Was thinking about Joseph tonight. Was looking back in my files for something I previously wrote about Joseph. Found the following that I wrote from 2016. When you and I were still hanging out. Wow! How much I have changed in just six years. That’s why I can never give up on people. If I changed so much, then it really is possible for anyone else to change. Here is a blast from my past (many of my views have since changed A LOT):
I was talking with two friends recently about whether people can lose their salvation. Two people I know said it is possible to lose your salvation. Another friend leans more toward my view of thinking maybe those that leave the faith never were really saved in the first place.
I’ve seen or heard of several people who were active in church for years who are no longer with the church and some have even left the faith. Some have left the faith by their own admission. The behavior of others indicates that it appears they have left the faith.
But did they leave the faith or did they ever really have it in the first place? Not everyone who names the name of God is saved. Even demons and the devil know who God is. It is terrifying to think that I could be deceived or deceive myself into thinking I am in right relationship with God when I am not. I frequently think of the verse that says to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Then there are the verses about the narrow road and the seeds falling on different types of ground. I think Pilgrim’s Progress is a good picture of both of those verses.
I think of the crowds of people who greeted Jesus on Palm Sunday, who rushed Him for healing, but who crucified Him a few days later. They wanted a God who would make this life on earth better for them. They wanted to be rescued from their circumstances. They didn’t think they needed a Savior to rescue them from their sins.
I’m guilty of having this mentality at times. I hope and pray I wouldn’t be so hard-hearted that it is a terminal condition. I hope and pray I’m not one of those where I tell Jesus what I did in His name and He tells me, “I never knew you.” I don’t think it’s weak faith that asks these questions. I think these are important questions to ask.
I wonder if people who fall away were coming to Jesus for what they thought He would do for them. I wonder if at some point they did a whole bunch of stuff and they expected God would bless them in a certain way on earth and when He didn’t then they declare that it’s not fair and they walk away. I call that American Christianity. I read stories of Christians in other countries that endure horrendous persecution. We are not fully prepared for that kind of battle in the American churches I’ve visited. Our culture appeals to what God can do for me.
And God blesses us but not always in the ways we demand. He knows this life is for a brief breath in terms of eternity. The salvation of souls is of primary priority. I finally made peace with my past when The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “Is it ok if I let you go through all of that if it was the only way you would seek Me? Would you rather have a perfect life and be so comfortable that you never have a need for Me and then you never know me?” That is what the Lord spoke to me. I’m not saying that applies to everyone. Although I believe it applies to most people.
But then it goes deeper once the walk begins. Is it ok with me if He doesn’t give me a comfortable life, ever, so that He can use my life to lead others to Him? Sometimes my heart is so wicked that I’d rather have comfort on earth than for the people that I encounter to be saved. Like, if you want to go to hell so bad, fine, go. But that’s not God’s heart, thankfully. And I really do need Him to change my heart.
I see the Bible is full of God allowing His beloved children to not be comfortable on earth for a time in order to be used to bring others to salvation. It isn’t punishment. It’s an honor. But I think the enemy and our flesh fight it constantly.
Think of Joseph, Daniel, Ezekiel, Elijah, Job, Hosea, Paul, etc. These are men who were sold out for Jesus. Men who loved God. Men who God allowed to go through deep valleys. They lived uncomfortable lives for long seasons. But look how they are being used even 2000 years later. At the time they could have insisted on being the god of their own life. Of telling God how it was going to be instead of surrendering.
I never really understood why God recorded all those chapters of discussion for us in Job. Just now it hit me as an encouragement. That even Job, although He loved God, was despairing of even life. He wasn’t a superhuman. He was very human. But he held onto God and God held onto Him.
The devil plays the same song as he did in the garden with Eve: “God doesn’t really love you. God isn’t really good. You can’t trust Him. You need to take care of yourself. It will be ok. God will understand.” Same song. Over and over.
What’s my breaking point? I already found it last year in a way. I didn’t leave the faith or the church. But I came really close, too close. God is still working this out in me. It scared me.
They say everybody has a price. I think in many ways that is true. That’s what the devil was trying to figure out when he was tempting Jesus in the desert. Even Jesus, before He was going to be crucified, asked for the cup of suffering to pass but He doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done. He laid down His life for us. He surrendered. He said not My will but My Father’s will be done. He entrusted His life to His Father. He knew the eternal reward was worth more than earthly comfort.
Will I pass the test next time? How far am I willing to walk with God before I give up on Him? Am I following Him because He is God or am I following Him because of what He can do for me? Am I willing to be broken in such a way that my life is used to show Him to people, even one person? Or do I insist on the comforts of this world to the exclusion of His will.
Jesus didn’t receive His kingdom and glory and honor on earth the first time that He came. But that’s not the end of the story. And this life isn’t the end of the story for us either. Even so, I think most of us are blessed abundantly by God on earth even as He allows us to go through uncomfortable situations.
For me, I have to physically make a list more and more frequently of the ways God blesses me and the earthly things I am thankful for. It is a battle in my mind. The enemy is right there reminding me of everything I don’t have. But when I make the list, I am reminded that God had not abandoned me. He is still blessing me every day. It might not be in the ways I prefer or sometimes demand but He is definitely still pouring out His love and blessings.
Even so, I don’t deserve anything. He is God. I have exalted myself above Him time and time again. I deserve to be left to myself. But He sacrificially gave me eternal life. He poured Himself out for me. That should be enough. I honestly do not feel that way most days which is a shame and a testiment of His grace.
I think of Pastor Saeed. Would I endure jail still praising God? Look how many people are hearing about God because of Pastor Saeed’s incarceration. Would I be willing to do that?
Or is my limit my health? What if God called me to endure physical suffering so He could use it to even call one person to salvation? Would I be willing?
Or is it money? Will I deny Christ if He wants me to live a more humble modest existence in order to use me to speak even one word to one person that I wouldn’t meet otherwise?
Or is my limit sexual? Will I deny God if He doesn’t provide the person I want in the timeframe I want? Am I willing to be single and celibate if that is how He can use me to reach even one person with the good news of His salvation? Marriage is a good thing. Sex is a good thing. God created both. But will I honor Him and do it His way or will I insist on satisfaction my way on earth?
Even the affections of others. Jesus was abandoned by His closest earthly friends during His last hours. What if I have to stand alone, rejected by those I have invested in? Will I curse God and deny Him?
Who is God to me? Is He Santa Claus? My genie? My cosmic butler? My benevolent benefactor? Or is He Sovereign? Do I trust that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts? Do I trust Him as my Creator? Do I trust Him as my Savior?
I honestly think I have countless examples of how God loves to bless His people. His children. On earth. Examples in His Word and real-life examples. But our hearts and souls are His primary concern.