"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Good-ole' Days

Typically, those of us who are old enough to remember a better time, when things were simpler, more honorable, or perhaps more plentiful, cling to those memories tenaciously. But the author of the Biblical letter to the Hebrews encouraged his readers to remember the bad ole' days, when believers suffered persecution today's brethren can't imagine.
Hebrews 10:32-39 LITV
(32) But call to mind the former days in which having been enlightened you endured much conflict of sufferings;
(33) indeed being exposed both to reproaches and to afflictions; and having become partners of those so living.
(34) For also you suffered together in my bonds; and you accepted the seizure of your possessions with joy, knowing yourselves to have a better and abiding possession in Heaven.
(35) Then do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward.
(36) For you have need of patience, that having done the will of God you may obtain the promise.
(37) For, yet a very little while, and the One coming will come, "and will not delay." Hab.2:3
(38) "But the just shall live by faith;" "and if he draws back," "My soul is not pleased in him." Hab. 2:4; Zeph. 1:6; Mal. 1:10
(39) But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction, but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
It ain't easy bein' Jesus.
So how will we handle the "Bad Ole' Days" as we experience them today? Most of us fortunate enough to have been born in the United States have never had to endure the kind of persecution suffered by our first century brethren … or the millions of faithful throughout history whose perseverance glorified God as they offered their earthly lives to Him. They rejoiced in their loss and hardship, claiming a better reward than any earthly power could offer.
Imagine the conundrum they faced; Your new life is so real it makes your old one seem like a bad dream. Yet, if you live your new life honestly, expressing who you are in Christ, others will surely notice and treat you differently. Worse yet, if you happen to live where the authorities frown upon well-practiced Christianity, bad things will happen to you and your family ... really bad things. So, do you place your family at risk by living as the fanatic Christ-follower you really are, or do you move your faith into a hidden closet, hating the corruption filling your outer life and the hypocrisy that continually separates you from your Lord?
Every day, believers who live under oppressive rule face that heart-rending decision. In fact, millions of believers who enjoy the authorities' official tolerance balk at the prospect of social castigation and disrespect, should they openly express their faith. The question is, who has it worse? The believer who suffers for faithfully living his faith, or the one whose self-inflicted torture plagues his inner life? The believer who clings to the promise of eternal reward, or the one who feels doomed to perdition?

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