Jun 27, 2012
Outstanding movie. Not anyone can be a mom, it takes someone special!
Jun 27, 2012
Outstanding movie. Not anyone can be a mom, it takes someone special!
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
As I had dinner with a friend, she expressed how fed up she was with a particular family member. But she was reluctant to say anything to him about his annoying habit of ignoring or mocking her. When she did try to confront him about the problem, he responded with sarcastic remarks. She exploded in anger at him. Both parties wound up digging in their heels, and the family rift widened.
I can relate, because I handle anger the same way. I also have a hard time confronting people. If a friend or family member says something mean, I usually suppress how I feel until that person or someone else comes along and says or does something else mean. After a while, I explode.
Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26 said, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Providing a time limit on unresolved issues keeps anger in check. Instead of stewing over a wrong, which is a breeding ground for bitterness, we can ask God for help to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Got a problem with someone? Rather than hold it in, hold it up to God first. He can fight the fire of anger with the power of His forgiveness and love.
Heavenly Father, please guard us from uncontrolled anger. May the words that we speak bring honor to You.
For help in managing anger, go to discoveryseries.org/cb942.
Put out the fire of anger before it blazes out of control.
One reason it is sometimes hard to admit we are angry when someone offends us is that we fear what others might think of us. But acknowledging anger and providing a time limit on resolving issues is essential in keeping harmonious relationships intact. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to the one who has offended us is vital, even if it means stepping outside our comfort zone. This scriptural approach to conflict resolution helps to clear the air and restore relationships. Explaining to the offending party what was hurtful and listening to the other person’s perspective lays the groundwork for healthy relationships. When we keep love in the picture, our goal becomes restoration.
When Jonah ran away from the Lord, he probably thought he’d escaped an undesirable assignment. But rebellion never makes life better—or easier. Before long, he found himself in an even less pleasant situation: taking a wild ride inside a fish. Two things stand out in this story.
1. Jonah’s determination to get away. The reluctant prophet was sent in one direction but boarded a ship going the opposite way. Perhaps you’ve had the same problem Jonah had: God’s plans don’t match yours. We can coast along, enjoying fellowship with the Lord until the day He asks us to do something we don’t like. That’s the point at which our devotion to Him is tested. If you resist, He will allow a storm to rage in your soul until you submit to His authority.
2. God’s persistence in going after Him. As a prophet, Jonah was to speak for the Lord. That’s a commitment God takes seriously. When you read through today’s passage, you’ll notice certain actions the Lord took to help Jonah fulfill his obligation—though they’re not the kind we want to experience. He “hurled a great wind on the sea” (v. 4) and “appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah” (v. 17). When we resist God, He will put pressure on us so He can get our attention and bring us back to Himself. That’s how important we are in His eyes.
Rebellion carries a high price tag. We lose not only peace and joy but also future opportunities to serve God. Consequences can even reach into eternity. You wouldn’t want to stand before Christ, knowing that disobedience led to loss of eternal rewards. Begin now to obey quickly and fully.
“He was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14)
Many detractors of our Lord have pointed with glee to what on the surface seems like a fit of petty anger on Christ’s part, spawned by His selfish appetite. In reality, it was probably unrealistic to expect figs at that time of year, a fact that He must have known quite well.
Perhaps the key to the whole passage is in the fact that “his disciples heard it.” When we look at the surrounding passages, we see that Christ was using the barren fig tree to teach His disciples something they desperately needed to know. This might be called a living parable.
Our Lord had just come from His triumphal entry into the city, having been proclaimed as King by the multitude (vv. 7-11), knowing their shallow adoration would soon turn into cries for His death. Leaving the fig tree, he drove the money changers from the temple grounds, having recognized that they were not only exploiting all the Jews who entered but had taken over the court of the Gentiles, using it as a shortcut through town (v. 16) and a place of business (v. 15), thus denying the possibility of true worship to all, both Jews and Gentiles.
