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Weathering the storms…

    peter-sinking

 

     The years 2020 & 2021 have completely upended our lives! We have been challenged to seek solutions to problems that are unprecedented.  Our days are interspersed with highs and lows. Nothing seems constant. And just when we think we can breathe easy, pow!  Suddenly, we are knocked off our feet again!!!!

     Trying to live life under these circumstances with any measure of victory is humanly impossible. As Christians many are looking to us (whether they or we realize it or not) watching for any clue as to how to stay afloat as the storms rage.

     We know to cry out to the LORD but I wonder how long do we wait around to hear His voice? If He doesn’t remove the problem, bring the healing we ask for, or miraculously intervene to make everything better, we throw up our hands in despair. 

     I’m learning that when it gets this rough, there are choices we can make that will rebuff the enemy and strengthen our witness. First of all, we need to examine our expectations. Do we really think that being a child of God’s means we will know nothing but blessings? Suffering will be minimal and problems will be easily resolved? Do you know any Christian whose life can be described as such? I sure don’t!

   The fiery darts’ intent is cause us to feel abandoned by God, feel overwhelmed by our problems, or wander around aimlessly when we fail to understand why God allows us to suffer.  By focusing on negative thoughts such as these, the truths of James 1:2-4 are hidden from our view. We are of little help to ourselves or to others. 

     If God removed every problem, healed every sickness, or never allowed us to suffer what would that accomplish? Satan doesn’t want us to consider that question. For he knows that solutions are never realized unless there is a problem  to resolve. It is in the exertion of muscles that increases strength.  A diamond becomes a precious jewel due to intense and lengthy pressure. Satan doesn’t want us exercising our faith muscles. We might get too strong for him, if we do!

Here’s the point:

     Like Peter, we will sink when we allow the storms of our days to overtake us. Cooperating with God as He protects and strengthens our witness through the storms will be a lifeline to others to weather their present tempest. 

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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Spoiling our Perspective

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It’s all in how we look at it!

For example:

     My eyes watch as delicate snowflakes accomplish the task of blanketing the landscape outside my window. Winter birds flit and flutter around the birdfeeders grasping for the sunflower seeds, now that food is in short supply. A lone little squirrel scampers to and fro searching for hidden acorns. From within, the fireplace offers an accent of crackling burning wood. 

     Such a scene has the power to call forth a variety of emotions. Positive flavored emotions of peace, calmness, serenity, thankfulness, or a sense of well-being may settle upon us. On the other hand, such a scene can bring forth negative flavored emotions of unrest, sadness, loneliness, or a sense of despondency.

     If the recent circumstances of our days have been troubling, don’t be surprised if our emotions default to the negative. If that’s the case, it’s not an easy matter to suppress such emotions. Satan, remember, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, he will design fiery darts meant to manipulate and deceive how we perceive our world.  

      But we have but to remember that our loving God has come to give us life more abundantly. Therefore, when fiery darts assail us we have but to call upon our shield of faith to extinguish all those fiery darts.

    Something our enemy doesn’t want us to realize is that we can choose to embrace a positive perspective or a negative one. Yep, we don’t have to be victimized by fiery darts. It may take a lot of meditation on God’s Truths to send Satan packing, but it can be done. We don’t have to allow him to spoil our perspective.