SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER (so the rock song claimed)

 

We had a lot to learn back then, and a lot more to learn now.  I did poorly in math in college, but in the Army exams I aced the math test.  Perhaps the pressure was my only real barrier.  In any case the Army assigned me to calculate artillery fire…with the trigonometry I had failed three times!  I used my schooling in my drafting and design career for 30 years.  Later I learned carpentry, and recently commercial truck driving.  We have to keep learning for the changing roles life beings to us. 

 

WHAT HAS JOSEPH DONE? 

He has established a testimony of what God can do.  We can discover our ability to be the head, and not the tail of our world.  Once his testimony was recorded in the Torah, others have this encouragement to draw from.  When David hid in caves, he could remember the deliverance of the slave Joseph.  When Daniel became a prisoner of war, he followed this example to become the prime minister of his captor’s nation.  We all may have experiences that we can improve by this kind of exemplary faith.  This is the substance of spiritual warfare, the goal of our efforts here; to overcome trials by faith.

 

LIFE IMITATES LESSONS

I have noted that life sometimes begins to mirror things I hear in church or read in daily bible reading.  It seems like Gods word is alive in our daily trials.  I learn things when I look back at bible studies I wrote for previous weeks.  I can write, but I can not see where God is taking us before the fact.  Perhaps the words are not as alive as the God who provides them.

 

GOD ARRANGES LIFE

Perhaps we are seeing how God controls the lessons of our life.  He knows what we are reading and learning.  He knows our pastors sermon already, because he inspires the prayerful teacher.  He can allow us to look at our weak areas as our daily life unfolds.  He can arrange the lessons to match the words we are reading.  Prophesy is alive, and so is our God.

 

THERE WILL BE A QUIZ…OR A TEST

Oh I won’t give you an exam; life will.  It may come as a surprise quiz or a major exam. 

Events will come to us, even temptations and opportunities.  We can consider how to do them in a Godly way.  Paul is often quoted in this statement:

 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phillipians 4:13

 

Some use this scripture fragment as a license for any kind of misbehavior, as if claiming Christ makes it OK.  Others seek a promise of strength from his blessing.  I see it also as a commitment to do everything I do under God’s guidance, in submission to this authority.  Consider the text preceding this quotation:

 

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  Philippians 4:11-12

 

Taken in the full context, Paul was telling us that he was able to endure being a prisoner of the Romans because he was strengthened by Jesus.  He is not boasting about super-powers, but discovering endurance and submission.  Only in obedience do we find the fullness of God’s strength.  We need to answer each test in the way prescribed by the Word of God to enjoy full victory.

 

IT’S AN OPEN BOOK EXAM

Here is the good news.  We can have the word in our heart, ready to use instantly.  But if needed, we may have time to search for the answers too.  Often it is a lesson we have seen recently.  The Old Testament teaches the same lessons we find re-stated in the New Testament.  We are often in a lesson that pertains to our daily test. 

 

QUESTIONS?  WE HAVE THREE SOURCES

We have three sources of help in crisis.  The Trinity is a real source that we can call on if we keep them in balance..

 

FATHER

Jesus taught us to pray to our Father in Heaven.  The Father is the one who hears our prayers.  He is the one leader who truly has an open door policy.  You can talk to the creator and the source of all wisdom at any time.

 

SON

John says that the Word was God in the beginning.  Jesus is the Word of God.  If we read the bible we are in fellowship with Jesus, the son of God.  His life was there from “In the Beginning” to “Amen”.  We are to study to show ourselves approved.

 

HOLY GHOST

The Holy Spirit was sent to live in the saints on this earth.  He is there to teach us, and to confirm the messages of prayer and bible readings.  He can give you some understanding of the people and spirits around us.  He can help you to “try the spirits”.  He can help you to counsel others too.  We can get help from him when we are with other Christians.  We are to encourage each other with prophetic gifts and the word of knowledge.  Christians gathering together is our fellowship with the Holy Ghost.

