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STORMS! They have a purpose.

Storms are unavoidable. Why on earth do we try to avoid them. It’s a loosing battle.

Storms are no respecter of persons. No one can escape them. Since avoiding them is impossible, where do we find the source that will subdue the storm?

There is no better perspective to embrace concerning storms than what is prescribed in Scripture. Let’s take a look at Luke 8:22-25, only one of the many go to verses during life’s storms.

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

This verse tells us that Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” Now Jesus, being who He was knew there was a storm coming. (Just like he knows about our storms) Storms on the Sea of Galilee come up rather quickly. But Jesus had lessons his disciples needed to learn. The storm was to be their tutor.

The disciples, though seasoned fishermen, panicked at the severity of the storm. Maybe because they saw that Jesus was asleep they assumed he was not paying attention. Well, of course, this was an assumption fueled by fear. Jesus was right there with them. He hadn’t gone anywhere.

The disciples woke Jesus and in response to their pleas, he rebuked the storm. The lesson? Well, they lacked faith and the storm exposed this. I imagine that whenever they experienced fear like that again, they arrested such fear by recalling that day when Jesus calmed the storm.

Let’s not be too hard on those disciples though. Aren’t we much like them when we encounter storms? The fiery darts of fear and even doubt are first at the scene it seems in our storms. So like the disciples we cry out to God.

If we are willing to cooperate with God when we are being buffeted by storms, he will expose the fiery darts that feed our fears and doubts. We will be empowered to extinguish those weapons of the enemy. In their place, depending on our cooperation, He will supply a stronger faith, less self-centeredness, or resolve to focus on the needs of others. He may call us to change our course. Maybe there are others who need a visual example of how they need to turn to God in their storm.

Recently, it seems my storms have come in waves. I find that I am tempted to center my thoughts on myself. I overly focus on how hard things are. I mourn over the things I’ve lost out on. It’s not natural for me to place my focus on God. So I need to cry out to God just as those disciples did and ask for help. God in His faithfulness will supply me with what I need to overcome the fiery darts attacking me. My situation may not ease up any, but my perspective fashioned by God’s truths will calm my storm.

Storms aren’t random oversights of God. They have a purpose. God’s desire is to reveal that purpose so our lives will be characterized by His peace.

$/Loaves and Fishes

Loaves in Tabgha Church in Israel, Mosaic: four loaves and two fish,

Recently, my LORD gave me a prompting when I was praying about some personal financial matters. A big bill is coming due, and I do not have enough in my account to pay it. Though I resist the thought to dip into my meager savings, I really have no other recourse.

This choice was disturbing to me. For I would prefer to manage my money without having to depend on my dwindling savings. Yet as scanty as it is, I feel the reassurance of its existence is threatened when I have to use it. The fiery dart of fear edged closer. Attempting to catch me in its trap as it has so often done before. And fear typically brings with it its cohorts of anxiety, and doubting God’s provision, right!

Now that’s the backstory for the prompting I received this morning during my prayer time.

So often during my prayer time, God will remind me of truths that apply to the situations I bring to Him. This morning, He brought to me the story of the loaves and fishes.

When evening came, the disciples approached Him and said, “this place is a wilderness, and it is already late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

“They don’t need to go away,” Jesus told them. “You give them something to eat.”

“But we only have five loaves and two fish here,” they said to Him.

“Bring them here to Me,” He said.

Then He commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! Now those who ate were about 5,000 men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:15-21 HCSB

It was as if God was having a conversation with me. He directed my thoughts to the 5 loaves and 2 fish. And pointed out to me where I fit in this biblical reference. Like the disciples, I felt my skimpy savings was insufficient. I felt this way, having ruled out God’s provision.

God reinforced my trust level with a couple of truths from His word:

Philippines 4:19, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 

Philippines 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Allow me to interject this tidbit of interesting truth, “there were more than 5,000 people fed that day. Notice the wording “besides women and children!” There is no limit when it comes to what God can provide.)

In addition, thoughts of God’s provision and the peace that would guard my heart and mind was much preferable to the disturbing thoughts of fear, anxiety, and doubt my fleshly sin nature was promoting.

So, this is just an example of the effect of becoming familiar with what God has to say to us in His word, the Bible. By becoming familiar with His truths, in times of need, God will prompt us with what we have stored in our hearts. And my caution to us all, if God’s truths are not stored there, then our fleshly sin nature will get the upper hand. And instead of allowing a difficult situation to teach us more about how to trust God, Satan will use it to steal God’s work in our lives. We do have a choice, you know.

