Thinking back to my days at Ambassador College, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a freshman about the blessings and trials of life:
“First of all,” he said, “I’m tithing, so God is going to bless me with a good income. I’m learning how to have the right kind of family, so God is going to give me a beautiful wife. Then I’m going live happily ever after!”
I stared at him and thought, he’s in for a surprise! He doesn’t understand what God is doing.
I told him, “God is going to bless you with the opportunity to develop into the best kind of character you can have. He may bless you physically, but mostly He’s going to give you the blessings of learning, and growing, and overcoming.” As we look to God in faith, He will bless us to accomplish His purpose, and not necessarily our own.
Yet, it is tempting to think of the blessings of God as merely physical. The remnant of Judah that returned to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem fell into this trap when they put their physical needs and desires before God’s will. God, through the prophet Haggai reminded them of their true purpose:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord…‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house,’” Haggai 1:7-9, NKJV.
The work of God has waxed and waned through many centuries and generations. The Worldwide Church of God through the leadership of Herbert Armstrong and tremendous coverage in print, television, and radio was a period of great activity. By comparison and with few physical resources, we appear to be just a speck. Yet we, as a part of the Body of Christ now, have been given a wake-up call and stir-to-action:
“‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?…be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’…My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’” Haggai 2:3-5.
We are to be strong, knowing that God will accomplish great things through His Spirit. There is no obstacle in front of us that God can’t take care of by blessing us with His Spirit to do His work. God’s great works through man usually start small, and we are reminded, “…who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).
Mr. Armstrong made a profound observation in Chapter 35 of his autobiography: “…when God does a work through human instruments, He always starts it, like the proverbial mustard seed, the smallest. But it grows the BIGGEST!” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 1, p. 591).
Sometimes God waits to see our commitment. During Haggai’s time God gave the command to build the temple, and the people responded, but it was not until about three and a half months later that God said He was going to bless them (Haggai 2:18-19). God wants us to have the right priorities. He tests our patience, commitment, and resolve; and we may struggle a bit.
Mr. Armstrong continues later in the autobiography: “We have our part to do. But there are some things we cannot do, and which we must rely on Him [God] to do, wholly, for us. It takes wisdom to know which is which,” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 2, Chapter 56, p. 229).
Being a part of God’s wonderful work is a great blessing, but it isn’t easy. Sometimes He tests our commitment and faith before He blesses us. We must go forward, trusting that God our Father will use us to accomplish His purpose. As we truly seek God’s will and do His work, He will guide and bless the results.
By John Prohs