1. I'm Weary
My devotional themes come from a variety of sources. Sometimes the Lord shows me a phrase or verse while I am reading the Bible, or something that the preacher says during a sermon. Often the topics come from what is going on in my life at the moment, whether it is a season or holiday, or just day by day living. I felt a little down last week, and several times Michael asked me what was wrong, but I really didn't have an answer. I finally decided I was just weary. Weary and tired from the work I have been doing for my spring cleaning and work in the garden. Weary and discouraged from trying to pray for dear family and friends and their needs when I can't do anything else to help them. Weary and disgusted from the sin of this world. Just weary. I am very familiar with the scriptures that tell us not to be weary. Paul tells us in Galatians 7:9, "And let us not be weary in well doing;..." and also in II Thessalonians 3:13, "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing." I want to take a few days and search the scriptures to find help for my weary soul. Maybe you are weary, too. I invite you to join me as we look to find strength and encouragement in God's Word.
2. We Shall Reap, If We Faint Not
I want to pick up the context of our verse in Galatians.
"7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:7-9)
We find a lot about sowing and reaping in the Bible. And we can be sure that we will reap what we sow. But reaping is not usually immediate so many don't even consider this concept. The Apostle Paul encourages us to sow to the Spirit, just as Jesus did in the parable of the sower in Luke 8. Not all of the seeds fall on good ground and lead to salvation, but we are to keep on sowing, just the same. We are not accountable for how the seed is accepted or neglected, but we are responsible for sowing the seed and giving out the Word of God. When we don't see the results of our labor, we may grow weary, and feel that our labor is in vain. But don't be discouraged. God's Word promises that, "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (I Corinthians 15:58)
3. Elijah Under The Juniper Tree
When I think of people in the Bible who were weary in well doing, the first one that comes to mind is Elijah. This Old Testament prophet performed great miracles. He called for God to stop the rain for three years, he provided meal in an empty barrel and oil in an empty cruse for the widow of Zarephath during the drought, and he even raised a young boy from the dead. He stood for the Lord during a time when many of the people were serving false gods.
"21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men." (I Kings 18:21-22)
Elijah had a great victory that day and fire fell from heaven to consume his sacrifice and the people "fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God." (I Kings 18:39) The false prophets were killed. And Elijah prayed for God to send the rain and and He did. Elijah outran King Ahab's chariot to Jezreel. But, when the king told wicked Queen Jezebel all that Elijah had done, she threatened to kill him by the next day. Elijah went from a great victory on Mount Carmel, to fleeing for his life.
"3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (I Kings 19:3-4)
Elijah was weary in well doing. Many times great victories on the mountain tops of our lives are followed by great valleys of depression. And during these low times we often feel like we are the only ones going through these trials. Elijah told the Lord, "I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." (19:14) But he was wrong. God told him that He had 7,000 who had not served Baal. (19:18) So, our focus is two-fold today. First, don't be surprised when great lows follow the mountain top victories. Secondly, remember that you are not alone in your sorrows. Everyone goes through trials and we all have troubles. We are not all in the same boat, be we all go through the storms. I plan to continue with this episode in Elijah's life the next few days. I hope you can join us.
4. "I'm Fine"
My grandmother's maiden name was Fine and every time I would ask, "How are you doing, Grandma?" she would always reply, "I was Fine, then I got married." How often do we reply, "I'm fine" even though we don't really mean it? Michael and I have been married long enough that he can tell when something is bothering me, but when he asks what's wrong, what do I say? "I'm fine." I say that because I don't want to talk about it. I want to crawl into my little hole and hide away until the problem goes away. But, hiding from my problems doesn't make them go away and shutting out the ones I love does not help either. Getting back to our story of Elijah we see that he went on alone. "Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there." (I Kings 19:2-3) He left his servant there. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (19:4) During those times when I need someone the most, I close everyone out and try to make it on my own. I don't know why. If we have people who love us and care for us, then they may be able to help us through our weary times and even if they can't help, they may brighten the day just by being there. If you are weary, don't back yourself into a dark corner. Try to find a friend who can bring some light into your life. Even if you don't want to talk about your problems, it can help to crawl out of your shell and spend some time with a good friend. The next time you start to say, "I'm fine" ask yourself if it would help you to reply something like, "I could really use a friend right now." And remember this verse from Proverbs 18:24, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Jesus is our truest friend and we can talk to Him anytime.
