Ever read the book of Job? Most people know the story; Job was a faithful man to God and blessed with a large loving family and material wealth. They praised God for all they had because life was good. The devil told God that the only reason Job praised Him was because of the blessings but if the blessings where removed Job would curse God.
And God said see what happens.
Now most of us know the ending; Job lost his family, lost his fortune but didn't denounce God. He was faithful to God and received all his blessing back.
Oh but there is a lot more to the story.
Pastor Ricky covered for Miles this week to discuss a topic that most of us are aware of but it is hard to follow and the story of Job points it out. It is easy to praise God and to trust Him when things are good, or even mediocre. But what about when things are down, when we are getting kicked in the teeth.
When our faith is tested.
Paul didn't say everything will be roses and wonderful, He said that God 'will have mercy on who He has mercy and compassion on whom He has compassion.'
~ Romans 9:15-24
After Christ died the followers would preach about 'the Way' as it was called then before the title Christianity came to be. And at that time it was believed that Christ died for the Jews as they where God's chosen people (later it would be understood that Christ died for all of us). But many of these Jews that followed in the teachings of Christ where persecuted, hated, and had lost everything for their beliefs. In Romans 9:15-24 we see the apostle Paul writing to some of these beaten down Christians a rather harsh word of encouragement. Paul didn't say everything will be roses and wonderful, he said that God 'will have mercy on who He has mercy and compassion on whom He has compassion.' God is in control and will give out His blessing accordingly.
But that isn't fair.
Pastor Ricky brought out an orange tree that he has had for a few years and though he is taking care of the plant it has yet to produce an orange. But Ricky brought up a very good point about a tree that bears fruit; sometimes it has to be pruned. If a branch isn't bearing fruit you cut off that branch (ouch) and if it is bearing fruit you prune it so that it will bear more. Sometimes God, as the all knowing gardener, knows when we need to be pruned, and yes it hurts but it is necessary.
Remember how I said that there was more to Job's story? In Job chapter 2 we see satan taking away everything from Job. Chapter 38 we see God speaking to Job and in 42 we see Job reestablished with a new life. But what happened from chapter 3 to 37? Job was complaining with his three friends. Job didn't curse God or denounce Him for what happened to him but he was complaining like some of us (probably all of us at some point) do.
Pastor Ricky was explaining how we can't hold a grudge against God as it deeply affects our relationship with Him. In marriage counseling, if one of the spouses has a grudge it has to be let go or that couple can't move forward. A grudge will easily end a friendship and it has been known to make some working conditions unbearable. We shouldn't hold grudges (easier said than done) but we can't hold one against God. Next week we are starting a new series on praying but we can't effectively pray to our Creator if we are holding resentment towards Him. In Romans 9:17 God is talking about how he made the Pharaoh so great, the same Pharaoh that enslaved the Jews. He made this Egyptian king great so that God could show his true power to the whole world.
And we have to remember that God wants us to glorify Him. It is easy to do when we are walking about, but it is spectacular when we get kicked down and then get back up!