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Does God Allow "Life to Give Us More Than We Can Handle?"

How many times have you heard: "We'll never be given more than we can handle?" This is what humans say but what does God say? I mean, we want it to be true but God gave us His Word so that we can test these statements and pursue possible answers.

It seems to be a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

In context, the issue is not so much about some pressure-filled, life struggle we might be facing but rather a sin struggle that we may be tempted by. In this case, we have this promise that in every temptation, God will always provide "a way out" or an option to not sin. Someone put it this way: The choice to obey God will never be withheld from us. Ever! That's amazing!

So, what does God tells us about the troubles we may face?

1. We will have troubles. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” What a beautiful protection in our troubles, nevertheless, we will have them.

2. Sometimes troubles will overwhelm us. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul transparently tells us that God gave him more than he could handle. Paul wrote: "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” That speaks directly to our question. In fact, God does allow "life to give us more than we can handle."

3. When we have troubles that overwhelm us, we have new opportunities to see God and His goodness as greater than our circumstances. God did give Paul more than he could handle, with a resulting purpose that Paul might learn to trust God. Paul's perspective on why this happened: "We felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."

4. God is enough and has enough to help us in our troubles. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul says this about a physical struggle he had: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me." Here was God's response: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

5. In our difficult circumstances, we can grow as a person. Paul said: "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong," 2 Cor. 12:10

Everything in us wants God NOT TO ALLOW us to face anything more than we can handle. If we trace that "fruit to root" though, this want is rooted in our desire to be happy and independent and free from all difficulties because we don't appreciate being uncomfortable. But if we're conformed to the gospel and rooted in God's love for us (as Paul was), then sacrifice and service and suffering are not foreign to us. And in God's upside down Kingdom, dependence on God is a very good feature of life.

God does allow "life to give us more than we can handle" but will not allow life to give us more than He can handle. And if we embrace God's promise that He is enough for whatever we experience, then we will be given everything we need to handle what we're given. When we believe God and trust Him, we grow. And maybe the best part is that we can help someone else in their journey, to encounter God in their time of trouble.

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The Blanket Drop (From A Charlie Brown Christmas)

When I sat down to write a Christmas time blog, it was to be about the specific topic that follows. Without seeking it out, an article from "Christian Living" by Jason Soroski landed in my inbox. I have adapted it for the purpose of this blog. Hope you enjoy it. 

Last December, 2015, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on national primetime television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest, greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything is quite meaningful.

In the “production,” Linus recites Luke 2:8–14 so beautifully. Then a very important thing occurs, which I never noticed for years.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus "drops the blanket."

Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others, all try to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up, …until this moment. When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares what “Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and the most telling thing is the specific moment he drops it. It occurs when he speaks the words, “fear not.” It's almost like a "mic drop;" the key line is spoken and the mic drops.

Take a look at the following clip, specifically at :34 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA

It’s pretty clear what Charles Schulz was saying through this, and it’s so simple that it’s brilliant.

  • The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.
  • The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable or unwilling to break ourselves.
  • The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

The world of 2016-2017 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, this is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.”

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

God who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him (Christmas) up for us all--how will He not also, along with Jesus, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

So, go ahead and trust God. Go ahead and “fear not.” Go ahead and drop the blanket.

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INFERIORITY / SUPERIORITY and THE GOSPEL

Have you heard this statement before? The root of inferiority is comparison.

So true! Of course, it can work the opposite way as well. The root of superiority is comparison. How do we overcome either one of these?

Well, in this context, of a sense of superiority or inferiority, we have been asking these questions in this blog over the past few months: What do I believe about me? And what do I believe about God?

What do I believe about me when I’m experiencing that sense of Inferiority or Superiority?

Answers:

·      My value is relative to others

·      I am not as good or I am better; I am not good enough or I am that great

·      My identity comes from I-B-M-M (Intelligence – Beauty – Money – Might)

What do I believe... about God when I’m feeling inferior or superior?

Answers: (If we are completely honest about it)

·      God is not the one who gives me identity

·      God is not the one who gives me value

·      God doesn’t really care how I feel

Are these true of God? No… Nevertheless, does someone who feels inferior or superior believe them? Yes.

True God or false god? With this in mind, remember that repentance is first about belief, the root source of all behaviour: root vs. fruit.

