“[…] The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.”
~2 Thessalonians 3:3
It would be a mistake on my part to think I could be strong enough to make good choices without God’s guidance.
While everyone benefits from an innate conscience, gone unchecked that very conscience could end up justifying immoral or selfish behavior. (Rom. 2:14,15; Tit. 1:15)
And while I could live a fairly decent life solely based on the values my parents taught me, parents are imperfect and that approach would most certainly doom me to repeat their mistakes. (Pr. 22:6; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 6:4)
On top of this, God’s word explains that one’s personal struggle against Satanic influences is very real. (Eph. 2:2; 6:11,12; 1 John 5:19)
Knowing all this, modesty ought to move me to seek out God’s guidance through prayer and through reading the Scriptures, as well as by staying close to the congregation. (2 Thes. 3:5; Heb. 4:12)
Only then can I truly benefit from ‘protection from the wicked one.’ (Ps. 37:28)
“He said to them: ‘You will indeed drink my cup […].'”
When James and John asked their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit on either side of him in his kingdom, Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” (Matt. 20:22)
To this, they resolutely replied, “We can.”
Jesus’ companions had already left behind a successful fishing business to follow him, and he trusted them. (Mark 1:19,20)
He affectionately called them “the Sons of Thunder” perhaps because of their impetuous zeal. (Mark 3:17)
About eleven years later, James proved he could “drink the cup” of martyrdom when Herod Agrippa executed him. (Acts 12:1,2)
Despite outliving the other apostles, John also followed Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice when he was exiled to the island of Patmos for bearing witness. (Re. 1:9)
Jesus trusted they would remain loyal, and they did not disappoint.
They learned to slave for their brothers instead of seeking prominence. (Matt. 20:25-27)
Like Jesus, we should trust our brothers in the congregation will remain loyal despite their imperfections as we strive to do the same.
“With his pinions he will cover you, And under his wings you will take refuge,”
It is normal to feel overwhelmingly tired from time to time and maybe even wonder if you can go on.
When you are on good terms with your Creator, you can count on him to fight your battles when you’ve done all you can.
“For he will rescue you from the trap of the birdcatcher,” (Ps. 91:3).
The “birdcatcher” is a metaphor for Satan, who relentlessly tries to trick people into making the wrong choices to destroy souls.
You needn’t fear making the wrong choices if you are making God your refuge.
Jehovah God is particularly fond of those who seek him by name (Ps. 91:14,15).
To know someone by name implies more than just knowing their name.
For instance, my boss is a doctor.
I am aware of my boss’s first name, but I would not call him by that name to his face or to others unless we had a much closer relationship.
In God’s case, he is inviting you to build up to that level of closeness.
Once that trust is established, you can call on him with full faith in everything his name represents, and ‘he will cause you to see his acts of salvation,’ (Ps. 91:16).
“Do you think that David is honoring your father by sending comforters to you? Is it not to make a thorough search and to overthrow you and to spy out the land that his servants have come to you?”
~1 Chronicles 19:3
When Hanash, the king of the Ammonites died, King David sought to comfort Hanash’s son.
However, Hanash’s son, King Hanun, received bad advice from his companions and questioned David’s motives.
This suspicion led him to disgrace David’s messengers (1 Chron. 19:4).
Fed by fear of retaliation, the Ammonites eventually waged war on Israel with the help of Syrian soldiers, 47,000 of whom died at the hands of David’s forces (1 Chron. 19:6-10, 18).
All this damage could have easily been avoided if King Hanun had been less skeptical and more grateful toward David.
This passage highlights the importance of not being hyper-critical.
It is not wise to jump to conclusions and assume that anyone reaching out a hand to me really means to harm me.
If I am always defensive and doubting others, I could bring great harm to myself and the congregation.