Divinely Supplied, Humanly Gathered

Scripture Study – Revelation 2:12-17 “The Church in Pergamum”

PERGAMOS –

Pergamum is located about 100 miles north of Ephesus with Smyrna located halfway between.  It still survives today as the Turkish city of Bergama.

Pergamos was considered Asia’s greatest city.  By the time the Apostle John received the revelation and wrote this section of the book, Pergamos had been the region’s capital for about 250 years.

Pergamos was an important center of culture and learning.  The city considered themselves as “the defender of Greek culture” in all of Asia Minor.

The city was also considered an important center of worship.  Four of the main deities of the Greco-Roman world had temples dedicated to Athena, Asklepios, Dionysos, and Zeus were located there.

But overshadowing the worship of all these deities of Pergamos’ devotion was the cult of emperor worship.  Christians of the day were in constant danger of harm from the emperor worship cult.  Elsewhere, Christians were primarily in danger of one particular day of the year where they were required to offer sacrifices to the emperor; in Pergamos, they were in danger every day.

The Church At Pergamos Was One That Lived and Served In The Shadow of Satan’s Headquarters.

Revelation 2:13 (a).

“I know where you live–a place where Satan sits enthroned.”

Notice the introduction Jesus used in introducing Himself to Pergamos as “the One Who has and wields the sharp two-edged sword”.

In ancient times, the highest symbol of authority was the sword.  It represented the greatest authority that people knew.  It represented absolute authority!

Jesus’ introduction leads one to believe that God wasn’t at all happy with the church at Pergamum.  So I found it quite interesting to what Jesus had to say to the Assembly.

The Church’s Dedication Observed (2:13)

Here was a church positioned on a hill, so to speak, that was in the shadow of Satan’s throne, and Jesus noted their dedication.  I can only imagine their struggle.

WOW!  How complacent we can get while sitting in church on Sunday’s feeling comfortable without obvious persecution by the community in the valleys of our culture constantly trying to blow out the candle.  “No LIGHT in shinning in that building!”

The headquarters of Satan is a strategic place best used by his influence.

Then Jesus goes on to say, “[Yet] you are clinging to and holding first to My name”.  That meant they had not denied the purpose for which Jesus came.  They had not turned their backs on the gospel.  And in spite of the difficult circumstances that surrounded them, the BELIEVERS at Pergamos courageously maintained their FAITH in Jesus Christ.

A Period of détente –

détente [a French word meaning release from tension] and a name given to a period of improved relations during the Cold War, between the United States and the Soviet Union that began tentatively in 1971.

Revelation 2:14-15

There was a problem in Pergamos.

It’s a problem that exists in our own backyards today as well, perhaps more strongly than ever in history.

Notice the church’s détente–détente meaning an easing of friction between two groups.  It means compromising so as not to muddy the waters.

The church was faithful; it believed in Jesus.  It was a strong church, an Orthodox church.

They had not denied His faith, BUT…they were tolerating false views.  They tolerated what should have been expelled from the church.  Don’t get me wrong here.  The church didn’t hold onto false doctrines.  It was a proper, orthodox, fundamental church in the city.  There are churches similar in communities today.  Perhaps you belong to a “fundamental” church like Pergamum. But the assembly in Pergamos held fellowship with those views ignoring the Truth laid down by Jesus.  That was the thing Jesus attacked.

What has this assembly of believers allowed in their fellowship?

First, they allowed the doctrine of Balaam.

Balaam was called by a king to curse Israel in Numbers 22-23. 

Balaam didn’t try to change the theology or to curse the nation.  He just encouraged them to COMPROMISE the purposes of God.  He polluted the people socially and spiritually.

THE END RESULT (vs. 14), A “stumbling block” before the children of Israel, resulting in the eating of things sacrificed to idols and committing immorality.

They taught that ORTHODOXY gave license to SIN.

What does the word, “Orthodox” mean in this context?  It means “conventional Christian beliefs” or “traditional beliefs and customs of the early church that Jesus had established”.  [See footnote [i].]

The church at Pergamum ‘new age’ thinking was “Believe in the right things, church, and you can do anything you want to do!”

