April 30, 2011

What’s It Mean + How Should We Respond?

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“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” (Ephesians 6:19 NIV)

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Reflecting on the activities of the last week . . .

Blessed by Resurrection Day services at Journey Church.
Blessed by many Facebook posts praising God for Resurrection Day church services.

In China, 500 under house arrest, preventing a church service for 1,000+ to occur.
In Iraq, 7 people injured at church due to a bomb blast.
In Indonesia, 3,000 avoided injury due to police finding bombs before they exploded.

My son-in-law had back surgery recently and his recovery is going amazingly well.
A friend had a massive stroke; right side paralyzed, doctors determining extent of damage.
A niece had gall bladder surgery and a cyst removed.  She did really well; cyst was benign.
A friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy; Momma and baby doing well.

While at the hospital for my niece’s surgery, I looked at lots of faces in the waiting room.  Some rejoicing, some crying, some obviously concerned.

Still amazed at the tornados.
Vilonia about wiped out.
Tuscaloosa about wiped out.
339 dead.
One million people without power.
Meanwhile, back in Little Rock, it looked like God parting the Red Sea, with Little Rock being the dry land with storms just to our north and just to our south.

What’s it all mean? Jesus tells believers again and again to expect persecution. God never promised we wouldn’t have bad times, just that He would be there with us. Scripture shows us a clear pattern of the good times and bad times of Christian life in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37, 38-50). Joseph, son of Jacob, lived the righteous life, his brothers sold him as a slave, his new master favored him and put him in charge of his household; Joseph shunned the master’s wife’s affection, she told lies, Joseph was put in prison, and again he found favor with those in charge and was placed in charge of all prisoners; Joseph helped a prisoner, who then forgot him upon his own release, but then remembered him when the Pharoah needed a dream interpreter, Joseph was summoned, he interpreted the dreams, and the Pharoah put him in charge of all of Egypt. As Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 (ESV), “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” Joseph kept the faith and God was always with him and made good things come from what happened to him. Joseph is such a great example of remaining faithful to God in the ups and downs of life. And I think we can expect that same pattern in our own lives:

  • We need to be thankful as we strive to live a Godly, righteous life.
  • We need to be thankful when we have bad times and seek comfort in the Lord.
  • We need to be thankful when we have good times and grow in Christ.

Sometimes we may feel as though we go through that full cycle on a given day! Other times we will spend days/ weeks/ months/ years at each step. Only God knows that timing and we can be comforted in knowing and trusting that His timing is perfect.

How should we respond to the ups and downs of life?  We should go to prayer, be thankful, praise God, ask for patience, and stay in prayer.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Romans 12:12 (ESV)  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

We should pray for all people,

  • 1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV)  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…

We should pray for those who prevent believers from worshipping God,

  • Matthew 5:44 (ESV)  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

We should pray for the families involved, pray for the doctors and surgeons and hospital caregivers, and pray for ourselves, that the Holy Spirit will guide us in how else to share our love.

  • Ephesians 6:16-18 (ESV)  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

Here’s two more scriptures to close with:

  • Romans 15:4 (ESV)  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Thank you God for your Word.

     Loving the Journey,

     Kevin

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