Thursday, April 7, 2016

ThornsThe following verses were written concerning the Jews being deported from Palestine to Babylon.  The Psalmist is not referring to himself, but to a broken nation being punished for their sins.

My enemies insult me all day long.  Those who made fun of me us my name as a curse word.  I eat ashes as my food.  My tears fall into my drinks.  Because of your anger and indignation, You have picked me up and thrown me away.  My days are like long shadows.  I am like grass that has dried up.”  (Psalm 102:8-11 IEB).

Yet, among those who tasted bitterness for the sins of the nation were the righteous Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Mordecia, Esther, Ezekiel and others.  Did God thrown them away?  Was this punishment upon Israel their fault?  Were they partakers of the sin which brought judgment upon the nation?

Does being righteous give the believer a guarantee against hurt, disappointment, insults, loss, hunger, loneliness, pain, abandonment, slavery, or even death?  If you read the Psalms of David, you will know that life often gives you a raw deal.  In fact, didn’t God’s Son suffer death for you and me?  Who has been more righteous than he?

Some believe baptism has mystical powers that will remove all disappointments and failures from life.  They think old habits will disappear when stepping from the baptistry.  They believe there will be no more failures, bad news, or harm coming their way.  They think God will build a special hedge of protection around them which He provided for no other believer.  When the first signs of disappointment appears, their faith disappears.  They blame God for robbing them of their world.

Was the seventy years of Babylonian captivity God’s punishment upon the righteous?  Did He not take care of all those that were mentioned?  Did He forsake His followers?  Some are near sighted and fail to see what God’s long range plans are.  They don’t understand that He is using their situation to bring honor to His Name.  He uses the “insults” and ridicule of unbelievers to strengthen the faith of His own.  We have a choice.  We can either be masters of negativism or advocates of hope.  We can either be messengers of doom and gloom or disciples of assurance.  We can choose to sink into despair, or lead others to a state of repair.  We can wallow with the miserable or be their path to God’s peace that passes all understanding.

Have the same attitude among you that Christ Jesus had: Though Christ was divine by nature, He did not think that being equal with deity was something to hold onto.  Instead, he emptied himself, taking on the very nature of a slave.  He became like human beings, appearing in human form.  He humbled himself.  He obeyed, though it meant dying, even dying on a cross!”  (Philippians 2:5-8 IEB; Also Romans 5:2; Philippians 4:4)