THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED
1. Christians are chosen of God and are well within His care, and, therefore are never out of His plan, even when His plan includes difficulties and pain.
Nothing catches God by surprise. There has never been and will never be a time where God has watched over humankind and had a “double-take” moment. His foreknowledge is perfect. He knows the trials. He brings them to us on purpose.
2. A Christian’s inheritance of heaven is reserved by God.
No offense to my father nor father-in-law … whatever they may bequeath to me in death will fade. It will perish. My heavenly Father’s inheritance for me is undefiled, imperishable. It is death-proof, time-proof, and sin-proof.
3. A Christian’s life is not exempt from experiencing difficulties.
If you have ever been told that the life of a Christian is supposed to be one of God-given ease, you were lied to. Wolves in sheep’s clothing have always been willing to tell people that which is easy and temporarily exciting to hear. The problem is there is no truth in it. God doesn’t keep us from difficulties. He actually promises we will have them. And in all of it, He promises carries us through.
When we suffer, it doesn’t mean that Christ has betrayed us, lost control of the world, or has given up His throne. Our suffering is a fuller fellowship with Christ. He suffered and was glorified. We will suffer, and He will glorify us, too.
4. These difficulties within the Christian life are designed to produce Christlikeness and demonstrate the sincerity of faith.
Our refining is like that of gold. We are sent through the fire. Our impurities are scraped off. Rinse. Repeat. Each iteration of refinement makes us more and more mirror-like when our Father looks at us. May He see more and more of His reflection when He looks at all of us.
5. The men and women of the Old Testament desperately wanted to experience the visible, historical presence of the Messiah. This is something all Christians can appreciate and value.
They searched for, longed for, dreamed of, wondered about, and hoped in the appearing of the Messiah. God spoke to them with prophesies they never fully understood. God used their quill to write of things they would never see. They longed for the fulfillment of the promise for which we already have taken possession. We must appreciate that we are more blessed than Moses or Abraham ever was.
6. The future return of Jesus should greatly impact the behavior of Christians in the present moment.
How could it not? The return of Jesus presupposes the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Christ is the most incredible and important event in the history of the world. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
7. Obedience and holiness are the mark of a Christian’s life.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” Those are the words of Jesus. Obedience doesn’t make a Christian but being a Christian sure does make us obedient.
8. One day, God will have “had enough”. He will be then and is now the final and ultimate judge of all humankind.
This is terrifying and comforting all at the same time. It is “terrifying to fall into the hand of the Living God” says the writer of Hebrews. But, for those of us who willingly, humbly, and faithfully jumped into the hands of our God, it is comforting.
9. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ form the solid rock of a Christian’s salvation, hope, and daily existence.
The wind, rain, and floods are coming. In fact, we can add in the earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, famines, and lava flows right about now. In all of it, Jesus is the solid rock foundation that holds us resolute and strong. Without that bedrock, all of us will eventually be swept away because our strength only gets us so far. His strength is eternal.
10. The Word of God is central in the life of the believer.
We are here today, gone tomorrow. The Word, however, is living, breathing, and eternal. It is what gives light to each of our steps. We must consume it, learn it, breath it in … but then we must let it live through us. Learning does not equal living. The ultimate is now and has always been LIVING the Word of God.
THINGS WE NEED TO APPLY
Whatever your past includes, God is in the business of giving us a future with a hope.
We must not resist or resent the trials of our life, but view them as God-designed and God-allowed instruments of our spiritual growth.
We must focus on Jesus’ future return, and it must affect positive behavior as a mark on our way of life until that day comes.
We must continue to examine our life for holiness and obedience to Jesus.
We must practice a “reverential awe” toward God.
We must regularly remember the benefit of Christ’s death for us, and the reality of the alternative fate from which we have been saved.
We must consider ways we can demonstrate a sincere and deep love for other Christians.