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How do we respond to the trials of life? We are to respond with joy, not because the trials are enjoyable in themselves but because we recognise what God is doing through them. Let’s allow perseverance to finish its work.
We are reminded of the importance of being spiritually awake and alert. There has been a long wait for Jesus to return, and we need to be careful how we handle this wait - the reason for the delay is so that everybody can hear the gospel. We need to be prepared - we can’t rely on the spirituality or prayerfulness of others.
Jesus was the heavenly Son of Man of Daniel 7 and yet he came to serve. not to be served. He was glorified as he was lifted upon the cross, with a thief on either side of him. James and John didn’t know what they were asking for when they asked to sit on either side of him.
Salt is a preservative, and it brings out the flavour. We are meant to be different from the world, but our danger is compromise . We should be more defiant than we are. We should challenge things in the world that need challenging, even though we will experience kickback for this.
Perhaps we are meant to be experiencing the things we are experiencing. We might ask of this is the right time, but Joseph was faithful in the here and now - as a slave, as a prisoner and as a leader in Egypt. God is with us in all our circumstances.
Perhaps we need a wake-up call. A church can fall asleep by lying down (assuming a low profile), getting comfy (living for pleasure), and staying still (not acting on what we hear). A church can make sure it’s woken up by standing up (making it clear we’re with Jesus), getting dressed (getting rid of sin) and having breakfast (being sustained by God’s Word, not our own will-power). It is worth waking up because we get the opportunity to walk with Jesus and will be honoured by Jesus before the Father.
Jesus doesn’t ensure that bad things don’t happen but that they don’t separate us from the love of God. God’s plan for us is not that we don’t face danger but that we depend on his grace.
We should consider supernatural generosity, and not believe the myths that having more money makes it easier to give, that I don’t have the gift of generosity, that giving should always be spontaneous and that we should give without expecting something in return.
There are some things we have to wait for, but there are other we don’t have to wait for. We can celebrate what God has already done. We already have total forgiveness, ongoing transformation and a new identity and relationship with God.
Being a shepherd is not glamorous or prestigious, but it’s what God calls leaders to be. Jesus left his disciples an example, by washing their feet. We should submit to right authority - not unquestionable obedience to dictatorial decrees.
We are called to love one another, by which everyone will know we are Jesus’ disciples. God has given gifts to each one of us, and we should use these gifts to serve one another, to the glory of God.
God’s grace is secure, but we need to make sure we respond well. We must make sure we’ve truly received his grace, that we practice it by living it out, and that we look forward and anticipate its harvest.
We can have confidence in approaching God because he is on the throne, because Christ has opened the way, and because knows what it is like to be human. We approach God by praying, whether we feel like it or not, focusing on him, remembering that he knows best, and not worrying about the length of our prayers.
Like Joseph, the church is called to be a fruitful vine, bearing fruit within our culture and amongst the nations. We may feel forgotten in Lockdown, but God has no more forgotten us than he forgot Joseph in prison. Whilst in prison, Joseph showed God’s love when he noticed the sadness of his fellow prisoners, he continued to believe in the supernatural, and he continued to believe in the sovereignty of God.
We have been justified by faith. This is a done deal, and three facts follow from this: We have peace with God (not just a feeling, but reconciliation); we stand in grace (we are not just saved by grace but we live by grace); and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.