Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Thoughts on Personal Pain by John

Thoughts on Personal Pain
January 26, 2005

There are important responses we Christians must make when hurt, misunderstood, persecuted, or condemned. Our response is vital. It shows what our real Christian character is. We may discover that we are not nearly as perfect as we think and hope we are.

Suffering is important. Romans 8:16,17 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” I can’t understand the full import of that, but it tells me that suffering is a natural part of a Christians life, and that I should expect it. The question naturally arises, what should I do when it happens?

All that we must do is readily seen in Jesus, of course. Jesus was and is perfect. We are not. We strive for perfection, but we never reach sinless perfection as long as we live on earth; therefore, we must take what is done, or spoken, against us without offense. We must always continue doing God’s work as if nothing important happened. We must avoid giving offense ourselves. If we offend because we were offended, we are acting in revenge, and we know God said that vengeance was His, not ours.

Every occasion of any sort of suffering produces profound pain in us, and I can begin to understand how painful it was for Jesus to suffer at the hands of his own countrymen! When we suffer, it is easy for us to strike back, to retaliate, but we must not! Instead, we need to take time not to count to ten, but to ask God who is right and who is wrong. He may reveal to us that we deserved what we got. In a sense, we always do, but we may discover we were right. In any case, we must remain staunchly where the Lord wants us, and we must be found living exclusively for Him.

We must do the work for which He called us. If we are not very careful, we will find ourselves in a predicament like Jonah did. From the point at which he decided not to do the Lord’s will, he went down, down, down. In the belly of the great fish, he came to his senses, and prayed. Even after he found himself on dry land and proceeded to carry out God’s will, he was angry with God. He didn’t believe God would destroy the Ninevites, and he waited outside the city to see exactly what God would do.
I am always amazed at the patience of God. He still had to teach Jonah another lesson. He caused a gourd vine to grow up over the stick tabernacle Jonahbuil toshade himself from the blinding heat of the noonday sun. It made Jonah happy! That night God sent a cutworm to kill the vine. It did, and Jonah grieved for the vine. God asked Jonah, “Do you have any right to be angry about the vine?” Jonah maintained that he did and said he was angry enough to die!

Actually, we don’t know whether Jonah repented of his stand, or not. We do know he recorded God’s message for us. God gently imformed Jonah that his compassion for the gourd vine was nothing compared to His Own compassion for the 120,000 people in Nineveh.

We must strive to see the world about us through the eyes of God! When we do, we will discover that God loves the people He created. Each one of us fits into that classification. Whether we like to believe it or not does not matter, God loves the people who hurt us! We have no choice but to do the same! At the same time, we must stand with God. We must not allow ourselves to be pushed away from His will for our lives by the opinions of others, or by whatever force they may use.

We can expect God’s enemies to be constantly seeking something wrong in our lives. Satan will help them do it! If we insist on convincing others we are right, we can expect them to tear us down, and they will probably be successful. Satan doesn’t care whether he uses Christians or lost people. He just seeks to get the job done! We need humility in our attitudes and actions because we are flawed and humble in reality! All of us when we see people lost in the depths of sin should be quick to say, “There but for the grace of God, go I!” I don’t remember who originated that saying, but it must become a very real part of our Christian lives.

It is humbling to me to realize that no matter what educational level I achieve, no matter how devoted to God I may become, every person has just as direct an access to God as I have! It doesn’t even matter what language the person speaks, or if he is able to speak at all. Our wonderful God reaches across whatever distance there is between us. He bridges the gap, and He opens the way for us to enter His presence through His only born Son Jesus!

The Psalmist said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” In our deepest, most despairing trouble God is with us. We recognize His presence by His correcting rod and His upholding, protecting staff! In the midst of defeat, in Jesus, there is certain victory!

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