Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Week Twenty-Six - Worn Out

Daniel's dream troubled him as he watched the enemy and the Ancient of Days conducting divine struggle for the earth. Back and forth it goes with each blow until, in verses 13 and 14 of chapter seven, the Son of Man comes with the clouds of heaven and God reiterates the promise of a kingdom never to be destroyed. 

But yet, more challenges arise until a fourth beast, different from the others, devours the whole earth, treads it down, and breaks it in pieces. Out of his mouth come great words against God, and he "wears out the saints of the Highest" by changing times and laws.

It sounds so much like today. Don't you feel worn out by what is happening around us? I do. Things are constantly shifting, and people call good evil and evil good. We feel constantly harassed by political correctness and the ever changing drudge and dredge of the world's instability. 

Meanwhile, the prophecies of God are being set into place. God says (vs. 26) that His judgment shall sit, and He will take away the beast's dominion and power to consume and destroy forever. Then, everything is given to the people of the saints of the Highest, "whose kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." (vs. 27).

So, Daniel says, this is the end of the matter in verse 28. God's plan will be completed, even as the saints get worn out with the process.

Hang in there, dear saints, the battle is tiring; we grow weary and worn out because the enemy is relentless, but God is the victor. We can draw strength in that truth.

Even though Daniel's dream revealed the final outcome, he still said, "My cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me" (vs. 28). Like us, he was affected by what he saw. And as we watch this old world spinning to its end, we needn't be surprised at how it wears on us and affects our outlook.

What did Daniel do? He kept the matter in his heart, and so should we. We may feel worn out with the world, tired, and even unsettled, but let's hold God's truth in our hearts and remain faithful as He prepares His kingdom - an eternal kingdom where we, the saints of the Highest, are partakers in His victory. 

Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Week Twenty Five - Mouthwash

Have you seen the children's film, Finding Nemo? If so, you might recall the song sung by the Seagull where he claims all the gold is "mine, mine, mine." And I'm sure you've heard the exact words from a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. 

The sad thing is that adults can be just as guilty. Oh, we might not sing the song or throw a tantrum, but we live by selfish words that pepper our language and taint our responses. Let me give you four examples.

Let's start with the word I. "I want...I will not...I don't think...I disagree...I need." We use the word I so often that we rarely give it a second thought. Have you ever tried to go one hour without using the word I? In the Queen's English,  "I" is replaced by "one." "One will not." "One does not think so." It sounds much better, but we rarely use such posh language!

I is a sad, tight, protectionist stance. I is not a habitation of God's Spirit. I is defiance and leads to emptiness and dryness. Why? Because we are not an island. We are a community, and the focus on the one above all others breaks unity.

Another dangerous word is me. "Caress me. Feed me. Pay attention to me. It's all about me." This is the cry of our day. We are called to accept any choice based on what makes "me" happy. It doesn't matter about decorum, God's laws, or how it affects others as long as "me" gets what "me" wants.  Over focus on "me" is selfish and immature. 

And what about mine? "These children are mine. My times are mine. My stuff is mine. The choice is mine. Mine. Mine. Mine." Mine is grabbing. Mine pushes others away. Mine gets awfully lonely. And mine can make some terrible choices.

And one final word - no. "No, Lord, no. No, I won't. No one can tell me what to do. No!" No is a stubborn, prideful word used in this context. No cuts you off and restricts your growth.

Four damaging words - I, Me, Mine, and No! All four leave a person in some sort of bondage to self.

But we can turn these words from damaging to blessed. I can be used as, "Here I am, Lord," or "I will..." Me can be used in prayer as "Lord use me, change me." And Mine can be rephrased as, "All that is mine came from you, Lord, and is yours. So do with it as You will."

And no can be used in two more beneficial ways. By saying, "No, I will keep myself pure." or "No, I will not participate." Or even changing the no to yes. "Yes, Lord, I will obey." "Yes, Lord, I will forgive."

By changing these words to words of blessing, we make room for joy, lightness, risk and change, and challenge and growth. As a result, there is room for God's Spirit to work. Blessed words lead to fruitfulness and refreshment.

So if your life seems empty and dry or separated from others, you may need to start listening to your speech. Is it laced with damaging words coming from a selfish heart? Maybe it's time you washed your mouth out by opening your heart to God's love and letting Him refresh you. It's amazing what a little mouthwash can do!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Week Twenty-Four - I Know

"I know," two words indicating knowledge of something. Like, I know how to drive. I know how to boil an egg. But it goes even further than the basic "how to." For example, I know my husband loves me. I know my investments are secure. I know where I stand on the issue. Those statements hold more weight than how to boil an egg, but there is an even deeper level of "I know."

I know God loves me. I know I am His child, and as Job 19:25 says, "I know my Redeemer liveth." These are statements of faith not based on personal ability or confidence but solidly placed in God Himself.

Spurgeon said, "To say, 'I hope so, I trust so' is comfortable, and there are thousands in the fold of Jesus who hardly ever get much further. But to reach the essence of consolation, you must say, "I know." Ifs, buts, and maybes are sure murderers of peace and comfort."

To know so and believe so is not presumption. It is faith positioned solely and positively on the promises of God; faith that "believes that He is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

This is the foundation - the "I know" of Christianity. And Spurgeon challenges us, "Let's not be satisfied with the mere foundation, for it is from the upper rooms that we get the widest perspective." And isn't that true? A solid foundation is necessary for the eyes of faith to move from the basement to the upper windows, where we see God at work far and wide.

Dear friend, do you have this foundation in place? Do you know your Redeemer? Are you living life from the positive perspective of the promises of God? If not, do not be content until, by faith, you can say, "Yes, I cast myself upon my living Lord; and He is mine." Get your foundation secure so you can move to the upper room and enjoy the shining light of God's grace and power.

Allow God to increase your faith, and take you higher into the knowledge of Christ until your "I know" becomes a place of safety, strength, and vision, and you can say with the Apostle Paul, "for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Week - Twenty Three - The Jerky Ride

Our rollercoaster is having a hard time getting to the end of the track. Our appeal to the Border Agency concerning the sponsorship situation was filed on the 24th of May. The solicitor said all we could do now is wait. So we settled back and even rejoiced as another missionary received his Indefinite Leave to Remain. That gave us great hope. 

Then, this past Monday, we received an email from the agency stating they did not get a reply from us about the initial letter so our license was revoked. Needless to say, we immediately contacted the solicitor who promptly spoke up to defend his appeal. Tuesday, we received notice from the Border Agency that our documents were in the office, our license was reinstated to the suspended file and they would take time to reconsider our position. Just another plummet and crest of our current jerky ride.

We have no idea what will be the outcome. There are no promises or things we can pin our hopes on, except for the Lord. And what better place to be. When life jerks you around, it is great to feel the security of that seatbelt of God's love and grace holding you safe and fast. "He knows the end, as Ron Hamilton wrote, "of the path that I take."

Jerky rides are a part of life, but we can be certain God is not jerking us around. He has a plan and path for our best, always. He never says, "oops." Not one thing in God's economy is wasted. Each jerk, each plummet, each pinnacle are of His design teaching us to trust Him more fully. So it is best to buckle up and hang on for dear life! No one ever said following the Lord was easy. Walking by faith demands great courage and patience, but God's faithfulness and promises remain secure.

Friend, if you are on a jerky ride, keep your eyes on the horizon. That horizon is Christ. He is the level-er of all things and with your eyes on Him, you'll make it to the end. And so will we. Please buckle in with us and pray for the appeal and the missionaries who will be directly affected by the outcome. I'll keep you posted!