Be Strong In Your Weakness

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When the apostles returned…Jesus…took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.  Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there).  (Luke 9:10–14, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “You give them something to eat.”  If there were about five thousand men there, the total crowd may have exceeded ten thousand, when you include women and children.  Jesus was giving the disciples a task that they had inadequate provisions (five loaves and two fish) to complete and no apparent solutions for (insufficient funds to buy the food).  But He took what they did have, blessed it, multiplied it, and made it work.

My Advice – Whenever you are facing a seemingly insurmountable task that God has placed on your heart, do not be discouraged.  Do not focus on the problem, focus on the One who gave you the “problem.”  Is He faithful?  Is He Able?  Is His grace sufficient?  God will not call you to it, if He will not see you through it.  You may feel inadequate to the task, but maybe that is the point.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  (1 Corinthians 1:26–29, NIV 1984).

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, NIV 1984).

Where Have You Settled?

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The LORD had said [past tense]to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  (Genesis 12:1, NIV 1984).

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. (Genesis 11:31, NIV 1984).

Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. (Genesis 12:4–5, NIV 1984).

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”  (Genesis 12:7, NIV 1984).

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  (Genesis 12:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – God instructed Abram to “go to the land I will show you.”  Presumably this was Canaan, for once they finally arrived there God told him “to your offspring I will give this land.”  But along the way, “when they came to Haran, they settled there.”  Sometime later, after Terah died, “they set out for the land of Canaan.”  Later still, “there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while.”  While in Egypt, fearing for his own safety and relying on his own wisdom rather than on God, Abram deceived Pharaoh into believing Sarai was his sister, which only led to further trouble with Pharaoh and expulsion from Egypt.

God said go (presumably to Canaan), but Abram settled in Haran.  There is no indication that this was God’s will.  Once in Canaan, they left for Egypt due to the famine.  There is indication that this was God’s plan or Abram’s.  What we do know is that Abram got into some difficulties he would not have encountered if he had never left Canaan.

My Advice – Sometimes, even though we intend to follow God’s direction, we find things more to our liking (Haran?) and decide that it is better than what God planned for us.  At other times, when in the midst of God’s plan for us (Canaan), the slightest sign of trouble we set to solve our own problems which only takes us outside (Egypt) of God’s plan.  This usually causes grief that we could have avoided is we inquired of and waited on the Lord.  Stick to the plan.

Focused Attention

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My Musings – He’s watching and listening. Nothing escapes or distracts His attention.  So when things appear to be going amiss, we need to ask ourselves why that might be.  Have we wandered where we do not belong?  Is there something He’s trying to teach us?  Has He got something better planned? It certainly is not because He has not been paying attention.  He is well aware of what’s going on.

My Advice – Maybe its time for us to keep our eyes “on” Him and our ears attentive to His “voice.”  Of course, it’s always time for that.

New Every Morning

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Nehemiah 9:17 – “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God did not discover grace, compassion, love and forgiveness in the New Testament.  It has always been there.  God did not compromise His justice, righteousness and wrath against sin in favor of these other qualities.  He reconciled  them at the intersection of the cross.  This was not a fall back plan after centuries of “failures” of the Law.  It was always the plan, even before He created man and woman.

My Advice – Available to all who believe and receive.  Do not pass it up.

Controlled Anger

Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Anger is not always bad. Losing control, allowing it to lead us into sin is bad.

My Advice – Make sure you control your anger, rather than letting it control you. Ask yourself if the issue is worth getting angry about. Sometimes it will be. But even then, there is a proper way to display it that allows you to show your displeasure without losing control. You are also more likely to make your point in this manner.

Lest We Forget

Psalms 103:2-5Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. He forgives…heals…redeems…crowns…satisfies…renews….  (NIV 1978)

My Musings – But we do forget. In the midst of pain or sorrow or stress or misfortune, we lose focus of the benefits and refocus on the problem. We forget how many times in the past He has delivered us. If we remembered it would be so much easier for us to endure.

My Advice – Recall to mind, on a regular basis, how much God has done for you. Be specific. This will make it so much easier to recall them when you go through similar difficulties. Then it be less likely that you will say “how am I going to get through this” and more likely to say “I remember when God helped me through something just like this.”

The Fullness of Time

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Psalms 27:14Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (NIV 1984)

My Musings –  Nowadays we’ve become much too accustomed to instant gratification, and waiting can be frustrating.  It used to be that we had to wait for the picture tube to warm up before we could watch our favorite show. If we missed it, we had to wait for the summer re-runs.  But it seems the faster things get, the more annoyed we become with even the slightest delay.   It’s been said of God that He is seldom early, but He is never late. He does not wear a Rolex or a Timex. God measures time by its “fullness” – the right or appointed time.

My Advice – Wait for the appointed time.  There is a reason it has been appointed.  Be patient and wait on God.