I once had a pastor who rationalized celebrating Halloween activities in the church parking lot with this same reasoning, using 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 as his point of reference–“All things are lawful”; as a believer, we are free to do anything we please.”  He left out the rest of the verse:  “but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome…”  This isn’t to say that every Christian who uses this phrase “All things are lawful” has the wrong general idea.  But I think it’s fairly clear that this is an example of a legitimate intention from the wrong text, with wrong teaching. We don’t want to cause a wave with the world over issues like homosexuality or abortion so we will allow FALSE TEACHING to enter in and adjust our doctrine, keeping everyone happy and the attendance up.

Given Direction (vs. 16)

“Repent [then]!  Or else I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  [AMP]

NOTICE the direction Jesus gives to them, “REPENT!”

He’s not talking to the people who had the doctrine of Balaam.  He’s speaking to the CHURCH.  He was telling the church to repent.

As I pondered over Jesus’ words, I began trying to understand His words here on how the CHURCH could repent.  They weren’t guilty of believing those things.  Jesus essentially says to the church, exclude those people from fellowship.  Don’t give them false security.  They were wrong; they were destroying what the church believed, so the church should remove them.

Jesus was saying to the church to exercise discipline, people!

Do we realize the danger of someone who rebels, fights against the things of God?  The danger of someone in the midst of the fellowship who stands for that which contradicts the doctrine and gospel of Jesus?

Jesus said, you as a church better REPENT and ACT on this matter, or I will come and work against them.  Basically, you take care of them, or I will take care of them!

DELIGHT (vs. 17) –

Revelation 2:17 (The Message Bible)

“Are your ears awake?  Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blows through the churches.  I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.”

The hidden or sacred manna typifies the spiritual food provided by God in His Word.  Jesus is talking about individual feeding, not a church function.

The manna is something that you receive daily already in life.  It corresponds to your hidden life.  A place inside where no one knows what’s going on except for you and God.  It’s where you are tempted to impure thought, to pride, to lying, etc.  It’s where you fight and overcome those temptations.

The sacred (hidden) manna, is the help you get when you pray for it in those times.  It’s the nourishment you receive, by the power from heaven. It’s given to everyone who asks for it, everyone with a longing to be free from sin.

The hidden manna gives vitality and life.

But like the Israelites in the wilderness, God provided the MANNA for sustaining the daily physical life, but the people had to go out and gather it in daily.

Manna was divinely supplied but had to be humanly gathered.  

God gave it, but the people had to gather it!  God will not spoon feed you!!

 The “White Stone” (“clear stone”) and the “New Name” meaning: [See footnote [ii] ]

  • The WHITENESS represents the PURITY and the HOLINESS of God.
  • The NEW NAME represents the name that a BELIEVER (“overcomer”) receives one day in Christ.

Sometimes a white stone was given to a person after a trial.  The STONE symbolized NOT GUILTY,

Sometimes after a battle, the VICTOR (“conqueror”) was given a white stone representing total victory.

Sometimes a stone was given to an individual signifying CITIZENSHIP.

When we apply that to our Christian faith, it forms a beautiful picture.

But the Scripture is very clear here that the CHURCH must not tolerate those who lower the STANDARDS of the Truth.

It’s not a question of holding the TRUTH; Pergamos did that.

As a Church, we too face the same choice that Pergamos faced.

We can repent and receive ALL of God’s blessings, or, we can refuse to perform a spiritual self-examination and face the terrifying reality of having the Lord Jesus Christ declare war on us.

We need to remain to hold true to the Word of God and never compromising our position in Christ Jesus.

____________________________________________________

CREDITS AND FOOTNOTES –

Credit:  ActiveChristianity – Hidden Manna, White Stone and a New Name – Revelation 2:17.

FOOTNOTES:  [i] The Christian Crier – “What Does Orthodox Mean?”; [ii] Word Detective’s White Stone, New Name blog – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/a-name-change-at…heavenly-arrival/

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, settings advanced.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  Amplified (AMP), New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.

 

 

 

 

“Marriage Counseling” Might Be In Order

I have been reading and studying God’s Word in the book of Revelation as of late.  I decided to focus more on God’s LOVE for us all, rather than only emphasize the aspect of PROPHECY–although that issue is also of importance.

