Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some Better Thing

I recently read a quote from George Muller that I just loved. He said, "Our heavenly Father never takes any earthly thing from His children, unless He means to give them something better instead." I pondered that for a little while, and I remembered some times in my life where I wondered (or said out loud) "WHY ME?" I wondered if God had forgotten all about me, and the promises He made to me. I wondered why He would allow such unwanted and unwarranted hurt come to me. I mean, Have you ever had something happen to you, that you just didn't see coming? And no matter which way you turned to God, and tried to do what you thought He wanted, you just couldn't avoid the hurt that came to you? It wasn't your fault. It wasn't your choice. It wasn't what His Word said should happen, but it did, and there you were, ... flat on your face, heart broken, dreams shattered, and trying to figure out WHAT POSSIBLE BLESSING could God have for me in this???

Hebrews chapter eleven is what we call the "Hall of Faith." Verse after verse tells us of men and women who left all, to follow God. Towards the end of the chapter it talks about many unnamed heroes of the faith. Some were stoned, sawn asunder, tortured, slain with the sword, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, tempted, and tried.  Not only that, some were destitute and tormented, and wandered in deserts, dens, and caves.  But the phrase that caught my eye was, "not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Heb. 11:35, KJV) They DID NOT ASK to be delivered? Hmm. Interesting. We sometimes go through the smallest trial and ask God to deliver us. When was the last time you were stoned or sawn asunder for the cause of Christ? No, today's Christian knows little about real sacrifice, and when asked to do without the smallest thing, or give up their most precious, they whine, cry, and complain to be sure that EVERYONE knows they're suffering. We ALL have done this. The chapter goes on to say, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith," (Heb. 11:39, KJV) I think "good report" might mean they didn't complain and they didn't give up.

The Bible does not name these heroes but this chapter says the world was not worthy of them. WHY? Why did they do all of that? Why did they go through all of that? Why did God allow them to suffer so? I think verse 40 answers it. "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." God had something better. Yes, it was long. Yes, it was hard. Yes, it was hurtful. No, they didn't deserve it, for some wrong they had done. God needed them to be an example for us. Trials are going to come. Some we choose, others are thrust upon us by the choices of others, but God is still God, no matter what. 

My four children, are close to being grown (so to speak.) :-) They are 19, 17, 16, & 15. Life has not always been easy, but God's been good. I haven't always known what to do, or made the right choice, but God's been there. I haven't always understood why God allowed some things to happen that put me on this path (that HE KNEW I'd be on) but God's been faithful. I have no idea what the future holds, but God is already there. Sometimes, its hard to think that the thing God allowed to happen, though hurtful to you, was helpful for someone else. When I read the above quote, from George Muller, along with Hebrews 11, the Lord reminded me that He has never left me. He knew that if I had not gone THIS way, that myself, or my children might have been harmed. I wish I could tell you that I never asked to be delivered.:-( But over the years, the Lord has shown me,... I was. He's a great and faithful God, and He had (or has) provided "some better thing." Wait for it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's Choices = Tomorrow's Consequences

Our church supports a faith-based, addictions program called, Reformer’s Unanimous. There are Ten Principles that are taught, learned, and memorized by all those who participate in the program. These principles are not just for the drug addict, cigarette smokers and sex offenders. They can and should be applied to the every day life of any Christian who truly wants to be right with God and man. Regardless of who you are (or who you ‘think’ you are) we all sin and are in need of a Savior. Gossip, back-biting (or stabbing,) anger, adultery, stealing, haughtiness, selfishness, etc., these are all just as much an addiction as any form of substance abuse. We try to make one worse than the other but it is not so in the eyes of God. Anything that goes against His Word is sin. 

The principle that I’d like to talk about today is #7. “Our sinful habits DO hurt those who follow us.” I had taken it upon myself to teach the RU Principles in my Sunday School class, and while going over this one I asked the teen girls a question. “Can you name one person in the Bible, who went against God, or disobeyed their authority, and God blessed them for it?” Most said no, but two girls had an answer. One said, “Moses.” She talked of when Moses struck the rock and water flowed. She said, “Even though he struck the rock, God allowed the water to come forth.” She went on the to say that she knew Moses didn’t get to go into the Promised Land, but still God allowed the water. The other teen girl said, “Joseph’s brothers.” She said, “Even though they sold Joseph into slavery, God still allowed them to come to Egypt later, and used Joseph to take care of their families.” She acknowledged the fact that they went through famine and all the trials that they went through when they first came before their brother, but still God took care of them and their families. I thought both girls gave good answers. However, they seemed to focus only on the blessing that came AFTER much consequences had been suffered. Consequences suffered, not only by the men who disobeyed, but by their families as well. The girls were not flippant in their answers or disrespectful. They answered well. However, it is the attitude of today that the consequences are worth the fleeting moment of enjoyment, or gratification. “It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” That is the motto of this generation. I got what I wanted, I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’, now you have to forgive me and move on. No true repentance. No true remorse. More like a satisfaction in knowing they actually COULD have their cake and eat it too.  But, they learned it from someone, somewhere, didn’t they? I think if we had the advantage of asking a few folks today what they “would have done”, if they had considered the consequences, we’d be surprised by their answers. 

Adam & Eve = Cain & Abel
Abraham & Sarah = Isaac & Ishmael
Jacob &  Leah = Dinah & her brothers
Moses = The Promised Land
David & Bathsheba = newborn child, Absalom, Tamar & Amnon

These are just a few folks whose decisions are well in the past, and STILL affecting us today. Their choices did NOT just affect them.  Oh, but wait… ALL is and was forgiven, that’s true, but the consequences have remained unto this day. So tell me, WHO or WHAT are you willing to sacrifice to have what you want? Your marriage? Your children? Your grand-children Your great-grand-children? Our sinful habits and choices DO affect those who follow and watch us. Who is watching YOU? And WHERE are you leading them? In the paths of righteousness, I hope. Or, down a road of destruction, unhappiness, bitterness, family or church discord, deceitfulness, etc. You’re right, it is YOUR choice, but at WHOSE expense?