Saturday, May 11, 2019

Walking With a Limp

Gen 32:25  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Gen 32:31  The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 

We know that Jacob in the first part of his life was a deceiver and a conniver.  He got along in life by trying to take advantage of people, con them, get along by his wits and so on.  What he did not do was to seek the will of God and depend on him.  It is something that we all struggle with - listening to our hearts or this world and living in light of natural wisdom that puts me at the center of everything or listening to the revealed will of God found only in his Word. 

I think the main lesson in Jacob’s encounter with God at Penuel was that God is teaching Jacob that he cannot find God’s blessings if he is going to live by his own strength primarily seen in his constant scheming.  Jacob, and we, must learn that we are weak and unwise and need the power of God and his wisdom to live life properly.  So in the account we read of God coming and wrestling with Jacob, the result is that Jacob’s hip is purposefully displaced so that he must walk in a weakened state. 

I believe this is a picture of how God works in every saint’s life.  He moves us from dependence on our own strength and wisdom to relying on him for all that we need.  God has ways of pulling the rug out from under us so that we have no other option than to trust him to take care of us. 

Jacob was about to meet Esau who was coming with 400 men and Jacob assumes Esau is still angry with him and has come to do him harm.  Even though the Lord has shown him that an army of angels are with him, Jacob still schemes by dividing up his family with the hopes that Esau will attack some but spare others.  He has little confidence in the Lord’s promises and protection.  So what does the Lord do?  Instead of allowing Jacob to run the show by his cunning, he gives Jacob a limp so that when he meets Esau he will look weak and vulnerable.

There is a parallel passage to Jacob’s account that helps explain what is going on with Jacob.  It is found in 2 Cor. 12 where Paul goes through the same lesson that Jacob did but in a context that we can more easily relate to. 

2Co 12:7  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  2Co 12:8  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. Here we see the same wrestling match or struggle with the Lord.  The Lord has sent something to Paul that makes him appear weak and Paul assumes that this will hinder his ministry.  And so three times he prays that the Lord will remove it but the Lord does not.  Like us, Paul is wrestling with God’s providence that often makes no sense to us; we assume we can do a better job if we had more money or better health or if our church was bigger or if we had talents that someone else has, etc.  And although we ask God to give these things to us, quite often he does not.

Next we see the Lord “dislocating” Paul’s hip; in other words he is explaining why he wants Paul to walk with a limp; to appear weak in front of the world.  2Co 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…“   Paul had to learn that it is the Lord’s power that is going to make Paul successful, not how well he speaks or what he looks like, etc.

Finally, in vs. 31 above we see the sun coming up and Jacob walking off with a limp.  The same thing must happen with Paul and us, …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2Co 12:10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   God gives Paul light by explaining that when we are weak and God’s work is done through us, then God gets the glory.  If by our talents, looks and money we build a ministry then we will name it after ourselves and God’s glory isn’t seen.  When God makes us weak then we depend on him and whatever we do can only be attributed to the Lord.  So 2 Cor. 12:9-10 is Paul living or “limping” in the light of God’s revelation and the rest is history as we consider what Paul and all God’s people have accomplished throughout church history as they followed the Word of God and lived for the Lord’s glory and not for ourselves.

It is tremendously freeing to know that I don’t have to appear like I have it all together in front of the world or in front of the church.  I just need to do my best to honor the Lord in whatever condition he has put me in and he will be served and pleased with me.  This brings contentment and joy and eliminates envy because I don’t need what someone else has to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”! 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Reason for the Lord's Delay

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Welcome to the one of the most misused verses in the entire Bible.  It is often used to teach that the Lord hasn’t returned yet so that more people can be saved; that he has provided salvation and is waiting to see how many will take advantage of it.  Along with that, it is also used to suggest that it isn’t God’s will for any to be lost but wants everyone to be saved equally.

Of course, for any of that to work the assumption is that man has a freewill that is independent of the Lord’s will and capable of obeying him and so the Lord has done everything he can do to save us and the deciding factor is whether we will accept his “offer” or not.  One problem is that the Bible never mentions that we have wills that are free  of sin’s effects and can decide to obey the Lord.  It does teach, though, that our wills are in bondage to our sinful nature and so can only rebel at God, Rom 8:7  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Rom 8:8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Rom 3:10  as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; Rom 3:11  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  Rom 3:12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."  Joh 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.  Eph 2:4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, Eph 2:5  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved.  Well, you get the idea.

