What are we to do when we are in the furnace of our longings awaiting God’s rescue? The furnace of our afflictions is producing perseverance, which builds character, which produces hope (Romans)…this is the “golden chain of Christian growth and maturity.” Listen in and be encouraged!
Transcribed version of the podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Luke 2:32-34
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Hey friends, this is Heidi St. John, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining me today. It is Wednesday, October 16th, this is episode number 832. This is MomStrong International day here at the podcast. This is the day that we go through the Bible study that I’m teaching at MomStrong International, so if you haven’t joined us there, check it out, momstronginternational.com, download the free scripture writing challenge and get the Bible study. We’re talking about prayer, stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so a couple of things coming up. First of all, I’m going to be in Lincoln, Nebraska this Saturday, the 19th of October for their women’s day, come on out if you’re anywhere in the area, I’d love to hug your neck, hear what God’s doing in your life, pray with you, sign your book, whatever, and we’re going to have a great day talking about what God is doing in the culture even now because the Bible teaches us that God is always at work and so we’re going to be talking about that in Lincoln this weekend. Also wanted to let you guys know we love hearing from you, the best way to reach out to me is heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. If you’ve got cards or letters or you want to send support to the ministry, you can send that to us at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center.
All right, I want to dig into the Bible study. So for the month of October we are studying prayer and I think oftentimes… we just talked about this on Mailbox Monday the other day about a mom who is trying to teach her child, her three year old to pray. And like I said, if you want your kids to walk with God, let them see you walking with God first. If you want your kids to have a vibrant prayer life, let them see you on your knees. If you want your kids to love God’s word, mama, let them see you studying the word. This is why we founded MomStrong International, this is why we invest so much of our resources in both staff and finances here to get that Bible study out to you every month because God’s word is relevant.
His word is relevant to your life right now. There’s nothing that’s happening in the culture that is taking our amazing God by surprise. God’s not up in heaven scratching his head, talking to the Holy Spirit going, “Man, I just… wow, I had no idea this is going to happen.” No, God’s not doing that. And I think sometimes, we are prone to …. I am. I’ll just talk to myself for a second, I feel like I’m sort of prone to panic. So when bad things happen to me or like right now where I’ve told you guys, we sure covet your prayers right now because our ministry, we’re going through a lot of stuff and the Lord’s teaching us to trust him and he’s teaching us to walk deeper with him and he’s teaching us how to walk with him in a way that hopefully ministers to the people that are watching what we’re doing.
God uses everything. But my flesh is almost always when something bad happens, the first person I want to talk to is my husband. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, but I think it becomes a bad thing when I get all my words out and I talk to my husband and then I talk to my mom and then I talk to my friends and I call Melissa and I don’t go to the Lord, and I think it cripples us. We cripple ourselves when we don’t go before the Lord in prayer. And the best time for me to come before the Lord is always in the morning before my kids get up, before my day really gets going because I don’t know about you guys, but as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am crock pots in curriculum for the rest of the day and podcasting and writing a book and running the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center and all the things.
And I think the enemy loves a busy mom. He loves us to be so busy that we can’t find time for prayer. And when we find ourselves surrounded by trouble and needing God’s rescue, it’s what we’ve been talking about at my women’s conference this year, we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about rescue and our need for rescue, and when we go to people instead of the Lord for rescue, we’re weakened by that. God uses people, but he says, “Come before me, come to me.” All throughout God’s word. He’s saying, “Here I am. Why are you not asking me? Why are you not coming before me?” And I think sometimes really, we don’t realize this, but it’s kind of pride. Pride is sort of the culprit, right? Because we just figured out we got this, if I just talked to so and so, if I just make that phone call, if I just send this text message, it’ll be fine.
And then something happens where our feet can’t touch anymore and we’re drowning, right? We sing that song, spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, but we don’t actually mean it, that’s not what we want. And so what do we do when we’re in the furnace of our longings and we are waiting for God’s rescue? Well, the Bible says that the furnace of our afflictions produces perseverance. Remember we talked about this several months ago, and I said perseverance is patience in action. So if you’re listening to this right now and you’re taking notes, that’s a good thing to write down. Perseverance is patience in action. It means that we don’t just sit and wring our hands, we are actively patient. How? Because God wants to produce that in us, that active patience. I think active patience means we don’t freak out and just let that sit.
That was just for me, you guys can stop listening, I’m pretty much just preaching to myself right now. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been going through some hard stuff lately and I have freaked out a couple of times and I try really hard not to do it, because A, I know it just shows that my walk with the Lord isn’t that mature, and people around here can see it because I’m sitting in the studio right now at Firmly Planted Family and I’m waiting, families are starting to come to classes here, there’s a lot of stuff going on and if every time the enemy bangs my shutters and comes knocking on my door, I freak out, what am I really saying? I’m saying, “Lord, I don’t actually trust you.”
