Thistlebend Quiet eMoment

by Laurie Aker

Focus Scripture: Luke 7:24-35 ESV

24 When John’s messengers had gone,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? 
A reed shaken by the wind?  
25 What then did you go out to see?
A man dressed in soft clothing?
Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing  
and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.
26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  
27 This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women  
none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least  
in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29 (When all the people heard this,  
and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,  
having been baptized with the baptism of John, 
30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of
God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)  
31 “To what then shall I compare the people  
of this generation, and what are they like?  
32 They are like children sitting in the
marketplace and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and 
drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’
34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking,  
and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, 
a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

John the Baptist went into the wilderness
to be away from the world
and alone with the Lord.

Others went out to seek after him
to hear what he had heard from the Lord.

God had sent him to the world to prepare the world for His Son.

Are you willing to leave the comfort of your preferences
and go to the wilderness to seek the Lord?
To hear from Him?
To hear from His messengers?


Will we all continue to just go on our merry way?
Or will we slow down and stop?
Stop long enough to hear God’s voice.
And when we hear it, turn.

Will we turn from our wicked ways?
Our sinful, selfish, self-centered, self-directing ways
to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

Will we take our pursuit of Jesus this seriously?
Will we work this hard?
Paul says:

Philippians 2:12-13
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,  
so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you,  
both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

What does with fear and trembling mean?

Fear is absolute reverence for God and His Word and His Ways.
Trembling is the anxiety of one who distrusts
his ability completely to meet all requirements,
but religiously does his utmost to fulfill his duty.

Will we distrust ourselves, our ways, and the world’s ways
enough to leave everything?
Enough to head into the wilderness after the truth?
Even not knowing where we are going?
Just knowing that we are picking up our cross
and following Jesus.


Write out the following passage from Luke 7 and recite it 3 times.
Take it with you throughout the day.

26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  
27 This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women  
none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least  
in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”


Lord, please help me to be willing
to put aside self for Jesus.

In His hands for His glory,


by Steve Fuller

My Affliction

I recently had a minor stroke, which affected some of my peripheral vision.

I was encouraged by the story of Job, who blessed the name of the Lord, even though God had taken Job’s donkeys, sheep, camels, and children (Job 1:21-22).

How — after losing all this — could Job bless God?

It’s because Job understood that God only takes things from us (like children or peripheral vision) in order to give us something infinitely more satisfying (a greater experience of God’s glory now and forever).

I see that taught in passages like 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and that truth has brought me much comfort.

Another Encouraging Verse

Then, as I was going through my stack of encouraging verses, I came upon Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

Jeremiah agrees with Job in saying that God does cause grief; God does afflict us with trials.

But Jeremiah sees how that could be misunderstood.  We could wrongly think that God somehow finds pleasure in causing us grief; we could wrongly believe that he enjoys taking things from us.

So, to help us avoid this misunderstanding,  Jeremiah says that God “does not afflict willingly.”

What Does That Mean?

We could think it means someone else has more power than God, and forces God to afflict us even though God doesn’t want to.

But that can’t be right, because no one has more power than God.  That’s why God is called “the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), and why Psalm 115:3 says God “does all that he pleases.”

No force outside of God can make God do something against his will.

So what does it mean that God does not afflict us willingly?

From The Heart

I checked the Hebrew, and the literal translation is that God does not afflict us “from the heart.”  To do something “from the heart” means you do it with delight, enthusiasm, and passion.

So when God took from Job his oxen, donkeys, camels, sheep, servants, and all his children, God did not delight in the loss he was bringing Job.  Rather, God’s delight was in the great good he was going to give Job through this loss.

Or to use Jeremiah’s words, God does not delight in causing grief; he delights in the compassion and steadfast love that will come to us through that grief.

Think of a surgeon.  He does cut a patient open.  But he does not delight in the cutting.  He does not do this willingly — from the heart.

The only reason he cuts someone is because this will bring them healing.  What the surgeon is passionate about is the healing, not the cutting.

Same with God.  He does not afflict us willingly, from the heart.  The only reason he afflicts us is because this will bring us even more joy in Christ.  It’s not our loss that God passionately pursues; it’s our everlasting, all-satisfying joy in Christ.

See God Accurately

So if you are going through trials, be sure you see God accurately.

Yes, God brings trials.  Yes, God takes from us.  But that does not mean he is unloving.  That does not mean he delights in causing us pain.

In fact, he weeps with us in our pain, like he wept with Mary and Martha over the death of their brother (John 11:35).

But he does not just weep.  He also rejoices at the great good that will be ours through this pain.  He delights in the increased joy this trial will bring us in Christ — a joy that will satisfy us so deeply that we will bow before him and thank him for every trial.

So share your sorrows with God.  Sanctify your sorrows.  Feel his compassion for you in your grief.

But don’t stop there.  Don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Fight the fight of faith until you see and feel that his purpose in this trial is to bring you even more joy in his holy Son — now and forever.

And then press in to receive even more of that all-satisfying joy.


This article has been reposted from the Living by Faith Blog.  The original article may be accessed here.

by Laurie Aker

He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Ps. 23:3)

The Lord our shepherd watches closely over His sheep and restores them to himself when they wan- der. Not one of God’s creatures will lose its way sooner than a sheep, which are so inclined to go astray and so incapable of finding their way back. David knew well what it was to be a shepherd, but he also knew what it was to be a sheep. He had wandered from the Lord, and the Lord restored him. The Lord watches over us and keeps us. As we grow in Christ, we learn more and more how vulnerable we are to temptation and understand our propensity to sin. Ask the Lord to meet you right where you are. Ask Him to tenderly minister to your soul and show you any areas of vulnerability, sin, pride, or unbelief. Take time to confess where you might be weary, struggling, or wandering. And trust Him to lead you in the right path.


This blog post is an excerpt from the Thistlebend Discipleship Study Falling in Love Again with Your Lord available here.