Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Judges 13:16

The angel of the Lord said to Manoah,
"If you detain me, I will not eat your food;
but if you want to prepare a burnt offering,
then offer it to the Lord."
(For Manoah did not know that
he was the angel of the Lord.)
Judges 13:16
 
Have you ever had a major physical struggle that turned into a major spiritual struggle? Have you fought, for example, with illness? Sometimes it is in the crucible of illness (or other physical struggles) that people's faiths are sharpened ... or defeated.
 
One heartaching physical struggle that rattles too many families is infertility. Month after month there is a physical grief as the hopes for a child are dashed yet again.
 
Some of the greatest heroes of scripture have come from the crucible of this physical trial and fire.
  • Abraham and Sarah struggled to have Isaac.
  • Jacob and Rachel struggled to have Joseph.
  • Elkanah and Hannah struggled to have Samuel.
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth struggled to have John the Baptist.
  • And in today's story, Manoah and his bride struggled to have Samson.
In each case, their longsuffering obedience led to a spiritual breakthrough -- not just for them, but for all of God's people.
 
Three things shape the birth announcement of Samson
  1. As in many of these stories, a messenger -- an angel -- appeared to the ones who were battling the physical -- Samson's discouraged parents.
  2. We are tempted to honor -- or maybe even worship -- the messenger, but a godly messenger will always point to God: "If you detain me, I will not eat your food; but if you want to prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord."
  3. The messenger gave them a command of follow obediently -- "[Before your wife conceives,] she is not to drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing." 
Might God be using your physical crucibles to shape you or impact the kingdom? The next time you are physically struggling, try these three things ... 
  1. Look for a messenger -- it could be God's Word, a sermon, a devotional, or a godly friend.
  2. Test the messenger to make sure the message is from God -- a godly messenger will always point to God and not to themselves ... and their message will always be consistent with God's word.
  3. Follow God's commands -- if you are convicted that God is calling you to act, then trust and act.
If you follow these principles perhaps some of your physical struggles might be redeemed, might be used for you and for others for mighty kingdom purposes.
 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's learned more from the
crucibles of life than the from the carousels
-----------------------------
I don't know about others, but when I am in the midst of a struggle, I have a very hard time seeing the messenger. It may be that I am blinded by stubbornness.  However, looking back at struggles, I can see God's hand and the messengers he sent. I hope that by learning from my past struggles (that includes infertility among others) I will begin to acknowledge and recognize the messengers that God sends ... otherwise he may have to speak to me through Bart - my blind cocker spaniel.

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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