We do not like to admit we are wrong. Accepting blame is difficult. In today’s passage, Paul notes that he is a slave to sin. He says, “The trouble is with me.” This is the place each of us must come to at some point in life. Some will agree that “the trouble is with me,” but others will point fingers elsewhere.
Paul made it clear that “the trouble is not with the law.” The law is good. The problem is people are sinful. We break the law. None of us can keep the law. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Because we could not fulfill the law, Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law and to conquer death.
Ask the Spirit if something is separating you from God today. If something is revealed, accept that the trouble is with you. Ask God to forgive you and then move forward. Don’t carry around the trouble; let it in God’s hands so you can be healed and restored.
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.” – Romans 7:14 [NLT]
The Psalmist speaks about troubles that surround him, they are “too many to count.” Does that sound like you? We all have these troubles that surround us and they are too many to count. Sometimes you may feel like the ceilings are caving in upon you. You may feel overwhelmed. You might not think that you can handle it anymore.
Troubles surround all of us. We have the temptations that surround us. We have the evil that surrounds us, even things that we cannot see. There is a battle happening right now and we cannot even see it happening. Around you, right now, there are angels battling it out with demons. The angels are fighting for you, trying to keep you from harm. We have no idea all the trouble that surrounds us (See Ephesians 6:11-17).
Today, thank God that He promises that nothing can snatch you from His hand. Your soul is safe in His hand (John 10:28). Ask for the power of the Spirit to help you to stay strong in your faith, to not succumb to any temptations. Ask God to help you to rest on His firm foundation. Find refuge in Him. Be aware of what is around you. Be aware of the presence of God.
“For troubles surround me–too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.” – Psalm 40:12 [NLT]
When I was younger, my dad taught me to carry things on my shoulders. In doing so, you are better using your body to carry the weight and less likely to get hurt. But as I became an adult, I began to pile things on my shoulders in other ways. I began to keep a hold of my problems and try to fix them myself.
Some of our problems cannot be solved alone. Some of our problems are problems because we try to do things alone. But there’s another way—another option for each one of us in life. We can give it to God. We can say, “God, I cannot do this alone. I can only do this with your help.” We can give it to Him and take a step back. We can trust Him and let go.
Piling your troubles on God’s shoulders is not giving up. Yes, you are giving up control and trusting Him with it; however, you were never in control in the first place. He was and is always in control. Even so, you are not giving up. You are giving in. Giving in to the fact that you cannot do life alone, giving in to Someone better, giving in for something more. Peace beyond understanding. Infinite power. Unconditional, everlasting love. You cannot handle this alone. He will help you out. Trust Him.
“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
topple into ruin.”
-Psalm 55:22 [MSG]
If you are the older sibling, you might have heard the phrase “look after” your brother or sister. If you are in a management position, your job is to “look after” whatever you are managing, and this usually includes a group of people. When you have children, you “look after” them.
Looking after someone requires time and attention. Looking after someone at its best requires love and dedication. Looking after someone or something requires caring. Looking after someone requires being intentional and present.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.” He went on to mention bitterness that leads to trouble and corruption. We spend a lot of time looking after ourselves, looking after our families, looking after our co-workers—let us not forget to look after our brothers and sisters.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15 [NLT]
Micaiah prophesies against Ahab. Whenever the king of Israel consulted with him, it was always trouble. Nothing but trouble. Ahab did not like to hear what Micaiah would say—all this trouble. The problem was the way he was living was the reason for the trouble.
Ahab did not like to hear the truth. It was clear to see that because Ahab was not following the ways of the Lord, he was facing these troubles. Nonetheless, Ahab felt that he could get better news delivered from someone else. You’ve heard the statement – “You can’t handle the truth.” Well Ahab couldn’t. It meant that life wasn’t all about him. It meant change. It meant sacrifice.
Today are you in the same denial? Do you avoid certain people because they speak truth?
“’Didn’t I tell you?’ the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. ‘He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.’” – 1 Kings 22:18 [NLT]
Remember the gold calves that were created? Jeroboam made two gold calves and said it was “too much trouble” for them to go to Jerusalem to worship. The gold calves he said were to represent “the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” He wanted the people to believe they could worship these two gold calves rather than travel to Jerusalem and worship the one true God. It was a shorter trip.
