Devotional - Responding To The Critical Spirits In Our Lives

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. – Mark 6: 1-3 (NLT)

    It seems these days that everyone is a critic. Everyone has their own opinion about seemingly every subject and you will not be exempt either. One of the most popular pastimes we have as people is to tear each other down. The spirit of negativity is pervasive in nearly everything we do and the church remains equally affected as well. In fact, some of the most critical people you will ever meet will be found inside the church walls. The Bible is filled with stories of people challenged by the negative murmuring of others and how they had to overcome it. Realize that one of the greatest weapons the devil uses against us is discouragement. That is why the Bible instructs us to speak only in ways that edify and build each other up. There will no shortage of complainers and naysayers – especially as we seek to advance in our walk with God. Let’s take a look at some of the critics of the Bible and how we are to respond.

    The first example comes from the end of the period of Judges. Israel turned on God and demanded that they have a mortal king like all of their neighbors. God turned to Saul. Now Saul gets a lot of bad press and rightfully so. He eventually would become full of himself and blatantly disobey God which would result in God pursuing David – a man after the heart of God. At the beginning however, Saul was actually a humble man who followed God. He would become a victim of his own success, which we fall prey to as well if we are not careful. But when he was first named as king, not everyone was happy:

    But there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them. – 1Samuel 10: 27 (NLT)

    Beloved, we need to realize that we cannot please everyone all the time. It simply is not possible. A critical spirit looks for something to complain about – anything to complain about. Saul shows us the first thing we need to do is pay them no mind. The spirit of criticism feeds off of others. It needs willing participants. Gossip only succeeds when people are willing to entertain it. We must not. Saul goes even further though than merely ignoring them. A month later the new king leads Israel to a great victory over the Ammonites and here is what followed:

    Then the people exclaimed to Samuel, “Now where are those men who said, ‘Why should Saul rule over us?’ Bring them here, and we will kill them!” But Saul replied, “No one will be executed today, for today the Lord has rescued Israel!” – 1Samuel 11: 12-13 (NLT)

    Lesson number two beloved is we are to show the mercy that our critics refuse to. It would have been easy in his flesh for Saul to demand the heads of the men who grumbled against him but he recognized that only God deserves the glory for our victories in life and if we focus on Him we will find ourselves not needing to get even. God sees all things and everyone will be held to account for every careless word. Remember, we serve a just God.

    The second example is the following King of Israel – David. When we first meet David we see a more subtle method of criticism in place in his life. David was marginalized. He was the last of eight brothers made to tend to the sheep and goats. He was an afterthought. One day the Prophet Samuel comes to the house of Jesse, David’s father to anoint the future king of Israel. Jesse presents the first seven sons to Samuel, but God rejects them all. Then this happens:

    Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” – 1Samuel 16: 11 (NLT)

    David was so unconsidered that when the Prophet of the Lord came to his house he could not even imagine that David would be the one the Lord wanted! Many of us as well have been marginalized our whole lives. Our siblings were always considered before us. We were the last one picked to play sports in gym class. We were never considered the smartest, the prettiest, or the most skilled. We were probably voted most likely to just exist. Just tend the sheep and hope that you can provide a better chance for your children than you feel you had yourself. NONSENSE! God can use anyone beloved, anyone! Moses was a stutterer and a murderer. Gideon was the weakest in his clan and his clan the least as well. The disciples were mostly fishermen and from all accounts, not particularly good at it either. How did the young shepherd boy take the news:

    So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. – 1Samuel 16: 13 (NLT)

    He accepted that God had a different opinion then those who marginalized him. That may seem simple but it can be so difficult for the marginalized because you are talking about breaking through years if not decades of being told you are mediocre. In some cases it can even be a generational curse that has marginalized your family for generations. But God can take that which has been discarded by this world and turn it into something beautiful for His glory.

