Rev. Dr. Charles Stanley, a great pastor and theologian of our times, authored a book entitled “31 Life Principles.” The very first life principle he discusses is to make sure you have an intimate relationship with God.

Such intimacy with God means getting up every day and throughout the day praying, reading the word, meditating and living the very best life we can for God.

I am convinced that if we practice this life principle, then whatever happens, the Lord will see us through it and we will be a better person because of it. If anyone knew this, lived this and ultimately died a martyr’s death for this was the Apostle Paul. Here was his declaration to the Romans at the height of the Roman Empire.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Is it not amazing that God has a plan and purpose for all of us? If we are in an intimate relationship with God, He has already predestined our lives. I know God loves us. His ways are not our ways, and we do not always know what He is doing with us and to us, but we have to know that He loves us. We are His crown creation, and He cares for us.

However, the question that remains is do we love the Lord? How much do we love the Lord? Do we love God as He commanded “…with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30).

Be mindful that God must be first in our lives. He will not be in second place to the idols of this world. The best thing one can ever do is to come to Christ, but it does not exempt anyone from the trials and tribulations of this life. Some of it we deserve because we bring it upon ourselves; some is done by the fiery darts of the devil, and yes, some tests come from God so He can elevate us to higher heights.

I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be. I am learning to love God with an unconditional love. I am learning to glory in my infirmities because it is when I am embattled, troubled and suffering that God shows up in me and shows me just how powerful He is in me.

Serving the Lord is not about me: it is all about His getting glory out of my life. Therefore, if He gets glory by humbling me, I love Him, and if he lets the devil humiliate me, my love for God does not change.

Let us consider the story of Job, a perfect and upright man, one that feared God, and eschewed evil. God declared this three times in the first two chapters of Job. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was a wealthy man with plenty of land, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen and 500 hundred donkeys and a very great household. He was the greatest man in all the east.

However, a season came when God allowed Satan to take all that he had, and eventually Satan attacked his body. Job’s wife told him he ought to curse God and die. He friends accused him of being unjust and that his day of reckoning had come. But, Job never doubted God, and praised Him throughout his darkest days. In another season, God gave Job double for his trouble. Everything he lost was restored and more. He lived 140 years and saw three generations of his children.

Let us stay focused in Christ for all things will work together for our good.

The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.

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