By James Watkins
Mr. and Mrs. Manoah were model parents. Despite living in a land that “did evil in the eyes of the Lord,” they ate a kosher diet, prayed to the one true God, offered sacrifices, and didn’t even drink. A Jewish mother would be proud to have them for a son and daughter-in-law!
After being childless for a number of years, an angel of the Lord announced they would have a son. What joy as he “grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him.” The son of these godly parents was none other than—Samson!
Now wait a minute. What about the promises of “training up a child in the way he shall go and when he is old he will not depart from it”? Aren’t godly parents guaranteed godly kids?
By James N. Watkins
“The first girl you meet when you return to Marion College will become your wife.” No, this wasn’t the prediction of a fortune teller or a 900-number “psychic friend.” My pastor’s wife was trying to console me after a break-up of an engagement and the feeling that I’d never, ever find true love.
“I just feel that’s what the Lord is telling me,” she said confidently. I was skeptical, but I did go back to school with a sense of fear that the “Bride of Frankenstein” would be waiting for me.
One Sunday I made the mistake of teaching from John, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world,” John 16:33 NET.
Right after the closing prayer, one family went out into the sub-zero weather to find that they had left the van’s lights on and their battery was dead. Another family discovered their four-year-old had gotten into their van, turned it on, and backed over a parking bumper. The worship leader went home to find her husband gone with a note telling her he wanted a divorce. That night the church’s hot-water heating pipes froze up and the parsonage’s furnace broke down. A parishioner offered to thaw out the church’s pipes with a blowtorch and caught the building’s subflooring on fire. Then things got worse!
The next Sunday, I promised never to speak on that passage again.
“Trouble” seems to be life’s default setting: flat tires, kidney stones, IRS audits . . . the list goes on and on. So, I’m assuming you and I will be facing some trouble this week. But Christ offers us “peace” and “overcoming” victory today as well.
That’s why Paul can write, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed,” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NET.
So, have a “but not” week! We will have trouble, but not defeat!
QUOTE: Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. ~ M. Scott Peck
Today’s devotion by James N. Watkins is reprinted by permission from www.jameswatkins.com [please make a hyperlink] copyright © 2009. He is the author of fifteen books, including Squeezing Good Out of Bad, and over two thousand articles. He has spoken across the United States as well as overseas.
As a teen, our daughter would have loved to live in The Gap, the trendy clothing store at the mall. Many of us live in the gap, but it’s a gaping hole between jobs or perhaps relationships. There are gaps in our health (I had three surgeries at three hospitals in two months for one stubborn kidney stone). No one wants to live in those gaps, but they are inevitable.
There are two major gaps in the life of Jesus. Twelve years separate the story of Christ as an infant and Christ as a twelve-year old. Then an eighteen-year gap between twelve-years old and the beginning of His ministry at age thirty.
Luke 2 fills in those gaps with two short verses. Between infancy and pre-teen:
“And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him,” Luke 2:40 NET.
And between twelve and thirty:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and with people,” Luke 2:52 NET.
We rarely think of Jesus, the Son of God, needing to grow in wisdom and maturity, but that is exactly what Luke records.
As gaps open up in my life, my first reaction is to panic or get depressed. But the gap is also a time that God, in His grace, can help us to mature and grow through the experience. And pray it doesn’t last twelve or eighteen years!
PRAYER: Father, may Your grace and blessing be with me during life’s gaps. And may I use them as a time of spiritual growth.
Today’s devotion by James N. Watkins is reprinted by permission from www.jameswatkins.com copyright © 2009. He is the author of fifteen books, including Squeezing Good Out of Bad, and over two thousand articles. He has spoken across the United States as well as overseas.