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Paul’s Purposeful Praises

Many of us struggle, whether from health issues, emotional issues or mental issues. Some of us struggle with addictions and some with issues of being persecuted by family and strangers. And one of the ways we cope is by telling ourselves, “God doesn’t give me more than I can handle.”

Let me say that again, “God doesn’t give me more than I can handle.” Hmm, what a nice thought, however, it is biblically inaccurate. I am not saying that God doesn’t love you. Or that He doesn’t move supernaturally to help you, all I am saying is the statement above is inaccurate.

Many people from the Bible have had much more than they could handle on their own. People like Job and Paul. There where even times in the life of David, Daniel and Joseph that were filled with struggles. How about the lady that bled for 12 year and spend all her money on physicians, who at the passing of Jesus was delivered from her hopelessness. All of these people are prime examples of this saying being untrue. God loved all of these people.

I love what Paul tells Timothy when he says, “My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”
(2 Timothy 3:11)

I want to refer you to another chapter in scripture that illuminates Paul’s struggles. In Acts 14 while at Iconium and Antioch Paul was mistreated but escaped right before being stoned. (vs. 5) And if that was not enough the people from Antioch and Iconium followed Paul to Lystra and poisoned the Lystrian’s minds about Paul so much so that they stoned him and left him for dead.

People die from being stoned. Stephen died, the guy who cursed his parents from the Leviticus 24:23 died and the guy who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath from Numbers 15 also died. Yet Paul miraculously lived. He lived because he was divinely rescued.

I know that there are times (maybe you are in the midst of one right now) where your struggles seem to be bringing you to an end, lean into God. Wait on God. Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.

David penned in Psalm 18 after being rescued from King Saul, ” The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalms 18:2

So now when we read pieces of scripture where Paul is boasting about his struggles like in 2 Corinthians 11. We can understand his joy or where his joy comes from. Like he states above it comes from his Rescuer.

I struggle with waiting, Abraham struggled with waiting. Job struggled with waiting. Loads of people struggle with waiting, but if we wait on the LORD he will renew our strength.

Prayer

ABBA, Father help me in my struggles. Your Word tells us that if we ask for wisdom, you will give it. So LORD please give me wisdom and patience to wait on you. I need you!

In Jesus Name, Amen

Disobedient Follower

I wanted to label this posting the Lazy Follower but seeing how laziness is a form of disobedience this title will work better.

One passage that sticks out in God’s Word about being a lazy follower is, “By slothfulness the roof sinketh in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaketh (Ecclesiastes 10:18 RV).”

I believe this statement to be true and there are examples from my life that echo this fact. Think about it, when do we stumble and backslide the most? When is it hardest to display love, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and especially self- control and faithfulness? The answer is, when we are lazy.

To put this Bible verse into perspective I would like to use the illustration of a barn’s roof. Most people unless you live in the city have seen barns with roofs that are either showing signs of collapsing or have collapsed. Barns that have healthy roofs belong to diligent farmers whom are constantly inspecting their barns roof beams. They go over them with a fine tooth comb, constantly looking for cracks or wet marks or other signs of distress. They do this because those barns house their crops, their equipment or their livestock. They house something very important to their way of life and being lazy with the upcare of the roof could destroy what they and their families have been doing to support themselves.

It is tragic, but we do this in our spiritual lives. We get lazy. I know I do. In fact I am just coming out of a season where I felt there was this huge distance between God and myself. What happened? Well I have been lazy! I have just been going through the movements.

I don’t know if many of you follow my page but I had this plan. A posting a week, but that hasn’t been going very well. Why….laziness. I also was committed to reading the bible everyday and praying everyday but what happened? Laziness. How about finding a brother where we could mutually disciple one another or how about this one: leading my family in the ways of the LORD. Again, LAZINESS!!

There is a cure for this pandemic going on in my life and maybe in yours. We can choose to be like those farmers who have the barns with the strong roofs. We can choose to live by the Spirit. We can choose to live like Christ.

Paul knew that laziness was a problem in the church when it came to spiritual disciplines. He wrote things like:

  • I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

  • Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

(1 Corinthians 9:24 )

  • So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

(1 Corinthians 9:26 )

And the author of the book of Hebrews wrote:

  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

(Hebrews 12:1 ESV)

To inspire His readers of the importance of the war against spiritual laziness ( which is really a war against the flesh, a war against Satan!) GOD stated through these authors the importance of having spiritual disciplines.

