Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When the righteous suffer...

Heb 11:4 tells us "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."  Abel was murdered by his brother.

Job 1:1 makes it clear that Job "was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil."  He knew very well degrees of suffering most of us never come close to.

Genesis 6:8 announces that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."  Noah's ark is often depicted as a cute little Sunday school story, but think about it...Was it easy to build that ark in the face of the evil and mockery of his day?  What about living in the confines of the ark while everything outside of the ark that he'd ever known was being destroyed by floodwaters? What about the work that followed the day when the waters finally receded?  Do you think Noah's view of salvation by God, in whose eyes he found grace, had anything to do with the tenets of the health, wealth, and prosperity "gospel" preached today? 

The Apostle Paul was a faithful servant of God, spending and being spent for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he tells us in 2 Cor 11:23-28 that in the course of his service, he suffered stripes above measure, was put into prison, was beaten with rods, stoned, was shipwrecked three times, faced the trials of much travel, faced the perils of robbers and so many other kinds of difficulties that it is hard to list them all.

My friends, as we suffer let us be encouraged by Peter who tells us:
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." (1 Peter 4:12-16)

And James who reminds us:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:2-6)

We can do that only when we know our God is sovereign, He is good, He is wise, He loves us, He is compassionate and just.  Our pastor preached a very helpful sermon on this last Sunday called the Patience of the Prophets and Job, and I highly recommend it.  May God help us to endure, to walk by faith, and to trust He is not wasting our pain. And may we grow in our ability to weep with those who weep.  God help us!

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