Archive | November 2013

The Lesson Samson Never Learned (Judges 14-16)

When Samson married the Philistine woman (Judges 14), he gave a riddle to the guests that they couldn’t solve.  So the guests went to Samson’s new wife and threatened her to get the answer.  Finally, after several days of pestering and “making his life miserable”, Samson told her the answer and she betrayed him.

 Then Samson meets Delilah.  The Philistines have bribed her to learn the secret of his strength.  She asks.  She pesters.  She “makes his life miserable” and he gives in and is captured by his enemies.  

You would think that he would have seen through the repeat performance.  You would think that while Delilah was making his life miserable,  he would have remembered what happened the last time a woman made his life miserable with her pestering.  You would think that he would have seen the warning signs and either stepped up his resolve to resist or stepped away from Delilah.  But he didn’t.

 Neither did the nation of Israel.  The book of Judges is like a see-saw.  They follow God, they worship idols.  They follow God, they worship idols.  They never learn from their mistakes.  Unfortunately, neither do we.  Only by staying close to the Holy Spirit can we be aware of the mistake we’re about to repeat.  Only He can give us the strength and endurance we need to stay on track with God and His plans for us.  Plans to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)

Disappointed

Disappointed.  It’s a word I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  We have so many disappointments in life. 

There are the small disappointments from events that don’t seem to last long enough or come often enough, like fireworks, rainbows, falling snowflakes – the ones as big as a silver dollar that float down like lace.  There are the larger disappointments like the restaurant meal or the show that wasn’t as good as we thought it would be.

There are the disappointments that are caused by the circumstances around us that we don’t have any control over.  The pension fund that isn’t growing the way it used to, the aging house that takes up so much time and money lately.

There are the disappointments we experience because of the people in our lives.  The person who cuts us off in traffic.  The people who didn’t return the lost wallet with all our pictures.  The people who didn’t keep their promises.  Then there are the very painful disappointments – the betrayal of a friend, the spouse who doesn’t want to be married to you anymore.

As I was thinking, I realized disappointment happens when something or someone doesn’t live up to our expectations.  We all expect the next meal, the next show to be bigger and better than the last one.  We expect the pension fund to grow steadily, the house to age at what we consider to be a reasonable pace (not at all).  We expect everyone to be polite, honest, honorable, reliable, loyal and love us unreservedly.

I decided to be honest and admit that there are times that I have been and am disappointed with God.  When I delved deeper, I had to admit my disappointment arises when God doesn’t do what I want Him to.  I wanted my mother to attend my wedding and be queen for a day.  I wanted my husband to grow old with me, not with someone else.  I also had to admit that God knows more than I do, that He sees how everything in everyone’s life fits together.  In other words, He knows best.

I switched my thinking to the people who have been disappointed in me and my words or actions or performance.  Some of them were justified in being disappointed in me for I had let them down.  Others were not, for their expectations were unrealistic – like my father being disappointed in me for “leaving” him to marry.

A light bulb went on as I realized how unrealistic so many of my expectations were and are.  Events, circumstances and people are not perfect.  Few things in this life are perfect.  Only heaven will be completely perfect.  No person in this world is perfect.  Only God is perfect.  If it’s not fair for other people to expect me to be perfect, then it’s also not fair for me to expect them to be perfect, or for me to expect myself to be perfect.

Ah. How often I berate myself for a real fault.  How more often I berate myself for a perceived fault – a false expectation.  Quite a few of my disappointments are regrets.  I said the wrong thing.  I didn’t say anything.  I could have done more.  I should have done less.  I’ve asked God and people for forgiveness, so there’s no guilt, but I still regret having done something that needed forgiving.  (Perhaps somewhat like Paul who called himself the very least of all saints in Ephesians 3:8).

My next thought was that if so many people have been disappointed in me, and if I have been disappointed in me, then surely God is disappointed in me.  Suddenly I realized that while God may be disappointed by what I think, say, feel or do, He is never disappointed in me.  He is disappointed by some of the choices I make, but He is not disappointed in me.  He lovingly created me.  He lovingly helps me and takes care of me.  His expectations are perfect because He knows exactly what I will do and why.  With God, performance is always completely separate from the person.  So no matter how my performance may be lacking, as long as I confess my shortcomings and truly repent, God is pleased and will work in me to transform me.

So if God can accept me as I am, then I can accept me as I am, and I can accept others as they are, and I can accept unchangeable circumstances as they are.  Freedom!

The Tree of Knowledge

From the very beginning, God has wanted to protect us from too much knowledge, from the wrong kind of knowledge and from the knowledge that we couldn’t fully understand.  Life was simpler when we didn’t know about evil – there was only good.  Knowing about evil brought consequences into our lives that God originally intended to keep us from.  We never fully understand the consequences of evil because our finite minds don’t usually see that far ahead – Adam and Eve only looked at their immediate desire (becoming more like God) and had no clue about the effect their choice would have on their children and also no idea how many children there would be.

 In the garden, Adam and Eve had direct contact with God – fellowship.  That was lost when they deliberately chose to disobey God.  They no longer had those long intimate conversations as they strolled together through the delightful garden.

 The tree was a test of obedience and trust.  Would they trust God with the knowledge of evil, to keep it for and from them?  We no longer have access to the tree, but we still have that test of trust.  God tests us to see if we will trust Him to keep for us the knowledge of why things happen as they do, the course of our lives, His plan for us.

 In Eden, God chose to not tell Adam and Eve about evil.  Now He chooses to not tell us why He does what He does or what will happen next.  But the question He asks now is the same He asked then.  Will you trust Me?  Will you leave it for Me to take care of for you?  Will you believe I only want what’s best for you?

 

Creation Revealings

Genesis 1:14 – “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years.’” (NASB)

 The sun, moons and stars were to distinguish day from night, seasons and time.  They were also created to be signs – not just to be symbols, but to be miracles.  The sun, moon and stars were to provide awe-inspiring events – events that brought God to people’s attention.  The sun, moon and stars were created to demonstrate God’s control.  God meant for the ordinary, everyday things to inspire awe in us, bring Him to our attention and remind us that He is sovereign. 

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Genesis 1:21 – “And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the water swarmed after their kind, and every winged birds after its kind; and God saw that it was good.”  (NASB)

 The Hebrew word that’s translated “creature” here is nephesh, meaning a breathing creature.  It’s a feminine noun meaning breath, the inner being with its thoughts and emotions.  The Scriptures view a person as a composite whole, fully relating to God and not divided in any way.

 People were intended to be a composite whole – fits with shalom, a state of well-being.  People were intended to fully relate to God – with every part of the composite, in every aspect and situation.  We were intended to not be divided in any way – a united mind, a united heart, a united will – completely at one with God.

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Genesis 1:22 – “And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”  (NASB)

 The Hebrew word for blessed derives from the noun for knee and suggests the bending of the knee in blessing.

 The God of the universe got down on one knee to bless the fish and the birds!  I can picture it – God, on one knee, blessing, gently releasing the fish to the seas and the birds to the air.  What a tender God!