Summary: God uses conflict to make you into something more beautiful than you can imagine.
“The Joy of Conflict”
June 7, 2009
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:12-19
God laid it on my heart a number of months ago to pray for each of you individually. I did that before, but I didn’t have a plan for my prayer so I prayed for you only as I thought of you. Now I bring up your picture on the computer and look at you as I pray for you. It helps my prayer to be more personal and not so superficial. Before I pray I ‘prime the pump’ so to speak, by reading a number of Scriptures having to do with prayer. It reminds me that my prayer is important and powerful. It motivates me to pray. I have that list and if you are interested – I will be glad to share it with you.
God led me to pray for you in a very specific way. I look at your smiling face and ask God to break your will. I ask Him to cleanse you of rebellion and selfishness and shape you into Christlikeness. When I first started to pray in that way, I was shocked and disappointed. It didn’t seem like God was answering my prayers. He seemed to be doing the exact opposite. Instead of the blessings I was praying for – it seem all of a sudden everyone was going through a lot of trials; a lot of conflict, a lot of testing. The more I prayed for you – the more it seemed you were getting hammered by the enemy.
I was a little disappointed. I got a little discouraged. But then I realized that God WAS answering my prayer and I learned:
1. Trails often come as a result of prayer.
I didn’t really realize what it would mean for you to become Christlike. I was looking at the end result. Can you imagine a church full of people who all had their wills surrendered to Jesus? Can you imagine the love and joy of a group of people who put others before themselves; who work at loving and giving and caring? What if all of us were kind and gentle and patient with each other? What if we were quick to forgive and forget each other errors? What if we were all full of love and joy and our meetings were full of laughter and fun and fellowship? What if we were generous and sacrificial to each other?
How would you like to belong to that kind of church family? I think that is God’s will for us. I think He is working in each of our lives to mold us and make us into those kinds of individuals. Listen to the Scripture:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:5-6
What I desire for our church family; what I desire for you individually is not normal or natural. By nature we are selfish and self-centered. By nature we are stingy and greedy. By nature we are self-absorbed and full of selfish desires. We want the spotlight. We want the glory. We want the blessing. James says,
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3