Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Scarlet Cloak

Week Thirty-Five - Adjust


I’ve always thought I was pretty good at adjusting.  I mean, I can flex.  I can shift to plan B.  I can push in that clutch and change gears when I need to! But, I’m finding this elongated time of adjustment wearing me down.  I mean, if they want me to stay in my house, fine.  Just say so.  If they want us to try to get back to normal, then make it possible.  Suppose they want us to take precautions, fine.  Just keep it clear, consistent, and precise.

I got to thinking about some of this the other day, and I noticed something.  We are all trying to get back to normal.  But what if normal isn’t where God wants us?  What if He wants us to change things up?  Can we do that?  Or are we so set on getting everything back as it was, that we miss out on new opportunities or amendments that would benefit?

My oldest daughter is a Real Estate agent.  Her Facebook post prompted me to think more about adjusting.  She posted -

“Every Monday, Liz Moore, (Her office) sends out her mojo for the week. Sometimes it’s a challenge or idea, and other times, it is encouragement. This week it was a little of both.

It hit a few notes with me. Learning how to do work in our new environment means I'm going to have to adjust.

Adjust:
👉 How I connect with people
👉 Where I do my work
👉 What a workday looks like

 

As with any other time, adjusting means:

💜 I'll learn new skills.
💜 I’ll have more empathy.
💜 I’ll come out stronger.

So, while adjusting is uncomfortable and sometimes hard, it will be worth it.

How are you adjusting your work to come out stronger on the other side?”

Then, she shared this quote: “It’s quite normal to hear of a change and see it as a problem, but it’s probably an opportunity, depending on how quickly you can adjust.”  Jim Pattison.

Let me challenge you to stop trying to make things as they were, but allow the Lord to show you new things that are now possible, things that could be done better, and ways make the new normal full of potential.

By adjusting to what God is doing around us, we will learn new skills, have more empathy, and come through all of this much stronger.  Maybe that’s what He is trying to teach us anyway!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Week Thirty-Four - Trivial Matters



Rev S Martin wrote, “The things which you look upon as trivial, have been subjects of eternal thought, and of eternal purpose…God cannot be almighty, He cannot have full control of His creation, unless He foreknew and foresees all things—things both great and small. And if it be so that the Lord does reign in our circumstances, and over them, then we owe an appeal to the throne of God on whatever concerns us.” (p 167-168)

Did you catch that? Every trivial thing has been the subject of eternal thought and has eternal purpose. We will never understand the depth of God’s knowledge or how everything works together, but we can find comfort and assurance that just as He knows every thought we think and every word we say, He has a purpose in it all. Nothing is too small or trivial for His attention.

When we returned from our furlough in 1996, I was on a strict diet of whole foods only. I found Subway the best place for me to eat while we traveled in America, but there was no Subway Sandwich Shop in England.

One day, while wandering around town we noticed a new store going in. We didn’t think much about it because several shops were opening and doing renovations. As we got closer, we recognized the colors and the logo. It was a Subway shop! The first one in England and it opened ten minutes from my house.

I knew God did that! He purposely gave me my own store! I felt so loved and cared for! It truly was an unexpected answer to prayer. God showed me that even that small detail was not outside His reach!

Most of us pray with a sense of God being above us in the heavens. Some pray with the awareness of the presence of God in the very room. Prayer is a very personal thing.

Lamentations 3:41 speaks of lifting up our hearts and hands to the Lord, no doubt, in supplication for our needs. But how many times are we guilty of trying to fix things ourselves instead of lifting them up to God in prayer? We walk around with our heart deflated and our hands hanging down. We believe God helps those who help themselves, and so we try to create our own answers to prayer. How foolish are we?

There is a place for our effort. We are to be actively obeying, providing for our families, and serving with all our love and might. However, the same Lord encourages us to wait on Him, be still, and look for His hand to move. He is in the details, just as when He provided the Subway shop for me.

We can also be guilty of looking to others for blessings instead of God. Yes, God uses men to give to our needs (Luke 6:38). But men are not the source of the blessing. God is. If we aren’t careful, we allow God’s human instruments to block our view, failing to see the hand of God in all things.

Whatever concerns us, we must be taking it to the throne. God does not send a deputy! He attends us personally. No matter what we face, “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). He is a good, good Father who cares for His children.

It is a parental relationship we have entered. We needn’t stop at considering ourselves a disciple; we must recognize we are a child of God. Lifting up our hearts and hands to the Father for our every need keeps the relationship vibrant. Nothing is too small or trivial for His attention.

I am too often aware of my keeping God at a distance. I fail to see my needs as pressing. Sometimes I believe God has bigger things to deal with than my petty complaints. But I am reminded that just as I would want to know any concern of my child, God, my Father, desires me to bring every matter to Him. Right down to the sandwich I eat!
           
AND...speaking of trivial matters, today my text refused to stay in one format and my image refused to go to the right-hand side.  Either the Lord wants one of you perfectionists annoyed, someone pleased that I make mistakes, or me humbled because I can't control tech!           

