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Archive for the ‘acceptance’ Category

Problems with Patience

Have you really had struggles or trials with patience?

Think back and see what you really thought during such times.

Were you eagerly awaiting something, only to discover that you needed to exercise patience?

Patience can become a problem when you have taken the ready position without any means of going forward.  Some folks can this “the waiting game.” Others shout and pout or rant and rave.  Yet, patience is what is required. 

God expects us to await and remain aware.  Some of God’s work is unfolding things in His own way despite everything being in His hands and under His control.  He may just be watching us while we are waiting, seeing if we have the patience to persist.  But patience also has its “perfect work.”

You might not like it, but it is part of how God works.  You may want to quote some biblical eloquence about how God wants you blessed or why God has all things for all His children.  However, let me allow the Scriptures to speak to that as well.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:4

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,
– 2 Cor. 6:4
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.- James

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; -Col. 1:9-11

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Get real.

God does not want you to lose sight of the good things that He has for you.  You can expect God to deliver just as He says.

He offers you a way to understand how He works.  He provides us with a way to see Him at work.  He works on our behalf.  He works things out without our help at all.

Trust Him today.  He can be trusted.

Call on Him today.  He will surely answer.

God is still in charge.

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There are times in our lives when we just have to agree to start expecting more.  We cannot simply keep accepting the status quo.  Something has to change.

Why not change your perspective on life?

As a Christian, you may not escape the pains and heartaches of this life.  Pain will come.  Heartaches will happen.  That is life.  Yet, how we live our lives is what should separate us from the rest of the world.

Start changing how you approach matters in life.  Let each be met with eager anticipation, expecting God to do marvelous works right before your eyes, right in the midst of your presence.

Start meeting your days with expectancy.  Start watching God do His best for you and through you.

Oh, and by the way, be ready.

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Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’ So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”- Genesis 46:31-34 (NKJV)

Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

The Jungle (Enriched Classics)The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Classics)Joseph did something with his family that many in Western culture may not be able to relate in recent generations.  Too many of us may be so far removed from our families being immigrants that we have no real understanding of what it took to be outsiders in a new land.  Upton Sinclair conveyed the concept in his classic The Jungle  and John Steinbeck shared a similar story in The Grapes of WrathImmigrants have long come into lands of opportunity, willing to do the work that others regarded as below them.

 
Joseph Advised His Family: He shared with them and spoke them.  He gave them advice from having some experience from being in the land during the recent “lean years” and before then.  He had some understanding and insight into how the Egyptians viewed shepherds.  Joseph shared what he knew and understood about the culture and circumstances that his family was embarking on living within at that time.

The Grapes of Wrath1931 Ford Model A PickupHe offered keen advice to his family members on how they would be viewed by the Egyptians.  He seems to have gathered them together before they unloaded their carts.  It is like seeing the Joads packed altogether with their belongings piled up on their Model A Ford in the 1940 classic film “The Grapes of Wrath” inspired by Steinbeck’s novel.  Most probably, Joseph huddled his family together to speak in a hushed voice or with whispers of wisdom in order to make sure that everyone was on the same page. 
He coached them on what to say.  He prepared them for being called before the king of Egypt.  He wanted to ensure that all of his people had their stories straight before they ever encountered or interacted with Pharaoh or any of his other officials.  He wanted to make sure that no one made a mistake or brought about any trouble due to ignorance of what they had come into when they entered into Egypt.
Prince of Egypt & Joseph: King of Dreams (Double Feature)Pharaoh Adult - Standard One SizeJoseph Advocated for His Family:  Joseph stated that he would vouch for them.  He shared with his family that he would inform Pharaoh of their arrival and their occupation.  He would alert Pharaoh so that the king would not be taken by surprise when he discovered that more foreigners had arrived in his land.
He would speak up for his family in the royal court and share what they all did for a living.  Joseph had a prominent position and could share such information with Pharaoh without the ruler feeling that these outsiders would present a threat to his kingdom.
In The Jungle, that is how the newcomers were able to join other family members in the factories and mills after their arrival into the city.  When you watch “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye and his family are forced out of the land with other Jews during the Russian Revolution and, just like many other characters in the play, they plan on going to America where other relatives have settled.  The Joads were viewed as Okies and met obstacles in their travels as they sought to escape the dust bowls of Oklahoma and find work in California.  In many cases, foreigners, immigrants and refugees face opposing forces upon their entry into a new place.
The Shepherd Trilogy: A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm / A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd / A Shepherd Looks at the Lamb of GodJoseph Assured His Family: Based upon his position, Joseph was able to assure his family that they would live in Goshen as shepherds.  They would be able to herd their livestock.  Even though every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians, they would be able to tend to their flocks freely in Goshen. 