I think I just need to freak out a little bit. But Paul is saying that the furnace of our afflictions, all the trials that we’re in, it actually produces perseverance, that patience in action, meaning that we have an opportunity to actively demonstrate that we trust the Lord. He goes on to say that this built character and then it produces, so the net result of this character from this patience in action, this perseverance, the net result is, are you ready for it? Hope. It’s hope. And this is what we call here at MSI, the golden chain of christian growth and maturity, right? We go into this furnace of affliction, God uses it to produce perseverance, patience in action, this produces character and then this produces hope.
See, Christian should be hope-filled, not despairing, not despondent. And it’s not to say that we’re not going to struggle with things and we’re not going to behave or respond in a way that maybe was less mature than we had hoped, but God is saying, “Listen, I want you to grow and as you grow, this character that I am producing in you is going to give you hope.” We can have hope when we turn on the news, we can have hope when we’re praying for the people in the middle East, we can have hope when we look at our afflictions, things that we’re struggling with personally, hope in our marriages, hope with our children, it comes through affliction. You guys, you know what I’ve noticed in my own life? That God does his best work in me, not in the shallow but in the deep, in the deep. Joshua 1:9, you guys have heard this before, “Have I not commanded you?” This is the Lord to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous, don’t tremble or be dismayed.” Why? “Because I am with you wherever you go.”
Some of you guys are praying right now for some pretty big things. Guess what? God is a big God. Some of you are asking for things in your prayer life and you’re coming before the Lord right now and your friends are saying, “Dude, that’s not going to happen, is not possible.” I feel like I’m in a little bit of a situation like that right now, and over here, we are trusting the Lord for big things because we serve a big God. You guys, we serve the God that parted the red sea. We serve the Lord of heaven’s armies, the one who spoke the world into being. God can handle whatever it is that you’re facing right now. And we talk on this podcast all the time, we do Mailbox Monday and we answer questions and on Fridays we have guests and on Wednesdays I try to take you a little bit deeper into the word, but this stuff it’s easy to talk about, it’s actually hard to do unless you’re really walking closely with the Lord.
When an intruder breaks into somebody’s home and terrorize them until the police arrive, right? We grapple with the reality that God does not promise the absence of terror or fearful circumstances, I don’t care what the prosperity preachers say, he doesn’t promise that we’ll live a terror-free or pain-free life. You know what he does do? He says, “I’m going to be with you when you enter the valley of the shadow of death, I’m going to be with… I’ll never leave you, I’ll never forsake you.” I don’t know about you guys, but when I do difficult things, if I know that my husband’s next to me, people will sometimes say… I guess a huge fear for a lot of people, is a fear of public speaking, and so people assume that I don’t have that fear because I am a public speaker.
So often I have looked out into the audience and I’ve seen my husband, if I can just lock eyes with my husband, and I know that he’s there and he’s smiling at me and he’s like, “Come on, you got this.” Then I know I’m okay, I got it. Because I’ve got that one person, it’s amazing, Billy Graham said that when one person takes a stand, the spines of other men are stiffened. Because we need each other, we depend on each other, right? And God is saying, “Hey, you can depend on me, I’m right there, look up.” He promises his constant presence, the safety of eternity so that we know that’s that hope that we have, that this world is not all there is, that we’re going to go to heaven and that we can find the strength to cling to him here.
In Daniel 3:24-25, it says, then Nebuchadnezzar the King, was astounded and stood up in haste and he said to his high officials, “Was it not the three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” And they replied to the King, “Certainly.” And he said, “Look, I see four men loosed and walking around in the midst of the fire without harm and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” If God can be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and we’re studying this this week over at our study on prayer at MomStrong International, you guys, I don’t have time to go through the whole thing because it’s a pretty in depth study. So I’m picking up basically pages 34 to 36 this week, but Oh my goodness, these men did what God said and God’s, “I’ll be with you in the fire and be with you in the water, I’m with you in the deep.” Right? And the King sees it.
You see, Jesus is with us. He’s with us in our heartache, he’s with us in our struggles. The Bible says that God is a personal God who works in the lives of his children. And so what do we need to do? We need to be relentless about understanding God’s heart and understanding his sovereignty. The Bible says that he is sovereign over everything and yet he still hears our prayers and responds accordingly. As Romans 12:2 says, we need to renew our minds to grasp the truth rather than assign blame to God for our troubles.” He does stop evil, this is true, but in the great mystery of his secret will and in his sovereignty, he sometimes actually uses evil to accomplish his purposes.
That’s why the Bible says his ways are not our ways, we don’t understand, someday we will. Someday we’re going to be able to ask him, we’re going to be in heaven someday, I’m looking forward to that day. And in the meantime, we pray in his revealed will and then we cling to what we know is true, we cling to those promises. Romans 12:12, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. In first Samuel, I read the story of Hannah and her husband Elkanah and they wanted to start a family and they were facing a heartbreak that many of you listening too are familiar with, that heartbreak was infertility, and Hannah, the Bible says, was persistent in her prayer before the Lord, moving to greater and greater measures in prayer. The Bible tells us that she was bitter of soul, the pain was so deep and she made a vow to God that if he would give her a son, she would give that child back to him in God’s service. Wow.
