Challenging Days: Part Two
Updated: Aug 20
A Prayer to Open Our Study
"Father, as we come together to study Your Word be with us. Open our hearts so that we can begin to understand that there is a purpose for whatever pain comes in our lives. Knowing that You only allow what is for my good. Thank You that though I may not understand it now, the day is coming when I will see it clearly.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen."
Adversity Happens In Every Life:
As we begin part two of lesson one we will start on pages 8 through 11, Charles asks us questions to make us think about how we see adversity in our lives, and how we handle those situations.
1. He asks, how do you feel about the plans God has for your life? He reminds us we are made in God’s own image. (Genesis 1:27) And that we are created for good works, which God prepared for us. (Ephesians 2:10) My answer to this question took me back to the year, that God’s plan for my life brought about the closing of my business, the foreclosure on my home, and the repossession of my car. This left Joe and I both out of work, with two children to care for, and a ton of doubts about God’s plan. As you can imagine this was about as much adversity as I could stand, so I took my plea to the lord. He sent me (Jeremiah 29:11) this Bible verse that helped to get me through to the other side.
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Read: 1 Peter 4:12-13
2. Charles Stanley asked us how we perceive adversity? When I read Jeremiah 29:11, it didn’t make me feel very good at first. In fact, I laughed, He had a plan not to harm me, He had a plan to give me hope, and He knew all about those plans. I wondered when in His plan He planned on letting me know how it was going to play out. So, if you aren’t doing very well facing your adversity, you are not alone.
But here is the good news, God’s plan was a hard one to live through, but hindsight is 20/20 and now I see how His plan has worked for my good. If my husband and I had not been forced to change our vocation, we would not have the privilege to serve God and be a part of First Congregational Church. This new life is ten times more rewarding; it is ten times more secure, and it’s ten times more fun! God really had a great plan for my life, I just couldn’t see it from His perspective till I arrived here.
Read: Philippians 3:13-14 and Philippians 2:13 and Lamentations 3:38 and Isaiah 45:7
3. Charles asked, why should you expect trials to come into your life-even if you are a follower of Christ? I agree with Mr. Stanley when he said most people believe that when you become a Christian, things just sort of clear up. But we were never promised that we would have a life without trouble. (1 Peter 4:12-13) Trouble is what we need to expect because we live in a fallen world, which means we struggle with sin daily. We experience heartache and pain. We witness natural disasters and staggering loss. Injustice, inhumanity, and dishonesty seem to hold dominance. “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Read: 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and Genesis 6:11 and Ecclesiastes 7:20
4. Charles asks us, what does it mean to “partake of Christ’s sufferings” When it comes to suffering adversity in the name of Christ, the Apostle Paul sees his physical suffering and spiritual renewal as designed to magnify the power of God’s name. In his letter to the Philippians Paul's primary purpose was to thank them for their gifts, and to encourage the Philippians to stand firm in the face of persecution and rejoice regardless of the circumstances. (Philippians 1:27-30)
Rejoice regardless of the circumstances. Easy to say, hard to do. Paul truly lived those words, but for myself I found it difficult to rejoice when things weren’t going the way I hoped, let alone when my world fell apart. As bad as it seemed while I was living through my bankruptcy, it could never compare to the suffering Jesus did on my behalf. To die on the cross for my sins, sins that I know better than to commit, sins I do over and over. So when I equate my sufferings, of having to find a new place to live, a car, and work; and now to have a great home, not just one but two vehicles, and the best work on the planet where I can get closer to my Lord each day. How can I do anything but REJOICE!
Read: Philippians 4:11-12 and Philippians 3:8 and Philippians 1:12
and Hebrews 12:1-11
5. Mr. Stanley asked, what helped you to persevere and follow God’s purpose for your life? I feel that the willingness to be obedient to God no matter what trials and temptations are in your life is the only way we can persevere. It is the ability to stand up for what you believe in and in the process, it glorifies God. You must believe in what it is you are living for; you must be committed to serving that belief without weighing the consequences. It is not enough to want to believe. It takes an extremely high level of commitment and faithfulness on your part to make your relationship with God succeed. If you are not dedicated to God, you will fall from your temptations. Our dedication to God is what keeps us on that straight and narrow path and keeps Satan from gaining a foothold on us. How we handle adversity greatly depends whether our heart is in the right place. If you are faithful to God, you know deep down inside that no matter what Satan will throw at you, God will stand tall and give you the power not only to endure but to overcome.
Read Ecclesiastes 7:12-18 and Philippians 3:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 4:8-9