Kicking Against the Goads

When my husband Billy came home from work the other day…I asked him the same question I ask him every day when he comes home… “How was your day?” He usually responds with a simple “Good!” …with really no explanation or elaboration.

Not surprising at all since…in general…men speak in headlines…while women speak in paragraphs! Us women sure love to expand and elaborate with more details…don’t we?!

And I did say…“in general”… because there are certainly some exceptions out there.

On this particular day…however… my interest was peaked as Billy didn’t share his usual “Good!” …but instead shared with me that it was a challenging day at work for him.

He began to explain to me that a new employee that he works with was…“kicking against the goads!”

Now…I don’t know about you…but…“kicking against the goads” isn’t a normal phrase that comes up in everyday conversation!

I looked at him blankly but with a heightened curiosity… “Ok what exactly do you mean by that?”

He went on to explain that his new co-worker was complaining about the way things were going at work.

Billy explained to him that the organization they work for has the current system and programs set into motion for a reason. And as employees…we are to follow what has been put into place and not fight against it with complaints.

Not that its dictatorship or anything…because there certainly is a time and place for new ideas to be implemented…but more importantly…Billy shared with his coworker…is following what our bosses tell us…instead of fighting against it and complaining!

It’s important that we aren’t “kicking against the goads!”

Now what exactly does this mean? And…as Christians…how is this term relevant to us?

“Kicking against the goads” is actually a biblical expression and refers to the account of the conversion of Saul to Paul in Acts 26.

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Acts 26:14 NIV

Some bible translations actually say… “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks

“It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” is a proverb that was used often by both Latin and Greek writers. The word for “pricks” in the Greek is kentron… which means a “point” or “goad.”

A goad is a stick with a pointed piece of iron fastened to the end of it. It was used to prod the oxen on when farmers plowed. When a stubborn ox attempted to kick back against the goads (pricks)… the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg. The more the oxen kicked…the more he would actually wound himself …thereby causing greater pain.

Many of you may be familiar with the initial account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:5. Interestingly…the expression about “kicking against the goads” doesn’t appear until this story of Saul’s conversion is shared with King Agrippa in Acts 26:12-18.

To summarize…

Saul was rebelling against God. God had been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction…but Saul was resisting against God and against His ways.

And as a result…Saul was hurting others… and he was also hurting himself.

Remember Saul persecuted Christians! And furthermore…he didn’t just persecute Christians…he actually persecuted Christ!

His self-righteousness and zeal became uncontrolled as he captured Christians…followers of Jesus…chained them and brought them back to Jerusalem for punishment. Consequently…many Christians died.

As Saul was nearing Damascus on his mission…the Lord met him and blinded him with a bright shining light from heaven.

12On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

15Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today?

Now of course you aren’t persecuting Christians like Saul…but are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

Maybe your “kicking against the goads” is not so obvious…

Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word?

Sexual immorality…unforgiveness…anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

Ok…maybe it’s even less obvious…

How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words? Are they Christ-like?

Whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for years…we all sin! …myself included!

Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

Saul…in resisting the teachings of Jesus…was “kicking against the goads.” He was fighting against Jesus…who would be the greatest authority on earth. Saul’s resistance actually resulted in greater suffering…demonstrating the lesson intended by the proverb.

This example of kicking against the goads was used to teach the lesson that it was foolish to rebel against God-given authority…and any attempt to do so would simply result in much greater distress and discomfort.

Just like the stubborn ox…the more a stubborn ox kicks back against the goads… the greater the pain.

The more we “kick against the goads” …the greater the distress…discomfort…and pain we ultimately experience and cause ourselves.

I will leave you with this…

It’s always important as Christians to do a self-examination and we can begin by praying Psalm 139:23-24 to God.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

 

Reflection Points:

1.So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today? Are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

2. Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word? Ie. Sexual immorality… unforgiveness… anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

3. How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words?

Action Points:

1.God’s desire for us is that we obey Him and His commands. This pleases Him and shows our love to Him.

If you love me, you will obey my commandments. John 14:15 NET 

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NL

2. Pray and ask God to show you any areas that you may be “kicking against the goads” if it isn’t obvious or clear to you.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

3. Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

And of course there are benefits to obeying God…We receive protection…favor…promotion…blessings…not just in heaven but here on earth as well!

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 NIV

 

 

 

 

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Faith…Like Rhoda!

I just saw the movie “Do You Believe” last weekend and really enjoyed it! I am no movie buff…but you really gotta see it…That’s all I can say!

If I can sum up this movie with one word…Perspective! Without revealing too much in case you plan on seeing it… Let me just say…it “recalibrated” me.

There was the cutest little girl named Lilly in the movie whose character truly stole my heart! At such a young age she demonstrated such a great faith in Jesus…a faith we may consider is a child-like faith…a faith we actually can all learn from.

