Count it all Joy

“Fits of anger generate an illusion that we are strong, simply because it feels like strength; it’s not, it’s actually a terrible weakness.” – David Kupelian, How Evil Works (Paraphrased)

Anytime we ally with the enemy we’re partnering with weakness; how different life would be if we could recognize such a truth.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be complete, lacking in nothing. 1

 

Points to ponder:

  • Is temptation not a trial?
  • Not succumbing to temptation, is that not a test of our faith?
  • If we do fail, does repentance not also test our faith?
  • At the moment of conviction, are we not positioned to be set free from the bondage of the enemy through confession and agreement with God?2
  • Is not faith required for us to come boldly into the presence of God?3
  • Is it possible that no matter the outcome, if we remain in relationship with God, we are on the road to steadfastness?4
  • Can we have a greater hope; is this not the hope of the gospel?5

My Prayer:  Thank you God for loving us unconditionally.  Thank you for providing us the way back to unbroken relationship with you.  Thank you for the grace to respond to your calling.  We are so richly blessed by you!  Amen.

 

Narrow Way

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.6

Consider: When I lean on my own understanding, in addition to not trusting God, am I not also closing my ears towards God?

We acknowledge him by agreeing with and speaking the truth.  Is confession not agreeing with God?  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.2  The enemy wants me to fear punishment and hide my sins.3  The truth sets me free!4  The truth enables me to boldly come to the throne of grace and obtain mercy.5  Do I not need mercy when I am at my worst?6  Paul knew this so he counted everything as lost to be saturated in the mercy and grace of God.7  8  God’s power is made perfect in weakness.9  10

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.11

Consider: “Fear the Lord and shun evil” –do we shun evil out of fear?  Don’t we choose sin because we think it to be good in some way?  Choosing what I think is good –isn’t that being wise in my own eyes?

My Confession: I find myself on my knees nearly every night confessing my sins and failures through out the day.  Today I asked the Lord why I keep doing the same things over and over.12  He simply replied, “You can start your day on your knees or end it on your knees.” After contemplating His response, I realized the outcome is radically different!  One focuses on God and the other on self; the one acknowledges a dependence on God and the other how “I” mismanaged “my” day.

My Prayer:  God, I desire to start on my knees and give You the first fruits of everyday!13  Please forgive me for leaning on my own understanding, trusting in myself and being wise in my own eyes.  Please teach me to acknowledge you in all of my ways and give you the glory and honor that you alone deserve.  Please direct my paths, to shun evil and not turn to the right or the left but instead, to walk in your ways.14

Love Full Strength

The bible teaches that those who have been forgiven much will love much.15  Stephan loves much. 2  I struggle to understood how Stephan could forgive while being hit with rocks that were intended to kill him.3  Of course, I knew it was possible with God. 4 5

Revelation:  We are the temple of God. 6  When we sin, we assault the temple of God.  When someone sins against us, they assault the temple of God.  Perhaps Stephen had and internal dialogue with God that went something like this:

James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Chaldees Destroy the Brazen Sea, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

“Lord, they are attacking your temple, the very same temple that I have assaulted many times, please forgive them just like you forgave me.”7  8 

My prayer:  Lord, help me to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and ALL OF MY STRENGTH,9 so that, like Stephen, using all my strength to love you, I haven’t the strength to pick up a rock.10