EPHESUS - The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh
EPHESUS – The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh

Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV):

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

[1] These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:  [2] I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  [3] You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

[4] Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken your first love.  [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent,  I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.  [6] But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

[7] He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Ephesians 5:21-23 (AMP):

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [22] Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.  [23] For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.” 

My 50th Wedding Anniversary is approaching…

Last year on my 49th Wedding Anniversary, a much younger friend asked for me to give a brief account of the BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE with such a long duration and I’m sure this year, on our 50th, we will be asked the same question once more:

“Tell us, Mel, just what is it you have learned from those wonderful years with Dianne?”

“Honestly, I’ve learned that MARRIAGE is the best teacher of all.  It teaches you loyalty, patience with one another, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness…and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need to know if you were single.”

GOD LOVES MARRIAGE–

Transforming Lives
Transforming Lives

God performed THE FIRST MARRIAGE in the garden between Adam and Eve.  In fact, the main reason God created Eve from Adam’s side was because (as He said),

“It is not good for man to be alone”  (Genesis 2:18)

Some reasons God didn’t want man to be alone…

MARRIAGE changes us!

Marriage improves our lives, transforming us into something we could never become alone.

MARRIAGE can make you wise!

And after being married for almost 50 years, I can certainly testify it can IF…we do it God’s way!

We can learn all kinds of things as we GROW in Love!

Several years before John wrote the book of Revelation, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus (which we call Ephesians).

In that letter, Paul told the Christians about marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33).

In Ephesians 5, God is telling them, and us, how highly He regards MARRIAGE.  In fact, God regards marriage so highly–He compares a HEALTHY MAN to a HEALTHY CHURCH.

Husbands and wives should do the same things, to have a healthy marriage as you would if you wanted a healthy congregational church.

So, what does a person do when they have an unhealthy marriage?  

How would you go about in healing a relationship between a husband and wife that appears to have gone to the breaking point?

Well, apparently you’d do the same thing you’d do if you had an unhealthy church.

In Revelation 2, Jesus is telling Ephesus that their relationship with Him had become unhealthy, uncomfortable, and strained.  Something needed to be “fixed.”

Jesus diagnoses the problem with Spiritual Advice!

He gives them [and us too] some “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” in Revelation 2:5:

“REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when you first knew the Lord]”

REPENT means to “turn around”, to “go back”!  Go back to the beginning and do what you did at the beginning-again!  That will bring healing to the strained relationship they were experiencing.

So what had the Ephesians done back at the beginning?

If you haven’t already, you will need to grab your Bible and turn back to ACTS 19:17-20:

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor ~ verse 17.

Once the assembly of believers in Ephesus began to LOVE JESUS…

—  they openly confessed their evil deeds,

—  they publicly burned their books of sorcery,

—  AND this all resulted in the Word of the Lord spreading widely and powerfully in the surrounding communities.

Another way of putting it:  “they changed their ways”.

Their NEW RELATIONSHIP with Jesus changed them so much that they…THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY…BEHAVED DIFFERENTLY…THREW OUT EVERYTHING standing between them and Jesus!

As a result, everybody around knew of this great LOVE they had for JESUS.

MARRIAGE is never a 50/50 percent relationship.  It’s a 100/100 percent relationship.

 – 40 YEARS PASSES BY IN THE CONGREGATION OF BELIEVERS…

…AND THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Their LOVE for Jesus had grown stale and empty and their RELATIONSHIP is on life support.  Unless they do something drastic, Jesus is going to take His “candlestick” with Him (Revelation 2:5).

And so JESUS says:

TURN AROUND

GO BACK

LOVE ME LIKE YOU USED TO!

That’s the way to FIX a broken church…a broken relationship.  It is also the way you FIX a broken marriage…before the separation can occur.

Going Back…it’s never to late!

Doing the things you used to do when you first got married can rekindle a closer relationship.

I can remember when I was dating my wife,  how important it was to open car doors, to be well-groomed before picking her up on a date, having the right cologne splashed all over, the one she had mentioned she liked.  I wanted to impress her, to make her notice how interested I was in her and no one else.