The fig tree was an object lesson on barrenness, typifying the Jewish nation’s condition in spite of their privileged heritage. This type of hypocritical fruitlessness receives condemnation (vv. 20-21), exhibits a lack of faith (vv. 22-23), and hinders our prayers (vv. 24-26).
Our desire must be to bear much fruit in our worship, in our faith, in our prayers, and in our lives. JDM
1 Chronicles 13:1-4
The son of Jesse loved the Lord too well to be forgetful of his honour, his earliest thoughts when he was confirmed upon his throne were concerning the glory of his God. How different this from the conduct of those whose wealth and honours render them forgetful of him to whom they owe so much!
1 Chronicles 13:7
Here they fell into a grievous error for they neglected the precept of the law which commanded the priests to bear the ark with staves upon their shoulders. God will be served in his own way and not in ours; the slightest neglect of this rule may lead to serious consequences. The two young men that drove the cart had probably grown so familiar with the ark, that they felt little reverence for it, and a solemn lesson was needed to teach all Israel that the Lord is greatly to be feared.
1 Chronicles 13:10
We have in our day too many among us who commit the sin of Uzza, for they dream that Christianity will suffer greatly unless they bring it into conformity with the ruling taste of society. They alter its doctrines, adorn its worship artistically, overlay its simplicities with philosophy, and its plain speech with oratory, and all with the zealous but presumptuous intent to help Him who needs not such helpers, and to preserve that religion which they only insult by their unbelieving anxiety. We must beware of even imagining that our hand is needed to steady God’s ark, the thought is blasphemy.
1 Chronicles 13:11-13
Thus religious joy was interrupted because it had not been sufficiently seasoned with holy awe. This was good for David and all Israel, it suspended their rejoicing, but it purged their hearts from levity and presumption. It also taught them to be obedient to the Lord’s word, as well as zealous in his praise. Such lessons we all need to be taught.
1 Chronicles 13:14
May we as a family always cheerfully open our doors to entertain the Lord’s servants and worship, for full many a household has been blessed in so doing.
Just and true are all Thy ways,
Great Thy works above our praise;
Humbled in the dust, we own,
Thou art holy, Thou alone.
In Thy sight the angel band,
Justly charged with folly stand,
Holiest deeds of creatures lie
Meritless before Thine eye.
Have you ever been so exhausted from the never-ending problems of life that the thought of dying and going to Heaven sounded like a wonderful dream? Maybe you imagined what it would be like to close your eyes, fall asleep, and wake up in the Presence of the Lord, never to awake again in this world. Have you ever had a moment when such thoughts seemed so wonderful that you wished the Lord would immediately call you home to Heaven?
Judging from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we can see that his heart was being heavily tugged toward Heaven while he was a prisoner in Rome. Paul was tired. He had already done more than anyone else could claim to have accomplished. He had suffered endlessly for his ministry. It would have been very easy for Paul to say, “Lord, I’m tired. I’ve done enough. I’m ready to go to Heaven. Please take me home!”
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he made it very clear that the temptation to leave life and to join the Lord was before him. His choice of words in Philippians 1:23-25 make it very evident that a choice was before him: to continue in the flesh so he could completely fulfill his ministry to the saints, or to depart this life and to be with the Lord. After thinking through these options, Paul made the choice to abide in the flesh and to continue his ministry a little longer.
Paul tells us about the inward struggle he felt as he decided whether to keep living or to die and join the Lord in Philippians 1:23. He writes, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.”
When Paul writes that he is in a “strait betwixt two,” he uses the Greek word sunecho, which expresses the idea of a pressure being applied to a person from two different directions. This is a force that pulls a person first one way and then another, as if his arms are being pulled in two different directions by opponents in a fierce tug-of-war contest. However, the Greek word indicates that the person in the middle is the one who has the deciding vote as to who will win this tug-of-war.