But the gold calves were not about God at all. If you read the text, he was not making these two gold calves to save them a longer trip to worship in Jerusalem. The king was fearful about both his position and his life. God was not first in his life—he was first. He feared that if the people would go to Jerusalem to worship they would return to King Rehoboam and they would eventually kill him as well.
There are moments in our lives when we make gold calves. We have a great excuse for them—and our reasoning makes it sound legitimate. But often, if we evaluate things closer, if we strip down the pieces, we find that there is something else at the surface. Today, look at your own life. Are there any gold calves lying around?
“So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’” – 1 Kings 12:28 [NLT]
One of my favorite books of the Bible is 1 Kings. Not so long ago I was led to make a Bible study for the book and it was a great journey through God’s Word. We are introduced to Elijah in 1 Kings and we see a lot unfold. From the moment he is on the scene, we are not provided much of an introduction into his life, but we slowly see this picture of Elijah revealed through the drought, the time with the widow, and the magnificent display by God at Mount Carmel.
Now Ahab describes Elijah differently than most of us would. He called him a “troublemaker.” A troublemaker. Most of us would not call Elijah a troublemaker. He was following God’s commands. He was anything but a troublemaker. But to Ahab he was a troublemaker because Ahab was not following God’s commands. What Elijah was doing was causing trouble for Ahab and his evil ways.
In the same way, people might see Christians as troublemakers. We stand firm and uphold the Word of God but that goes against what society desires. The world wants what the world wants. So you might be called a “troublemaker.” Just remember that there are two types of troublemakers. There are troublemakers who are simply standing firm on God’s Word so they appear as the disorder amidst the world. Then there are the troublemakers who are against God’s Word and are living a life filled with evil. Ahab saw Elijah as a troublemaker. We see Ahab as a troublemaker. The difference is—one is following God’s Word and the other is not. Where do you fall?
“When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, ‘So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?’” – 1 Kings 18:17 [NLT]
Your environment matters. The people you hang out with matter. I’ve heard stories of undercover cops getting sucked into criminal activity because they were undercover for so long. There are also the examples of a child moving to another school and falling in with a different crowd. They start acting differently. The words they use are different. I find myself seeing this in action with myself. If I hang out with a particular group of people I begin to use slang. I return home with slang words coming out of my mouth. Or I will spend some time with those who use exquisite grammar and I end up sounding very intelligent when I arrive home.
Today’s proverb says “walk with the wise and become wise.” We are all sponges and we soak up what is around us. If we are spending a lot of time with people who are considered wise, we gain a lot of information from these people simply by being with them. At the same time, if we spend time with fools, we start learning their ways. This is the same way with positive and negative people. If you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll be more likely to be positive. If you are always around negativity, you will be just as pessimistic.
Do not think your company doesn’t matter. We are to go into the world and share the Gospel, but we must also make sure that we are surrounding ourselves with people who will edify. Make sure you have a community around you that can help you to be who Jesus has created you to be so you can benefit the kingdom.
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” – Proverbs 13:20 [NLT]
“Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” – Nehemiah 6:4 [NIV]
People were trying to intimidate Nehemiah so that the building project would cease. The Bible says that messengers came down a total of four times to basically harass Nehemiah, and his response was that he couldn’t come down because he was doing a great work. Then Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, sent his aide with a letter and again with the same message. The fifth time, the response didn’t change. Nehemiah was not leaving the project to meet with the group trying to halt the work. He sends a message, a very short message (why waste time writing a dissertation when there is no need) back telling Sanballat he was making things up. He prayed and continued to work.
Talk about standing firm. Nehemiah understood what he was supposed to do and he did not let anyone try to tell him otherwise. He kept pressing forward with the project God gave him to do and allowed God to handle the rest. He did not leave his work for a moment to go talk to these troublemakers to try and change their minds. He didn’t spend time pointing fingers at those trying to cause friction, but kept on pressing forward.
When we are doing a good work, we too have people around us trying to get us to stop. Whether it is on purpose or without thinking, people do try to thwart our good works at times. The question is, do we respond like Nehemiah, firmly planting our feet to get the work done? Do we allow the threats, the lies, and the words spoken to simply roll off our backs and continue onward? Or do we stop the project to spend time defending the project and ourselves? Remember, this isn’t about us—and God does not need us to defend His work.