Tragedy (1 Kings 9-11)
The man who loved God (1 Kings 3:3), the man God chose to use to finally build Him a dwelling place, the one who had the privilege of fulfilling promises and had promises made to him by God who revealed Himself to him personally twice, the one God blessed by answering his prayers and going beyond just answering into exceeding blessing and peace and prosperity…
That one, did the very thing his dad had warned him not to do, the very thing God had spoken to him twice about directly in a very personal way. After the overflowing blessing of chapters 9-10, 1 Kings 11 is a tragedy of monumental proportions!
We can be tempted sometimes to think something along lines of; “if only I had…….. then I’d be content”. Solomon is probably the clearest example in all of Scripture exposes that thinking as false.
Solomon had God’s favour as a chosen man with destiny, God’s promises, God’s blessing financially, God’s blessing in his role as king with peace in the nation, God’s blessing with wisdom. More than this he wasn’t single wanting to be married but was married…
And yet he wasn’t satisfied! That’s because things don’t satisfy us, only God can truly satisfy us.
Solomon’s desire for more is most clearly expressed in his insatiable lust for women. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! His lust for women blinded his eyes and shut his ears to the words of his father and more expressly the words of God and the commands of God which urged him to follow God’s ways and God’s commandments.
God had specifically instructed him not to marry foreign women for a specific reason – God knew that they would cause him to compromise and would lead him astray to the worship false gods. And that is exactly what we discover happening in 1 Kings 11.
So God eventually swore He would tear the kingdom from Solomon, divide the kingdom into two parts. Was God not gracious in swearing to do this? Sometimes we read the Old Testament and make a wrong conclusion that somehow the God depicted in the Old Testament is different to the New Testament- but that is not true. After all, God didn’t make this pronouncement after the first foreign wife or the second or the third or the 300th or 600th….!
God is is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and yet God is also holy and pure and righteous and He can not leave sin unpunished…
And so the glorious reign of Solomon has a dark lining – it’s a sad end and at the end of his life Solomon himself declares;
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV84)
So sad, what a tumultuous fall from grace and favour! So what can we learn? How does this apply to our lives?
If the one guy in Scripture who literally ‘had it all’ wasn’t satisfied by earthly things, by relationships by sex, money and power – do you honestly think you’ll be?
Seek God, find your joy in God, He alone can truly satisfy as God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (Piper). So don’t be tempted and distracted by temporal things or even the good blessings given to you by God, love God more than anything find your joy in Him.
A warning (1 Kings 3-4)
Our enemy is patient. He is happy sometimes to bide his time, he lays down land-mines in our lives (if we let him) but then waits to detonate them at some point in the future when the impact will be greater than it is now.
Solomon becomes king as a young man, he loves God Scripture says, and is even a humble young king at this point (1 Kings 3:7). But sadly he is already making some wrong choices, disregarding the charge given to him by his father David (1 Kings 2:3) to walk in God’s ways and commandments.
Solomon unwisely, disregards God’s commandment to not marry foreign women. Through Moses God had warned about not doing this because these foreign wives would cause God’s people to compromise and end up worshipping their false gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). Solomon however marries Pharaoh’s daughter in a political move designed to give him political allies.
Solomon loves God (1 Kings 3:3) but again he is unwise not paying attention to God’s commandment in Deuteronomy 12:1-8 to not worship or make sacrifices anywhere they pleased but rather to only worship God in the place God had chosen (where the tabernacle was at any given time). Solomon does exactly what Deuteronomy 12:8 specifically instructs not to be done and makes sacrifices at the ‘high places’ of worship used for worship of other gods (1 Kings 3:3).
The remainder of chapters 3-4 record Solomon’s good request from God and the blessing that flows from this request for wisdom. God blessed Solomon in incredible ways with wisdom (we see this in his adjudication of the difficult scenario of the two women in 1 Kings 3:16-28), prolific writing and song writing and blessed the whole nation with peace and prosperity.
And yet the seeds of compromise had been sown! Solomon didn’t know it but his compromise was germinating beneath the surface and would later result in his effective downfall. Satan is patient, happy to sow sin-seeds and to leave them there for a later time for greater impact.
How many church leaders or prominent people have years later when they have profile been exposed for some thing that was private that they never dealt with which then later becomes public only to destroy them?
So what relevance does this have for your life and mine?
What might there be in your life that seems small to you at the moment but is in fact an area of compromise?
Is there anything in your life that you are tolerating or turning a blind eye to even though you know God’s will for you is contrary?