There are some other reasons why 2 Peter 3:9 can’t mean what some want to make it mean; that is, man can make a decision that he is by nature incapable of making.  For instance, the longer he waits to return the more people are going to Hell so it kind of works against the point.  Hell is growing bigger by leaps and bounds the more time he gives this world to rebel.  If he wanted fewer people in Hell he should have come back immediately.  In fact, if all God is concerned about is for people not going to Hell, why create us to begin with or allow Adam to fall? 

Thirdly, if he is being patient and giving everyone a chance then every time a baby is born he can’t come until this child grows up.  Even if we assume that a baby will go to heaven, there is always children reaching the age of reason who are clearly not saved so doesn’t God have to give them a chance if this is what the verse is saying?  So unless God stops us from populating the earth he can never come back because he wants everyone to have a chance to be saved because there are always children being born who need some time to “get saved”!  This is where we end up when we err in the doctrines of God’s sovereigny, election, the bondage of the will, etc.  When we are more concerned that man has the ability to determine his own future than we are God’s freedom to glorify himself as he wants, then there is no way we can understand the Bible or not fall into error.

Fourthly, I might add that if God wanted as many people to be saved as possible then why did he only give any light to the obscure, tiny nation of Israel back in Old Testament times and not all nations?  Actually, the biblical record proves differently.  Why would the Lord command Israel to destroy every man, woman and child in Canaan if he is hoping they will come to him?  Why does he send storms to kill the lost, etc.  If God is giving everyone the opportunity to believe then why is he constantly shortening and ending the opportunities?  Those swept away in the tsunami weren’t given a patient chance.  This verse simply can’t be taken that way in light of what has been happening in human history.

But exegetically Peter is speaking to “you”, the church, not the lost, vs. 1 says,  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.  What promise is he referring to?  That they reach repentance; his promise to save the elect.  When God chose to save the elect from eternity he decreed or we might say he promised to save them; we are elected “unto salvation”, Eph. 1.  He isn’t coming back until all that he has decreed to save are saved.  Obviously he isn’t going to end human history if all the elected haven’t been born and brought to salvation.  If he did come back before that it would make election nonsensical.  Vs. 15 of 2 Peter 3 says,  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.  The elect don’t all live at the same time so until they all are born and grow up and hear the gospel he isn’t coming back. 

Gen. 6:18 says that before the ark was even built, God told Noah that it was only going to hold eight.  Noah was a preacher of righteousness as he built the ark proclaiming the coming judgment of God.  He wasn’t calling the people to buy a ticket or “get saved”; the Lord was only always going to saved just eight souls.  1 Pet. 3:20 says pretty much the same thing, Because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  Notice how the Lord’s patience was so Noah’s family could be saved, not to see if any more would enter the ark. 
Perhaps the clearest passage that teaches this is in Rev. 6:10-11.  Here the martyrs in heaven are asking the Lord why he hasn’t avenged their blood yet and here is what God tells them, Rev 6:10  They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Rev 6:11  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

It should be obvious; God has already determined who was going to be given grace and saved by the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.  So it would make no sense for him to be waiting to come back so more people could be saved than he has elected.  He is building a kingdom of priests; he is building a temple of living stones.  And when the last sinner chosen before the world began is saved then he will come back and destroy this fallen universe and reform it into the new heavens and earth.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

An Inconsistency of Arminianism

Joh 10:28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Joh 10:29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Php 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Growing up in Fundamental Arminianism we didn’t hear very much about the sovereignty of God and especially so when it came to our salvation.  When speaking about that subject we didn’t hear about God’s sovereignty at all.  We were taught much about how each of us has a free will and it is up to choose whether we will believe in Jesus.  In Arminian thought all men have a sovereign, autonomous free will that even God can’t control if we won’t let him.  So our eternal destiny is determined, not by the will of God but by our will. 

Of course, we know that the Bible teaches that all men have a will only it is depraved, at odds with God, and so unable to do any good thing before God.  What many fail to realize is that there is a difference between a sovereign, autonomous free will (which only God can have) and a creaturely freewill that must be subservient to the eternal decrees of the only true Sovereign, God Almighty; notice it is not some mighty but all mighty! 

But let me just focus on one teaching of Arminianism that shows the inconsistency of this theology.  As a rule they make it clear that God cannot overcome our will or our will wouldn’t be free, so everyone must have a choice as to whether they want to believe or not.  But oddly enough, when it comes to losing one’s salvation they are perfectly fine with God forcing our will.

