Jul 17, 2009
January 17, 2009
Winning With A Tough Hand!!!
A Word of Encouragement
My Dear Friends in the Faith:
Back in the day we played simple games that just consumed us. If you were born after 1980 you may be too young to really understand. But, if you are older you surely should understand. For instance, we played games like "Simon Says", "Red Light, Green Light", "Hide and Go Seek" (Remember counting? One Mississippi, two Mississippi,..), "Tag" and who could ever forget "Kick Ball and Dodge Ball."
Those were the games we played outside. Now when it was raining we had to play inside. So we played games like "Jacks", "Monopoly", "Checkers", "Chess", "Uno" and my favorite game "Spades!!" Have you ever played the game of Spades before? For the benefit of those of you who haven't let me give you a quick lesson about the game. You see, when you get your hand you can talk trash if you have a hand full of spades. For instance, if you have the High Joker, the Low Joker, the King of spades, the Queen of spades, etc. this means that you have a winning hand. There is no way you can lose because the winning cards are in your hand. But, then there are times when you would get a hand that would be so sorry you could not win with it at all. The dealer would hit you with the two of clubs, the three of diamonds, and the jack of hearts. A hand like this is what you would call a tough hand. The problem is that even with a tough hand you had to keep on playing.
May I ask you a quick devotional question as we spend this moment together? Has life ever dealt you a tough hand? It's tough when you are laid off and the bills keep coming. It's tough when it is your loved one in the casket and and it hurts. It's tough when you get married and discover that you can't have children and you have planned for them all of your life. It's tough when you work hard every day and still end up broke with nothing to show for it. It's tough when it's your child that going astray and you've given them your very best. It's tough when your body is sick and the doctors are trying but can't really help you. It's tough when it is your family on the verge of collapse and there seems to be nothing that you can do to save it. Life is like a hand of spades and sometimes you can get a tough hand.
The joy of this lesson however, is this. If you are believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you can win with a tough hand! James the half brother of Jesus teaches us how to do it. Listen to what he says, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:3-4).
Please hear this my friends, God never promised us that every hand would be easy. But, James is showing us how to come out victorious in the face of adversity. Here is how we do it!
First of all consider what you know. When you get a tough hand remember this, it's not what you do not know about God that will keep you, it is what you know about God that counts! James says "knowing this..." It is the word gnosko in the Greek which means to know by way of experience. By now you should KNOW some things about the Lord by way of past experience! You KNOW that God....woke you up today...kept you while you slept...blessed you all day yesterday...healed you when you were sick...saved you when you were lost...fed when you were hungry...kept your lights on when your money was short...brought you out the last valley you were in...carried you through the last trial you suffered...gave you strength when you were weak and died for you when you were in sin! You should know that God is...too strong to be weak...faithful not to forgive you...too responsible to drop you...too big to be small...too good to be bad...too sweet to be sour...to kind to be mean...too loving not to care...too gracious not to provide and too perfect to make a mistake. When you get a tough hand remember what you know!!!
Secondly, what you are going through at the time is only a test. Okay this may not make you happy but it will keep you holy. Get this and hold on to it. You will never ever have the blessings of the Lord without the the testing of the Lord. Where ever you find one the other one will always follow. James says it like this "...the trying of your faith..." The term used for trying is a reference to something being cooked in an oven. In other words, God will allow your life to see the furnace of affliction sometimes. But, do not worry He is the silver smith. And He has one goal in mind. He wants to keep you in the fire until He can see a reflection of Himself in you! This will make you shout ouch and amen. Yes, it hurts but here's the truth about it, it helps! The great news about the testing time of God is that it never last forever. And the shouting news about the test itself is that it is an open book exam! So while you are taking the test read the book so that you will be sure not to fail!!!
And, lastly we are to remember what the test produces. May I ask you some personal questions? Has life ever made you cry? Have you ever had your feelings crushed? Ever thought about just quitting and walking away from everything and everybody? When you get to this point in life with Jesus Christ the reason why you stayed and stuck it out was because God grew you to a point of becoming spiritually tough. James says, "...that the trying of your faith worketh patience but let patience have her perfect work that you may be perfect and entire wanting nothing." The term patience used here does not mean to wait. But, it means to be tough. It means that you are not blown away by everything that has happened to you in your life but that you have learned how to hang in there and stick it out. It's funny to me because saints often want to be strong and tough. But, the only way to become tough is to have to play some tough hands! Remember this, tough hands produce tough saints.
Yes, life can deal you some tough hands, but never forget this. Spades is a game of partners. Yes! You never play alone. And when you get a tough hand, if your partner has a good hand you can play and still win! You see, it's all about what your partner has in His hand. If you have a good partner in the game of spades you can never ever lose! I am happy to announce that when you play the game of life you never play alone. You have a partner and He has an awesome hand! You may have hurt in your hand, but your partner has healing in His hand! You may have needs in your hand, but your partner has provisions in His hand! And, you may have testing in your hand, but your partner has blessing in His! When a saint plays the game they only play with Jesus Christ as their partner and with the Lord on your side you can not lose!!! Yes, your hand may be tough, but play your hand because the Lord is on your side and victory is yours!
Your Friend and His Servant,
Dr. John R. Adolph, Pastor
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Visit us at www.jradolphministries.org