A story about how a soft heart overcomes the most difficult of circumstances.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3 NIV
I often need to be reminded of how awesome God works amongst us. My cultural background is highly performance driven, meaning that my focus more often is on what I do and what others do, not on what God does.
The Bible bursts out of its spine with amazing and inspiring stories about God and His mighty work, and yet in real life I somehow see myself putting that in a separate category. As if it is a movie that only plays in a specific theatre somewhere, and I do not have tickets at the moment.
When it comes to my own life and everyday events around me I fail to see God’s hand a lot. My tendency is to see it all as a big human effort that needs a bit of re-adjusting once a wile, like a clock that needs a new battery (or if you are a bit older or into antiques, perhaps needs to be wound up again)
Fortunately we have brothers and sisters around us who can inspire us and provide perspective by focussing on God and His word when we perhaps fall short.
The Bible asks all of us to consider Jesus as an ultimate source of inspiration, especially when we are faced with opposition.
Jesus tells us that there are 3 types of heart conditions that cause someone to stop considering God's word and His love in their life in Mathew 13:1-23
- A hard heart
- An emotional heart
- A worried heart
A friend I was studying the Bible with to help him get to know God was touched so deeply by God's love that he had come to the conclusion that he wanted to get baptized to leave his old life behind and be resurrected with Jesus to a new life full of power. (Romans 6:4).
It was an exciting time for him, since he had great vision and passion to start his new life. But all came to a serious halt the day he came to church to tell us he was ready to surrender in faith and be baptized. His father was waiting with a gun at the front entrance of the church building to "make sure" he would not proceed (we found out later).
Needless to say this "opposition from sinners" was strong enough to stop our friend from moving forward and since he was underaged, he (fortunately for his own safety) complied with his father and left with him never to be seen again.
So we thought.
More than 4 years later, I received a call from him that he was super excited to tell me that he had just been baptized and was glad to let me know that he had become our brother in Christ!
This was the 4th heart Jezus talked about in Matthew 13:23 (NIV)
...someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
What an amazing encouragement was that! Where others perhaps would have given up, this person had truly "heard the word and understood it". He thoroughly considered the opposition Jesus had received, all the way to the Cross and did not grow weary or loose heart! Instead, he held on to it and when the time was right he acted on it from his heart. No gun could stop him from loving God and giving his life to Him.
- What situations are used by satan in your life to snatch away the beautiful things you understood and experienced with Jesus? (Matthew 13:19)
- When you face opposition - people who push a greedy or selfish agenda on you, where do you turn? What do you do? How do you stay close to God?
- In what practical ways do other disciples help you with keeping your focus on Jesus?
- How did Jesus deal with the challenge of getting "pulled away" from the great relationship He had with God ? (what scriptures can you find?)
- What scriptures are helpful to get you on the right track when things get "too much" for you? (do you have them readily available somehow, could you share them with someone today or this week?)