Category: <span>thoughts by Jason Weimer</span>

Provoked to anger, but what about being provoked to Love???


And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the  fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” Hebrews 10:24

Asher, our German shepherd, is as docile as a dog can be. He lounges on the couch most of the day, runs only when the rare mood strikes, and is largely unmoved by other dogs nipping and pawing at his face or by my stretching it into comical expressions. Although he has snarled or clapped his jaw in anger (usually a rawhide chew is involved), it’s exceedingly rare. The best descriptor for Asher might be indifferent. It’s his nature.

In his book Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund mentions that while the Old Testament refers to God being “provoked to anger” a number of times, he’s never “provoked to love.” This is because he doesn’t need to be. He is “slow to anger and abounding in love.” When he faces provocations like his people’s rebellion and wickedness, love and mercy “abound” from him easily and naturally. As Asher reacts with indifference and only rarely erupts in anger, God’s grace is constant and it takes much to incite his wrath.

We are just the opposite, though. The Greek word translated “provoke” or “stir up” refers to an irritant or something that incites reaction. Think of the person who cuts you off in traffic or a sudden blow to the funny bone — your reaction (anger, annoyance, wincing, etc.) erupts almost without thinking. If God is “slow to anger and abounding in love,” we are too often slow to love and abounding in anger (or similar sharp reactions).

Interestingly, Hebrews 10:24 uses this word—“provoke” or “stir up” — not as something inciting anger or annoyance, but love and good works. God needs little provoking in order to show mercy and love; we need much.

Just as interesting, the sentence continues into verse 25, which encourages God’s people not to neglect meeting together. One of the chief functions of Christian community is to stimulate one another to live in ways that are so natural to God’s good and gracious character.

Lord, I’m so grateful that you are slow to anger and abounding in love. Your mercy to me is light years beyond what I deserve. Build me up so that I might reflect your loving mercy to others, and provide for me people who can stir that up so that it flows out of me without thinking. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Consider what others have done that have “provoked” you toward loving and doing good. A surprising display of forgiveness? An unexpected kind word? An inspiring example? Look for an opportunity to do the same for someone else today.

By Jason Weimer
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Further Reading

•   Do What You Can!
•  God Demonstrates His Love like this…
•  Salvation Explained

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You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.”  Exodus 15:17

I’m weary. Each day is identical to the last. Work from home. Keep the kids occupied. Stare at the same walls, watch the same disheartening news.

We’ve all grappled with a range of emotions through the Corona-virus pandemic.

I’m in the stir-crazy stage, and my heart is moved toward impatient grumbling. When will this end? When will normalcy resume? When will we be comfortable again?

I’m reminded of Israel, wandering 40 years in the wilderness, eating the same food, wearing the same sandals, seeing the same barren land. I used to marvel how quickly they complained against God, having so recently witnessed the miraculous. Now I’m filled with empathy. And conviction. Even in a pandemic, I’m far more comfortable in my home than they ever were in the desert. I have greater promises, greater closeness to God’s presence. Still, I grumble.

The pandemic has exposed a truth the comforts of the modern world so often conceal — our earthly lives are a wilderness wandering.

As Exodus 15:17 declares, God promised Israel land in which they’d be planted, dwelling alongside his temple presence. Christians have the greater promise of a heavenly promised land in which we will dwell in God’s blazing, glorious, immediate presence.

God’s people, then and now, must persevere on our journey to the promised land. In our wilderness, we’re sustained by a better bread than manna — Jesus, the Bread of Life — and rest in a better hope. If the Covid-19 experience lifts our eyes to him and to Heaven, giving us a barren wandering that strengthens our muscles of perseverance, then that will be cause to rejoice.

Heavenly Father, I confess how weary the trials and hardships of life can make me, and how quickly my heart begins to grumble against you. Forgive me, restore my hope, sustain me with your nourishing presence, and fix my eyes beyond even the best this world can offer, to you and the glorious inheritance you’ve given me through Jesus. Amen.

How can we develop a greater attitude of gratitude during this wilderness journey?

How would that alter our thoughts and actions?

