Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Week Five - Cast

 “Why art thou cast down, o my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?  Hope thou in god: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” 
Psalm 42:5
This verse has uplifted me through so many times in my life.  I have learned to ask myself this very question when I notice emotions overtaking me.  “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?”  Why am I feeling low?  Why am I feeling like I have been cast aside?  It can come with some surprising answers.
Sometimes the answer is exhaustion.  I’ve overdone and my spirit is lagging due to need for rest and refreshment.  Another time it is hunger.  I have not eaten enough or eaten properly and I am paying the price.  Another answer can be worry.  I have started focusing on the problems instead of the solutions.  Whatever the answer is, I have found that if I will ask the question, God will show me the source.  Then I can deal with it wisely and scripturally.
Sometimes the answer is that I have lost hope.  Then I have to go on to the second part of the verse – “Hope thou in God”.  My hopes should not lie in my abilities or my plans, nor should they be swayed by my emotions or physical state.  They should be grounded in Him who is able to do the impossible, and able to carry me through.  It takes me on to Hebrews 10:35 & 36,  Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” 
Stay faithful.  Stay the path.  In time God will revive the cast down spirit and restore hope.  Draw close and place your confidence in Him alone.  Meanwhile, continue doing the will of God.  Continue looking to Him in hope and with praise.  Obedience in this area brings reward.
Why are you cast down?  Is the source physical or emotional?  Have you taken time to ask the Lord?  Are you dealing with it wisely and scripturally or allowing it to have control?  Lost hope?  Hope is found in Him.  Draw closer and let Him show you His strength and love.  Cast yourself upon Him…He will catch you!

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 
I Peter 5:7
This casting literally means to throw over your shoulder without concern.  It makes for an interesting thought.  I imagine it as walking down the pathway of life and as each care or worry comes along simply picking it up and tossing it over my shoulder.  Like some superhero, nothing deviates me from my intended goal.
That might sound funny, but that is really what the verse is telling us to do.  But it is not just carelessness that allows us to take such action with our cares and woes; it is because we know that we have One higher who will take care of these concerns.  Not only that, but he cares so much about us that he will deal with anything that gets in our way of following him.
I remember when this verse came alive to me.  I had found myself bound by all sorts of worries.  They were dragging me down.  I took time to study out the meaning of casting and decided to try this shoulder tossing skill.  Each time a worry would come my way, I quoted I Peter 5:7 and then took my hand, picked up the worry, and symbolically tossed it over my shoulder. 
Some worries had to be thrown several times because they were die-hards.  But they finally got the messages and stayed behind me!  Some of them needed a more drastic response.  So I imagined a tall fence with God on the other side.  Those I tossed over the fence for God to deal with.  It worked.  After a while my worries knew that I would not entertain them longer than it took for me to pick them up and toss them aside.
The real secret is knowing and believing that God cares for you more than anything else.  He knows all your heartaches.  They are not insignificant to him.  However, he knows that he is bigger than any concern and able to deal with everything that comes your way.  No problem is too big for him.  No worry worries him.  He loves you and wants to be your superhero.
Bound up in worry and care?  Try a new tactic – do the shoulder toss!

