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Sabbath: The Shepherd’s Crucible — 17 Comments

  1. I am always intrigued and envious by the way Jesus responded to people he encountered in the flesh, in exactly the correct words that was fitting for their motivations. e.g. The women at the well and the pharassees.
    Obviously, Jesus could read hearts and minds (their motivations) and had the perfect words/response for THEM.

    However, since I can't be sure of anyone's motivation, I pray for the Spirit of Christ and try to act consistantly with love, mercy and Justice, which is what govern's the divine nature of God, in the Spirit of Sonship, If I have offended anybody on this forum, I appoligise.

    Shalom in Christ

  2. I had a friend share this in our morning conference call.
    Her friend had discovered she had breast cancer. The news initially devastated her. She was surrounded by a team of loving hospital personnel who had strengthened her soul. After being strengthened, her friend said, “If God would use this as an opportunity to bring my atheist husband to the light of the Lord, I am willing to journey through this crucible. However, if I were to die fighting this battle, the next moment I will see my redeemer in fullness of life so either way this is a win, win for me.”
    Are you going through a tough time? Trust in Him who is able to carry you through the tough times.
    He who promised does not lie or change his mind. He will restore the soul.

  3. I have many times wondered that we, the ones who believe, the ones who recognize the Lordship of Jesus in our life and accept Him to be our Shepherd, are still in such great need for courage; to stay the course when challenged in what we believe by Faith to be true. Yes, our Christian Faith does not have mile markers - signs and wonders – attached to it, but we know in whom we believe!

    If we have doubt regarding the basic relationship between us and our heavenly Father, where would we need to look to for assurance that our faith in Him is well placed? Would we look at promises fulfilled, prayers answered, doors opened, windows shut etc., or does our faith in Him who made us rest solely on Him and who HE is?

    There are aspects of my faith in our Lord Savior and our heavenly Father that have over time grown exponentially with every challenge I encountered – inner peace, calmness, courage – trust that all is well. Circumstances in my life may change from day to day, but my trust in the spiritual relationship between me and my heavenly Father and my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus never changes.
    Their Word is my rock, the rock of my Salvation on which I build my life day by day; Lord Jesus is my Shepherd guiding me with His staff through life’s brambles – it offers delicious fruit but it grows on vines full of prickly spines trying to entangle the one reaching for them.

    I can look at Faith as the crucible in which my life’s circumstances are melted down and dross separates from the gold, or I can look at the crucible as a “severe test or trial or an extremely challenging experience.” Either way, it is Faith which will be challenged and proven to be indestructible.

    • Brigitte, I have a slightly different thought on mile markers or guideposts along the way. We may not see them ahead of time, but if we look back on our journey, we can see the evidence of God's actions on our behalf. I find it helpful to review my prayer journal every few months or so to see what God has done for me that I may not have recognized at the time. I also can see times when I lost my focus on Him and how that affected my perspective. When I lose my focus on God, life is so much harder. Seeing the difference in writing reminds me to fix my eyes on Him and not on the things around me.

      I would also like to say that I always appreciate your comments here. Thank you to you and to all the contributors on this forum for making us think.

      • Hi Karen – thank you for sharing your thoughts ‘on mile markers or guideposts along the way’ and your kind remarks. My I point out that, since we believe that in all things God is working to bring about ‘good’, is it not handicapping/limiting our gratefulness when we only see and acknowledge Him in the obvious and visible responses to prayers or occurrences?
        If we could instead of seeking for ‘signs and wonders’ accept every day with a thankful heart and pray for the strengthening and resilience of our faith in spite of the challenging circumstances, this would be helpful to stay the course as we ‘wait upon the Lord’ to bring about that which His Wisdom and providence provides for us.
        Our faithfulness and thanksgiving is “to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us; to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.” Amen – Eph.3:20

  4. Todays lesson is a great tie in quarter 2 to quarter 3. Yes it is very possible that God uses a dark experience to lead us into paths of righteousness. Psalms 23:4. Psalms 23:3. We just studied a young man who went through darkness of which God turned the tables into light for a good share of the then known world. Powerful current story and testimony Newbegin, thanks for sharing that.

  5. Have you been in situations where you have questioned God as to what is going on - why things are taking such a difficult path? Why do you think that the path's of righteousness at times go through - rather than around - the valley of the shadow of death? Is God taking us the hard way 'to teach us a lesson' when there is an easier one available? Or does God's commitment to freedom - that in turn temporarily gives evil space 'to be' - mean that, unfortunately at times, there is no other way than through the valley?

    What do you think?

    • We were discussing the lives of the sons of Jacob in Sabbath School today, and it seemed to us that God clearly led even in the "dark" times. For instance, Joseph's abduction led him to a humility and dependence on God that he would not have gained for a long time as his father's favored son. His service as a slave gained him the necessary preparation to govern wisely as the prime minister of Egypt. The "easier way" as his father's favored son would not have brought him to the position of prominence as savior of his family. So it seems much more than "giving evil space to be" is involved here.

      It seems God designed to remove the family of Jacob from Canaan for a time to preserve them from heathen influences in order for them to grown into a nation of worshipers of God. In Egypt, as an outcast group of shepherds, they did not mingle with the Egyptians, except for Joseph. But they lived in comfort on the best land of Egypt. If they had not become enslaved, how many would have moved out of Egypt back to Canaan. The Babylonian captivity, later in the history of Israel gives us a glimpse of the likelihood. Very few Israelites returned to Jerusalem. But in God's wisdom, He allowed the descendants of Jacob to become enslaved so that they would long for escape to the promised land, where they would be free.