I know what you may be thinking…because I am thinking the same thing!

I am a grown woman with 2 young children…what can I possibly learn from a child? I mean as the parent…I am the one teaching them…right? I am the one with more life experience…more wisdom…more understanding…right?

So what exactly is this child-like faith?

Well…this term is actually not mentioned in the Bible…However, this concept of child-like faith can be seen if we take a closer look.

There is a seemingly insignificant young girl mentioned very briefly in the Bible…so briefly that you just might miss her…who demonstrates this child-like faith.

Rhoda… Have you heard of Rhoda?

And I don’t mean the TV series “Rhoda” that aired from 1974-1978. Not that I watched it or anything…since I was only a young girl. No need to age myself here!

Let me share just a little about Rhoda…and literally “little” as only a few bible verses mention her.

Check out this passage in Acts 12:11-17.

11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

15“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”

16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. NIV

Some background information may give us a better understanding as we are brought to this passage in Acts 12:12.

About 10 years after the death of Jesus Christ…King Herod Agrippa 1 had the apostle James beheaded and he put Peter in prison. Agrippa had planned on putting Peter on trial. (Acts 12:1-4)

But the night before the public trial…an angel appeared in Peter’s cell. Without disturbing the guards…the angel woke Peter. The chains fell off Peter’s wrists and the angel led Peter out of prison!

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Acts 12:7 NIV

Peter wasn’t sure that what the angel was doing was really happening since he thought he was having a vision. Once on the street…the angel left him. Then it dawned on Peter that he wasn’t having a dream! …He was really free! …Peter’s first thought was to go to Mary’s home.

When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Acts 12:12

Mary was the mother of John Mark and an early believer in Christ. Her home was a gathering place for church members. Members were there that night praying for Peter’s release because they were probably holding an all-night prayer meeting.

Mary’s home was fairly spacious and the house had an outer courtyard door…an outer entrance…which faced the street. The door did not have a window or peep hole…and therefore it was only opened when someone inside the home recognized the knocker’s voice.

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. Acts 12:13

And it is here that we first hear about Rhoda!

Rhoda was a servant in Mary’s household. She was called a girl and therefore was about 10-12 years old. Because she was assigned to opening the outer door of the house…she more than likely had to be conscientious and sensible. Rhoda’s job was to discern who to let in and who to contact the owner before admitting.

Now we can probably assume that Rhoda wasn’t about to open the door in the middle of the night and so she probably asked a question like “Who’s there?”

When Peter identified himself…Rhoda recognized his voice. In her joy…Rhoda forgot to open the door! (Pretty funny! Huh?) Instead she ran back to the praying group and said, “Peter is at the door!”

Let’s pause here for a second… In the early church, slaves and/or servants worshiped jointly with owners and other free men. Now Rhoda had no doubt listened to the preaching of Peter on many occasions. She understood the connection between prayer…faith…and receiving. (Matthew 21:22)

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” Acts 12:14

Rhoda knew Peter’s voice. She was so excited that Peter was free that she wanted everyone in Mary’s house to know.

Child-like Faith Attribute One… Rhoda believed in this moment that the prayers of the people were answered!

Child-like Faith Attribute Two… Rhoda believed it was Peter without visual confirmation!

But check out everyone’s response!

“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” Acts 12:15

The early church believed that everyone has a personal angel who ministered to them. (Hebrews 1:14) So when Rhoda insisted that Peter was at the door…the members declared that it wasn’t Peter but his angel.

Child-like Faith Attribute Three… Rhoda’s faith was not shaken by everyone’s response. She stood firm and insisted that it was Peter!

Although young and probably lacking life experience…Rhoda simply believed that God answered prayers.

She had no problem believing that Peter…not his ministering angel…was at the door. And this child-like faith resulted in her persisting to tell the church that Peter was there.

How is your faith today…in whatever you are believing God for?

Do you have child-like faith today…like Rhoda?

Rhoda truly exemplifies this concept of child-like faith.

Child-like faith believes in the outcome of prayer that God answers prayers…not in spending time pondering reasons why God can’t or won’t answer them. The people reasoned that it was an angel…not Peter. (Acts 12:15)

Child-like faith believes without visual confirmation…not waiting to see before you believe. The people opened the door and saw Peter…then they believed. (Acts 12:16)

Child-like faith is persistent and firm…not easily shaken when other’s tell you otherwise. Rhoda stood firm in her faith regardless of what everyone was saying and believing. (Acts 12:15)

We can see from Rhoda’s example how this child-like faith concept can certainly help us grow in our faith. Many times as adults we tend to reason and think ourselves out of our faith. It’s almost as if we know too much in our heads.

