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Subtitle: Two Terms Christians Should Avoid Using!

In less than a year five or six (I have lost count) hurricanes/tropical storms have decimated parts of Florida and Alabama--with millions having their lives disrupted and property destroyed. And as I was cleaning up the relatively minor debris in my yard for the second time, I realized just how gracious God was in sparing my little corner of the world again. In both instances, the projected tracks of Ivan and Dennis were supposed to go directly over, or even worse in terms of potential damage--slightly to the west--of our little town in west central Alabama. Pray? You better believe we did! And both times the eye of the storm--totally contrary to last-minute national weather service projections--decreased in intensity and veered to the east by 25-30 miles, causing minimal damage in our area. We were told to expect 70-80 mph sustained winds, with gusts to 100--which would have devastated many homes along with countless trees, power lines, etc. But praise be to God, He saw fit to spare us.

Were we fortunate to have escaped the fury of those storms? Did we experience extremely good luck, while those who suffered loss did so because of bad luck? Unfortunately, (see how related words are part of the English language?) we often use those terms to describe our relief (or distress) after the storms of life have swept over us. But we need to understand that for the genuine child of God there is no such thing as luck, chance, or fortune! We serve a sovereign God and everything that happens to us is either (1) caused or (2) allowed by Him. And whether we deem those things to be good or bad, all of them taken as a whole are for our ultimate good:

"We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose" Romans 8:28 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified, emphasis mine).

And I can almost hear the incredulous reponses from some who have suffered because of the hurricanes: "So you mean to tell me that the death of my loved ones and the loss of all my worldly possessions was for my good?!!!" Yes, if you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, that is exactly what God says in His Word.

But how can anything that terrible ever be considered good? Well, it all depends on how we look at it. The old patriarch Job certainly did not enjoy losing all his children along with everything he owned when God literally turned the devil loose on him! (Read the first two chapters of the Book of Job for the details). Oh, Job moaned and groaned like the rest of us are prone to do--but he "sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:22). And in one of the most sublime comments ever made by a mere mortal troubled by such circumstances, Job said:

"And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" Job 1:21 (KJV, emphasis mine).

Job understood a principle that often eludes believers: God is sovereign in the affairs of men and that which ultimately brings honor to Himself is going to be done--regardless of how awful it may appear to us at the time. Such suffering--particularly when it is not punishment for sin--is repugnant to us sinful creatures because we view it as being unfair. But the Word of God clearly states that Job was His servant and "blameless" (i.e., no unconfessed sin in his life)--yet he was allowed to suffer :

"And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil[because it is wrong]? Job 1:8 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified, emphasis mine).

And we must not overlook the vitally important point that God actually directed Satan's attention to His servant by asking if he had "considered" him. Then by emphasizing the man's devotion, personal piety, and integrity, the net effect was comparable to a matador waving a red cape in front of a raging bull! Poor old Job was hit by a series of supernatural "hurricanes" spawned by the devil and never saw them coming! But was this the result of a faux pas on God's part, as some seem to believe? Fleshly reasoning insists He would never allow such tragedy to touch one of His beloved children--unless they were being punished for sinful behavior! And that is precisely the conclusion Job's friends reached as they tried to console him. But they were totally wrong as we can see from the following statements made by God to them:

"And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. [8] Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job" Job 42:7-8 (KJV)

Satan's smug prediction about what Job would do when placed under extreme pressure was proved to be just another erroneous example of his perverted logic. He is a created being and not omniscient, but he does possess a stupendous ego (if that term can be properly applied to a supernatural being). So by allowing the devil to give it his best shot in attacking Job, God was honored when Job passed the test.

All believers need to learn from this that when we are "turned every which way but loose" by the trials of life, the way we respond to it can be a powerful testimony to others. If we do not dissolve into a blubbering mass of self-pity and despondency, our behavior will stand in stark contrast to that which most consider normal under such circumstances. Because only the grace of God can enable someone to praise Him while they are in the midst extreme adversity. And it always has a profound effect upon some who witness it. Many Christian martyrs of the past left a positive testimony behind them, because it was said of them that they died well.

And in thinking about this subject, it occurred to me that there are three "P's" associated with the reasons why God's people suffer: (#1 we have just discussed).

(1) In order to bring honor and glory to Providence (another term for God).

(2) Because of Punishment.

(3) Because of Persecution.

Punishment? Absolutely! Earthly parents punish their children for doing wrong and God does the same for His:

"For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes" Hebrews 12:6 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

And verse 8 adds this:

 "Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God's children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all]"  Hebrews 12:8 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

So no true believer in Jesus Christ should ever be so silly as to think they can practice sin and get away with it! Nothing eludes God's attention and sooner or later the rod of correction will be applied. The Bible says King David was a man after God's own heart (1 Sam.13:14 and Acts 13:22), but that did not exempt him from being punished after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered. Mercy was extended after he repented and his life was spared (under the Law of Moses, both sins carried a death sentence), but as God told him through the prophet Nathan-- the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam.12:10). And from that day until he died, some of David's children continually brought dishonor to him and his kingdom as they committed despicable acts of murder and treason.

Then there is Persecution:

"Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand]" 2 Tim. 3:12 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

If we turn this statement around and view it from another angle, we can see that a Christian who is not suffering persecution is not living a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus! Once the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the life of a believer, spiritual warfare with the devil's crowd begins. Friends who remain in unbelief will quickly drift away because the presence of the Holy Spirit makes them very uncomfortable. And this is usually the first persecution that a new believer faces. It is subtle, but can become overtly hostile if people are pressed for an answer as to why they no longer come around. Even unsaved family members will usually exhibit symptoms of estrangement. The love is still there, but an invisible spiritual barrier has come between and frustration on their part will be evident as the gap widens and deepens. And as the believer grows in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, there will be a corresponding degree of separation from the world and its attitudes and actions. Walking with the Lord and avoiding such things is an affront to those who are lost and they will accuse the believer of "thinking they are too good" to join with them in their sinful way of life. Then when the devil manages to use a hot-button public issue (such as the ongoing abortion debate) to incite mob violence, it is only a small step from an attitude of smoldering resentment to one of angry retaliation. Of course the specifics were all different, but the Christian martyrs were put to death because of the same basic reaction of human nature--to persecute and eliminate all who who dare to disagree with their point of view--especially those who do so openly.

Are you a suffering believer? If so, you are definitely not experiencing "misfortune"! God is either punishing you for misbehaving or allowing you to honor Him before others by exhibiting a godly attitude in the midst of the trial. So if you know you have done something to deserve His chastening, then repent--quit doing it and claim 1 John 1:9:

"If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]" 1 John 1:9 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

On the other hand, if you know in your heart that your fellowship with the Lord is unbroken--but are suffering anyway--give the devil a black eye by praising God for the privilege to do so on His behalf! Facing death with a sense of humor and a sweet spirit is something that will touch even the hardest of men. We may never know what good will come of it this side of glory, but God is keeping score and will abundantly reward those who remain faithful.

Are we not "lucky" to have such a wonderful Savior? (Big grin!)

If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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God bless you.