Let’s walk through each answer about God, asking the question: What is true truth about God?

Answers: (always the root of the gospel is in the cross)

1. Does God give me identity?

God calls me who I am. My entire identity is wrapped up in the cross. Check out Ephesians 4:24, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 1 Peter 2:9

2. Does God give me value?

God defines my value in Jesus’ death. Look at Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 5:6-8, 1 Peter 1:18

3. Does God care how I feel?

God is committed to my joy in Him - Look at the cross! Check out Isaiah 61:10, John 10:10, John 16:24

Do you see what we need to repent of in this scenario of infer/super-iority?

“I repent of this false belief about You God. You are the one who calls me who I am and gives me identity. You place worth and value on my life. I repent of believing it comes from other sources. This is the good news I believe about You, that You care for me and in the cross of Jesus there is ‘therefore now no condemnation,’ only forgiveness and freedom to be the me You make me to be.”

What happens? The old root of misbelief is cut out and a new root grows in it’s place. With a new root comes new fruit! What is that fruit?

It is both self-forgetfulness and making much of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is such good news!

 

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WORRY and The GOSPEL

Do you worry? Does anxiety get the better of you at times? Different people have different things they worry about. (Think for just a moment... Did you pinpoint your worry issue?)

Question: What do you believe about "you" when you worry? This summer, a group of 100 adults were asked this question. The following are their top 4 answers:

  • I worry because I'm not in control of a situation; maybe even things are out of control.
  • I worry believing that doing so will somehow help.
  • I worry believing that if I put enough focus & energy on the problem I will come up with an idea.
  • I ultimately worry because I'm fearful. My value as a person is in danger and I'm anxious about that.

Question: What do you believe about "God" - even subconsciously - when you worry? The same 100 adults answered as follows:

  • I worry because I actually believe that God is not in control of my situation.
  • I worry because I don't believe God has a plan to work things out positively.
  • I worry believing that if God is in control and God does have a plan, God must not care about me in my situation.
  • I worry because I don't really believe that God is the One who gives me my true value.

These are honest answers. These are also root answers.

And the reality is that "root produces fruit." The fruit of a tree is never inconsistent with it's root. The fruit of Worry will grow when the root of belief is as listed above.

The issue is one of truth. Are the above beliefs about God.. "true truths" about God or "false truths" about God? The answer is found in the gospel of Jesus; the good news about God's Son. And the gospel of Jesus is always rooted in the cross of Jesus. So let's explore the truth found in the gospel.

  • Is God in control? Yes. Even in the darkest moments of the cross, God was saying: "I've got this. Although it appears that Jesus has been defeated and all is lost, I am in control." But Jesus dies... And then God raises Jesus to life again!! God is always... in control.
  • Does God have a plan? Yes. God never does not have a plan. History always proves that God has a plan. God had a plan through the cross and God has a plan through your circumstances.
  • Does God care for us in our crisis situation? Yes. God loves us. God gave His one and only Son to prove how much God loves us and cares for us.
  • Does God give us our value? Yes. God placed the "price tag" in us when God gave His only Son to die for you and for me. God loves us.

There is a wonderful concept that Jesus talked about: "repentance." We mostly misunderstand it when we repent and we say "I am sorry for my actions, my behaviour." Worry is behaviour and it is fruit. We might say or sing: "Don't worry; be happy." And it even sounds like repentance, but it's not. The root of belief is the same therefore the fruit of worry will continue to grow.

But the repentance Jesus talked about was repenting of our belief. There is something false about God I am believing and that is what needs to change. In 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 it says: "Your faith in God has become known everywhere... how you turned to God from idols." Repentance is that: turning to the true God from a false God.

So, what will change the fruit of Worry to the fruit of Peace? New beliefs about God and about what God says about you. 

  • God I repent of believing You are not in control and that I need to be. You are in control and I can rest in You.
  • God I repent of believing that You don't have a plan so I need to come up with one. You have a plan and I will wait for You.
  • God I repent of believing that You don't care for me in this situation or others like it, so I hold onto fear about my value. You love me and place value on me through the cross of Your Son. I will hold onto that.

The result? The gospel changes the fruit of Worry to the fruit of Peace because the root of belief is in the solid truth contained in the gospel of Jesus.

May you and I live in this life-giving and freedom-producing reality!

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