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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pondering the Direction



How do we combat the things in our lives that try to pull us away from God? Do we hurry without lingering to obey God’s commands instead of allowing ourselves to be swept away by the world? It’s so easy to go with the flow.

Until the flow turns into a waterfall. A whirlpool. A steep drop-off. Sometimes, the flow ends abruptly and we end up sitting in the middle of a desert.

In each of these scenarios, we are at the mercy of whatever swept us away. Who knows what the end point will be?

Satan attacks God’s strongest warriors, I’ve learned. Those who have strong faith are constantly under spiritual attack from the devil’s schemes. An army of heaven’s soldiers is always fighting for our souls. It’s an abstract thought for a very real world.

The whole business wears me out. I don’t have the strength to stand on my own. I rely on God’s army to back me up, but sometimes, I’m too overwhelmed to fight or to hurry to obey God’s commands. Evil comes too fast, and I always seem to have one hand tied behind my back. So I sit down and wait for the danger to pass.

The thing is: the danger doesn’t pass. It is always there, inching its way closer until it takes control.

We all have areas of weakness where the enemy takes aim. Physical or mental health, relationships, personal tendencies – we all have soft spots. Sometimes they change or multiply. None of us is fully shielded from danger all the time.

I have to assume that not one person on this earth is immune to the strength of Satan’s attacks. None of us is God, after all. Even Jesus was tempted to stray from God. The stronger we are in faith, the more underhanded are the techniques used to fight against us. Satan can even use our own perceived strengths to make us blind and arrogant. We don’t even know that we are being overtaken.

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil,” says the Bible (Eph. 6:11). God’s armor: his word, Jesus’ blood, the Holy Spirit, our faith.

At times I find myself – like the psalmist – pondering the direction of my life. Am I going in the way that leads to the Lord? Or have I become tired and complacent, allowing the world to sweep me away? Worse – am I relying too much on my own strength to carry me through the battle, becoming blind to my own weaknesses?

Only when I am fully anchored to God can I live a holy life. From the smallest seed of faith, I have learned that I can do nothing on my own accord to live the life God intends for me. My weaknesses are too great – I am only one soldier fighting against Satan’s army of evil. But with God’s word, Jesus’ salvation, and the Holy Spirit, I can be victorious, refreshed and ready to fight without lingering.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Comfort

I’m all about comfort.

I like a state of ease and contentment, free from pain and worry. We are all like this. We seek the familiar, what makes us comfortable.

Comfort can be a dirty word in the Christian faith – “Get out of your comfort zone!” is a popular command. The idea that if we are comfortable all the time, we aren’t growing in Jesus is emphasized. If you’re all about comfort, you aren’t doing it right.

We can forget that in our zeal to live like Paul, to boldly enter into each day for God no matter the consequence, that God seeks to comfort us. He wants to assuage the hardships in our lives. Further, we are to embrace that which he gives us in every situation, even the comfort that eases our tension, and pass it along to others using our holy gifts of care, compassion, and love.

A full definition states that comfort is a strengthening aid, one that brings assistance and support, or consolation in time of trouble or worry. Solace. I hope to be that for someone – I seek it. God is a comfort to me in this way. I’d like to be this for others, if it’s possible. We are encouraged to do for others as God has done for us.

Comfort is also defined as a feeling of relief or encouragement. One of my main goals in life is to understand others. To relate and to share. Life on this earth is full of trial and worry; when we know others who either share our experiences or love us enough to weather the storms with us, we are comforted by their presence. We feel – dare I say – blessed by God, who gave us others who get us. We are encouraged by them to keep on keeping on. In turn, we encourage and promote others’ feelings of relief when we share our experiences with them.

The definition of comfort goes on: contented well-being. A satisfying or enjoyable experience. One that gives or brings comfort.

These are all things that God gives us. These are not bad things.

We can all swing the other way when it comes to comfort – we can ignore the needs of others because they don’t fit into the schedule for the day, for our lives. I’m certainly not promoting this level of comfort that cocoons us away from others. Although sometimes it’s tempting.

But when we look at what God does for us, we can’t help but want to do this for others, to share his glory and goodness and our faith – how did we get here? Look - I am just like you, scared and unsure and uncomfortable of my purpose here. But God shows me, and he will show you, too. It isn’t always easy and enjoyable, but I have learned to seek him during the hard times, and he has – impossibly – made them comfortable. He has comforted me in my grief, and he will do that for you.

Comfort is not a bad thing in this life, when seen from a godly perspective. We can use what God gave us to comfort others, building relationships and being a light for him. It might not always be comfortable to reach out, but when we know that we are being used by God to bring a feeling of ease and contentment to others? There’s not much better than that.

Dear God,
You have comforted my heart and my soul and my mind many times over.
I seek to pass this care onto others who come into my life.
Please give me the opportunities to share your comfort.
Thank you. Amen.


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