The Weight of the World

The LORD is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

 

When it comes to lifting weights, there is a tremendous gap between professionals and beginners. Professionals have trained and know how to lift heavy weights without injuring themselves, while beginners are prone to injury.

When David faced unceasing persecution from King Saul, the weight of his circumstances and responsibilities crushed his soul. Fear and depression began to dictate his reality and choices. He fled to the land of the Philistines for safety and lived deceitfully under the rule of King Achish.

When it comes to difficulty, we will always be beginners. Certain situations use up all the strength we have: emotional, physical, and even spiritual strength. When we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, we can carry it on our own or we can look to God. Our burdens are light to Him. As we meditate on His promises amidst the storms of life, and listen for His guidance, He will remind us that this situation is not the end of our story. He is the God of possibilities and hope. We have a future.

Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up. Charles H. Spurgeon

The Authority of Our Message

1 Kings 17:1

After encountering the prophet Elijah, King Ahab may well have thought, Of all the nerve! Just who does this guy think he is? Bursting onto the scene as if out of nowhere, Elijah confronted Israel’s wicked king with a message that would soon disrupt life throughout the region.

The validity of the prophecy rested with the Source, not the mouthpiece. Elijah was a man of great faith who spent time alone with the Lord and listened to Him carefully. The prophet could pass the message on with boldness and authority because he knew and trusted the One from whom it came.

We can’t expect our Father to communicate with us in exactly the same way that He spoke to the Old Testament prophets, but the process of receiving His message hasn’t changed. It starts with being alone in His presence and listening as He speaks through His Word. But it shouldn’t end there.

Prophets had the responsibility of telling the people what the Lord revealed to them. Similarly, we’re to share with others what we learn from God’s Word. Devotional time with the Lord is not just about our own interests and needs. The Father reveals His truths to us so we can share them with others.

Begin each day alone with God in His Word and in prayer, listening as He speaks to your heart. Believe what He says in Scripture, apply it to your life, and then share with someone else what He has revealed. Be bold and remember that the authority of your message comes from Him.

Jostling Chariots and Judgment

“The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings.” (Nahum 2:4)

This strange prophecy, found in the midst of the small book of Nahum, could almost be seen as a description of 21st-century freeway traffic! In context, however, the entire book of Nahum deals with the coming destruction of Assyria and, especially, its great capital, Nineveh. One of the most viciously aggressive and cruel empires in all history, bitterly opposed to God and His rule as Creator in the affairs of men, the Assyrians had been allowed by God to punish the 10 northern tribes of Israel, carrying them into captivity. But their own time of judgment was coming!

Under the preaching of Jonah, Nineveh had experienced a great revival, sparing the city its judgment for over a century. However, it soon became incurably apostate, worse than before, and its most vicious crimes were committed in this later period. Finally, God called Nahum the prophet to announce its coming doom. It was still another century before Nahum’s prophecies were fulfilled, but they were eventually accomplished at the hands of the Chaldeans and the Medes.

There is a possibility that, as is true with many other Old Testament passages, some of Nahum’s prophecies have a near and far fulfillment; the first in the ruin of Nineveh, the second in the great judgments of the last days. Some of the predictions (e.g., Nahum 1:5, 8) seem more appropriate for the end-times, unless they are simply poetic exaggeration, as many think. In any case, whether the jostling chariots fought only in ancient Nineveh or also prefigure lethal attack vehicles of the last days, the burning message of Nahum is that apostasy, violence, and cruelty eventually bring terrible judgment and utter destruction. HMM

“Only the Lord establish His word.”

1 Samuel 1:19-28

The sacrifice was ended, but the devout family did not think of leaving the sacred courts until once more they had bowed before the Lord. They were not tired of worship, but having begun well they would finish well. One heart there was in that family which adored with an unusual joy. Hannah had come up to the tabernacle “a woman of a sorrowful spirit,” but not so did she return home. How sweet to leave our burdens behind us after we have joined in worship with the people of God. May our family devotions at this time have the like soothing effect upon any troubled one among us.

1 Samuel 1:19, 20

How doubly precious a blessing is when it comes in answer to prayer. Have we nothing to ask for? Have we not also choice favours which have this increased sweetness in them that we “asked them of the Lord”?

