Complaints

Job 10:1
“My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”

Even a casual reading of the book of Job will reveal that this man is enduring intense suffering. His pain is both physical and emotional and has been intensified by he accusations and attacks he received from those he presumed to be his friends. It seems like Job has reached the boiling point and cannot endure it any longer. Under the pressure of his circumstances he determines to “Give free course to his compliant.” In other words, the guardrails are being removed and Job is giving himself license to freely complain about his circumstances.

While we can empathize  and even relate to Job we also understand that complaining about what is going on will not bring about any positive changes in him or his circumstances. We know that complaining will get his eyes off the Lord and will cause him to be even more fixated upon his trials. We know that complaining will act like a fog, affecting all those who are around him and will cause others to want to avoid being with him. We know that complaining even has the ability to infect others and turn a people of faith into a people of doubt and discouragement.

It is important that we do not let circumstances determine how we will live but determine to trust and honor God regardless of what is thrown our way. Even if you are surrounded with hardship, be sure not to give free course to your complaint but instead replace murmuring with rejoicing and fix your eyes upon the Lord.

Jim

 

Filter 

1 Corinthians 6:12
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

There are certain things that God’s Word clearly encourages, and other things that are clearly condemned. Earlier in the chapter, Paul gave a list of actions that, if a person is practicing, they “will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Among the forbidden acts are fornication, adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, and extortion. Clearly, Paul is not saying that unlawful things are lawful for him. Instead, he is saying, he is free to practice all things that are not forbidden, but is careful to add that he will not be controlled by them. Paul is giving us a principle by which he lived his life, a principle we would all do well to follow. Hebrews 12:1 warns us to,

“Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…

“Easily ensnaring sins” are sins we are more prone to fall into. For some it is lust, others covetousness, jealousy or envy, while others may struggle with pride or discouragement. We all know what our “easily besetting sins” are. While we all have the same freedoms in Christ, we know if we practice these freedoms, we will fall into sin again.

In order to guard against personal failure, Paul set up a system for success. That system included looking at the grey areas, the things Scripture is silent about, and putting them through a filter. He would ask, “although this is lawful, is it helpful?” When I was a young Christian, I began a practice of asking myself a simple question, “Will doing this help me get to heaven?” I understand we do not earn our way to heaven, but I also understand, there are many things that can trip us up along the way. So, I would examine what I was doing in light of where I was going. Before indulging in the activities so common to our culture, ask yourself if it will help your walk with God, or hinder it.

Some things are so dirty, they must be filtered more than once; so Paul added a second question, “Will practicing this put me under its control?” Jesus died to set us free from the power of sin. One of the great experiences, when a person receives Christ, is the realization that their sin is forgiven, and they no longer have to live under its dominion. That being said, there are many things which will lead us right back under sin’s control.

I once knew a man who had a drug problem, prior to coming to Christ. After months of freedom, he fell again into sin. I asked him what happened, to which he explained, he chose to take a shortcut home that led him by an area where he used to purchase drugs. Before he knew it, he was using again. As a Christian, he was free to drive down whatever road he wanted, but because of his ensnaring sins, if he wanted to succeed, he had to forever avoid that part of town. We all have things which will draw us back into sin. We all must honestly evaluate our lives, if we want to ensure we are not brought back under sin’s power.

What things do you need to remove from your life in order to ensure victory in Christ? Is it time to set aside certain music, TV shows, computer time, or even relationships? Keep in mind, although they may be lawful, they might not be helpful.

Pastor Jim

Needs Met

Nehemiah 9:20
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.”

Nehemiah is reflecting back upon how God faithfully met the needs of His people as they struggled through their wilderness journey. He speaks regarding the Spirit, the manna and the miraculous supply of water. If it were not for the provision of God there is no way Israel could have been sustained.

Their journey in the wilderness is both a real life historical incident as well as an illustration of the Christian life. The struggles they faced with difficulty, opposition, fear and periods of wanting faith are not unfamiliar to everyone who attempts to walk with Christ. It is important to know that the same God who provided for them will provide for us today.

When Israel was in want the Lord always had a remedy. At times water was supplied from very unlikely places, but there was always enough. A desert is incapable of supplying food for the masses so God sent bread from heaven. When Israel faced an enemy who threatened their safety it was the Spirit of God that enabled them to have victory.

The same will be true for us today. There are times in life where we face situations that seem to have no remedy. We may be facing financial problems, relational issues or just the daily struggles that come with life in a fallen world. Remember the same God that supplied for Israel will supply for you.

Jim

 

Prayer Of The Broken

Psalms 102:17
“He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.”