These people would be able to practice their trade in this new land.  The occupants of the land would not care for them,according to Joseph, due to their occupation.  Yet, they would not bother them either.

Joseph gathered his family together to inform them.  He brought them together to prepare them.  He huddled them together to coach them.  He did all of this to protect and support them.

Look at Joseph’s family leadership example.  He did not seek to usurp any authority from his father.  He did not claim to stand in the stead of his eldest brother.  He did not seek to break any cultural traditions or forsake any religious practices.  He simply spoke up and shared some advice that could help his family survive in a foreign land. 

We sure could use a reminder of how to do likewise these days.

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26When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.- Acts 9:26-28 (NIV)

At times, as Christians, we may find it difficult to fit in.  This can become very difficult to understand when you start talking about how difficult it is to fit in among believers.  You try this and you try that, but some won’t let you outlive your past.  In the very place where you seek both sanctuary and refuge, you cannot find peace or acceptance.  You struggle to be “one of the boys” or to be “in the know.” You just want to at least be accepted as a child of God.

Don’t let discouragement turn you bitter.  Do not grow sour.  Trust that God has someone planted there who can smooth out the storms.  Believe that your “Barnabas” is in the midst of all that mayhem and madness, sharing a testimony and offering a verse that will turn hearts towards sympathy and acceptance.  You pray and do your part to not give up.  God will open whatever doors He so chooses to open by His will.  You just don’t lose hope.  You just hold on.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. – Luke 18:1 (NIV)

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You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. – James 4:2 (ESV)
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:3 (ESV)
Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David
Our daily agenda should include prayer.  Our daily routine will simply become mundane with the exception of life-giving prayer.  Daily, we need to take our desires and concerns to Lord in supplication and petition with thanksgiving, seeking Him for all that we need.  Believers need to simply believe in a prayer-hearing God.
God has all that we need.  Do we ask of Him.  God can supply us beyond our own belief.  Do we take our concerns to Him in earnest and ferverent prayer? God is open and available to us.  Do we go to Him with the petitions of our hearts?

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But I tell you the truth. . . – John 16:7 (NIV)

Jesus combatted tradition with truth.  He shared the truth openly.  He did so with His disciples.  He also did so with the multitudes.  In fact, He even did so with those who opposed Him like the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus took on tradition with truth.

In Matthew 5, Jesus takes on tradition with two repetitive phrases: “You have heard that it was said” and “But I tell you.” He speaks of “You have heard that it was said” in verses 21, 27, 38, and 43.  Verses 31 and 33 are some variation of the same phrase.  He speaks of  “But I tell you” in verses 22, 28, 32, 39, and 44.  Jesus addresses tradition, but He accentuates truth.  Jesus opens with what has been said, but He discloses how to truly do what pleases God the Father.  He offers the truth as opposed to tradition.

Are hearing truth or honoring traditions? The Lord offered truth that outweighed tradition.  If you have truly heard the truth, test tradition against the truth.  Does it withstand the test? If so, uphold it and continue with it.  If not, you may need to discard it and discontinue it.  Put your traditions to the test with truth.