As the years passed by all to quickly, honestly, I let things slip.  Now Dianne never said, “How come you never do those things anymore!”  God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit,  “Mel, to show your wife how much you value her, as a suggestion, start opening car doors and build on that.”  I’m still in a daily “building” process even after 50 years.  It never stops.

Redirecting Our Focus…

When your total FOCUS is on pleasing the other person (100%), and if someone asks you about that person you LOVE…you only say good things about them.

It’s NOT about you…

“If only they would”….

“…if only I could get my spouse to do that…everything would be just fine.”

“…if only my husband would say he loved me like he used to, then…”

“…if only my wife treated me the way she did at the beginning we wouldn’t be in this MESS!”

Sharing My Little Secret…

Allow me to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned in 50 years:

GOD NEVER SAID  “Husbands love your wives IF they deserve it.”

GOD NEVER SAID  “Wives submit to your husbands IF they deserve it.” 

A MARRIAGE CAN’T BE FIXED by saying:

“If only they would do this then…”

“If only they would do that!”

You can’t FIX marriages like that.  You can only FIX a marriage by deciding that YOU will do what it needs to be done.

AND it works.  Sometimes–even if you do it for the wrong reasons–it still works!

ILLUSTRATION:  (See References [i])

GEORGE CRANE, a Newspaper columnist and minister tells of a wife who came to his office full of hatred toward her husband.

“I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even before I divorce him!”

Thinking for a minute, Dr. Crane came up with an ingenious plan:

“Go home and act as if you really loved your husband,” he told her.

“Tell him how much he means to you. praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind and considerate and generous as possible. After you have convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him…then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”

And she followed his instructions with enthusiasm.

Two months went by…and she didn’t return to her counselor, so Dr. Crane called her.

“Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”

“DIVORCE?” she exclaimed.

“Never!  I discovered, I really do love him.”

Without realizing it–in OBEYING God–her marriage healed.  She didn’t realize she’d “REPENTED” and done the things she’d done at first.  But when she did, she fell in love all over again.

This is what JESUS is explaining to the church at Ephesus:  Remember then from what heights you have fallen.  REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else…(Rev. 2:5 AMP).

“You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”–

A DEEPER KIND OF LOVE is more than just “feelings.”  It’s a heartfelt, deepened relationship as your marriage progresses and in the same manner, a closer relationship with Christ.

“Your happiness is going to be based on who you decide to share the rest of your life with.”  [ii]

One of the reasons many marriages fail today is they’ve forgotten what the attraction was about.

–  You got bored with the old routine.

–  You’ve become complacent in the everyday things in life.

JESUS says, “I have this one charge to make against you:  that you have LEFT the love that you had at first”  (verse 4).

It wasn’t that the ‘church people’ no longer had any LOVE of Jesus at all, rather it was the QUALITY of their love for Him had weakened; grown stale over a period of time.

The GREEK word translated “LEFT” means “to depart, leave alone, forsake, and neglect.”  It can also be used of DIVORCE and the image it gave me is powerful.  [iii]

When you lose your keys, where are they?  When you lose your sunglasses, they are right where you left them.  I sometimes find them on my head.

That’s the way it is with your FIRST LOVE.  If you’ve lost it, guess where it can be found.  It’s wherever you left it.

Wherever it is, it’s still there because God hasn’t moved!  He’s waiting for you to come back.

Invaluable Relationships…

Imagine ladies, that your husband comes home and says,  “I don’t love you anymore.  But nothing will change.  I’ll still earn a living and pay the bills.  We’ll still sit together and sleep together.  I’ll still father our children.  I just don’t love you anymore.”

Would that reasoning set well with you?  No way!  You’d be devastated.

Yet we say that to the Lord.

“Jesus, I don’t love You like I did in the beginning.  I’ll still come to church every week.  I’ll still serve You.  I’ll still witness for You.  I just don’t love You like I used too.”

That’s NOT good enough for Jesus either.

Overcomers!

This brings back to Revelation 2:7 in conclusion:

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).  To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.  [Gen. 2:9; 3:24.]”

THE “LAMPSTAND’ REMOVAL:

Jesus tells us, unless we rediscover our FIRST LOVE and repent, He will remove the LAMPSTAND (verse 5 b.).  

