended God and are getting what’s coming to them.Then God hits these self-righteous Christians upside the head and gives them a dose of suffering and they begin to see the truth; and that truth is that in this world we will never truly enter the zoe life if our life is forever free from some form of suffering and sorrow. The suffering doesn't have to be catastrophic, but it will be enough to get our attention. ROM 5:3-5 tells us that we build our spiritual muscles when we handle suffering the way God intended;"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." The one who places His trust in God when things go wrong is the one who will grow spiritually, developing an inner strength that leads to a life of inner happiness.It is an absolute truism that when you get older and have a chance to look back on life, some of your best memories will be of the times that God helped strengthen you through adversity.
This leads us to the story of Job.There is probably no greater example of the ultimate power of bearing up under undeserved suffering than the example of Job, who by all accounts was a very righteous man.In the book of Job, Satan challenges God to remove His protection from Job to see if Job will remain faithful to God. (Satan is betting that Job won't)As the story unfolds Job begins to suffer and his suffering becomes so intense that we find him sitting on a dung heap, cursing the day he was born, and crying out in relentless pain. His suffering is so great that even his wife counsels him to curse God—probably out of misguided sympathy for him—that he might die and be relieved of his agony.Naturally Job's friends think that he has brought all of this suffering on himself.
Finally it seems that Job can't take it any longer.He cracks and demands some answers from God.God never answers Job directly.He doesn't say, "Well Job, this is the reason why I allowed all this to happen."God responds to Job with a few "who do you think you are to question Me," challenges.With this Job begins to understand who he really is in relationship with God, and he begins to understand that trusting in God is really the beginning of true wisdom.It is this trust in God that will helpusgrow spiritually in times of suffering.This is one of the keys to the zoe life, that life of contentment and happiness set aside for those who love God.
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