God’s Patient Blessing: Truth

There are people like David, whom God continued to honor, in spite of his sins. David wasn’t perfect, but there was something about David’s life that God continued to honor and hold as a standard of dependency on God and humility.  Then there are people, like Pharoah, that God uses to show how dumb people can be and how powerful He is.  Then people are in the spectrum in between and there is a spectrum of how much He blesses people, like Israel going into the land. Israel didn’t obey the Lord completely, so we read in Judges that God draws a line, Continue reading

Blessings: God owns our days

Blessings: God owns our days

A week ago I had the privilege to minister to a dear member of our church in the hospital.  I just kneel  by the bed (as long as my knees hold out or unless there is a handy chair) and listen to the person who might be struggling or suffering.  I have known this dear sister for twenty years.  She lost her husband a year and a half ago and I know she has missed him greatly.  She is ready to move north to be close to one of her children, but this sped up the process. Now she is already north until her unit opens up in the home close by to her daughter.

While I was at the hospital, I remembered a waitress who had tended to the same table at the same restaurant for the last ten years. The men always went there for breakfast after Men’s Prayer.  She had not been at Cracker Barrel very much in the last year as she had battled cancer in her lungs.  The week before one of the other waitresses informed me the cancer had spread to her bones and she was struggling.  Fortunately, I remembered her and I went to see her. 

Some of her family was present and she looked pretty well.  I spoke with her husband for twenty minutes in the hallway and found out he was a spiritual man wanting to lead his family.  As we went in to see her, I read from Psalm 91 and spoke of God as a strong refuge.  He would protect.  We needed to trust Him.

The next Thursday, right after prayer meeting, we went over to Cracker Barrel and one of the other waitresses lit up.  She was so excited to see us, but I could immediately tell something was wrong.  I asked, “Is she okay?”  Shesaid, “She died Sunday afternoon at two o’clock.”  We hugged and she asked that I be ready to do a memorial service. 

As I ate breakfast that day, I could only think of the great Psalm 90 Moses wrote. Moses wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Friends are you ready to see your Creator.  None of us knows how many days we have.  Some will have a warning through a lingering disease, but many of us may see our last view of earth on the way home.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, what He did for you on the cross and you will be saved.  Ask if you have any questions about salvation.

Q & A:Overcoming Difficult Relationships for Him

This contains considerations for suggested answers to the questions for the message given March 3 as titled above.  The full insert is given first and then the questions are repeated with suggested answers so that you can begin to expand how you might give answers to the questions.  Do not be superficial in answering the questions.  Think deeply and you will benefit richly.

Overcoming Difficult Relationships for Him

Romans 12:9-21

 
How do you deal with difficult relationships?

1)      Let Jesus replace pain with blessing Rom. 12:14-21

2)      Let Jesus help you to disciple him/her/them to the truth  2 Tim. 2:24-26
3)      Let Jesus bless through you, whom you can   1 Pet. 3:8-12
      ·         Jesus said it best Luke 6:27-28
      ·         Gen. 50:15-21

Jesus will right every wrong,
so you can choose to be a blessing!

·         God has called us to be a blessing.  Return no evil, give of yourself to bless
·         Trust the authority of the Word by faith to forgive and bless.  If you are struggling with pain over many months, have you forgiven and asked God to use you to bless the offender?

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Why does merely talking about Christianity often muster up negative images and angry reactions?

Digging Deeper:

2)      What was David’s response to his soldier who told him the Lord had given his enemy into his hand in 1 Sam. 24:1-10? ____________________.  How is David’s response different than way the world thinks?  What are the circumstances in 1 Sam. 26:7-16? 

3)      With whom did Moses get counsel in the conflict with Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Num. 16:1-33)? _____________ .   How would you classify Moses’ anger (Num. 16:15)?  How does this compare with the principles taught in the message?

Making application of the message to life:

4)      How does God want you to deal with sins against you in the past?

5)      What aspects of forgiveness have you struggled the most in the past?

6)      If you have hindered relationships, what does God want you to do based on the message passages?

Good thought, hurt you not, gossip never, friends forever.