No way is the Lord saying that the people of the church (we are the “church”) have lost their salvation.  For the OVERCOMERS will be granted to eat of the tree of life, which is in paradise.

Removing the “LAMPSTAND” means that your light, your uplifted TORCH LIGHT, has been extinguished in the surrounding communities.

So if you find that “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” is in order, in your marriage or in your spiritual relationship, you may need to return to a relationship of FIRST LOVE…then REPENT of your negligence, complacency and go back to the beginning.

REFERENCES:

[i]  Tests 1939 “For Husbands and Wives” The chicago Daily Tribune January 1-12, 1940.

[ii]  “Winning in Troubled Times” by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

PHOTOS:

EPHESUS – “The Church With No Doors” by Van Gogh atwww.christimages.org/biblebooks/Book of Revelation.html

Photo Pin – Free Photos for Bloggers.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:

The New International Version.

The Amplified Bible.

TRUSTING in the Absence of Understanding

Entering the FIERY FURNACE

A FIRE IN THE FURNACE–Daniel Chapter 3 [READ]:

When you read my opening remarks, you might think I’m questioning GOD’S POWER…but please bear with me as you read my thoughts and insight given from God’s Word.  You don’t have to agree with me, but listen carefully for a softly spoken word from God’s Spirit regarding CONFIDENCE in the fiery trials.

How Does One Cope Before Entering The Fire?

I’m concerned we’ve heard so many messages about God’s…

– Miracle working power

– Healing power.

– Providing power.

– Delivering power.

Sometimes we just take for granted that GOD WILL…

– Heal every sickness.

– Meet every financial need.

– Open every prison door.

– Put back together every broken marriage.

BUT, sometimes,

– God doesn’t heal!

– God doesn’t come through with a miracle!

– God doesn’t repair a broken home!

– God doesn’t provide financial relief!

Some Unpopular Questions Must Be Asked:

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF THE ANSWER IS NO… OR NOT NOW?

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF GOD DOES NOT DELIVER?

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF GOD DOES NOT HEAL?

Sometimes we are so conditioned to the FACT that God will say YES, we don’t know how to react in our lives when He says NO!

If that has been your experience, make note to the FACT, and say…

I KNOW GOD CAN HEAL!

I KNOW GOD CAN PUT MY HOME BACK TOGETHER!

I KNOW GOD CAN PROVIDE MY FINANCIAL NEED!

BUT IF NOT…

I’LL STILL LOVE HIM!

I’LL STILL TRUST HIM!

I’LL STILL SERVE HIM!

WHAT I DO KNOW IS GOD CAN!

BUT, if He doesn’t, I’ll still SERVE HIM!

DANIEL CHAPTER 3…THE STORIES ARE VERY FAMILIAR:

You’ve probably heard this preached from the pulpit many times.  The fourth man and the fact that He is still in the furnace, just waiting for US when are going through the fiery trials.

The courage of (3) men who gained the favor of God through separation.  And the furnace designed to destroy, actually delivered them through it all.

BUT in my reading this past week, something in particular jumped off the pages of my Bible that I never noticed before.  Does that happen to you too sometimes?  You’ve read the same passage over hundreds of times, but this one time…Wow!  It’s like a refreshing breeze blowing through your house on a hot sultry day.

“But if not…”  (verse 18).

It’s a simple statement, one consisting of only (3) words, speaking volumes about the character of these young men.  They said WE KNOW…

–  GOD IS ABLE to deliver us in the fiery furnace.

–  GOD IS ABLE to send angels from heaven to bear us up out of this crowd.

–  GOD IS ABLE to kill each and every one of our persecutors if He so chose.

We know that the same GOD that opened up the depths of the Red Sea so our forefathers could walk through on dry ground can also keep us from a measly old furnace!  We know that our God is able to deliver us, Oh king.

“BUT IF NOT”… WE STILL TRUST HIM!

The statement of GOD IS ABLE was made BEFORE they knew what the final outcome would be!  For all they knew, they were writing their own death sentences and they would wake up in glory, praise God!

