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Fear or Faith

What a world we live in!

Like the rest of the world, I have watched the unfolding pandemic crisis with interest.  I’ve read the stories about it being a Chinese plot to destroy America.  And then there’s the rumor that the billionaires of the world got together and decided the population was getting too large and they needed to reduce the numbers worldwide, so they unleashed this plague upon the world.  Or how about the one that says the U. S. took vials of this deadly substance and released it in China?  My personal favorite is the rumor that it is a biological weapon designed to eliminate the weak, infirm, and elderly — a ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of weapon.  And there are others, but who wants to repeat all of that speculation and feed the demon fear.

I know there are plenty of people who don’t believe in God.  And there are plenty of people who believe in God but not in the devil, demons, or hell.  Amazing, on all counts.

I am particularly amazed when I see people who profess to be Christian operating in fear and panic in these trying times.  God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)   So if God has not give us the fear, who do you suppose is pushing it upon mankind?

Here is what I know from Holy Scripture:  Satan (the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc.) came to steal, kill and destroy.  Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the enemy (the one mentioned in the previous sentence).  So if Jesus Christ, savior of all mankind, came to destroy the works of the enemy, why is the enemy still in there pitching and causing panic around the world?  Simple, right?  Because mankind, in his own infinite stupidity, refuses to accept that Jesus Christ is who He says He is.  So Christ continues to give mankind — every single person — a chance to accept Him and His finished work before it is too late (too late being the day He returns for His own and everyone else gets left behind).

I want to encourage you today, first and foremost, to accept the finished work of Jesus Christ (if you haven’t already) and, secondly, to walk in faith, not fear during these next few weeks.  Yes, it looks bad to our natural eyes, but God is bigger than any virus, any plague, any biological weapon, and any government entity. GOD will get us through this.  LEAN on Him, not your own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding).  Watch miracles take place.

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Empty Is As Empty Does

Silly title!  But it gets the attention, doesn’t it?

Empty — defined by Worknik as:

  • adj.
    Having nothing inside or on the surface; holding or containing nothing.
  • adj.
    Having no elements or members; null.

That’s the word that kept coming to me today as I was running errands and at work and at lunch.  Empty.

Have you actually looked into the eyes of the people you casually encounter on a daily basis?  Try it.  Empty will come to you, too.  Oh, occasionally I run into someone who is half-full; but the best of the best is running into someone who is totally full–it is all over there faces, in their body language, and mostly, flooding out of their eyes.  These are the ones who are full to overflowing with life, light, love — the Holy Spirit of God.  They are full of life and their life is full.

What about the others?  The empty ones?  Their life may be full but they are not full of life.  Their eyes tell the whole story.  Just making it through one more day.  Or perhaps the desperation of planning a getaway in the hopes it will bring them some contentment.  Or the ones you know are hurting and helpless, and because they don’t know Jesus, hopeless!  So many opportunities to share the love of Christ.  So many opportunities to pray and encourage.  So many opportunities to share the truth before it is too late for them.

These are all pretty easy to pick out and relatively simple to minister to as led by the Holy Spirit.  The people who give me the most angst, however, are those who are empty but think they are full.  Try ministering to those people.  You can see it all over them — the emptiness, the lack, the desperation hidden behind the mask.  Yet they won’t admit it.  They are fine!  They know all about Jesus!  Why, just last Easter they were in church (or Christmas, or last month.)  Hmmm…what is it the Word impresses upon us?  Ah — there are none so blind as those who will not see.  Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’)

Empty lives, empty hearts, and empty souls.  How horrible to think of all of those people missing out on spending eternity in the light of the Savior!  So today I am comforting myself with the thought that I can plant seeds, I can water seeds that someone else has planted, and maybe, just maybe, those seeds will produce a harvest for the Kingdom.  And those empty lives pursuing empty dreams and an even emptier eternity will be turned around and filled with the love and light of Jesus!  One at a time…..

Aha!

Ever have one of those moments where you slapped your forehead in frustration as the light-bulb went on above your head?  I seem to be having those quite a bit lately.  But today’s was a doozey!