Often I would hear the idea of “Once saved, always saved” and “Eternal Security”.  They would use verses like those quoted above to teach that one cannot lose their salvation.  Some even go so far as to say that all Baptist are “Calvinists” because we believe you cannot lose your salvation.  By this they mean they believe the last point of the TULIP, Perseverance of the saints.  But, of course, this is a corruption of this doctrine.  They are saying that all this means is that God won’t let us lose our salvation but deny that he does this in part by transforming us so that we won’t walk away from the faith.  So the idea is that no matter how we live God won’t let us be lost even if we could care less about being saved anymore.

I have heard “Eternal Security” illustrated as a lobster in a pot of boiling water.  Once we are saved God closes the lid down and we can’t get out whether we want to or not.  One immediate problem with this is that no real saint wants to walk away from the Lord but when your theology doesn’t need a transformation of the will in order to be saved then your will isn’t changed to begin with.  So if you choose to be saved, the next day you might choose to walk away.  Fortunately, they are saying, that God won’t let you.

But the most striking inconsistency with this illustration as well as the whole concept of “Once saved, always saved” is that they are saying that it is perfectly okay for God to keep us from ever walking away from him but it is absolutely unacceptable for him to change our will so we will believe in him to begin with.  So it is okay for God to sovereignly keep us from rejecting Christ but he cannot sovereignly bring us to the point of receiving Christ.  It seems that they are picking and choosing when it is okay for God to be sovereign or be God.  And this is the whole problem with Arminianism; it puts man’s “free will” above God’s sovereign will and only one kind of will can be truly free and that is a sovereign will.

The Bible teaches our salvation is a result of the eternal plan and decree of God, not man’s will.  God can’t decree to keep a people saved unless he first chooses to save a people; otherwise how does he even know if anyone will choose to get saved to begin with?  So I ask, why is it okay for God to override our will (And I realize this is a totally unbiblical way to express it, but I am using the Arminian’s way of describing this) and keep us saved but he can only wait and see if we will choose him? 

Part of the problem with this unbiblical theology is that Calvinists know and the Bible clearly teaches that God doesn’t merely force our will but he makes us willing and there is a huge difference between the two. 

But at the end of the day even the lost can only do what the sovereign God ordains and yet they are at the same time doing exactly what they want to do and so are held accountable.  I leave you will these texts to confirm this:

Psa 33:10  The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. Psa 33:11  The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Dan 4:35  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
Pro 21:1  The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Pro 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Psa 105:25  He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
Finally, the passage that should end all debate, Act 4:26  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'—Act 4:27  for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Act 4:28  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Will any doubt that Herod, Pilate, and the Jews all willingly crucified Jesus and that they were judged because of it?  This is the greatest sin ever committed and yet they were doing and could only do what God had ordained they do from all eternity.  It is not our job to understand how this can be true but it is certainly our duty to submit to this truth and live our lives in light of it.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Spiritual Nearsightedness and Dementia

2Pe 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 2Pe 1:6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 2Pe 1:7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2Pe 1:8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Pe 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

In this section of 2 Peter, the Apostle is giving us some good spiritual meat as to how to be fruitful and effective in the Christian life.  If the qualities of vss. 5-7 are working in us, we will bear fruit in the Kingdom of God, vs. 8.  In vs. 9 he comes at it from a negative viewpoint.  If these qualities aren’t in us we are demonstrating spiritual weakness.  He illustrates this by using two physical weaknesses, nearsightedness and forgetfulness or we might say spiritual dementia. 

Spiritual nearsightedness happens when we focus on this life with no thought to eternity.  We live for the here and now but fail to lay up gold, silver and precious stones in Heaven.  It is myopia in which we can only see what is in front of our face and forget that the Lord is coming soon for us and this world will be left behind.  It could also be applied to idolatry in which we are focused on some object and fail to see the big picture which is that this life is to be all about serving the Lord.  So it is to be too busy living life or too busy loving this world that we are not focused on the Lord.

Spiritual forgetfulness fails to remember something that is vital for effective Christian living.  In the first case we don’t see what is coming; in the second case we are not keeping something in our minds that is needed to serve the Lord.  Vs. 9 explains that what we have forgotten is the Gospel; that we are sinners saved by the cross of Christ. 

The reason this is important is that when we walk through life without the gospel in our “RAM”, in our working and usable memory, we forget who we are; we are unable to properly identify ourselves.  This happens all the time with both the lost and Christians.  We identify ourselves primarily as men or women, Americans or some ethnic group.  We can also do it by seeing ourselves by what we do for a living, a doctor, union worker, teacher, etc.  We are seeing a particularly destructive form of it when people identify themselves by their sexual choices or their gender preferences, etc. 