Paul felt two different forces pulling at his heart. On the one side, he was pulled “… to depart, and to be with Christ….” On the other side, he was pulled “… to abide in the flesh…” a little longer in order to help other people and to totally fulfill the part of his calling that remained undone.
The strength of the pull toward Heaven is evident in Paul’s words in verse 23, where he writes that he has a “desire to depart.” The word “desire” is the Greek word epithumia, which is a compound of the words epi and thumos. The word epi means for or over, and thumos is the Greek word for a strong passion or urge. It usually denotes a swelling or growing emotion. But when the word thumos is compounded together with the word epi, forming the word epithumia, it depicts a person who is excited about something. This person is passionate about this idea; he is consumed with this thought! Because Paul uses this word, it emphatically lets us know that the prospect of departing from this world and going to Heaven to be with the Lord was a thrilling and exciting thought to Paul!
When Paul thought of death, he didn’t even think of dying as we think of it. Instead of thinking of the cessation of life, he looked upon death as nothing more than a departure that signaled the beginning of the next part of his journey in eternity. The word “depart” is the Greek word analusai, a Greek word which pictures a ship that is being loosed from its moorings so it can finally be free to sail.
No wonder Paul was excited! When he thought of death, to him it meant being set free from the human limitations and physical restrictions that had been imposed on him in this earthly life. The prospect of being set free was a glorious thought to Paul. Once liberated from this realm, he knew he would really be able to set sail in the Spirit and soar to spiritual heights he had never before attained. To Paul, death was not the end. It was an exciting beginning, the next leg of his journey—a phase of his walk with God that he was excited and enthusiastic to experience!
But wait—there’s more to this word analusai (“to depart”) that is very important to this text. The word analusai was also a military word, used when a decision was made that it was time for an army to break camp, pack up their tents, pick up their gear, gather up all their other belongings, and move onward to conquer new territory. This gives us another view of the way Paul viewed the prospect of death.
As a soldier who had fought many battles on earth, Paul was ready to break camp and to move upward into new spiritual territory. He had fought long and hard, and the expectation of moving onward to heavenly territory was a thought that captured his heart, his mind, and his imagination. Paul’s “desire to depart” and to be with Christ was so strong that he felt as if he were in a “strait betwixt two.” He was pulled on one side to depart from this earthly realm and to be with Christ. But he was also pulled from the other side to abide in the flesh a little longer.
You see, Paul knew that part of his ministry remained unfinished. If he left at this time, the entirety of his vision would not be fulfilled. So although he was “pulled” to set sail, to break camp, and to move onward to be with the Lord, he could not allow himself to do that yet, because he knew there was still work for him to do for the Kingdom. That is why he wrote in verse 24, “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Although Paul would have loved to enter the heavenly realm, it wasn’t yet time, for he had more to accomplish before he finished his race. Therefore, he wrote that he had made a decision to continue a little longer in the flesh. Although it seems Paul actually could have chosen to let his life slip away, he chose instead to press onward to fulfill his call and to take others higher with him.
In Philippians 3:14, he wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The words “press toward” are from the Greek word epekteinomai, a word that pictures a foot racer. It is the image of a racer who is pressing forward so hard and is so stretched out that his entire body is arching forward as his arms reach ahead to grasp the goal before him.
The word “mark” is the Greek word skopos, which describes the finish line for a runner. Like a runner, Paul was straining toward the finish line. At that time in his life, he was on his last run around the track before the race concluded. Rather than slowing down, taking it easy, or resting, he had chosen to put forth all his efforts and push harder than ever before so he could finish first, knowing that he had given his very best to the very end of his life.
Paul then wrote that he was pressing toward the “prize.” The word “prize” is the Greek word brabeion, describing the rewards given to those who won their competitions in the public games. This means Paul had his reward on his mind. When it was finally time for him to depart to be with Christ, there would be a reward waiting for him. With this in mind, Paul chose to shove all obstacles and hindrances out of the way and to strain forward as he ran around the track for the final period of time in his life!
