“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
When things have gone wrong for me in my life or have not turned out the way I expected them to, often times I tell myself that God must be giving me what He thinks I can handle. Yet, more often than not, I find myself “handling” things and in turn, they become more overwhelming. As a result, things get unmanageable and I’m left feeling alone and unsure of why I am in the situation in the first place.
In my Bible Study time this week, I read Chapters 26 and 27 of Leviticus and Chapters 11 through 13 in the Book of Hebrews. All of these Chapters reflect on the way in which God intends for us to live out his Word.
We learn that God expects obedience and yet is also merciful. Leviticus, Chapter 26 outlines all of the blessings and punishments that God promises His people if they choose to obey or disobey Him. In obedience, God promises abundance, peace, fertility and His presence among His people. However, those who are disobedient face poverty, illness, disasters and possibly death. Yet, God still gives His people opportunities to repent and return to Him. If they do, God says, “…I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of all the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord” Leviticus 26:45 (NLT).
In Hebrews Chapter 11, we are given a list of men and women from the book of the Old Testament who followed God’s call to obedience and endured many trials and suffering for their faith. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Some did reap rewards for their faith; however, some suffered brutality or even death for it.
Hebrews Chapter 12 calls believers to “endure divine discipline” and not reject God. “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” Hebrews 12:6 (NLT).
When my son does something wrong or makes a bad choice, it is my responsibility as his parent to discipline him. I do it because I love him and I want him to make good choices. I also know that this requires him to be less selfish, more patient and maybe a little less comfortable. Making the right choice can often require sacrifice and discipline. Also, we may not be rewarded for our right choice. Sometimes we are and even then it can take time for us to reap the reward.
In the same respect, God is our parent. He knows what we need to face in order to become better in our relationship with Him. He loves me as much as I love my son and wants what is best for me.
Chapter 27 of Leviticus examines the way people were to make contributions to the Lord and His sanctuary. “One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy” Leviticus 27:30 (NLT). God is reminding His people that everything they have is through Him. Therefore, God is teaching the people to give out of their hearts to Him.
This makes me question how much I give out of my own heart to God and His service. It makes me question how much I really need that new pair of shoes. Perhaps, maybe that money could be better spent in an offering to my Church or to someone in need? God wants us to put value in how we spend living our lives for Him rather than in how we spend living our lives for ourselves.
Lastly, in Hebrews Chapter 13, we are reminded again of the sacrifices that are pleasing to God and we are encouraged to stay strong in our faith. This chapter is sort of a summation of everything laid out above. Here, the author reminds us that Christ needs to be center in our lives and that He never changes, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT). In this life, we can be sure that nothing will last. Changes will happen all around us. But, isn’t it comforting to know that Christ’s love for us never will end?
Hebrews 13:12 also reminds us of the suffering that Jesus endured for us. He became like the sacrificial animal did before the Tabernacle. He suffered uncleanliness, brutality and humiliation all to “make the people holy.” Jesus’ love for us has no boundaries. The teaching in this Chapter is a sober reminder of the very heavy price he paid to redeem our sins.
It is that kind of love that should empower us to endure through the hardship we face in our lives. It also makes me question how much faith I do have in God. Do I really trust God in times of difficulty and hardship? Or do I try to solve the issue myself or try to avoid the issue all together, because it might cause me to have to sacrifice something I don’t want to give up?
Sadly, I have failed at this many times in my life. Just like my seven year old, I chose my way instead of God’s. Yes, I think God sometimes gives me more than I can handle. But, now I see that He might need me to go through the hardship to learn and become a better person in faith. Just like the men and women of the Bible, we are called to endure. In this life we will suffer and we will face hardship. But, if we follow Christ and call on Him in those times of struggle, He will surely be with us now through eternity.
“Now may the God of peace – who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood – may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT).