I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, September 18, 2017

When Hard Times Come - Building a Framework of Hope: Part 12

Let’s continue learning from the past (reference the books listed in Part 10):

1.        You’d never believe how quickly you will exchange your morals for survival. That’s why it’s so important to Know WHO you are and WHAT you believe. If you compromise your beliefs and morals NOW, think of how much easier it will be to compromise when faced with severe circumstances. Lengyel’s book tells of women bartering their bodies (the last thing they have) for food or clothes.

2.       You don’t have to be overly “religious” in order to be a witness for God. The things you do, or don’t do, attest to WHO you belong to. Integrity shows brightest in the darkness. Not stealing in order to survive, telling the truth no matter the cost, not using vulture language, not curing those who persecute you, giving to others out the abundance of your poverty (trusting God to meet your needs), not resorting to violence and sex in order to survive are all ways people in those books showed the love of God in the worst environmental conditions imaginable.

Some went even farther by leading Bible Studies while in the concentration camps and/or praying for those around them. There are numerous ways we can let our lights shine, both in difficult times and not so difficult times. Regardless, it begins with having personal Character/integrity. Hard times challenge us, but they also build our character and give us opportunity to show the world the Character of God (love in action).

In Luke 6:27-30, JESUS instructs us to, “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Romans 12:14 tells us to, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”.

1 Peter 3:9  articulates this point further, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Matt 5:16 says, In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

You cannot always chose how you are treated, but you can chose how you will respond. The Bible is clear on how Christians are to behave—the character we are to display—even in the most trying of times. 

Reflection Questions:

1.        Do you have trouble trusting God in “good times”? If so, how do you think you will respond when life gets harder?
2.       We all are guilty of compromising at times. What are ways you can build your character NOW? (not taking an extra-long break at work even if everyone else does, clocking in/out on time, not taking post-it notes home from work, tithing, going to church even if you’re super tired/busy, getting up 10 mins early to read your Bible, making a prayer journal and actually using it, praying with kids before bed, etc)
3.       Do you have a “bottom line”, you know, a standard of where you’d “never go” no matter what? Have you ever thought about the things you’d be willing to compromise in order to make ends meet or survive? 

It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for.