Friday, January 17, 2014

God, Save My Shoes!

Can we all agree that contentious people are huge irritations in the overall of life?  I think so.

No one likes to be irritated.  Irritating people are usually contentious, argumentative and seem to find a way to get under our skin.  They rub us the wrong way like sandpaper or stones in our shoes.

Oh, do you remember me talking about sandpaper people as blessings several months ago?  Apparently "pebble" and "sandpaper" people are a big part of our inward journey, and they are placed in our lives to help us become gems for Jesus.

Welcome new friends:

I’m so glad to meet new people on Daily Favor this week.  Welcome friends from Bangladesh, Canada, Australia, Russia, England, Portugal, Slovenia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Serbia and Japan along with our new friends from Kansas, Virginia and Mississippi.  Please remember to pray for your brothers and sisters of faith following Daily Favor from around the globe.

Characters of the Lord
Living with contention isn’t something the Lord finds pleasing, and He especially doesn’t like it when it starts with His own kids (us). 

Being the contentious spirit is much worse than being surrounded with people of that nature, so we must do whatever it takes not to be that kind of individual.

On the other hand, God allows irritants to come into our lives to make us beautiful from the inside out.  When we are put under pressure our true character is revealed and sometimes it’s not that pretty. 
The spirit of jealousy, selfishness, pride, offensiveness and being critical mindedness are revealed when confronted with something that makes us uncomfortable.  These are character traits that God wants to remove from us if we are to walk in love and receive favor from Him.

No matter what we are going through, God will use the situation to test and refine us.  Rather than fight it, we need to submit to the test.

The Best You
Have you ever thought about the precious pearl?  Each pearl is different and during the growth stage their uniqueness is unveiled.

What high value we humans place on such stones to the point of wanting the best there is to offer, never realizing what it took to make sure an exquisite beauty. 

God thinks of us the same way; we are precious, unique and valued by Him, but not in our raw, growing state.  Something has to change from the inside if we are to become the best we can be.

This entire process had me considering that shellfish. You know every little oyster has to go through a lot in order for us to enjoy each stone.  I could compare it to a pebble or stone in the shoe, but we’d simply remove the shoe, dump out the stone and the situation is solved. No, it’s much more than that.  The pebble actually becomes part of the oyster and adds value to its worth.

Being an oyster isn’t easy.  Think about it.  How would you feel if a tiny speck of sand was lodged in your throat and instead of spitting it out, it keeps growing and growing.  When you open your mouth for a drink it sloshes around but doesn’t wash away the object.  How irritating!

The tiny speck over time becomes a pearl not from the water, but from the continual irritations coming in that move it around allowing the water to smooth out the rough edges.  If the pebble is removed too soon the oyster is happy, but the pearl isn’t ready. 
This is what we do.  As soon as an irritation (undesirable person or event) invades our world, we ask God to remove the problem from our lives, but He keeps saying not yet, in due time.  The Water, being the Word of God, needs to wash over our situation to create something new, but are we willing to wait for the final product?

When God allows contentious people into our lives, it isn’t to see how upset or frustrated we can get.  He does it to help us grow into the person we need to be so that His work in us can be established.

If we always ask God to remove the “stone” we would never realize how strong we are in Him, nor would we see His mighty work on our behalf.

For God to remove the irritant, He would be removing the gem that is buried inside of us.  We would never realize our value, who we really are in Him, or reach our full potential.

Double Trouble
You might be experiencing some really tough times at work, home or church.  No matter what we do there are certain person(s) that always cause us turmoil.  The first thing you or I may want to do is give up or quit, but I’m telling you that isn’t the answer.

If God sent these people into your life for a test and you run from it, don’t think you’ve escaped the trial.  As a matter of fact, you can be sure that the next place you go God will double your trial until you pass the test.  He won't add to your difficulty, but keep the tests coming until you are obedient to His prompting by the Holy Spirit.
Fleeing from danger isn’t what I’m referring to here.  When there are difficult people in our lives God needs us to go the next mile in winning them over to Him.  There are times when the contentious soul is a Christian.  God is working on them as well, so don’t think you are a better person than they are.  Only God knows why they are revealing their “not so nice personality” and it’s His job to test not ours.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (situation) are not worth comparing with the glory which will be revealed in us (you and I) at a later time.” (from Romans 8:8 emphasis mine)
Every test is an opportunity for us to grow closer to God, and isn’t that what this year’s journey is all about?  Our attitude needs to be “If God is allowing this into my life I’m going to embrace it and let it refine me.  He's working on making me beautiful!” 

Please don’t get this confused with pain and sufferings that may happen due to a death or tragedy and when life seems unfair.  God will use those instances for His glory, but promises He will never leave or forsake us through it all.
We have to believe that this is all going to work out for our good.  Our “believer” that says we trust God, has to let the Lord do what He needs to, so that we can be promoted into position to receive His blessings.

