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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Birdcage — 13 Comments

  1. My father was a World War 2 veteran, having served in the Pacific in the New Zealand Medical Core. His basic training involved; camping in the rain on the Kaimai Ranges with limited gear, long route-marches in the Wairuru high country and the Rimatakas, and generally doing it pretty tough in survival training. He said that it was all part of the “toughening up process”! It is no surprise then that when we kids got into various scrapes and difficulties while we were growing up, Dad’s rejoinder was always, “Its part of the toughening up process!”

    We scraped some skin off and started bleeding; “It’s part of the toughening up process!”
    We got a low grade for a school assignment; “It’s part of the toughening up process!”
    We fell off our bike; “It’s part of the toughening up process!”
    You get the picture. Sometimes it was our fault. At other times, events happened that we had no control over.

    Interestingly the message was never one of callous indifference. Our hurts were cared for and we were conscious of being loved. Perhaps one benefit of this training is that we learned to take what came our way on the chin, without complaining. It was a lesson worth learning and the training has stood by me for the rest of my life.

    C S Lewis in “The Problem of Pain” makes a profound analysis of the interaction between good and evil.

    In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguish (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the exploitation of that evil by God for his redemptive purpose, which produced (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute. Now the fact that God can make complex good out of simple evil does not excuse – though by mercy it may save – those who do the simple evil. P98

    My father did not provide the “toughening up” events in our childhood but he made sure that those events contributed positively to our growing experience. Likewise, God uses those challenging events in our lives to grow our Christian experience and our relationship with him

    • I'm currently watching a TV series of the Green Planet, exploring water plants, and previously animals in the wild by David Attenborough on a local channel in Jacksonville Florida.

      I thought of you and your observations of birds.
      The camera work is absolutely brilliant, and his discoveries of how life adapts to hostile environments is exactly how Jesus talked to his disciples and us through them, at our human level of understanding to grasp the capabilities of the planted WORD in our mind and hearts that mature a Christ-like disposition, that we would not have otherwise to be child of God for his environment of immortality. Adversity has a place.

      Enjoy your Work !

      John 12:24

  2. Study Asks:
    We all understand the principle behind God’s allowing us to be purified and refined by trials. How, though, do we understand the situation in which trials appear to have no value — for instance, someone is killed instantly in a car wreck? As a class, seek to work through possible answers.
    As a class, take time together to pray for each other, that each might be strengthened to endure trials and stay faithful.

    Cognetive rational minds, given Free-Will, is the only way WE choose one of two different paths. One Path leads to godliness in sonship, the other leads to destruction.

    Psalms 1:1-6 (CSB)
    1 How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
    2 Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
    3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
    4 The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

    We are not robots or animals that live by instinct. We are living in an environment of entropy (decay) and cause and effect. Unfortunately we are not protected from the terrible consequences of our bad actions and those of others in our present environment, in which we live and breath.
    Otherwise how are people judged fit for immortality ?

    Psalms 8:1-9 (CSB)
    1 LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with your majesty.
    2 From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
    3 When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place,
    4 what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
    5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.
    6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:
    7 all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild,
    8 the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas. 9 LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!

    However, we are protected spiritually, as we conform to Christ's image. E.G. Qualities, attributes of God.

    2 Peter 1:3-12 (CSB)
    3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
    4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
    5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge,
    6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness,
    7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
    8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.
    10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.
    11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
    12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you now have.

    Genesis 1:26-27 (CSB)
    26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
    27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.

    Adam and Eve had innocent minds in their infant like connecting to God through Holy Spirit (Adam walked with God).
    It takes a long time to produce perfected children !

    Keep on trucking (meme)

  3. Today's Ellen White quotation again conveys the idea that God "permits" rather than causes trial and disappointment to come to us. And the 'testing' is not so that God will see if we pass or fail, but that we might be given opportunity to grow and develop that which is vitally necessary for us to live abundant life. Exposure to trials and disappointments helps us "realize our helplessness, and learn to call upon him for aid". We unfortunately typically need considerable practice at this because we tend to self-reliance as a legacy of our inherited tendencies under the first Adam (eg Psalm 51:5; Romans 7:15-20).

    I note the same quotation also mentions what God "causes" to happen - "cooling streams to flow from the flinty rock".

    Thus I find God "permits" that which inherently tests us (ie trials and disappointments), but "causes" provision of that which helps us grow from those inevitable trials and disappointments. Thus God, as Master Orchestrator, works all things together for good (Romans8:28) - including the bad stuff He didn't cause.

