Friday, August 10, 2012
Today’s Topic: The Test
Today’s Text: 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
When it rains it pours – quite literally. For weeks and weeks we have gone without much rain, and then yesterday the sky let loose. It wasn’t predicted to be that much, and according to the official report at the airport it was only sixty-two hundredths of an inch, but it caused us some problems. Our big meeting tent up on our new property where we will hold church and our groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday collapsed, with people inside. Fortunately no one was hurt. The ground became saturated with heavy rain so fast that the tent stakes loosened enough for the wind, a constant issue on top of this hill, pulled the stakes right out of the ground. All of the thrift sale merchandise that was left at the end of yesterday’s sale is underneath. Today we have to try to re-stake and re-erect the tent so we can donate all the remaining items from the sale to the Hope Bargain Center. It will be a huge job, and any help, including prayer, will be greatly appreciated.
I find it very interesting that the rain yesterday symbolizes two types of rain mentioned in Scripture – the rain of blessing and the rain of judgment. When mankind had become so evil and obnoxiously opposed to God in the days of Noah, God sent the rain as judgment. In the days of Moses as the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, he declared, Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. [Deuteronomy 32:2 (NIV)]
Look at how the rain is depicted in these passages:
- Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
- Isaiah 45:8 (ESV) Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it.
- Isaiah 44:3 (ESV) For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
- Ezekiel 34:26 (ESV) And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.
For the past several months – eight to be exact – there has been a steady rain of the Holy Spirit upon our church. People have been turning to Jesus in repentance to receive the forgiveness of their sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. Disciples are being trained by faithful followers of Christ as they pass on what they have learned from the Lord to the new believers. Our Head Jesus Christ has given us clear directions for the future ministry growth of our church and its outreach into our local area and to the world beyond. If our eyes are fixed on Him, the finisher of our faith, we are filled with an inexpressible joy.
But with the rain of blessing has come the rain of trouble. It is the rain Jesus spoke of when he told the parable of the two houses – one built on sand and one built on rock. He declared that the storms will come. The wind will blow. The rains will wash over the land. And when they do, only the house built on the Rock will survive.
The rains of trial have been washing over our church. Health issues, accidents, deaths, broken marriages, financial hardships, and temptations to satisfy the flesh have all multiplied since the rains of blessing have begun. All of these trials and troubles are tests of the foundation of our faith. They force us to consider the ground upon which we stand. Is our faith in the temporary things of this world or is it in the person of Jesus Christ who has graciously granted us a permanent position in glory? Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. [1 Peter 1:3-6 (NIV)]
Yesterday, after the tent collapsed, one of the Deacons of our church who has worked so hard to keep the Thrift Sale and the tent running smoothly and prepare for this weekend, sent me a text message that simply read, “This is just another one of the Devil’s schemes to try to get people down and negative.”
I refuse to get down about the rain God is sending. Even the rains of trial are blessings, for they strengthen our faith and prove it to be genuine. Let the rejoicing begin. God is blessing us. Satan is trying to devour us. But one thing Satan cannot eat is the Bread of Life, so we who feed on Jesus are untouchable. We may be physically challenged and hurt, but our spirits are unquenchable, for we know the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
Let it rain. It only softens the ground more so we can dig deeper foundations!