5. When We Compare Ourselves To Others
Many years ago I was visiting in the home of a young woman about my age. Her home was beautiful and well decorated and everything was in its place. Her children were lovely and so respectful. She was a very pretty young woman, and dressed so nicely. She had a great job and although I didn't say anything to anyone else, I envied her perfect life. About a year later I learned that she had left her home, her children, and her job to have an affair with her boss. I realized her life wasn't as perfect as I thought. We should not compare ourselves to others, but I really have a problem with this. I have mentioned numerous times in these devotionals that I don't play the piano as well as the other people in our church. We are bombarded with advertisements that tell us to use their products so our hair can be as shiny, and our teeth can be as white as the actress on the screen. Maybe you don't have a problem comparing how you look to others, but what about the vehicle you drive or house you live in. Or maybe your yard. This is not a new problem. Look at what Elijah said in I Kings 19:4, "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." Elijah compared himself to the generations before and said, "I am not better than my fathers." We will grow weary if we compare ourselves to others, and there is also a danger of lifting our self up in pride. Jesus is the One we should try to be like. He tells us to follow His example.
"13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:13-17)
6. Weary Of Life
Each time I read through Ecclesiastes it makes me weary. I imagine King Solomon wrote this when he was old and weary, looking back over his life. Does any other book open in such a depressing way?
"1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?" (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3)
King Solomon had wisdom and wealth, power and prestige, and he came to the point that he saw no profit in any of it. We see the reason in three little words in verse 3, "under the sun". He was not looking up toward heaven, but seeing only his life on earth. And he was to the point that he hated life. "Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." (Ecclesiastes 2:17) We may grow weary, but as Christians we have faith and hope in God above, and our lives are not in vain.
I want to look once more at I Kings 19:4. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." Elijah was weary with life, and he told the Lord he was ready to die. What a sad state, to come from such a victory on Mount Carmel, down to the lowest defeat. God brought him through this and at the end of his life Elijah went up to heaven by a whirlwind on horses of fire and a chariot of fire. (II Kings 2:11) King Solomon and Elijah were not the only ones to become weary of life. Moses also cried out to God when he became weary with leading the people. "And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness." (Numbers 11:15) But Moses went on to become the greatest prophet in Israel. "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face," (Deuteronomy 34:10) Jonah also sank down to this lowest ebb, but God used him to save the entire city of Nineveh.
"8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:8-11)
If you are weary today, don't give up on life. Look above the sun, to The Son, Jesus Christ the Son of God. If you are still here, He still has a work for you to do.
7. "She Takes Naps"
Many, many years ago I took my son to his kindergarten assessment test. He stacked the blocks just like the teacher did, and did well on the other motor skills and listening skills. Then he went to the verbal part of the test. The teacher asked him what his Daddy did and he told her that he worked teaching school. She then asked what his Mommy did. He could have said that she fixes me lunch, or that she washes my clothes, or cleans the house, but no, he said, "She takes naps." With five children I really did not have time to takes naps every day, but I often laid down with them in the afternoon to read a book to them before they went to sleep. As I look back, I think that he was telling her what I did that was important to him. Of course it was important that I fed him and took care of him, but maybe that little time I spent reading to him and being with him meant the most to him. I did not make the children sleep, but I felt that a time of rest in the afternoon was important because they played hard.
Rest and sleep are important for all of us. We have been looking at some of the problems Elijah faced when he was weary in well doing, and today we will begin to look at the remedy. "And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again." (I Kings 19:5-6) Elijah was tired and needed rest. He had spent the day on Mount Carmel in his standoff against the 450 false prophets. He out ran King Ahab's chariot when the rains came. He fled to Beersheba and then went a day's journey into the wilderness. I believe that he was tired emotionally, mentally, and physically. And we can grow weary when we face just one of these types of stress. With electricity we can get up early to work and play all day and sit up half the night, burning the candle at both ends, but this puts a strain on our mind and our bodies. God's Word tells us, "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." (Psalm 127:2) We also see in Ecclesiastes 5:12, "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet,..." and in Proverbs 3:24, "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet." If you find yourself growing weary it might help to go to bed a little earlier and ask the Lord to help you get a good night's sleep.
8. Drink Your Water And Eat Cake!
Oh, don't you like my title today? We are still looking at weary Elijah and how the Lord helped him through this time of his life. Our verses are found in I Kings 19:6-8.
"6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God."