1 Samuel 1:21

Parents must not neglect the service of God because of their children, and when mothers are lawfully detained at home, the rest of the household must not make idle excuses for staying away too.

1 Samuel 1:23

What a choice saying, “Only the Lord establish his word.” We ought to think everything less important than this. If God will but deal with us according to promise, other things are of little consequence.

1 Samuel 1:24

It was natural that the mother should be sorry to part with her dear boy; yet grace triumphed over nature, and she went up to resign her child to the Lord with a glad heart, which expressed its gratitude in an offering of thanksgiving. What God had lent her she returned to him without reluctance. O that all our dear children may be the Lord’s. It were better to part with them to be God’s servants, than to keep them with us, and see them graceless.

1 Samuel 1:28

She gave up this one child, and the Lord sent her five others ere long. The Lord takes care to be in no ones debt, he rewards plenteously those who cheerfully make sacrifices for his cause.

1 Samuel 1:28

Eli rejoiced in the good woman’s piety, and all gracious hearts are glad to see others ardent in love to God. Perhaps, however, the text means that Samuel also worshipped the Lord there, and how delightful it is to see young children truly pray. Is there no little Samuel in this house who will worship the Lord now? Let us all endeavour to do so with our whole hearts.

 

What shall I render to my God

For all his kindness shown?

My feet shall visit thine abode,

My songs address thy throne.

 

Among the saints that fill thine house,

My offerings shall be paid;

There shall my zeal perform the vows

My soul in anguish made.

 

Instant ‘in Season’ And ‘out of Season’!

2 Timothy 4:2

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy during a very difficult season in Timothy’s ministry. A few years earlier, the picture had been radically different. At that time, the church was growing and thriving. Timothy was the new young pastor whom the church loved! Those earlier years were fun and eventful, and everything was moving. What an exciting time it had been to be a Christian leader!

But by the time Second Timothy was written, the picture had changed drastically. Nero had become the emperor of the Roman Empire, and his insanity was already wreaking havoc in the lives of countless believers all over the empire. Because Ephesus was the major city of Asia Minor and the seat of the Proconsul of Rome, it had been designated as a place where Christians were to be purged and hence made an example to all believers in other parts of Asia Minor. The Roman government intended to scare them out of their Christian faith and right back into the old pagan temples.

As a result of these hard times, many believers died for their faith. Others defected from the church and returned to the old temples to save their lives. And as if all these hardships and disappointments were not mountainous enough to deal with, Timothy also had to deal with serious internal problems of rebellion among some of the members of his church leadership!

Timothy had written a letter to Paul explaining all his difficulties. Paul’s response to Timothy was the book of Second Timothy. In that book, he urged Timothy to remember that he was to “… be instant in season, out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2).

The word “instant” is the Greek word ephistimi, which is a compound of the words epi and istimi. The word epi means upon, and the word istimi means to stand. Compounded into one word, the new word means to stand upon, as to take a firm stand or a hard position. Indeed, it was a term borrowed from the military that meant to stay at one’s post.

Timothy’s post was the pulpit of his church. From that pulpit, he maintained his leadership, imparted vision, issued rebukes, taught and preached the Word, and brought correction. It was his post. No one else could stand in that position, because it was the position that had been assigned to him by God. Even though times were very tough and he may have been tempted to shun his responsibilities, Paul urged him, “Stay at your post!”

Notice that Paul told him that he was to be faithful to his post “in season, out of season.” In Greek, this looks like a play on words, but it is a very powerful statement to those of us who are doing our best to serve God. The words “in season” come from the Greek word eukairos. The words “out of season” come from the Greek word akairos. Do you notice how similar these words are to each other?

The word kairos is the Greek word that means seasons or times. This word can be easily altered by adding different prefixes to it. For instance, if you add the word eu to the front of it, it becomes the word eukairos. The word eu means good, happy, pleasing, or pleasurable. This means that when you connect the word eu to kairos, it transforms the word to eukairos, which means good times, happy times, pleasing times, or pleasurable times.

But you can also change the word kairos by adding the prefix a, which turns it into the word akairos. That little a may look insignificant, but it radically changes the meaning of this word. The word akairos means bad times. So when Paul told him, “Be instant in season and out of season,” he was really telling him to be faithful, whether he was having happy times or bad times!

