Undesirable Methods, Divine Results…

His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time. – Judges 14:4, NLT 

Samson is one of the most recognizable Biblical Judges to any student of the Bible. His exploits as recorded in Scripture mirror nothing less than an incredible novel and blockbuster movie script, although it is far, very far, from fiction. From the very beginning of Samson’s story in the Scriptures, the narrative of his life is filled with everything that is a page-turner, throat-lumper and heart thumper. There are multiple facets to Samson’s experience. They are incredible while intriguing; exciting while enigmatic. Samson is the quintessential prototype of contradictions for those looking at his life from a godly perspective. On one hand, he has these incredible instances where he is the incomparable expression of the Strength of the Lord at its best. Then on the other hand, he has these awful instances of ungodliness at its worst. Yet, in the Bible’s “Believers Hall of Faith” Samson is prominently listed as one of its inductees! (Hebs. 11:32-34) Why would God include this man of “questionable” character and spiritual extremes in his record? I submit to you the answer is given to us in the verse of Scripture referenced in the heading of this writing. God wants us to have a startling example of how He is willing and able to accomplish His purposes in the most seemingly ungodly circumstances for His glory and inevitably our benefit. He will use undesirable methods to bring about divine results.

Samson saw this young woman who was outside of the Jewish Community of Faith. And, HE…..WANTED…..HER. His parents had received explicit divine instructions about the way his life was to progress, particularly the code of conduct he was to always follow as a man dedicated to God for God’s purposes. So this desire was NOT in line with that code of conduct as far as Samson’s parents were concerned. And, our verse of Scripture implies that they were justified in their objections and misgivings. HOWEVER, there was something else going on that they did not see – GOD WAS ACTUALLY AT WORK IN THIS, USING THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO AFTER THE OPPRESSORS OF HIS PEOPLE. WOW! Just imagine; the very thing you have been taught and trained to regard as unholy and unrighteous, is the very thing our Holy and Righteous God uses for His purposes!  Here is the takeaway. When you and I are in situations where things appear to be the opposite of what God wants or what He would do, we are to be carefully prayerful. God could be using these undesirable methods, to bring about divine results. He could be taking what we deem to be bad things and making good things happen. He could be subjecting us to negative circumstances to bring about positive consequences. When we complain, lament, bewail and rue things that seem to be going wrong in our lives, it is a dangerous place. Because it is out of that place that we are liable to panic and subsequently make poor choices and decisions, cancelling our participation in something wonderful that God is doing. One of the reasons God does this is because nothing gets our attention like difficulty does. But once the difficulty gets our attention, GOD HAS TO BE OUR FOCUS!

If you are in a challenging situation that appears to be completely negative, highly undesirable and just downright ungodly, use this occasion to focus on God and keep your eyes on Him, so that you will not do something foolish that you will regret later. Rather, watch Him work – He could be using undesirable methods to bring about divine results.

Do You Feel God Has Brought You To This Emptiness?

2239441799_2e1a790a17_bDo you feel as if God has brought you to a place of emptiness?
 
More than likely that’s exactly what He’s doing. However, look at it like this; He took all of the stuff on the inside that should not have been there, that you apparently lacked the ability and/or discipline to discard, so that you could have a fresh start. Now that you are in this place of ’emptiness’, here is a critical factor to consider: you have the power to decide Who and What you will be full of. If you make the decision that He, and what He wants is going to be your daily choice, more than likely, you’ll never come to this place of ’emptiness’ again. Matt. 5:6; Ephs. 3:19; 5:18.
The hymn writer put it like this:
Fill my cup Lord
I lift it up Lord
Come and quench
This thirsting of my soul
Bread of Heaven feed me
‘Til I want no more
Fill my cup
Fill it up
And make me whole

From BITTERNESS to BITTERLESS…

“Don’t be bitter; bitterness ties God’s hands.” – Mother Bernice Butler
 
My Mom used to say this to us all the time while she was raising us. I found her admonishment to be rather strange in light of the circumstances surrounding her raising us and the many challenges that came along with it. But she repeated it frequently.
 
