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“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hebrews‬ ‭5:8‬

One of the lies Satan has been feeding us for years is that God is an angry, vindictive God who wants to destroy us. Nothing is farther from the truth. God is holy to be sure, and because he is holy he can’t allow sin to be in his children.

God is also the loving parent. A loving parent guides their children on the right path. When they stray, they are redirected. As they grow older, they choose the way that was shown them.

But growing is hard. We make bad choices. Friends abandon us. Dreams are crushed. What we hope for vanishes. But it’s the painful things in life that make us strong.

Even Jesus learned to obey through the power of the same Holy Spirit that indwells each of us as his followers.

When you encounter difficulty ask your Heavenly Father to give you wisdom. Is this a redirection or is this a pruning? Both are painful. One requires action on your part (confession/repentance), the other requires action on God’s part ( the vine dresser in John 15). During pruning our part is to rest knowing his way is best.

Your Heavenly Father loves you unconditionally and with no limit. What you are going through may not be understood now, but it is not without purpose and is under the watchful eye of a loving parent.

“For I am with you and will save you,” says the Lord. “I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”” Jeremiah‬ ‭30:11‬

This verse is a bittersweet promise for us. On the one hand, we have the promise of God that he will save us.

When Jeremiah wrote this to the people of Israel they were going through very dark time in their life. God was nowhere to be found He seemed to have abandoned them.

The reason for the abandonment was because of the lifestyle they were living, and the lifestyle of those who had gone before them. They were living against God‘s word and as a result were the reason for God’s perceived abandonment.

But here, God promises the Israelites that he will deliver them from the darkness. The time of their testing will come to an end. In the future the pain will be a distant memory.

However, those who have mistreated God’s people; those who had abused them; those who have mocked him and his followers? They will meet their painful, destructive reward.

He is a just God. He is a good God. But because he is good and just, he must discipline his children.

The pain we must go through is temporary. The lessons we learn can become the source of our strength.

When it seems like God has abandoned you, ask him this question. What is it Lord that you want me to learn.

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah‬ ‭6:8‬

One of the most difficult things for any of us to do, is to meet the expectations of some people. Hard as we try some people are impossible to please. For some of us we have spent our entire lives trying to please others with an end result of being displeased with ourselves.

Trying to meet the expectations of other people, is the main reason that many of us lose our identity. We get so caught up in who we think we are supposed to be, that we forget who we are.

The expectations of others and ourselves are impossible to meet. Surprisingly, the expectations God has for us are relatively simple!

In this verse, God has three things of us. First of all to do what is right. Doing right means that we simply follow the life God has for us as exemplified by Jesus in the Bible.

Secondly, he asks us to love mercy. To love mercy means we realize the mercy he has for us and out of gratitude extend that mercy to other people.

Lastly, he asks us to walk humbly with him. To walk humbly with God simply means we realize that without him we are nothing, and with him, we are everything.

The easiest part about the expectations that God has for us, is that he has given us his Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us and empower us to live for him.

He doesn’t expect us to be perfect! He simply expects us and asks us to live in his word and trust his ways.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬

For some faith is like walking a tight rope with no safety net. Every step is calculated. Every step is a reminder that one slip and injury or death is certain. Faith becomes a walk of fear!

For others, Faith is like walking in the dark in unfamiliar territory. Each step carries questions. “Am I going the right way?” “Is there danger around the next corner?” “Will I make it through this?” Faith becomes a walk of caution.

Faith can also be like walking on ice. Like walking a tight rope, every step is calculated. Tiny steps are in order to keep from losing your balance. Unlike the tightrope walking on ice leaves you uncertain with every step. Some ice is easy to navigate. While with other ice It is impossible to get a firm grip. The problem is, often times you can’t tell the difference until it’s too late.

Faith can also be like a rocky path. You can see what’s ahead of you. It’s relatively easy to navigate as long as you go slowly. But often times, a rocky path is exhausting. With each step you face one more obstacle, one more question, one more decision about how to proceed.

The ultimate irony, is that in each of these situations your faith is strengthened when you realize that you’re not alone. True faith is only scary when you must travel those routes without any guidance.

That’s where faith in Jesus comes in. It’s easier to go through the struggles of life when we realize that they were sent for a purpose by loving God whose intent is not to destroy us but strengthen us, to lift us up not discourage us, to show us his love and not to abandon us.

Faith in Jesus brings confidence not concern, courage not fear.

“David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”” 2 Samuel‬ ‭12:22-23‬

Although he was called a man after God’s own heart, David was far from the stellar example of spiritual or political leadership that any of us would aspire to.

His statements above, come as a result of a scandal he caused that would rival any political or religious scandal today. David had an affair with a married woman who got pregnant. He murdered her husband to try to cover up his actions.

Then, when confronted by a prophet of God, David was informed that the baby would get sick eventually die. God keeps his word. When the baby became sick David went into a state of mourning. He fasted. He prayed. He wept. He begged God for mercy, grace and forgiveness in hopes that the baby would survive. But it didn’t happen. The baby died.

Sometimes we pray and God doesn’t answer as we’d like. We pray. We plead. We beg. We bargain. We may even implement a prayer team on our behalf, but nothing helps. Here David teaches us a valuable lesson. Even in those times God disappoints us, we need to move on trusting his wisdom and knowing that as a sovereign God his way is best.

As C. S. Lewis said, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties but peace within difficulties.” God may not answer the way we like, but he will always answer in a way that is best for us if we trust him. Difficult as it may be, when God says no we need to get up, brush the dirt from our knees, and move forward knowing that his way is best.

By the way, just a reminder, God gave David another son from the same mother. His name is Solomon. The wisest and richest man in the known world at that time. And if you look at the genealogy following David‘s line, later on from the same genealogy Jesus is born! God knew what he was doing.

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February 2021
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