Saturday, August 18, 2007

Painful Joy

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9.)

“My dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering, as though something unusual were happening to you. Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when His glory is revealed. Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ’s followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you. If any of you suffers, it must not be because he is a murderer or a thief or a criminal or meddles in other people’s affairs. However, if you suffer because you are a Christian, don’t be ashamed of it, but thank God that you bear Christ’s name. The time has come for judgment to begin, and God’s own people are the first to be judged. If it starts with us, how will it end with those who do not believe the Good News from God? As the scripture says, ‘It is difficult for good people to be saved; what, then, will become of godless sinners?’ So then, those who suffer because it is God’s will for them, should by their good actions trust themselves completely to their Creator, who always keeps His promise.” (1 Peter 4:12-19.)

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3.)

Oh boy is God, my Father purifying me this weekend! Just when I thought things were going to be smooth sailing He turned up the heat! And as I crumbled under the pressure and began to melt within the flames, all the impurities bubbled to the top where they sat and waited to be scrapped off. As minutes, hours, a day passed by, things began to cool back down again in the absence of the fire and I was able to emerge slightly stronger and more refined. Though I rejoice for the opportunity to be cleansed I must say it was a rather painful process.

Oh how joyful I will be indeed when the glorious day arrives and Christ Jesus is made known! Whoa to those who do not listen; those who hear the Word of our Father yet brush it off to live life as they see fit. How terrible for those who are cowards, traitors, perverts, and murderers. Condemned are the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars because the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8.) Happy are those who suffer greatly for their belief, trust, and absolute faith in our Father and His Son Christ Jesus.

Do not grow weary, my friend. Find renewal in His word. Hold tight to our Father. Hide your face against His chest. Allow Him to hold you near and assure you there is nothing to fear for He and He alone is sovereign.

“The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are His. He built it on the deep waters beneath the earth and laid its foundations in the ocean depths. Who has the right to go up the Lord’s hill? Who may enter His holy Temple? Those who are pure in act and in thought, who do not worship idols or make false promises. The Lord will bless them and save them; God will declare them innocent. Such are the people who come to God, who come into the presence of the God of Jacob. Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great King will come in. Who is this great King? He is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, victorious in battle. Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great King will come in. Who is the great King? The triumphant Lord – He is the great King!” (Psalms 24.)
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