I have an underactive thyroid and I have put on some excess pounds, so I am working to lose some weight. I am exercising and have recently cut out most of the sugar from my diet. But I have found that dieting can make me weary. It actually makes me grouchy, too. So I got a little excited when I read our scriptures for today. The angel of the Lord baked Elijah a cake and gave him a cruse of water. Okay, I know, the cake was most likely a cake of bread, but this was some special bread because it gave Elijah the strength he needed for 40 days. The point of our lesson today is that in addition to sleep and rest, Elijah also needed to eat and drink. Trying to keep on going without eating and drinking enough water is like trying to run a car without gasoline. It can't be done. The scriptures also show us this in a Spiritual sense. Do you hunger and thirst for the things of God?
"1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2)
"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;" (Psalm 63:1)
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)
"1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:1-3)
"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)
9. What Are You Doing Here?
I hope this little segment on the great prophet Elijah has helped you as much as it has been helping me. We continue with I Kings 19:9, "And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?" Today I want us to look at that little question from the Lord which was short and to the point. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" Have you ever asked yourself "What am I doing here?" Or have you ever felt like the Lord just called out your name and asked, "What are you doing here?" I remember going somewhere with a friend one time and she wanted to "stop off" and visit with someone at a coffee house. She walked out the back door and left me there for quite some time, and all the while I kept asking myself, "What am I doing here?" This was before the age of cell phones, and I really can't describe all the feelings that went through my head. I did not even know where I was, but I knew that I didn't feel safe being there so late in the evening. In this example we see that we can end up in places where we feel like we shouldn't be. The Lord sends Elijah off on a mission, so maybe He was trying to get Elijah to understand that He still had work for him to do and he didn't need to be hiding out in a cave. I want to ask you this question today, "What are you doing here?" Are you spending time somewhere you shouldn't be? Are you hiding from your Christian duties? God has put us all here for a reason, and sometimes we need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can for God, or just easing by. Today is the Lord's day and you may not have too much going on, so take some time to think about this question, "What am I doing here?" I pray that God will help you find the right answer.
10. Hiding From God
In our devotional yesterday we asked the question, "Are you hiding from your Christian duties?" Pastor Jack Tripp preached on trying to hide from God during his Sunday morning sermon. He included Elijah in his sermon, so I want to share a little of his outline as we continue our lessons on Elijah.
1. Adam and Eve hid under the fig tree of disobedience.
"6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:6-8)
2. Elijah hid under the juniper tree of disappointment.
"3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (I Kings 19:3-4)
3. The Israelites hid under the willow tree of discouragement.
"1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?" (Psalm 137:1-4)
4. We can all hide behind Calvary's tree of deliverance.
"21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (I Peter 2:21-24)
"13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14)
11. A Still Small Voice
When Elijah was on Mount Carmel, God rained down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Afterwards "the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." (I Kings 18:45) Elijah could see the power of God through the fire, and the wind and the rain, and maybe as he hid in the cave he was looking for God to reveal Himself through His mighty power and deliver him from his enemies. He may have been looking for God to speak in some great, miraculous way. But God was not in the great wind, the earthquake, or the fire. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.
"11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (I Kings 19:11-13)
Many in our churches today are looking for God to speak to us through a great movement. We are looking for God to do great and mighty things, and He can, if He chooses to do so. But it may be that God is speaking to us in a still small voice, and we are too busy to listen. Psalm 46:10 tells us, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Sometimes we need to "Be still" and listen as God speaks to us in "a still small voice" and He will be exalted. If you are weary today, get in a quiet place and listen for God's still small voice.
12. There's Still Work To Be Done
When I began looking at this episode in Elijah's life last week I did not realize that we could glean so much from his life. The Lord opened up new ideas each day as I read the verses in I Kings 19. We saw some things that led to his weariness: coming down from a mountain top experience, being overly worked and tired, going on alone, and comparing himself to others. Then we looked at some things that helped him: rest, food, and water, and listening to the still small voice of God. Let's continue with these scriptures and see how God lifts him up from the valley and restores him.
"14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." (I Kings 19:14-16 & 18)
God let him know that there was still work to be done. When we are weary and feel like quitting, we need to listen to God and hear what He has for us to do. Being busy for the Lord and helping others will take our mind off our problems. God sent Elijah to anoint a new king over Syria and also a new king over Israel. Then God told him to anoint Elisha to take his place. And just to let him know he was not alone, God told him there were 7,000 in Israel who were not serving the false god Baal. I can't end this segment on Elijah without including his triumphal departure from this world.
