“And the Lord did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies” (Exodus 8:24 NKJV).
I was standing recently under the shade of a mango tree in an Asian country and noticed several flies swarming around. When I looked more closely I saw many large flies sitting on the leaves and fruit. Other insects were also flying about, but the flies were especially numerous. Almost without thinking I moved back several feet to get away from them. Continue reading “Little things”
Some people expect the preacher to stand in the pulpit and tell them what to do. There are times when this is relatively easy. The Bible leaves little doubt when it comes to such things as sexual immorality or pride.
Believe it or not, however, the preacher doesn’t always have the answers. There are times when one must choose, not between good and evil, but between good and better.
And when it comes to personal relationships, the best thing is not always a simple thing to determine.
Who was right?
Who was wrong?
Whose version of the story can I believe?
Usually there is a little bit of fault on both sides!
Shall I get a job in a city where the church is strong, or serve the church in a place where it is weak, and could use my help, says the church member?
Shall I marry this person or wait, asks the young person? Should I go to college, or try to make money immediately?
There are no simple answers to these sort of questions.
Life is usually more complicated than a bumper sticker slogan. You can’t always unravel life’s tangles in the time-space of the thirty-minute sitcom. So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?
* You can pray. This is always a good place to start.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV).
* You can continue to search God’s word for guidance.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5).
* You can trust God’s wisdom and goodness. “Casting all your anxieties on him,” Peter advises us, “because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
When you don’t know what to do, you trust the God who does.
How do we unburden ourselves by giving our problems to the Lord, so he can help us through them?
Problems are part of the human condition. “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1, NKJV). Jesus said, “Sufficient for the day is its own troubles” (Matthew 6:34).
We cannot escape problems while we are on this earth. All we can do is to eliminate as many of the self-inflicted wounds as possible and learn to better deal with issues as they arise. God will help us with these challenges. Continue reading “How do we give problems to the Lord?”
by Paula Harrington
Her big blue eyes looked up through thick bangs, and I felt my own tears at her words, “There’s no power at my house.” This first grader was one of my favorites. I held myself together as she continued, “But Mom said we might get it back on this week.”
We were in the middle of January. Snow was predicted for this very evening. I knew I had to spring into action and see what could be done for this family. I looked at the older sister who barely stood an inch taller and asked, “How long have you gone without power?”
“For two weeks,” she sighed. “But our lights and water work.”
Now I was confused. “They do?”
“So what exactly doesn’t work?”
With a look of forlornness and, in a woe-is-me tone, she explained, “All of it works but not our cable TV power. It broke. Mom says it might get fixed tomorrow.”
There are moments when we can look back and smile at what we thought was going on and the relief that came with the knowledge of the entire situation. Small misconceptions can be amusing but others can have spiritual consequences. These need to be explained immediately.
So let’s clear up a few things:
Christians don’t have perfect marriages or problem-free kids.
The church is made up of recovering sinners who fall off the wagon. Daily.
Salvation is found in no other name but Jesus (Acts 4:12).
God cares what happens to us (I Peter 5:7), but he won’t step in and fix all of our problems (I Peter 4:12-13).
Our Father desires all people to come to him (I Timothy 2:4). It’s our job to make that happen (Mark 16:15-16).
Let there be no misunderstanding about the important things in life. God lives. He loves. He reigns!
by Tim Hall What keeps us going when the going gets tough? Many analogies have been used to describe our lives on earth: voyages across often-stormy seas, climbing to the summit of tall mountains, fighting daily battles. We steer clear of comparisons like “a bed of roses” because we know one thing for sure: Life is sometimes quite difficult.
What keeps God’s people going when those blows are allowed to land? Here are a couple of passages that have helped many: Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” Peter was granted an awesome privilege – to walk on water, just like Jesus was doing. Peter’s walk was cut short, however. Why did he begin to sink? Matthew tells us: “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30)
If we concentrate on the blows of life, we may also begin to sink. Let us learn the truth presented in Hebrews 12:2. Let us never stop “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Here is a needed admonition for those who have been disappointed in God’s decisions. Some, after suffering hard blows, consider giving up.
Once again, Peter illustrates the concept. On one occasion Jesus’ teachings offended many of his followers. Some even turned away from following him. Jesus looked at those who remained and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67)
Peter spoke for faithful disciples of all times when he responded: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68,69).
We won’t always understand God’s will for us. Sometimes we won’t even like it. But to whom will we go? Only in Christ will we find everlasting life. And one thing more we believe: “We’ll understand it all by and by.”
by Tim Hall Who will intercede with God on my behalf? Joseph was looking at a key that could unlock his prison cell and set him free. Not a literal key, but a person who would be in a position to win Joseph’s freedom. But would this person remember Joseph?
Joseph was in Egypt because his jealous brothers had sold him as a slave. After making the best of his new circumstances, he was imprisoned because of false accusations by his master’s wife (see Genesis 39). How long Joseph had been in prison is uncertain, but it appears to have been a considerable time.
Standing now before Joseph were two men who had personally served Pharaoh. One would soon be restored to his place of influence, and Joseph had a simple request: “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house” (Genesis 40:14, NKJV).
Events turned out just as Joseph had predicted. The chief butler’s dream was a prophecy of his restoration. He was surely impressed with Joseph’s abilities and with his apparent integrity. “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23). Had the butler mentioned Joseph’s case to Pharaoh, the recipient of gross injustices would have enjoyed two more years of freedom.
Each of us inhabit a prison at times, in a figurative sense. Illness, financial distress, bereavement, infirmity — all of these rob us of some degree of the freedom we cherish. Is there anyone who might intercede on our behalf, someone in a position of influence?
Indeed there is! Paul wrote about him: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). Could there be a position of greater influence than at God’s right hand? The one who occupies that seat intercedes “for us”. Hebrews 7:25 further emphasizes the point by saying that “he always lives to make intercession” for God’s people.
But Jesus isn’t the only one who has influence in his intercessions. James speaks of the power Christians possess today: “… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). If we’ll use the power God gives us, we also can help win freedom for people confined by life’s trials.
This leads to the probing question: When someone asks me to pray for them, am I more like the chief butler or Christ?
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
Sunday morning, 12:30 a.m. The wife and I slumber soundly. Our two mutts, Wally and Mina, began barking wildly. Incessantly. Seems our neighbors are in their kitchen in a loud conversation. (Houses are close together here.)
After the third attempt to quieten them, the wife locks them up in the bathroom for the night. They settle down.
After the wife slips back into bed, a light touch on my forehead tells me another mosquito has discovered my coveted blood. (Windows are open to the outside air, year-round, for natural air-conditioning.) I hop up, flip on the light switch, and hunt for the menace to health and restfulness. No luck. Back to bed. Continue reading “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another”