I urge you to never see sin-seeds as small things, but to see what they become and to deal with them as soon as the Holy Spirit points them out to you. Remember that Satan is patient, happy to wait for the moment when detonating that land-mine, causing that seed to germinate will have greater impact on you and on others.
Life that flows when Jesus is Lord (Colossians 3:17-4:1)
The little section (3:18-4:1) that follows Colossians 3:17 expands on what it looks like in a number of life-spheres, to have Jesus as our Lord. What it looks like to ‘do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus’, to live a life that is ‘fitting in the Lord’ (vs18) and a life that pleases God (vs20).
Now some of a section like this might ruffle your modern-day feathers and ways of thinking but before you baulk at anything in this section it’s worth noting something…
This section of Scripture is not an appeal to some societal norms at a point in history. Why do I say this? Simply because in just nine verses the imperatives are rooted in the foundation of Jesus being Lord (or some similar phrase) seven times!
This is not some out-dated teaching, but is rather instruction regarding the type of life that is worthy of someone who has been saved by Jesus Christ and who has professed Him as their Lord.
- ….wives.,submit to your husbands and husbands are to love their wives with gentle affirming love – as this is fitting in the Lord (vs18-19)
- Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (vs20)
- Bondservants (employees), obey…fearing the Lord (vs22)
- Whatever you do, work heavily, as for the Lord… (vs23) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance (vs24)
- You are serving the Lord Christ (vs24)
- Masters treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (4:1)
Jesus as our ‘Lord’ can also be understood as Jesus being our ‘King’. In a king’s kingdom, it’s the king that determines the way that life will be lived out, what will be prioritised and what will be outlawed. When we accept Jesus as our Lord, Jesus becomes our King and our whole lives need to then be lived out according to His plans and purposes, His ways.
Jesus’ kingship over us impacts marriage, family, the workplace, all aspects of our days and lives regardless of what we do for a living. We are not to resemble the world and its ways, we are to be a different people, walking to a different drum beat to that of the world around us.
So read and re-read this passage as a wife or a husband, as a child or parent, as an employer or and employee and whatever you do, whatever is your life situation – do everything remembering that ultimately; “You are serving the Lord Christ” (vs24) as you obey these instructions.
So read and re-read and ask Your LORD and Saviour to speak to you personally about anything you need to be challenged on or anything that needs changing.
Warning: Don’t get taken in… (Colossians 2:8-12)
As believers we need to be on our guard, careful not to be distracted or distorted by every wind of teaching that blows through town, or the internet or social media…
We as believers need to ensure we aren’t gullible, aren’t easily impressed, impacted or taken along with teachings or ideas that have their basis in the empty thinking of our age. Such philosophies can sound so persuasive (certain issues pertaining to gender, sexuality, freedom, life’s purpose…), so clever, but in the end they are devoid of God’s eternal truth as they don’t line up with Scripture and they aren’t centred around the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ and the Gospel!
We on the other hand are to look to, to focus on the man Jesus, the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form. Focusing on Jesus, trusting His ways for our lives regardless of whether such ways seem popular or are even despised by our popular culture has a resultant effect. Our lives become filled to the brim – no lack at all. Jesus + nothing is what you and I need. There is no lack in Him and there will be no lack in us as we look to Him and trust Him and His ways as revealed in Scripture for ALL of life.
So, is there anything? Any worldly thinking that’s actually at odds with the revealed will of God in Scripture, with which you might have been taken captive or allured by? Ask God to reveal anything like that, that’s in play in your life or your thinking… And if God shows you anything I urge you to repent of such empty thinking that has its foundation in the emptiness of the world’s thinking and choose now to place Scripture over all other philosophies and to fix your eyes on Jesus + nothing.
Mystery & Treasure (Colossians 2:1-5)
As people we are inquisitive by nature. You can see this clearly in children, the desire to know, to understand propels learning and growth. Many people love riddles, or stories with plots that unfold, mysteries that need resolving, that draw us in as they press on our desire to know more.
This passage describes Jesus as the mystery of God! The God of the Bible is so much bigger, more loving, more magnificent, holy, wrathful against sin, just, holy, righteous, powerful, gracious…. than we could ever imagine. What we know of God, just reveals how little we truly know of God. What we know of God simultaneously satisfies us and stirs up within us an insatiable desire, an inquisitiveness wanting to know more of our glorious God.
