Thursday, 21 February 2013
In last week's Blog, I wrote about Step 3 of working out our salvation with fear and trembling.....to consider, concentrate on, and be conscious of, the consequences of our behaviour in our relationships with God, and with each other.
Do you and I ever stop to consider the consequences of our greed, our lies, our pride, our envy, our favouritism, our judgment of others, or ......??
To learn from them is not easy because it requires a change in our behaviour; a change in behaviour that has deep roots in us. Fortunately, we can share Pauls' confidence in Romans 7.15-25 and 2Timothy 4:18:
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do...... For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice....O wretched man that I am!
Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our LORD! ....who will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
He will do it....try it and see!! The evidence that the LORD will deliver you and I from this body of death is in the same biographies in the Torah.
The consequences of getting it right in Him are that not only do we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, but also that those connected to us in relationships benefit as well. It's a double whammy!
Look at the evidence in the following 3 incidents. The questions that follow each Bible passage are intended to provide you with the opportunity to assess whether you might have behaved as correctly in the same situations.
1. God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.' Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who .. has been with me in the way which I have gone.' So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; ...and they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob....
Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him.....
Would you have destroyed all your cherished idols as Jacob did?
Would you have risked the alienation of his wives and children as Jacob did?
Would you have forgiven all the family members who had trusted in their foreign gods?
How many people in Jacob's family benefitted from the LORD's protection when He put the terror of God upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue Jacob?
2. Joseph made himself known to his brothers... Then he said: 'I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life....So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; ... moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him..... So his brothers departed; and he said to them, 'See that you do not argue and fall out along the way.' Genesis 45.1-24
Would you have forgiven as Joseph forgave his brothers?
How many people benefitted from Joseph's forgiveness....including his family and Pharoah?
3. Job answered the LORD and said: 'I know that You can do everything, ....and I have uttered what I did not understand....I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.'
And so it was...that the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.... Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.... After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.
How would you have responded to the LORD's multiple rhetorical questions in Job 38 to 41?
Would you have despised yourself, and repented in dust and ashes....in the light of the disasters that the LORD allowed Job to experience?
Would you have despised yourself, and repented in dust and ashes....in the light of your reaction to God in Job 3.11-21:
Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?..Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death, but it does not come...
Would you have been able to recover from such depression?
How many people benefitted from Job's forgiveness of himself and his return and restoration in the LORD....including his friends and his family?
When we compare the generous, forgiving behaviour of Jacob, Joseph, and Job in these 3 incidents...with the selfish and self centered behaviour of the characters in the 5 incidents of last week's Blog..perhaps we can see a route through to working out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Who will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom?
The answer is the LORD Himself.....when we follow His instructions that:
1. If we have anything against anyone, forgive them, that our Father in heaven may also forgive us...but if we do not forgive, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. Mark 11:25-26
2. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave us.
3. Bear with one another, and forgive one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave us, so we also must do. Colossians 3.13
When we forgive we open the door in our lives for the LORD to abide in us, and us in Him. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can we, unless we abide in Him...BUT when we abide in Him; when we forgive and open the door in our lives...then we are able, through Him, to bear much fruit....for many to benefit from our actions and behaviour, as those who benefitted from the right actions of Jacob, Joseph, and Job.
When we consider, concentrate on, and are conscious of, the consequences of our behaviour in our relationships with God, and with each other.....and when we forgive, and get it right....then we enjoy the wonderful blessings of working out our salvation with fear and trembling!!
Until next week...and the joys of freedom at the Passover season!