Becoming a gem?


It’s not really hard to be loving, to laugh you are sailing on smooth seas, under sunny skies, is it? But, without pressure, you will never become the best version of YOU. Heroes are made when from the crowded ranks of the ordinary who run from the danger, she takes the lead and rallies others to the cause, changing the situation by her courage and vision. Ordinary carbon atoms – and carbon is one of the most abundant elements on earth – are transformed by extreme heat and pressure into diamonds which are valuable both for industry and as gemstones.

Paul, who is first known in the Acts as Saul, lived in the mainstream of his community, a young man of promise in the Sanhedrin, the group of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. A crisis overtook him, starting at Stephen’s martyrdom, culminating with his encounter with Jesus in a vision on the road to Damascus. After he gave himself to the Lord, he took up the challenge to take the message about Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, to the Empire. He never lived with difficulty from that day. It got so tough, Paul thought it was ‘game over.’ He reflected on that experience in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians: “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT)

He was repeatedly arrested, tossed out of cities, even beaten. He was often criticized by people in the very churches he formed. He was attacked spiritually and just the rigors of travel brought on exhaustion. In an understatement he admits, “We were under great pressure,” and that pressure produced a diamond, useful and beautiful, in the life of the former Pharisee. I just love his wry commentary – “we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” (The Message) In that phrase we learn to key that makes the difference in what problems can do to us. They can make us bitterly cynical, unwilling to love and trust anyone;  OR they can make us beautiful, tender, patient, steady, deep in faith.  “We trust God totally!”

How we respond to hardship results from a combination of factors; personality, training, past experience, and spiritual depth. Only one is beyond our control- personality. We can prepare to emerge from life’s pressures as a gem for Christ; if we will allow ourselves to be schooled and patterned by the disciplines of the Spirit, if we will use the experiences of life to grow, and if we will let God develop real spiritual character and depth in us.

Are you choosing to live safely, avoiding any situations that is hard, avoiding taking on any responsibility that can bring on pressure, refusing to engage in deep relationships that could cause you pain? Are you ignoring God’s invitation to grow in faith, refusing to develop His spiritual gifts?

“Jerry, if I step up, I’ll be held to account; by God and by others.”  Yes, you will.  He equips us and expects our best, no question about it. Becoming a mature Christian will require hard choices of self-denial and will  bring envy, criticism, even persecution, sometimes from your own family of faith. We need to take the example of Joseph, who served well in Egypt. “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him.” (Hebrews 11:25-26, NLT)

Are you courageously embracing God’s callings, taking the opportunities He presents?
Have you, as result, come under pressure, been criticized?

Do find yourself pushed past what you thought were your limits of endurance?
Trust God!
Do what people who become heroes do.
Prepare for challenge with discipline. Don’t whine!
Build a team that gives support. God doesn’t build His work on Lone Rangers.
Know when to take a strategic retreat for restoration. Even Jesus allowed for ‘down time.’
Focus on the goal.

God is making diamonds out of us!



(an anthem of joyful hope!)

Here and now I’m in the fire in above my head
Being held under the pressure
Don’t know what will be left
But it’s here in the ashes
I’m finding treasure

He’s making diamonds diamonds
He’s making diamonds out of dust\
He is refining and in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of us

I’ll surrender to the power of being crushed by love
‘Til the beauty that was hidden isn’t covered up
Oh it’s not what I hoped for
It’s something much better

Oh the joy of the Lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He’s making (diamonds)

He’s making diamonds diamonds
Making us rise up from the dust
He is refining and in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

I won’t be afraid to shine
I won’t be afraid to shine
I won’t be afraid to shine

‘Cuz He’s making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

Jason Ingram | Jonathan Steingard | Matt Bronleewe
© Forest For The Trees Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

Open Hands Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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