GOD’S REASSURING VOICE

Recently God walked me through a time of crises. A coup, in the country where my son and his family lived, had created a threatening environment for them. When the coup started it was uncertain as to whether they were going to leave or ride it out. The day I talked to my son, I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. As his mom, I found this very unsettling. But when the demonstrations began and the gun shots could be heard all around, my son’s advisors urged him to leave as soon as possible. Because they were to fly out on a commercial flight they had to first be tested for covid. Only if their tests were negative, would they be allowed to board the plane. But after this decision was made and he called to tell us of their plan, hearing the determination in his voice settled my mind. Now they had a plan, now they could move forward. They finally were able to board a plane and arrived several hours later, with basic necessities packed, to a safer place.

Worry and fear stood hand in hand poised and ready to defeat me. Therefore, I had a choice to make. I was either going to call upon what I knew to be true about God and His ways or I was going to suffer defeat.

Over time God had been preparing and equipping me for such a time as this. Struggle by struggle over the years, God has been training me to distinguish between His voice, the voice of my sinful nature, and the manipulation and deception of the enemy.

You wouldn’t believe, then maybe you would, how many times the temptation to fear and worry reached out to take control of my thoughts. Yet because of what I had earlier learned, God reminded me that He had not given me the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a strong mind. He whispered to my mind that I was not to worry about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, I was to make my requests made known to Him. Then the peace that passes all understanding would guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. These truths formed the prayer request I sent out to family and friends.

  • -Pray for safety in getting to the airport (Prov. 29:25)
  • -Pray for freedom from fear so their actions and attitudes proceed from a sound mine. (2 Tim 1:7)
  • -Pray for wisdom for my son and daughter in law as they parent through this ordeal (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • -Pray no weapon formed against them will prosper. Isaiah 54:17 
  • -Pray for complete trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6

That’s just a sampling of the weapons with which God supplied me as I rejected the thoughts of fear and worry. The choice I had to make was to either believe God or be victimized by the enemy. While I didn’t know the details of God’s plan, I did know that because I was praying (as well as thousands of prayer warriors from all over the world) God was working on it.

I am no super saint, but through years of training on how to connect God’s word to the struggles I faced, His familiar voice was loud and clear as He guided me through this recent crises. There was no fear. There was no worry. Just a sober calmness as I listened to God’s reassuring voice.

Are You Listening, LORD?

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19 However, God has listened;
He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.
20 May God be praised!
He has not turned away my prayer
or turned His faithful love from me

Psalm 66:19-20  (HCSB)

     I write another blog about being the mom of a missionary. It’s hard for mom’s like us to think of our children and grandchildren off in another country (or state) having to contend with this pandemic. The full force of attacks by the enemy to undermine our faith in times like these is all too real. I know first hand what that feels like. Therefore, taking what God has taught me through the years about fiery darts, I’m passing it on to my dear moms whose children and grandchildren are ‘somewhere out there’ in need of prayer! 

    Our missionary children are scattered all over the world. Prior to this pandemic, our problems and their problems were uniquely tied to location. However, now we find ourselves facing the common threat of the coronavirus. A worldwide threat that is redefining life as we know it. Should our missionary children come home, or shelter in place right where they are? Oh, it’s a complicated scenario and every family’s response can only be determined by the details of their particular situation. No one plan works for everyone. We are concerned about them and they are concerned about us!

What are we to do?

     My fiery darts blog exposes the foremost weapon Satan uses against us in times like this which is referenced in Ephesians 6:16,

 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” NKJV

     Here is how it applies to our present dilemma.

     Fear spawned by this Coronavirus threat is a very present reality.   Unchecked fear breeds panic, panic breeds irrational thinking, irrational thinking breeds wrong choices. It goes on and on.

     How we contend with our fears and all its relatives are the fiery darts of Eph. 6:16.  Satan’s intent in this pandemic is to steal, kill, and destroy anything God infuses us with to carry us through this crisis. 

     God, on the other hand, intends to take the fear and use it to direct us to Himself. In that response, we will be helped and God will be glorified. By responding according to God’s plan as we counsel and pray over our children, we will be instruments of God’s will in how to tackle this crisis. 

Keep in mind the following as we pray for our children, wherever they are.

