Tag Archives: Sin

More Than I Can Handle

“God will never place more on you than you can handle.”  Have you ever heard this phrase?  Have you ever said something like this?  It is common; in fact, it is so common we accept it as truth. Somewhere inside it makes us feel confident that our circumstances are not going to overcome us.  We make the statement, grit our teeth, and then press forward.  Let’s look at two things about this statement.

First, sometimes it is not God that has placed us in our situation; it is our own bad decisions. There comes the point when we have to accept responsibilities for our actions.  We must confess them and ask God to forgive us.  Examples of this are found repeatedly in the book of Judges when the nation of Israel turns their back on God, makes terrible decisions, and then cries out for help.  Their decisions placed them in the situation, and only God could restore things.

Second, there are times when God allows things to happen to us so that we would learn to trust in him more.  They are exercises of faith, much like Job experienced.  He was a man that lost everything material in his life, but the expereince strengthened his faith and displayed that faith for everyone to see.  Simply put, there are times when God will allow things to happen that are more than you can bear.  The good news is, he will walk with you through it all.

No matter which of these two categories you are experiencing right now.  God has the solution for what you are facing.  If you are overwhelmed by your own bad decisions, confess your sins, and he is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9).  These steps may not alleviate some of the consequences of your decisions, but it will restore a relationship that grants you His strength to face them. 

Maybe you are going through something that is beyond your control.  It came out of nowhere, and you are left feeling helpless and overwhelmed.  In times like these, we trust in the Lord and His strength.  It may be more than you can handle, but it is not more than God can handle.  We must turn to him; “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Things will be more than you can handle sometimes, but remember God is with you and loves you. He is your strength, and he does not expect you to be able to do things on your own.

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Posted by on January 31, 2019 in Just a Thought


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A Million Other Places

The moment was here.  People were entering the auditorium filled with a mixture of emotions.  Each one had come for a different reason, but all arrived with heavy hearts.  As I stood at the back of the room, waiting for the service to start, a person came to me. The words they shared made the wheels of my mind engage and slowly turn.  “I’m sure there are a million other places you would rather be right now.”

I understood what they meant.  The situation was heartbreaking.  As a pastor, these are the rare, quite possibly, once in a lifetime situations that you dare not even imagine . . . but there I was.  They were acknowledging the physical, emotional, and spiritual stress of the situation, and in some way, their comment was meant to be a statement of comfort – “I’m praying for you.”  At that moment, I coveted that prayer and the prayers of others.  Since the moment I knew the event was coming, I had been in a state of fasting and prayer.  I needed God to work; I needed him to walk me through that service.

Where Am I?

There are moments in our lives that we find ourselves in a place that is less than desirable.  They are not necessarily times of great turmoil, but we long to be elsewhere.  Maybe it is a period of suffering, a period of sorrow, or a point where our theology is being put to the test.  That day, it seemed like these three periods were colliding.

We must acknowledge that evil exists in this world, and because of this evil, there is suffering. People do horrendous things, and we enter into situations that inflame our sinful nature.  Sometimes the events that fan the flames of our fleshy tendencies are small, and in hindsight are inconsequential.  Jesus told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)  Can you imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds? They had no idea of the suffering and persecution they would face.  At that point, they did not know the sorrow and disappointment that would come on the day of Christ’s crucifixion.

The truth is, when we read through Scripture, we understand that we live in a fallen world that stands opposed to God.  The accounts of Abel, Job, Daniel, Noah, Joseph, Paul, Peter, and Stephen affirm that suffering is real.  This list is but a small representation of the people of God suffering in a world condemned by sin.  This world is the world in which we live.

Where is God?

The psalmist writes in Psalm 139:7-11 that there is no place we can escape the presence of God. Jeremiah 23:23-24 reads, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” God is present.  However, he is not just present; God is active.  God is not a being that stands idly by, observing his creation.  He is actively involved and intimately acquainted with every aspect of our lives.

