This month at Gateway in Austin, we are walking through a process to become who we are created to be in a series called: “The Dirty Truth.”
Below you will find the following:
- the message I shared at the McNeil campus
- an overview of becoming who we were created to be
- the steps needed to become someone who does not give up
Today we are discussing overcoming trials. Often the challenges we face can get in the way of our efforts to become who we were created to be.
What is a small challenge to some of us may be a big challenge for others of us.
Often we learn from the challenges we face so that we are more prepared whatever comes our way next. We can also learn from those who have overcome much to help us in the midst of our struggles.
Last week, we began our series called “The Dirty Truth: Becoming Who We Were Created to Be.” During this series, we are looking at how developing the four skills Jesus shared in the parable of the soils can help us make progress in our spiritual journey. Today, we are looking at developing the skill of tenacity.
The key question from week one is this: What is God calling you to do?This could involve a calling in life or an invitation to do something specific today.[Week one notes and message: “Becoming Receptive (Dirty Truth Part One)”]
Here’s the dirty truth: God works in our lives and even helps us trust Him, but there are things we must do to really grow. We are going to have to get our hands dirty – so to speak. With His help, we have to work hard to overcome silence, trials, temptations, and rebellion. We need to choose to follow Jesus which is not always easy.
So which soil are you? What is your next step in the journey to become who you were created to be?
Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13 points out that we struggle to become who we were created to be when we fail in any of the following areas: hearing God’s voice, overcoming the trials we face, overcoming the temptations that distract us, or doing what we know we ought to do.
To avoid these pitfalls, we can discover our God-given destiny by developing 4 skills. Becoming who we were created to be means we need to become receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive.
Hardened –> Vulnerable Receptive (Overcoming Silence)
Shallow —-> Deep Tenacious (Overcoming Trials)
Thorny —-> Clear Intentional (Overcoming Temptations)
Desolate —> Fruitful Proactive (Overcoming Rebellion)
In the story of the soils, Jesus describes the first soil and how we can learn to discern God’s voice in our lives when we develop a posture of receptivity. The second soil shows us that we can move from a shallow faith to a deep one and overcome spiritual trials by becoming tenacious.
Let’s take a look again at the verses dealing with the 2nd soil in Matthew 13.
5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root….
20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Do you give up when things get tough? Do you jump from job to job and from relationship to relationship? If so, you may be living with a shallow faith.
Here’s the key question this week: What trials have kept you from living out your calling?
In other words, what has happened to you that keeps you from moving forward?
Some of us quit way too soon. Some of us have a shallow faith that comes and goes based on our circumstances. Some of us have faced some incredible hardships, but with God’s help we can prevail.
What keeps us from enduring or persevering?
We forget who we are. We forget Whose we are. We forget our calling.
To become tenacious:
1. Remember who you are.
In his newest book, our lead pastor, John Burke wrote about the Mud and the Masterpiece. We are all broken and needing grace – just like every other person we meet!
Some of the trials we’ve faced have come in the form of evil people who do evil things. Other times, we face hardships because of the fallen world in which we live. Disease, disasters, and destruction seem to be all around us.
When we face trials, we can use the pain as an excuse to walk away from God and walk away from relationships, or we can use the pain to run towards God and run towards relationships.
This world is not the way God intended it, but this is a temporary state. In this broken and messed up world, our hardships can become a pathway to peace. We can trust Him no matter what may come.
Rather than talk about ways we know God cares in the midst of the trials we face, we are going to look at how to become tenacious in the midst of our trials. For more on “Does God Care?” go to: “How Do We Know Does God Cares?”
For some of us, we face a trial in the form of a person. There are people in our life that we love who never quite loved us the way we wanted or needed, or we may be haunted by a broken relationship.
Do you know who you are? Do you realize how much grace you’ve been given? Are you willing to extend that same level of grace to others?
To become tenacious, remember who you are – broken and needing grace just like those who have hurt you.
2. Remember Whose you are.
To become tenacious, you also need to remember Whose you are.
One of the more miraculous truths about God remains this: He chooses us in spite of who we are and what we’ve done, and when we let Him He can miraculously bring good out of the bad moments in our life.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
There’s that word again: “called.” You and I have been called by God – invited by God to follow Him, to experience life and freedom, to become fruitful, to be transformed and to transform others.
When we say “yes” to our calling – when we say “yes” to following Christ we become His. We become part of His family – one of the chosen.
This is important because in our best moments we can give each other a glimpse into the beautiful relationship we can have with God. For those of us who are married, when we are firing on all cylinders we catch a glimpse of God’s pure and unconditional love for us.
Know matter what, Debbie knows she’s mine, and I’m hers. We could annoy each other, irritate each other, disappoint each other, and even fail each other. Even still, she will always be mine.
There’s great freedom when we know we belong to God. No matter what, He’s never going to let us go.
God’s message for us can be found in Deuteronomy 31:6
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
When things get tough, you may not know what to do, but you can know the One who does. You can trust Him. You can trust that somehow what was intended for evil, God can work so miraculously that good can come out of the darkest moments. We do not know why, but we know the One who does. We can trust Him.
We can choose Hope even when we don’t feel like it.
3. Remember your calling.
Want to give up?!?
Live a life worthy of the calling you have received, and God can help us do this!
What God is calling you to do is worth the struggle, challenge, and hardship.
Not sure what to do? Just continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
Faithfulness means doing the right thing no matter how small it is.
- Are you allowing the trials in your life to draw you closer to God and others or are you pulling away from Him and others?
- What has happened to you that is keeping you from doing what you know God wants you to do?
- Will you ask God for help and guidance on how to move forward no matter what you may be facing?
- Check out A Fruitful Life (An Overview): Becoming Who You Were Created to Be (my new book!)