Turning Evil Into Good

As far as I’m concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.”  Genesis 50:20a (NLT)

I was meeting with a friend yesterday who had injured himself during his workout the day before.  He laughed because it was an unfriendly reminder for him to listen to his body and honor its “voice.”

God is amazing that way.  He can turn pain into good.

He can turn pain into good, especially if we let Him.

Whether it is pain we bring upon ourselves (like my friend who pushed himself too far at the gym) … whether it is pain someone intentionally or irresponsibly inflicted upon us (like Joseph’s case as recorded in Genesis) … or whether it’s the evil one (who lurks around looking for someone to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8)), inflicting pain as we are tried and challenged and tempted.

In any of these cases, God can and will use the pain for good, if we let Him.  God is amazing that way.

Like in my friend’s case, God reminded him to listen to his body and “honor” its voice.  Who knows?  Maybe God has some unexpected things for my friend to attend to while he is in a slower, recovery mode.

Or if someone has inflicted deep wounds upon you, God promises to heal and restore and bring purpose and meaning out of it.  It takes time and much work, but if we open ourselves fully and continually to the great Healer, He will heal.

Or if we’ve been tempted, God can also use it for good.  Maybe to reveal an area of weakness … maybe to surface a deep, old wound that still needs His healing … or maybe to reveal that more work is needed in an area you thought was done.

So whatever the issue you face, I want to encourage you to look confidently at it and boldly speak into it that God WILL use it for good.  Then buckle up and get ready to partner with God in His healing work.

It it may not be easy, but it will be good.  God cannot make anything but good.

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Purpose in Every Step

So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”  1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NLT)

A few months ago, I started teaching kickboxing again.  I taught it years ago and started missing it, so we brought it back.  Much of a cardio kickboxing class is punching and kicking into the air.  Within each class, though, I bring out the mitts and paddles.  I bring them out so that the participants can feel and experience an actual punch — actual contact — and therefore experience the need for purpose and power in each punch and kick.  Experiencing the actual purpose of each movement allows for greater purpose to be given in each practice punch and kick.  The goal is not to aimlessly fling arms and legs around, but to have an intended target, a strike-zone … focused effort and power and purpose in each movement.

And so our lives should be.  Focused.  Intentional.  Filled not with flinging arms and aimless energy, but with purpose and power in each step.  This is what God, through the words of Paul, is suggesting.  To live aware and alive and intentionally, with purpose in every step.

Sometimes it is hard to live that intentionally.  We get tired.  We get hurt.  We lose focus or get discouraged.  We are, after all, still human and in a fallen condition.  But if we know Jesus, we get up.  Because with Jesus, we have Hope and we have Life in us.  We get up, and we continue pursuing purpose in every step.

Being disqualified is not an option.

And so we continue on, training our bodies, our minds and our souls.  Regaining our Focus.  Remembering our Purpose.  Submitting all of who we are to the only One who can truly transform us.  Offering ourselves as living sacrifices … and trying not to crawl off the altar.

Purpose.  In each step.

The Gift of Body

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”  James 1:17-18 (NIV)

When most of us hear that verse, we think of people or blessings or opportunities or even material things, but do we ever think about the more basic and integral parts of our lives and realities?

Whether you acknowledge it or not, your body is an amazing gift, given to you by your Heavenly Father.  And He gave us an incredible gift int the human body!  It can grow itself, heal itself, alert you of pain or injury or allergies.  The human body has eleven very intricate and complex systems.  The muscular system alone is amazing, not to mention the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the neurological system, etc.  And human eye is astounding in form and function!  God gave people an incredible gift in these bodies; a gift of creation that God called “very good.” (See Genesis 1:31)

Do you see your body as very good?  Do you treat it as something very good?  Do you cherish it as a good and perfect gift from your Heavenly Father?

I give my kids gifts sometimes.  I love my kids, and I try to give them things I think they need or will enjoy.  Suffice it to say that I know when they love the gift I have given, because they cherish and care for it.  I also know when they don’t.

As humans living in a world riddled with fallenness, some of us have ideas of what a “perfect” gift should look like — an idea undoubtedly shaped, at least in part, by the fickle and unrealistic views of the culture around us.  Others of us live more physically impacted by the world’s fallenness, whether it is through disease or aging or tragedy.  And cherishing the body becomes more challenging.

But the encouragement is this: our bodies are still amazing.  And they are a good and perfect gift to be stewarded well in this lifetime.  God made your body and breathed His life into it, and He renews your breath every day.  And God is not fickle or unrealistic, but constant and sure.  So, as long as God gives us breath, let’s thank Him and honor Him and praise Him for the gift of body … and care for it as someone who appreciates such a good gift!