When I was a kid, I used to think of God as a big kid with a magnifying glass, as if he’s just sitting there waiting for me to do one thing wrong so that he can smite me, or zap me or whatever it might be that he did.
I was young at the time, probably eight or nine years old. And I didn’t know it at the time, but it was because of the kind of church that I was raised in.
I was raised in the Catholic church. Not that there’s anything wrong with a Catholic church, but the particular church that I was raised in was very hellfire and brimstone.
But Jeremiah 29:11 tells us… you know what, give me a second, I’m going look that up real quick. Because, as much as I have studied scripture, that doesn’t mean that I know everything. And I like to make sure that I get scripture right.
You might be saying, well, Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous scripture, you should know that by heart. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to get it wrong. We all get it wrong sometimes. And I like to make sure that I get it right, because so many people say things that are incorrect.
For instance, I used to go to Celebrate Recovery. And I would hear this quote quite often: “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That just sounds so spiritual, and so God like, but it’s not true in the least bit. Of course God gives us more than we can handle. If we could handle everything we were given, we wouldn’t need to rely on God. He doesn’t tempt us, that’s what the Bible says: God doesn’t tempt us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). But he does give us more than we can handle.
This is the ESV version and in some other versions, it means plans to prosper. And of course, that’s not just financial gains, but basically plans to have a life full of joy.
If you’re not familiar with what the Torah is, it’s the first five books of the Bible. Most Jewish teachings and synagogues teach based off of the Torah. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, a vast majority of it is based off the Torah. I went to a Jewish synagogue for a while, it’s really interesting. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been there yourself.
They do a lot of training and a lot of teaching. And I think it’s very good teaching. But right here in the first five fifths of the Bible, God is telling us that he wants us to have a great future, that he’s not looking to curse us. He’s not looking to do anything against us whatsoever.
Romans 10:9-10: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Here’s the problem with that verse: We raise our hands one Sunday when there’s an altar call, or we go to the front and we get prayed over and we give our life to Jesus (or we say we’re going to give our life to Jesus). We get baptized, we go home, on the way home, someone cuts us off, we flip them off, we yell at them, we cuss them out and whole family’s in the car while we’re doing it. And I hate to say this, I’ve done this myself. I don’t think I did it right after church, but I’ve done it myself.
And that’s not of God. That’s not of Jesus. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, that means that you have to live your life the way that Jesus wants us to live our lives. And yeah, that’s a tough one. Just because we raised our hand one day or we got baptized, that really doesn’t mean that we’re going to heaven.
What I try to do, and sometimes it takes me a while before I can do it, but what I try to do is say: God, forgive me for that. And God please bless that person, whether they believe in you or not, just bless them for the day because of my mistake, because of what I did and said against them.
And, I’ll even tell God if you have a blessing for me, please give it to them. I don’t know if that’s Biblical or not. But I feel that when when I don’t do things the way that God wants me to, that I should give whoever I’m angry at the blessing that God has for me rather than taking it myself.
You could point out things like with Moses in the desert where God killed half of the Israelites. Well, he killed them because they went against him. They followed God. And then they turned and they went against God and started creating idols again.
And yeah, God doesn’t treat everybody with kid gloves. He shouldn’t be treating anybody with kid gloves. I’m sorry, if we’re gonna follow Christ, then Jesus Himself said, if you’re going follow me, you need to pick up your own cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24-26 ).
Think about what it took for him to pick up his cross. He was whipped to within an inch of his life, parts of his skin were hanging off of him. If you never watched The Passion of the Christ, I recommend you watch it. It’s a very graphic and violent movie, but think about what it means to pick up our cross. It means that we really need to do a lot more… at least I need to do a lot more than I’m doing in being a Christ follower.
Paul was a great example. In the book of Acts, Luke tells us about many of the trials and tribulations that Paul went through: He was shipwrecked several times. He was stoned so badly that the people who stoned him thought he was dead. They carried his lifeless body out of the town and walked back into the town.
And this tells me a lot about Paul. As soon as he did wake up, his disciples helped helped him with his wounds, because they were standing around wondering what to do. They thought he was dead too, then all of a sudden, he wakes up.
And of course, we don’t know whether he was dead or not. God may have raised him at that point, that’s definitely possible. But he walked right back into the town where they stoned him.
He was kicked out of so many towns, he was whipped, he was stoned. He was bit by a poisonous snake one time. He got bit by the snake, and everyone was looking at him waiting for him to die.
And God even said, When Paul went back to Corinth, because people were starting to rise up against him again.
Acts 18:9,10. And the Lord said to Paul, one night in a vision, do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one will attack you or harm you. For I have many in the city who are my people.
So Paul stayed there for over a year and this is the same city where he got thrown out of not too long before. Joy doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. We may not be happy that people are throwing stones at us, but we can still be joyful in that we are children of God. And as much as we don’t want to think about it, the joy really comes from, if we do die… I shouldn’t say if when we die because we will all die. When we do die, we’re going to Heaven. That’s where our joy should really come from.
We will be with Jesus and with God in heaven when we die. The Bible guarantees us that as long as we keep following him.
Hey, this is Dr. Ty. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Christians. Take care and I’ll talk to you next time.