Tag Archives: trials

Do Not Quarrel Along The Way

After Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and they are all reconciled with one another, he sends them with his blessing to go home and get their families, and their father Jacob. But in Genesis 45:24 we read:

“Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel along the way.’”

My district superintendent used this passage about Joseph (Genesis 39-45) as the core of a pastor’s retreat I attended earlier this month. And I kid you not, I did not know that verse was in there! (I toyed with maybe God had just recently done an update, but I probably just missed it).

Even after all the reconciliation and reunion, the forgiveness and the blessings, and the hope of the future, Joseph still knew what his brothers were like and what they’d probably do once they headed home. And he reminded them not to get into the blaming and “I told you so” kinds of quarrelling. Am I reading more into it than is there? I don’t think so, because clear back in Genesis 42:22, Reuben, the oldest brother, had already headed down that path. He just didn’t know that Joseph could understand what he said. (“Then Reuben answered them, ‘Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen…’”)

There are some people who think we Christians are supposed to be perfect all the time or else we’re not really Christians. Being a Christian means we’re forgiven of our past, but not necessarily immune from ever sinning again. Even after Jesus is Lord in our life and we claim to be his followers, we still mess up sometimes. That’s why Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery (after her accusers had all made themselves scarce) are so hopeful to me: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 8:11b)

Joseph knew his brothers would be tempted to fall back into the quarrelling. Jesus knows that we are likely to be tempted to fall back into our old ways. And Joseph, and Jesus, give that encouraging reminder that we don’t have to fall back into the old ways.

The thing is, the brothers had to rely on each other, while Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us when we’re tempted. We can call on him for help!

In fact, that’s where another of my favorite passages comes in:

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (First Corinthians 10:13)

After the forgiveness and reconciliation, with God, with our brothers and sisters, with family members, or whomever, there will still be an easy way to slide back into the old ways… the ways that broke relationship to start with. Sometimes, another person will be the one that re-breaks the relationship… but it doesn’t have to be us!

And when it comes to our spiritual relationship with our God, he ALWAYS makes sure that there is some way out of the temptation or the testing. IF we choose to take it!

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Patiently Perservere and Endure

James 1:2-4, in the New Living Translation, says: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Here where the NLT uses the word “endurance,” the KJV says “patience” and the NIV “perseverance.” Whatever word you use the idea is that (1) if you are a believer, then temptations & trials WILL come, and (2) when they DO come, God has made sure that you ARE able to patiently persevere and endure whatever comes your way. Add to that the promise found in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Oh God, help me to remember these promises and to patiently persevere and endure through whatever trials and temptations come my way. Help me to quickly identify those temptations when I’m facing one. Help me to then see where the “way out” is in the very midst of that temptation. I want to be able to find, and use, the ‘escape hatch!’

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You Alone

I’m not much of a resolutions kind of person, but I have decided to reread the little book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis throughout 2015.

While I pretty much expect to go from front to back in order, I stumbled across a passage that caught my eye: book 3, chapter 59. I had marked it AND highlighted portions back in the late ’90s when I first read this book.

It’s in the form of a prayer from a person who is simply identified as “Disciple.” In other chapters, we read of Christ’s response, but it’s just the Disciple praying here.

He starts with a question:
“My Lord, God, what can I depend on in this life, or what is my greatest solace on earth? Is it not You, my God, Whose mercy is infinite? Where have things gone well with me without You, and where have things gone badly for me when you were with me?”

The Disciple then identifies that God alone is all he really desires and then he says:
“And so I come to the realization that I cannot fully trust in anyone to help me in my necessities save only You – my hope, my trust, my comfort, and my most faithful Friend.”

Section 2 continues:
“All persons look out for their own interests; You seek only my salvation and my benefit, turning all good things to my good. Even though You permit me to be tested by various temptations and all sorts of trials, You do so for my profit.”

But it’s the declaration that begins in section 3 is it really caught my eye. “Therefore, in You, O my God, I place all my hope and fly to You for refuge. On You, I cast all my troubles and anxieties; for all his uncertainty weakness and instability outside of you.

“Many friends cannot help me; influential people are of no avail; consulting the wise will not give me the answers I require; the books of the learned can bring me no inspiration; nor is there any precious substance to ransom me, no secret hiding place to shelter me. Only you yourself, my God, can stand by me, help me, comfort, counsel, teach and defend me.”

Later in section 4 there is this little prayerful declaration that strikes deep into my heart as I think and plan what I want to be like on New Year’s Day next year.
“To you, O Lord, the Father of mercy, I raise my eyes, and In You alone, my God, I put my trust. Bless and sanctify my soul with Your heavenly benediction; may it become a holy place where You may dwell – the place of Your eternal glory. Let nothing be found in this temple that may offend the eyes of Your Divine Majesty.”

You know, that’s enough to start a new resolution any day of the year, but it seems especially appropriate as we started new year!

Oh God, this is my prayer as well: Bless and sanctify my soul with Your heavenly benediction; may it become a holy place where You may dwell – the place of Your eternal glory.”

AMEN!

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Count It All Joy!

James 1:2-4
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ NLT)

Here where the NLT uses the word “endurance,” the KJV says “patience” and the NIV “perseverance.” Whatever word you use the idea is that (1) if you are a believer, then temptations & trials WILL come, and (2) when they DO come, God has made sure that you ARE able to patiently persevere and endure whatever comes your way. Add to that the promise found in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Oh God, help me to remember these promises and to patiently persevere and endure through whatever trials and temptations come my way. Help me to quickly identify those temptations when I’m facing one. Help me to then see where the “way out” is in the very midst of that temptation. I want to be able to find, and use, the ‘escape hatch!’

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“Only What We Can Handle”?

A couple of weeks ago I again heard someone claim “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but I wish He didn’t trust me so much!” This person was a good Christian, but they’re not alone… Christians (especially American Christians) often make reference to this belief that God won’t give you more than you can handle.

The problem, of course, is that it’s NOT true and it’s NOT even in the Bible!

If God only allowed what we could handle on our own, then we would NEVER NEED GOD!

As humans, the only times most of us remember to even seek God’s help is when we ARE overwhelmed… THAT’s when we need God the most!

I started thinking about all of this the other day when I stumbled upon an entry in a day by day kind of guide that highlights events on any given day.

JULY 28 (1960)

American Trappist monk Thomas Merton confesses in a letter, “I can depend less and less on my own power and sense of direction—as if I ever had any. But the Lord supports and guides me without my knowing how, more and more apart from my own action and even in contradiction to it.”

— from This Day in Christian History by William D. Blake (Barbour:2011), entry for “July 28.”

As I read it, I immediately thought of what the Bible DOES say… and I turned to the Apostle Paul’s words in Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)

When I feel like I’ve been given too much to handle, THAT’s proof that God is still trying to woo and draw me closer to Him! He’s deliberately allowed all the stuff of life to build up and start to overwhelm me so that I can remember that I NEED His help!

The question is: “Will I turn to Him and ask for His help or will I try to ‘handle it’ all by myself?”

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