Here in Colossians 2:2-3 Jesus is described both as ‘God’s mystery’ and as the One in whom are hidden ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’. What an intoxicating combination. If we want to pursue the mystery of God, then we need to focus on Jesus, and Scripture here confirms that as we pursue relationship with Jesus, we will find that Jesus is the One in whom ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found.
Friend, Jesus is the answer to every problem, every need. Jesus is the only One who can truly satisfy our souls, Jesus contains the wisdom we need for life and for godliness, for parenting, for our career choices and our relationships… Jesus deserves not only all our worship but all our reflection, all our attention and as we focus our lives on Him, we discover more and more about God, who He is and what He is like, we discover treasures that will thrill our hearts and satisfy our souls and we discover wisdom and knowledge for life.
Oh may we make Jesus our vision and our pursuit.
Wellness & God’s Word (Nehemiah 8:1-8)
Wellness is a just modern term for an old idea. Wellness refers to the holistic mental, physical, relational & spiritual well-being of a person. I would argue that the term could also be applied to a group of people – the whole groups sense of stability and well-being in all these areas.
In terms of physical & relational wellness, the people of God in Nehemiah’s time had returned to the Promised Land and to Jerusalem, they had rebuilt the walls together side-by-side in a show of unity and as a result were secure and had rebuilt their esteem before the other nations, relationally injustices had been dealt with through repentance and restitution and yet something was still missing…
As we saw from the previous devotional, Nehemiah clearly had a life-giving relationship with God, but the people’s spirituality, their rhythms of worship had broken down and their lives did not reflect God’s covenant or God’s commandments. So although there was great improvement there was still a need for spiritual renewal amongst God’s people.
Nehemiah chapters 8-12 records the spiritual renewal of God’s people that all started with the reading of God’s word in Nehemiah 8:1-8 by the priest & scribe – Ezra.
And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. (Nehemiah 8:1)
We read that all the men, the women & the children who could understand gathered as a mighty assembly to listen to God’s Word being read out to them all by Ezra. We also read that there was great care taken by the Levites to help explain God’s Word and presumably apply it into the lives of the gathered congregation (vs7-8).
Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:7-8)
Wellness is not possible without spiritual renewal! Jesus urges us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 6:33) we need a life-giving relationship with Jesus restored in our life if we have any hope of wellness in all other areas.
What we learn from this passage is that wellness requires spiritual renewal and spiritual renewal is founded on God’s Word. Our attitude to and commitment to God’s word is probably the single greatest factor in our spiritual well-being. And so our own personal commitment to the authority of God’s word in our lives, our own reading and obeying God’s word and our listening to God’s word expounded and explained through preaching is crucial to spiritual vitality!
I love how the levites take pains to ensure that the people were helped (vs7) so that the people would understand and be able to obey and apply God’s Word to their lives (vs8). This is the main reason I blog and write these devotionals each day, this is why we have a Bible Reading Plan in our church and this is why when we preach we want to preach from the text, reading, explaining and applying God’s word, not trying to impress or entertain but trying to help people understand and then apply God’s word so that they will be spiritually renewed and inspired to obey God.
Do you desire wellness?
May I urge you to submit to God’s Word in your life, commit to reading, understanding and applying God’s word and then I promise you, you will grow spiritually.
My Jesus? (Mark 8:22-9:29)
Jesus is characterised by the unexpected. The Jesus of Scripture doesn’t fit into the box of neatly arranged human expectations. Some people walk around with “WWJD” rubber bracelets with the intention of suggesting we should live like Jesus, but what would Jesus really do in many situations?
For example: if you come across a deaf guy with a speech impediment like Jesus did in Mark 7:31-37. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well Jesus stuck His fingers in the mans ears, spat and then touched the mans tongue and he was healed!
Or again, if you come across a blind man like Jesus did in Mark 8:22-26. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well again, Jesus spat, this time on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and he was healed after praying initially and then praying again.
I would hazard a guess that these are not suggested methods in many; ‘How to heal manuals’. You can’t put Jesus in a box you’ve made for Him.
Seeing all that Jesus was doing, people began to have growing opinions regarding who Jesus was and what He had come to do. Was Jesus, John the Baptist raised from the dead or Elijah or one of the other prophets raised from the dead? Why was Jesus here, what had he come to do?
In that moment, Peter has a revelation and exclaims; “You are the Christ (Messiah)” (Mark 8:29). In that moment, God the Father reveals to Peter WHO Jesus really is (Matthew 15:17), the long-anticipated Messiah.
