Thanksgiving – God is faithful? Comeon! Are you sure you mean that?! Examine yourself

…. Please note before you read, the below only applies to believers who’ve made a decision to accept Christ as their Lord and personal Savior. Because God only has the ‘right’ to do the below once we give Him permission. Remember the devil’s a thug. But God! …Is always the consummate gentleman. Remember the Bible says let no man say I am “tempted” of God but it does say that we are “tested” by God each and every morning every day.

Joel 2:25Joel 2:25
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So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

… What do we mean when we say God is faithful
or God is good
or with God there is a pure righteousness so beautiful and clean that there is no shadow of turning with Him?
Or “God is good all the time!”?
Or God is Love?

I ask you this morning to examine your faith in two areas.
NB [I will restore] – where are you struggling in your life? God knows and in fact, if you are a believer, you better believe your struggles are “ordained” “planned” “peculiar” “set apart” “hedged Hosea-type” “royal struggles”..

NBB [My army which I sent] – and … Yes …. God sent you those struggles. Job is a standard, but just on different levels depending on the believer. In other words, God will allow you to be tested through suffering, and its is suffering before a heavenly audience and principalities. Yes He sent them, these trials because He intends and empowers you to pass. That your faith, which is more precious than gold, can be tested, purified and refined as through the fire. Are you honestly able to say you’re ok with that?

By the way, your struggles are a reflection of your relationship with God. (oh oh!.. Did he just…) Yes. Proof? (cause I know some of you are being bothered by this)?

1 Corinthians 10:131 Corinthians 10:13
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No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is [faithful], who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are [able], but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

So when you look around you, and you wonder why others seem to live smoothly while you suffer, or if you’re wondering why maybe your few struggles are SO HARDCORE or if you’re wondering why youre struggles however great or small are going on and God is “quiet” test God’s heart. He doesn’t let you go through anything you can’t handle. AND, sometimes, to really build you, “tough love”, He’ll be quiet for a while during your struggle. God didn’t answer Job immediately. And when He did respond,… eventually (chapter 41), while Job was out of house and home, lost all his children, stricken with disease, smelling with a strange smell to his wife and scratch scars with pieces of broken clay as he lay in the dust crying out to God not about His injustice but what he, Job, had done, so that AT LEAST he could account, God finally comes to answer (being a little irritated with His boy) and what does God say? …
“Can you make a sunrise or sunset?” “Can you set up celestial orbits and place constellations perfectly?” “Can you get the dragon to sing you sweet songs of praise?” “Can you put a nose ring into the nostrils of the behemoth (dinosaur) and lead him by the nose ring?” “Where does the wind that blows start from?” “Can you call all the stars and sparrows by name?”

Whats my point? I’m not saying God enjoys your suffering. I’m saying He allows it because its temporary and its specially crafted to create a new  you, a refined you. He doesn’t upgrade, He creates a totally new release from “child-of-God Vista” to “child-of-God 7” (sorry I couldn’t think of anything better, I’ll repent when I’m done writing). Not better – God doesn’t do second hand used princes or princesses, He does new.

And here’s a strong word !
That faith that He’s refining in you (there it goes again – the gospel, Christ in me!!!) ….. He gave it to you in the first place. What?!… You thought the faith you have was yours to begin with?!! Come on. Again I ask, when you got saved, did you save yourself or did the Holy Spirit convict you of sin and your sinful nature, then give you enough faith to accept the truth of you need a Savior? Why is it we always assume that we have anything to do with our salvation or growth, when it never started with us in the first place. Sometimes I irritate myself. I confess I am stubborn and stiff-necked. Hard of hearing and hard hearted. And that I need a new heart.

1 Peter 1:71 Peter 1:7
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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,
Is your faith genuine? Ya’ think?
How do you behave (in your heart and outwardly1) in your trials and struggles? Yeah…I ask again, not mockingly but broken-heartedly, is your faith genuine? Do you love God enough to sing of His glory and beauty while beaten battered bruised whipped, thrown into a dungeon and wrists and ankles locked in stocks so you cant lie down properly except on your wound!? Can you sing to God when you’ve been chased around for years back and forth in caves dodging death and yet your place is rightfully on the throne of the then most powerful country in the known world, you! A slayer of giants as a 14 year old boy, You a soldier so deadly enemy countries hire you to fight for them but then are so afraid of you when its time to fight, 3 armies as you and your men (a couple hundred) to stay behind? Can you trust God to keep You safe when You cant “feel Him” anymore, when You two are so used to being one that both of You can finish each others thoughts? Lama sabachthani!? How do you treat God when you’re not feeling God? “Into Your hands that I can’t feel or see anymore, alone and as hopeless as I feel. Despite all the pain and knowing I’m dying for real, though I AM Life and don’t know death, into Your hands, You who’ve let me down, who’ve gone quiet when I needed that soothing reassuring voice, You who sent me to die to suffer, when You can’t even send an angel if You can’t come yourself, just to touch me with bit a little of encouragement, You, who is supposed to be so close to Me all You have to do is think about Me and I’ll pick up the signal.. You… Who has forsaken Me, into Your hands I give My spirit”.. Can you pray when like that, when you already know the answer to your prayer is no…?

Thanksgiving? Where does that come in when you’re heartbroken and disappointed?