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Why does merely talking about Christianity often muster up negative images and angry reactions?

a)      We’ve seen bad things happen from Christians in the past.

b)      We’ve seen Christians being judgmental toward others

c)      We’ve seen Christians being good at pointing out sin, but doing the same thing – hypocrisy.

d)     We’ve seen Christians live one way on Sunday, but another during the week.

e)      We’ve grown up under domineering parents that forced Jesus down our throats, and it didn’t seem to make sense.

f)       People don’t like the light of God’s truth. People of the darkness would rather run from the light.

g)      People don’t want to be convicted of their sins.

h)      The hurt or pain caused by people resonates within and our flesh and emotions want to react.

i)        People may be hardened in their sin, so they react at anything related to Christianity.

j)        Crusades and wars in the name of “God.”

Digging Deeper:

2)      What was David’s response to his soldier who told him the Lord had given his enemy into his hand in 1 Sam. 24:1-10?_He wouldn’t kill Saul__.  How is David’s response different than way the world thinks?  What are the circumstances in 1 Sam. 26:7-16? 

a)      David told his men he would not kill Saul, but he did cut off the corner of the robe.  His conscience bothered him and he repented. 

i)        David restrained his men from killing Saul in a vulnerable situation.

ii)      David chose not to get even or strike out.

iii)    David was controlled and trusted in the Lord’s actions.

iv)    David recognized the Lord’s will for Saul’s life.  The Lord did not direct David to kill Saul, even though he could have.

v)      David confronted Saul, but would not take personal vengeance. 

vi)    David ran from trouble as Saul pursued him.  That was a wise move, because Saul was bent on killing him.  David didn’t want to confront the Lord’s anointed.  If Saul was the Lord’s anointed, then the Lord would deal with Saul.  It was not David’s right to touch him.  That’s takes discernment!  That’s how believers should look at those who offend them.  Give a wide berth to let the Lord do His own divine discipline on the offender.

b)      David approaches Saul in the night with Abishai.  Abishai wanted to kill Saul, David said no.  Saul was still God’s anointed.

i)        David had an easy opportunity to kill Saul and leave in the night before the other soldiers found out.

ii)      David took the spear and jug, to let Saul know he could have caused harm, but didn’t, to show Saul he was not the enemy. 

iii)    David rebuked Saul’s chief of staff, because Abishai was a leader.

iv)    David blessed Saul, so Saul could have the opportunity for repentance, but Saul refused to repent.
3)      With whom did Moses get counsel in the conflict with Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Num. 16:1-33)? __God___ .   How would you classify Moses’ anger (Num. 16:15)?  How does this compare with the principles taught in the message?

a)      Moses ‘anger was righteous indignation.  He willingly declared his innocence, by not seeking his personal agenda or revenge.  Moses’ anger was not how they treated him, but how they treated the one God appointed to lead the people.  The rebellion of Dathan and Abiram was really a rebellion against God, so Moses’ anger was appropriate.

b)      There is a time when correction must be made.  God acts in love to correct a rebellious son (Heb. 12:5-6).  Moses went to the Lord, instead of taking matters into his own hand.  He let the Lord take revenge if there was going to be vengeance. 

i)        Blessing from Moses had to include the entire people, because Moses was the leader of the entire people.  It would be wrong for Moses to just be nice to Dathan and Abiram.  Moses was responsible for what happened to all the people.  Dathan and Abiram’s rebellion would bring God’s discipline upon all the people, so Moses, as leader, had to act on behalf of all of them.

ii)      Never confuse a biblical stand against evil with being nice.  The blessing is from God’s perspective, not what an offender may want or desire.  The blessing should be what is best for the person if the person was humble.  The blessing should be love according to what is good for the person as much as possible.  But if the person acts wickedly the blessing may be to step aside so God can impose divine discipline as He did in this case.

 
Making application of the message to life:

4)      How does God want you to deal with sins against you in the past?

a)      He wants me to forgive and send the penalty to Him.  He is just and will deal with it in wisdom.

b)      He wants me to choose to be ready to bless.  I need to let Jesus replace the pain with the action of blessing another. 

c)      He wants me to be His servant and ready to rebuke in humility is necessary. 

d)     He wants me to be ready to reach out to the person in spite of their evil actions.  Those “reach out” actions are to bless the person, not get even or make miserable in any way.

e)      He wants me to not nurture the bad feelings I may have had from the offense.

f)       He wants me to continue to consider how to bless, until the pain goes away and divine enablement becomes supreme 2 Pet. 1:3-4.