“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.”
Psalm 71:9
I was so very fortunate as to have known not only both sets of my grandparents, but also, one set of great-grandparents. I was in my early teens when they passed away.  Being around elderly was a part of my life and I have wonderful memories of them.  My grandparents lived well into their eighties and nineties and were a precious part of our family.  As they grew older, age staked it’s claim and we all saw the changes.  Yet, that did not hinder the joy we shared as family.  Because their minds were still bright and active, we could continue to create memories and enjoy their company.
The Psalmist is asking the Lord that he might not be neglected in his declining years. When life is continued, but the strength is failing, it creates a feeling of vulnerability.  Many elderly have the fear of being cast aside and forgotten.  But the Psalmist had reason to hope and be comfortably assured that God would not desert him.  Matthew Henry states, “He is a Master that is not wont to cast off old servants.”
Scripture teaches that physical aging need not necessarily be seen as a negative thing.  Proverbs 16:31 says, “The hoary (gray) head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.  In 20:29 it says, “…the beauty of old men is the gray head.”  And in Psalm 71:18 the Psalmist goes on to reveal that even in his old age, he still had a goal.  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
Growing older happens to everyone.  My grandmother jokingly, yet seriously, instructed me not to do it.  But she never told me how!  As I watched them age gracefully I saw the example of people who maintained their dignity, took care of their own lives for as long a physically possible, and who continued to look forward in faith primarily to their Saviour, but also to their family for the support necessary.
Getting older?  You might not think so, but truly we age every day.  God will not cast us off.  He does not discard or retire his servants.  Every day is a gift to be used for him.  As in every stage of life the demands vary.  Use each stage for His glory and be found in the way of righteousness until the final step!
“Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” 
Proverbs 22:10
According to Proverbs 6:19, one of the major offenses to the Lord is sowing discord among the brethren.  This scornful person takes pride in arguing and verbally abusing others.  He is set on creating the worst in every situation and despises and injures all that come his way.  For him it is a game.  He thinks it exciting to create havoc in the group. Be it at work, with the family, or at church, he keeps things stirred up.  Check out Proverbs 1:22, “…scorners delight in their scorning…”
The biblical mandate is to remove this person.  We see that in Matthew 18 as a process inside the church, and it is also demonstrated in Genesis 21:9-13 as Ishmael was cast out of the home when he mocked Isaac.  It is a painful process, but it is necessary.  If the scorner is allowed to remain, his poison will penetrate.  Like a bad apple, he will cause his rot to pass throughout the unit until it is destroyed.
Sadly, often the trouble we face as due to the fact that scorners have not been dealt with.  They are allowed to continue unchecked.  For whatever reason they hold a certain power which others are hesitant to challenge.  No doubt they will not go quietly, but go they must for the benefit of the whole. 
It takes great wisdom and spiritual strength to cast out a scorner, but the benefits outweigh the cost.  The process gives wisdom to the simple, (Proverbs 21:11), it removes strife, (Proverbs 22:10), and it makes a warning for those who might be tempted to choose this path, (Proverbs 19:25).
The question is – are you a scorner?  Do you find joy in bringing contention?  Better be serious about repenting and making a change here. 
Are you dealing with a scorner?  Be strong.  Stand in truth.  Follow biblical mandates.  Seek wise counsel.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”  Ecclesiastes 11:1
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus instructed the hearers about alms giving telling them, “…let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”.  He is saying that they should give without fanfare or acknowledgement.  Just give.  In Luke 6:38 he says to “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” and then there is the basis of II Corinthians 9:6, “he that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly…” 
Casting your bread upon the waters is another of these verses teaching us to give.  To give not looking for reward, but knowing the promise of God is upon giving and He will reward in His time and in His way.  You can never give without God rewarding.  Even in the small things, He will take note and give return.
I grew up on a farm, but most of the jobs I did were weeding, picking up rocks, cleaning stalls and stuff like that.  When I got married my grandparents decided it was time I learned how to plant vegetables.  They would tell me about which ones to plants beside each other and which ones not to plant close together.  How deep to make the furrows and how to tend the plants as they grew.  I wasn’t that interested because I was young and I now lived in town.  People in town didn’t worry about such things, I thought.  But I dutifully tried to follow my grandparent’s instruction and had a little vegetable patch out back.
One day my grandmother brought some chickpea seeds (garbanzo beans, some call them).  She went out and showed me where to sow them and how to do it and then she went home.  I was out back doing as she instructed and after about six feet of bean planting I got bored.  I wasn’t crazy on these beans anyway, so I tossed the remainder of the seeds to the far untilled corner of the garden.  I was done with those beans.
My garden did quite well that year.  I managed to keep everything alive and even had things to can for the winter – another lesson from the grandparents!  But, imagine my surprise when my grandmother asked me why there were chickpeas growing back by the fence!  I never imagined they would take root.  After all, I had just tossed them back there carelessly and forgotten about them!  They came back to catch me out!
This taught me that we sow negative and positive.  Whatever we cast into life has a consequence.  By sowing obedience to my grandparent’s instruction, I reaped a good vegetable harvest.  By sowing disobedience, I reaped embarrassment.  Either way, it comes back!  Be careful what you are casting into your life!

No comments:

Post a Comment