But still Jesus will not be boxed by our limited expectations regarding what Jesus had come to do. The Jewish people had been anticipating the Messiah for hundreds of years, they had hoped that the Messiah would deliver them from human oppression and the national disgrace they’d endured under foreign ruling powers. Peter and others expect that the Messiah will deliver them from Roman rule and oppression…
And so when Jesus starts to teach about how he is going to suffer and be rejected and be killed…Peter can’t handle it! You can imagine him crying out; “No, Jesus”, ”This is not how it is supposed to be”. He wants Jesus to fit into his box, but Jesus won’t.
Jesus rebukes Peter, calls him out as doing Satan’s work in resisting what Jesus is saying is his ultimate mission. “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)
We do this at times don’t we? We want Jesus to fit into the box we have made for Him? I sometimes encounter people who will use the phrase, “Well my Jesus wouldn’t do that/say that/expect that…”
But if He is YOUR JESUS then He is not the Jesus revealed in Scripture. Reading the Gospels it is apparent to me that the disciples were on a journey of discovery, learning more and more (often in unexpected ways) about WHO Jesus was and WHAT Jesus had come to do on planet earth.
May I, may we remain humble, open to the real Jesus revealed in Scripture.
May we always be in awe & wonder at WHO Jesus is & WHAT Jesus did for us.
And then may we worship Jesus with our whole lives.
Paradoxical (Mark 2:1-28)
I want to be more and more like Jesus. Don’t you?
One of the things about Jesus that has always amazed me is that as the Holy, spotless, sinless One in whom there was not even a fibre of sinful compromise, was a total sinner magnet!
Sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, outcasts were drawn to Jesus, they wanted proximity with Him. You’d have thought that they would have felt estranged by him, uncomfortable around Jesus because of His spotlessness. But they weren’t…
Now we know that Jesus didn’t lower His standards or dabble a little with compromise to fit in with them. He was sinless and spotless and yet somehow, paradoxically, messed up people who’s lives didn’t match up to God’s holy standard – were drawn to Him.
John’s gospel records vividly that Jesus came ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). I love that description of Jesus. Jesus didn’t come either with grace or truth. Jesus didn’t come sometimes with grace and sometimes with truth to varying degrees oscillating between them. No, Jesus came full of both grace and truth.
And yet I think, there is an order there that matters. I believe if we encounter people with truth first, then sometimes we will never get the grace as they will have run away already as they weren’t ready for what we showed them or told them. If people encounter gracious acceptance, humility and gentleness then they are way more likely to listen to the truth.
Is this how ‘sinners’ were drawn to Jesus? He was so gracious with everyone and yet never compromised on the truth about what needed to change in their lives?
May we as Christ Followers and as His church be like Jesus! May sinners find our churches safe places, places where they are included because of their infinite value as image bearers of the most High God, may they feel drawn into close proximity quickly, and yet may that be loved enough to have truth shared lovingly with them too.
May we as Christ Followers and as His church grasp this paradox that to be holy is not to be removed from sinful people, but to be more and more like Jesus, to have His heartbeat in us. May we grasp that God’s will for us is that we be in close proximity with lost people so that we can be used by God to share the good news about Jesus with them. May we grow more and more in our love for those whom Jesus came to call (vs17) to repentance, knowing always that they are like us and we are like them, but for the grace of God.
Prayer: Who are you praying for, who does not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour? Pray for them now to come to know and love Jesus and do anything the Holy Spirit leads you to do to reach out to them.
How to handle persistent sin (2 Thessalonians 3:6-18)
How should a community of believers (a church) treat someone in their community who is persistently disregarding the clear instructions on how to live a God honouring life?
These people Paul is referring to have been persistently disregarding the apostles teaching on what a right response to the gospel looks like in life. This person or group of people had already been urged to change through his first letter (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and are disregarding the life modelled by the apostles (vs7-8) & the apostles teaching (vs10).
So how should we handle such a person, where there is disregard for the clear will of God in terms of some serious misbehaviour? 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 gives us five practical guidelines on when, why and how discipline should be exercised:
(These 5 points are inspired by John Stott’s commentary on Thessalonians)
- The need for discipline arises when there is consistent deliberant disobedience to the plain teaching of Scripture. The issue is not ignorance regarding God’s will, but a disregard for God’s will and a disregard of the appeals of the community of faith.
