Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Hi, ladies! The devotional I posted yesterday by Mr. Spurgeon was based on Acts 14:22. If you don't mind, I'm going to do my own devotional on this verse. I love what Mr. Spurgeon had to say, but there were some things I wanted to add. :)
"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
~Acts 14:22b (NKJV)
If we're Christians, we will face trails, tribulations and persecution in this world. It's guaranteed. If we're truly God's children, the world will hate us. In Matthew 10:22 we read, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake." In John 15:18-21, Jesus says, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me." As God's children, the world will hate us, despise us and persecute us, whether it be in thought, word or deed. If we're truly living the way God's Word commands us to, then we will be radically different from the world. If we're Christians, we're been sanctified, which literally means "to be set apart". As the verse above said, we're been chosen out of the world. We do not belong to the world any longer, so we must not live and act like we do. We must act as much like Christ as we possibly can. The term "Christian" literally means "little Christs". If we act like true Christians, then the world will persecute us. They will belittle us, think we're strange, mock us, and the list goes on. But, praise God for these persecutions! It is because God has saved us and adopted us into His family that we face these persecutions! Blessed be the name of the Lord for choosing us out of the world, for cleansing us, redeeming us and saving our souls, and for preparing for us a place in Heaven with Him for eternity! It is because of this that we are persecuted. So let us thank the Lord for our persecutions! Let us see them as opportunities to glorify Christ's name, and to be a light in this dark and sinful world!
Not only will we face persecution from the world, but it's also guaranteed that we'll face tests and trials from God Himself. These, as well, are blessings, and we ought to see them as such! These trials and tests that He sends us are to test our faith and trust in Him. And, I don't know about you, but sometimes I need my faith and trust in Him tested! I find myself not "Trusting in the Lord with all my heart", but rather "leaning on my own understanding". And this is sinful. All too often I look at situations through my eyes instead of God's eyes. I look at things through my nearsighted eyes, rather than trying to look at them through the eyes of God-that see everything-past, present and future. I all too often forget that everything that happens in my life is a part of God's "good, pleasing and perfect will" and that "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." We all need to have our faith and trust in Him tested, because it is only during those times that we fully come to realize and understand that He has everything under control! He has every little detail of everyday already planned out-He planned everything even before the foundation of the world. Yet, we little Christians, seem to always forget that, and instead we worry, fret and don't fully trust. The Lord took care of His disciples when they were in the boat during the raging storm, but what did He say to them? "O you of little faith!". I don't know about you, but sadly, I deserve that title just as much as His disciples did. I know that the Lord works everything together for our good and for His glory, but I don't end up living like that! So, praise God when He tests you and gives you trials to test your faith and your trust in Him. These are blessings! They bring you closer to Him and make your relationship with your Savior more intimate. In James 1:2-3 we read, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." Amen!
Something else that we must never forget is that the Lord is always with us, throughout every trial, tribulation and persecution that we face. In Joshua 1:9, we receive this beautiful command: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." In Deuteronomy 31:8, we are issued this blessed promise:"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." The Lord is always there for us, ready to comfort us and give us strength and encouragement when we're experiencing life's trials and tribulations. All we need to do is just run to your Savior's arms and be covered in His love.
We will, as this verse in Acts tells us, face many tribulations. Those may be persecutions or they may be trials and tests. But whatever they are, they are blessings! One of my all-time favorite books is The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. In this life changing book, Christian goes through trial after trial after trial. He is beaten, scourged, persecuted, mocked, and he has to leave all those who are near and dear to Him. This is the cost of being a Christian! But, throughout the book, Christian endures, he blesses His Lord and Savior, and at last, after a long, tiring, journey filled with pain, despair, and tribulations of every kind, he at last enters the Kingdom of God! And, I can't even begin to express to you his joy and happiness when He enters Heaven. Imagine with me for a minute, that you are a Christian and you go through life never facing a single persecution, never experiencing any pain, trials, tests or tribulations of any sort. Now, when you enter Heaven, sure you'll be happy to be there. But it wouldn't be as wonderful, as glorious, as happy or as joyous if your life would have rather been like this: You go through life on earth being hated and despised by the world, being persecuted, being mocked and made fun of, experiencing all sorts of almost unbearable tribulations, trials and tests. Then, on the day you enter Heaven, the life you had endured while on earth would make heaven all the sweeter, all the more blessed! You would be even more thankful to be there and would be praising your Lord and Savior all the more for choosing you out of the world. And you know what else? I think you would also praise Him for all the trials and tribulations that you experienced while on earth. For they brought you closer to Him and made Heaven all the more magnificent. This is the way it was for Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress.
So, dear sister, next time you face a hard and trying time, trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, and wholeheartedly thank Him for that blessed trial or test that He has given to you to endure. For they really are blessings-they will bring you closer to Him, will test your faith and trust, and will make Heaven all the sweeter!