By Jason Weimer
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FURTHER READING

• Cameroon, Africa Story – From Despair to Hope
A 15 year old survivor tells his story – Survivor of the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami

Learn more about knowing Jesus at: https://thoughts-about-god.com/four-laws/


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Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”  Hebrews 11:19

Christianity requires too much blind faith, I need reason and evidence behind what I believe.

Have you ever heard someone dismiss Christianity with a statement like this? In the eyes of many, the Christian faith is a leap into the unknown, a belief that goes beyond rationality, like the “wish upon a star” fairy tale. If I’m honest, faith sometimes feels that way to me too.

But biblical faith is anything but a blind wish. The verse above employs an interesting word — reasoned. The Greek word translated as ‘reasoned’ here is logizomai. A note in Strong’s Concordance, an index of all the words used in the Bible, reads: “If I ‘logizomai’ or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, then it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

Abraham’s faith that God would fulfill his promise despite the fact God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, came from a well-reasoned consideration of the facts. God had promised to multiply Abraham’s lineage through Isaac, and time and again he had shown himself to be powerful and trustworthy.

We act with similar faith every day. We have faith that the chair we sit on will hold up. We trust our vehicles to carry us from home to office. These faith choices aren’t blind, but reasonable since these objects have already done the very things we trust them to do. As long as they’re still in working order our trust in them is warranted.

What matters, then, is the object of our faith. Abraham reckoned that the object of his faith, God, was worthy of it. Will we?

Lord, you have indeed shown yourself faithful and trustworthy, most prominently through your Son, Jesus. Forgive me for the times I’ve failed to trust you. Build the strength of my faith by allowing me to see and know you more clearly, and give me opportunities to explain to those who don’t yet know you that faith in you is not blind, but reasonable. Amen

Read: Psalm 19:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

By Jason Weimer
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FURTHER READING

Is Jesus God?

Is There Any Real Right or Wrong?

Do All Religions Lead to God?

Does God Exist?

Learn more about knowing Jesus at: https://thoughts-about-god.com/four-laws/


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“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:10

Division and discord feel as rampant as ever, and nowhere is that more evident than in social media. Snark and sarcasm have become weapons of choice, wielded to belittle those who hold opposing views. As polarization seems to grow, it’s extremely difficult not to view the “other side” as the enemy.

Reading a verse like Galatians 6:10 in this context makes me react as if I’ve just been administered smelling salts. Do good to everyone? Even the person whose worldview or political position feels like a threat?

Yes, Paul says, especially if that person shares in the familial blood of Christ.

The phrase “as we have opportunity,” echoes similar sentiments throughout the New Testament, all conveying the truth that, until Jesus returns, we live in an age where we must work the works of him who sent me [Jesus]” (John 9:4). Hebrews calls this time “today” (Hebrews 3:7-4:13).

In other words, this is an age of opportunity. God designed it as such. He has good works for us, his people, to accomplish — works that build his coming Kingdom by showing and telling his love through Christ, and that offer a taste of that Kingdom with the wonderful, familial unity in diversity that will be one of its hallmarks.

Kind words, service, encouragement, mercy, honor, care, blessing — the opportunity for such good done to all others knocks at every moment. Even on social media. Will you answer in love?

Lord Jesus, forgive me for the many times I’ve treated another person as my enemy, especially when they are a brother or sister in Christ. Every human being is made in your image, and your love extends to every one of us. Open my eyes that I might see the many opportunities to do good that you give, and empower me by your Spirit to boldly walk in them, no matter who is on the receiving end. Amen.

By Jason Weimer
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FURTHER READING

Forgiveness is Good for Your Health
What Do You Want Jesus to Say?

The Trust Factor
Harsh Judgments Can Kill One’s Spirit

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“And he said to all,If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’  Luke 9:23

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has been part of my life since I was ten, like constant static from a white noise machine.

The noise frequently rises in the form of profane phrases or images that intrude on my thoughts like a droning siren. It drives me to compulsive prayer that quickly dissolves into an empty incantation. I find myself repeating the same pleas until the anxiety sparked by the unwanted intrusion fades. The problem is that this usually strengthens the original intrusion. It’s like trying to not think about something. Inevitably, you do.