5)      What aspects of forgiveness have you struggled the most in the past?

a)      The feelings of past pain, nurtured to become bigger than the problem.

b)      Desire to seek revenge, rather than giving it to the Lord.

c)      Desire to get even without anyone knowing something was done.

d)     Not trusting God to act against the person to make up for the pain the person has caused.

e)      Not wanting to be available to bless or disciple to the truth.

f)       Not wanting to become united in thinking with one mind.

g)      Taking back the pain and thinking about it, rather than letting it go.

h)      Keeping track of the hurt in some kind of a list.

i)        Comparing the hurt he caused as greater than the hurt I might have caused…..

 

6)      If you have hindered relationships, what does God want you to do based on the message passages?

a)      Forgive and then seek to bless.

b)      As appropriate, to seek restoration of the relationship.

c)      DO actions of blessing, rather than just thinking about it.

d)     Taking action to bless by going out of my way, rather than avoiding the person.

e)      Not turning my eyes away from the person, but going to the person and greeting them and making appropriate concern.

f)       As far as it is possible with me, to be at peace with others Rom. 12:18.

g)      If it is the government who abuses its power over years and years, then stand up to it.  First help it see the wrong it is doing.  Then help it by giving plenty of opportunities to repent, that is, change what it is doing.

 

 

Question: How much do you help someone?


Question: How do you discern whether to help someone?

How would you counsel someone who has the means to financially help an adult family member who lives in squalor by choice due to poor financial (and spiritual) choices, poor health (physical & mental), choosing not to work, etc?  Do you counsel to take care of the person’s needs or let the State help?  What do you consider about helping the family member or withdrawing support? 

I go back and forth between Scriptures such as 1 Timothy 5:8, which admonishes those who do not support family members as “being worse than an unbeliever” if you don’t take care of your family and others which caution giving help, such as “throwing pearls before swine,” which obviously directly refers to not giving Scripture to scoffers, but the application of support can be derived from this.  Where do you draw the line or do you draw the line (as a Christian)? Are you really helping by helping or just breeding more sin? Will either choice really have eternal consequences for them or for you? 

These are very difficult questions. 1) it involves family, so the emotions are going to be tested and 2) you’re using passages of Scripture that must be compared with each other, because no one passage gives the simple answer.
My answer is only based on the information you’ve provided and I’m not sure I have all the facts that are needed, but here are some thoughts. I know you are seeking His righteousness (Matt. 6:33) and are looking for discernment (Heb. 5:14). You’ll know in your conscience based on the leading of the Holy Spirit and grace (Titus 2:11-13), what to do. At least, make the best choice before the Lord based on what you know from Scripture in each circumstance. 

You mentioned that he is living that way by choice. That is my key. If it is his choice, then I need to remember 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” 

I recognize that my resources must be considered in grace 1 John 3:17, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him” but considering 2 Thessalonians 3:10, it would be for someone who is willing to work, but has hit hard times and needs legitimate help.  

I can in grace provide help in mercy (Rom. 2:4-5; Jam. 2:13), but if his choice is not to work, then I may be playing the fool and getting in God’s way of letting his hunger drive him to work Pro 16:26, “The person who labors, labors for himself, For his hungry mouth drives him on.” I may be getting in God’s way of divine discipline.  

On the other hand, if no one has discipled the person and they foolishly made the poor decisions, but WANT to do the right thing, then financial help may get them back on their feet. But if they are in the downward spiral of Ephesians 4:17-19, then I would be getting in God’s way. The key for me would be, does he want to do the godly thing (cf. 2 Tim. 2:22). 

If he turns to the state, he’s still choosing to not work and the state is foolish to enable someone to continue in their foolish ways. That brings a curse on any people and we are deep into foolishness regarding some of our welfare support, etc. I certainly understand the tension of “being worse than an unbeliever” 1 Tim. 5:8. 