Waiting it Out
Mary had a job quite a distance from her home.  It would take her about 40 minutes or so on a good day weather permitting.  She actually lived in a different state, and had to take back roads to get to her place of employment.

For several years Mary worked at this lower paying job with little recognition.  When I talked with her about the situation she spoke of how things weren’t that great and that she might quit her job.  Mary didn't feel that she was making a difference and was not appreciated.
Trying to show her the other side of the situation I explained that maybe she and her boss might be the only Christians in the place.  Even though Mary's boss wasn’t acting in the manner of Christ, we don’t know what he is dealing with and that God may need her to lift him up in daily prayer.

I encouraged Mary not to leave her position and that God would open something up for her in His timing, if she remained faithful.
In late December Mary told me that she had another job offer. It was actually the place where she used to work, and that the head of the department that let her go had left the company.

The employee that Mary trained for her position in her old job mentioned Mary's name to the new boss.  They asked her to return. She was given a higher position and a raise, plus it was within 5 minutes of her home.
Mary never sought after another position, but waited it out and let God open the door.  If she followed her feelings she would have missed what God had prepared for her.  Allowing the Lord to refine her in dealing with irritating people and situations, she learned how to step up in leadership.

Stop trying to combat everything you are uncomfortable with in your life.  Don’t give in to offense or having your feelings hurt every time things don’t go as smoothly as you like.  How will you ever know what you are made of if people always bail you out of a situation or you quit whenever you are challenged?
Unless you begin taking the tests sent your way, you will never know the beautiful person inside that God is trying to reveal.

C is for Challenge not Contention
Accept the challenge! God wants to change you into the person He created you to be, so let Him. 

First Peter 4:12-14 tells us the purpose of trials.  They are to show us what needs to be changed and prove the quality of our character. 

Allowing God to take us through life’s tests along our inward journey, lets Him know that we trust Him to bring us to the desired end. (Reference)

If we are always going against God, aren’t we telling Him that we don’t agree with His decisions?  That must get rather old with the Lord.
When we stay in the fight and don’t add to the contention, it gets us ready for the promotion that God has been preparing for us all the time.  Learning to deal with various personalities and character traits in people helps us to become inwardly ready.  It trains us to be the outward leaders God needs if we are to reach our goal and fulfill our calling.

Good leaders know how to handle tough situations without running from them.  They don’t give in to intimidation or frustration, but are challenged to use each incident to benefit the company (or situation) without arguing. 
The Bible tells us that *“Our faith is tried in the fire of affliction just as fire tests and refines gold.” If we allow God to use the situation to refine us, we are in for something good and better than we could imagine.

Let this be the start of an inward refining, and accept the challenge when contention rears its ugly self. Get excited that God believes there is something greater in you waiting to emerge that will wow the world! 
In your daily prayers invite God into your situation.  Don’t ask Him to remove the “stone”, but show you A.N.A. (a new approach) in dealing with the circumstances.  Pray for His strength and wisdom with understanding to carry out a new plan for a better end.

Pastor Charles Swindoll once said,
“Every journey is accomplished one step at a time.”
I’ve added,
“with many pebbles in our shoes.”
 
Please God, Save My Shoes
Why did I focus on our shoes this week?  Mainly because our feet sometimes have to travel in places that are a bit rocky, muddy or unstable. 
Without God's favor shield, we could step into places we really shouldn't be when it comes to our Christ-like behavior.  We need the Lord to save us from becoming unbalanced and unattractive in our character.
Basically, what I am asking God to do is save me from making the wrong choices that will lead me down the wrong road on my inward journey.
There are bound to be people "pebbles" along the path on our journey that may scuff our life shoes and make them uncomfortable.  Don’t fret over your designer foot coverings; what's inside is the only thing that counts.
Before you say or do anything, take a break … breathe and patiently deal with adversity without getting angry while waiting for God’s instructions.  Allow patience to work for you so that you come out on top of the situation. (James 1:2-8)

God has given you His Spirit of Peace; all you need to do is ask Him to draw it out and activate it. Whether it is night or day, every place your path leads, the Father of Creation is walking with you to ensure a great journey.
You have what it takes not to give in or quit on God while He is working out the details.  If you asked Mary, she would say it’s worth the wait.
Be ecstatic, there’s a new you being made and God thinks you are VERY GOOD. (Genesis 1:31 NKJV)

Father Of Creation | Hillsong

 

Until next time, favor doesn’t come without challenge.

I’d like to recommend that you read “Encouragement for Life”, which helps us deal with the “stones” that are in the path of our journey.  Dr. Swindoll discusses seven aspects that may hinder our relationship with the Lord and how to overcome them.

What's New this week:  Encouragement for Life
Additional Helps: Dr. L. Ronald Durham " Spiritual Sand Paper "

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
*Quote from "Break Out" by Joel Osteen/Faith Words Publishing Copyright 2013.  Disclosure: No advertisement or association with God Save My Shoes is intended or endorsed.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.