II Corinthians 7:8-9 ” Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I’m happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.”

After a very painful visit to the Corinthian Church, Paul wrote what was called a “severe letter”…rebuking them for their conduct while he was there. These verses show clearly that as a loving Christian we must sometimes cause sorrow to those we care for in order to lead them into the light. You may call it Tough Love, or Speaking the Truth in Love…or in some cases, an Intervention. The focus is to not inflict pain and condemnation, but to show you are genuinely seeking their best interest in order that they might confess their sin and repent. Paul called this “Godly Sorrow” which brings repentance that leads to salvation, and that should be what we all want for each other.

Psalm 33:20-21 ” We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. “

This theme is echoed in Psalm 27:14 when it says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” But let’s just admit it, waiting is hard…and waiting in the middle of sickness, devastation, or loss is very difficult to do. And now it tells us here we are to wait in confidence and hopeful expectation while our whole world is falling down around us…how!? Well, as we read here, it all starts with praise. We praise God for what He’s done in the past, how faithful He’s been in our life, and how He will never leave nor forsake us. We praise Him for all the blessings in our life and we remember all the times He has rescued, restored, healed, and encouraged us. And when we praise God like this, it leads us closer to Him… and we then can fully and with confidence place our hope in Him… as we wait.

Mark 4:26-27 ” He also said, ‘This is what the Kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.’ “

Our level of knowledge may have grown from Biblical times, but there are still enormous areas of our world and universe that we have no cue about…even the simple idea of a seed sprouting in the dirt. Sure, we may have the agronomy bit down…but why a seed does what it does, do we really know why and how for sure? And as this verse points out, we have nothing to do with it after its planted…it’s totally up to God to bring about the harvest. In another Parable to illustrate the Kingdom of God, Jesus told of a field that had been planted with good seed, but during the night the enemy had scattered weed seed among them…so both grew up together. Again we see that there is no way anyone can truly understand God’s workings. In explaining this Parable to His disciples, Jesus showed that the field was the world, the righteous were the wheat, and the wicked were the weeds…with God for now with-holding His judgment for the sake of the elect living among the unrighteous. Yes, there is so much we don’t understand about our world and the Kingdom of God. That’s because His Kingdom is both within our hearts and an everlasting Messianic Kingdom of glory to come…and our small minds don’t know how this can be. So what we do is trust and believe in the things we cannot understand.

II Chronicles 25:1-2 ” Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king…He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.”

Amaziah picked and chose when and where he would obey God. If it served his purpose and was beneficial, he would listen to Godly counsel, but if he thought he knew better, he’d either turn a blind eye or refuse to listen at all. When a Believer’s heart and conscience aren’t completely devoted to God…and when they want their own way…Revelation 3:16 calls them lukewarm Christians. We can’t play games with God, feigning an undivided commitment to Him, when in reality, we have no real desire to do so. We may think we’re fooling God…but we’re only fooling ourselves. And for our fellow Believers around us, we may think we’re pulling the wool over their eyes…but they can see the inconsistencies, lack of accountability, and refusal to take responsibility for our sins…so in the end the only person being fooled is us.

Luke 6:43 ” No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”

To just look at a tree in the orchard, the untrained eye may see nothing wrong….but come harvest-time, anyone will be able to see the empty branches and barrenness. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 7:15-16 when He warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Outwardly, a person may seem honorable, and with good character…their message may be attractive and on face value ring true. But with time, the words they speak will reveal the true condition of their heart…whether good and healthy, or bad and diseased. For just as a blind guide can only lead others astray, a false teacher can only produce false disciples.

Proverbs 14:4 ” Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.”

If you never use the gifts God has given you, you are like an empty manger…a food trough, or life, that contains nothing or is full of uneaten grain…either way, meaning your oxen are not working. Our strength is found in our giftings, but for many of us we falter out of fear in actually using them in God’s service. But remember, these God-given gifts were not given to us to hoard or hide, but they were given for the common good of all and to build up the Church. (I Corinthians 12:7 & 14:12) Your manger will remain empty if you never accept the cost… for if anything is to be accomplished in your life for God, you need to work your oxen.

I John 2:20 ” But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”

Back in the Old Testament, Jeremiah wrote of the New Covenant coming where the law would be not just learned but written on our hearts. In John, Jesus told His disciples that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, would come in His Name and would teach them all things and would remind them of everything He had spoken to them. So as Believers, we too have been gifted with this anointing, God setting His seal of ownership on us and putting His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 1:21) The Holy Spirit is our very best teacher, protecting us from falsehoods and deception…always speaking the truth and reminding us of the words of Jesus. But it’s our responsibility to listen and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and not pridefully ignore Him…for He is also a gentleman and His still small voice can be easily blotted out by the world’s din and our rebellious nature.

Ruth 1:16 ” But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ “

Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, had lost everything and everyone important to her. She had watched as the severe famine had taken her husband and both sons…leaving her destitute, alone, and abandoned. One of her daughter-in-laws had returned to her own people…but Ruth choose to remain and return with Naomi to Bethlehem. But why? Why was Ruth so emphatic in her need to go with Naomi? Ruth looked behind her and saw her godless nation of Moab…she then looked forward to the land of her adopted family that was once Naomi, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion, and made her choice to forsake her past to pursue her future. When Ruth said, “Where you go I will go.” she was saying, I will not only physically walk with you Naomi assisting, serving, and honoring you, but I will walk spiritually in relationship with your God, seeking after Him until He becomes my God too.

Romans 12:16 ” Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Paul’s writing here was straightforward and very direct. In three simple sentences he laid out the gist of the Gospel Message and the meaning of Sanctification. Jesus taught us to love one another, love our neighbor as ourselves, love our enemies, and to love God. When we live in harmony with one another there’s peace and fellowship and exactly what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came extoling us to do. And as we allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives, there is the sanctifying renewal of our minds called Sanctification, and with it comes humility…a realization that irrational arrogance, pride, and vanity is far from what Christ wants for us. We are not to seek great things for ourselves, (Jeremiah 45:5) but rather be a servant to all.

Job 23:13 ” But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases.”

On the one hand, this verse could cause us to bristle with indignation and resistance. How dare God think He can do whatever He sets His desire on in my life! Don’t I even have a say in what’s happening? We could then be like Job and complain out loud, “We can’t dispute what God does.” (Job 9:3) In other words, we can’t cross-examine God, quizzing Him on His motives. So in the end we could end up blaming God, bitter for what has happened in our life, and very unhappy. But if we look at this verse from the viewpoint of God’s sovereign control, we can then rest in His decisions. For even though we may often not understand, we can still trust that God will always accomplish His perfect plan and purpose in our life. Isaiah 55:11, a very familiar passage, reminds us, “So is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The bottom line is…the Lord’s word, by which He governs history, always carries out His desires…perfectly timed, perfectly executed, perfectly perfect.

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