Setbacks

Detour, Sign, Warning, Right, Arrow, Roadsign
Pixabay

We are facing a second spike of the Corona virus.   Just as life was beginning to look normal again, whatever that means, we have new lockdown restrictions, which impact our social activities, face to face worship, and our lives more generally. 

It is easy to get discouraged by such things.  Questions like “what now?” rise, and it seems that there is no relief in sight.

But I would like to look at a few individuals in the scripture, that their “improved” lives took backwards turns they might not have expected. 

Joseph in Genesis 37-50 is one of these.  I am not going to look at too many particular verses, but at an overview to make my point.  Joseph, while a younger son, had dreams in which there seemed to be clear prophecy that he was chosen for greatness.  These dreams suggested that he would have authority of his brothers, and in fact over his parents as well.  Things seemed rosy for Joseph.  Later he finds the favour of his father, and he is given a special garment, marking him out as the favourite.  Life was good to be Joseph, then the setback came.  His brothers in a fit of jealousy beat him and sell him into slavery. 

Does he fall into despair at this unexpected turn?  No.  He works hard and wins favour with his master.  He becomes the lead and most trusted servant.  All is good in being Joe again.

But then he comes to the attention of his master’s lustful wife, and being a man of integrity he resists.  False accusations follow and he is thrown into prison.  This time it looks like there is no way out.  Whatever happened to those dreams?  But even there he became favoured.  God remained with him, because he remained with God.  He eventually through more God-centeredness becomes all his dreams predicted, becoming second only to Pharaoh.

There is a lesson in this.  Exodus shows us the same in reverse as well.  God had rescued the Jews with a mighty hand through a series of plagues, and the parting of a sea.  But as soon as the people come up against adversity, they see only the problem, not the solution.  The spies had seen that the Promised Land was good, but all they reported back was the setbacks of walled cities and giants before them.  All except Caleb and Joshua.  They for their part experienced the promise. 

Do we look at situations, and only see what is wrong with them?  Job’s friends and wife were the same.  His blessed life took a detour as well.  But he trusted God, not curse him.  He received all he lost back and more.

The disciples were no different than the people of Exodus , or Job’s friends.   At what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem.   All was looking up. But then came betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death.  The disciples despaired.  The put themselves in a self-imposed lock-down (there’s that word again).  But it wasn’t the end of the story.

Romans 8:28 says it all – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We face the re-emergence new measures.  We see our forward progress, being set back. 

My pastor, back when I was a teenager, told a story about him in college.  He played football.  And in one game, with them trailing by only three points, he received a pass and dodged and weaved his way through the opposition.  Things were looking up, glory was on its way.  Well until he was tackled on the 3 yard line as time ran out.  He was at a Christian university, and as he returned despondent to the bench, his coach asked him a question that changed the course of his life.  He asked, “What does it mean in eternity?”

Our lives may be having setbacks right now, but remember ALL things work together for good!

Padre

A Year

Padre’s Ramblings

It has been a year now since you went away

That passing of time, my love does not allay

You have gone to meet our Saviour 

Having through Jesus’ blood found His favour

I do with faith daily pray

That I too will join Him on my “getting up” day

Till then I shall your memory hold dear

And on this anniversary shed a tear


Padre

dVerse

 

The Eater

Pixabay

To Timnah, Samson was bound

A Pagan wife to be found

Attacked by a lion along the way

With its own life – the beast did pay

Later Samson found honey sweet

In the remains of the lion he beat

Then on his wedding day

He for clothes – a wager did play

He riddled of an eater from which he did eat

Of the strong bringing forth something sweet

Foiled in challenge by his deceitful wife

To Ashkelon he carried homicidal strife

He returned to the banquet his debt to pay

As for the wife – he gave her away


Judges 14

Padre

It’s Simple

Loudspeaker, Man, Boy, Holding, Speaking
Pixabay

________

Acts 17: 16 and following reads,

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

Recently, Brother Larry spoke on the topic of:  “It’s in your testimony.”  I am going to build on that and note that – “It’s simple,” because our testimonies don’t have to be anything complicated.

There are many ways of making a simple testimony.  For example, I set out on in August to write 15 Bible Poems.  One of these is offered here as a sample:

In desperation –

In greatest need-

Begging for mercy –

For help – she did plead

Rebuffed for her efforts

She did not relent –

With just crumbs from the table

She would be content

Such faith she did show

As one from outside

Jesus’ used her example

To show His mercy’s cast wide

Just crumbs from the table

Is all it does take

For us also today

A life change to make

 

In Mark 7:24-30, we find the story of the Syrophoenician Woman (cited above in the poem). Hers was a testimony of faith. It didn’t require elaborate words, or a vast understanding of scripture.  This woman was an outsider but an outsider with faith!

