1st and 2nd Corinthians; God Hugged me Today!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:31

I am continuing my journey through the New Testament, but my reading is way ahead of my blogging. I guess to get somewhat caught up, I can just summarize 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Paul talks about a lot of struggles. “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-27 After all this Paul still calls all his problems, “light affliction.”  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes, for the sake of the gospel we go through trials. Sometimes the enemies of the cross persecute us for preaching the gospel. Satan would want us to feel alone, like we are the only ones who have ever  “ endured such contradiction of sinners.” But we are not alone! Jesus also endured the same. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3.

Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that the trials we go through are common to man. We are not alone. He also tells us, Jesus will bring us out of every one of those trials and temptations.

God has richly blessed me, but my life is not without trials. Last night, after a full day of Bible studies, and then church board meeting, I went out to Ballast Point Park, on Bayshore drive to talk with God. Life has been good. I told God just how good life has been. I told Him how much I appreciate all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in my life, and for those I love. As I sat on the pier, overlooking the city lights, I prayed for all the people of Tampa, that they would have the hope that is in Jesus. I then confided to God, that while all is going well, I still know there are those who oppose the cross of Christ and try to cause problems, and prohibit the gospel to reach the hearts of others.  I told God of people I want to reach with the gospel, but their so called friends are keeping them away. I also told God there are people who do not like what I do, and would like to see me stopped. I thanked God for supporting my ministry. I thanked Him for all the opportunities He has given me to share His love, and for the hundreds of people who loyally support my ministry with offerings, prayers, work effort, and encouragement. I promised God that I would keep spreading the gospel just as long as He continued to give me victory over the enemies of the cross.

This morning I walked into the Community Service Center at church, like I always do every Tuesday morning, where I meet with and encourage those who are down and out, and invite them to our church activities. Today, as soon as I came in the door, an elderly lady volunteer walked up to me. Without me saying a word, she gave me a big tight squeezed hug and told me to keep spreading the gospel and that God was not going to let anybody get in my way! I have never spoken a word to this lady about any of my trials or personal life, but she looked me right in the eye as though she knew everything, and told me she knew what I was up against, and that Satan was against me but that he would be overcome and that Jesus would be victorious. I stood amazed. Her words seemed to be in direct response to my prayer just hours before. I considered her words to be from God. Then I realized, if the words came from God, then so did the hug!   God hugged me today!

Play It Where It Lies

 I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. 

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7 

 

 I have a confession to make. Often when I play golf I don’t play by the rules, if my opponent will allow me not to. For example, if I hit into the woods or a bunker, I will find my golf ball and throw it out onto the fairway instead of having to hit my way out. After all, all fairways are different and if I had been on another fairway I probably would not have hit into the woods or bunker anyway, so it’s just not fair. Why should I have to deal with something that could have been avoided by just playing on a different course? It’s not fair for other people to compare my score to theirs if they have not played on the same course.  

At least that’s how I used to play but not anymore. In a Bible study I was giving tonight somebody said something that totally changed how I look at my golf game as well as life. We were talking about the trials God sees us through and talking about how those trials make us stronger. We mentioned the Andre Crouch song called “Through It All.” In that song Andre asks the question, “If I didn’t have any problems how could I know my God could solve them?” 

 That is when it hit me. Back in early February I was watching the AT&T Pebble Beach PGA classic on TV. I remembered when Steve Lowry who later won the classic, was hitting out of a sand trap in the middle of the fairway. I marveled when he hit out of the sand trap and onto the green some 150 or 200 yards away just a few feet from the hole! What a beautiful shot! I am lucky if I can just get out of the trap. No way could I ever get up onto the green from a trap that far away. Tonight it hit me that I never will be able to do that if I keep throwing my ball into a more favorable position instead of just playing it where it lies, like Steve Lowry did. God will never be able to show me and the world what He can do for and through me unless I learn in golf and life to just play the ball wherever it lies. I can make excuses that I am just on a tough fairway and should be excused from the trial. I can just pick up my ball and drop it in a more favorable spot and just hit from there. Or I can just call upon the really great God that I have to help me right where I am. I can go play on an easier course or I can let God develop the skills I need to win right where I am.

From now on, I will play my way out of the woods and out of the sand traps and bunkers, so I can develop myself into the type player who, will one day hit out of a difficult place right onto the green next to the hole. I won’t be just dropping the ball out of the woods and traps to a more favorable spot. I will be facing my trials head on. I won’t be blaming my problems on the particular fairway I am on. I will accept my lot in life and just play the ball where it lies. I will allow God to use these trials to make me a better person not just on the golf course but in life. 

 Who knows? Maybe one day my most beautiful shot in golf or life may come while I am in the woods or a sand trap.

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