I spend a fair amount of time each day on my ‘spiritual’ side.  You know:  reading, listening, growing, and trying to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Usually these are such sweet, peaceful times that my days goes very well afterwards.  And I guess my day went well after today’s session as well.  It’s just that I have a lot to meditate upon.

A friend of mine told me this week that the Lord has been dealing with her about being slothful.  She is the LAST person I would have picked to have that weakness so I quizzed her a little bit.  It turns out, after listening to her describe what she was hearing in her spirit that she is, indeed, slothful spiritually.  Well, never to be outdone, 🙂  I headed to Holy Scripture this morning, reading all of the verses that relate to sloth.  After reading and meditating, I sort of tossed that aside as not a big hot-button for me.  But we all have character weaknesses that need work and we are usually so blind to them that we miss it entirely.  I laid aside my Bible and journal and focused on the Lord, asking Him to reveal an area that I need work in.

Guess what?  He did.  And IMMEDIATELY.  I mean, I barely got the ‘Amen’ out of my mouth and my spirit lit up with the word ‘rebellion’.

Huh?  Me?  Rebellious?  You’d have to know me pretty well to understand that I am a pussycat of the introvert variety.  I’m not only a peace-keeper, I’m a peace maker!  So this was a real shocker for me.  I always obey.  I mean, ALWAYS.  How could I be rebellious?

I’m in the middle of a pretty tragic family situation right now that has been unfolding for two years.  I have blatantly (forgive me, Lord) told Lord what I would not do.  And the funny thing is, He has never contradicted me or tried to lead me down a different path.  But you know us humans — we get the bit between our teeth and we think we know everything.  So I assumed that this was the issue of ‘rebellion’ that the Spirit was impressing on me.  After more prayer and meditation, guess what?  Not so.  This was not the issue.  You want to know what it is?

My book.

You see, some years back I began work on a book.  It was hit and miss because of work and then retirement and then travel and then….well, you get the picture.  Early this year I felt I had received clear instructions on organizing what I have written for publication, and I got started.  But then I stopped again, taken over by other projects and cares of this world.  This is the rebellion that the Spirit was pointing to this morning.  This rebellion relates to spiritual matters and since I know what the Lord wants of me and have not done it, I am rebellious!  How do you like that?

No, I didn’t like it either.  But, I do like the fact that I can go to the Lord with any question and if I will shut up long enough, He will answer me.  Pretty neat.

And the book?  Well, I have travel coming up but there won’t be any more travel scheduled until I get the book in a form I can give to an editor.  It shouldn’t take that long.  It will just take a little discipline.  And a LOT of help from Holy Spirit.

I am at great peace again this evening as I bask in the forgiveness from the Lord that comes from true repentance.  And no, He won’t have to tell me again.

 

The View from the Top

There are lots of quotes and half-quotes circulating which have the one mission of making everyone who isn’t in the lead or isn’t on top of the heap feel inadequate and without value.  One I heard many years ago:  if you aren’t the lead dog, the view never changes.  Another:  if you aren’t on top of the heap you are the heap.

There are others that I used to quip in response.  My favorite:  even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

I confess that I was swept up in the ‘American dream’ of big houses and fancy cars and corner offices and vacation homes.  From my childhood those ‘ideals’ were held out as goals to be attained and the only possible way to happiness.  I learned the lessons well and I spent my entire career climbing ladder after ladder, changing ladders when it seemed I could go no further where I was.  I maneuvered and worked — sacrificing quality time with my family for larger paychecks and longer commutes.

And then one day it hit me:  I wasn’t happy.  I did not like the work I did and I loathed the unethical behavior of my peers.  It was at that point that I began to plan for an early retirement.  EARLY.  I wanted to be done with the workforce by the time I was fifty.  I wanted OUT and I planned accordingly.  Now my maneuvering took on an entirely different objective as I reorganized and rearranged myself out of one job after another.  I could cut through red tape and abolish positions by analyzing work processes and determining which were necessary and which added no value.  And I maneuvered myself right into a job that was entirely necessary but anyone could do.  From there it was just a short jump to early retirement.  I didn’t make it at fifty, but on my fifty-second birthday I said goodbye to the rat race for good!