My prayer for you and me is to demonstrate this child-like faith in whatever we are believing God for in our lives. Because ultimately…it is faith that pleases God! (Hebrews 11:6)

Reflection Points:

  1. What you are believing God for today?
  2. How is your faith today?
  3. Do you believe God can answer your prayers?
  4. Do you need to see before you believe?
  5. Is your faith shaken because of the beliefs of others or the circumstances that surround you?
  6. Do you have child-like faith today?

Action Points:

  1. Review above what child-like faith is…
  2. Child-like faith believes in the outcome of prayer that God answers prayers…not in spending time pondering reasons why God can’t or won’t answer them. Remember that God is willing and able and He hears all your prayers! (1John 5:14)
  3. Child-like faith believes without visual confirmation…not waiting to see before you believe.We need to walk by faith and not by sight. (2Corinthians 5:7) Faith doesn’t come from seeing…it comes from hearing God’s word. (Romans 10:17)
  4. Child-like faith is persistent and firm…not easily shaken when other’s tell you otherwise. (1Corinthians 16:13, 1Peter 5:9) There is a great story of persistent faith in the Bible. (Luke 18:1-8)

 

 

 

 

The Veil Was Torn!

With Easter quickly approaching us, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have flooded the displays at the local grocery and craft stores. And how about the ridiculous assortment of candy from jelly beans….to chocolate eggs and bunnies…to marshmallow peeps? …Leaving my 2 little boys salivating and quite impatient for their Easter Egg Hunt at their school! And my ever-increasing quest of decreasing their sugar in-take is challenged once again!

With Good Friday and Easter coming up this weekend, many will be flooding into churches to reflect and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as this Easter holiday is the very reason we as Christians can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.

While listening to the radio this week, I heard a beautiful song that was sung at my wedding called “At the Cross” by Hillsong. And I noticed that many songs by very talented and gifted musical artists as Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder Band and Chris Tomlin have written and produced songs reflecting the very pain and suffering…the shedding of blood…that Jesus endured and experienced for us. And many of these songs have also included the line “the veil was torn” in their lyrics.

These words actually come from the Bible scripture in Matthew 27:50-51.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51 NASB

I believe an understanding of these scriptures can help us further appreciate what Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection represents for us today.

The mere fact that the scriptures record the occurrence of this veil being torn at the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath of life…releasing His spirit… certainly demonstrates something quite significant.! And most likely why it has been included in so many Christian artists’ lyrics too! Don’t you think?

What does “the veil was torn” really mean and why is it so important for us to understand its significance? And is there significance in the fact that the veil was torn in two from top to bottom?

Before we can grasp what the veil being torn symbolizes…we need to explore the purpose and background of this temple veil.

During Jesus’ lifetime, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship was followed faithfully…according to the Law of Moses.

In the temple, a veil…sometimes called a temple curtain…separated the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. (Hebrews 9:19) The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind and therefore marked the boundary between God’s holiness and the wickedness of mankind. It was not possible to go beyond the veil because our sins have separated us from a Holy God.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 NASB

Because man was separated from God by sin…only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place [Holy of Holies], and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

Atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.”

At the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath, the temple veil was torn. So what is the significance of the veil being torn?

The veil being torn symbolized that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice…the shedding of His own blood…was sufficient atonement for man’s sins…forever!

Furthermore, the fact that the veil was torn from top to bottom was also significant. Why?
Well, first of all, this temple veil or curtain was not a simple curtain you would hang above your window in your home. This temple veil was 60ft long and 30ft wide and was one inch thick! It was so massive that it took 300 priests to manipulate it!

Therefore, no one could simply tear the veil themselves! It would take more than human strength to tear it.

The analogy is that it took the mighty hand of God Himself to tear it supernaturally. And this tearing which represents the removal of the separation of God and man could not be done by humans. It had to be done by God alone…and that’s why it is so significant!

No one can remove our separation from God but God Himself!

He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2 NLT

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

The fact the veil was torn in two from top to bottom…which stood some 60ft from the floor where humans clearly could not reach it…shows that God was the One that caused the veil to be torn. He was the initiator of the veil being torn.

The significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom and just the fact that it was torn is that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for us to come to God our Father. Our sins no longer separate us from Him.

On Good Friday at approximately 3pm, Jesus took His last drink…spoke His last words…and breathed his last breath. He gave up His spirit that day and the veil was torn.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV

Jesus Christ through His death…removed the barriers between God and man…and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness!

Jesus Christ through His resurrection…destroyed the power of death…and now we as Christians may receive forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life!

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV

As we reflect and celebrate this Easter weekend, my prayer and hope is for us to not only gain a greater perspective as Christians in understanding the significance of the “veil [being] torn” but also that many others who don’t even have a relationship with Jesus will come to him and accept Him as their Lord and Savior!

Let’s all come together in prayer that God will begin moving on the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus today in our communities…in our country…in our world!

Happy Easter! Thank you so much everyone for your continued support of Sweeter Than Honey Blog!