Mar 20, 2009

Being Overwhelmed

Recently I experienced a series of catastrophes, hardships and disappointments. I was not sleeping well; I was worrying and on edge. These came relentlessly in wave after wave.

I can hear it now, "If you had been reading your bible and praying, these things either would not have happened, or at least wouldn't have been as painful." Here's the thing: I was praying. I was reading my bible, and getting more out of it than I had in a long time. I was experiencing some of the greatest fellowship with the Lord that I had ever known. And yet, the hardships began to come in wave after wave; circumstances that were out of my control and that were combining to oppress my waking and sleeping moments.

As things began to slowly fall apart for me, I remember thinking, "I can do this. My soul finds rest in God alone. He will see me through these things." My mind went to passages I had read about the Lord never leaving us or forsaking us. I found comfort in the Psalms, especially Psalm 62, and still the trials continued. I felt like I was trapped on a high tower, and someone was, one by one, sawing off the legs...while my God observed.

The breaking point for me came while I was at work, when because of an equipment failure my company was in danger of losing everything. It was then that I cried out to the Lord:


Exactly two seconds after that was out of my mouth, my mind went to the account of the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses. They grumbled against the Lord and accused Him of bringing them out of Egypt and into the desert to kill them. I had always disdained this way of thinking by the Israelites, who had seen God's goodness and might, yet when He allowed things to get tough so that they could be trained by EXPERIENCE to trust Him, they proved to be short sighted and faithless. Can you imagine a friend, your spouse, or your son or daughter accusing you of doing something wonderful for them just so you could take it away again?

So, in the heat of battle, I folded for awhile. Then I began to remember the Lord's words, that whom He loves, He disciplines. It was then that I began to recall my own words that if someone saw me going through a trial, that they would not just pray that I would be saved from going through it, but that I would learn all that God had for me in it.

Some matters that concerned me so much are getting better, and for this I am praising the Lord. Some are still around for me to trust the Lord. And He is trustworthy, and knows how much I can stand.

Here is a list of some things that I am either learning or being reminded of because of these things:
  1. In this life I am assured of trials as well as blessings.
  2. Since I belong to, and am part of the Lord's family, I am treated as such. God is not being cruel to me by trying me.
  3. Trials are allowed by God and are not meant to destroy me, but to train me.
  4. My struggles bring glory to God when I demonstrate my trust in Him and wait for Him instead of acting (and speaking) rashly.
  5. Struggles teach me patience and build character.
  6. Therefore new trials that come my way will not be easier than the last.
  7. My trials should allow me to understand and sympathize with the trials of others.
  8. The comfort the Lord brings me in these times should be the same comfort I use to comfort others going through hard times.
  9. I am never too old or too spiritual to be tried and trained.
  10. Knowing what the Bible says about God's love and fatherly treatment of us must be coupled with a life that has experienced the same. It's one thing to say that God is all we need; it's quite another to find that God is all we have.

Scripture References:
27and you grumbled in your tents and said, 'Because the LORD hates us, He has
brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites
to destroy us. (Deuteronomy 1:27 NASB)
5My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. 6He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. 7On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. (Psalm 62: 5-8)

Mar 4, 2009

Preventing Spiritual Failures

Most of the time I can see it coming. An outlandish thought, followed by a thoughtless plan, followed by a reckless act. I make some attempt (usually I think a valiant one) to resist temptation, but at last I succumb, and end up doing a one-point into the ground.

I tell myself that I'm mature enough in my faith that these temptations should not present much of a struggle. So why do the simplest temptations sometimes trip me up?

This question is as old as the Garden of Eden, and if it were me, eating a good-looking fruit would have seemed to be the right thing to do at the time too. I know God says "X", but I want "Y" so I choose "Y".

Often times I think I allow myself to be lulled to sleep while the enemy camps in my yard, casing my house. I watch him walk to the door, and tell myself "I'll get the gun out later if I need it."
Because of one distraction or another I will leave off reading God's Word (because "I know that; I've read it countless times") and My prayers become routine and thoughtless. I overestimate my own strength, underestimate my enemy, and forget where my help comes from. And I'm definitely not taking seriously the Lord's warning to be vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).

Charles F. Stanley wrote a great article on temptation, "When Temptation Knocks" where he says Jesus' successful approach to resisting temptation is the example for us. He has scripture (what God says) for every temptation readily at hand; not as an incantation to repeat, but as the knowledge and confession of what God says (and therefore supports) about the matter. It tells us About what God thinks about what we are about to do, (so we can flee from that) and who it is we are offending (so we can flee to Him).

"He never drew on his own wit. He never even relied on His own power. He simply responded with the truth of God’s Word. That’s all it took. Nothing fancy. Just the plain truth directed at the deception behind each of Satan’s requests. Jesus verbally confronted Satan with the truth, and eventually Satan gave up and left." (Charles F. Stanley, "When Temptation Knocks")

The Bible is full of passages on this subject because the will of mankind has always been at odds with the will of God. Here are a couple of passages I find helpful:

"6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen." (I Peter 5:6-11 NASB)


"10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full
armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For
our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual
forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:
10-17 NASB)

"8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. "(I John 1:8-9 NASB)

Don't wait until the Dragon is trying to toast you before you try to dig your sword out of the saddlebag.

When Temptation Knocks

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