BUT, it’s as if the men were saying:

“Oh king, just in case we die in this furnace of fire and don’t get the chance to tell you again, let us make ourselves crystal clear:  WE WILL NEVER BOW DOWN at a graven image.  WE WILL NEVER SERVE your gods.  WE WILL NEVER FORSAKE our experience!  And, WE WILL NEVER TURN OUR BACKS ON GOD!  We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 5 minutes, but let’s just say right now,  GOD IS ABLE, “But IF NOT, we will still worship Him!”

YOU OUGHT TO GIVE OUT A SHOUT RIGHT NOW!

–  I DON’T KNOW WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS!

–  I DON’T KNOW IF GOD’S GOING TO HEAL ME OR NOT!

–  I DON’T KNOW IF GOD’S GOING TO MEET MY FINANCIAL NEED OR NOT!

Your question to me right now might be the same one I’ve asked myself during times of trials:  “WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE GONE?”  And my answer to self is…

But, Satan, just in case I don’t get another chance to tell you this, let me say it one more time:

I KNOW GOD’S ABLE BUT

IF HE DOESN’T, I STILL WORSHIP HIM!

Scripture tells us that Satan is a LIAR, the father of lies.  He wants to destroy your CONFIDENCE in Christ.  So, if you are going through a “fiery trial” right now, the devil often wants to destroy your confidence.  God IS able but…  There’s where our confidence is revealed.

BUT…If You Die In The Furnace…?

That’s okay because I’ll just wake up shouting in glory!  Let me tell you Satan one more time:  “I will TRUST HIM NO MATTER WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS!”

THE DEDICATION OF JOB [The Book of Job]:

Job had to be the most confused man on the planet.  The Bible says Job loved God and hated evil.

He was well-respected in the religious community and beyond.  The greatest man in the entire east.

He was the poster boy of the godly life and a man who pastors would love to point to in counseling their congregation on the benefits of godly living and godly giving.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

But, in a few days time everything changed without reason; without warning, without a change in Job’s lifestyle…the floor caved in.  In fact, the entire house collapsed!  But he didn’t curse God; he didn’t back-slide; Job was just doing what was right.  He was still loving God and hating evil.

And then one day…MORE BAD NEWS!

–  The Sabean s took his oxen–your trusted car got stolen!

–  The Chaldean s took his camels–your wife’s car was stolen too!

–  A tornado destroyed his home with his wife and his kids inside.

–  His health failed–lost his Health Insurance to boot!

–  His wife turned against him.

–  His buddies tried to encourage asking what he’d done to deserve all of this.

Now Job would have loved to answer his well-meaning friends but he didn’t have a clue:

HE WAS FRUSTRATED…

HE WAS CONFUSED…

HE WAS ANGRY…

HE HAD EVERY OTHER EMOTION YOU COULD EXPECT…

But, in all of his trials, ONE THING NEVER CHANGED:

“In all this Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly” ~ Job 1:22.

AND IF THAT WASN’T ADMIRABLE ENOUGH…  It really amazes me about Job’s experiences with God.  One day as he was sitting, scraping his boils (and I had plenty of boils when I was 12-13 yrs old), searching his soul for answers, trying to figure it all out, He most likely was asking himself these questions:

1.  What happened all of sudden?

2.  Why it all happened?

3.  How long would it go on for?

And then his friends dropped by to comfort him.

And the general topic of conversation…more question marks!

“Job, doesn’t it anger you when God won’t speak to you in the middle of this mess?  Doesn’t it just get your goat when God won’t at least explain Himself to you?  Don’t you ever get upset and question God?”

And this is what Job said to his friends seated in the circle…

Gentlemen, I won’t lie to you, I’d love to speak to God and ask Him, ‘Why me Lord’?  I wish there was a go-between to put his hand on our shoulders and take counsel with God Almighty.  But, I can’t do that because God is not a man as I am that we can discuss such things.  But, you know boys, I’ve been sitting here in silence thinking and do you know what the only thing that could be worse than what’s already happened?  That would be IF God:

–  Personally stepped out of the heavens,

–  Rode down here on His white horse,

–  His flaming sword in His hand,

–  And He looked me in the eye and …

–  Drove that sword right through my heart!

