Matthew 5: 39: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40: And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41: And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Going the extra mile for others is the essence of long suffering. Suffering is quiet. To suffer means to allow. Long suffering means to allow for a long time. Jesus defines it even further. He looks for opportunity to suffer, to allow others to use Him and His resources. Jesus is absolutely bent on being used by others. The quest for Him is not about what others ask of Him, but about how He can offer beyond the asking.
Jack’s Pain: Working with a team that was split on commitment was tough. Each had valid points. Each was entrenched in opposite directions. Long suffering was tested. The division had been ongoing in the company for six years and then some. Jack decided to be the walking mat. Someone had to let others “take advantage” to gain some trust and ground. It was tough, but over time some of the animosities began to turn into friendships. He was hopeful to really seem some team progress. This last meeting had been half the team directing criticisms at his area. Not much was founded in present reality, but at least they were venting openly instead of behind his back. There was hope.
ACT! Who is asking for a piece of you or your time? What can you do that goes beyond the asking? Do it.
PRAY! Holy, Gracious Father, the light and love of Jesus are beyond me. When I ask, He does more. When I impose, He expands the request to more. It seems I cannot put more demand than He can answer. Help me to suffer-long with others, Father. Help me to be like Jesus and go the extra mile with a smile.
Matthew 4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
The fact that Jesus would allow himself to be taken anywhere by the devil astounds me. What was going through His mind at those moments? Here he was, led by His own Holy Spirit, to spend time with evil. Here he was entering the beginning of His public ministry dealing with a defeatist devil. Our present thinkers tell us to feel good and be happy and then minister. Our present ideologies point to pleasure as the entry to ministry. Jesus allowed himself to be taken into the presence of evil itself. This was His entry point into public ministry. He allowed testing. He presented himself for inspection. He was taken.
Pushed to the max, Jim was about to pop. This was supposed to be his year to get the big promotion. It began with pain. Employees were livid with some decisions he had made. Every emotion in him was twisted. He had worked night and day and given himself totally on behalf of these. They turned on him. The year before, he had handled the torrents of accusations from a disturbed man. The threats had been against these very employees that now turned on him. For defending them, he now stood their accusations of being unfair and inequitable. Was this how to start his big year?
He resigned himself to stand through the accusations. He remembered that the name, Satan, really meant Accuser. He remembered, Jesus had stood testing before His big year. Surely, he could allow the Healer to live in and through him in this critical time. “Father, forgive them”, he whispered, “They don’t know what they are doing.”
ACT! Testing is never fun. When God has something big, He can allow life and, yes, even the devil a place to sort out our intentions and grace living. Is there a place of testing in your life? Is God preparing you, stabilizing you for the next big thing? Submit to the test. Let it prove you out. Don’t fight. Let God fight for you. Take time to pray Psalm 35 and see what happens.
PRAY! Father, I am not my own defense. When life and the enemy rise against me as a flood, You be the boat of my salvation. Carry me away from that which is too strong for me. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies. Cause in me conviction to repent of those weaknesses in me that could have led to this situation. Cause holiness to well up in me. Cause me to crucify any flesh that needs changed. Let these troubles be a directional that causes me to become closer to You in thought and word and deed. Cause me to be more like You than ever before. Then, in the next big thing, I will be able. I will be founded. I will be strengthened to do that to which You have called me. I surrender myself to be taken.
Matthew 3: 13: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
Here is the Son of God, God in the flesh, submitting Himself to the gift and calling of another. In most of our world, this is almost unthinkable. The Master goes to the servant to be enabled for ministry. It is so backward to our ego mindset that it almost hurts. When you meet with Jesus, you will be asked to find Him in others and lay down ego.
There is nothing like being misunderstood to humble us. Reading through a memo written by another staffer, I started to get upset. It was evident that he really did not understand the conversation the day before. How could he so misunderstand me? Before I did something stupid, I opened the memo that had been sent by me after the conversation. Taking a slow and deliberate look, it was easy to see how he was interpreting as my meaning. He was simply walking out his understanding. Humbled, I deleted my first response and crafted one more suitable and understanding to correct the confusion.
