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Serving God, in a manner maintaining Heaven as the objective, requires the ability, even a willingness, to confront and overcome adversity. I'm not talking about the popular "God knows what you're going through and He will bring you out" approach to troubles, but rather the manner of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who answered King Nebuchadnezzar's threat (promise) to burn them alive thusly:
"If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
We are to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." During combat, the good soldier, under fire, does not refuse the orders of his commander, or close his heart; he remains open to that voice of authority, as part of his commitment to serve.
Similarly, we should not allow the "light afflictions" of this life should not close our hearts to God. Instead, despite the natural tendency toward self-defense which would close us off from any source of pain, we should train ourselves to not only see Christ in our disasters, but also strive even harder to reach out to Him in our distress, knowing what can occur if we but touch the hem of His garment...
We need personal honesty, and a lessening of fear, if anything we do will have any chance of pleasing God.
An easy thing to misconstrue, in my humble view, is God's persepctive on peace. Many, and I do mean many, believe that God aims for men to live at peace with one another. While that is among God's desires, it is not His aim.
God looks for men to be at peace with Him, period.
When God sent His Son to be "Peace on Earth", it was not to cause the end of wars, and rumors of wars, among men and nations. Instead, it was to conclude the enmity between men and the one true God...for those men that were, and are, willing. Those at peace with the true God are rarely "at war" with one another.
However, and equally as important, those who seek a peaceable existence are not deceived into believing that peace can be had with all, whether inside or outside the kingdom of God
We have a softening society, one that seems more feminine and less firm and reliable with each passing day. We have bought into the importance of self-esteem, that happiness is essential, and that every man should get in touch with his inner child...or inner female. How's that workin'?
Not surprisingly, while the Bible challenges all men to be sensitive to women and children, it also STRONGLY admonishes them to be neither women nor children.
In this time when "feelings" seem to matter so much, the timeless truth is roles matter so much more. For those who want to see truth prosper and prevail, there is a clear edict, and that from the Most High: Play the Man.
Uncertainty. One of the most consistent aspects of life, for, when even a man's next breath is not promised, he has no idea of what will happen next.
Of course, many now believe that we live in uncertain times; however, since man's Fall in Eden, when has that ever NOT been the case?
Of course, THE life is far from uncertain; only THIS life is filled with vicissitudes. People who are focused on the destination are less troubled by the uncontrolled adjustments in their journey.
Pharell Williams has earned retirement money, enough perhaps to support a small city, via a song, in which he encourages people to, "Clap Along, if you feel that Happiness is the truth..." and there is no harm in that.
However, and while the majority of people want and seek happiness, it is difficult to find much suport for the idea that God has much concern for His people's, or anyone's, happiness.
Very few people understand the concepts of heavenly joy and glory, seeing as they can only be grasped by faith, and are rarely experienced in this life; they are part of the promise regarding the life to come. Until then, man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
If you know the nature of people, and the condition of the world in which they live, it is not difficult to understand why God asks few, if any, people to "Clap Along, if you know what Happiness is to you..." Neither is it difficult to understand that, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
It is very easy to look no further than one's own condition, to determine whether they are benefiting or suffering in a situation.
If someone received new employment, or a promotion, then God has blessed them and they should be happy. If they achieve a milestone in education or personal development, or become financially independent, then they are blessed and, again, should be happy to have "arrived" in such a place...
Well...maybe and maybe not...
An objective understanding of Romans 8:28 would indicate that the good, for which all things work together, is not man's, but God's...and God is not beyond using tragedy, or success, among men, to bring about what is good in His sight.
Also, Paul wrote that he had learned to be content in all circumstances, and that his remaining on the planet, rather than departing to be with the Lord, meant fruitful labor for him.
Whether the situation is good or otherwise, for you, God has not put you there either to celebrate or host a pity party. You are there to accomplish something that glorifies the Most High...and the sooner you recognize it, the sooner you might go to be with Him, which is far better.
We are looking at situations, around the globe, which are very disturbing, with many, if not most, of them occurring in very close proximity. These are, whether positively or negatively, exciting times.
Of course, there were warnings regarding this, that before things would ultimately turn out for redemption there would be "birth pangs" preceding the revelation of God's sons.
What I do not know is whether this time will prove different than the many other times that there were "wars and rumors of wars"; there was no catching away of the church at that time, neither did Christ return...though He has promised that He will.
What I do know, from scripture, are those things of which we should be aware, and the manner of persons we should be, at all times, and especially if this is the time of redemption.
This is very straightforward.
Since Adam's fall, trouble and suffering became, and does remain the human norm.
The trouble comes when people believe the same God who brought suffering to the human condition has a grand plan to remove it, for anyone, during their time under the sun.
Among many human failings the saint of God must overcome is knowiing what is, and what is not, his concern.
It is easy for a man to want to know what God requires of others or, worse yet, to believe he knows and to the point that he believes he should regulate the behavior of his fellow saints.
The truth is somewhat different. While God establishes men as examples for others, no man truly has charge of another. All answer to God...and the questions he answers to the Almighty are rarely anyone else's business.
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