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Points to Ponder: Today, this is only a test

Points to Ponder
Today, this is only a test
By Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Weekly Contributing Writer

"Until the time that His word came to pass
the word of the Lord tested him" (Psalm 105:19).
The psalmist is referring to the story of Joseph (Genesis 39:11-21), when he was a slave in Egypt working in his master's house. He resisted the advances of Potiphar's wife, maintaining his integrity, refusing to "do this great wickedness and sin against God" (v. 9).
Consider Joseph's situation; having been sold into slavery by his brothers, would you feel that it's God fault he was there in the first place? Why did God allow such an awful betrayal? What hope did Joseph have of ever getting out of there? Why bother about God's word and doing the "right thing" when so much wrong has happened to him?
But he did the right thing. The popular term "character counts" means more than the situation itself can justify at the time. Joseph could not see the big picture of God's plan for his family, the ancestors of the future nation of Israel; nor could he see his place in that plan.
As the story goes, Joseph is eventually released from prison because he could interpret a dream that had stumped Pharaoh and all of his spiritual experts. He was promoted from prisoner to prime minister. How could he have known that could happen? But if he had compromised the standards of God and disregarded his integrity for a moment of pleasure with Potiphar's wife, the story would surely have gone differently. But he couldn't have known that either.
That was the "test" of the word of God; to obey and to abide by His standard of righteousness even when there is no apparent personal gain.
Perseverance requires a determination to trust God. The word will test our trust. It's easy to "believe in God," or "trust in the Lord" when times are good and blessings abound. But when nothing is making sense and injustice prevails, what then? Is God's trustworthiness based on the temporary circumstances of one's life? After all, all of our circumstances are temporary; both good and bad. But the plans and perspective of God come from eternity. His ways are past finding out; so trusting Him in the moment is simply the best thing (the right thing) to do.
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The Apostle Paul declares his assurance in the Lord as he writes to young Timothy from prison.
"...I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (II Timothy 1:12b).
God keeps His promises; though we may not see their fulfillment in our lifetime. And that's actually okay, because a generation yet unborn may reap incredible benefits from our time of trial.
Are you finding it rather pointless to avoid compromise and stick to your principles?
Prior to going into ministry, I sold memberships in a health club. In those days, the guys making the big commissions were those who engaged in high pressure sales techniques. I refused to do that and thereby "lost" many a potential sale. One of these was actually two lost sales. Two women came together to check out our facility and to consider joining the program. I had several contacts with them and did not, as some of my colleagues would have done, "close" them. They decided not to join, and politely went their way.
Two years later my life changed course and the call to ministry came. My first ministry job was as the Director of Christian Education at a large suburban church. When the Senior Pastor introduced me to the church, I noticed two familiar faces in the choir; those two young women from the health club. Imagine if I had tried the customary pressure tactics on them. These were highly respected women in that church.
Two years earlier I had lost two sales; but that day in my new role in ministry, I had two character witnesses who gladly told of their experience in dealing with me.
You just never know where your path will lead, or whose path you'll cross. And when the road is hard and the outcome uncertain, compromising your character may make it easier today, but it never makes it better tomorrow. And tomorrow will come.
"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you" (II Corinthians 1:12).

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). These articles (and sermons) are also found at Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 10:45pm, both days.

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