Sunday, August 30, 2015

Even Bad Stuff Works To God's purpose And Our Good or He wouldn't Let It Happen

God is not powerless against evil. But judgement still falls upon the evil doers.

One of the Christian Keys to peace, contentment and surrender to God's perfect will is understanding and acceptance of Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good  to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But that is only true "to them that love God" and "to them who are the called according to his purpose." The good a bad thing works in your life may only be "Don't do that again", or "Don't date that loser any more", or "Drive more carefully", or "Stop stuffing yourself".

Many other verses reinforce this central truth of God's word. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding  and eternal weight of glory; " 2Cor.4:17. "Affliction works for us" when we 'love God and are called to his purpose".

Apostle Paul's experience and testimony confirms that fact.  "And lest I should be exalted above measure.... there was given to me a thorn in the flesh...For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Cor.12:7-10.

An Old Testament example of bad working for good, to the sons of Israel, is seen in their pride, jealousy, hatred, lying and betrayal of their bother Joseph into slavery. The record is given in Genesis 37 that Israel loved Joseph more than his other  sons because he was the youngest at that time. This hurt the other brothers feelings and they were jealous of Joseph and hated him. So when they had him alone, far from home, they sold him as a slave to Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt where Pharaoh's Captain of the guard bought him. For many years Joseph was a slave but rose in power until he was second only to the Pharaoh and was in charge of all the Pharaoh's wealth and possessions. Joseph was now much older when a drought fell upon that part of the world, including the family of Joseph's father Israel. When they were near starvation, Israel sent his remaining sons, except young Benjamin, to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph had wisely stored up for the seven good years before the drought. The story is long but eventually Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery. They were afraid he would kill them for the evil they had done and were now repentant, and Joseph graciously told them ..."But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." Gen.50:20-21.

The grandest example, of good out of bad, is the crucifixion, suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. As awful and wicked as it was for the heartless mob to beat Jesus, pull out his beard, spit on him and nail him to that cross, as in everything else, it played into the hands of God that His holy purpose might be accomplished. (Jesus) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14. God's marvelous plan for the redemption of sinners was fulfilled there on that awful cross and was followed by His glorious resurrection.... all to the eternal benefit of believers. Out of that injustice, cruelty, betrayal and savage attack upon purity, innocence, and deity itself, came forgiveness, cleansing, redemption and eternal life for sinners.

Another example is when the Christians in Jerusalem were so hated, abused and persecuted that they were scattered abroad over all the known world and thereby the seeds of their faith and testimony were broadcast everywhere they went. Many more believed and were saved and churches sprung up everywhere as a result of their persecution. "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch,  preaching the word...." Acts 11:19.

As I look back on my own pathway of life, I can now see clearly that those things which seemed so terrible, fearful and painful, at the time, turned out to be God's stepping stones leading me to the events and places where He wanted me, and where He could use me.

Many years ago, the story is told, of a King in Africa who had a close friend, no doubt a Christian, with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that occurred, good or bad, as "a good thing".

One day the King and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the King. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the King fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is a good thing". To which the King replied, "No, this is NOT good", and he proceeded to send his friend to prison. About a year later, the King was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied him to a post, stacked wood around it and were about to ignite it. As the village chieftain came to set the wood ablaze, he noticed that the king's thumb was missing. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So, untying the King, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the prison to speak with his old friend. "You were right", he said, "It was a good thing that my thumb was blown off". And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to prison for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No", his friend replied, "This is a good thing".

"What do you mean, "This is a good thing"?  How could it be a good thing that I sent my friend to prison for a year?"

"If I had NOT been in prison .... I would have been with you." 

(I received that story 25-30 years ago from Esther Epperly)

Situations may not always seen pleasant while we are in them, but the promise of God is clear. If we love Him and live our lives according to his precepts, even that which seems to be bleak and hopeless will be converted by God for His glory and our good. Hold on, God is faithful! May God bless you this week as you seek His will in every situation and, in faith, accept what He sends. RB