Monday, June 22, 2015

A Thought for Monday 22 June 2015

“When you come to serve The Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to Him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.”  Sirach 2:1-3 (The Apocrypha)

It has long been known that turning to The Lord and giving our lives over to Him will bring challenges.  When we make that decision to repent of an old life, even those who were once considered our friends may well turn against us.  The more determined we are to serve The Lord and Him alone, the more temptations we will face because in our old life those temptations were just a part of who we once were and what we once did.

To be tested by The Lord, however, does not mean we will face obstacles for their own sake.  Rather we are being prepared for even more obstacles that will certainly come.  The test is not an attempt to hold us back.  The test is to help us to grow stronger so that as we face even greater obstacles, we will be prepared and enabled to overcome them.

Sometimes it is hard to decide whether we are being tested by The Lord or by the culture that considers “godliness as an abomination” (Sirach 1:25b).  What we must understand is that transformation from our old selves to the New Creation in Christ means there will be challenges and growing pangs.  Like ancient Israel in the wilderness, it will seem much easier to turn back to the old life when we functioned more by instinct – always going for what pleases us - than by purposeful decisions after thoughtful consideration and deciding we are better off without those temptations.

The reality of these challenges, however, always reminds us of our need for the Church, the “ekklesia”, the congregation of the faithful.  Our need is always for fellow disciples who are prepared and willing to help us to endure the storms we will certainly face – and to hold us accountable to a life of faith.  This is the strength of the fellowship and is part of why the Church was called forth.

Hold fast to what pleases The Lord, for “fidelity and humility are His delight” (Sirach 1:27b).  His Wisdom alone will reveal our next steps.



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