Crossways Concepts

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Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Problems, Problems Everywhere

There are certain things that bug us.  One of the things that bugs me is when I hear scripture being mis-quoted.  This last weekend I heard the same verse being mangled, two different times.  This particular misquoting usually comes out when a Christian is having difficulties and somebody will say, “you know that God will never put more on you than you can take.”

The likely scripture this is taken from can be found in 1 Corinthians:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with a temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you will be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

This scripture doesn't say that He won't protect us from challenges that will break us, only that He will assure that we will not face any temptations in which we without options. This verse does not promise protection from circumstances.

Some would say that this point of mine is nit-picking, because a loving God will not allow us to be broken by our situation.  Right?

Wrong!

God knows the value of having us broken.  David wrote:

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.  God, you will not despise a broken and humbled heart. (Psalm 51:17)


We are such a proud and self-sufficient people that we usually need to be broken before we are any use to God.  How many times have you been able to look back at a horrible period and recognize it as as a time of spiritual growth?

While God does love us, He knows that there are things that are much more important than our short-term happiness.  Just as we, as parents make our children go to school even if they would rather stay home, because we know that there are long-term benefits that outweigh the short-term discomfort.

When I see Christians going into a period of crisis, may prayer for them is not that they will get out of the crisis, but that God will be glorified through the crisis.  I also pray that they would be protected from temptation during this time of weakness.

Recognition that struggles can be part of God's will, has an odd effect on our response to people in need.  Suddenly, we are not called to help everybody, but to seek to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Even Jesus did not help everybody He encountered.

Scripture tells this story of a miraculous healing by Jesus:

By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five colonnades.  Within these lay a multitude of the sick – blind, lame and paralyzed – waiting for the moving of the water, because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water.  The first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had.  One man was there who had been sick for 38 years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time.  He said to him, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:2-6)

Then the story continues to describe how Jesus healed this man.

Notice the description of the area around the pool, “Within these lay a multitude of the sick – blind, lame and paralyzed”, yet Jesus healed only one of them.  Presumably, Jesus left all of the rest of the multitude in their need.

While I don't know if Jesus struggled with this, I do know that it can be terribly painful to watch somebody struggle and not bail them out.   However, our action to bail people out of their problems might be cheating them out of a blessing and, worse yet, going contrary to God's plan.  In circumstances like this it can be tough to remember that God has a better plan than we do.  For us to decide if we should help or not help, or even how we should help people in need, we must listen closely to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

God has a different perspective on our struggles.  Even as we look back on past struggles, those that seemed so major at the time, seem less drastic in retrospect.  With God's eternal view, although He has compassion for us, He looks and know how really minor our “major” crisis might be.

Romans says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)  Paul, who experienced beatings, stoning, jailing, shipwrecks, hunger and extraordinary pain for the Gospel, knew that these struggles didn't make much difference in the big picture.

God's will for our lives in that we grow in Him.  He wants to be totally sovereign over our lives.  Our pride is a major roadblock for this process.  It is the troubles in our life that remind us that we need Him.  Through those tough times, we recognize that we aren't in charge, but that He is.

God would like it if we would simply set Him on the throne of our life, but we are usually far too stubborn for that.  We generally need to be broken of that stubborn insistence that we are in charge.  Some of us are so stubborn that we require being broken multiple times.  God knows what we need.

James says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)  While joy may be a challenge when we are in the middle of troubles, we should at least be in a position to allow God to do His work, so that we can move on.  Seize the moment and let God be glorified in your life.



Personal note to readers:

It has been a while since I last published an article.  I have been deeply involved in a major writing project.  This project has grown into a larger and larger effort.  When I write, I try hard to write as the Holy Spirit leads.  This particular project has become bigger that I can manage.  It desperately requires the Holy Spirit, because there is no way that I could possibly complete it on my own.

I am convinced that this message is the most important message I have ever approached.  Although I am sure God gave me this message, I am not sure what He is going to want me to do with it.

Mostly, I would like your prayer support on this.  It so terribly needs Him, not me.  Please pray that
He will be right in the middle of it, taking it where He wants it to go, for His purposes, for His kingdom.

Richard

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Lexington, Ky