“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” (Martin Luther King, Jr).
Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He’s the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work–and the extent of his belief.
Challenges can come in two forms – a challenge to do something in Christian service or a challenge to prove our faith and belief. God is always challenging us, and His challenge does not come when we are warned and ready. Anyone can pass a test then. God’s challenges catch us unprepared, off-guard. It is when we are confronted with some simple situation no one will know about that the challenges of life really come. When you are relaxing at home and the phone rings and suddenly you are confronted with a call for help, or a demand for a response-and you had planned to relax and enjoy yourself – what do you do? That’s the challenge.
The faith and belief challenge can be much more difficult to resolve. The devil challenges us to bring us down, but God challenges us to lift us up. I can recall the challenge I faced whilst lying in the recovery room after major surgery; the devil attacked me but I called out to God in faith and felt secure, comforted and at peace and under God’s protection to continue with my ministry. Jesus was tempted by the devil. The disciples were frequently challenged in their faith. I know of several Christians whose faith has been challenged at their work place, a common occurrence I’m sure; their challenge is to stand up for their belief and not be put down by the scoffers. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5,6 NIV).
Challenges to our faith and belief are constant. Louis Cassels wrote: “Jesus did not say, ‘Come to me and get it over with.’ He said, ‘If any man would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.’” Daily is the key word. Our commitment to Christ, however genuine and wholehearted it may be today, must be renewed tomorrow . . . and the day after that . . . and the day after that . . . until the path comes at last to the river.” Next week the trilogy concludes with “The Response”
Have a good week,
Optional Bible reading: 2 Corinthians 13:1-14
This is one of a series of weekly messages of encouragement, now in its twenty-sixth year, originating from Gympie, Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia. A companion Bible study page is available each week. To subscribe via email send here with the words ‘Subscribe Word (or) Subscribe Word & Study’. Our ministry is free and emailing lists are confidential. Tell a friend or why not put a note in your church newsletter or pew sheet about this ministry – we welcome new subscriptions. Pastor Ron Clarke OAM Word for the Week Mbl.: +61 488 424 321