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The One Who Keeps You From Stumbling

King David likely wrote the below Psalm as he was reminded of his days serving as a lowly shepherd. David wrote about the rocky terrain which shepherds often faced after more favorable fields of grass were depleted. As a former cross-country runner, I know all about stumbling and twisting my ankles during races on an uneven terrain. Yet, David speaks of a God who can keep you from stumbling.

The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect? 33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:32-33.

Despite this perspective, David did stumble and fall, big time, as described by 2 Samuel 11-12. David writes about this painful moment in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. Idleness led David to not show up for work, going to war with Israel’s army, had an affair and once Bathsheba got pregnant, he tried to cover this up by giving her husband leave to sleep with his wife. When Uriah refused to go into his house, David panicked and sent Uriah out to die in battle.

He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber, Psalm 121:3.

While this fall from grace is epic, David learned to see God as the One who keep you from stumbling. Perhaps, David understood what the apostle Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 10:13, learning to search for the way out of temptation following his rebuke by the prophet Nathan. Then again, it’s possible David is literally focusing on God’s ability to keep his feet from twisting an ankle. Whatever the interpretation, both can apply as Christians learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

The Thorns of Life

 

When speaking to someone was impossible, Jesus became an engaging figure, using stories to captivate his audience.  Like tiny little morsels, Jesus’ parables contain a wealth of knowledge about life.  On this particular Sabbath in Matthew 13:1-9, the crowds grew so extensive that Jesus entered a boat just off shore, sitting down as his followers gathered around the beach to listen.

 

As he continued, Jesus had the farmers in the palm of his hands, speaking about the different terrains each encounters.  Since cursing the land in Genesis 3:17-18, finding ideal conditions was rare, leaving compacted, rocky and weed infested areas to grow crops.  God’s words in Genesis foreshadowed current conditions with painful toil resulting in thorns, thistles and some plants to eat, Matthew 13:22.

 

Within my own yard, I see the thorns of life more than ever before.  It seems like the older I get, briar patches of worry begin to choke the joy out of life.  Meanwhile, sticker bushes leave marks, wounds to my soul, often tearing my heart in the wrong direction.  Thistles have become like sand on the seashore, sticking like burrs, embedding within my body like a parasite.  If I don’t seek spiritual medical attention soon, even my mind is in danger of being poisoned like Peter, Matthew 16:23.

Unfortunately, these thorns aren’t going anywhere until Jesus returns.  Therefore, you must use your Bible as a spiritual Farmers Almanac, getting clued in daily about impending droughts, famine or trials.  Although you have no control over the soil, you can place yourself into a healthier social environment.  Change is hard, but its a step in God’s direction.  May the Holy Spirit serve as a spiritual Round Up to stop, thorns, thistles and weeds of life before they wrap around your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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