I’ve been at the top.  I had the huge office with panoramic views of the U. S. Capitol.  I’ve been on junkets and traveled extensively as part of my work.  I’ve had it all, and if I learned one thing it is this:  the view at the top isn’t any different than it is at the bottom.  The faces may change and the spaces may be larger, but the meaninglessness or meaningfulness of the job is dependent not upon its position on the ladder or upon the incumbents position in the pecking order — it is dependent upon the internal well-being of the incumbent: upon that person’s own sense of self-worth and whether or not they derive satisfaction from the work that they do.

I have been ‘retired’ for quite some time now, and I find I enjoy each day more than the day before.  There is so much to do that it is sometimes hard to decide!  But the view — the view is incredible!  Because I enjoy what I do and I do it with all my heart, giving it everything I have.

My prayer for you is that you will do the same.

Colossians 3:23-24  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

The Magnetism of the Spirit

I want to be able to create – either with pen, or paint brush or clay. I want to be able to capture the beauty I see around me and share it with the entire world.   I want to be able to express the profound emotions that stir in me as I commune with Lord Jesus. I want to be able to make others understand what it is like to be a human magnet. I want, I want, I want! Why do I want these things? Because I want others to find what I have found…Lord Jesus Christ in all of His glory and majesty…right here, right now.

The past couple of days have been stellar (sorry…no other word would do!) As I set about fulfilling my normal duties and then getting out and casting my net in my own particular corner of the sea of humanity, I found some amazing things happening. There I was, intent upon sharing the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ with anyone who might be in need. What do you suppose happened? You guessed it . . . before I ever got an opportunity to unwrap the net I was being blessed with fish trying to jump in the boat! It was as if they knew I was coming and were waiting for me to show up just so that they could be a blessing to me. I really didn’t have to do anything . . . the Lord had already arranged my days so that I could be a blessing without even trying AND so that I would be blessed without even asking.

As I contemplated what was happening in my life I remember Matthew 4:19Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they immediately left what they were doing and followed him.

Now, in the natural we wonder what ELSE happened to make them get up from tending their nets to follow Jesus. Surely they didn’t get up just because He said so. But in light of my experiences of the past couple of days I would say that there is a magnetic pull in Christ’s Spirit that draws people just as the disciples and other believers were drawn to Jesus. Such a force is undeniable and thoroughly genuine. Those who pass within the sphere of influence are drawn … whether into conversation or simply into following along and joining in service. How exhilarating!

Yet even as I bathed in the light and glory of those precious moments I was aware that there is a definite down side to having such a force surrounding you and living within you. I can see how easily we might become proud and boastful, arrogant and supercilious with such power. I can see where it would be easy to fall and how someone in whom the Holy Spirit is moving with magnetism might fall into sin as people are drawn to them and fawn over them without understanding it is the Holy Spirit and not the human who is doing the drawing. Imagine a man (or woman) with such magnetism drawing the opposite sex and falling to the demon of lust — I can just see it playing out before me as the carrier of the magnetism becomes prideful, thinking how wonderful and special they must be and therefore deserving of all the attention and adoration. SIN IS JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY!

So even as I experienced a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit I am cautious and ever conscious of WHO is doing the drawing and WHY He is doing it. . .so that souls might be saved for His glory.

Something else also became very clear to me as I experienced the drawing . . . it is so easy to judge others who have fallen. As I sensed how easy it would be to fall when blessed with such an anointing I also repented for having passed judgment on those who had fallen in the past and also who are still operating ministries in a fallen state. I have decided to leave that to God. No one knows what goes on in another’s heart. I think I can offer grace while steering clear of the ministries. I know of a certain that I could fall at any moment and must guard my heart and mind against it with constant prayer and worship. And my heart aches for those who have fallen under the spell of the deceptiveness of human adoration only to fall to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  May God have mercy.