I mean who ever ran a race or boxed while being lazy. You can’t! You will lose! Satan wants us to lose, he wants us to feel like we are far from the Father. Satan doesn’t want us to succeed in leading our families in the way of righteousness. He wants our marriages to fail. And he wants our character to be spoiled not only before God but also with man.

In Galatians 5 Paul states the fruits of the flesh, but curious enough laziness is not there. I believe it should be and my reason for this is all of the fruits of the Spirit require action. Love is an action. So is gentleness and kindness. Patience is the outcome of enduring and self-control is enduring through struggles. Action, action, action.

I believe that if we walk according to the Spirit there will be no room for laziness. God has set up some tools to help us with walking in His Spirit. First He has given us a portion of his Spirit, I mean the Spirit is even called the Helper (John 14:26). He has also given us His Word (2 Tim 3:16), but not to be underestimated He has also given us brothers and sisters to help us along the way (Hebrews 10:25 & Gala. 6:1-2).

Prayer:

Father, I know I have lived in the flesh way to often. But I also know that you have and are and will help me to be more intentional in how I walk with you. You are the divine Potter please continue to smooth all of my short comings out of me. In Jesus name, Amen.

I would love you comment, so if you feel inclined please leave some.

GOD bless.

Compare and Contrast

Often times while reading my Bible I come upon people in the pages that God put there for me (not only for me but for you as well) to come across. I always compare these people and their walks to my own. Without judgement of course. I compare them to see how I am doing; the bad or lawless people and the people that show some righteousness.

I never sit here saying to myself well I am better than this group or that group; instead I examine myself to see what things I have in common with them. Afterall, in 2 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us to,”Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.(v5.).”

So God has directed me to the book of Jeremiah. While reading this book I am saying to myself,” Wow there are aspects of my life that match the people of Judah.” However I would also like to think that if you soberly examine your walk that this might be true for you as well.

In chapter 35 we encounter two groups of people, the tribe of Judah and the Rechabites

JUDAH

Some of the sins that the people of Judah were committing are: idol worship (but not just like; Hey, I am on team Molech or team Baal but they would sacrifice their own children to these idols), the murdering of the prophets of Yahwah, lying, not honoring their parents, and the list goes on and on. They have broken all 10 of the commandments. Wow I have been there! If you were honest so have you.

James says,”For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.(James 2:10‭-‬11)

How many of us hate someone in their lives? Well Jesus says that is murder (Matt 5:22) . How many of us have looked at someone of the opposite sex and said wow that is really nice? Again according to Jesus that is adultery (Matt 5:28). All of us in one way or another have something in common with Judah.

RECHABITES

GOD decided that he is going to test the Rechabites by having them come into the one of the chambers of the temple of the LORD and to have them drink wine.

Two things here: God is always testing us and this piece of scripture is not condemning the drinking of alcohol but is rather about obedience.

I love their response to Jeremiah. “We will drink no wine, for Jehonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. We have obeyed the voice of Jehonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters,(Jeremiah 35:6‭, ‬8).

In these verses here we also see that Jehonadab commanded them to live in tents, not to own land or to not build houses for themselves. He also commanded them not to own seed, to plant it or to own vineyards. And at the end of it he quoted God from Exodus 20:12 by saying if you do these thing it will go well with you in the land that you are sojourning.

This group of people had two really excellent (at least in my opinion) men of God that were of their lineage. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and Elijah the Tishbite.

I remember the first time I read James 5:17 which states,” Elijah was a human being just like us. He prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years! (NCV) And of course I was like I am nothing like Elijah. He is so perfect and I am so flawed. God used him in such mighty ways because of his obedience.

Now when I try to compare myself to people like this I fall short. But it gives me something to yearn for. Something that I know the Holy Spirit is going to complete in me one day.

In the end of this chapter Judah gets carried away by Nebuchadnezzar and God awards the Rechabites by saying, “Because you have obeyed the command of Jehonadab, your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jehonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.” (v35:19)

Wow! I would love to have God say this to me if I were so faithful. How about you? I love how God uses His word to convict me of my short comings.

Prayer:

Oh Abba Father, please continue to use your Word to convict me of my sins. Please use your magnificent awesome power to change me. LORD, please create in me a new heart and a steadfast spirit for you. In Jesus’ name Amen.