Posts Tagged With: Suffering

Pure in Heart

Image result for pearl

I pray all will re-familiarize themselves with Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13: 45&46 — The Pearl of Great Worth. 

 

In eastern cultures, the pearl is a beautiful simile, which affords us an opportunity to discover significant symbolic value in Jesus’ parable. There’s a lot more to this parable of the Kingdom of God, but for now, we pluck up this up one thing that we may elucidate its truth.

 

Momentarily we set aside the aesthetic and artistic desirability of pearl and instead discover its symbolic worth, by discerning the spiritual truth it represents. By doing so it may aid us in discovering the true interpretation of Jesus’ parable of “The Pearl of Great Worth.” I hope to offer that interpretation more fully in a later post.

 

The pearl is produced by a living organism. Its manufacture is the result of injury or harm to the life—to the health of the creature. Some foreign thing such as a grain of sand intrudes, and becomes lodged within the oyster or clam. The shellfish then secretes nacre, or mother of pearl, coating the harmful intruder with layer upon layer, until a pearl is formed.

 

It’s very suggestive that the equivalent word for “pearl” in New Testament Greek is margarites, meaning purity. That word was likely derived from the Sanskrit word for purity. The pearl is a symbol of purity and innocence.

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

 

Purity (pearl) is the response of a living organism to the introduction of something harmful into its being. Think of the introduction of sin into the human heart in the Garden of Eden—certainly a very injurious contamination.

 

Perhaps it’s a person’s response to the harsh realities of life in a sin cursed world which will determine whether or not the production of purity begins? By response, I’m intimating “faith.”

 

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith…” Eph. 2:8a

 

We can see the similarity between a grain of sand entering a clam, which is first an irritant to the shellfish, but later on, if not dealt with, it can actually destroy the life of the clam. God has purposes for allowing evil to temporarily enter into the world, of which, we are woefully incapable of comprehending. Knowing the end from the beginning, God allowed sin to enter every human heart, for a purpose. Remember, He has the cure for sin, paid our penalty for sin, and makes a way for us to be sin-free again, through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

As a former weight lifter, I can attest to the fact that resistance builds strength. And, “…Suffering produces perseverance…” (Ro. 5: 3), and, “the trying of our faith works patience.” We see this principle demonstrated throughout scripture and in our lives on this big spinning rock called earth.

 

God uses hardships, difficulties, trials, persecution, etc., as tools in sanctifying us (making us pure, or holy). And all of these bad things result because of sin.

 

There’s much more I could say, but I wanted to leave you to ponder the simple thought I’ve presented. For though simple, I believe it sublime. Comments welcome.

Advertisements
Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Jesus' Parable, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Profitable Troubles

img_0355

One year at an outdoor revival held by our congregation a young couple came to the prayer tent where I was stationed. They found themselves in difficult circumstances and indicated they would like me to pray with them. Struggling financially, they were living in a rundown RV with no electricity. Their marital relationship was under a great strain, being battered about by hardships. In the book of Hosea God refers to life struggles like theirs as being in the valley of Achor, which means “trouble”.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15

Revealing the tender compassion which drives God’s heart, the book of Hosea is a story of God’s boundless love for His children. It exemplifies the closeness He desires in our relationship with Him. After God allows us to suffer in the valley of troubles, we must respond in faith, repenting where needed and learning how to trust Him more completely. That’s when His work inside us begins to profoundly take shape, and His purposes are moved forward.

God is preparing each one of us for the final culmination of His plan, which is found in the 19 & 20th verses of the same chapter.

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving-kindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20 NAS)

 God loves us so much He wants to marry us! After experiencing His provision of peace and strength and comfort through the valleys of life’s difficulties, we are more prepared for the completion of our union with Him. On the other side of hardship and suffering, when we’ve grown to trust God’s love for us and yearn with every fiber of our being to please Him, He begins fitting us for our white bridal gown.

A year later in downtown Indianapolis I saw that same couple I had prayed with. Both have grown tremendously in their faith. They said, “We are more in love with each other now than ever before.” Then they added, “God is good.”

If you find yourself in the valley today, know that God is working in your life to draw you nearer to Him. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Prayer

Lord, I know you have a reason for everything you allow. Please give me strength and patience to endure what I must. Thank you for teaching me about your faithfulness and what is involved with trusting you. In your Son’s holy name, amen. 

Please note that the above image is not the same couple that is referred to in this post. They are simply good friends, “Bill & Bonnie” holding one of my devotional books. Blessings.

Categories: Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding God in the Storm

This post stirred up a whole lot of discussion on my old blog, and yes, I’m recycling again. But trust me, I’m not simply being lazy. I’m busy with another ministry project and wanted to bless my new readers also with this post. To the faithful followers of my previous blog, as well as to my new followers, thank you. Blessings!

Finding God in the Storm

Some days my suffering felt as if I were sitting next to Job in sackcloth and sharing his ashes.

