Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seasons of Discontent: Sneaky Snakes


I have known for some time that God has desired His Church to rest from the business and pressures of this season, not to stop working, but to strengthen and stockpile instead of expand. The devil is well aware of this season and as we have said for years:

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll do his best to make you busy.

The past few years have been a strain on many individuals, families, businesses, schools, hospitals, governments and especially Churches and missionaries. And, we are not in recovery yet. It is reasonable to consider that the next few years might present some continuing difficulties for many. Of course, these times are predicted throughout the Bible and we are admonished to take care so that they do not come upon us unaware.

When the Apostle Paul prophetically discerned that troubled times lay ahead, he and the prophets of his day warned the Churches and Believers everywhere. Sure enough, he was right and things got worse and worse all the way up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and the resulting persecution of both Jews and Christians in the following years.

However, during these troubled times the Church of the Living God continued to get stronger and spread more rapidly throughout the world. This has been a pattern which agrees with God’s overriding plan. It also happened to the Children of Israel even in Moses’ day. I refer to:

Exodus 1:12 The more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew.

Times of rest always follow one season of work and proceed the next season of work. The times between jobs as it were, can present their own sets of problems. By nature, people don’t like to wait! Usually because we imagine it is not productive.  However God instructs us all to rest, at least one full day out of each week. Resting and refreshing are vital parts of God’s plan and man’s need. Waiting is often the most Godly thing we do.

Waiting however, especially when it seems that we are waiting on others, can give rise to some discontent. Throughout the Word we are encouraged by the stories of Abraham and the journeys of the Children of Israel to not allow ourselves to become discontent. Decisions which are made in discontentment usually lead to disaster. That’s the history of the matter.

In the Apostle Paul’s day, sensing the coming trouble, he spoke to Timothy, his son in the faith concerning contentment.

1 Timothy 6
6  Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
(Note: Then the Apostle identifies the #1 cause of discontentment)
9  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11  But you, O man of God, flee these things …
13  I urge you in the sight of God …
14  that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,

This past summer has been a difficult season for many. I have held conversations and counseled people both in our Church and in Churches and communities literally all around the world. I have not ministered to such unbridled discontent in decades.  No wonder God wants the Church to stand still for a moment and refresh and strengthen ourselves.

Why is there so much discontent in lives all over the world? It is because of the approaching season of the Spirit and the devil’s desire to dislodge people from their marriages, ministries, jobs, schools, national and political affiliations and their professional pursuits … dislodging them from those very things that have so blessed them and in which God has set them. God did not call you to work your life’s purpose only in the good times.  He has set you in your place for just such a time as this …

The aim of these sneaky devils of discontentment is to create divisions in the one thing God holds most dear – Relationships – Hoping to ultimately divide and destroy … Relationships are the strength and power of God. The Bible says to mark those who cause division among you and have no fellowship with them. (Romans 16:17)

We see this ploy of spreading discontentment used by the devil first in:

Genesis 3 KJV
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

New King James Version – Serpent was more cunning …
English Standard Version – Serpent was more crafty …
Message – Serpent was more clever …
Amplified – Serpent was more subtle and crafty …
Contemporary English Version – The snake was sneakier …

2  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

That’s where the devil left the woman to herself … He is a sneaky snake … and although he never officially “asked” Eve to eat of that forbidden fruit – his cunning craftiness led her and left her to breed her own discontentment with God’s Word, God’s Will and where she was in life. She made herself unhappy and finally made a stupid decision and then … all hell broke loose. She caused a whole lot more trouble than she could fix. In fact, for some people it will never be fixed … Eve’s decision caused them to go to hell.

Cunning craftiness … that has a sneaky, clever, kind of subtle ring to it … where have we heard this before?

Ephesians 4:14  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting

We must grow up and not continue to act like little children expecting everything to go our way when we want and if not, we won’t wait but just take our ball and go elsewhere. Go will not make the kingdom all about you! Haste and flight are not God’s way – Isaiah 52:12. If it’s now, it’s no!

While we are in this season of waiting on God and resting in His will for the Church, let us use this time to check our contentment, discover where discontents can come from and perhaps cover or recover ourselves from this trap. Let’s turn in the New Testament, to the book of James 1.

James was the pastor of the first Church in Jerusalem during its heyday and during its persecution. These troubles Paul and others spoke of resulted in financial problems and ultimately in the decline of the Church’s mission effectiveness. If anyone understands the need for strength, refreshing and unity in the Church – it is Pastor James.

James 1
12  Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man:
14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15  Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
16  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Expound: - We are to endure enticements which will come to us like sneaky snakes in cunning craftiness and deceitful plotting. These come in our weakest moments and weakest areas of life to breed discontent.