Tuesday, December 8, 2009

God sees it differently than we do

Good morning friends.

As I read this morning's Scripture in Colossians 3, the Spirit renewed an understanding he gave me a few weeks ago and then took it a bit deeper. The thought makes me a bit uncomfortable and yet at the same time the rest of Scripture backs it up. Unlike so many other bloggers, what I write is not premeditated. I appreciate the other well thought out and well written blogs. However, mine is more my private devotions that I share with you. Its a bit rough around the edges because I simply open the Word, read it, receive and then respond. You are always receiving my first and only draft. I have 40 minutes in which to write it. So this is what I have received this morning.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. vs 18-21

Nothing wrong here. This is what is expected.This is how we are suppose to be in these relationships.We should be able to maintain good relationships like these because of the previous passage that spoke of keeping our hearts and minds on things above.We are changing to be able to have these relationships because we have turned our will from selfish gain and are submitting to the Spirit and the Spirit is transforming.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. vs. 12-14

It is because of this transformation that we are able to be good husbands, wives and children. These virtues of Christ make it possible for us to love and care for people regardless of the situation. Then we read:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. v. 22

Now do not change the wording on this, it does not say employee. It clearly says slave. Why is Paul instructing slaves to be obedient? Why is he not leading a campaign to abolish slavery? Why is God not provoking his people to throw off this social injustice? Why is God permitting it to continue? Well, we could ask that same question of all the other situations as well. Why does God allow abuse to exist in marriage? Why does God allow for rebellious children? Why does God not deal with all the social injustice in the world? Why did it take so long to abolish slavery? Why does it still exist today as women and children are packaged and shipped around the world today? The answer may be hard for you to understand because God's priority has more to do with the heart then the flesh.

We spend a lot of time examining the provision of God. We study the promises to prosper our work. We concentrate on all the scripture that speaks of the good God has planned for us. However, sometimes that good is encased in the context of evil or a bad situation. The clearest example of what the Spirit is saying this morning is Joseph, from the Jewish Scriptures. He was sold into slavery and then he was wrongly jailed. In those situations he did good, he did what was expected of him and he excelled, in the context of slavery and jail. His situation turned out good, according to God's plan for him specifically. That's great but continue to examine the rest of Scripture to see how God used people. I say used because when we accept Jesus we become servants, to be used by the Father as he needs us, and we rejoice in this because it is our purpose.

It may be hard for us to take but often God is going to leave us in our circumstances and he expects us to represent him in those circumstances. Some of these circumstances are horrible. That is not saying that when the opportunity comes to be free we are not to take that opportunity. Paul instructed the slaves to be obedient but if the opportunity presented itself to become free to take it. If not, they serve where they were. In those horrible conditions they were to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient and forgiving. Understand, despite whether you receive love or not, as followers of Jesus, in deep fellowship with Jesus, we are to love. Love your enemies, Jesus said. Pray for those who persecute you, Jesus said.

We read wonderful stories of Corrie ten Boom and of many other Christians who faced terrible things and came out of it still believing, still loving. They are wonderful testimonies of how God preserves our spirit when we remain in fellowship with him. We look at these stories and marvel at how God delivers. However, what about all those others who were not delivered? What about those who are not rescued from the lions den? What about those who remain faithful, demonstrate these virtues to their dying breath, and are not rescued? God's purpose for them was to remain in those circumstances and represent him to their death. You don't think so? You think this is something new? Then why was the apostle John the only one of the 12 to die of old age? What about the thousands of believers who die every year because of their faith?

It is not easy being in a rough place in life. It is not easy being stuck in poverty. It is not easy being a single parent. It is not easy being in a loveless marriage. It is not easy being a slave. It is not easy serving our God in the circumstances of life when we are believing in a gospel that says that God will rescue us and place us in a better situation. That may be his purpose for you as it was for Joseph. However, regardless of his plan and purpose we have one responsibility: to shine with the love of Jesus. Our purpose is to be witnesses of Jesus' character and especially his love, regardless of our position in life. We demonstrate this love to people who we make contact with every day. It does not matter if our boss is a jerk and treats us poorly, our responsibility is to be kind, compassionate, patient, forgiving and to love him. Now apply that to your life, circumstances and the family in which you live.

There was a popular song many years ago that stated, "I didn't promise you a rose garden". That applies here. In everything Jesus taught he said get your eyes off of yourself and look around at the needs of others. They need a demonstration of Jesus' love. You have everything you need from your deep fellowship with Jesus Christ. The father will continue looking after your own spiritual needs as long as you stay in that fellowship. You however are to be looking around for the opportunities to be hind, compassionate, patient, forgiving and most of all loving. Be his witness today especially in the darkest moments of today.

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