Take a moment and consider your faith. When we are called to salvation, when we first meet Jesus in a personal encounter during which He purifies us from our sin and places the Holy Spirit within us to guide and direct us, there is a very real emotional experience. We are spiritual babes. We long for the milk of the Word, we soak it up. We rest in His presence. As a gentle father, He supports us as we learn how to stand, and teaches us to walk by holding our hands, gradually using less fingers and ultimately letting us walk and fall on our own. But His eyes never leave us. His presence is always by our side.
Many come to faith initially out of fear for eternal damnation. We know that we have sinned and we come to understand, through the Scriptures, the due penalty for that sin. So we turn to God and plead with Him to forgive us and to save us from an eternity of suffering. The health and wealth Gospel teaches immature Christians that God will also make our lives easy and comfortable while on the Earth awaiting eternity. The call to Christianity, however, is the call to die. The call to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. To join in His sufferings. To be persecuted. To put to death the desires of our flesh and to obey.
Most who have walked the walk of faith for an extended period of time have experienced these trials. We are promised that,
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
– 2 Tim 3.12
We are also promised that,
You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
– Matt 10.22
Our faith is tested and purified by trials. The mature in the faith often say that they were closest to and experienced God most in the hardest and darkest times. I know it to be true for myself. When the world falls down around you, and you cannot make it on your own, those are the times we look upward. Those are the times we cry out, we are in despair, we are discouraged and do not understand what is happening or know what to do.
So what about the good times? Do you follow God in the good times? Do you walk with Him and commune with Him when things are going well?
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
– Phil 4.11-13
Paul gives us an excellent example of a godly lifestyle. He knew that he had walked the walk of faith so well that he encouraged people to follow his example (Phil 3.17). He expressed to the Church at Philippi that he was content and satisfied both when he had no food, when he was in prison and being tortured and also when he was safe and had an abundance. He thanked them for their gift to him to help him get by, but that because of the benefit it provided them in giving (Phil 4.17).
Can you do all things through Christ? Can you handle blessings to His glory? Do you glorify God daily in the blessings and provision of your job, finances, house, children, food, car, relationships, church, everything? Most of us know to turn to Him when these things are taken away, when we are in need, in want or in lust, but what about when things are going our way?
In everything give thanks.
– 1 Thess 5.18
We know we are in right relationship with God when we do not consider Him our cosmic genie who fixes our problems and provides for our wants, but when we enjoy Him for simply being Him. When we rest in the greatest gift of salvation and His presence. When we love Him, apart from His blessings. Do you enjoy Him in the good times?