by David Brenneman
In reading this morniing, I haven't even gotten as far as I normally do and these thoughts came to mind.
Several decades ago I was an Audio-Visual Engineer for 20 years or so at the Church I grew up in and had been saved in. As such each service, be it for the Church or Weddings etc required sound checks on the equipment. In reading in my Life Principles Bible, Dr. Stanley speaks to what he calls Life Principle 29, "We learn more in our valley experiences than our mountaintops."
A year ago adversity was a weekly thing. Daily mental excercises when your mind is in two cities at once. We were in the midst of preparing to move and I worked in one city and still had a house in another that was a few hours away. We read of the passage that says "without faith it is impossible to please God". Without faith you can't think straight either. We need our faith to double check our bearings and make sure we're on that path that God put before us.
His take on adversity has 3 main points. 1) God allows adversity to get our attention. 2) Adversity leads to examination and 3) the effective lesson leads to change in behavior.
We're not here on this Earth to coast. We're not here to warm the bench. We're not here to honestly change the world for ourselves.
Those of us still here who are in Christ are to grow in Christ. Not be stagnant in Christ.
Growth requires resistance. Shallow trees have no firm root but may look nice and tall and vibrant...until the storms come.
100 plus year old trees only last as long as they do because of the Biblical truth about deep roots.
Sometimes our adversity indeed is there to give us a sound check. To show us just how far we've really come in our walk with Jesus. Doctors and institutions love to do studies. Taking a group of either materials or of people and exposing them to tests over time to determine change. This isn't some new idea.
The Spirit, over time, will show you how far you've come. The truth is there SHOULD be a difference in your life over time in living for Jesus.
But it hurts too much to think! Been there, done that, it's just at the time it wasn't my thought to get a t-shirt to prove it. Our pains might be great and indeed they probably are. As in some of his other points in today's reading, Dr. Stanley points out Job. Job went through some of the most excruiating things imaginable in physical problems anyone could endure. Satan threw everything at him because he was allowed to do anything and everything but take his life. Every emotional attack was orchestrated. Every physical dibiliating effect was on purpose. Pain Inside and out. In all of it he stayed true to his faith in God.
His last comments in that Life Principles say "If you are willing to allow God to surface the inner rubbish of your life, and if you are willing to change what needs to be changed, you will emerge from adversity closer to Christ, more mature as His child, and with far greater potential to reflect the love of God to the world around you."
This brings to mind the work of a smelter and the smelting process. It takes heat to bring out the dross. It takes a lot of heat to take out impurities. If metal could speak it would be screaming out in pain as the heat goes up and the impurities are brought to the surfece and are forcibly removed.
During this morning, before even beginning to read, the thoughts of "finding myself being useful to my Master" came to mind. Being sure that what I'm doing in life being found by Jesus when He returns doing what it is He had in mind for me to be doing is of utmost importance to me. I'm not on this planet to be focused on corporate profits or corporate goals. It's not even on possession accumulation. It's not about the money or the status. For all who are in Christ we're to be the branches and He is the vine we're attached to.
We read of His pruning the branches to bear more fruit. Pruning, like removing dross, can be painful. If you ask most anyone, they would prefer to be left alone. I am so grateful to my God that He has every intention in NOT leaving me alone to my own devices. I am grateful that He's still at work in me for His good. I'm grateful that no matter what the storms of life may be, He's over it and He decides what touches me and what does not.
If we think we're alone, we're far from it.
Nobody enjoys painful adversity. But it's often necessary for some good that God's got in mind. Scripture says He causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. In Christ? You're automatically called according to His purpose. In Christ? You're supposed to love Him for all He's done for you.
Consider your thankfulness and your gratefulness today. Thanksgiving is to be a special day of gratitude...not just about eating. It's sadly ironic that the day following it shows a world that is ungrateful in how people treat people at stores while shopping.
Consider taking time today, without distractions, and spend some extra time with Jesus today. Telling Him of how grateful you are for your salvation and your life that's hidden in Him. Thank Him even for the painful things you're going through because you know He will cause them to turn out for good.
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