“Pass me that clamshell there Job, I need to scrape this boil.”

Also like Job, there were times when God was so close I could smell the sweetness of His breath on my shoulder. Up there on the spiritual mountain, where His presence is so real and loud, it’s easy to have faith. But the bulk of my growth, in a spiritual sense, didn’t take place there. It took place in the difficult valleys of hardship.

As anyone could imagine, I wasn’t enjoying those low points in life. I certainly wasn’t having any fun in the midst of those tough circumstances.

Suffering through a separation from my wife thirty-five years ago, I lost my means of employment as well. I became a pauper and a social outcast. Even my church family shunned me.

What happened? How did I go from the exhilaration of sharing glorious moments with the creator of the cosmos, to here? I was stuck in that dismal place, where jagged gray rocks of loneliness, emotional pain, hard toil and suffering were my clinging companions. I was quickly feeling rather disillusioned. Had God failed to follow through with His promises? Was He unfaithful to His word?

Once a person experiences the ecstasy and elation of close fellowship with Jesus, they forever seek to reproduce that experience. Nothing else can measure up to that wonder and joy. And I was having trouble finding my way back up that mountain to where I could feel those wonderful sensations again. I’d had a taste of spiritual heroin and I was instantly addicted to the Lord. His love is like no other.

“By night on my bed I sought him who my soul loveth: I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:1-2 KJV)

I had yet to unravel the splendid mystery of truth, which lie right there within me. Desperately I would try to manipulate circumstances, cramming them together in the shape I was certain would bring back that sensation of nearness to God. Heaven is perfect and so my circumstances must be perfect if I hoped to attain that paradise. Though I’d never actually assembled those words in my mind, that’s what I thought; my actions proved this to be my belief.

Fervently I prayed and fasted, pleading with God to ease my suffering. I was weak. But it would be through the weakness, and in the hardship, that I would come to discern His strength and comfort, because of those storms. You see, He had never left me. I just couldn’t feel Him. I’ve never seen God, but I’ve seen His omnipotence at work and felt Him most powerfully.

How did I eventually perceive His working in the bad times? How did I come to feel His powerful presence while beneath the black clouds of stormy circumstances? It was the same way that in spirit I stood face to face with God the very first time, up on that glorious mountain of elation. It was through faith, mixed with knowledge from His word.

Immediately upon coming to Christ and placing faith and trust in Him, grace is bestowed upon the believer. That first encounter will be forever cherished as a wonderful epiphany, the apex of elation and joy. It is upon that first moment of standing in close proximity with God, that because of our faith, God reveals Himself to us in all His loving character and divine virtues. Instantly all of the promises of God are ours; the promise of eternal life, the promise that He will never leave or forsake us, and the promise of peace that goes beyond all earthly comprehension. In a nanosecond the entire myriad of promises for supernatural benefits are delivered unto us, the fruit of the Spirit, the hope and joy and strength and comfort. The list goes on and on. It’s a package deal and all these things come along with salvation.

When I first purchased a new laptop, which had been preprogrammed with all sorts of software, I had no idea what to do with most of that stuff. I didn’t even know how to enter data onto a spreadsheet. But I owned it. All those programs were mine. I simply had to learn how to access and utilize them. I’d bought a package deal. And it was the same for all of those precious promises of God. He’d delivered them to me the very first moment I decided to believe and trust Christ as my Savior.

I’m now able to do a lot of things on my laptop, which previously I never dreamt possible. I have the power of those technologies at my fingertips. And I am now, finally, learning to access and benefit from all those promises I’ve received from God as well. I’m becoming adept at finding His presence within the storms of life—within the hardships. Sometimes, He even allows me to perceive some of His jaw dropping purposes in allowing those difficult circumstances to come upon me.

If I never knew how lifting weights would increase my strength, I certainly wouldn’t waste my time and wear myself out like. That work would be for naught. But I do know, and so I lift weights. That’s what my hardships are for too—only the difficulties are spiritual weights—to strengthen my faith in God and teach me how faithful, trustworthy and able He really is. And there are more reasons that only He knows. But we don’t need to know everything. It is enough to be convinced of God’s faithfulness. He is trustworthy. Life experiences through the eyes of faith, combined with the knowledge found in God’s word allows us to experience that closeness to God always. That elation and joy can be ours regardless of where we are or what we are going through.

God’s word equips us for every contingency in life. (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17) It is a part of the package deal of salvation, just as my computer came with an operator’s manual. When we begin a new life in Christ, it is necessary to learn and grow before we can benefit from all of the glorious benefits of God. Every Christian already has all they will ever need. It is merely a matter of learning to use it. Life experiences, whether times of elation, or hardship and suffering, are all a part of learning to wield our faith, trusting Christ in every circumstance.

“Have you seen the one my heart loves?” (Song of Solomon 3:3b NIV)

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
(Song of Solomon 5:16 KJV)

Categories: Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.