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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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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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Why We Still Need The Gospel

The following is written by Tim Keller, a visionary Pastor in New York City. The following is too good to not share, too important to not read, and too true to not believe. Any questions, please leave them below.

Introduction: Why the Gospel is Central

It is tempting to think that the gospel is how someone is saved and then they grow and move on to more mature spiritual topics. But Acts 15 shows us how Paul prioritized gospel centrality as a key element in advancing the church and why we should apply the same principle in the twenty-first century.

By “gospel centred,” I do not simply mean that ministry is to be doctrinally orthodox. Of course, it must certainly be that. I am speaking more specifically of the gospel message of acceptance by grace alone. While every other religion operates on some type of performance-related principle (“I obey, therefore I am accepted”), the gospel condemns any self-righteousness and assures us of Christ’s righteousness (“I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey”).

Martin Luther’s fundamental insight was that the principle of “religion” is the default mode of the human heart. The heart continues to work in that way even after conversion to Christ. Though we recognize and embrace the principle of the gospel, our hearts are constantly trying to return to the mode of self-salvation. By seeking other ways to save ourselves, we fall prey to pride, spiritual deadness, and strife.

The centrality of the gospel to Paul’s ministry

In Acts 15:1-25 we see Paul, in the middle of a church-planting career, headed to Jerusalem for a big theological debate. Now, why do that? At cursory glance, it would seem that Paul’s mission work was surely of more consequence than a theological roundtable. But Paul made no bifurcation here, and right in the middle of his ministry, he attended a theological summit in order to clarify the gospel message.

The root cause of the theological divide was the issue of Gentile converts and their adherence to Jewish religious customs. It was nothing less than a crisis of early Christian identity. The earliest Gentile converts to Christianity had already become Jewish culturally; many of them were “God-fearers” who had been circumcised or who abided by the Mosaic clean laws. Paul, however, began bringing in pagan converts who had not become culturally Jewish, and furthermore, he was not demanding converted Gentile pagans to adopt Jewish cultural patterns. It was not long before a group began saying that “the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). This disgruntled group had taken their Jewish cultural norms and promoted them to matters of spiritual merit. When they did that, they lost their grasp on the gospel of grace and slid into legalism.

Legalism and Relativism

As Acts 15 illustrates, without gospel centredness, we can fall into legalism. On the other side of the spectrum, we can fall into relativism. When God is whomever or whatever we make him to be, then right and wrong become equally relative, and the church is drained of spiritual life and impact. If God is preached as a demanding, angry God, or if he is preached as an all-loving God who never demands anything, then listeners’ lives will not be transformed. They may be frightened or inspired or soothed, but they will not be changed at the root, because they are not hearing the gospel. The gospel shows us that God is far more holy and absolute than the moralists’ god, because he could not be satisfied by our moral efforts, even the best moral efforts. On the other hand, the gospel shows us that God is far more loving and gracious than the relativists’ god, who loves everyone no matter what they do.

The gospel produces a unique blend of genuine humility and joyful confidence in the convert. The gospel says, “I am so lost that Jesus had to die to save me. But I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die to save me.” This beautiful blend of grace and truth transforms the very basis of our identity. I can’t tell you how important this gospel-centered balance is to the foundation of all mission and ministry. Unless you distinguish the gospel from both religion and irreligion—from both traditional moralism and liberal relativism—then newcomers in our church services will assume they are being called to be good and nice people. But when, as here in Acts 15, the gospel is communicated in its unique, counterintuitive balance of truth and love, then listeners will be surprised. Modern people try to place the church somewhere along a spectrum from “liberal” to “conservative,” from relativistic to moralistic. But when they see a church filled with people who insist on the truth but without a shred of superiority or self-righteousness, this explodes their categories, since to them, people who have the truth are not gracious and people who are gracious don’t demand the truth. In contrast, Christians boldly yet humbly tell the truth that we are sinners in need of grace.

Application and experiment

Personal application: To what extent is your life currently “gospel centred”? Are there areas where you are slipping into legalism or relativism? You might pray about this and offer these things to God.

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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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