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Tag Archives: Experience

Difficult Trust

       Trust is not something that is only experienced on the mountain tops but also in the valleys. Joshua, who had presumed that one with God was a majority, wanted to go into the promised land and take the possession; but unfortunately Moses had been convinced by the ten spies that came back worried about the size of those who lived in the promised land. Moses was Joshua’s authority and authority is established by God. Now here’s the thing, God was disappointed with their fear filled decision to not enter the promise land. They failed to trust the LORD’s ability to deliver the promise land into their hands. They must have forgotten how He had brought them out of bondage, they must have forgotten how the Egyptians were destroyed by the unseen power of God. “They” being everyone except Joshua and Caleb. So God commanded Moses and the all the Israelites to 40 years of wandering in the desert. If I were Joshua I would have wanted to scream out, “I wanted to go in, why is my opportunity going to be postponed 40 years just because everyone else lacked the faith to move ahead?” But Joshua never said a word, he never complained, he never argued, he never accused Moses or the other spies of causing him undue hardship, he just trusted God’s presence to be with him those 40 years in the desert  He learned from Moses all he could, he supported Moses, he learned from Moses’ mistakes, and he learned from Moses’ dealings with the Lord. He stood in the tabernacle even after Moses went home for the evening and there he learned that wandering in the desert was valuable. 

As I look at the United States and the next four years, I want to be like Joshua. Not prone to complaining and bickering about every bad decision our leaders make. But learning and growing in the presence of our God and trusting He is able to take me through these difficult times. I hope I can learn that my desert wanderings are valuable to my future faith in the God who is able. Let Him ever be praised and may we ever be thankful that no matter who leads it is He who is in control of everything. Amen.

When the bondage is broken…

There are times in our lives when our faith is being tested, when trials assail us, when frustration takes hold, and fearful anxiety comes taunting. Many of us have experienced those valley days when would much rather be anyplace but where we are now and any road out seems like a good option. It is in the times like this that our faith is tested, our convictions are tried, and our real heart is displayed in the actions we take.
Such was the case for three young men who had been taken captive by the enemy empire Babylon. While many of the others from their home had been reduced to working hard labor these three had been trained to be leaders. Yes, their position of authority was better but the fact that they were in bondage to another people made these chosen people of God see their situation as grim. I wonder what they were thinking as the God they had trusted allowed them to be captured. If that were not bad enough, they were now being told to bow down to a foreign idol in worship with the promise that if they refused they would in fact face death in a fiery furnace. From bad to worse, the situation and circumstances seemed to be placing bigger and bigger demands on their faith.
I know that these men were facing serious consequences if they refused to bow down; I also know that they were raised to faithfully serve God no matter the circumstances. But it is at the point of no return that some fail to live faithfully. Faith that is not tested is not faith.
When we look at a situation and see we are in bondage and we reason, if God really loved us how could he let this happen to us. We consider, really how bad, to bow down to an idol is, I mean we are talking life and death here. If we compromise surely God would excuse a momentary lapse of faith in a situation where our lives are in the hands of our enemy. The problem with that type of thinking is that it second guesses God.
These three young men understood faith to mean that you trusted God to deliver you from the circumstances and moreover you continued to trust God even if he doesn’t. Real faith trusts God with the outcome even if it’s not the outcome we desire.
By now you probably know that the three young men are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. If you are familiar with the history of these Israelites then you are also aware that they refused to bow down. Because they refused the then King Nebuchadnezzar, became so enraged that he had the fires of the furnace heated seven times hotter. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego bound hand and foot and thrown into the furnace. Evidence of Nebuchadnezzar’s lack of faith in their God’s ability is characterized in his last question to the men just before he had them thrown in the furnace; “what god could save you from my hand”?
Needless to say Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were faithful to trust God with their very lives. But their experience has much to teach us about fiery furnace circumstances and standing firm despite the obvious consequences. Here are just a few things I learned from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s experience in the fiery furnace: 1) Never look at your circumstances look to the one who holds them. Sadly we are people that only view life in terms of the now…life is eternal and unless we can embrace that understanding our fears will prevent us from trusting beyond the threat of death.
2) Faith means trusting God with the outcome even when we may not like the outcome. 3) It is in the fire where the bondage is taken away. These three young men went into the fire bound hand and foot but Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking around in the flames unharmed and free. Too often the things in this life that take precedence as urgent and pressing pale in comparison when the fires are turned up to what really matters. A death of a mother or dad will often draw siblings together to comfort one another even if they have been indifferent to each other for years – because what really matters is more important. 3) Standing firm in your faith will open doors to others who have previously stood unbelieving. Nebuchadnezzar sent out a decree after seeing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego live a faith that did not fear death. 4) You are never ever in any circumstance alone – the fourth one walking in that furnace was God and he is there no matter the trial. This last lesson is most important, because too often we think we are going through our trials alone.
Now the question: Are you living faithful in your circumstances right now? Are you trusting God even when what was bad gets worse? Do you understand that standing firm in your convictions will open the door for others to see the real value of putting their faith in the God you serve? Do you know you’re not going through this trial alone?