Tag Archives: Christianity

Not Alone in Your Struggle

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” – Psalm 55:22

From time to time, and for some all the time, the struggles of life come at us at once, and it’s easy to internalize all that’s happening, put on a brave face, and move through life the best we can, alone.

We must remember that God is faithful during (and especially!) our times of our most adversity, our greatest sufferings. He is no stranger to the human condition – Jesus came to earth both as fully God and fully human. He wasn’t always the picture of joy or the life of the party, either.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” – Isaiah 53:3

He did this to give us hope by taking our pain on Himself and still conquering death and evil and sorrow.

“Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows.” – Isaiah 53:4a

God promises to take care of us as a mother bird does for her fledglings –

“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” – Psalm 91:4

Even in the darkest times of our lives, the love and presence of Jesus Christ sustain us; we are not alone.

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Rebels {Both Historical & Present}

In Numbers 14:1-4, we see that truly “misery loves company.”

– The People Rebel –

Numbers 14:1-4

“Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

(4) And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.””

Rather than encouraging one another and giving one another reminders of God’s faithfulness and their hope in Him to guide their future, the Israelites griped together.

Complaining often leads to disobedience and entertaining prideful thoughts that man’s wisdom is better than God’s. – In verse 4, the people came up with what they thought was a superior Plan 2.0, instead of showing trust and obedience to God’s original Plan 1.0 that He had given them through Moses.

As we move into Numbers 14:13-19, Moses is speaking to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel, after Joshua and Caleb had returned from the Promised Land spy mission and told the people to trust in God’s promise that they would overtake the land if they acted in obedience.

13 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people. For you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.'”

We see in both verse 19 and 20 that God listens when we sincerely admit our faults and ask Him to pardon our sins. There are, however, still consequences for complaining against God and showing a lack of gratitude for His provision, as we see in the following verses, and time and time again throughout the Israelites’ journey.

In more modern times, we aren’t unlike the people of Israel once were. Too often, we pride ourselves on being rebels with our own will, sticking to our own plans, rather than the ones God has directed for us.

Hebrews 3:7-19

” 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

on the day of testing in the wilderness,

where your fathers put me to the test

and saw my works for forty years.

10 

Therefore I was provoked with that generation,

and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;

they have not known my ways.’

11 

As I swore in my wrath,

‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”

Let us not be the generation that does not enter the Lord’s rest. Let us not harden our hearts to truth, or be ashamed to stand for morality and righteousness. Let us not provoke the Lord’s anger through rebellion against His commands. Let our hearts not go astray, or ignore the knowledge of the ways of the Lord. In 1 Samuel 12:23a, God clearly states that:

“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as worshiping idols.”

Rebellion brings us closer to the demonic rather than the Divine. Hearing truth doesn’t lead to positive results when couple with a rebellious heart. A rebellious heart and unbelief go hand-in-hand, and restrict the person who embodies them from entering eternity with Christ. We must gently, but firmly, impress upon us there the urgency for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Don’t be shocked!

Are you shocked by the love that is offered by Jesus and His disciples? His grace transcends the barriers between those who are visibly sinful and His perfection. He longs for fellowship with those who know they are unworthy. 
Luke 15:1-2 “Now the tax collectors and dinners were all drawing near to hear Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Perhaps if you find yourself shocked by His love for the unlovely, you must repent of a Pharisaical attitude. Jesus loves a truly repentant former Pharisee too. 

Excuses, Excuses

As a teacher, I often am responsible for correcting students during recess time, in order to keep them as safe as possible. While some climbing on the playground equipment is good and healthy and is to be encouraged, climbing on parts of the playground that are not designed for that purpose, and/or participating in certain forms of wrestling horseplay is dangerous and needs correction. 

Several students have apparently decided that they need daily reminders not to engage in unsafe play. Invariably, these same students always immediately interrupt the correction with some sort of excuse as to why they were engaged in this behavior, why they believe the playground rules that are posted on the wall don’t apply to them, or quickly put blame on another student. I grow tired of the daily excuses offered by students who know better.

How often do we who are believers give God excuses for our bad behaviors despite knowing what He commands us to do and not to do, even knowing that His commands are for our own benefit? 

Even the blessings He has prepared for us are pushed aside when we offer excuses for not listening to the Lord. There are consequences – sometimes immediate, sometimes in the future – for our excuses. “But they all alike began to make excuses…For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste My banquet.” (Luke 14:18,24)

Rather than offering excuses for why we would rather live life our own way instead of God’s way, let us realize that the Lord has our best interest at heart, and put His priorities ahead of our own. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Obedience brings true blessing.

Arm Yourself!

Luke 11:21-22

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must take care to guard our heart with the full armor of God, that we may be prepared to fight against heresy and even the subtle ideologies that go against what Jesus had said in His Word. We must be well-acquainted with what the Bible actually says in order to take a stand against the lies that Satan throws our way.

Ephesians 6:10-17

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Even Jesus had to use correct Scriptural context in order to shut down Satan’s misquotes of Scripture.

Matthew 4:1-11

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All this I will give You,” he said, “if You will fall down and worship me.” “Away from me, Satan!” Jesus declared. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him.”

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23

Fully Awake

Full text – Luke 9:28-36

“28Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ 36And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”

As I read this passage today and heard it read during the morning sermon at church, one concept really stood out to me. Like the disciples, during Jesus’ prayer time, we often are exhausted, “heavy with sleep,” weigh down mentally, emotionally, and physically with all our cares. 

Of course, some physical rest is important for our well-being. Even God rested on the 7th day of Creation, in order to set an example for us. If we allow rest to take the priority in our lives, however, we will miss out on some of the most amazing things God has for us to witness. 

For these disciples, it was only when they were fully awake that they saw the glory of God and the amazing event that He wanted them to witness. Enjoy the rest God wants you to have in order to refresh your body, mind, and soul, but be diligent also – be fully awake, ready to see all that the Lord wishes to show you!

Power Over Fear

Luke 8:22-25 

“22 One day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So He got into a boat with them and set out.
23 As they sailed, He fell asleep, and a squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters, and they subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” He asked.
Frightened and amazed, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him!” ”

We may not all be fisherman or sailors, but all of us have or will experience some type of “storm” in our life. The Lord never promised to make our life easy just because we are His followers. In fact, He promised to be with us during the storms of life, which means He promises that they will come.

While it’s tempting to either try to conquer what life brings our way in our own strength, and even more tempting at times to just give up and allow them to overtake us, Jesus asks us to consider, “Where is your faith?” Our Creator and Sustainer, Jesus is so powerful that when we take a step back and look at Who He is, we realize that He is truly Someone in Whom we can trust, since He is more mighty than anything in all of Creation. We see that He can conquer anything thrown at us. 

This kind of power should comfort us. Those of us Who have Him as Savior and Lord can take our fears and give them over to Him, with our faith placed in His power. He overcomes.