Sunday, 30 October 2016
2 Timothy 2:3 (mix of KJV and ESV)
How do we react to the tough times that life sometimes throws at us? Do we respond with indignation that such a thing should happen to us? Surprise, disappointment, frustration? Do we become downcast and discouraged?
I was thinking, in the light of some challenges in my own life, of the reaction of the "good soldier." He has been trained for combat. He knows the hardship he is to face on the battle field and has prepared for them. He is not surprised or taken off guard when he faces tiredness, hunger, or the pain of injury. He is focused on the mission. He knows that he must endure these things for a while in order to achieve a greater objective.
Paul encourages us to respond to the hardships of life like this good soldier. Take it on the chin and keep pressing on towards our Master's mission. This is what we have been trained for. He himself gone before us and suffered on our behalf that we might stand. He has given us his life and his Spirit, not so we can give up at the first sign of blood, or throw in the towel after the first skirmish and the first casualty. He wants us to block out the pain and focus on the mission. He has strengthened us to be overcomes.
Whatever life throws at us let us respond as good soldiers not as victimised civilians.
Friday, 21 October 2016
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Monday, 17 October 2016
I say to God, my rock: "Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
Psalm 42:9 ESV
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psalm 43:2 ESV
These two psalms seem to go together. What is troubling the psalmist in both is the pain of feeling forgotten and rejected and the unjust hostility that has been directed towards them.
It's interesting to note how often these themes reoccur in the psalms. Indeed how often they occur in the scriptures.
Think of Daniel and Joseph. Joseph endured hostility and accusations he did not deserve. Both of them went through times where it looked like they were forgotten and rejected.
Is it any surprise when this is how Christ himself suffered? Rejected by those he came to save. Enduring hostility he did not deserve. Ultimately feeling forgotten even by God himself.
It seems that many servants of Christ - perhaps all - are tested in the same way as their master.
The examples of Joseph, Daniel and ultimately Christ are great examples to us. We are not forgotten. We are not rejected. We are not abandoned to those who have hostility in their hearts towards us. God is outworking his plan to form Christ in us.
Like the psalmist let not our hearts be downcast but let us put our hope in God.
Sunday, 16 October 2016
But you have given me an open ear.
Psalm 40:6 ESV
It's not clear (to me) whether the psalmist is saying that God's ear is open to hear him or that his ear is open to hear God. But I do know this. Both are true. And both are a great gift and blessings from the Lord.
We do not pray as men speaking empty words into the air. But our words have power and effect as they have an audience and a hearing in the very courts of heaven and before the Judge of all men and the king and ruler above all kings and rulers.
Nor do we wait in vain for the Lord to act or to respond. He has opened our ears to hear his voice and to know his will. He calls us friends because he chooses to share his heart with us. He reveals to us by his Spirit the mystery of his plan for this world. The great transformation through a people renewed in the image of God through the Spirit of Christ at work in their hearts.
What a privilege to hear and be heard by the great God of heaven!
Saturday, 15 October 2016
I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.
Psalm 39:2,12 ESV
One of the saddest things in any relationship is when the people involved stop talking. The only thing worse than bad communication is no communication! At least when there is a heated exchange there is an opportunity once the dust has settled and emotions have calmed to learn and reassess. But when people stop talking to each other there is no opportunity for progress. Bad attitudes fester. Bad feelings linger on beneath the surface unresolved.
Sometimes we stop talking because we don't know what to say or we are worried about saying the wrong thing.
Sometimes even our relationship with God can be affected this way. We know the things we think we should say, but because that's not what we want to say we choose instead to say nothing. We "hold our peace" with God and then wonder why God "holds his peace" with us.
For any relationship to work there needs to be open and honest communication. This includes our relationship with God. If we put on a front and only say what we think we should say, we are not opening up. Our relationship is superficial. Eventually we will not be able to keep up the pretence.
A peace that comes from "holding your peace" is an unsustainable solution. Like David you will find it only makes the distress worse. To properly move on the silence must be broken.
God doesn't want us to keep silent about what is troubling us. Nor does he wish to remain silent on these matters.
It's time to break the silence!
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 NIV