Yet I struggle with “dead while she lives” (not living in a faithful relationship with Jesus Christ) (1 Tim. 5:6). If she, the widow, who is in physical, financial need is dead in her relationship with Christ, then no help should be given, unless there is repentance. Of course there is room for mercy as your conscience might direct. I would agree that helping someone who doesn’t want help is throwing pearls before swine. That is a person who is in the seventh stage of the downward spiral (Eph. 4:17-19).
Do a search on the biblical word “lazy” and it is not a pleasant view. Proverbs 20:4 describes his consequences. To help people like that who are not humble seems to be enabling someone in his sin. To continue to help someone in his sin without rebuke and restoration seems to have eternal consequences of a loss of reward for that person.  

We have a burden to disciple those who are hungering for truth as you do with all the young people. There will be many who will refuse that help and their consequences should drive them to brokenness and help from the Lord. (Ps. 51:16-17)
I wish I could give you a one sentence answer, but this is too big of an issue. Interesting, I had another case last week about a family in the church dealing with a family member in a marriage relationship. One spouse was willing to work, but the man was not. They could not support themselves and were continuing to make unwise decisions that keep them in the downward spiral. Sometimes I think the enemy tries to use Scripture to put a guilt complex on us to do what you said, “throw pearls before swine [even our own family]” and take away from resources that could be used to help those who are hungering for truth and righteousness.

 

Pray for Those Who Wrong You

The tongue is a slippery tool of the heart.  The humble heart uses the tongue for blessing.  The proud heart uses the tongue for cursing.  It’s the same tongue, yet controlled by the heart.  James does a brilliant job of addressing the tongue in James 3:1-12.

 As I was reading through Scripture a couple months ago, my eyes jumped out looking at Job 42.  In the last chapter of Job, after Job recognizes his own foolishness and inability to understand God’s inscrutable purposes, God gives instructions to those involved.

 7 And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.  8 “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”  9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job. 10And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.  (Job 42:7-10) 

Did you notice Job 42:10?  It jumps out!  The “Lord restored Job’s losses whenhe prayed for his friends…”  His friends that criticized him.  His friends that misunderstood him and repeatedly put him down.   His friends that refused to listen and seek to understand Job.  Most people would walk away from people like that.  Most people would say, “Lord, can you send down a cruise missile on their homes?!”  WhenJob prayed for them, the Lord blessed him and gave Job twice as much.  Are you harboring a grievance toward those who have put you down, criticized you, or have done you wrong?  Forgive (Mark 11:25) and pray for them in a godly way.  You may miss out on God’s blessing if you don’t.

I Shall Not Lack Anything – Psalm 23

            David will always be known as a man after God’s own heart.  He was often the measurement for a great man and great king.  Yet, he had his own fleshly (sinful) weaknesses.  He should have been out leading his army in battle, but he stayed back and committed adultery.  He should have taken responsibility for the fruit of his adultery, but instead tried to change the circumstances by murdering Uriah.  He failed to raise his boys in godliness and  paid  for it in the Absalom revolution.  But even in fleeing from Jerusalem during the Absalom revolt, we are blessed, because David wrote one of the greatest Psalms ever recorded.

            Psalm 23 is only six verses in the English, but contains tremendous words of comfort and hope.  Even while David was on the run, out in the wilderness with the refuge of Jerusalem in his rear view mirror, David recalls at least thirteen aspects of the Lord’s sufficiency.  His first line is “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”  This last phrase could easily be translated, “I shall not lack anything.”  Following in the Psalm we see many ways God was still providing for David.  David did not want for (did not lack):

1)      Spiritual rest – He makes me lie down
2)      Spiritual nourishment – In green pastures
3)      Spiritual freshness for life – He leads me besides still waters

4)      God’s forgiveness – He restores my soul
5)      Spiritual guidance – He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
6)      Spiritual courage – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
7)      Divine companionship – You are with me
8)      Divine protection – Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
9)      Divine provision – You prepare a table before me
10)  Divine calm –  In the presence of my enemies
11)  Divine blessing – You anoint my head with oil, My cup runs over flows
12)  Divine confidence – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
13)  Divine destiny – I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

When you seem to be empty, alone and fearful of the unknown, come back to Psalm 23 and find your confidence in the Shepherd.  Focus your eyes on Jesus and He’ll provide all that you need in any and every circumstance.