- The nature of the discipline which was required by the apostle was a measure of social exclusion because softer approaches had been disregarded already by the person(s). Discipline should start soft and private, but becomes more more insistent and public in nature if people persist in their disobedience to God’s revealed will. Persistent unreported of disobedience should result in some degree of exclusion (‘not to be associated with’ see vs6 & 14), the congregation was to ‘take note of that person’ and together to not ‘mingle or associate with’ them (vs14). The phrase used can have differing degrees of exclusion, ranging from total separation (as in 2 Corinthians 5:9-13) to more moderate avoidance of free and familiar fellowship (as at Thessalonica) according to John Stott.
- The responsibility for administering discipline to a persistent offender belongs to the congregation as a whole. Paul does not address his instructions merely to the elders of the Thessalonian church. Leaders may need to take the initiative, but then a corporate response is needed by the whole church membership.
- The spirit in which discipline is to be administered must be friendly, not hostile. It is to be done ‘gently’ (see Galatians 6:1-2). In 2 Thessalonians we find the apostle saying; ‘Do not regard him as an enemy’ (15a) rather the spirit here is to, ‘warn him as a brother’ (15b).
- The purpose of this discipline is positive and constructive. Although being excluded will result in shame (vs14b), the intention however is not destructive but meant to cause the person(s) to come to their senses, see the seriousness of their sin and repent. John Stott says; “Paul’s intention is not that he be excluded from the community, but reinstated in it.” We remember that Jesus’ instructions on this matter was that our desire should be that we could win our brother/sister back, be reconciled (Matthew 18:15-17)!
The wisdom of humility
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom and whatever you get, get insight. (Proverbs 4:7)
Wisdom starts with a conviction that you need it. Foolishness is to think the opposite, to think your knowledge or perspective is enough. Wisdom therefore requires not just knowledge applied correctly but a heart orientated correctly, for wisdom requires humility.
The context of this particular proverb is vs1-6 of the same chapter where a son is being exhorted by his father to “hear…a father’s instruction”, to “be attentive…that you may gain insight”, to “not forsake my teaching”, to “hold fast my words” & “keep my commandments and live”…
Wisdom starts with a humility that opens the ears, opens the heart to others in this life, who are further down the journey of following and serving God or who might have a perspective you don’t have but need.
Wisdom starts by getting it, from others. “Get wisdom” is not a command you can heed without the help of others, it’s not like a command like “be self-controlled/patient” where we can work harder at obeying.
So the question surely is twofold;
- How is your heart? Are you humble, teachable, willing to learn from others?
- Who are you learning from?
By Gareth Bowley
These guidelines below are based on chapter 12 from the book; “How to Read the Bible for all its worth” by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart.
- The Proverbs are often short pithy memorable statements of truth that do not state/teach everything there is to know about an issue but point towards the fuller truth regarding that thing. An example in English is the saying; “Look before you leap”. That is easier to remember than “Before you commit yourself to a course of action you should always consider all the circumstances, consequences and options. The second statement says it much more completely, the first points to the general idea/truth/teaching.
- Proverbs are not specific legal guarantees from God of cause and effect so avoid extreme literalistic interpretations but look for the meaning that applies in your life situation. For example Proverbs 15:25 says; “The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries”. We would have no neighbourhoods left if this was a cause and effect specific statement, no the idea is that God is opposed to pride and the protector of the vulnerable. So, don’t be proud!
- Proverbs must be read as a collection that balance each other and in the context of the whole bible.
- Some Proverbs need to be “translated” to be appreciated. Many of the proverbs express their truths according to practices of everyday life that no longer exist. Therefore, unless you think of these proverbs in terms of their modern day equivalents they may seem irrelevant to your life.
- Proverbs are often figurative and or even exaggerated to make their point, they are also intensely practical statements that are not meant to be technically or theologically precise or complete.
- Used right, Proverbs will provide practical life-advise for how to live in such a way that pleases God and results in a life that is blessed.
By Gareth Bowley
Have you seen it?
The magnitude of our response reveals the extent of our comprehension.
Jesus tells two parables in Matthew 13:44-46, that both have something of great worth which is hidden. The treasure was hidden in the field, the pearl is hidden within an oyster’s shell in the ocean.
In both parables the object of great worth is found, is discovered, is uncovered and it’s true revealed value then dictates what happens next…
The value of the discovery of the treasure/pearl is so great that it is worth selling everything in both instances! More than this it is worthy of great joy even in the sale of everything in the case of the treasure in the field.
So, the two individuals who sell everything when they discover the item of great value are not being sacrificial they are being prudent and wise because they have truly comprehended the value of the item in question.
