PRINCIPLES OF CHANGE: PROFITING FROM OUR SUFFERINGS PART 1

INTRODUCTION

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Romans 8:29 tells us that we were predestinated—that is, long before we were even conceived or born, God chose us to be His children. And when He chose us to be His children He decided that we all should look like Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Jesus, in essence, tells us the same thing in Matthew 10:24-25, The disciple is not above his master, neither the servant above his lord. {25} It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

In other words, the Christian life is all about growing and becoming more and more like Christ. THE LONGER WE LIVE THE MORE WE SHOULD BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

God, brethren, doesn’t want us to be the same ole person we’ve always been. Several months or years from now we’re not supposed to be the same person that we are today. I pray that all of us here today can honestly say that many areas of our life have been changed in the years since we first became a Christian.

Chances are, however, there are still one, two, or a handful of areas in our Christian life that have defied change. I’m talking about the nagging habits, the addictions, weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, the sin that we’ve kept hidden in the deepest, darkest recesses of our heart, that have heretofore dodged our half-hearted efforts at self-remediation or improvement. Even after all these years, there are still some aspects of our mindset, personality, emotions, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct that have remained unchanged.

So how do we change something that we don’t want to change? We love the sin too much to give it up. And we’ve got no intention of giving it up.

If we will not change, God will force change upon us. He has to—we’ve forced Him to—because we’re His children and He’s not gonna let sin destroy and damn us. If we will not help ourselves, God will help us. It won’t be pleasant or pretty. It’s gonna involve a lot of pain and suffering. But it works. Suffering has a way of changing us. It changes our mind and gives us a different, truer perspective of things.

Let’s look at how sufferings changed a guy who was remarkably very much like you and me.

THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING

There are different reasons for suffering. One of these is the law of sowing and reaping.

Now the law of sowing and reaping is this. WHATEVER YOU DO—WHETHER GOOD OR BAD—HAS CONSEQUENCES. AND YOU WILL EITHER SUFFER, OR ELSE ENJOY, THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS AND DECISIONS.

Galatians 6:7-8 warns us, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

When you make the wrong decisions and do things that are wrong–you may not think you’re wrong, but you are in God’s sight; God is gonna let you suffer the natural consequences of your actions and decisions.

For example, if you decide to break into your neighbor’s house and steal a humongous diamond that they’ve hidden in a tin can; and you end up getting caught; then you going to jail isn’t God’s chastisement. It’s a matter of you doing time for the crime. It’s the law of sowing and reaping.

Now there are many different ways you can respond to your sufferings. You can get mad. Get bitter. Get even. Get delusional and proclaim your innocence. But none of these responses do you any good.

The only really good thing that can come out of your sufferings is if you choose to humble yourself, admit you’re wrong, and learn from your mistake. You can use your sufferings to change you and change your mind about sin.

Let’s look at how a young man who made a lot of terrible mistakes was able to turn his life around by profiting from his sufferings and doing the right thing. Generally speaking, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES WON’T START TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE UNTIL YOU HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND START DOING THE RIGHT THING.

THE PRODIGAL SON

There once was a man who had two sons. The younger of these sons decided that he had had enough of the old homestead and farming as a way of life. He wanted to go out on his own, see the world, and get a taste of the good life that he felt he was missing by staying at home. So he went to his dad and asked for his share of the estate and inheritance (Luke 15:12).

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that the pleasures of sin are only for a season. They’re temporary and short lived. They don’t last forever.  The good times last as long as you’ve got money. And as long as you’re healthy enough to enjoy your sins. But when you run out of money, or when you get sick, you just can’t enjoy the pleasures of sin anymore—you’re too busy suffering and being miserable.

And that’s exactly what happened to the prodigal son. The bad times came and the young man was forced to live in a very different set of circumstances. He was basically worse off than he ever was, living at home.

Luke 15:13-16 chronicles the young man’s misfortunes:  A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  (14)  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  (15)  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  (16)  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

PAIN AND SUFFERING HAVE A WAY OF WAKING US UP. THEY GIVE US A LOT OF TIME TO STOP AND THINK THINGS THROUGH. To analyze. Reflect. Examine our self. SUFFERING HAS A WAY OF MAKING US SEE THINGS FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. THEY MAKE US SEE THINGS WE NEVER SAW BEFORE. THEY GIVE US PERFECT VISION AND ENABLE US TO THINK CLEARLY ONCE AGAIN.

And this is precisely what the young man’s misfortunes did for him. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! (18)  I will go home to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  (19)  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant (Luke 15:17-19).

Of course, it takes a lot of humility and courage to admit you were wrong. You’re gonna have to swallow your pride, head back home, and apologize to your dad. But when you’re hungry and hurting, with no other options left; you do whatever you have to do to get out of your mess and return to some semblance of what your life used to be. The prodigal son had not only learned from his mistakes: he swallowed his pride, humbled himself, went home, and made things right with his dad.

Do you know what it was that brought this stubborn, selfish, self-willed, sin-loving man to his knees? Do you know what it took for him to wake up and do the right thing? The sufferings that he went through. THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING WILL CHANGE YOU FOR THE BETTER…IF YOU LET IT.

SUFFERING DRIVES US BACK TO GOD. It causes us to admit how so much we need God back in our life. We’re lost and undone without Christ. We can’t make it in life without Him.

SIN DOESN’T PAY. IT DOESN’T GIVE US A LIFE. IN FACT, SIN TAKES OUR LIFE AWAY.

Only God can give us life. Only He can fill our life with meaning, peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, we don’t know that—at least, we don’t admit or accept that—when we’re too gung ho on having our own sinful, selfish way.

But, like I said, SUFFERING HAS A WAY OF GETTING US TO SEE THINGS CLEARLY, TO THINK CLEARLY. AND IT HAS A WAY OF GETTING US TO CHANGE OUR MIND ABOUT SIN. THAT’S WHAT SUFFERING IS SUPPOSED TO DO–GET US TO CHANGE  OUR MIND ABOUT SIN.

So if you’re tired of suffering and want to be done with the heartaches and sufferings of sin, come back to God, get down on your knees, tell Him you’re sorry, and ask Him to forgive you. God’s waiting for you. You might think He’s mad at you and doesn’t want any part of you. But you’re so totally wrong! God sooo loves you still and He waiting for you to come back home to Him.

I pray these verses of Scripture will lead you back to God. Psalm 103:8-18 gives us a true picture of God’s heart and love for you. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9)  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.  (10)  He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  (11)  For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  (12)  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  (13)  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  (14)  For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.  (15)  Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  (16)  The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.  (17)  But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children  (18)  of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

God is a gracious, longsuffering God. He will hear you, forgive you, and receive you. He will bring the suffering to an end. And you will get your second chance to do things His way. Brethren, learn from your mistakes. Don’t suffer in vain! Let your sufferings do something good for you. Let them change you and make you a better Christian. God bless you mightily! See you at home.

2 Comments

  1. queenlorene said,

    July 4, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Psalm 103 is such a beautiful passage! Its inspiring picture of the nature of God gives me motivation to keep trying!

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      July 5, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      Amen, indeed it is, Lori. God is soooo merciful. May He shower you with His blessings and grace from day to day.


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