As I thought about what to write about this week, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A while back the question was posed as to why bad things happen to good people when they are trying so hard to live right and do the right things in their lives.
The answer is not as complicated as it might appear to be on the surface. The fact is when we are sailing on a calm sea, there is no reason to grow. We just lay back and enjoy the ride. There is no reason to be challenged. Hardships and trials are tools used to help us grow. Facing adversity makes us rethink thinks we have grown comfortable with.
We are told in Heb 12:5-9 “5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”
God allows things to happen in order for us to grow, to learn and to expand the depth of our faith. When we do not endure trials and hardships we become stagnate, we just drift along on the sea of glass believing that we have it made. Our faith becomes shallow and easily cracked.
Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us this,11 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Just as when my children still to this day do something that is not right, I discipline them. Not because I do not love them, but because I do. I refuse to cover it up, pretend it didn’t happen and overlook it. When they endure hardships, I teach them that it helps them to grow. As my mother used to tell me it builds character. Our ability to handle hardships, trials, tribulation, disappointments, sorrow and loss, builds our Spiritual character. As the Hebrew writes states, helps us live.
How are you handling God’s discipline? Do you rant and rail against the “unfairness”? Do you ask why me? Do you look within to see if there is something that needs work? Or do you understand that there is a season and a reason for all things? That God has allowed these things to happen to teach something to you? Only you can answer these questions. Remember this as the writer states in Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Embrace your trials, and tribulations. Bottom line they are part of God’s love.
Growing up in the Church the one thing that was never discussed for whatever reason was the Holy Spirit and God’s control over all the spirits. It was as if it was a byproduct of God and not one to be discussed. The reason was simple, all the denominations around us expressed the use of the Spirit all the time. We as the Church of Christ dare not embrace that. We did not want to be like them.
However, we as the Lord’s body have so missed the mark. We have left out a component that is so vital to our life it is like missing a limb. The Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are when we are born again through Baptism. When we deny that fact, we hinder our Spiritual growth on so many levels.
In the old Testament we are told that God controls the Spirit world. I Kings 22:16-23. When the King Ahab wanted to attack the Israelites, he sent for Micaiah for solidification that he would win. When Micaiah spoke, he told the king the same thing his own prophets did to show the king that they only told him what he wanted to hear. As the argument went on earth, a Spirit stepped up to God and said, “I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.” And God said, “You will succeed in enticing him. Go and do it.”
What is interesting is Micaiah told the king what God and done and still he refused to listen. This also show us that God allows those who are committed to sin to sin even more in order to hurry their judgement. In the end Ahab died.
We are told in I Sam. 16:14 that as Saul became more prideful and greater in power he turned from God and the Spirit left him.
The question has been asked to people who are not, yet part of the Lord’s body have an indwelling of the Spirit or not. After careful study I would venture to say that as with Saul the Spirit is sent to prick the heart, but there is no indwelling until one is born again. Once we are born again that is when the fruits of the Spirit begin to grow. Gal. 5:16-22 Tells us that if we have the in dwelling of the Spirit, he will lead us. However, the Holy Spirit which is in us is always in conflict with the flesh, that is worldly things. The one that grows is the one we feed.
Studying the Holy Spirit should become as important to us as studying about Jesus and God. The Holy Spirit is that gift we are given when we rise up out of the water as new life. That Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are and what we do. Embrace it, allow it to help you grow, to withstand the battle that goes on without and within. Remember the Devil doesn’t bother those he already owns. He only attacks those who have had their hearts pricked by the Spirit and then filled with the Spirit.
As all of you know I go places that most people don’t. I told them at Bible Study when we were asked what was our purpose, that I was their conscience. There was an audible and collective gasp in the room and then total silence for about five seconds. Now those of you who have ever had to give a speech or have been interviewed know that second can and do seem like minutes. So with that being said, here goes today’s food for thought. America was built on Christian values. The very core of our existence is on Christian Values. Sure there have been many who have tried to squash those values because they either didn’t understand, didn’t want to understand or refused to understand there is a greater Creator. We were not just zapped into being. Madeline O’Hare comes to mind. For those of you too young to remember go look her up. There are others, but I will let that dog lie for the moment. On every side, Christians since the beginning of the Lord’s Church have been persecuted, maligned, put down and even at times killed. ( See the Middle East). And yet when tragedy strikes people come out in droves with their hidden faith. Take 9/11. Now, we are in yet another event. That being so different, that churches have chosen to not assembly (well with the exception of a few). in order to keep their faithful safe. I respect that, I understand it.But, I have an observation. It is this, throughout the Bible, God’s people have been tested. As they were tested their faith grew stronger, Remember the furnace of fire, the Lion’s Den just to name a few. We are now in that arena. We are being tested. It is so easy to say we have faith when the ship is sitting on a calm sea. It is to easy to say that we trust in our Creator when the sun is shinning and the sea is like glass. It is so easy to say we have faith when the Captain is steering the sea and not sleeping. However….. When there are storms and the ship is broken apart and we are set adrift each to his own devices, my question is this how much faith do we have? Do we really believe that our Captain will carry us to safety and if we do, once on that dry shore do we continue to have a strong faith or do we say, “Thanks” and move on in our life without putting our ship back together in order to go out and fish again. Attending worship is like that ship that is now broken apart. We no longer go to a place to worship, we watch it on live Facebook. How comfortable will we be when the doors are opened again? Will we make the effort to get dressed to get in our cars and make that drive to meet with those of like minds? Or will we say, I can watch it here, I will go next week. See where I am going with this. See how soon we forget that we have strength in numbers. That we need that physical closeness with each other in order to grow. I have thought about this often, thought about how much I miss gathering with like minds. How much I starve for that. I cannot wait to be with them. To sing with them, to read scripture with them to study with them. We are like sheep that have been scattered. Separately we are vulnerable to the wolves. I guess what I am asking is that each of you examine yourself and ask yourself, what will I do when the doors are once again opened. Yes, it is just a building, but it is a place where we come together in strength. #faith, #God,#prayer, #strengthinnumbers
In the study of Jezebel, we learned that while she was an evil, cunning, powerful and manipulative person who worshiped an idol, she was grounded in her faith. So grounded that she killed those she could not convert.
The point is this, how many of us are so grounded in our faith that we have tunnel vision. We truly believe in God and his divine power. A faith so strong it cannot be shaken. A faith that can be seen by others in our daily lives. A faith so strong that no one can doubt it.
While Jezebel, was a worshipper of an idol, she lived her faith. She stood by it and even died because of it. Yes, she was cruel, she was a non- believer in God, she taunted the prophet. But she believed.
The lesson I personally took from our study was it takes courage to stand up for one’s faith. It takes strength to withstand the storms of life and it takes knowledge to understand when we are wrong and are willing to change. Jezebel had all those tools and yet she refused to place her faith in the right place. The end results were she not only lost her husband in battle; she lost her own life by the very hands of her servants who threw out of a window.
Let’s learn from her mistakes. Let us keep our faith in God and his love for us, his plan and his vision. Let each of us stay grounded in our faith unshaken and unmovable.