Many Afflictions

If God is “for me”, why should I have afflictions at all, much less ‘many’ of them?

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out them all.” -Psalm 34:19

Yesterday’s post was a reminder that for all of those who are “in Christ”, God is FOR them and on their side.  When the hard times come, though, it’s often difficult to understand why we suffer.  While there are no easy answers, here are three things to consider…

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The Eyes of the Lord (2)

Ever wonder if God is on your side?

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.” -Psalm 34:15 (ESV)

The GREAT news of the Gospel is that in Christ, our righteousness depends not on our performance but His, not on our worthiness but His alone. Therefore, this passage reveals that for all who have trusted Christ for salvation, the fundamental posture of God towards them is one of love, care and concern.

We can have confident hope that God’s eyes and ears are “inclined” toward us in our affliction, ready and willing to act.

At the same time, see the conflict in verse 19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out them all.” -Psalm 34:19

The question that inevitably comes is, “If God is for me, why should I have afflictions at all, much less ‘many’ of them?” This question is one that has no simple answer, but here are three things to consider that may help provide a framework for understanding…

–(to be continued)–

Eight Weeks

His heart is beating…

…but he cannot breathe on his own.  Only his life support tube keeps him functioning.

His heart is beating, but he can do nothing but lie there, draining the resources of his caregiver.

His heart is beating, but he is causing great stress to his family, for whom it would be so much easier to pull the plug…

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The “Achievable” Exchange

To the young and the young-at-heart:

It is a sad and subtle thing to exchange big dreams for achievable goals, and to do so often results in a life that finds its hope and answers in list-based follow-through, rather than life-giving faith.

Beware the shrinking of your horizons and do not too quickly surrender the half-wild fire of youthful ideals for the tame coals of premature age.

O God, protect us from surrendering to the ideal of safe options, and keep us recklessly dependent on Your provision ’til the end.

Jesus in a Corner

What happens when you try to back Jesus into a corner?

He won’t let you. (Read Mark 12:27-33 as the chief priests and scribes have their plan backfire.)

Jesus will not be put on trial or made to answer charges brought against Him or questions as to His right to act as He pleases.

Do not put God on the witness stand of your mind and demand He give an account for Himself to you, or the answers you receive may well leave you more confused than before.

Trust Him and follow Him.  Listen to and obey Him and He will prove His authority in His own way and time, not by words, but by actions.

Like a Person

As a customer, do you ever feel “processed”?

I avoid long lines at Starbucks (and other places) because I don’t want to be processed as part of a batch. I want to be treated like a person.

Here’s a question I’m forced to ask myself, though. What about when the tables are turned? Do others feel “processed” by me when I don’t take the time to engage them as people?

Here’s what I’ve discovered: to be free to treat people as people, I must have clock time and mental space to do so. This requires managing my tasks and responsibilities well so I can be unhurried and unstressed in my dealings with others.

If I’m not able to be efficient with the checklists of my work, I’ll usually end up treating people like they are just one more box to check off.

–( selah )–

What things help you in your dealings with others? Let’s discuss it in the comments below…

The Prayer of a Leader

If I am a leader, how should I pray?

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.'”
– Luke 22:25-27

The true leader’s prayer of thanks is not, “Thank You for these people to lead,” but rather, “Thank you for these people to serve.”

Indeed, the heart and essence of Christian leadership is Christ-like service, which places the good of the others above our own need for fulfillment and control.

–( selah )–

Have you discovered any special prayers that help you? Share them in the comments below!

Clean/Unclean

Ever feel “unclean” in some area of your life?

Mark 5:21-43 tells two poignant stories from the life of Jesus. One is of a woman who had bled for twelve years and had reached the end of her hope. The other is of a girl who had lived for twelve years and reached the end of her life. Both women are tragic cases. Both are in desperate need. Both are in states where anyone touching them becomes unclean… BUT…

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1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Who inherits the Kingdom of God?

Not thieves, nor swindlers, slanderers nor the sexually immoral, not sinners of any kind.  These shall not -indeed, cannot- enter the Kingdom of God. This is a problem, because in one way or another, according to the Bible I’m guilty, and so are you.

One of the reasons these things (in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) are deal-breakers that block our entrance into the Kingdom is that when Scripture speaks of them, it’s not so much highlighting behaviors as much as an essence of being. These outward actions are indicators of an inward nature that is so much in opposition to the holy character of God that it may not even be in proximity to Him.  It isn’t about any specific deeds or sins, it’s a core identity that will keep you out of the Kingdom.  It’s not what you do, it’s who you are, and without Jesus, neither I nor you are in any way a “good person” by God’s standards.

How amazing, then, that those who are “in Christ” are completely new creations, able to leave our old identities behind and embrace a new one as children of God, citizens of the Kingdom!  We are transformed from the core of our being into new people with a new identity and a ticket to a greater destiny.

The incredible thing, too, is that this isn’t a ticket we work for or earn.  Quite the opposite: Jesus paid our way.

(SEE ALSO: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

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