    • Regarding permit vs cause, who led Israel from Egypt to the Red Sea? Who led them to Marah, on the way to Elim with its 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees? Who left them without Moses for 40 days, while knowing how it would end up with them worshiping the golden calf? Yes, God permits these trials that we might know ourselves better than we would without them. He does not cause the failure, but can we say He did not cause the circumstances of the trial when it is His leading that brings them?

      The lesson this week on The Bird Cage begins with the story from Ministry of Healing, then follows with: "Notice that the one who carries the bird into the darkness is the master himself". I would recommend reading the entire chapter in MH, "Help in Daily Living" from which this story of the bird cage comes, and see what you find in there. You will find this thought: "It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them". Had God not brought Israel out of bondage, there would have been no Red Sea, Marah, or golden calf. There would also have been no Promised Land. God brings/permits the test, but it is unbelief that causes the failure every time.

      As you suggest, in our fallen nature, we cannot recognize our mortal flaws, and without these revealing trials, would never overcome them. God is merciful in His leading, and all these trials will "work together for good to them that love God". "To him that overcomes" are the promises given.

      "He leadeth me, O blessed thought!"

  4. Praise the LORD He leads me.
    Most times through peaceful paths but sometimes in the midst of the war between good and evil.
    I think of the people in the Ukraine where bombs are dropping on their homes.
    I believe this life is temporary and our goal is eternal life with the LORD in the Earth made new where only righteousness dwells.
    Heb 11:13,39-40; 2Peter 3:13

  5. I was driving the car when I had an accident and the friend with me was killed instantly. In the hospital the pastor said a prayer and I can’t recall one word he said as when he started praying I was filled with with an overwhelming sense of peace.

    I can still recall that moment and even though I was broken physically and emotionally I’ve always known that I would never be too far from the Being who had the power to fill me with that peace that surpasses all understanding.

    A few months ago, many years after the accident, in my daily worship I was reading Psalm 116. I am putting it to memory, but verse two, “Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, Therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live” reminded me of the thought I had of never being too far away from Him. Yes, the tears definitely flowed at that moment and even though I’ve read that psalm before this time it became personal.

    He will never leave me nor forsake me.

    • That is quite some experience to have gone through. So glad you were able to encounter and take hold of the only thing that can truly help - God's unfailing faithfulness and trustworthiness. Praise God and thank you for sharing your story...

  6. I was a first-year university student and had gone home to spend some time with my family. When I arrived, my mother told me that Mrs X’s father had passed away. Her mother had passed away when she was young. Although she was now married with children of her own, her father meant everything to her. I knew her father. He was a dignified, warm gentleman who spoke impressive English in a community where that mattered. He had been a highly respected teacher in one of our church schools. My mother was going to visit with the family and invited me to come along. As expected, the house was full of people when we arrived - mainly women; the men would visit in the evenings and on Sabbath. There was singing, praying, sharing of the Word, and the bereaved woman shared her pain. She was hurting. She was angry. She had begged God to heal her father. He had not. She could not understand how God could fail to heal a man who had served him so faithfully. After her words of anguish, there was silence.

    I was somehow disappointed. How could this woman show so little faith? I was one of the youngest in the room, but none of the older women said anything. I was in love with Jesus and could not bear that no one spoke up in his defence. So, I spoke with the zeal of Job’s three friends. To my surprise, as I waxed on, Mrs X seemed to bridle. I expected my words would bring comfort, they seemed to bring anger. Not a word was spoken, but I could see it plainly on her face. I did shut up at that point, out of a sanctimonious sense that it was doing no good.

    Somehow that experience stayed with me for many years afterwards. It took a long time for me to realise that the Holy Spirit would not let me forget it because I needed to come to the realisation that I had been wrong to speak that day. The lesson I learned from this is that next time someone shares their pain, I should just be present and show I care. I may speak, but only when asked and only after checking with the Holy Spirit about what needs to be said. If in doubt, I ask the person what they need me to pray for them.

    Even with good intentions, we can mess up because we do not have God’s understanding. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. He will bring to each person what they need for healing and restoration if they are open to His working through their crucible. If we are open to his leading, he will show us how to bring comfort to those in need. And thank God that even when we mess up, he is able to pick up the broken pieces and restore wholeness.

  7. Oh, Jeanie! Thanks for sharing. Your testimony has indeed been a reminder, to another who miraculously survived a horrible accident, that God's promises are true. Great is His faithfulness!


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