Faith or Fear?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Faith over Fear

Pandemic Reflections

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

8:45 AM

Today began with time spent listening to Candace Owens put all that has been happening together into one concise piece.  It resonated with me in that much of what she said I too have listened, watched and drawn conclusions about.  God blessed us with discernment, wisdom and intelligence.  We can use the gifts or cave to fear.  I for one do not want my life led by fear.  I also ask for wisdom. I have often been blessed with discernment.  God’s word is full of wisdom, wisdom that is for our use and benefit. I thank Him for those gifts and give Him the glory for the answers to prayer that permits me to continue to have faith in His work on this planet. That said, I then shared a time of devotions with my husband and this is what we were presented with.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

[Ecc 3:1-8 RSV] 1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

There is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.  The devotional continued with a focus on the autumnal season; a time of great beauty but also decrease into apparent death.  The point was made that the apparent death held life in the form of seeds being planted to come forth at a later season with new; new life, new possibilities, new creation… Keeping that in mind, then read what Parker Palmer had to say in “Let Your Life Speak; Listening For the Voice of Vocation. Pp. 98-99.

“Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death…

In my own experience of autumn, I am rarely aware that seeds are being planted…

But as I explore autumn’s paradox of dying and seeding, I feel the power of metaphor.  In the autumnal events of my own experience, I am easily fixated on surface appearances–on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of a work.  And yet if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come.

In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time–how the job I lost helped me find work I needed to do, how the “road closed” sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know.  On the surface it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown.”

 

That last line especially can be applied to events we are experiencing today.  “it seemed that life was lessening…” does it feel that way for you? “but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown.”  are you searching for alternatives, new ways of doing, new information and understandings?  I see the emergence of new personalities who have potential for leading in healthy directions, I see the exposure of those in leadership who do not seem to have the best interest of humanity at heart, rather there is a strong element of self-interest at heart.

We will have the opportunity, Lord willing, to use what is being made clear to us to inform our choices in the days ahead. Will we function under the strong arm of fear or will we allow our faith in God to direct us in new paths according to His word?  Can we remember the words of Paul,

[Phl 1:21 RSV] 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Believers, there should be no fear of death.  Our future is sealed.  Our actions should give hope to those who do not yet know life that is found in Christ, given to us by God, lived by the Holy Spirit.  We can act with wisdom, but also without fear.

The devotional left us with a question:  “What ‘road closed’ sign is before you today that may be God’s way of redirecting you to something new?”

Take on the day and live in peace, not the peace the world offers but the peace that God gives in the midst of turmoil.  Confusion is not of God, he is a God of order.  Seek His face in today’s events.

The link to Candace Owens’ video: https://www.facebook.com/realCandaceOwens/videos/168943087616092/?t=0

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Proverbs 11:24 Giving and receiving…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Verse of the day:

Proverbs 11:24 RSV 24 One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

Question:  What is the secret to increasing wealth? Also, what kind of wealth?  Is this material wealth, or spiritual wealth?  What is the difference?

Giving freely.  What does that look like?  Give what you have away?  Invest in endeavors that will benefit others?  Invest in personal endeavors? Give of yourself? your time, your gifts, your words, your prayers?

Withholds what he should give… How do we know what we should give? Is this money, hospitality, a listening ear?

There are plenty of voices out there telling us where to give…charities, churches, rescue efforts, etc.  Whose voice do we listen to?  Can we find the answer in scripture; in our heart?  Are there stories of those who gave and found an increase?  Is this a mindset of abundancy rather than scarcity? Does it help to look at what we have rather than what we don’t have?

Final question:  What is your take on this?

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Showing mercy

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Verse of the day:

[Mat 5:7 RSV] 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Question: What is the easiest way for us to obtain mercy?

Yesterday’s verse Psalm 18:25 stated much the same thing.

Those who are merciful will obtain mercy.  Following yesterday’s verse we see now that both the Old Testament and the New Testament contain an instruction clarifying how we may obtain mercy.

