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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Learning the hard way (there is still hope)

Learning the hard way (there is still hope)

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Rd NE, Sparta, MI 49345

As we move towards opening schools everywhere, we find ourselves up against opposition from an unusual opponent—a pandemic. Here in America we are blessed with an excellent educational network. I would name them in order of the best on down, but that would be too controversial.   

But there is one school that stands out in basic learning; has had more eligible students than any other school; tuition is the highest, but that doesn’t prevent anyone from attending; school colors are basic black and blue and the motto is ‘ouch!’ It is the school of hard knocks.  

Some of us have spent much time learning things the hard way. “Don’t touch that, you’ll get burned!”  So, what do I do? I touch that. Yup, it hurts. Or as a teenager, our folks tell us to slow down or we will get tickets.  Again, those tickets hurt too.   

In fact, we find events in the bible name people who liked to learn things the hard way, too. There are many we could consider, like Adam and Eve, Jacob, king David etc. from the old testament. Then how about the apostles, Peter, James and John, or the husband and wife Ananias and Sapphira? 

How about the apostle Paul? Paul had what he called a thorn in the flesh, a great mind picture of a painful nagging nuisance. We read in part “… there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-8 KJV).  

Paul (earlier named Saul) was the Church’s enemy no. 1, as he “…beyond measure persecuted the Church and wasted it” (Galatians 1:13 KJV), chasing down Christians and their families to be brought back to Jerusalem to be forced to recant their faith or die. That is, until he suddenly met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and Paul became a Christian himself. He spent years personally persecuting Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor. This is called destiny. God had a plan for this zealous man to spread the gospel to Gentiles, kings, and Israel. Hear the school of hard knocks bells ringing?

Then there was Moses in the old testament, a Hebrew by birth, but saved from the river and raised in the family of Pharaoh. When he was 40, he went out to his brethren and seeing a taskmaster beating one of them, we read, “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Exodus 2:12 KJV).  Moses did not take the time to look up; he went ahead of God, and spent the next 40 years living in a foreign land. Can you hear the school of hard knocks school bells ringing?

Despite Paul’s prayer (3 times) for deliverance, God said no, that his grace was sufficient to get Paul through what he needed to get through. And God let Moses mature in the wilderness for another 40 years, then called him to go back to Egypt and lead God’s people out of slavery.  

Both Paul and Moses learned to love God’s people the way God loved them. Note that they both were accepted by God; he did not give up on them. There is a whole lot more to these stories, but we too can choose to follow God’s way… or not.  Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35 KJV).

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