ACT! Think of a friend who has a gift you need. Get with them and let them pray for you.
PRAY! Whoops! Father sometimes I miss it and mess it. Sometimes You have sent Jesus to me in a wrapper that I did not receive. Sometimes the unlikely has had the incredible for my life. Help me find the some-times and receive from the gift of others in Him.
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Psalm 16: 6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. KJV
You make my life pleasant, and my future is bright. CEV
The boundary lineshave fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. NIV 1984
Along with every gift comes a set of conditions and expectations. Giving a BB gun to a nine year old comes with conditions that it is only used with Dad. Giving a wedding ring to a spouse comes with promises to love, honor, and cherish. There are boundaries. There are definitions of the blessing and how to enjoy and conditions to limit and protect and fulfill purpose.
Every job comes with a set of conditions and expectations. Overlooking a contract arrangement it impressed me I might have to take extra time to really understand how to make this new relationship work. Conditions and clauses limit and liberate my abilities with the group.
Every call of God comes with promises and extensions. The call to do something helps define our path and helps us to understand obedience in the path will result in extended boundaries. Resistance to path will result in confusion and possibly greater limitation in order to get us back to the path.
Some boundaries are limits. Gravity is a limiting boundary. Jump off a 20 story building and the limiting boundaries of strength of your physical body coupled with the limiting boundaries of gravity will pound your body into death. Expect it. Those limits allow us to define actions in a safe and full living manner.
Some boundaries are liberation. A grant for an education is meant to expand our knowledge and ability to do more in life. It is a boundary, but it has an intention to liberate. It may be restricted to a certain university and course of study, but there are liberties all along the path. The same would work with an employment contract. The employer may give us latitude to work and make commissions within a certain product and service. The boundary can be liberating.
God given boundaries always lead to life and health. Understanding, acknowledging, and living inside them bring us greatness in life, health in our bodies, blessing in our minds, and peace to our souls. Defining the boundaries of envy, jealousy, strife, and contempt keeps us peaceful with our fellow humans and enjoying our lives. Defining the boundaries of the power of God focused toward us, righteousness in Christ, full salvation, and the fruit of the Spirit brings incredible liberation and blessing to every step we take.
The smart and healthy and balance Christian sees the right boundaries of call and position in life and uses them to good for themselves and others. Boundaries can be stretched when obedience is engaged. Boundaries can be tightened with disobedience is the norm. It is our choice to study, recognize, acknowledge and activate the boundaries.
A friend challenged me on some of my activities. His best knowledge of me was my gift of organization and administration. Since I am more active today in birthing and building and developing new works and businesses, he is confused. How can I be going outside my boundaries and hope to succeed? The answer is simple. My boundaries have been stretched through obedience and fulfillment of call. What fell to my lot before is much bigger today through study, acknowledgement, acceptance, and obedience.
Had I simply stayed safely in the middle portion of my boundaries and never explored them fully to the outside edge, I probably would have no understanding of the build components God had in my future. My friend would be right to tell me to stay in my older boundaries. But the boundaries have been expanded and there is much more life and abundance to be enjoyed. The boundaries of my future need not be the boundaries of my present experience.
Where Are You?
Struggling with health issues? Struggling with emotional distress? Struggling with bad relationships? Sometimes our best strategy for healing is to acknowledge our present boundaries and begin growing them into future boundaries through prayer, action, and engagement. The boundary I have today provides a safe place in which to grow and expand and become healthier.
Prayer: Father, it really can be hard to understand life. You want us full of health and life and living. You want us complete in Christ. Yet, we must grow in grace and power. We must acknowledge the present and grow into the future. We must seek You first and Your kingdom to understand how we are protected and given room to grow. Grow us safely, in good season, and with ever increasing faith and results. What a Good God You are.