Imagine you somehow knew with absolute certainty that if you bought a certain numbered ticket in a very very prestigious competition in which the tickets cost R500 000 each but the prize was 5 Billion rands, you would not be unwise to sell your house to afford the ticket, you’d be unwise to not act on the certain information you had at your disposal.
Similarly, the magnitude of our response reveals the true extent of our comprehension regarding God and His kingdom.
Those who have not seen the infinite value of following Jesus wholeheartedly will not lay down all other things, will not prioritise the church and God’s mission, will not relinquish their own agendas in this present and temporary life so as to lay hold of God’s greater and eternal plan for their lives!
The degree to which we wholeheartedly unreservedly give our lives for the cause of Christ through His church reveals the degree to which we have truly seen or not seen the infinite value and treasure of Jesus and living for His kingdom and His will in and through our lives.
May I, may we, keep seeing with greater and greater clarity the inexpressible value of our relationship with Jesus Christ and may we therefore live lives that are worthy of what we have seen! Amen.
By Gareth Bowley
Life is hard!
As I grow older I realise more and more that nothing on this earth has true security. Time is constantly changing, money easily loses value, property prices are unpredictable and if the political situation in a country is perceived to be unstable, all the securities in terms of investment goes out the window.
Families often drift apart as siblings grow older – whether emotionally or, in the case of many South Africans, many people emigrate and then families are literally torn apart. Friends can be a great source of comfort and encouragement, but even this can be lost through misunderstanding, conflict or a change in one or the other’s circumstances.
In this life we are constantly challenged to find a firm foundation, an immovable rock on which to stand. A place of security and rest.
How easily we become distracted from putting all of our hope and trust in God. This one thought is like a repeated chorus in Psalm 62:
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken.”
David reminds himself and us, that there is only One who can fulfil that role. There is only One who can give us hope, who can be a fortress of true safety in the midst of uncertainty, who can be our Refuge when the storms of life are raging all around us. God alone!
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”
by Lise Oosthuizen
Anger, sense and a restoration project…
Do you ever envy other people? I do.
Now I know that envy isn’t what my Father wants from me but not all envy is that bad.
I sometimes wish I could be the guy in the line at Home Affairs/Bank/Traffic licensing office…who isn’t getting riled at the inefficiency or the seeming absence of any commitment to serve others – I envy that guy who’s just calmly sitting there even seemingly enjoying the time away from tasks!
I sometimes wish I could be the guy of the squash who is playing top squash but just seems to be having fun and isn’t affected by dodgy referring calls – I envy that guy sometimes.
Scripture is so life-giving and practical. Just yesterday I read again that;
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 ESV
Now although I am who God’s made me and that includes all my physical, mental & personality attributes, Scripture also teaches me that who God made as Gareth – was tainted, marred by the Fall. I am created in His image but that image needs restoring/re-moulding which is what happens daily as I listen to God through Scripture and obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
So when I say I am envious of someone else’s calmness in certain settings I am not expressing dissatisfaction with who God made me but rather dissatisfaction at the particular effect of sin in my life. I see something of the image of God in that other person (regardless of whether they are a believer or unbelievers) and it draws me into the Holy Spirit inspired restoration God wants to do in me!
Hence, when I read this verse it doesn’t condemn me but calls me into what I know the Father wants to be in me by in terms of restoration. As I read and listened to the Holy Spirit these were my personal reflections from this passage:
Anger that is ‘in-the-moment’ is bad sense because:
1) Anger clouds my vision
2)Anger predisposes me to making rash assumptions regarding motives, meaning…
3)Anger makes me the focal centre rather than making God and others the focal centre
4) Anger is a slippery slope towards me sinning even when I have been sinned against
So how can I apply this to my life?
Step 1: Identify the emotion (anger) early, report it to yourself
Step 2: Pause, count to three (seriously do it Gareth)
Step 3: Consider – What is making me feel this way? Have I misunderstood? Is God’s perspective and the other person’s perspective being valued by me? Is this worthy of godly anger?
Step 4: Is this something I can overlook? After all to do so would be to my benefit. Or is it necessary confront but doing so slowly and in love, full of grace and truth?
For me, being quick to anger has been one of the old sin patterns God has been remounting me in making me more like the most incredible man who ever lived – Jesus.
As a son of God, I want to be like my Father who time and time again is described as follows;
“…you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.” (Jonah 4:2)
Father, today I want to be more like you, I want to identify, pause, consider & overlook where that is truly possible or confront in love full of grace and truth where necessary. Amen.
- ← Previous