And guys, just in case that does happen to me, in case I don’t wake up to see the sun rise in the morning–let me say right here, right now for the record:  THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I TRUST HIM!  I know God can turn any situation around today bur if He doesn’t…I STILL TRUST HIM!

How is that for CONFIDENCE?

FAITH IN THE FACE OF FIRE!

I can remember when I was 7 yrs old, standing in the doorway and watching for my dad to come home from his job.  He was a FIREMAN for the City of San Diego and mom and I were awaiting his entry after his working a 24 hr shift.

Often, when dad would come home, he would have been on an early morning brush fire in the surrounding canyons, not having the time to shower at work, coming straight home from the fire.  He would smell of smoke so strongly, you would know ahead of time as he walked up the steps…dad had been on a brush fire.  His hair smelled smokey, his uniform smelled smokey, even his skin gave off an aroma of “smoke.”

But this morning was very different from normal.  An unrecognizable, uniformed fireman walked down the main walk to our apartment and mom knew, there had been an accident.  He informed her that dad was severely burnt from a fuel tanker overturn on the highway.  As several firemen were washing the gas off the roads surface, the gasoline was ignited by some friction and my dad, along with several others had been entrapped within a circle of fire.  They had two choices:  run through the flames before the tanker truck exploded or die while trying.  By running through the fire they suffered second and third degree burns on their hands and faces.  Dad was in the hospital but he would survive the fire along with the others involved.

“And the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered around together and saw these men–that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them”  (Daniel 3:27 AMP).

When mom and I arrived at the hospital and the floor that the burnt firemen were being treated, we walked right by where dad was lying; he had to speak, “I’m over here!”  His head and hands were completely bound with bandages, with eyes, nose and mouth openings.  We never would have known he was in that bed if he had not spoken.

In Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fiery experience, all the kings men knew that they had been freed through the fire.

Andrae Crouch wrote a song years ago that every member in the church would sing almost weekly.  It was patterned after two verses in Psalm 18:48, 49:

I thank God for the mountains,  And I thank Him for the

valleys,  I thank Him for the storms  He brought me through;

For if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that

He could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do/

CHORUS:

Through it all,  Through it all,  I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,

I’ve learned to trust in God;  Through it all,

Through it all,    I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT “THROUGH IT ALL” :

“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.  And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity).  And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:3-5 AMP).

A New Source Of Fellowship Is Revealed:

MAKE A NOTE:  THERE WAS A FOURTH PERSON IN THE FIRE!

“Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they were not hurt!” (verse 25).

The identity is not certain:  some say it was an angel while others say it was a Christophany (preincarnate appearance of Jesus).  Which ever, it came with a suggestion of a closer communion and fellowship with God in the midst of the fiery furnace; the circumstance they found themselves in at the time.

Over comers:

So our trials can bring us closer to God and we have a new sense of freedom!  The three men entered bound but were set free (Daniel 3:23-25).

They were presumed to have been destroyed which enabled them to be set free.  Jesus Himself promised:

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God; he shall never be put out of it or go out of it, and i will write on him the name of My God…”  (REVELATION 3:12).

“HE WHO OVERCOMES (IS VICTORIOUS), I WILL GRANT HIM TO SIT BESIDE ME ON MY THRONE, AS I MYSELF OVERCAME (WAS VICTORIOUS) AND SAT DOWN BESIDE MY FATHER ON HIS THRONE”  (Revelation 3:21 AMP).

A NEW OPPORTUNITY REVEALED–Daniel 3:30:

“Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”

PROMOTION after RELATIONSHIP–  Just as Joseph, who in his trials from slave to steward; from prisoner to Pharaoh’s second-hand man!  So our FAITHFULNESS in trial leads to greater things [Matthew 25:21; Revelation 2:25-27].

And let’s not overlook the most important outcome: GLORY TO GOD!  The praise rendered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon in verse 28, 29.  What kind of FAITH do we have?  Is it like…,

A spare tire: used in case of an emergency?

A wheelbarrow, easily upset and must be pushed?

A bus, ridden only when it goes our way?

It becomes…TRUSTING in the Absence of Understanding.  And I hope if you find yourself in the midst of a “fiery furnace”, the outcome will bring with it a new promotion.