1. Recognize the fear (fiery dart)

2. Reject the fear

3. Replace the fear with God’s Truth thoughts

     As I pray over my children and their families in this crisis, one of the first Truth thoughts God gave me was 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time fear approaches, I call forth this Truth.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

     God’s word ASSURES us that He is watching over us and our precious ones. We can wholeheartedly trust that God is definitely paying attention to our prayers. Likewise, may we receive and become the instruments of peace of Philippines 4:6-7:

     Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

(Especially, when the fiery dart of doubt begins its assault)

 

Fear Reveals Our Focus

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     My first night in Israel, I woke up around 1:30 am (Israel time) and wasn’t able to go back to sleep. Thoughts were popping into my mind, demanding I pay attention to them. (I had to be considerate of my friend who shared the room with me and not turn on any lights). Finally, there was nothing to do but grab my phone, go to my Word app, and begin recording those thoughts. The following are the words that forced themselves upon my mind that night. At the time, I thought they were a personal word for me. Up to a point they were. But after I returned home following my pilgrimage to Israel right smack in the middle of the Coronavirus fallout, I feel those words were also meant for such a time as this.

     Two themes encased my thoughts that early morning–Perspective and Fear.  Our perspective is determined by our focus. But before we choose our focus (and it is a choice, by the way) there is a viewpoint to be considered.

     First,

we need to view our lives within the context of God’s plan for them. He has given us assignments that are fashioned by that plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Second,

we need to be aware that Satan also has a plan:

To steal, kill, and destroy God’s plan for us. (from John 10:10a)

     Unfortunately, our human nature is too often susceptible to the manipulation and deception of our enemy, Satan. When we succumb to his temptations, we limit ourselves from fulfilling God’s plans for our lives. How does this happen?

    Satan’s premiere plan is to keep us ignorant of God’s plan. So how does Satan pull this off?

     By distracting us from spending time with God in prayer and His word. Make no mistake about it, that is the foundation stone on which Satan’s destructive tactics are built.

     Now, let’s bring this all down to the trial we are facing at present–the Coronavirus.

     Do we think for one minute that those thoughts of fear and despair come from anyone other than Satan? Of course not! But we are being tempted to take on a perspective of fear, are we not? Then how can we avoid or resist such temptation?

Consider the following:

     A fearful thought will come to our mind. That thought, if allowed to take root, will produce more fear and put us in panic mode. We will begin to behave irrationally. Thoughts of self-preservation at all costs will be entertained.

    YET, if we will but recognize that thought as a fiery dart from the enemy, there is a plan to nullify its effect. Here’s how it works:

Recognize that thought of fear as a fiery dart

Reject it outright. Don’t allow its deadly poison to take root

then Replace it with Truth thoughts.

     This is critical. We can’t just reject fear and expect to be done with it. But when it returns it needs to find no room to plant itself. This is where Truth thoughts come into play. The Truth thought found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”, will quench such a thought. Just as it says in Ephesians 6:16, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

Therefore, the plan we focus upon will determine our perspective in facing the Coronavirus pandemic.

     

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If we would only believe, GOD

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The question that came to my mind as I was reading the verse above was, “How would your attitude toward your problems change, if you really believed this?”

Would I worry so much about my future, if I really believed the LORD Himself was already there preparing a solution?

Would I be so susceptible to fear and discouragement, if I really believed God was with me constantly and had NO PLAN to forsake me?

   Of course, we would desire to have the kind of faith Deut. 31:8 makes reference to. So, why is it we succumb so easily to the fiery dart that this kind of faith is impossible for us? Why is it we believe Satan’s lies before we believe God’s Truths?

If Satan can deceive us into discounting the power of a fiery dart, and then add to that our unfamiliarity with God’s Word (caused by a lack of realization of its power), is it any wonder why we fall prey to fiery darts … p. 40 FD’s 3rd edition

   Satan doesn’t want us to believe God. Therefore, if we aren’t familiar enough with the Truth’s found in Scripture, then Satan’s trap is set. He will be able to manipulate us into believing the lies of fiery darts. We have a choice to make dear readers.

Are we going to believe Satan?

OR

Are we going to believe GOD?

 

 

Faith! It’s a scary thing!

   Why would I, a committed Christian, make such a statement? Christianity is all about faith. You wouldn’t think God would make it scary, right? 

Well, He doesn’t! But remember, 

Before individuals accept Christ as their Savior, they are ruled by their flesh, or sinful nature—a nature predisposed to sin. However, when a person accepts Christ as his or her Savior, a new nature is born, ruled by God’s Spirit. Yet the old spirit remains, thus, creating the great civil war that will be ongoing for the rest of their life. p. 46, 3rd ed FD

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   Folks, it’s that great civil war that feeds our fears and doubts (alias fiery darts). Especially, when we can’t see where the path might be taking us.  Inevitably obstacles will show up along the way only adding to our fears. 

   Yes, it can be very scary to forge ahead.  Therefore, our confidence to take those forward steps must be fueled by Truth thoughts like the following:

and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 HCSB

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Exercising our faith in the face of fear will diminish our fear and increase our faith! 

Giving into fear will diminish our faith and give rise to more fear.