The teachings of the truth allow us to live and lead by the truth.  Learn the truth.  Live in the truth.  Lead by the truth.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.- John 8:32 (NLT)

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That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”- 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

I found inspiration for a short piece of poetry when I spent some personal reflection time in the Pauline epistles, especially 1 and 2 Corinthians.  The words of Paul are directly quoting the Scriptures, specifically Isaiah’s prophecy.  I was inspired, so I wrote freely and I share it here now with all others.

Eyes Have Not Seen

There is something that eyes have not seen.

The truth is that many don’t have eyes to see my change.

They do not recognize it.

They do not realize it.

Their eyes are not open to seeing my change.

I’m still who I used to be to them.

I can only be who I used to be in their eyes.

Even though their eyes have not seen,

I know what they see.

I just don’t know why.

I feel that God wants more out of me.

I believe He just doesn’t want me saved.

He wants me to say it and show it.

He wants me to say that I’ve changed

And He wants me to show that I have changed.

If they can’t see it, at least some will hear it.

Some may not see it, but God will work on them.

Their eyes just have not seen yet.

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8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
-Luke 19:8-10

Zacchaeus was short, small, nothing much… that is to say physically, socially and spiritually.  Physically, he needed to climb a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Yet, he climbed a tree, keeping himself at a distance from the rest of the crowd, just as the society would have it.  He sought a bird’s eye view of theLord and Savior because even one such as he was rich in earthly treasure but very poor in spiritual matters.  Brother Z was a brother in need…whether he knew it or not, it didn’t matter because there was going to be one to come by that day who was going to get real up close and personal with him.

• Recognition: Jesus sees Zacchaeus, calls him by name, & pronounces that He will dine with him at his house(v. 5)…despite how insignificant we may be in the eyes of others we are important enough for Jesus to call us out by name. He knows each and every one of us from the lowest to highest, from the best to the worst, He knows us all

• Reception: “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully” (v. 6)…We ought to receive Jesus with urgency. It’s not everyday that He who is worthy makes a personal visit to the unworthy. Brother Z made it his business to get busy…whatever needed to be done to receive Jesus into his home he put a rush on it. He knew it was not a casual affair…Many of ought to look again at what happens here. We might know Jesus but are we still in the know enough to know that He still wants to be received by us daily as Lord & Savior? Lord for the office of prominence that He holds and Saviour for the offer of salvation that comes only through Him.
• Restoration: Somewhere in the midst of glasses clinking for toasts and people talking in fellowship Brother Z said he would restore what he had wrongly taken w/o any provocation from Jesus (v. 8)…Jesus recognizes His change and restores Him based upon his change of heart (v. 9)

We need to the right the wrongs of our past.  Write them down and make things right with those you have wronged.  Be sure to go down the list and face the shame and admit the guilt, and then simply offer to make things right.  Share that you have honestly been changed and live differently now.  Right your wrongs by making things right with the ones you have wronged.

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I am the bread of life.- John 6:48 (NKJV)

The bread that Jesus spoke of was Himself.  He had a rare experience in John 6:22-38 where people asked questions and didn’t receive the answers to their questions too favorably.  In fact, Jesus is clear to identify that He is not manna that their forefathers ate in the wilderness with Moses.  Yet, He openly states that there is bread that comes down from heaven to do the will of God.  That bread didn’t go down too easily with some Jews at that time.

The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
John 6:41-42 (NKJV)

God does a spiritual work through Jesus Christ that many overlooked.  They looked at the surface, what they could see and understand.  What Jesus was offering dealt with the spiritual and eternal, nothing superficial.  If you are unable to receive Him for who He is,  He cannot enter into your heart.  For the believer, each of us must share with those we interact with daily to lead them to Him.

Don’t overlook the blessing of His saving grace.  Don’t overlook the blessing of His salvation.  Don’t overlook all that He offers with His invitation to His kingdom.  Don’t be foolish and overlook any of what Jesus offers us.

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