"6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over." (II Kings 2:6-14)
13. A Martha Moment
I have heard many sermons on Mary and Martha. I think each one focused on how we are to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His Word. I am thankful for the Mary moments I have had, when I worshiped the Lord and felt His presence in my life. But, I have to admit that I have had many Martha moments as well. Let's look at the story in Luke 10:38-42.
"38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
This was Martha's house, and she felt compelled to serve her guests. We don't know how many were there, but from other scriptures we know that there were often very many that followed Jesus, so her house may have been full. I've been there. Having a full house and trying to make sure all the food is properly prepared and served, or you could say, "careful and troubled about many things." Well, I was having a Martha moment a week or so ago, and was feeling weary with all my well doing, and I said, "I don't think you know all I do around here." I immediately regretted saying it, but like all the things we say in haste, once it's out there, there is no taking it back. I find that I often say things without thinking when I am tired and weary. Last Friday Michael called me from work to say he thought he had broken his hand. I prayed and waited, and I am sure he prayed while he waited in the emergency clinic. A few hours later he came home, and yes he does have a broken hand. Now, I get to see all that he does around here, as I step in and do the things he usually does. And it has made me appreciate him more. I believe there are times when we need to be like Martha and serve others. But sometimes it's hard to keep our cumbersome tasks from making us "weary in well doing." That's when we need to take time for Mary moments and spend time in prayer and worship of our Lord.
14. Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
I am afraid that today's devotional is not very encouraging for those who are weary. But, just as our title says, sometimes things get worse before they get better. We are going all the way back to Genesis 37:23-24 for our first example. "And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit..." Joseph was doing what his father had sent him to do, but his brothers sold him into slavery. The Lord was with Joseph and he worked his way up, until his master's wife lied about him and he was sent back to prison. Things kept getting worse for Joseph, but we read at least four times, that the Lord was with Joseph. And eventually Joseph was second in command in Egypt and helped save the nation during the seven year famine.
Our next example follows the story of Joseph. The Israelites prospered in Egypt and the Pharaoh made them serve under hard bondage. "And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, ..." (Exodus 2:23-24) God called to Moses from a burning bush and sent him to deliver His people. When he went to Pharaoh to tell him to let the people go, the king made their lives more bitter instead of letting them go. God sent the great plagues on Egypt and Pharaoh finally let the Children of Israel go. We may be just where God has told us to be, and life is hard, but don't grow too weary if your prayers seem to go unanswered. God hears our prayers. Sometimes things get worse before they get better. I often see people use the verse from Jeremiah 29:11, and it is a great verse. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." How many have read the previous verse? "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." The people were going into captivity for 70 years, but God promised to bring them back to their land. Don't give up even when things look bad. Keep on trusting the Lord because He has it all in control.
15. Call Me Mara (Bitter)
As we continue with stories of people in the Bible who were weary, we are reading today about Naomi. She and her husband and two sons left Bethlehemjudah and went to Moab because of the famine in the land. In time, Naomi's husband died and her two sons also died, and she was left alone with her two daughter-in-laws. She decided to go back home and one of her daughter-in-laws was determined to go with her. "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." (Ruth 1:16-17) What a loving daughter-in-law. She was willing to leave her own family and country to care for Naomi. Listen to the weary words of Naomi when she returned home and saw her old friends.
"19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?" (Ruth 1:19-21)
What a sad statement, "I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty." How many feel that way today? Ruth helped Naomi and in time God restored her home through a kinsman redeemer. In the final chapter the women bless Naomi and her joy is restored. If you don't know the story of Ruth and Naomi, please read the book of Ruth. It is only four chapters and a lovely story of God's providence. You will find the first mention of David, who slew the giant with a sling and a stone, and went on to become the King of Israel. I want to encourage you today to help those who are weak and weary. God may use you to restore joy to a bitter soul.
16. Put Off The Old And Put On The New
In thinking about Naomi and how her situation had left her bitter, I remembered that there was a verse in Paul's letters which tells us to put away all bitterness. I pulled up my Theophilos App and looked up bitterness and found Ephesians 4:31. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" Today is the Lord's day and I hope you were able to go to church. If you did, then when you got up you had to take off your sleeping clothes and put on your church clothes. Each day we make the decision what to take off and what to put on. Sometimes we need to do the same thing with our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and our emotions. There are many things, and people, that can make us weary and keep us sitting on the sidelines, but we want to go forward for the cause of Christ. Sometimes we need to make the decision to put off the bitterness and anger and put on the new man of kindness and forgiveness. The Apostle Paul tried to explain this in Ephesians 4:21-32. Today is a new day. Step out from under the dark clouds that make you weary and seek new opportunities to be a shining light for the Lord.