Sometimes the Psalms come with titles that give insight into the situation that stirred the author to write. In his case, we are not given the details of his life circumstances, but are told of the purpose behind this song. He writes,

“A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

Affliction is designed by God to drive us to Him, that we might receive His mercy and find the necessary comfort. Sadly, that is not always the way we react to difficulties. I recently attended an event where a group of people gathered in response to a tragedy that affected all of them. While I understand that difficulty often causes our emotions to speak for us, I was stunned by much of what I heard. Instead of realizing our mutual weakness and need for the mercy of God, I heard person after person speak of how they would not allow this tragedy to break them or to change them. It is as though, the hardship they faced gave them greater resolve and increased resistance against the Lord.

I do not think this was an isolated incident. In fact, in the final years of Judah, the people expressed this same stubborn rebellion against God. While the Babylonians conquered their land and began taking the children into captivity, we read of the leaders continuing with their wicked lifestyles. Instead of allowing the common tragedy to break them, they determined to stand strong in their opposition to God. It is as if they were saying, “You can’t break us and we will never bend.”

Perhaps you are facing a difficult season. Please keep in mind, that part of the reason for this hardship is to bring you to your knees, where you would allow the affliction you are facing, cause you to cry out to the Lord for His mercy.

Pastor Jim

 

Mercy

Psalms 31:9
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!”

We cannot be certain of the situation that caused this psalm, but it is very clear the Psalmist was going through an extremely difficult season in life. He describes himself as being under severe attack and needing the Lord to be his fortress. He speaks of his troubles and his adversities, and his eyes wasting away in grief, as he cries before the Lord. He also goes into great length to speak of his emotional condition during this time. He describes himself as, “wasting away with grief, in both his soul and body” and being “like a broken vessel.” 

Without knowing the exact situation that caused his condition, we can still relate to what David was going through. All of us have known times in life of severe attack, grief and pain. The encouraging thing is, that no matter what David faced, he knew that the mercy of God was large enough, not only to comfort him, but to comfort all who endure the pain and hardship of life.

Whatever you are facing, take time today to sit at the feet of Jesus and cry out to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Strength And Shield

Psalms 28:7
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”

Years ago I injured my knee and required surgery. Before the operation, I was given a detailed description of the human knee. I learned how it was constructed, how it functioned and how mine was damaged. When the surgery was completed, I was even given a video of the operation. If I wanted to, I could have watched on the big screen as parts were cut away and replaced. I learned things I never really wanted to know.

David expresses praise to God for being his strength and his shield. It is important to keep in mind, the only way to know the strength of the Lord is to encounter your own weakness. It was the times when David reached the end of himself that he would come face to face with the reality of the power, strength and enabling of God. All of us want to know God’s power, but we need to realize He only gives it when we are facing things that our own strength cannot handle. Paul prayed to know the power of the resurrection. He needed that because he was constantly in situations where his own power was insufficient. Those who truly know the power of God, are those who have come to realize their own weakness.

The same concept is true regarding a shield. What sounds like beautiful poetic expression, also has a real and practical backstory. David knew God to be his shield because he faced situations in life where he was forced to hide from the attack of others. He had to duck from the spear of Saul, hide in the caves of Adullum, and even flee outside the borders of the land. It was in the times of greatest attack that David learned he could hide himself under the protective shield of His God.

Whatever you are facing, it is good to know that your strength does not have to be sufficient. You can break, and when you do, you can find the strength of the Lord to be enough. No matter what the enemy hurls at you, the shield of the Lord is a fortress that will not fail.

Pastor Jim

 

Great Opportunities 

1 Samuel 22:1-2
“David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”

1 Samuel 23:3
“But David’s men said to him, ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?””

Perhaps you have heard stories about the heroics of the men who aligned themselves with David. They are often referred to as his “Mighty Men.” This is a fair description for many of them since they went on to accomplish great exploits in the furtherance of the kingdom and in its defense from enemies both inside and out.

That being said, it is important to note that these men did not start out mighty. Our first introduction to them is quite discouraging. We learn their characters were somewhat questionable, and they lacked any real faith to step out and serve the Lord. It was not where they started that defined them, as much as, where they ended up. It was the fact that they stepped into battle while filled with trepidation, that made them into the mighty men God used to forge the nation.

All of us have both opportunity and obstacles in the path before us. The question is whether we will trust the sufficiency of the Lord or if we will cower behind our inabilities. If we choose to step into the obstacle in the power of the Spirit of God, we will find victory that will forge us into one of His mighty men.

Years ago, I commented to a friend about the exploits of a man that God was using in a unique and tremendous way. He seemed to always be right in the midst of grand opportunities, and trying circumstances. I said, “It is amazing how these things always seem to happen to him.” Another man, who knew him much better, replied, “They do not ‘happen to him,” but he goes and looks for them”. I thought, how strange it was that while I try to avoid difficulty, he was looking for it, stepping into it, and finding huge opportunity to point many to Christ.

Let’s let our circumstances forge us into mighty men and women, who have chosen to be involved in furthering the kingdom of Christ.

Pastor Jim