James 5:1 (KJV) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Does God Want Us To Be Happy?

Some people seem to believe that once they become Christians all their problems are over, that if they pray to the great Santa Claus in the sky he will bring them wealth, worldly goods and smooth sailing. The "prosperity ministries" love to prey on human nature, touting this line by using isolated verses out of context, or more often by the force and charisma of their personalities, fortified by tall tales of their personal visits to heaven - a heaven of their own imagination, certainly not with the characteristics derived from God's Word. These false prophets are all over television. They appeal to emotion, a faulty barometer.

Just the opposite is true. Scripture makes it crystal clear that troubles are inevitable for the Christian, as they were for the apostles and Christians down through the ages, many of which were martyred for their beliefs.

The life of Jesus was no exception. During His ministry He was falsely accused, and primarily by the religious leaders. Most of His own people rejected Him, He suffered betrayal and death in the lowliest and most humiliating fashion. He was unable to do many miracles at all in His own home town, and His siblings did not become believers until after the resurrection.

American Christians have had easy lives for the most part, and have often indulged in service to the gods of Self, Money and Greed rather than the God of creation. Our ideas of what it means to be a Christian are too often skewed. We think we have everything; yet we have nothing of true value. We think we are rich, but we live in states of spiritual poverty.

Trials may come from our own poor decisions. You know...we have met the enemy, and it is us! They may come from the fact that we live in a world of humanity with a fallen nature. With America in this state of decline we are beginning to experience a measure of persecution. This will no doubt continue to increase.

There is another source for the trials of the Christian, and that is God himself. He does this just as a parent corrects a child. Scripture tells us plainly that who He loves, He chastens. We are, after all, His children, are we not? This life is a school. What rewards and duties will be given to us in the next phase (life on earth with Christ ruling as king) are directly related to the progress we make in this phase. Do you want to take Christianity 101 all over again?

For the truly devout Christian these hardships that God Himself allows seem the most difficult. We pray and pray for God to remove the difficulties, and yet they go on and on. Why isn't He answering our prayer? He is. These trials are for our direct benefit. He is molding us according to His purpose, preparing us for our role in His grand plan.

He will purify us. He will test us. He will test our endurance and our devotion, build up our endurance and character. He is maturing us and perfecting us.

" ...And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5

And just when we have come through that last trial and breathe sighs of comes something else. Right out of left field.

One thing we certainly do learn is faith. Eventually we learn to trust Him completely. We have built a track record in our relationship with upon faith. He gives us sustaining power and a deep and abiding joy (not pleasure or enjoyment).

Remember, He is the potter. We are the clay.

No ... He's not interested in making us happy. He wants us to grow up.

A Child of the King

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