Such simple faith aids us.  Even without deep theological training, the plain sense of scripture can make sense – then you can find the heart of the Gospel.  It doesn’t require Greek and Hebrew.

I am a theologian. I teach and write about the nature of faith and of God. But I cannot teach faithfulness. I cannot put you in a relationship with God. That is the limitation of my ministry.  

That is why we have a body of believers!

Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us:

“And he gave to some to be, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Did you notice that the passage said to some – not all are apostles, or prophets, pastors, and such like?   Some are mothers and fathers, carers, greeters, singers, dancer, and helpers.

Your witness – your testimony – your ministry is the talent the Lord has given to you.  And none – none – Not pastors, or worship leaders, or theologians is any more important than yours.

One powerful witness – remember this about witness – is Dorcas or Tabitha in Acts 9: 36 – 39

“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.  Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.”

Your profession of the gospel – your testimony is how you live your life of faith. What’s called the great commission “Go into to all the world and make disciples,” can be read to mean – not to be a purposeful missionary, but “As you go.”

Your – our – actions speak to those we encounter.  It is by our actions as well as by our words that we are ambassadors for Christ.  As Brother Larry put it, “It’s in your testimony.”

 

Padre

Crumbs (ABP 14)

Food, Bread, Crumbs, Crispy, Stick
Image by Marionthb from Pixabay 

In desperation –

In greatest need-

Begging for mercy –

For help – she did plead

Rebuffed for her efforts

She did not relent –

With just crumbs from the table 

She would be content

Such faith she did show

As one from outside

Jesus’ used her example 

To show His mercy’s cast wide

Just crumbs from the table

Is all it does take

For us also today

A life change to make

 

Padre

Mark 7:24-30

August Bible Poems 14

Crumbs: Discussion of the text

 

Box To Build (ABP 7)

Water, Raindrops, Raining, Wet, Liquid, Splashing

Pixabay

 

Beams to cut

Pitch to boil

A box to build

A God-sent toil

 

Upon ground

As dry as sand

A vessel to construct

On water-less land

 

Nevertheless – my sons and me

Will follow the divine instruction

Build the ark and the animals feed

Before all by rain – faces destruction

 

Padre

 

Genesis 6

 

August Bible Poem 7

 

 

 

 

Catch

Fishing Nets, Background, Fishing, Pattern, Desktop

Pixabay

I’ve seen it all before

But it is not an exact match

How after toiling away at sea

I returned without a catch

 

I have seen it all before

Returning from fishing

Jesus waiting on the shore

But this time no ride wishing

 

I have seen it all before

A miraculous catch of fish in store

But this time of my feelings He did implore

Then the question of love – asked two times more

 

I have seen it all before

He with tasks and goals for me

Despite my failings and sins

My life – Jesus willing to restore

 

Luke 5; John 21

 

Padre

 

FOWC with Fandango — Catch

 

August Bible Poem 5

This is the fifth of my August Bible Poems. I have set the goal of writing 15 scripture inspired poems in the month of August.  I hope they will touch something in your hearts.

True Power?

imageedit_1_5112559964.jpg

Taylor at Unsplash

 

Where does true power lay?

What o’er your life has control?

Are you the master of your own destiny –

Whether in part or the whole?

 

Was there power in that promise that was made?

Was strength really caused by the hair?

Was the physical might put on display –

In the thick ringlets you wear?

 

Did the promise made to God –

In Manoah’s wife’s fervent prayer

Mean as much to you –

As a Philistine’s bed to share?

 

You trusted in “your” strength alone

In the wit – in which you thought you showed skill

And yet for all your deceit and lies

Delilah’s was greater still

 

And why did you not seem to see?

Or become in the least paranoid?

Did her constant questions about your power –

Even once make you annoyed?

 

Did your lust and vain pride –

Blind you even before

Your shearing and capture when

The Philistine’s your eyes – out did gore?

 

Where does true power lay?

Does it rest in human might or the sword?

Are you the master of your own destiny –

Or does it come in the end from the Lord?

 

Judges 13 -16

 

Padre

 

August Bible Poem 4

 

 

 

 

New Course Bound

Egypt, Man, Bedouin, Desert, Sheep, Hot, People

Pixabay

Jethro was growing concerned about his son-in-law.  He hadn’t seemed quite himself since he arrived home.  Something must have happened out there, but what?

“Jethro, I need to be away for awhile, and I’m not sure exactly how long,” his son-in-law finally announced.

“Where are you going?” the kindly old man asked.

“Egypt, there is something I need to do there.”

And that was that.  Moses had always been a little different, Jethro supposed.

 

Destiny’s encounter – in the wilderness

A flame divinely kindled found

His past he could no longer suppress

His life’s journey now on a new course bound

 

Padre

 

Exodus 3

 

August Bible Poem 2