“What’s in it for Me?”

God has blessed Samaritan’s Heart richly in many ways the past few months. One blessing was the ability to pay off the note on the church building. In addition to that amazing gift, God showed favor on Samaritan’s Heart in many other ways. It appears the enemy wasn’t fond of these gifts. We were suddenly hit with several challenges. We attributed them to demonic attacks. But it occurred to me: Satan can’t do anything that God doesn’t allow him to do. The challenges we faced passed through God’s hand before they got to us. That realization makes us ask: Why? Why does God allow us to face these struggles?

In his book “Do You Believe,” Paul Tripp points out that if we were made on purpose for a purpose, then we should ask ourselves what God’s purpose is for everything in our lives. Tripp listed 17 examples we should put to the question, “What is God’s purpose for:___________?” Here are a few of Tripp’s examples:

  • My spouse?
  • My material possessions?
  • My ability to think?
  • My sexuality?

You get the idea. Tripp finishes the list with: My___________(fill in the blank)? So, I did. Mine was: What is God’s purpose for the challenges He allows His church to face? His Apostle Peter answered this question quite thoroughly:

12 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. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:12-17 (NIV)

I find these lines particularly powerful: “…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ…” A pastor friend puts it this way: “You’re either under attack or you are underperforming.” When you are effective for God, the fiery ordeals will come. Standing strong in the face of them reveals the glory of God. His purpose is served.

If you’re suffering as the result of your own bad choices, make no mistake: God has a purpose in that too:

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Hebrews 12:7-8 (NIV)

Don’t confuse discipline here with punishment. Consider the Greek word used here for “disciplines:”

Paideuō: instruct, train, educate, as an on-going matter, in accord with rules and proper conduct; discipline, punish, for the purpose of better behavior:– disciplined (3), beaten (1), discipline (1), disciplines (1), educated (1), instructed (1), punish (1), punished (1), taught (1), teaches (1), trained (1)

While Paideuō can refer to punishment, its primary meanings are: to instruct, train, and educate. Think of an athlete that undergoes intense training to develop discipline during competition.

Romans 8:28, and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, doesn’t mean every challenging circumstance will end the way we want it to. It does mean that like everything else that touches our lives in our time on earth, our struggles are designed to give us an opportunity to produce a response that gives glory to Him.

Pray that the next time you’re facing a “fiery ordeal,” that your first question is not: “Why is this happening to me.” Rather, let the question you ask be: “What’s in this for me?”

Pastor Jerry Bader

1 Comment
  • Misti Rose Rosa
    Posted at 00:36h, 03 November Reply

    Peace, Love, and Blessings.!!
    Wonderful message!!

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