I’ve begged God to free me, but I’ve found my OCD to be like Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). It’s an affliction through which God displays his grace and power.

OCD forces my reliance upon him. It is the cross I bear. The true antidote to my OCD -sparked anxiety is to abandon myself to his grace to cover even the worst thought and to entrust my anxiety to him rather than capitulating to my compulsions.

Following Jesus means embracing death daily. Your cross may be a different kind of affliction. Maybe it’s a choice to give up something that appears to promise security, comfort, reputation, or control but that is really an illusion that hinders living for God’s Kingdom and purposes.

Following Jesus through these deaths of self-denial and endurance also means embracing resurrection. Countless Christ-followers attest to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has been part of my life since I was ten, like constant static from a white noise machine.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise that, when we lose our lives for your sake, we gain everything: true security, true comfort, true joy, true acceptance. Grow my willingness to deny myself and follow you through the hard roads of death, whatever they may be each day. Thank you for your presence with me on those roads, and for your resurrection upon which I can place my hope. Amen.

By Jason Weimer
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FURTHER READING

Practicing the Presence of God

The Disciplines of Prayer

How did Jesus Pray?


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“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Acts 8:1b [ESV]

In a flash, everything changed. Life as usual ceased and the world plunged into a time of fear and uncertainty.

These words apply to our current moment, enduring a global pandemic, as much as they do to the time of “great persecution” the early Church faced. The burgeoning new church, incubating a vibrant new Way within Jerusalem’s cradle, was forced to splinter apart. They were under siege. New believers, untethered from their apostolic anchor, fled through the Judean countryside and into the surrounding nations.

What did they feel? Fear? Confusion? That this new, seemingly fragile faith was threatened with eradication?

Most likely they felt a mixed bag of many things. But after a brief time, the scattered believers regained their bearings and “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). The crisis turned out to be a vehicle that God, in His sovereignty, used to further his missional purposes. The Gospel entered new nations and began its inexorable march to the ends of the earth.

God has repeated this process throughout history. Plagues, persecution, and disasters all have come and gone, appearing as threats but proving to be kindling that has stoked the fires of mission.

Now, with the Church scattered in a different way, what might God do? Instead of gathering together physically on Sunday mornings and various weeknights, we journey on digital roads, streaming church services and Gospel messages wherever we go.

Might this moment be another watershed moment in Church mission history? How can we move past our own fear and uncertainty to proclaim Christ when we’re physically and digitally scattered?

Lord, thank you for your sovereign control of all things, even the chaos of today. I give my anxieties to you and pray that you’d give me the peace, wisdom, and creativity to proclaim your greatness to those around me, both digitally and physically. Revive my heart in this time, and use me to help bring the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. Amen.

By Jason Weimer
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FURTHER READING

Conversation Starters to transition to Spiritual things

Come Alongside – what it looks like to come alongside of people while Jesus draws them closer.

Your Life is the Only Bible Some People Read


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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Be filled with the Spirit.” When I read or hear that phrase, I envision a cup being filled with water. And while this is a good word picture, it falls short in one critical area. Cups are stationary, even when filled.

The book of Acts shows that, when believers are filled with the Spirit, they’re anything but stationary. They speak God’s Word boldly. They endure persecution. They care for and do good to others. Being filled with the Spirit goes beyond brimming with joy, peace, self-control, and the like. He produces action.

Perhaps a more complete image is that of a sail. As a sail is unfurled, the wind fills it, giving it direction and empowerment. The same is true with the Holy Spirit. As we are filled, the Spirit steers us into God’s mission and the good works he prepares for us. The Spirit empowers us to live them out.

But, as Hebrews 12:1 indicates, sin and other hindrances threaten to entangle us. These are like knots tied in the sail. The more knots, the less prepared the sail is to receive the wind’s direction and empowerment. The most common knots in my sail are self-interest. I get sidetracked by distractions or trivial concerns. I fear failure and also what others may think of me.

Other potential knots can be habitual sin, addictions, or the love of money. As we identify what our particular hindrances are, we can “untie the knot” by confessing them, fixing our eyes on Jesus, and allowing the wind of the Spirit to propel us into the course he’s set for us.

