Saturday, June 27, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Friday, June 19, 2015
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Here's what I recently heard someone say: "God knows what you can handle and He gave you that challenge because He trusts you to handle it."
I was surprised. I assumed she was basing her statement on 1 Corinthians 10:13, but I wondered if it was an accurate application. The verse says:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (NASB)
I've also heard many people say something like, "I wish God didn't think so highly of me because He's giving me more than I can handle."
Or, "I think God trusts me too much because I can't handle what is happening."
Personally, I think all these statements show an aberration of the truths of 1 Corinthians 10:13.
I can see how that verse might seem to give the impression affirming those statements. It does say, "...will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able." The thinking may be that this verse seems to indicate that God knows what you can handle and therefore, He doesn't allow something you can't handle. But I think the verse says more than that. And I don't think God ever "trusts" us about anything.
What do I base that on?
God provides the "escape." The ability to handle the temptation is not from someone's personal strength but God providing the "escape."
God is the one who is faithful, not the person. Again, the verse talks about God, not our own ability.
God knows our frame. Psalm 103:14 says: "For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." There is nothing good in us. We are but His creation.
Jesus knows people's hearts. John 2:24: "But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men." Jesus doesn't entrust Himself to anyone, therefore, I don't think He finds us reliable at all or trusts us.
Our only "handling ability" comes from complete dependence upon Him. Philippians 4:13 tells us: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." It doesn't say anything like, "I can handle it because Jesus trusts me with what He allows in my life."
It also doesn't say anything like, "I can do things in my own power and then when it gets too hard, I call upon Jesus's power."
No! Everything has to be done in His power because in ourselves we aren't trustworthy or have any power. Even Jesus said that He did everything in the Father's power. He relied upon His Father for:
His very identity: "I have come in My Father's Name" (John 5:43).
His works: "the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me" (John 10:25).
His fruit: "My Father, who has given them [believers] to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:29).
His words: "and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:24).
His commandments: "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10).
Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because when someone talks about God trusting us or says something like, "I wish God didn't think so highly of me," it seems to suggest that we don't need God's power. That we can do it on our own. That we are faithful and trustworthy.
I don't think that's true and I actually don't want it to be true because I'm desperately in need of God's power and I am not faithful and trustworthy.
But let me ask you: what do you think? Maybe I've misinterpreted those statements. I'd love to hear what you believe.
Friday, June 5, 2015
You most likely have never done this. You receive a prayer request as an email about a friend's very difficult situation. She is asking for prayer for deliverance from pain or the solution of a problem or restoration of a troubled relationship. And this is what you most likely didn't reply: "I hope that you will enjoy this challenge. I have complete confidence that you will benefit from it. So don't try to get a solution too quickly but take full advantage of the pain instead."
What???? I told you you most likely haven't done that!
Why wouldn't we reply like that?
- She might think I don't love her.
- She might feel discouraged.
- She might feel alone.
- She might feel like I don't have empathy for her pain.
The problem is that that unlikely reply is exactly what Jesus' brother, James, wrote in his letter to fellow Christians (James 1:2-4). Hard to believe? I can see your point, but it's true. Here are God's words through James:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (NASB)
James did indeed use the word "joy." In effect, he was saying to be joyful about your trial, tribulation, and challenge. It's not until you think of replying to someone's emailed prayer request that the amazing perspective that James shares comes into focus.
faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (Italics added)Amazing. Again, pause to take in the full meaning: think positively about pain, difficulty, and problems and be joy-filled because the challenge is going on and on. Don't we usually ask for prayer for a quick solution? A fast answer? A complete healing? The end of pain?
But James is basically saying, "Get the full effect of this pain and challenge. It's only through suffering that there's a spiritual change in your hearts."
This is not good news--it seems! When I was in bed for nine months because of excruciating pain, and I sent out a prayer request, I didn't want anyone to write me back and say, "I'm not going to pray for your pain to be gone right now because maybe God hasn't used it enough. And by the way, while you're waiting for the answer, be really glad it's happening!"
I think I might have taken her off my prayer request list.
But this is exactly what James is saying. And it is sobering and shocking.
I can't say I have the courage to give such a message to any friend's next prayer request. I think it could be misunderstood and for someone who is not convinced of God's good intentions for them through pain, difficulty and problems, it might just be plain discouraging and even faith destroying.
But of course then we would wonder about what that "faith" is based upon. A demand for their own definition of "good" or a trust in God that believes God knows best?
I do want to take to heart James's important message for myself. Because I can see great benefits from having such a perspective. What can you see as those benefits?
And could you share if you've ever replied with thoughts like James' ideas to your own hurting friend? What wording do you think would convey the care and love you have for them even as you communicate God's perspective?
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
- Am I smiling too much?
- Does she/he like me?
- What is she planning?
- What is her/his intention?
- What's going on that he/she is not revealing to me?
- He/she doesn't really like me.
- Protect! Protect!
- Why is he/she acting like that?
- Am I safe to share my heart and my problems?
- What did he really mean by that?
- I'm in charge of my reputation.
- I will perform to appear loveable.
- I'm in charge of preventing danger.
- I'm afraid of secrets.
- I need to be self-absorbed to stay safe.
- I'm in control of making the opportunities I want available.