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Sunday, April 29, 2012

DISCOURAGED? LOOK UP

Just when everything is going along well and you think life is picking up a bit, that is when you find yourself in a muddle again.  Have you ever found yourself in this cycle of events?  What do we do when circumstances come along that are unfair, are undeserved, or where you are totally misunderstood?

I found that this is not anything new.  This type of thing has been happening on the Earth since the beginning of time, but the example I want to follow is found in the New Testament.

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus came into a synagogue on the Sabbath.  He saw a man with a shriveled hand and had compassion on him.  He noticed that all the Pharisees were staring at him and he knew they were waiting for him to break the Sabbath laws by "working" or healing this day.  He turns around and cannot believe their lack of concern for the well being of this man he would like to heal.  They only want to find a way to trap him.

So, Jesus poses two questions.  In the first, he asks if it is better to good or evil on the Sabbath.  No answer.  Then he continues to probe with another question to see if he can get past their plans to discount him long enough to actually care about another fellow human being.  He asked if it was better to save a life or to kill.  Still no answer.

All eyes were on Jesus as he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."  He stretched it out and all could see that his hand was completely restored and normal now.

So what did the Pharisees do now?  Did they rejoice with the man?  Did they marvel at the miracle that just occurred before their very eyes?  Did they give God thanks for his good gifts?  NO!  After viewing God's healing power right before their very eyes, they hardened their hearts even further and they went out and plotted with followers of Herod just how they could kill Jesus!

This seems hard to believe, doesn't it?  Jesus, who only loved, healed, delivered, and showed compassion is a target for their hatred and lust for earthly power.  They could not stand his popularity and it did not matter that God was using him in a miraculous way to help the crippled, the diseased, and the demon possessed.  

All that these religious leaders could think of was how to get rid of him so they could go on with their plans and politics.  They would rather to go back to their meager existence to promote their plans for fame and riches.  Tossing aside this inconvenient supernatural interference of God's messenger, these short-sighted men traded a rich fruitful life, and a relationship with God that would benefit others around them, to remain empty, shallow, and self-centered .  Little did they realize that he was the long awaited Messiah.

How did Jesus respond in the face of blatant hatred, misunderstanding, and criticism?  He looked these men in the eye.  He questioned them.  Then he carried on with his life and ministry despite their evil intentions.  

Jesus, the son of God is our perfect example.  In the face of all of this heartlessness bent on ruining him, he asked them stop and consider their ways as well as their stands in life.  The evil in others did not deter him from standing true to his purposes on Earth.  He obeyed his Heavenly Father and illuminated God's plan for mankind.  This sinless one gave his own life in payment for our sin, rather than allowing the human race to be punished for an eternity.  God reached out and wanted to restore his children to himself.

What is our mission in life?  When we are living in obedience to God, do you think that we are any less hated for the light that we shine in their darkness?  No, we have the example and the formula for handling criticism and what to do in the face of opposition.  Challenge and stand up to the resistance in Jesus name.  Continue to do the ministry and remain obedient to the last thing that God has shown you to be and to do.  Trust God to vindicate you and to bring you through any situation.  Ultimately, we are all in God's hands.  Our life is not our own.  Our reputation is in his hands as well as our past, present, and future.

Walk humbly.  Walk upright.  Keep your eyes of faith focused on the only reason that this world has any sanity: God with us.  Soon we will graduate into a better existence, but for now we have to continue in this tainted sinful world.  

Even Jesus with all of his wisdom, knowledge, and power could not over turn the evil in the hearts of some men.  How can we propose to be immune from persecution from other men and women?  There will be times of trial.  Stand firm in the peace that passes understanding.  Confront those things that you should and can.  Leave the rest to God to tackle.  His resources are boundless.

You will come out on the other side stronger.  God will show himself in your behalf.  Others will be changed by watching you and your reactions.  Leave the results to God and you will never be disappointed.  We serve a God who takes what was meant for evil by some and turns it into good for his people.  Look for the good that God is doing right in front of you and rejoice that you are a threat to the kingdom of darkness.  

Jesus said in Mark 3:35, "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."   Be thankful to be considered family.

Remember when Jesus slept out in the boat with his disciples and a storm
 came up suddenly?  They woke him and he told the waves, "Quiet!  Be still!"  Then the wind stopped completely and the sea became calm.  


The disciples were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!"  

Oh, just remember who Jesus is.  Remember, and be at peace as you put your life and all your situations into his loving and capable hands. He understands.  He cares for you and will remain steadfastly beside you.

(Again, I want to thank my son, Philip, for the picture I have used along with this blog. What a great reflection taken in this photo!  You deserve an "A" in photography class.)
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