Lord, I confess that I often become entangled by sin and other hindrances to walking in your ways and in your power. Open my eyes to see hindrances I might be blind to, and show me what it looks like to throw them off, that I might be more fully directed and empowered by your Spirit. Thank you for filling me with the means to accomplish your purposes in the world. Amen.

By Jason Weimer
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 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

Mass shootings. Natural disasters. Refugees displaced by war. Famine. Starvation. Racial hostility.

Simply writing these things wearies me. Yet they’re a mere sliver of all the atrocities and injustice in our world. The list could stretch for pages.

The Bible teaches that God is perfectly just, and that he promises to right all wrongs and make all things new. In his coming Kingdom, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

This dichotomy births a lament in my heart: “How long, O Lord? How long until you intervene?” And, if I’m honest, in my lowest moments it provokes doubt in God’s goodness, his power, even his existence. Will he actually return to make things right? Does he care? Is he even there?

Perhaps you struggle with the same questions. Clinging to God’s promises in the face of such evil and suffering can be exhausting, and at times feels impossible. In 2 Peter 3:9, we find a glimpse into God’s heart and the reason for our waiting. He withholds his intervention of judgment and renewal because he yearns for people to repent and come to know him.

What feels to us like slowness in fulfilling his promise is actually an unimaginable long-suffering on his part, motivated by his love. He feels the weight of evil and injustice (see Genesis 6:5-6), yet he bears it for the sake of all who will turn to him.

Lord, thank you for your astonishing patience and love. Forgive my doubt and impatience, and increase my compassion for those far from you. Give me renewed strength to trust you and your promises, and use me to share your great love with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Jason Weimer
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“But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’  Hebrews 1:8

William Ernest Henley’s famous poem Invictus closes with the lines, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Though written in 1875, the couplet could serve as a rallying cry for the contemporary Western world, where freedom is interpreted as “doing whatever you please,” and every individual is given a near-sacred right of self-definition.

The drive to set ourselves up as our own authority is the essence of humanity’s sinful nature as seen in Adam and Eve’s desire to ‘be like God’ (Genesis 3:1-6).

I feel this innate pull myself. I don’t like being told what to do or how to spend my money or time. I want to be free.

But today’s verse, and many others that echo it, proclaim Jesus as the forever King. The world is his, whether we accept it or not. Those who don’t follow Jesus understandably disregard his authority. Christians, however, are called to submission and obedience. If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The ministry I serve with, Cru, invites college students to sign a counter cultural pledge to “go, do, say, and give” whatever God may ask of them. This invitation to yield all career, finances, relationships, and possessions to the kingly authority of Christ is both scary and difficult. It’s a daily, wilful choice. But doing so yields peace, purpose, and protection — the very things the autonomy of self falsely promises.

Father, thank you that you have set your Son on a permanent and universal throne. I confess my constant inclination to take control of my own life, and my actions that attempt to usurp your lordship over me. By the power of your Spirit, help me to yield all to Jesus and experience the peace and joy of living in your good Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:35

My anger boiled into rage and I squirmed, trying to wriggle free from his grasp. I wanted to push him away, spit in his face, curse at him, and run. But through my tantrum, God’s warm countenance never changed. His grip held me firm.

I still don’t fully understand this experience after my dad died in a car accident when I was 9. In the aftermath, I lay alone on the family room couch and, in a vision, Jesus sat beside me and gently put his hand on my back, then scooped me into his arms.

What stuck with me wasn’t my venom toward Jesus, but his response. Unchanging. Loving. Constant and present. He didn’t chide me for my emotional outburst. He let me feel it and express it.

The experience brought a rich biblical truth to life for me: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). No one can snatch his children from his hand (John 10:28). He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Perhaps there is something you’re afraid to bring to God. A deep wound, a nagging question, or doubt. The passages referenced above overwhelmingly state that nothing will cause the Lord to push you away. Even we are not strong enough to break his grip.

Lord, thank you for the promise that those whom you draw to yourself will never be separated from you. Show me what I might be holding back from you because of fear, and help me to draw near to You boldly and securely, bringing you everything. In Christ’s name, amen.

By Jason Weimer
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