by David Brenneman
"‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’"Isaiah 41:10 NASB
"The Lord is my shepherd,
I will not be in need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For the sake of His name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life,
And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23 NASB
"To You, Lord, I lift up my soul. My God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed;Do not let my enemies rejoice over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. Make me know Your ways, Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day." Psalm 25:1-5 NASB
In our excessively over-sensationalized culture, we can often think that life looks harder than it was decades or even centuries ago. With cell phone videos and pictures we can be made to believe just about anything in a totally incorrect context. We can even be lead to believe that which isn't true of the Church of God.
In the last 24 hours things have been mentally challenging for me. Have been difficult to get through and in praying before going to bed, this morning sort of sheds a little light on some things.
We cannot live this life thinking that when we come to Christ that life is going to be all sunshine and rainbows. That health, wealth and prosperity are the defining characteristics of a life of a follower of Christ Jesus. Because they most certainly are not.
Jesus said that we would face tribulations of our own because of His Name. Because of being a follower of Jesus Christ. We would be aliens in this world. Surely we would see the hand of God doing great things in the lives of those centered upon His Will as well.
But by far we are not suffering worse than those of the Early Church. God's protection and ability to protect has not diminished over 2,000 plus years.
"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Now the brother or sister of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; but the rich person is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so also the rich person, in the midst of his pursuits, will die out.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." James 1:2-19 NASB
We read this week about what is written in the Bible about rejoicing always. Nothing is more confusing to an unbelieving person than to see a situation where we are behaving the opposite of what's normally accepted.
We see here that which James writes is what we SHOULD be expecting. Jesus spoke of pruning branches to bear more fruit. Pruning, trimming, weeding, are all potentially painful things. Spiritual surgeries are indeed painful things. Brokenness in Christ Jesus is going to be a painful thing. Believers on Sunday can sing about wanting brokenness but the reality, where the rubber meets the road, we cry out to God to stop. We can't take it
We can also not see what God sees.
We cannot see the real battle going on for the souls of mankind. It's certainly more than the human eye and heart can take in.
We also, especially in purported to be Christian nations, to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. No nation is called God's own possession but Israel. The Church isn't Israel. It didn't replace Israel permanently. The Church was told at its beginning that trials and tribulations would follow any who came to Christ for salvation. The world hated Jesus it will hate you too Jesus said.
I felt early yesterday that I was being forewarned that there's rough waters ahead. Looking at the statistics of this blog I can partly see why. Huge surges in viewership. But that's not all of what is coming I am sure.
"Indeed, all who want to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil people and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:12-17 NASB
See a theme yet? See that life has a potential of getting a little bit rough? See that last part of what Paul wrote to Timothy? It ties in directly to Ephesians 6 and the full armor of God.
We must go into each day with the armor on. In our video-centric world we catch video's of those odd sports injuries. Baseballs hitting players in slow motion and we easily see the pain that registers in their faces.
We often wonder at the things we go through. God doesn't.
We often want whatever it is to end quickly. I know that I often do.
We often want to believe this or that about the time in which we live, but Biblically speaking, it might not be so.
We often want the pain to end. In the weeks of recovery, many years ago, that I went through in the aftermath of an accident, I wanted so bad for God to end the pain and discomfort.
We cannot see what God sees.
We cannot truly understand all His plans for us, for every single person around us who is in Christ Jesus.
We don't know where every single Believer is in their growth as a Christian.
We only know that we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that we might walk in them.
We only know that those who seek to live in a godly way will be persecuted.
We only know what the Bible teaches and to know that, to have the right perspective on life we need to be IN the Bible to know.
I indeed lived through yesterday. Overall yesterday wasn't bad bad. I could tell things were happening all around me. I could tell that here and there situations were bumping into me but nothing hit me directly. I honestly expect more today and the days ahead because of what little that the Spirit allows me to see without overwhelming me. We would freak out if we saw the battles of each day as the Lord sees or the angels of God.
I have been purposely driving myself to only focus on doing that which God puts before me each day. Rough or not. Was funny seeing a potential t-shirt describing Brenneman as one who doesn't quit when they are tired, but one who quits when one is done. Not too far from the truth. I have been accused by former supervisors of getting wrapped around the axle on solving problems. Yeah I do. I don't like to lose. I know that if God's brought it to me that He has a plan to get us through it. People who aren't Spiritually minded aren't going to get that. I've been branded 'trouble' by former pastors because they refused to see the work of God in me.
Tribulations are part of the life of Believers. Consider it well that those going into the military face great tribulations. It's called basic training. They are forced to learn to look at life differently. They learn discipline. They learn what's important and what isn't in service to their commander.
You who come to Christ WILL receive training in Christ Jesus by the Spirit of God. Not maybe. Not possibly. Not even accidentally. Intentionally you WILL receive training on what is important and what isn't in regards to what your Commander, King Jesus, wants to see in you.
Life's going to hurt. Each trial and tribulation will build upon earlier ones. The intent is to toughen you up for the next. For you to share and teach what God's done and is doing in your life to help others.
As another hymn goes I will go where my Savior leads me. Where He leads me I will follow as we read in Psalms 23. Never forsaken, never alone.
Some people are blessed with some things more than others. It's their growth in Christ Jesus, their part of God's plan, that determines such things. Some immediately face death upon coming to Christ. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. For some that just means that their only steps in Christ are to enter into glory in Heaven. Some have an unseen role in God's plans to save others.
Pray without ceasing.
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