Also, how should we respond when someone speaks to us in unbiblical ways or threatens us foolishly? What can we learn from Jesus’ responses to Pilate?
2 Kings 9 & 10
Hope When the Pressure Seems Too Much
Who Can Bear a Broken Spirit?
Verse 14, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”
As human beings, we are able to withstand great physical and circumstantial difficulties. And as believers, who better understand how to respond to those difficulties, all the more so.
But when we lose hope (Prov. 13.12) or are undergoing spiritual pressure, even lesser problems can seem too much to bear.
Spiritual pressure can be the enemy’s attempt to get us to quit when we are walking in obedience or stepping out in faith. That’s one reason why Scripture tells us to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5.11) and why we are not to forsake coming together with other believers, including church attendance and fellowship. Hebrews 10.23-25:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Sometimes that pressure comes from other people, either believers or unbelievers. When it does, it’s important that we respond in Christlike ways:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We can meditate on and follow Jesus’ example:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2.22-23).
Spiritual pressure can also come from God Himself as He deals with us regarding sin.
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
And other times God is pruning us so we’ll become more fruitful for the kingdom of God.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Jn. 15.1-2).
No matter what the source of the pressure in our lives, we can trust that our sovereign God is in control, either causing or allowing something for our good and His glory (Rom. 8.28-29) and that He won’t allow it to be more than we can bear without sinning if we’ll keep our eyes on Him (1 Cor. 10.13). We must place our hope in our living Savior who loves us and trust Him with our past, our present, and our future.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10.23).
Today’s Other Readings:
The Righteous Judge of the Universe
2 Kings 9 & 10:
8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. 9 So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’” And [the prophet] opened the door and fled.
Thus begins a time of great judgment on Ahab’s descendants, their allies, and those who followed him and Jezebel in the worship of Baal.
Even though God is love – that is – it’s His very nature, He is also the righteous Judge of the universe. In His mercy He gives many opportunities for people to repent and change, but He does eventually judge evil. We must also remember that He knows the end from the beginning and the hearts of every man, woman and child. So when His judgment comes, we must know that it is always just and right.
A Hymn of Praise
The Psalms are organized into 5 books or divisions. This is the last psalm in Book II and ends with this doxology or hymn of praise:
18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.
Don’t Answer a Fool According to his Folly
As the events leading up to the crucifixion continue, Jesus is brought before Pilate who mistakenly believes Jesus’ fate rests in his hands. In verses 9-10 he can’t believe Jesus won’t answer his question:
“But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?'”
Jesus knew who was really in control when He answered:
“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above …”
As I quoted a minute ago, He simply, “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2.22-23).
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes” (NASB).
We are not to respond to a fool by acting or speaking like him. When that happens all you have is two fools talking to each other. But on the other hand, we are not necessarily to let the other person believe he or she is right, if they are clearly and biblically wrong, as in this case with Pilate.
For example, if a person is threatening divorce, how might their spouse respond? First, she should examine herself (Matt. 7.3-5) and take responsibility for her part in the problem. She should seek forgiveness in genuine repentance. But if she has done that, and her spouse continues to threaten divorce, she could say something like, “Honey, that would make me very sad, but I know God would give me the grace to get through it.” The same kind of answer might be appropriate in other situations.
While Jesus wasn’t concerned about defending Himself personally, he didn’t allow Pilate to believe he was the one in control. When it feels like the whole world is against us, we must not be tempted to believe our fate is in the hands of the wicked. God is in control and He is, sometimes almost imperceptibly, working His plan. Jeremiah 29.11:
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”
And like Jesus, we need to remember and meditate on His sovereignty and grace.
What about You? Questions to Ponder or Journal:
Or is there an area where you are seeking to go God’s way and feel continuously beaten down and discouraged? Get into God’s Word in a greater way. Use a concordance to find verses that apply to your situation. Memorize one or two and meditate on them throughout the day. Paul said, “faith (the faith to persevere and stay strong) comes by reading, studying, and internalizing God’s truth (Rom. 10.17; Phil. 4.8).
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