Tuesday, August 11, 2020



Do you know the Bible story about Elisha’s servant?  While trapped by the enemy, Elisha prays for God to reveal to his servant the surrounding army of God. (2 Kings 6:17) That story always excites my heart and encourages me when I feel trapped, thinking all is lost.  God reminds me He is still there, even when I can’t see Him.  He is with me, ready to fight my battle.

 

Mark Batterson, in his book The Circle Maker, talks about circle promises.  Those are the ones in God’s word that use the word compass.  This word means to encircle or go around, like when Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho or when Elisha’s servant saw the fiery chariots of God filling the mountains around them.  They were compassed about with God’s protection.

 

Here are a few more verses that use the word compass. 

 

Psalm 5:12 reads, “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” 

The idea is of a group of shields, like a riot squad encircling with shields for protection.  But the verse is talking about favour.  We are encircled by God’s favour, his goodwill, delight, and acceptance!  Sounds to me like a big hug!

 

Psalm 32:7 says, “Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

We are surrounded by heavenly music!  We sing the song of the redeemed.  And, as Albert Barnes puts it, “The birds of the air; the wind; the running stream; the oceans; the seasons, hills, valley, groves,--all, to one redeemed, seem to be full of songs.  The feeling that we are pardoned fills the universe with melody, and makes the heaven and the earth seem to us to be glad.  The Christian is a happy man; and he himself being happy, all around him sympathizes with him in his joy.”

 

And Psalm 32:10 reads, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.”

Just as we are surrounded by the air we breathe or the sunlight that brightens our day, we find mercy and favour everywhere.  We live surrounded by the eternal mercies of God which are renewed day by day.

 

It is easy to feel like Elijah’s servant when we listen to the news and watch social media posts.  We begin feeling like we are trapped by the enemy, like our doom is sealed, and we have no help in sight.

 

But that isn’t true.  Is it?  God is always there encircling us with his loving hug, heavenly music in our souls, and eternal mercies.  Let me share with you Mark Batterson’s comment on these circle promises.

 

“Long before you woke up this morning and long after you go to sleep tonight, the Spirit of God was circling you with songs of deliverance.  He has been circling you since the day you were conceived, and He’ll circle you until the day you die.  He is praying hard for you with ultrasonic groans that cannot be formulated into words, and those unutterable intercessions should fill you with an unspeakable confidence.  God isn’t just for you in some passive sense; God is for you in the most active sense imaginable.  The Holy Spirit is praying hard for you.  And supernatural synchronicities begin to happen when we tag-team with God and do the same.”  (Circle Maker p 85, 86)

 

Dear friend, don't forget whose we are.  Let’s ask Him to open our eyes to see flaming swords and the army of God on every hand encircling us with His loving, shielded protection and boundless mercy as we join Him with songs of deliverance.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Week Thirty-Two - F.E.A.R.




I’ll admit I coast Facebook more than I did before this pandemic.  My favorite thing is seeing funny posts that brighten my day.  I avoid the political ones, the negative whining ones, and those that try to draw discussion.  I just want to be entertained!  But sometimes, a post catches my attention and makes me think.  Like this one:
 

  “FEAR has two meanings.  Forget everything and run or face everything and rise.”  


That simple post got me thinking and comparing.

 

   Elijah forgot everything and ran when Jezebel threatened.

   The three Hebrew Children faced the fiery furnace and came out unscathed.

 

   King Saul forgot everything and sacrificed instead of waiting for Samuel.

   King David faced the giant and brought him down.

 

   Joseph’s brothers forgot everything – their family responsibility.

   Joseph faced his brothers and showed mercy.

 

I’m sure there could be more, but the point is clear.  Facing our fears has a better outcome than running from them.  When we run, we forget God’s promise.  By our action, we say we are inadequate to the task.  And truly we are, but we are forgetting the power of God within us that counters every fear.

   With all the fear associated with this pandemic, it is tempting to wish it would all go away or dream of escaping to the beach or mountains, but that is not the way to face fear.  Escaping only delays the inevitable.  And, I think of those who cannot escape—the doctors, nurses, and caregivers.  They are facing fear head-on, while we stay isolated in our homes.  I’m so thankful for these people who are not running!

   So how can I face this fear when I am not in the place of responsibility?  I thought of four ways.

1.     We can hold the frontline workers up in prayer.  We face fear through prayer.

2.     We can speak calmly to those around us.  We face fear by exhibiting courage.

3.     We can volunteer where possible.  We face fear by positive action.

4.     We can keep our heads!  We face fear by self-control.

 

  We must remember that we are not the first people in history to face challenging times.  The Greatest Generation, and others before them, who faced their life challenges with courage and dignity saw a rise or a blessing after their conflicts. 

   Our conflict will pass.  How we come out on the other side greatly depends on how we face the challenge before us.  Will we run?  Or will we rise?