The problem with each one of these is that very often we allow our life, thoughts and actions, to be guided by these identifications rather than the fact that we are children of God first and foremost and that is to guide us in every aspect of our lives.  To some extent there are other lesser identities that we must deal with.  As an American I have certain laws to obey and taxes to pay.  I cannot function properly if I live as if I am a citizen of another country.  When I get up in the morning I must keep in mind that I am a pastor and I have to get ready to preach the Word this coming Sunday.  If I forget who I am in that sense then I will fail to fulfill my responsibilities as a pastor. 

But before all these other things I must get up in the morning and remember that I have been saved from the darkness of sin and live in light of who I am.  And who I am is a redeemed sinner whose primary job in life is to bring honor to the Lord in all I do.  Forget this and I will fail as a human being in every area of life.

Those that attempt to identify themselves by who they have sex with or by being any gender that they would like doubly fail in this matter.  They are choosing to identify in a way that God has specifically told them they are not to.  He has given us plain parameters as to how to function sexually and it is rebellion to go outside those commands.  He has made us either male or female and pretending to be one that you are not, not only causes confusion and the inability to live a God-honoring life, but it is also rebellion to the natural order that he has established and it will bring his judgment sooner or later.

Fortunately God has given his saints two things to help us in our natural conditions of spiritual nearsightedness and dementia.  He gives us new sight and new glasses.  He regenerates us by the Holy Spirit and gives us light so we can understand the truth.  And he gives us some eyeglasses if you will.  We have the Word of God through which we can evaluate life.  When we look at life through the truth of his Word, we are able to understand who we are and live our lives as they were meant to be lived.  David seems to sum it up well in Ps. 119:97-105:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Loving as We are Loved

Rom 5:6  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Rom 5:7  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—Rom 5:8  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The passage above lays out God’s love as few others do.  It states the two-fold aspect of his love and in so doing helps define what our love for each other should look like.

First of all in verse 6 we see that God loves in a way that gives and helps those who have nothing to offer him.  When he saved us we had nothing to offer him and that includes any work or response that would aid in our salvation.  While we were still weak he died for us”.  Our salvation is not a cooperation between God and sinners but such that glorifies his strong arm alone, 1Co 1:28  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 1Co 1:29  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  These verses aren’t saying that there are some people who are strong enough to take care of themselves for there are none righteous, no not one; but God generally chooses the ones who are comparatively weak to grow his kingdom just to demonstrate to Satan and this world that there is absolutely nothing they can do to stop the Lord from establishing his kingdom.  So God loves those who have nothing to offer him.

Then secondly he goes even further by loving those that are in rebellion to him.  So they aren’t just helpless but engaged in warfare against him and he saves them anyway!  In verse 6 they are described as ungodly, so they are living lives that dishonor the Lord and they do not live in gratitude for what he has done for them but instead live as if life is just about them and their pleasure.  So verse 8 says that when God died for us we were sinners; we had transgressed his law and stood as condemned criminals and he paid for our sins in his body on the tree.  So God loves his enemies as well.  To those who are both unable and unwilling to come to him, he goes to them.  In both cases God alone is able to meet our need; he is both able and willing to save.  

What an example to us of how to love one another.  If we only love those who are attractive to us, that have something to offer us or if we only love those that like us and are nice to us, then we have not loved as we have been loved.  Once we get hold of this our marriages will be better and our churches will be more enjoyable; when we start loving others, not for what they can do for you but what you can do for them all to the glory of God and in thanksgiving to him.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Are We Justified By Faith?

Rom 4:2  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
Rom 4:3  For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."
Rom 4:4  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
Rom 4:5  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

When it comes to understanding the above passage one’s theology makes all the difference.  On the surface it seems pretty clear that we are not saved by any work we can do through faith.  Since this is the main point then it cannot be teaching us that faith is a work that we can do in order to be saved.  Yet there are a vast number or Christians who believe this very thing. 

This is mostly seen in the concept that God has provided a means of salvation and all that is needed to finish the job is for us to agree with it by faith.  But if all men are born with the ability to believe then how is this not a work?  Does not the very term ability necessitate something we have to aid in our salvation? 

The idea is that since none are righteous and can obey God’s Law then he has lowered the bar just low enough so that everyone has the ability to get in.  Faith becomes the one thing that we all can “do”.  But this is still a work and the above passage is saying that this is not an option.

Our theology helps here as we know that the Bible teaches that salvation is a work of God in which he enables us to believe thus faith is not a work but a means by which the Lord justifies us in such a way that we cannot boast that we did anything, even believe, in order to be saved.  Yes, we trusted in the work of Christ but only because God regenerated us and gave us the power to do so.