"21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
17. Have You Not Heard? Our God Is Never Weary
If I have trouble with my computer, I have to ask someone who knows more than I do about computers. When I have a question about my vegetable garden, I like to ask the older people at my church who have been raising gardens all their lives. It's simple. When we need help, we turn to those who know how to help us. What about when we grow weary? Well, I like the way the great prophet Isaiah put it...
"28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Many times I grow weary and my strength fails. But I can look to the Lord and trust Him to help me because He is never weary. He is always there and He will renew my strength and give me the help I need to keep on going. The Lord will be with us as we walk daily with Him, and help us mount up with wings as eagles. What a blessed promise! "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (I Peter 5:7)
18. "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"
A troubled heart can be very wearisome. And our hearts can be troubled about many things. I won't say that these things don't matter, because at the time of these troubles they seem like mountains we can't climb and stormy seas we can't cross. We can recite Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." And even Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." But when we are down in the valley it is sometimes hard to see past our trials. After Jesus washed the disciples' feet at the Passover He told them He was going away. He was facing death on the cross, yet His concern for the disciples showed His great love. He did not want them to be troubled.
"1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:1-6)
Jesus is the only way to heaven. If you have never trusted Him as your Savior, please ask Him to save you today. Believe in your heart that Jesus died to pay for your sin, and that He rose again. Confess your sin and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. I can't say that you will never have troubles as a Christian, but He is there to help you through them. Just as He promised in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." When we get to heaven these troubles and trials won't matter any more.
19. You're Not Alone In Your Troubles
You may know the story of David. He killed Goliath. King Saul got jealous. Over time he got so jealous that he tried to kill David. When David ran for his life he may have thought he was the only one going through such trouble. But, he found out that there were many with problems. And four hundred of them found David and became his own personal army, so to speak.
"1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men." (I Samuel 22:1-2)
King Saul and his royal army could not find David, but these four hundred who had troubles of their own, found him and joined him. The next time you get weary, and you wonder, "Why does this always happen to me?" look around you and you will see that there are many who are in distress, in debt, and discontented. You are not alone in your troubles.
20. Weary, But Not In Well Doing
I enjoyed listening to my son Daniel teaching a Bible lesson Tuesday night and part of it was from Luke 15. We have heard many sermons preached on the prodigal son, but Daniel's focus was on the elder brother. I want to look at that brother a little today. In his mind, he was weary because of the well doing he was doing. But, in all reality, he was mad and jealous of his lost brother who had come home. As you read the scriptures notice in verse 29-30 he tells his father that he was the "good son". He had always listened to his father and done as he was told. He compares his "good" life to his brothers "bad" life. He was also jealous that his father was celebrating and rejoicing that his lost brother had come back home. We talked earlier about comparing ourselves to others. The Bible tells us not to covet what others have. When good things happen to our Christian brothers and sisters we should rejoice with them, and not be jealous and angry. This elder son spoke so much of his well doing, but it is obvious that he was serving only out of duty, and not of love.
"25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." (Luke 15:25-32)
21. Did Jesus Grow Weary?
Was Jesus weary in that He had no home?
"And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20)
Was Jesus weary when men and women turned away?
"66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69)
Was Jesus weary in the way men treated the temple?
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Matthew 21:12-13)
Was Jesus weary over the death of His friend?
"33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!" (John 11:33-36)
Was Jesus weary over the great city of Jerusalem?
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)
Was Jesus weary when He was betrayed by His friend?
"47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him." (Matthew 26:47-50)
Was Jesus weary when His good friend denied Him?
"And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Luke 22:60-61)
Was Jesus weary when God turned away from our sin that He bore?
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Was Jesus weary when He had to bear my sin?
"42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22:42-44)
22. Think On These Things
As we come to the end of our "Weary In Well Doing" chapter, I hope that you have been encouraged by these simple thoughts and the scriptures that were shared. Getting through weary times is not as easy as closing a book and saying, "The End" and moving on to brighter days with the gloom all behind us. But God can make a difference in our lives if we will feast on His Word and spend time with Him in prayer. I believe that our outlook depends a lot on our upward look. There are many things in this world that can get us down, and it will help to "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2) I want to close with these very special verses found in Philippians 4:4-8.
"4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."