Monday, December 13, 2010

WE WERE MADE FOR THESE HARD TIMES

 THESE TIMES WERE PREPARED FOR US
A. Brother

“You must be on your guard…
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial,
do no worry beforehand about what to say. 
Just say whatever is given you at the time,
for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit…
All men will hate you because of Me,
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” 
Mark 13:9,11,13

These times produce men and women who disregard God, despise authority, and reject Jesus.  These times produce evil people, who have a form of respectability and even religion, yet no real humility or love of God.

These times were prepared for us, and were foreseen as testing grounds for True Disciples.  Jesus told us about them.  He even instructed us to expect them.

We must stand firm.  Not in our human power, or our own efforts.  But in the power of the Holy Spirit, with His wisdom, knowledge and understanding flowing into us and through us from the Lord God Himself.

Right now many of us are being tested.  In some cases, we are past our own limits already, and the testing continues. 
         
Perhaps you are being tested at work.  By bosses who don’t care one little bit about God, or what’s right.  By co-workers who abuse or misuse you and get away with it consistently.  By being overworked and underpaid, taken advantage of by those more powerful than you in this world.  By having to put up with unfair situations, where those undeserving get the praise, and you, the real worker, the real producer, get nothing but trouble. 

Perhaps you are being tested by lack of work.  By wondering where and how you’re going to find work.  By hearing terrible things about the economy, and our political leaders, and being tempted to worry and fret daily and hourly about these things.  By feeling left out, too young, too old, too uneducated, overeducated.  By being dependent on government handouts, and being ignored by friends and those who could help.
 
Perhaps you are being tested at home.  In a marriage that is uncomfortable.  By a husband who doesn’t love you, and gives you a hard time every day.  By a wife that is spoiled or lazy, or a husband who won’t work, or can’t seem to keep a job.  By a spouse who disobeys God continually, and is caught up in sin.  By children whom you’ve raised the best you know how, but who are disobedient, ungrateful, unholy, and who abuse your love and treat your sacrifices with contempt.
 
Perhaps you are being tested financially.  You don’t have the money to pay the bills.  You don’t even have the money to eat, or to provide the clothing and home your family needs.  You live around those who flaunt their wealth, and don’t help anyone next door, like yourselves, who are in true distress.  You may even go to a church, and those people who call themselves Christians ignore your pain and heartache, your testing and trial, and expect you to smile and pretend when you’re around them.

Perhaps your testing is to resist the temptations of the world on a daily basis.  To love God and others too much to give in to sexual indulgences, private lusts, desires for money and fame, hunger for power and position and title.  To love God enough to be willing to give up your own goals and ambitions and follow Jesus to the cross each day.  To die to your own life, and to let Christ live in you, instead of giving in to the sinful ways of those around you.

Brethren who suffer, consider the comforting and powerful Word given to us by our brethren who experienced much suffering in their earthly lives.  The writers of the New Testament were chosen by God to relate these things to us so that we won’t lose heart.

“In your struggle against sin,
you have not yet resisted
to the point of shedding your blood.” 
Hebrews 12:4

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. 
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness
and peace for those who have been trained by it.” 
Hebrews 12:11

Some in various places in this world today must resist giving up their Lord, through terrible torture, and even death.
 
You and I, in this sinful world of pleasure and wealth and privilege, have a hard road to walk, too.  It is to hold to the Truth, and to Jesus, no matter if we are rejected and despised by men, as He was.  To be faithful in our own testing, which may be Satan’s subtle traps set for us, or may be very unsubtle, obvious trials such as those mentioned earlier.  It is just as important we resist compromise in our own situations.

Jesus says, “Be on your guard.”  He expects us to be ready, and to know we will face these testings.  He is with us every second, every moment, to give us the strength we need.

“Consider Him [Jesus] who endured
such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 
Hebrews 12:3

Consider Jesus.  Think on our Lord, Teacher, Master, Big Brother, Friend.  Emulate His life.  Let Him love you while the world hates you.

We are Jesus in this world if we truly follow Him.  Like Jesus, it can be said of us that if we had not come, then the world would not have known its own sin, and had it exposed.  It could have gone on being evil without responsibility.  But now you and I are here, displaying the truth about sin to those around us.  That’s why they hate us.

Like Jesus, we are plumb lines and measuring rods, without even trying to be.  Our love and obedience to God condemns the worldly in their rejection of God and their disobedience to Him.  Like the cornerstone was rejected, so the “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) will be rejected.

So, brethren, make no mistake.  How you live and how you handle your testing and trials makes a huge difference in this world.  You are important to Jesus.  You will receive the crown of life when you have persevered, and live eternally with Him because of your faithfulness.

We were made for this!

“To this you were called,
because Christ suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
that you should follow in His steps.” 
1 Peter 2:21

All encouragement to you right now.  May the God who suffered for you give you His love, His hope, His courage, His boldness, and fill you with Spirit within you to stand firm in this day of difficulty.


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