Our church is taking the children a Bible lesson and activity sheet in the local public school each week through Good News Club.
Last week the lesson was God testing Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac, which Abraham was willing to do because he trusted the promise of God that would be fulfilled in Isaac. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
In the lesson we emphasized that we can trust God because He cannot go back on His promises and He is able to accomplish anything.
Today one of the great tragedies is the proliferation of the prosperity gospel. It’s basically the teaching that God wants all of His people to always be healthy and wealthy and if you’re not, it’s because of sin in your life or lack of faith. There’s a word for that teaching: bologna.
Certainly, God could make all rich and healthy. But we see throughout the Bible that many who were the most faithful suffered the greatest. Joseph ended up in prison. Daniel went into the lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. And what about Job?
In the New Testament, even Jesus was poor. The early disciples were persecuted and martyred. Paul carried a “thorn in the flesh” even though he begged God to take it away.
Life with no challenges, no hills to climb, no problems or needs makes us totally independent of God. And we can see in our country and our world today what a quagmire that puts individuals and a culture in.
We need barriers and difficulties to realize we can’t do it all by ourselves and to bring us to our knees in total dependence on God. It was faith in God that brought Joseph out of prison, kept Daniel safe with the lions and kept the fire from consuming Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
God that allowed Job, sitting in the ashes scraping his sores with pieces of pottery, to say, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Early church martyrs had faith and the felt presence of God that kept them from cracking under torture and allowed them to keep the attitude that they didn’t pray for God to take away their pain but to help them bear it for Him.
And it was God who kept Paul from wilting under his thorn and to share God’s message, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul responded, “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)
God’s same promise is sustaining the church as we face persecution.
God doesn’t promise earthly health and wealth. He does promise eternal health and a wealth that goes beyond any material wealth on earth. It comes to those who know and trust Him and His promises. It comes to those who cling to His hand rather than to the things of the world or the teaching of false prophets.
“God hath not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through; God hath not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
“God hath not promised we shall not know toil and temptation, trouble and woe; He hath not told us we shall not bear many a burden, many a care.
“God hath not promised smooth roads and wide, swift, easy travel, needing no guide; never a mountain rocky and steep, never a river turbid and deep.
“But God hath promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.”
(What God Hath Promised by Annie Johnson Flint)