As I got older and cultivated a relationship with the Lord FOR MYSELF, I began to slowly understand her admonishment. Here I am now years removed from my childhood and those words still ring true. Things will happen to us in life as long as we live that will bring us to the intersection of choice. One of your options will be to make the choice between BITTERNESS and BITTERLESS (this is not a word, I’m coining it to express a point). I have discovered that Mom was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT – BITTERNESS TIES GOD’S HANDS. I would think, like me, you want God to work in your life; you don’t want His hands tied, because that means, He is unable to work in your life. His inability to work in your life is not due to a deficiency on His part. Rather, your BITTERNESS DISPLACES YOU from being in the PLACE where you can receive the benefit of being in the jurisdiction WHERE HE IS AT WORK.
 
So, how do I go from BITTERNESS TO BITTERLESS? We discover the taste of a thing through the taste buds God has blessed us with. We are able to distinguish BITTER from SWEET through the function of our taste buds. Well you and I have “spiritual” taste buds. And at times they have to be ‘reprogrammed’. If I could use the words of one of my mentors, Kirk Lyons, from 30 years ago, “IT’S AN ACQUIRED TASTE.” (I’ll have to tell that story another time). You and I ‘reprogram’ our spiritual taste buds through Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him!”, NLT. We go from BITTERNESS to BITTERLESS by counteracting the BITTER taste of life’s unfortunate experiences with the SWEET taste of God’s GOODNESS that we willfully and consistently expose ourselves to AND TRUST IN. So we ACQUIRE BITTERLESS through the cultivation of our relationship with the Lord, thereby neutralizing, minimizing, and in some instances pulverizing BITTERNESS altogether.
 
DON’T BE BITTER, JUST KEEP ACQUIRING THE TASTE OF WHAT THE SWEET LIFE IS FOR THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM. Make the jump from BITTERNESS TO BITTERLESS. – Pastor Darren E Butler, Sr

The Bible Does 2 Things…

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Yesterday I had a very stimulating conversation with a dear friend of mine. Along with our wives, we were discussing theology, the Bible, interpretation of the Scriptures, difficult Scripture passages and other intriguing, provocative and stimulating topics.  We were talking about the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures and the spirited debate that often accompanies those two dynamics. I personally ascribe to a view that says the Scriptures are completely and unequivocally infallible and inerrant. We began to discuss interpretation and how individual interpretation and misinterpretation often contribute to individuals struggling with accepting the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture as I do. During the course of the discussion, as I was presenting my argument for my position on interpretation and, infallibility and inerrancy, I made the following statement (by the way I believe I said this by inspiration of the Holy Spirit); “The Bible does 2 Things; it records and it supports.” I went on to further explain my statement.

I explained to him/them that I believe people stumble over infallibility and inerrancy because they fail to recognize the difference between that which, through the Bible, God records and that which God supports. Here is what we need to understand about The Word of God. With the Bible, God has documented His dealings with mankind over an expanse of time within the saga of human history. Through the Bible, God shows us how He deals with mankind, often in spite of mankind. In order for us to grasp the meaning, signifance, power and awesomeness of how God deals with us, at times He records some unpleasant experiences and situations. This does not mean He supports them. God just wisely includes these experiences so that we can fully understand and ultimately appreciate the wonder of His Person in dealing with us. For example, the Bible records instances of polygamy and murder, 1 Sam. 1:1, 2; Gen. 4:8. But an exhaustive search of the Scriptures clearly corroborates that God does not support polygamy and murder, 1 Cor. 7:2; Ex. 20:13. If it appears that God supports these things, then it could very well lead to the beholder beginning to embrace a mindset of questioning Scripture and subsequently, eventually and perhaps inevitably having doubts about God. On the other hand, if it is clearly understood that God has simply recorded those things as a necessary ingredient to lead to the complete and accurate understanding of Who He is, then I need not skeptically and suspiciously question Scripture and I can be even further strengthened in my allegiance and love to Him.

You and I need not stumble over the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures because of seemingly apparent contradictions and inconsistencies. Rather, one of the principles at our disposal to aid us in properly understanding them and subsequently God, is to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the difference between that which God records in Scripture and that which God supports in Scripture.  The more you expose yourselves to the Word of God, through the Agency of the Holy Spirit, the more you learn and discern the difference between the 2 Things the Bible does; it records and it supports.