VIDEO Razor’s Edge

Nov 16, 2012

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Be Not Provoked

[Love] is not provoked. 1 Corinthians 13:5b

You’ve heard the expressions that suggest things one should never do: don’t poke the bear; don’t kick over the hornets’ nest; don’t tug on Superman’s cape; let sleeping dogs lie, and so on. The point of these warnings is this: There is danger in purposely provoking a person or situation—especially if the person or situation is known to be volatile.

Our goal is to be people who are not provoked to anger. The apostle Paul wrote, “[Love] is not provoked.” Other translations say that love “is not easily angered” (NIV) and love “doesn’t fly off the handle” (The Message). We could also say that love doesn’t have a short fuse. Love is able to endure a lot of insult, provocation, and hurt without reacting in anger. Love responds instead of reacting. And sometimes a response is necessary as when Jesus cleared the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-13) or Paul confronted Peter about his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). But such anger is righteous, not sinful (Ephesians 4:26-27). True love is patient and forgiving and is not easily provoked.

If there are settings in which you might be provoked, ask God for grace to be prepared to demonstrate His love. Let your response be forgiving and graceful.

Temptation provokes me to look upward to God.  John Bunyan

The People God Uses

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Think of a time when you were asked to handle a particular task at church but felt you didn’t have enough education, experience, or ability to do it. We all tend to feel like this on occasion and may even offer God excuses why we couldn’t possibly be the one to take on the project. But the Lord doesn’t always use strong, influential, or accomplished people to do His work.

In fact, God often chooses to have His work done through those whom the world regards as foolish, weak, unimpressive, or ordinary. He has two main purposes for doing this. First of all, by accomplishing great things through unexceptional people, He proves that the world’s wisdom is foolishness. And second, God’s people don’t have any reason to boast: They have no power to save themselves and no ability to serve Him apart from His strength and wisdom.

God isn’t interested in impressive human talent and natural ability. He’s looking for humble people who are totally dependent upon Him and willing to make themselves available for whatever He calls them to do. Moses didn’t feel the Lord could use him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he wasn’t eloquent, but he became one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history. David was young and had no experience as a warrior, but the Spirit of God empowered him to kill a giant with one small stone.

If you’re a believer, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are or how qualified you feel. If you’ll simply depend on Christ, make yourself available, and obey Him, He’ll use you for His glory.

David’s Army

“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

As David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, a rather pitiful and unpromising company began following him, and they became the nucleus of what would soon be his army. Others joined them, and David trained them, “for at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22). Soon they were no longer discontented misfits but a remarkable array of “mighty men” (v. 21). One group, for example, was said to be “men of war fit for the battle, . . . whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains” (1 Chronicles 12:8).

In many remarkable ways David was a type of Christ, his life foreshadowing the experiences of the greater “son of David” who would come a thousand years later. In such a parallel, his army is a type of the earthly “host of God,” the great company of those who have chosen to follow Christ, each of whom has been called to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

The followers of Christ were once also in distress, for the “base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen” (1 Corinthians 1:28). He is now “the captain of their salvation” (Hebrews 2:10), urging that each one should strive to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). When He is finally ready to take the Kingdom, these will be with Him in His triumphant return and eternal reign (Revelation 19:14; 22:5). HMM

“Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion.”

Exodus 5:1-4, 6-23

Exodus 5:2

Though his proud spirit defied Jehovah, he had before long good reason to know who Jehovah was.

Exodus 5:3

This was by no means a large demand, and was doubtless meant to be a test question. He who would not yield the less would be sure to refuse the greater.

Exodus 5:4

let or hinder

Exodus 5:4

With what impudent scorn he defied the messengers of the Lord, haughtily treating them as slaves, who had better go back to their labour at once.

Exodus 5:6-9

As the bricks were made of mud mixed with straw, and the straw had hitherto been supplied to them in the brickfields, it was a heavy addition to their toils when they had to collect straw themselves.

Exodus 5:15, 16

These poor Israelitish officers thought that the Egyptian taskmasters were unwarrantably keeping back the straw, but indeed they were acting under the King’s own orders.

Exodus 5:17-21

Things are always worst when they are about to mend, but these downcast spirits could not see far before them.

Exodus 5:22, 23

Moses did well thus to refer the case to the Lord. Let us bring all our troubles to our heavenly Father.

 

Mighty Redeemer set me free

From my old state of sin,

O break these bonds of slavery,

This iron worn within.

 

From daily load and daily smart

Thy pleading captive free,

Then shall my liberated heart

Thy willing servant be.

 

Whose Faith Are You Following?

Hebrews 6:12

Let me ask you a question today: Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life right now? Is there one leader whom you respect and admire so exceptionally that you would want to emulate him and try to be like him in your own life? Is there one certain leader producing the type of fruit you long to see generated in your own personal life? If so, who is that leader?