Another reason we know that faith is not the one thing that God will accept in order to save us is because faith does not equal our transgressions.  The Muslim god for instance will forgive sin if certain prayers are made.  But in essence this is to forgive sin without it ever being paid for.  Prayers don’t make up for transgressing a Holy God nor does believing.  Sin must be paid for which is why Jesus had to die.

Now you might be thinking, “Well there you have it.  Faith doesn’t equal our sin; Jesus also had to die for them.  But Paul tells us in Galatians that if we add anything to Christ we miss the gospel entirely.  In Galatians they were adding circumcision; in the case of the Church of Christ they add baptism; in the case of most Arminianism they add “faith”.  The idea is that God has done everything needed for salvation except one thing is left for us to “add to Christ’s work”.  That is we must add our faith to it.  In the end it boils down to a work that we can do that the lost will not do. 

Because of this it is good and necessary to understand that we are justified not on the basis of faith but through faith.  We are saved by grace, through faith.  Our salvation is all a gift of God but he enables us to believe when he gives us the new birth as the mechanism in which he justifies us.  We can take no credit.  I will leave you with these verses which I believe say the same thing, Php 1:29  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.  Act 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.  2Ti 2:25  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Steadfast in the Everyday Things

Rom 5:3  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, Rom 5:4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, Rom 5:5  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I recently preached on being steadfast.  Biblically the idea is to remain under a trial in a faithful, Christ-honoring way.  Often when we think of enduring trials we think of the big ones like persecution or when the doctor tells us we have terminal cancer, etc.  And while these are certainly times in which we are to be steadfast and endure to the end; it is perhaps just as important, if not more so, that we are careful to be Christlike and faithful in the everyday trials and disappointments of life since these are by far what we will encounter most often.

I think it is a good sign that we are maturing in Christ when we are able to handle the everyday disappointments and dull routines of life in a way that we are able to maintain our joy, peace and love while underneath them.  One instance that crossed my mind was what we term as mid-life crisis.  As a rule we have these because life isn’t turning out the way we expected or wanted.  Often this is seen because our spouse isn’t fulfilling our needs the way we want them to be fulfilled.  So we look for something or someone to take their place.  Of course, this is not being steadfast by being content with Christ but it is to live life primarily in a selfish mindset. 

I wonder how many men have had a “midlife crisis” because they came to the realization that they are not fulfilling their wives needs?  Probably the answer is no one ever!  We are way too selfish to think in such a way it seems. It just shows why we find it difficult to hold up when things don’t go our way; because we only are concerned for our way and not Christ and certainly not our neighbor’s and family’s good.  We reduce life to our little world and with nothing greater to live for how on earth can we endure with joy and contentment?

Another reason why it is so important to be steadfast in the everyday routines of life is that this gives us unlimited opportunities to honor the Lord and gain reward.  The times of persecution and life-changing trials are limited for all of us but faithfulness when people are short with you and unfair, when you are stuck in traffic or have to deal with a boss who shows favoritism, etc. happens so often that these are by far the most abundant ways to show this world how much you love Christ. 

If we miss this- that we must be steadfast in the little things- then we will excuse our bad temper and ill-treatment of our loved ones; if we think trials are only the big things and don’t realize that most of our trials are the everyday pain, disappointments, dealing with the ungodly pride in your life when those around you don’t bow to your every whim, then we will be defeated before we even get started.  We can please our Lord every day hundreds of times by placing our hope in him and being full of joy when the elderly lady won’t move out of the way on the road and we praise God that we can drive a car instead of blessing her out because she is going to make us 30 seconds later than we would have been.  Don’t downplay the little things or we will be unprepared for the bigger things and probably explains why we don’t do well at either many times.

I want to get better at being satisfied and joyful while those without Christ grow more and more bitter and sour.  It is sad when we see the same rage and bitterness in our society infiltrating the church influencing how we interact with each other.  I want to have the same attitude that those early Christians did who suffered much more than I ever will; Heb 10:32  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, Heb 10:33  sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. Heb 10:34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Heb 10:35  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. Heb 10:36  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  Heb 10:37  For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.

Notice that they didn’t just miserably endure pain and disappointment; they did so joyfully and compassionately.  They didn’t use their problems to stop them ministering to others and so they had great reward waiting for them because Christ is just about to come back for all of us either at death or his Second Coming and so compared to eternity, our reward is just around the corner.  Let’s take heart and serve while it is day!