Parents get robbed last week. On their way to the airport with Taisers guns. Shocked a couple a times and money stolen that wasn’t even theirs in the first place. Sick relatives needed that money. Friends had sent money their families. After struggling to get that money in the first place. Waiting for the payout for so long. It comes. Youre excited. You book a ticket for a plane to go home and do some good with it. Personal stuff and family stuff. And what happens. You get robbed. Thanksgiving? Can you still thank God when you’ve been robbed of months of savings? Can you still praise God when you have to get onto a plane empty handed and you’re brother’s in the hospital in serious need of financial assistance so he can pay hospital bills for a procedure he has to have that’s life-threatening… Kidney dialysis? Medicine and good treatment cost the most money! Can you still praise God when you don’t know how you’re gonna pay your bills or where the next cheque is coming from when you GET BACK EARLY cause you had to cut your trip short…cause you’re broke!

So in the typical MADTeam fashion, I tell my parents “Don’t even just thank God they didn’t shoot you or something. That’s good yes, protection, yes. Praise Him. Yes. Do it. But take it to the next level. Break through the trial. Come out on the other side. THANK GOD THEY TOO YOUR MONEY!” Didn’t make sense to me even but it was in my heart. I told them. And also, I shared that with you a week n half back as well if you remember. It sounds like “MAD”ness.

Then this week I get a message.

New contract has come in 3 times the worth of eveything that was stolen. AND had the original monies not been stolen, forcing the trip home to be cut short, this new contract would have been missed completely.” Ha! That’s God for you! People God is indeed good in a way we can never truly understand fully. His goodness is astounding, even when it causes us pain for a short time. Amazing grace? 🙂

It may sound a little harsh, but its truth, not all the time are you to be made to endure suffering on a Job-scale, but you will be tested and tried all your life. THIS is your “daily bread” to be longed after on some level that unites you with Christ. What kind of suffering is meant we’ll tackle in another study, but for now, youre tested all the time and God does the testing and you should WANT(‘MAD’ness) this testing this suffering because it conforms you. It creates in you a clean heart and right spirit. Theres something that happens to a human being, when against all odds, he believes in a God he can’t see and trusts this God when everything around him and people around you are thinking you’re crazy to hold on (sometimes including your most precious loved ones like your wife.. Job). You should long for you and God to be on this constant dance of back and forth, Him intervening in your life and sending trials your way. You should be like a proud soldier and proud battalion that has the deepest loyalty and takes the highest casualties, but ALWAYS ALWAYS gets the job done. Both your army and enemy should be fearful when your unit rolls through. People should stand aside. The enemy should panick! And when the fighting is thickest and the situation is most dire you should be upset if you and your men arent thrown in there! So you should desire suffering?…huh?!

Proof? (hint I’m not saying you should want to be crucified… Its good to focus on the cross but the gospels have more in them than the cross… Yet the Bible calls Christ a man of sorrow. Why? Is there anything in that you should desire that is good for you?)

Philippians 3:10Philippians 3:10
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that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Colossians 1:24Colossians 1:24
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[ Sacrificial Service for Christ ] I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,
2 Timothy 1:82 Timothy 1:8
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[ Not Ashamed of the Gospel ] Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
1 Peter 4:131 Peter 4:13
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but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Revelation 3:18Revelation 3:18
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I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

Overkill? This suffering thing must mean something then if its all over the place. (there’s that fire thing again…Revelation, end times, who’s He talking to hint hint…) So how do you buy faith, when you can’t afford the price of the faith of God! Do you have anything buy sell or trade to to buy it! So why’s He saying BUY FROM ME?! Because He wants you to realise you cant afford it. So He can give it to you freely.

One more time… Faith is a gift
Hebrews 12:2Hebrews 12:2
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looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And lastly recap on God allows and ordains your suffering! Now, if you believe that Jesus did not sin, by relying on the power of faith to take Him through, then maybe maybe one day one of us maybe (me included in the maybe) maybe just maybe …my heart breaks because right now I don’t …..maybe just maybe we’ll believe that even Christ had to learn from and rely on His Father for this thing called enduring faith or victorious faith. Its written plain, but its too hard for the Christian to accept for now but a time of the 144,000he 144,000
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is coming. It it plain that Jesus had to learn. That He had to rely on His Father, Lean on the Holy Spirit! That He had “Lean on the everlasting arms”. We CANT HANDLE THAT. ….. And yet, it is written plain! Plain! …. plain…very plain

Hebrews 5:8Hebrews 5:8
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though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
(See why He can be our High Priest…He understands every process of our spirituality, every step of our ‘growth’ every moment of our life.. He, Jesus, understands on a painfully up-close-and-personal level)

I’m actually beginning to think that Jesus wasn’t actually preaching the Beautitudes of Matthew 5.

No…. I’m just beginning to dare to believe …. That He was sharing His own personal testimony to increase our faith. Dare I said, cause if you follow that through to its conclusion… It literally puts a great “fear and trembling” in your heart. Deep trembling.

Lord Jesus… Maybe, one day, we will see You as You truly are and by beholding, maybe we’ll become changed. I pray that for us all. That you can raise a people with courageous faith. A people who ask themselves and of God, why we are still slaves to our sinful nature and yet you said on the cross it is finished. My Lord, My God, My Saviour, WHAT did you FINISH then! Why do we not please You as we should! Why do we not mourn our weaknesses! Why do we not humble ourselves! Why do we not see ourselves as Laodicea, naked, wretched, poor and hungry! Why are we not desperate for You IN us!?

Why Lord! Why? When will You have mercy on us? Our fears and anxiety cannot change us! We repent and then we revert! Why do we repent at all! Be merciful Lord. Show Your loving-kindness. We KNOW You are the one who is Faithful. Give us the ability to praise You even when you DO NOT RESTORE! But let us not be quiet on blessings. If You do restore, as Nebuchadnezzar, a heathen ingorant unbeliever was restored to his throne after years of madness, the first thing he did was proclaim the true God throughout the world. Will an unbeliever out-do Your children! Have mercy.

Amen.

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