Tag Archives: kingdom

To Much To Handle?

“God won’t give you more than you can handle”. It’s a phrase I remember hearing a few times over the last fifteen months which have been without a doubt the hardest of our lives to date. I only realised the other day that this phrase is no where to be found in scripture. Perhaps the closest it gets is in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

This isn’t the same thing though. Temptation does not come from God but from Satan. God allows us to be tempted but not beyond our ability to withstand it and we can turn to Jesus for help (Hebrews 2:18). God’s own trials and testing are a different matter. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says:

…though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The purpose of these trials that grieved some of the readers of Peter’s letter were to test and refine their faith as gold is tested and refined in a fire, burning away the dross until all that is left is pure.

If those trials were only up to what God knows we can deal with, what would be the need for faith in him? By testing us beyond our limits to cope he encourages us lean on him and in this way builds up our faith and trust in him, with the ultimate aim of the praise, glory and honour of the Lord.

To me this is a far more satisfying and comforting thought that “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. This sounds to me like you’re expected to deal with the situation by yourself, as if God has given you a problem to solve or a question to answer and left you to it in the expectation that you’ll be able to do it without him.

Does that sound like the same God who says this in Matthew 11:28-29?

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When you feel like you can’t deal with any more pain and sorrow remember that we have a God who knows and understands our weakness and has made provision for us. In our weakness is his strength and what he wants is for us to turn to him and tell him we can’t cope without him. That’s what faith is about, realising that alone we’re helpless and lost and only by calling out to our creator can we have a hope.

These last months may have been the hardest time we’ve ever experienced but we’ve found that not only has it drawn our family together, it’s drawn us nearer to God too and we’re still feeling the effects of that and understanding what it means for us all.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Whose Church is it anyway?

In Mark 9 John and the other disciples encounter a man who was going around doing good and working in Jesus name, he was working on the same side as the disciples.

His works spoke for themselves; we’re not told that he ever met Jesus or any of his disciples previously but his faith in his unseen saviour resulted in the power of the Holy Spirit being channelled through him to relieve suffering and yet they turned against him and prevented him from working.

Do we see God’s Church as only those churches who agree to our particular statement of faith? Are Evangelicals the only true Christians? Does the Church belong to Reformed churches or Eastern Orthodoxy? Anglican or Roman Catholic? Methodists or Baptists? Or to put it another way…Whose Church is it anyway?

The Church doesn’t belong to any particular group or denomination, the true Church belongs to Christ. But history shows that we often become jealous not for Jesus but for our branch of his church. Too often we’ve made an idol of our own peculiar way of doing or seeing things. Christians persecuting Christians for no other reason than that given by John in Mark 9:38; because he was not one of us.

Moses faced a similar problem when two elders; Eldad and Medad started prophesying in the camp in Numbers 11. Joshua, the man who was next in line to lead the nation, came to Moses and asked him to stop them; Moses replied:

Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them! (Num 11:28)

Who was Joshua jealous for? Was it for the sake of Moses, was it himself? It certainly wasn’t God. Christ’s in Mark 9:39 response is similar:

“…no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me for whoever is not against us is for us”

If he’s working in Jesus name then he’s not likely to be found speaking badly of Jesus and his movement, Paul completes the sentiment in Philippians 1:18 and takes it even further because he’s speaking about people working from false motives:

The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

There’s a war on, and if Jesus Christ himself says, as he does in verse 40, that the man is working on the Lord’s side who is anyone to argue? We can go further if we compare Mark 9:40 (whoever is not against us is for us) with Matthew 12:30 where Jesus says

He that is not with me is against me

All these statements taken together declare that there is no neutral position when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ and our chosen side in this war.

Sometimes we might see many evils resulting from religious dissensions and divisions but we mustn’t let that prevent us from rejoicing if Jesus is glorified, and if the works of the devil are defeated and souls are saved. It’s too easy to think small when we think of the church but it’s bigger than we can imagine, God is bigger than we can imagine and this war is bigger than we can imagine too.

It appears that the disciples didn’t comprehend what Jesus had called them into. The war is real and the actions that we take here and now in this temporary home of ours can and do have eternal consequences. They, like us, need to realise what is really going on and start thinking strategically like Moses, Jesus and Paul.

This remark on this passage makes interesting reading, particularly considering it’s author was a dissenting 17th century French Roman Catholic theologian:

Christ suffers many things in his Church which are done without his mission; but he makes them contribute to the establishment of his Kingdom” (Pasquier Quesnel)

This isn’t that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ but that the work of the church is down to Christ and not man, and he will use diverse means and people to perform the will of God.

The Greatest Ever

“If anyone would be first he must be last and servant of all”
Mark 9:35

It was Jesus who was to be first and in order to do that he became, God’s son became the world’s servant. He has washed us and clothed us and fed us and quenched our thirst. And now we are his servants, following the pattern of Jesus, striving to be like him and pursue God’s glory above all else.

It kind of makes you feel proud doesn’t it..? But are you proud in yourself or boasting in the Lord? There’s always a danger that we become puffed up with self importance, and like the disciples get carried away with who we are or who we could be rather than focusing on who Jesus is.

The Son of God declares that his way lies in devoting ourselves to the care of the weakest and lowest of his flock. He says that you cannot help them until you open your hearts and arms to them.

There is a danger that we can become proud in the work that we do. True greatness lies in humility. Not self-loathing or humiliation which in their own ways are self-centred, but unselfishness and self-forgetfulness.

And who was more humble that Jesus himself? Jesus constantly sought to work for the Glory of his father but his followers were still working for their own glory but the inevitable result of our own pride; seeking to increase our own greatness, is the depreciation of God.

When we try to be something we’re not, when we try to take the place that is meant for another we start to replace Jesus at the head with ourselves. And as much as we try to keep following faithfully ultimately we’re a poor replacement.
Instead of trying to be Jesus we should simply show him to people, show them who is is and what he did and taught.

To reduce ourselves, even, in Jesus name, to give another the place of honour and to let God take the glory in everything we do; that is what it means to serve, that is what it means to do everything as if we do it to the Lord and not for our own ends.

You can’t be Jesus, there is and could only ever be one Jesus. And the world only needs one. But you can live for him, you can change your life to revolve around Christ at the centre.