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God’s people, the Jews, were in a bad situation. They did not want to give up; they did not want to surrender; they did not want to die at the hands of their enemies. The were making a last-ditch effort against the advancing Romans, who vastly outnumbered them. The Romans easily advanced up Masada, a huge plateau which was a natural place for a fort high above the surrounding area. Masada gave a wonderful view which served as protection from enemies, as well as the steep terrain preventing easy access to the fort at the top. The men, women, and children were facing certain death. What would you do?
It is not clear exactly what these Jews did; whether they committed suicide or shot each other before the Romans could; it will never be fully known.
Having no absolute connection to scripture, I go to the first chapter of James. Trials, tribulations, sickness, defeat, loss, are all battles everyone faces one time or another. In times like these, what do you do?
I cry, grieve, moan, groan, blame others, beat myself up, and rarely if ever do I turn it over to You, Lord … not fully.
James 1:1-13 Easy-to-Read Version
“Greetings from James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To God’s people who are scattered all over the world …”
and if I might add … to all God’s people who are scattered, smothered, crushed, strained, pained, broken, torn, used, confused, abused, lost, forgotten, accused, tossed, trashed, depleted, spent.
Faith and Wisdom
“My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be.”
Being patient in my suffering and happy for my troubles brings maturity and completeness. This will result in goodness; I will be what God designed me to be.
But, my patience is running out and my troubles are bringing anything but happiness. I have no patience with others and even less with myself. I want things to happen on my timeline and done my way. No amount of maturity has changed this ole’ gal in sixty-two years. I may have mellowed a bit, learned to sometimes bite my tongue, and to run jump in a hot tub of water when I think I’m gonna explode; except this last time the water started leaking from the pipes and I had to mop up the floor before it ruined the downstairs ceiling.
I’m presently a complete mess. Nothing I say or do seems right … to me … or to anybody else. I am clueless as to where the next step in my life will take me. I have ideas, I have dreams, I have a past, but the present is taking me down a staircase that disappears from under me.
“Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do. So they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.”
Lord, I know I need to be wise and make my next decisions carefully. God, I’m asking You right now for wisdom to discern the paths You would have me travel, if indeed traveling is what is needed. Should I stop for a much-needed rest; or wait for You to lovingly take my hand and lead me as I don’t know the way. I don’t doubt You, Lord, I believe You want the best for me; I am the one I can’t trust. I guess that’s the point, my trust should only be in You.
“Believers who are poor should be glad that God considers them so important. Believers who are rich should be glad when bad things happen that humble them. Their riches won’t keep them from disappearing as quickly as wildflowers. As the sun rises and gets hotter, its heat dries up the plants, and the flowers fall off. The flowers that were so beautiful are now dead. That’s how it is with the rich. While they are still making plans for their business, they will die.”
God, You know I am cared for, I am rich beyond measure, I am blessed with all my needs, and most of my desires. I have been humbled and taught compassion from the loss of loved ones to cancer. I joyously jump in to aid those who are ill, making plans to help them whether they’ve asked for my help or not. When I am told that my plans should be for myself, not for others, I crash and burn leaving only the charred remains of my good intentions.
I am now doubly humbled.
Temptation Does Not Come From God
“Great blessings belong to those who are tempted and remain faithful! After they have proved their faith, God will give them the reward of eternal life. God promised this to all people who love him. Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone.”
I was recently in pain and anguish; from my mouth burst the words, “Satan, get away from me!” I said it over and over again. It did not drastically change the situation, but it did help me focus upon whom to blame the upset. Satan has taken up residence in my body and mind often. I feel the power of an overwhelming loss of control. That sounds like I am laying my lack of self-control on Satan, maybe so. But I do feel possessed, tempted, no … encouraged, to let go; it is not to let go and let God; it is to let go and let the devil take over. That is a terrible thing to admit, even to myself. The only saving grace for me is that Jesus was himself tempted; He did not let go of God; He faced down the devil and won.
Luke 4:6-8 King James Version
And the Devil said unto him, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”
And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Sometimes it does take a mountain.
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