We learn in Scripture that Christ upholds everything (Heb 1:3, Col 1:17).   The idea that he upholds all things is accompanied by the truth that he directs all things (Eph 1:11).  It is only by the power of God that the grass grows (Ps. 104:14) and there is no chance or coincidence – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov 16:33)  God is intimately involved in everything that takes place on earth.  There is nothing that escapes his vision, and there is nothing that occurs out of his control.  

We have fancy words for this in theology.  We tend to talk about God’s sovereignty and his providence.  The first attribute means he is the ultimate authority and over all things; the second addresses his intimate involvement in all things. We trust in these two ideas because we also uphold that God is good and righteous in all that he does.

What About Where I Am?

It is easy to teach concepts, but our circumstances often challenge the truths we hold.  This situation is where I found myself that day. Were there a million other places I would have rather been?  Yes.  I long for a day there is no more suffering and death is no more.  I want evil to be vanquished once and for all.  My desire is for the New Heaven and New Earth – encompassed by the glory of God, unhindered by the presence of sin – but that is not today.

Today I will face suffering and sorrow, pain and agony.  The reality of a sinful world will challenge the longing of my heart.  The theological truths I hold will be forced into action by the presence of evil and deception of sin.  So where do I want to be? 

As the gears of my mind and heart continued to turn over the statement made, I realized I desired to be where God wanted me to be.  There was a reason I was in that place, at that time.  This reason did not remove the pain, and it did not lessen the suffering. The physical reality of the situation did not change because of the spiritual truth of the situation. However, when we embrace the spiritual truth of the circumstance, there is hope in our physical conditions.

What is that hope?  It is the hope of a loving Father bringing all things toward his good and perfect purpose through the Gospel.  It is this hope (an expectation of certainty) that enables me to trust him.  It is this hope that lets me see a purpose in every circumstance of life.  At times, there are a million other places I would rather be, but being where God desires is a desire that deafens all others.    

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Posted by on January 28, 2019 in Practical Theology


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Where is God?

Do you ever forget anything?  This happens to me often, and I am thankful I am not the only one that suffers from a lapse of memory.  We have all been in situations where there is something that we have forgotten.  Sometimes, it is nothing life-altering, such as forgetting a few things at the grocery store.  A moment like this will either lead to another trip to the store or living without the item.  Forgotten events might bear a bit more consequence, like birthdays and anniversaries.  However, in the life of a Christian, there is a lapse of memory that bears serious effects — we forget the presence of God.

Think about it for a moment.  One question that is often asked is, “Where is God?”  The biblical answer is everywhere.  The church has affirmed throughout the ages that God is omnipresent, or everywhere at the same time.  This means there is no place we can go and be absent from God’s presence. The psalmist grapples with this in Psalm 139:7, Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (ESV)  There is no place we can escape the presence of God.  We often forget this truth.  In our sinful nature, we act like practical atheists or practical deists.  Let me explain what I mean by these two terms.

First, we understand that an atheist believes there is no God. Honestly, though we say we believe in God, how many times do we act as if God does not exist?  If he is everywhere, then he sees everything; yet, our actions are contrary to his commands and desires.  We neglect them completely.  We are practical atheists when we do not acknowledge God’s existence in our daily activities through obedience to his truths.

Second, a deist believes in a supreme being but believes it does not personally interact with his creation.  Again, we say that we believe in God, but how often do we act as though he does not care about what we are doing and that he does not want to communicate with us.  We go about our day without spending time in prayer, and our actions suggest that he does not want to be intimately involved in our lives.

These two ideas are difficult to hear, but they lead us to an underlying principle  in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)

God is everywhere; therefore, he is to be acknowledged in every activity and at every moment.  When we neglect the presence of God in our lives, it leads to sin and distress.    I challenge you to strive for mindfulness of God’s presence throughout your day.

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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in Just a Thought, Practical Theology


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