How God Deals With Us To Bless Us In The End

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Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Philippians 2:3

I’ve found people get real quiet when you start to talk about motives. In my years of preaching, I’ve noticed this time and time again—the hooting and hollering starts to recede, and the atmosphere gets a little more somber. In fact, some people even start to make this face; it’s like this “semi-naseous-cause-I-know-God’s-dealing-with-me” look.

I can make the same face, too, when God starts to dig around in my heart. I’ll never forget when the verse above, Philippians 2:3, came alive to me in a fresh way: “let nothing be done for selfish ambition or vainglory” (King James Version)… man, my heart sank down to my stomach as a thought flashed across my mind: “I think everything I do is out of selfish ambition and vainglory!”. It was a pretty sobering moment.

Why is it so uncomfortable for God to deal with our motives?  I mean, even for us who love God and want to give Him our best, it’s something we can run away from. I think the answer is found in Proverbs 16:2, which says, “the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes”. In other words, we humans have this tendency to assume the very best about our motivations for things. So when God exposes something in our hearts, it can feel like we’re having the rug pulled out from under us, so to speak.

The verse goes on to say, “but the Lord weighs the heart”. I believe this means if you follow God, He’s gonna lead you in ways that will expose and test what’s in your heart—that’s just what He does. Not for His sake (He already knows), but for yours. Through His Word or trials (or both), He will bring junk to the surface, so you can deal with it. Not to shame you, but because He loves you and wants you to grow.

The truth is, God wants to bless you, and to entrust you with the precious things of His Kingdom. He has good things planned for your future—next levels of influence, wisdom, promotion, more resources, more favor, more open doors—but He knows you need the right heart to handle such blessings. Deuteronomy 8:16 reveals to us that He purifies our hearts, bringing us through the wilderness, so that He “may do us good in the end”. (emphasis mine) You need to know God has a “good end” in mind for you. This is the way of God Most High—-He gives beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and double for our former shame.

Is God dealing with you about something in your life? Has He led you into a time of testing? Don’t be discouraged. Take heart. God is treating you like His very own son or daughter. (Hebrews 12:5-11) Jesus Himself said to one of the churches in Revelation, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline”. (Revelations 3:19) He is not doing this to destroy you, but to do you good in the end. God has good things already lined up in your future; all your days have been written in His book. What He promised you will come to pass. But remember, it takes a steady hand to hold a full cup. He’s getting you ready. Trust Him.

 

 

God Our Trainer

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.43.40 PMMany of us fear correction from God because we lack understanding of His ways. 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the training and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 4:18

Notice above, God’s appeal to parents. When it comes to adjusting a child’s bad behavior, the Father says to “bring them up with training”. Not beating, shaming, or threatening. But training. This is God’s way. He is a Trainer at heart. And He wants you to be a trainer as well—especially to those entrusted to your care.

Many of us fear correction from God—we see it as a scary or negative thing.

I believe this fear comes from a faulty view of God. We envision God as an angry, all-powerful being up there, with smoke blowing out of his ears. We screw-up and do something wrong, He’s like some massive spirit-being awoken from his slumber— straight-up Temple of Doom style—there to lay the smack down. 

Even Christians who know better can still struggle to shake this feeling that God is angry, and always mad at them. It’s one thing to know in your head that Jesus has forgiven you. It’s a whole other thing to have this revelation sink down into your heart.

In fact, that’s why the Apostle Paul was always praying for his churches to “really come to know” and “experience for themselves” the love of God in Christ. (Ephesians 3) And that all believers would know what they have in Jesus. (Ephesians 1)

Training: God’s Style of Correction

Let me ask you something: is it shocking for a fitness trainer to show their clients what they’re doing wrong?

Of course not! When we hire a trainer of any kind— whether fitness, business, or life coach— we expect them to reveal our shortcomings. We obviously sought someone out because we know we have some things to change. So all training involves correction, right?

But here’s the thing: a good trainer has a way of helping us change—redirecting and reshaping our behavior— without losing their connection with us. They can offer criticism without breaking trust and discipline without causing us to lose heart.

Think about a great football coach. He builds a bond with his players. Can you imagine a head coach who doesn’t train his players— he just sits passively on the sidelines, rolling his eyes at them, taking potshots at the running-back, pestering the quarterback to throw better, then walks off the field shaking his head when they screw up.

No! A good coach creates an environment for growth. He doesn’t walk away the first time the players make a mistake. If all the players had it all figured out, they wouldn’t need a coach! That’s the whole point of hiring a coach.

A coach is there to help them get it right, not to prove to them how bad they are.

This is God’s heart towards his spiritual children: He wants us to get it right. He’s not there to prove to us we’re terrible. I mean, if He wanted to prove that, He could of just left us to our own devices. He wouldn’t have to mess with us at all.

But God is for us! And He wants to shape us and mold us into His image. Is there correction? Of course, there is. We show up to the field with an attitude, then God is gonna deal with it. We make a mistake, He will guide us to the right path. But when we mess up— even when we mess up big— He never breaks connection with us. He never withdraws His love. In fact,  when we make a mistake, He draws us even closer, like a loving and gentle father, and He says:

“Ok, my man. That’s not how it’s done. We’re going to do it again, okay?”

And God won’t give up on us until we get it right. That’s what training is all about. That’s what a trainer is for. He’s there to help us succeed.

 

Say these five confessions out loud:

1. God is my Trainer.

2. Because of Jesus, God is not mad at me.

3. God is not ashamed of me. He is not fed up with me.

4. God is patient. He is a loving Father to me.

5. God is training me. He is helping me to grow daily!