 

An interpretive translation of Second Timothy 4:2 could be the following:

“Take a firm stand and resolve to stay at your post! Regardless of whether times are good or bad, that is your postyour place of responsibility—so dig in, take a firm stand, and resolve that you are going to be faithful!”

This was just the word Timothy needed to encourage him to stand tall, be brave, and remain faithful to his assignment. His struggles passed, and he became the respected leader of the Christians in the region of Asia Minor. In the years that he served as the senior pastor of Ephesus, Timothy had many different kinds of seasons—some good, some not so good. But regardless, he stayed at his post until the very end.

What kind of season are you going through right now? Is it a happy season? Or are you experiencing hard times? Those happy seasons are such wonderful times, and you should do everything you can to enjoy them. But what are you going to do in the hard times? Are you going to be as faithful and steadfast when you face difficult challenges as you were when things seemed a little easier?

Take Paul’s words to Timothy, and apply them to yourself. This is not a time for you to run in fear or to look for someone else to take your place. If God called you to that post, it’s time for you to dig in, take a firm stand, and resolve that you are going to be faithful whether times are good or bad.

I assure you that the bad times will eventually pass. Dark clouds never last. Eventually the sun always comes out, and the birds start singing again. Wouldn’t it be a pity if you gave up and sacrificed everything you’ve worked so hard to gain because of a few dark clouds?

Jesus is with you, my friend. He will give you all the strength you need to stand tall and to remain faithful. He will do His part, but only you can do your part. What is your part? Making the choice to stay faithful to your post!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I receive this word today as strength for my life! You have called me to do something great for You, and I’m not going to let the devil or my circumstances chase me away from where I know I need to be. It’s been very difficult, but this season will pass—and when it does, I’ll be stronger, wiser, and more equipped for the future. I thank You for helping me to dig in, take a firm stand, and maintain the post You have assigned to me!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am not moving from the place where Jesus called me! The devil and various circumstances have tried hard to move me, but I have made up my mind and have resolved in my heart that I am not flinching or moving from the place where Jesus called me to give my heart! This is my post; this is my ground; and I’m going to be around until I can say I’ve finished my part!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have the dark clouds been hovering over you for so long that it has made you wish you could give your assignment to someone else?
  2. Have you considered how tragic it would be if you quit just before the sun started shining again? Is it possible that you are at the end of this turbulent season and that the best season of your life is just around the corner?
  3. Can you think of times in your past when you thought it was all over for you, but then that difficult time passed and you came into a wonderful season of fruitfulness? Don’t you believe God is able to do that again for you?

 

The Crucible

The other morning I wept through breakfast with a businessman who has been whiplashed into financial oblivion in a “down economy” through circumstances beyond his control. Highly capable in his field of expertise, he has chosen to tough it out and pay off his creditors rather than declare bankruptcy and walk away from debt.

 

Another friend who recently lost his wife through a sudden, devastating attack of cancer, is now left to raise their two young boys.

 

And a third, who was falsely accused of sexual incest, has endured years of litigation, coupled with unimaginable financial and emotional stress; only to be vindicated by the eventual recantation of his accuser.

 

Today, each of these men exhibit an uncommon spiritual depth and intimacy with Christ, unknown to them prior to their “crucible” experience.

 

It was C. S. Lewis who observed that “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but shouts to us in our pain.” Someone has sagely noted that “God rarely uses a man greatly until He hurts him deeplyincluding His own Son.

 

Before his devastating losses, Job was indeed a righteous man (1:1-5), but it was only after the agony of his “dark night of the soul” that he made the greatest journey of his life: The 18 inches from his head to his heart:

 

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

 

So, where are you today? Cruising above the circumstances of life in blissful affluence and good health?

 

Or do you find yourself in the crucible of adversity through a state of affairs allowed or orchestrated by our loving Heavenly Father who cares infinitely more about the development of your character than in the comfort often afforded through easy circumstances?

 

Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6, 7)

 

QUESTION: If you are in the middle of a “crucible” experience, are you choosing to praise and thank Him for the wonder He is working in your soul?