You may wonder if it’s right to follow someone so closely that you actually start emulating them. But the Bible is replete with scriptures that instruct us to be followers of spiritual leaders. One such scripture is Hebrew 6:12: “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Notice that this scripture says we are to be “… followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The word “followers” is taken from the Greek word mimetes, from which we get the English word “imitate.” Other words that are derived from mimetes are “mimic” and “mime.” However, the best translation of this word is actually the word “actor.” (For more on the word mimetes, see March 6.)

Therefore, the command to “follow” isn’t referring to a casual type of following; rather, it implies an intentional study of the deeds, words, actions, and thoughts of another person in an attempt to fully understand that person and then to replicate his attributes in one’s own life. This type of following enables a person to think like his subject, walk like his subject, mimic his subject’s movements, make the vocal intonations of his subject, and act like his subject in a masterful way. However, this can only be achieved by those seriously committed to the act of replication. Such a commitment to act, mimic, or replicate a respected leader is the result of true discipleship.

 

Therefore, you could actually translate this phrase:

“… But skillfully and convincingly act like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

A good actor studies the character and life of another and then portrays that person on a stage or on film. The actor obtains every bit of information he possibly can about the person in order to better portray him in his acting role. Then the actor begins to practice acting just like that person—trying to talk like him, think like him, and even walk and dress like him. If the actor acts long enough and consistently enough, the character role he is playing can actually become a part of the actor’s own identity. That’s the power of acting!

The writer of Hebrews understood the power of imitation. That’s why he said in essence, “If you want to walk in faith, find someone who successfully walks in faith. Watch what he says, how he behaves, and how he lives—and then act like him! Do what he does; say what he says; and behave like he behaves. Be an imitator of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises!”

You may ask, “But isn’t it hypocritical to act like I feel great when I really feel bad?” Absolutely not! Acting and imitating is foundational to the Christian life. It is for this very reason you are instructed to “… put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh…” (Romans 13:14). When you wake up in the morning, you may not feel like smiling, talking, or saying anything nice to anyone. But because you want to please the Lord, what do you do? You choose to be nice, to smile, to speak kindly; in other words, you choose to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. You make the decision to act differently than you naturally feel.

Putting on Christ is a daily mindset—a daily, hour-by-hour determination. So wake up and declare that you have the mind of Christ! Find some godly people who live according to who they truly are in the Spirit—new creations with the nature, character, desires, and behavior of Jesus Christ. Study their lives, and follow their example. In other words, ACT like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I need an example that I can follow and imitate! Your Word commands me to imitate strong and successful spiritual leaders, so I am asking You to help me find that exact leader whom You want me to follow and imitate. Give me the grace to do what he does, say what he says, and act the way he acts, until finally I no longer have to act because I have become like the person I have been imitating. Holy Spirit, I want to be obedient to God’s Word. Since God tells me to mimic those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God, I’m asking You to please help me recognize the people whom I should look to as spiritual examples in my walk with God.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I do not have to find my way by myself! By locating godly examples, I can imitate these people’s lives and produce the same fruit they produce in their lives. So right now I choose to follow the examples of those who have preceded me—acting like them and replicating both their acts and their godly fruit in my life. God’s Word says this is what I am to do, so I will do it as I am commanded. The Holy Spirit will help me know exactly who should be the supreme examples in my life, and He will help me follow their example as I ought to do.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life right now? Have you ever taken the time to let that leader know that you appreciate him?
  2. What have you done to establish a relationship with that leader? Write down ideas regarding what you can do to strengthen your relationship with him.
  3. What in particular do you respect about this leader, and what fruit is demonstrated in his life that you want to see reproduced in your own life? Take the time to really think about this question, and write down your answers.

 

Silence

There will be silence before Thee… ” (Psalm 65:1a)

 

Silence: A rather unfamiliar experience in today’s world.

 

Not much practiced.

 

Not much allowed in our cacophony of shrill voices, trite opinions, endless information, and the blaring of brassy music and mind-numbing media dissipation.

 

To be alone before God in SILENCE is either

 

Frightening

 

or

 

Healing

 

Depending upon the condition of one’s soul.

 

There will be silence before Thee… ”

 

When, in that Day, we appear before The Consuming Presence, the righteous Lamb, slain, resurrected, and now reigning…

 

There will be SILENCE.” (Revelation 8:1)

 

For some the silence will turn to worship, adulation, fullness of joy and eternal bliss.

 

For the rest it will mean weeping and gnashing of teeth: Eternal separation from all that is good, righteous and pure. (See Matthew 8:12)

 

Amidst the clamor and cluttering noise of our day, it behooves us to learn to live in the presence of God in SILENCE.

 

For it is here and only here that He will be known.

 

Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)