      God's overruling providence can be clearly seen if we look, and it seems to me that this very "commitment to freedom" makes it necessary for God to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death to teach us to trust him in a way that would not happen in the sunshine of the mountaintops.

    • Hi Phil

      I think the story of Job sums up #When bad things happen to good people#

      We are informed in the book of Job that the Satan challenges God on Job's motivations. Satan asserts that Job only loves and respects God because he is blessed in life, and otherwise would curse God, if he was not blessed. (Satan had already challenged Adam And Eve that God's motivations were not pure in the garden.)

      So the question of God's motivations and mankind's is embedded in our world and mind, under the guardianship of good and bad angels.

      We only awake when we see Satan's deceptions, when the LIGHT of the world came and revealed the truth about immortal Sonship. (Christ Jesus)
      However, hearts and minds (motivations) in this cosmic battle was the overall litmus test. God worked it out for the perfecting of immortal Sons and daughters, it would be unwise to give immortality to potential evil.

      Deuteronomy 8:1-8 (CSB)
      1 “Carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the LORD swore to your fathers.

      2 “Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to

      #know what was in your heart#

      whether or not you would keep his commands.

      3 “He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
      4 “Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years.
      5 “Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.
      6 “So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him.
      7 “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills;
      8 “a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;

      Hebrews 12:23 (CSB) to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the #spirits (MOTIVATIONS)# of righteous people #made perfect#

      Shalom in Christ

  6. Those who, refusing to lean on their own understanding, choose to suffer in the crucible WITH CHRIST will rise with Him who is our Righteousness and our Eternal Life. BELIEVE to see!

  7. I try not to expect anything from anyone specially to the ones I love with the help of Jesus. If they do not have a loving relationship with Jesus Christ in their lives, they will definitely disappoint others.

  8. Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a consistent editorial pattern in the quarterlies, and I guess I find it a little frustrating and disappointing.

    I’m talking about the final sentence where it says Sophie’s heartbreak could be used to "train her in righteousness." The problem is that she didn’t do anything wrong in the story. Just like Job didn’t do anything to bring about his calamities, or Daniel didn’t do anything to deserve captivity in Babylonia. Her first reaction was to turn to the Bible! That sounds like she's on the right path to me!

    Unfortunately, it seems like the quarterly editor has a tendency to always assume the worst in the readers. The last 2 years have been really tough for everyone. Right now we need to be building each other up more than ever.

    Wouldn’t it have been nice if instead, it said "...this dark valley could be used by God to show her more of His righteousness and love?" It makes the exact same point, without needlessly blaming Sophie for not being "trained" enough.

    • Interesting point, I hadn't picked up on that. Even Joseph who we have been studying was presented as righteous, yet went through severe trials.

  9. The way to heaven leads through self-denial, and we experience that as "suffering," however minimal it may objectively appear. I have found that when I purposely walk this path, the only effective motivation is to remember Christ's suffering for me. Even for relatively minimal self-denial required for losing a few pounds, health and vanity were never enough to overcome my appetite for just a little indulgence - which sabotages my weight loss. It was/is only when I think of His suffering - when I compare my "suffering" to His - that I experience victory in self-denial. Perhaps it is because when I remember Him I also ask for His help.

    A friend who recently attended a live-in lifestyle program in a desperate effort to gain victory over his depression and other issues. He was just beginning to follow the protocol - until he was asked to take a dip in a tub of ice-cold water with floating ice. "That was just too much to ask of this Texas boy," he said. Repeated urgings could not budge him. He was not getting into that water! And then he heard a distinct, loud voice saying to him, "After what Jesus suffered for you, will you not get into that water?" He was startled and "never more ashamed in my life." And he got into the water. (Now it's a daily habit.)

    I have never seen a more pronounced change in anyone in such a short time, but it took the distinct voice of the Holy Spirit to compare his suffering to the suffering of Christ. My friend, who was usually subdued and somewhat sad, now has a bounce in his step, a sparkle in his eyes and seems to bubble over with joy. He is making it his mission to pass on what he has learned.

    In various ways the Apostle Paul calls us to imitate Christ, and that necessarily means comparing ourselves to Him. That leads us to a right estimate of ourselves, and it is the only comparison in which we should engage.

    Comparing ourselves to others makes no sense at all and generally results in harm. (2 Corinthians 10:12) But over the 60 years of my adult life, I have learned to trust the counsel of an inspired writer who wrote:

    "Christians would be greatly strengthened by earnestly and frequently comparing their lives with the true standard, the life of Christ....
    The light of Heaven is to be reflected through Christ's followers to the world. This is the Christian's life-work to direct the minds of sinners to God."
    Redemption; Or the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness, p. 68

  10. Have I learned God's lessons and grown during hard times? Or do I wade in self-pity and groan during hard times? A fun play on words that gives me pause.

  11. Going back to Joseph. It was the small details in his youth that he paid attention to which built a solid charactor of integerty, following the will of God, which allowed him to be ready for bigger things. Following the will of God is having upright character by choosing do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8. Joseph had many trials to solidify his character for good, he choose to do so. The one day journey to Egypt, salvery, carnal temptation, prisoner, all helped make him who he was. He choose to surrender his will to the Lord. An act of choosing to be willing to be made willing. Philippians 2:13.

    He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.
    Isaiah 40:29.

    But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
    Isaiah 40:31.

    This can happen at any age, yes it is better to take advantage of this promise in our youth.


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