How does all of this apply to you today? When you are exhausted from the never-ending problems of life and the thought of dying or going to Heaven sounds like a welcome relief, stop to ask yourself:
If your answers to these questions reveal that your job is undone and that others are still depending on you, then it’s not time for you to go! One day you can set sail and soar out into eternity. There is a day coming in your life when you will break camp from this earthly realm and move onward to heavenly territory. But that day isn’t now. Instead, you need to grab hold of the power of God and run fiercely to finish the race that is still left undone and that is before you. Don’t stop running your race until you know you have done EVERYTHING Jesus has asked you to do.
So pull yourself together. Muster your strength. Draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Get ready, get set, and start running your race—and keep running until you can say without any doubt that you have finished your course! Until you can say that with confidence, you need to quit thinking about Heaven and start thinking about how to run your race to the end!
Lord, I want to run my race victoriously all the way to the finish line! I don’t want to quit, give up, or die until I can say I’ve finished everything You have ever assigned for me to do. Forgive me for allowing thoughts of death to dominate me. I have too much living left to do to dwell on these kinds of self defeating thoughts. Please help me shove aside my exhaustion, grab hold of Your power, and press forward to do what You have called me to do with my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have a lot of living left to do before I die and go to Heaven! God has given me a huge assignment for my life, and I’m only getting started in fulfilling what He has asked me to do. Death is not an option right now. Life is my only choice. I am needed and wanted, and God is not calling me home yet. Therefore, I will live a long and prosperous life—and I will run my race with all my might so I can finish my race with joy and victory!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
When Paul thought of death, he didn’t even think of dying as we think of it. Instead of thinking of the cessation of life, he looked upon death as nothing more than a departure that signaled the beginning of the next part of his journey in eternity
A week ago I received an e-mail from Mary, whose husband is languishing under the agony of advancing cancer. “Don‘s pain is excruciating. I don‘t know which way to turn. The burden is too much. Please pray.”
To add to their stress, Mary serves as Don’s “nurse,” all the while doubling as mom and dad to their four kids, who range in age from 10 months to 15 years.
Yesterday when I visited them, Mary greeted me with red and tear-filled eyes. Ten minutes after notifying Don of my arrival, he haltingly entered the room. Shoes untied. Gaunt.
Unshaved. His cancerous right arm seemed awkwardly “pinned” to his side. Faintly, he managed a smile.
While Mary served tea, Don offered, “Dwight, I find myself deeply disappointed. Nothing makes sense any more. So much of what I taught from the Scriptures about God doesn‘t equate with what I am experiencing. I am struggling with depression. I am learning something about losing everything for Christ. (Philippians 3:8) All I have left to hold on to are God‘s promises.”
“Don,” I asked, “Do you think that the source of our agony lies in our assumption that if we keep our end of the bargain, (obedience, etc.), God is obligated to keep His by guaranteeing us health, fruitfulness, a fulfilling job, etc.? When life doesn‘t play out that way, we become disillusioned?
“Yeah… Dwight. I think that is our problem.”
We then read over 1 Peter 4:12, 13a: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you… ” And we both admitted that we are surprised at suffering when it comes! It is “strange”. We feel it is unfair! And we feel we deserve better!
The passage goes on: “But rejoice that you [are now participating] in the sufferings of Christ.” Now that seems a bit heavy. When we committed our lives to following Him, we did not anticipate that level of pain… or identification with Christ. And to “rejoice” in it? It is humanly impossible without Divine help.
My friend, I don’t know what trial you may be facing today. Perhaps like Don, you are discovering that there are no pat answers to life’s vexing questions. But one thing we do know with certainty is that in eternity, our good and just God promises to “wipe every tear from
[our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain… ” (Revelation 21:4a) That is our eternal hope.
QUESTION: Today, amidst your “painful trial” are you choosing to trust Him — with or without the answers? If your decision is “yes,” then you are experiencing hope, rather than paralyzing despair.