    Even later on David still would face the critics again. They never really go away. As he walked into the Valley of Elah he saw all of the fighting men of Israel cowering in fear from the threat of the 10 foot tall Goliath. The Giant was taunting them; mocking them – just like the enemy does to us in our lives. David however tells King Saul that he will fight the giant and remove this disgrace from Israel. Saul was less than enthusiastic about his chances:

    “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” – 1Samuel 17: 33 (NLT)

    God does not judge by appearance but by the heart beloved. If we would give God a slingshot filled with faith in who He is – then we will see our critics be humbled before us. Look at this response from Saul. How often do we face similar criticisms, often from people in perceived positions of power or expertise? You can’t possibly go back to school – you’re too old! You can’t lead that ministry – you aren’t a leader! You can’t possibly – don’t be ridiculous! What can we learn from the reaction of David here:

    But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” – 1Samuel 17: 34-37 (NLT)

    But David persisted. Beloved we cannot give up in the face of the critical spirit. I can guarantee you that you will not succeed at 100% of the things you refuse to try. If God provides the vision then God will provide the resources to accomplish that vision. Look at the reaction here from David – who is it focused on? Not himself but his God. Within our own power we can do nothing but through God we can accomplish all things. There is nothing worse than unmet potential. God did not save us to sit in a pew and sing kumbya until Jesus comes back. Far too many Christians bury the talent the Master has entrusted to them under the excuse of “I can’t.” Many times behind the “I can’t” is a history of being told – “you can’t.” The big secret here we can learn from David is that if we focus on ourselves and our human frailties then maybe we will be proven right – we can’t. David however focused on God and what God can accomplish and whenever we do that the answer is HE CAN.

    Our last example reminds us that our Lord and Savior has gone through everything we might come up against in this life including the critical spirit. The key verses tell us of the time He went back home to Nazareth. He was teaching in the synagogues and while many were amazed the majority rejected Him because they had grown up with Him and His relatives still lived there. In their finite minds they could not imagine an infinite God. In their natural understanding they could not comprehend the supernatural. Even the miracles they saw with their own eyes could not help them overcome their prejudices. Now here is the teachable point beloved. The more you step out for Jesus the more people will come against it. People who knew who you were before you came to the Lord. People will remind you of your past as a means to discourage your future. But all they know is a person that no longer exists:

    So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2Corinthians 5: 16-17 (NLT)

    Beloved – it does not matter who you once were! Do we truly understand this today? It does not matter who you were it only matters who you ARE in Christ. You are a new person. That old life people want to keep hanging around your neck is the very thing that Christ went to the cross for.

    You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. – Colossians 2: 13-15 (NLT)

    The things that people want to use to hold you down are the very things Christ died for. He canceled the charges others want to make towards you. He nailed them to the cross! By doing so he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities but we still think that our old next door neighbor can say something to hurt us? Or our ex boyfriend. Or anyone else from our past who does not understand that the person they are being critical of no longer exists!

    Jesus would soon leave His hometown, amazed at the disbelief of the people. The Bible says that it was the disbelief that prevented Jesus from performing many miracles. The last lesson here for us is that in the face of the criticisms and unbelief – just move on.

    Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. – Mark 6: 4-6 (NLT)

    He did what He could but then He moved on. Likewise we need to learn this valuable lesson. Sometimes we need to move on from the very people that would continue to hinder our walk with God and criticize what He is trying to do through us. God always has another level for us to go to but sometimes we need to leave some people behind. Everyone’s walk is different. Maybe God will bring people back together in the future but in the present – we need to be following God and God alone.

    Beloved, we will find no shortage of people who will want to speak negatively into our lives and our walk with God. Even within the church walls there is no shortage. We need to use the examples God has provided for us in His Word as our guidelines for how to deal with it. Like Saul we need to ignore the voices and show them the mercy they do not show towards us, realizing that our successes come from God. Like David we need to overcome those who would marginalize us by accepting that God looks at us differently and persist through the negativity. We cannot give up. Like Jesus Himself, we need to do what we can for those who refuse to believe in what God can do through us and move on. Sometimes, we need to give people the gift of goodbye. Those that seek to criticize through the lens of human reasoning need to be greeted with the impossibilities of the God we serve. We need to always use Jesus as our prime example:

    For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. – 1Peter 2: 21-24 (NLT)

    Turn to the Guardian of your souls today and see the new thing He is doing through the new creation He has made in you.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – February 27, 2013

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