“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, bur are from this world. And this world is. fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NLT).
It can be quite easy to get distracted by what this world has to offer. There’s so much competition to be better than, more of, to rise above, to humble brag, etc. Marketing and advertising isn’t just for TV and radio, it has seeped into our every day life by simple conversation and social media. It isn’t just to sell us something, it’s to show us how to live better, be better, do better, have better by doing a, b, or c. Sure, often it is to buy a product, but just as often it’s clever videos from “every day people” telling us that we aren’t measuring up because we aren’t doing or buying what they have. They want us to drink the Kool-Aid and like it, even though it’s made with rusty water and no sweetener. Packaged pretty and photo-shopped to look spectacular, it’s the best there is! This is only the material side of things.
Then there is the side we really need to be wary of, the “wellness” and “total health” packages. This comes in many forms – the way to eat, the way to exercise, meditate, practice mindfulness, self-care, natural living. Wrapped up in a pretty bow chock full of examples, tips and how-to’s on achieving maximum spirituality and wholeness.
None of the above are necessarily bad in and of themselves when filtered through the lens of Christ and held loosely in our hands. We must always be ready to serve where the Spirit leads us, go where He sends us, speak what He tells us, and do what He desires of us. If we are wrapped up in being the “best version of our self” and not “being the best version of our self-less” we will fall victim to the vapid worldliness we see so much of today. By holding all things loosely, we say to the world and to Papa that we know where our priorities are, where our focus needs to be.
As Papa’s children, we do not need to compete with each other. He created us as unique individuals who, when partnered together and with Him, combine to advance His kingdom, overcome adversity, reach the lost and least and usher in His glory and power. The devil wants nothing more than to distract us from fulfilling our destiny and if we aren’t careful, he will fill our hands, hearts, minds, and houses with stuff that has no eternal meaning.
Be careful, little eyes, what you see.
Be careful, little ears, what you hear.
Be watchful, be vigilant, that roaring lion is roaming about. But Papa is greater, and greater is He in us, than he in the world.
It is the breaking of dawn in a personal long dark night of my soul, its twilight beginning sometime at the start of the year. This night has had many ups and downs, and I have waged war within myself. Even now I cannot say I feel victorious, but I know One who has given me the victory and at this moment, in this breath, that is enough for me.
My night began when I realized I needed to step back from service and begin an inward and deeply spiritual look into the mirror of my soul. I have been struggling with tendonitis in both ankles, and arthritis in my knees which has led to back issues because of the way I end up walking. It is difficult to stay off my feet and rest. Life does tick on and carries us along with it, requiring movement and responsibility. Hope deferred truly does make the heart sick, and unanswered prayer to relieve chronic pain takes its toll. Some days are better than others, some days it’s a struggle to put on shoes. I found myself on the verge of a spiritual crisis. I’m not throwing a pity party, nor do I want your pity either. Had it still been midnight during this long dark night, I may have disagreed, but since we are nearing dawn, I’m over it.
I didn’t only step away from a ministry I loved serving in, but I also withheld parts of myself that I used to freely give others. I found that I didn’t always pray as intensely as I had, I didn’t open my bible, or just randomly sing, and my writing suffered. I questioned my existence, purpose, and where I was in my life. I felt forgotten by my Papa, passed over, unwanted and a misfit. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is nice to be someone’s and I didn’t think anyone wanted what I had to offer. I bound myself up in the comparison trap, holding up a ruler to myself to see if I measured up and good enough. Yes, you guessed it, I felt like an epic fail.
I was not only in the dark, but under spiritual attack. At one point, I was smelling something nasty that was, quite literally, following me around. It was probably in the third watch of this long dark night that I finally realized what was actually going on, breaking down and asking a couple key people in my life to pray for me. I had connected dots and with their prayers in agreement with mine, we evicted that mess. Smell gone, along with its mind-numbing companions and the grip it had on my soul and I began to usher in the dawn.
I remembered. I remembered where Papa found me, what He led me out of, all that He has done since He plucked me from the world and saved me. Where I used to be is not a place I ever want to go back to. My focus moved from what I saw with my natural eyes to what He revealed to my spiritual eyes. He was always there, always with me, always loving me, always faithful. There is no truer truth than what He tells us “I will never leave, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b NKJV). He is for me, not against me and because of Him, I AM more than a conqueror.
Oh, the places we will go now that morning has broken and the long dark night is behind me. A new and momentous day is ahead and I shall go and enjoy it, fulfilling my destiny!
A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “ There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest”(2 Kings 4:1-7 NKJV).
Papa’s faithfulness is unending and His provision is always available. Here we see the widow crying out to Elisha for help. She didn’t tell him what to do, she simply reminded him that her late husband was a servant of the Lord who feared Him. There was a debt owed she could not afford to pay, and she needed the Lord’s help. She didn’t tell Elisha how to do it, she didn’t tell him exactly what was needed either.
What Elisha told her to do took immense faith and not only that, he told her to do it with the door closed. Meaning, it was not something she was to advertise to her neighbors. He knew the Lord would provide more than enough to settle the debt and give her something to live on so she wouldn’t face the same situation again.
Many of us forget that Papa has unlimited resources. We often are looking for a fix for our current situation when Papa is looking ahead. Because of this, we can often miss the abundance and excess meant to propel us forward and keep us on the path He’s set before us.
Papa’s provision often stems from something we currently have. In this case, the widow only had a jar of oil. Papa took that single jar of oil and stretched it to meet more than her immediate need. If He did it for her, He will do it for us.
What need do you have right now? What do you have in your house? What resource is already in your possession that Papa will stretch to meet more than your immediate need?
He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ask or think. Put your need before Him and be obedient in doing what He asks you to do with what you have, whether that is your time, your talent, or a jar of oil.
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth (2 Timothy 2:25 NLT)
If one thing is to be remembered from the story of Moses is that the Lord caused Pharaoh’s heart to harden, and it was Him who caused it to relent and let the people go. Jesus said we will be known by our love, yet reading comments on any political or religious article or posting on social media leads me to believe that many who call themselves by Christ’s name are not loving at all. Now, if I feel that way about some of my brothers and sisters, imagine what a non-believer must feel.
We are not the ones who change people’s hearts and minds, we are not the one ones who save, or who deliver. We are vessels Papa uses to be His hands, feet and mouthpiece. Scripture tells us to gently instruct, not argue our point, condemn to hell, force-feed religion or disassociate with people. We are to be set apart, yes, but to live in such a way that we set an example. It is the goodness and kindness of Papa that leads to repentance, not our way with words.
As a church body we need to get better at being gentle with the world. Much of the confusion and vitriol we see in our world today is the result of too much condemnation and religiosity and not enough grace and gentleness. It is important that we stand for what we believe and stand on the Word, but it is just as important that we do it in such a way that the world feels welcomed by the church. We do not need to become like the world in which we live, we only need to be obedient to what Papa has called us to do in the area and circle to which we’ve been given.
Gentleness is a spiritual fruit and one this world desperately needs more of. Go spread peace, gently teach and avoid useless arguments.
I love ya, have a great day!
But the Word of God cannot be chained (2 Timothy 2: 9b NLT).
No matter how we may try to fit God and His word into a box, it will always spill out. It cannot be contained, there are no chains or bars that can hold it. He is not inclined to stay within the confines of our finite and reasoning minds. He is a Mind-Blower, and it gives Him great joy to do so.
His word has power. Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us that His word is nourishing, like the rain, snow and seed; it goes out does what He has sent it to do. It does not return void. I cannot testify enough of the goodness of God and how speaking His word changes things.
God’s word is liberating. Speak it, live it and share it!
Love ya, have a great day!