Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 2009
November 15, 2009
© Copyright 2009
How do I prepare for "the fiery trial which is to try you" (1 Peter 4:12)?
And how do I rejoice in such trying times?
Must all Christians be sharing Christ's sufferings?
Should I cultivate thinking of myself as being part of a suffering people?
What portion of my sufferings and reproaches are not for the name of Christ?
When I "suffer as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:16), for what shall I glorify God?
Should the time ever come to endure harsh testing and opposition, will you stand up and be uncompromisingly courageous? Have you ever worried that you might fail the big test? God wants you at peace about the matter. God wants you to live today with unflinching courage. He will take care of tomorrow if you are faithful today. Be courageous in the "small" things today, and He will honor that faithfulness with grace and courage for the "big" things tomorrow.
It is so important to learn and obey every single step of the way! This is the only way of passing the test when it comes.
In my introductory lecture to Algebra I, I often enjoyed having my students turn to a page or two far back in the book. Their reaction was almost universal: "This is hard stuff! I don't know how to do it." I have never had a student that would have passed the chapter 14 test at that point. But I didn't expect them to . . . at that point. I would also give them their first assignment . . . then they thought I was babying them. I assured them that if they stuck with me from the baby stuff on through, they would master the scary stuff at the end of the book. Ironclad guarantee. Then in my teaching, I made sure I always had them taught and prepared for the tests. But they had to stay with me and do things the way I told them.
That illustrates how God deals with us. He doesn't just pop the big tests on me and you. He carefully follows a lesson plan by which He ensures that we have had the learning opportunities which will equip us to pass the tests. But we have to stay with Him and do things the way He tells us. No exceptions and no short-cuts! How many algebra students I have had who thought I was being unreasonable and wasting their time by demanding they follow so many steps . . . until they reaped the bad grades of their own short-cuts! And in life, how many times I despised the little steps and tried my own "more efficient" ones . . . until I reaped my own grievous failures!
So I will try to remember that God does all He can to prepare me for what's coming. He knows when I will be tested by adversity and when I will be tested by prosperity. Not only does He know when, He also knows how. Knowing all that, He strives to prepare me for the test so that I might pass it successfully, so that "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
Being assured by that, I purpose once again to stay the course, to continue walking in the Way. "My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined" (Job 23:11). Nothing else makes sense!
"We ought to obey God rather than men" is a great slogan and even an effective rallying cry. Those who utter it had better believe it. Those who believe it will certainly live it. And those who live it are prepared to die because of it. So don't allow your lips to express it unless your life already does!
Those who proclaim, "We ought to obey God rather than men," open themselves wide to scrutiny and testing. If you are going to say it, you need to know that it will be used as a microscope to examine your life and as a magnifying glass to enlarge any inconsistencies you may live.
"We ought to obey God rather than men" applies to more than just any situations in which those in authority would require us to disobey God in order to obey them. To use it only in such circumstances is to deny its power and authenticity. To use it only in such circumstances is merely that: using it (as opposed to believing and living it).
When we "obey God rather than men," we establish that God has the reins of our lives. Nobody, not even our own selves, supersedes Him in authority and importance. When this is the case, we show plainly that we "seek...first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
Another area where "God rather than men" must ring true is that of influence. To what influences do you respond positively? What influences affect your thoughts, your attitudes, your speech, your choices, and your life? Even in this area of your life, "We ought to obey God rather than men"!
I don't pretend to have even an inkling as to whether or not widespread persecution will come to North America. I don't know if we'll ever be hauled before civil or religious authorities and need to proclaim, "We ought to obey God rather than men." But I do know that if our testimony of loyalty is to be convincing in such a scenario, it must be a proven part of our lives right now.
Does everyone who knows me now, know me as an individual who is unswervingly loyal to God and His ways?
This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: Cultivating Noble Friendships.
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