 

THREE IN ONE OIL

If we balance the trinity relationship, we have a good communion with God.  If one area is weak, we can give that area more time.  Having a home church and elders gives us a reference point to compare in measuring our progress. 

 

WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  Philippians 2:12-15

 

What, we are not bullet proof when we accept Christ?  We have to work for our success?  So we have no assurance that our expression of faith is enough to assure success without continuing to learn and grow.  I got in the door, and I followed the instructions to pray for mercy, but there is still more to work out. 

 

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  James 2:19-20

 

Jesus tells of ten virgins, and five are caught unprepared to join the bridegroom.  He was not talking about five virgins and five harlots.  All ten were believers, yet some were not ready for salvation.  The church too is at risk, unless we have the fruit of good works.

 

Men will show us examples of weakness, failing to produce consistently good works; even some of our shepherds.  But some will also show us examples of strength.  You pastor usually represents a sincere effort to represent the gospel.  You need to be in balance, to recognize the truth of his teaching too.  Some shepherds do go astray, and they will pay dearly.  But you can protect yourself, because you know your master’s voice.  If a shepherd is in error, the balanced trinity relationship will offer you guidance. 

 

YOU CAN DO IT

When Paul said he can do all things, he was talking about being in prison.  He meant that he could endure being in chains because he was doing this through Christ.  He was going to jail because he would not compromise the word of God.  If we take the message in context it tells us that God offers power to follow his word in times of crisis.  We can work out our salvation, because God helps us.

 

BAD TIMES ARE GOOD

Paul knew that Joseph had prospered in prison before him.  He knew that his messiah had been slain by his Jewish brothers on the cross.  He was prepared for good times and bad:

The promise of strength comes from integrity, being willing to suffer for what is right and true.  This is especially important to us.  We are in as great a danger as anyone, if not more.  We face real dangers in relationships, not just from the natural world.

 

WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL

God made us all different.  But each is a member in the same body.  We can work together, we can help each other.  We need to take time to hear the other person, and learn what their talents are.  We need to avoid judging others.  We need to seek to restore anyone who has fallen, not to reject them.  Even if the church has to turn one away for misbehavior, they hope to see them restored in the future.  We will all take turns failing.  We need to remember you for your kindness when you have discovered your own weakness.  It can all be rebuilt; we have the technology!

 

THE ONE GREAT TEST

This is not just a quiz.  This is the entrance exam to eternal life.  Nothing else we do here will matter.  Our photographs and victories are faded memories as soon as the flash goes off.  Flesh all withers like grass in its season.  The “Grand Master” is Jesus, and he is already in his glorified body.  Revelation has a word image of him.  This image is true to the past, present, and to the future.  No flesh can compare to the glory of his appearance.  Yet we have this promise:  we are joint-heirs with him.  When we see him we will be like him.  Are you ready for a little testing?

 

WE HAVE TEACHERS

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are the headmasters.  A cloud of witnesses precede and surround us.  But this is the purpose of Tabernacle Trails; to observe these patriarchs and see how they overcame without all the assets that we possess.

 

God located our good examples in the world that had no New Testament, a world that was worthy to be destroyed except for Noah’s family.  These are men with human weaknesses who still pleased God.  They carried firewood and water, cooked on the ground and slept in tents for years.  They were weary, sick, and wounded by animals and warfare.  They were condemned by the Law, but redeemed from hell by a savior who remembered them. 

 

CONSIDER A RETREAT…FOR ADVANCEMENT

Living in camp recreates a small community under primitive living conditions.  We face some real dangers in nature, and in community relationships.  We become a family united against the challenges.  Your walk as a Christian began with little knowledge, just as these patriarchs had less to draw from.  You will grow as the church did, learning along the way that God forgives and heals our weaknesses.  We will have visits from the trinity in the form of prayers, bible study, and Christian fellowship.  When God brings correction, you will be glad that we do not ignore him as Cain did.  As sons of God you will welcome the correction of our loving father.  You can pass the exam and gain the prize that even the angels envy.

 

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