Convinced Of God's Love And Care

        
        Many people in Scripture had a tough life. Two people, in particular, Job and Paul could testify to a seemingly unyielding slew of life-challenges.
        
        Job had it rough. His life, health, family and possessions were all taken away or damaged in some form or fashion. Job was humbled until he was at the bottom of the barrel and there was no where to look but up. 

        However, when all was lost, Job enters a frame of mind and spirit that I feel many, if not most, would not find themselves and all of us could learn from. Job mourns, worships God and surrenders to the Lord.

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'" - Job 1:20-21

        Paul seems to be the New Testament version of Job. He endured trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword. But like Job's restoration of life, family and possessions - Paul toward the end of his ministry used some hardy language to express not questioning the purposes of God.

"One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?' But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" - Romans 9:19-21

        There are some seriously strong statements in Scripture that should make any reader stop and take notice. For instance when Jesus said,

"I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

        Extreme words demand extreme proof and there is an empty grave in Israel and millions of changed lives as evidence of this.

        As you can tell already, Paul is no stranger to strong words and hard-hitting concepts. As he addresses the believers in Rome, his words speak strong, conclusive blessing for a life that has seen constant challenges.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:35, 38-39

        Powerful words that list a plethora of visible and invisible things that will not render any separation between the believer and Christ Jesus. How was Paul able to declare such a bold statement? He was "convinced". This means, at least for Paul, that he counted the cost and then all the life-long persuasions that followed were valid enough for him to make that claim.

        Many people have jumped into the deep end of The Faith and started their spiritual walk with Christ by pure trust. There have also been those that have entered the fold upon believing proofs either in Scripture or receiving Godly interventions in their own lives.

        Paul had a mix of convincings. He personally encountered the risen Christ, witnessed the miracles of the Holy Spirit work through him on his journey and was afflicted in his flesh with something to keep him on the straight-and-narrow. All this from a person who was the chief refuter of Jesus and The Way before his decision to follow Christ. Paul's encounter with God and suffering lifestyle were necessary for his transformation and ultimately unwavering statement he made of God's love and care through it all (Acts 9:15-16).

        This extremely encouraging passage of Scripture has Paul answering his own question while in a state of mind and spirit that left no doubt about the believer's connection to God through Christ Jesus. When I looked up the original word for "convinced" the term peitho (pitho) means to persuade by argument, prove by evidence or trust in an authority.
        
        These three definitions of this word were clearly played out in Paul's life. In the beginning of Paul's transformation The Lord personally persuaded Paul by argument (Acts 9:4-5) and force to go into town where he would be further educated by Ananias and the other disciples there (Acts 9:10-19) about the life and mission of Christ.

        Later in Paul's tour for The Lord, God's presence in his life was proven by evidence. He was shipwrecked, but an angel told him all would be saved even though the ship would be destroyed. This came to pass along with Paul getting snake bit with no ill effects, God healing the leader of the island's father through Paul, others receiving healing and the entire crew received favor through supplies to continue their journey.

        As documented throughout the book of Acts, Paul traveled many different places in the Roman Empire persuading some Jews, but mainly everyone else, known as Gentiles, of the Good News of Christ Jesus. With the Holy Spirit within him he proved by evidence through miracles that what he taught was God's truth. Paul's trust in Christ as The Authority on all matters showcased his assurance on any request he had of The Lord.

        In order to be successful in any organization, especially the extension of God's Kingdom, being convinced of the plan, the cost, the benefits and people involved is crucial. The decision means you or anyone has stopped to consider all the factors before moving forward - initiating wisdom.

        The Word of God considered everything in visiting humanity as Christ (Philippians 2:6-8). Even while physically with us, Jesus used the analogy of a builder sitting down and estimating the cost of a tower first before constructing (Luke 14:28-30) to emphasize the importance of caution and/or pause before commitment. Then Christ stresses this again by saying, will not a king sit down beforehand and consider the number of troops and supplies he has against the enemy's troops (Luke 14:31-33)?

        I encourage you, when you face difficult times, try to view them as opportunities for the Lord to showcase His many variations of care and love. Perhaps in the midst of the issue and certainly afterward you will be used to help others and God will be glorified in your life through you assisting as in the lives of Job and Paul.

        There are many hardships and challenges that occur in life which prove hindsight truly is perfect vision. As for the now and future time frames, the Christian's faith is bolstered knowing that if the lives of Job and Paul can suffer and then be blessed abundantly afterward, used as a convincing tool of God's love and care, then today's believer can also. But even if we do not see these blessings materialize in earnest this side of Heaven, Paul, once again through his convincings and considerations lifts our spirit as he says,

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." - Romans 8:18

        In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul says that the consideration of joining with Christ and His kingdom is worth the decision in view of all possible hardships. In essence, he says there is nothing the Christian can think or imagine, in this world or the next that can pull the believer away from the everlasting love of Christ the Savior. Christ Jesus has not just paid a price, He has paid the ultimate price for all who accept God, His Kingdom and His love. As Paul was and I am, I hope you are Convinced Of God's Love And Care.

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