Forerunner, January 1998

Have you ever had a day when you felt that God was picking on you? Have you ever wondered whether you were worth a plugged nickel to Him? Have you ever had days when you felt that you were not doing all that you could? Have you ever wondered if God is paying any attention to you and what you are doing?

Probably every one of us can answer "yes" to all of these questions. There are days when we feel pretty small and insignificant. God writes through Isaiah:

Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build for Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the Lord. "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor [humble, Amplified Bible] and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:1-2)

These humbling days that we endure are part of our training to be members of the God Family. We must be humbled before we can be exalted (Matthew 23:12; I Peter 5:6).

Just think, though, of what God has already done for us! The Father has called us to participate in His covenant and chosen us to receive the Holy Spirit, the down payment of eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14). For this to happen, the Son had to give up His glory and take on human flesh, only to die a cruel death to redeem us from our sins (Philippians 2:5-8). How could we ever think that God does not care about us?

The Father loves us so much that He gave His only Son for our salvation (John 3:16)! The Son loves us so much that He gave His life—risking everything—so that we could become His brothers and sisters (John 10:11, 15; Romans 5:6-11)! If this does not strengthen our hearts and encourage us, nothing could!

His Children

It is a very special thing to be called God's children now! Paul writes:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. . . . The Spirit Itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:14, 16-17)

Those who overcome in this present age have a greater reward in the Kingdom, being first-fruits of God (James 1:18; Revelation 14:1-5).

When you were young, did your parents ever point out someone to you that was a great deal less fortunate than you? Did they ever then say, "But by the grace of God, that could have been you"? We see such people in the world every day, and they should make us realize how wonderfully God has blessed us. We need not worry about them because God will one day give them the same opportunity He is giving us.

God has shown us wonderful and "extreme" grace by choosing us out of all the billions of people in this world. Because He has chosen us in particular, we also can verify that He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34; Ephesians 6:9)! He has chosen us to represent Him—to show the world how He lives.

The old saying, "You can't please everyone," is just not true with God regarding His children. He can be pleased with us, and He tells us how! He instructs in Hebrews 11:6 that "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." We must live by faith to please God (see John 6:29; II Corinthians 5:7).

Paul writes in Romans 8:8 that "those who are in the flesh cannot please God." This does not mean that just because we are human that we cannot please Him. What the apostle means is that because we have God's Spirit in us, we can please Him, and we do this by living righteously (verses 9-10). Later in the book, Paul shows that it is our duty to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). If we do God's will, then we will be pleasing Him.

Remember the Faithful

We can take great encouragement from reading and studying the lives of those who have walked this road before us. The Old Testament is full of biographies of men and women who have had their ups and downs, yet remained faithful to this way of life. Hebrews 11 contains a summary of many of their faithful lives.

The end of the "faith chapter" can be so uplifting when we feel a little puny and unimportant. It shows that, even though God considers them among the faithful, He gave them no advantages over us:

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

Famous children of God, like Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and many others, are firstfruits just like us. As insignificant as we think we are, to God we are on their level! We will all cross the finish line together (see I Corinthians 15:23, 51-52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17)!

Of course, this means that we must be equally faithful! But God has confidence that we can finish our course with His help. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). This is also the thought in Hebrews 12:1-2:

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. . . .

Not long ago, while giving a sermonette, my father suffered a fatal heart attack. His last words were to all of us and not to himself. He said, "You must set that goal straight in front of you and plow a straight row toward that goal, never looking back or sideways." Of course, he was referring to Luke 9:62:

But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

My Dad gave it a positive spin, much like the apostle Paul does in Colossians 3:1-2:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

I know my Dad was rich beyond the dreams of mammon because of his spiritual understanding. He knew what was important: the goal that God has chosen to reveal to us! Quoting Isaiah, Paul writes:

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (I Corinthians 2:9-10)

The Bible is full of descriptions of the life that awaits us, the rewards that will be given to us, if we endure and faithfully overcome as God's children.

When those down days come, when we feel unworthy, when the trials start to mount, remember who God is and who we are. Remember our calling and all that God has done for us already. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Remember those faithful saints to whom God has promised eternal life and their struggles and triumphs. Remember what God has in store for us in the Kingdom.

Nor can we forget the awesome promise God gives to us in Romans 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

With all this in mind—with all this going for us—we cannot, we must not, stay down for long!