If you get a chance today, open your Bibles and read first Samuel chapter one and through chapter three and you can learn more about Hannah’s journey. And as you read it, you’re going to find two or three things that you can apply to your own prayer life, things that Hannah did that were going to go, “Oh my goodness, I should do that too, I should do that too.” We can, we can journal a prayer like Hannah’s prayer about something marvelous that God has answered in our life. I think sometimes we forget how good God is, right? And we struggle with the things that are difficult and we forget, Oh, he’s so good. And Hannah rejoiced when God answered her prayer. Paul, on the other hand, experienced torture of another kind, right? He experienced physical, emotional, and mental abuse from so many people who were angry his commitment to God. And on top of this, he battled an affliction from God that he says was meant to keep him from being overcome by the sin of his pride.
You guys ever struggle with pride? I’ve been writing some new workshops because I’m getting ready for my speaking season for 2020 and I always like to change it up and write new materials. So I’ve been spending quite a bit of time recently, and one of the things I’m talking about at Faith that Speaks is pride and where it comes from and what it affects. And Paul was realizing that kind of a root sin of a whole bunch of his issues was pride, and so what did he do? He clung to Jesus in the midst of his tribulation. And when I say tribulation, I’m talking about actual beatings and actual imprisonment and also this affliction from God. And Paul trusted God in the midst of it all. I think, oftentimes, I look at my own life and I’m like, “Man, Heidi, you’re such a baby, you’re such a baby.”
Because we think that we’re facing real affliction but we’re not, we’re actually not. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, this is what he said, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited…” Referring to his pride again, “I was given a thorn in my flesh.” Now, he doesn’t say what that thorn was. He says, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So now Paul who’s realizing this was given to him to keep him from becoming prideful, now he redirects his focus and says, “Therefore I will boast, but I’m going to do it about the Lord, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ’s power might rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Friends, what would it look like if Christ’s power actually rested on us? If we went to him in prayer and said, “Lord, we need your help, we need your wisdom, we need you to come in and save the day.” And it often doesn’t mean he’s going to take away that thing that we’re struggling with, right? But instead it means we are going to trust him, he’s never going to leave us, he’s never going to forsake us, and in the end he is working all things together for good. In Romans five, we read more about this and I want you guys to look at that with me today, Romans 5:1-5, and then ask for God’s heart to see where he is at work in the hard things in your life, for he is there even when we don’t feel he is, even when we don’t feel he is. And we can take encouragement from Paul in both his surrender to God on the outside and what God was doing in Paul’s heart on the inside.
There’s a story that my husband and I have read to our kids many times, the story of George Mueller. In fact, I’ll link back to his biography in the show notes today because if you don’t read any other missionary story to your kids, you should definitely read his. And he taught millions of believers how to steward our faith. And so we’re going to teach you a little bit from the life of George Mueller as it relates to the apostle Paul in this study this month. But I just want to encourage you, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re struggling with, God is at work, he’s at work. Deuteronomy 32 verses three and four, for I proclaim the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our God, the rock. His work is perfect, all his ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without injustice. Righteous and upright is he.
That’s the Lord that you serve. He is righteous and upright, he’s faithful, he will never leave you, he will never forsake you. He loves you, he loves you. Do you know how loved you are? Do your children know how loved they are? It is a precious thing to be loved by the Lord. Let’s close this week’s teaching at MomStrong International by just talking to the Lord. Father, I thank you for the opportunity that you give us every other day here through the internet and through really this gift that you’ve given of platform to be able to speak the truth of your word. Lord, I thank you for the opportunity. Lord, as we talk about what it means to know you more and to walk with you in prayer, Lord, I pray that you would start with me or that you would help me to just take the time to walk with you, to come before you every day and say, Lord, I need your help, I need your counsel. I need your wisdom. I need your guidance, I need your heart.
Lord, show us how to be the men and women that you want us to be, wherever you have placed us. That we will be lights in a dark world, that we would bring the hope of your son Jesus to every sphere of influence that you give us. Lord, I pray that you’d show us what it means to persevere, that patience in action today. Lord, for the mom and the dad and who’s listening to this today and they feel like they’re drowning and whatever struggle that they’re facing, Lord, you remind us to look up, that your word is true, that you are righteous and just and good and your heart toward us is good. Thank you that you promised that you’d never leave us and you’ll never forsake us. And Lord, we thank you for the hope that we have in your son Jesus that one of these days, we’re going to go home.
So help us in the meantime, Lord, to be that, the apostle Paul, to bring you glory in whatever situation we find ourselves into, glory in our weakness, knowing that as we do that, your power will rest on us. Thank you for this promise father in Jesus name. Amen.
Thanks for listening to everybody today. We really appreciate it when you share the podcast with your friends and we’d love to hear from you, we’d love your feedback. You can give us feedback at heidistjohn.com/mailboxMonday. I’m going to come back on Friday with my friend Linda Hobar, the author of The Mystery of History, and we’re going to talk about some of the bad things in history and what we can learn from them and how it applies to our lives today. So thanks for listening everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.
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Heidi St. John
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