Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crushed Goodness

October 29, 2009

“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV

Some friends and I were discussing 1 Corinthians 10 the other day, verse 13 in particular. I love a good challenge and I admit I was challenged because I wasn’t sure of the context of this often quoted scripture.

The context in which this verse is located is about idolatry and temptation and not circumstances of life that bear down upon us and getting through those circumstances as this verse is often used. This scripture actually gives us no excuses for falling into temptation because God will always provide us with a way to deny ourselves and stand against the temptation.

Many times I think I have taken this scripture out of context to make it mean that the circumstances that I will encounter in my life will never be more than I can bear. I am grateful that God has brought a correction to my thinking.

This goes beautifully with a discussion that Matt, my hubby, and I was having the other day about sin and how the word says in Romans 6:2 that “we died to sin.” Actually this entire chapter deals with the fact that as Christ died, was buried and resurrected and so were we because he took all of our sin, guilt and shame upon himself and because sin, guilt and shame was not resurrected from the grave but atoned for in his blood; we are now dead to sin and alive to Christ. Sin has no mastery over us any longer and we don’t have to be enslaved to it.
We were also trying to understand Paul’s analysis of how sin can be at work in our members and yet we are dead to it (Romans 7:21-24). I was curious to see what the meaning of Romans 7:23 was so looked in the Strong’s for the meaning of the word “members” and it said this, “a member, limb: a member of the human body; of bodies given up to criminal intercourse, because they are as it were members belonging to the harlot's body” This made me think of how we are in the world but not of the world as Jesus prayed in John 17.

Sin is going on around us but we are not to be participating in it because for those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have been redeemed from it and God will help us deal with it. As we discussed this issue we came to the conclusion as Paul did in Romans 7:24 that it is only Jesus that can save us from it all.

So if 1 Corinthians 10:13 doesn’t apply to crushing circumstances we encounter in life, what does the bible say that can help us in those times? My first thoughts were about the potter and the clay. Jeremiah 18: 1-10 is a perfect example of how the Lord is in control of our lives and at any point his hands can crush us and reshape our lives as the potter works the clay bending it to his will.

God often puts us into circumstances that are way more than we can bear because he wants us to come running to him. He is in control over every aspect of our preplanned and predestined lives and he has his reasons for what we are going through. It seems at those times of life that we are reborn so to speak into someone greater and we are purified and changed more to the image of Jesus. Isn’t this God’s goal for our lives?

I think that if we would look at our circumstances as things that God uses to make us more like our Lord, then they would be a lot easier to go through. Our part is to trust him and believe that he is always good and always has our good at heart. He loves us more than anyone ever could or he wouldn’t discipline us and life would be a breeze.

Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1Peter 1:6-7
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Check! One, Two! Is this thing on?

October 24, 2009

Do you know God? What would happen if by some chance he would visit you today? Would you be able to pick him out of a crowd? Who cares anyway, why is it so important to know God?

The best way to get to know someone is to listen to them and to converse with them. Prayer is simply listening and conversing with God. If you want to know what someone is really like, listen to what comes out of their mouth. Luke 6:24 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

The Bible is the Words of God written by men under divine inspiration as 2Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So if I want to know God one of the best ways to do that is to go to his word, the bible and read. Did you know that if you ask God he will give you specific scriptures that speak directly to you and your circumstance? Have you ever asked him to do that for you? Try it, God is faithful and his word is living, he is an individual God and he longs to communicate with you.

Recently, I was challenged to ask God for specific encouragement just for me and as I waited upon him my thoughts were directed to Joshua 9:25 and Joshua 10:25 as well as John 10. The first scripture was one of surrender stating, “We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.” I had been wrestling with my independence and was attempting to put conditions on what God had shown me. As I read this scripture a light went on and I realized that I am in his hands and he will do what is good and right to me. I can trust him.

The second and third scripture spoke to my fears and doubts about whether or not I had heard from God or if it was the food I had eaten earlier. As I heard Joshua 10:25 after hearing Joshua 9:25 and my first thoughts were, “Ok, I am probably making this up and this isn’t God,” but low and behold to my surprise Joshua 10:25 said this, “…do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you will fight.”

“But how do I know that this is really you, Lord,” I thought in my mind. That’s when I heard John 10 and as I turned there I was amazed again. In this scripture Jesus is speaking to the people in parable (story) form and he is speaking about those sheep who know their shepherd. I was so blessed as I read the words of verse 27… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Then Jesus goes on to say that his sheep cannot be snatched out of his hand or his Father’s hand which made me think of what the first scripture had said.

It was so beautiful how the Holy Spirit put things together. It gave me such confidence and peace about the things I had seen and heard in my time before him. I know that I am not the only one to struggle with the question, “Do I know him and do I hear him?” I have shared my experience with you to make you wonder, “What would he do for me if I asked him to show me a specific scripture for me in his word?” He is faithful and if you will take this to heart and dare to ask him, I know he will prove he is speaking to you and that you are hearing from him.

This last scripture I want to share with you is something I was reading earlier today. Above I posed the question, “Why is it so important to know God?” 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 clearly answers this question.

It says, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…”

Now before you get too comfortable thinking that this is just for those who do not believe I challenge you to think about Matthew 25. It is not the unbeliever Jesus is speaking about in this scripture but the “believer” and they are shut out of his presence because they were not prepared when he came.

I know this is a strong word, body of Christ, but my heart says, “Be sure and be prepared”. Go to him today and ask him to confirm things to you through his specific word for you; then have the courage to accept and believe whatever it is that he speaks to you.

If you can’t remember a time when you asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, I challenge you today to ask him to come into your life right now, don’t wait, you never know what the next minute holds for you.

Pray with me, “Jesus, I confess I’m a sinner and I ask that you would forgive my sins and come into my life. Be the Lord of my life, it’s all I have to give. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that he can help me along this new path I’ve chosen and thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus name, amen.”

If you prayed this prayer, be strong and courageous and tell someone about the decision you’ve made. May God richly bless you.