Definition of mercy:  Merriam-Webster states:

  • compassion or forbearance  shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power
  • also lenient or compassionate treatment

When we are gifted with permission to wield power over another with opportunity to impose our will over theirs but we show compassion on them and refuse to do so we show mercy.  There are ample opportunities to speak against another in whatever manner we wish both on social media and in real life actions. When we refrain, we show mercy.  What is gained by our showing mercy?  We will receive mercy from that One who holds all power over all of us when we face him.  We will gain perhaps an ear that will hear when we speak of that One and his offer of mercy.  We will be demonstrating the love in our heart for others that can only come from the Master, Father God Almighty through Jesus Christ.

Show mercy today at every opportunity thrown your way.  Be a light in a world of unmerciful people.  Let His mercy shine through you and lead them back to the Father.

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Our Ways…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Proverbs 16:7  When a man’s ways please Adonai, he makes even the man’s enemies be at peace with him.

In this verse what is meant by man’s ways?  Strong’s # H1870 : a course of life or mode of action; course of life; of moral character…

The question is What is the condition attached to the promise of God’s provision?

Answer:  It would seem our ‘ways’ must please the Lord to receive the promise of God’s provision to see to it that our enemies will be at peace with us.  These are defined as how we act, our moral character, our manner of living which includes how we treat others.  Would it be fair to ask when we find ourselves not at peace with others how much is due to our own actions?  Something to chew on…

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

Living pure lives

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Psalm 84:11

[ RSV] 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

Question:  What is the condition attached to the promise of God’s provision?

Answer:  One who walks uprightly; another version says ‘whose lives are pure’.

Definition of uprightly or pure could be several possibilities such as; accord with truth and fact; wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity; purged, purified, pure, clean.

This would imply then, that our lives should demonstrate all these qualities.  They are the fruit of wholesome living according to the commands given by Father God Almighty and repeated by Jesus Christ his Son.  This living way is out of respect and love for the Father and Son. The promise is do this you receive this.  Live with truth, integrity, cleanly and receive favor, honor, any good thing from the Lord God.

Take away:  I cannot do this alone.  I need His help and thankfully the Holy Spirit is here to do just that.  With His help I can succeed, I can overcome the tendencies to be dishonest because it might be convenient, or engage in falsehood to manipulate another, and on it goes.  As Paul says, there are times I do what I don’t want to and I don’t do what I do want to…so glad the price has been paid for this, the strength to overcome is available upon request and forgiveness is freely given.  Let us strive to live holy, pure lives empowered by the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

 

Correct in humility…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Reading from Zechariah 2:

Then I looked up and saw four horns.  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered J’hudah, Isra’el and Yerushalayim.”

Next Adonai showed me four artisans.  I asked, “What are these coming to do?”  He said, “Those horns that scattered Y’hudah so completely that no one could even raise his head–well, these men have come to terrify them, to overthrow the nations that raised their horns against the land of Y’hudah to scatter it.”

Related image

Image from google images

There’s more to this chapter, but this portion spoke to me and I wish to share those thoughts.  The explanation in the study Bible states the horns are the nations who came against the Hebrews and defeated them, scattered them as judgment from God because the Hebrews turned from God to other gods.  The artisans are agents sent by God to defeat those nations and therefore allow God to rebuild his city, Yerushalayim. Other writers see the craftsmen as agents who also assist in the rebuilding of the Hebrew nation.

Reflections on this passage noted that those used by God to punish his people who have turned away from him are in turn destroyed for coming against his people in such a way.  It is fearful to be used by God to discipline another.  That same discipline may come back around on the one who was used.  Beware of pride which can falsely elevate one’s sense of being more than one actually is.  A key phrase in scripture is to “walk humbly with your God.”* It is tempting to become smug at another’s correction.  No arrogance will go unpunished.

[Proverbs 17:5 NKJV] 5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.  (emphasis mine)

Note also, those used here in this passage were not ‘believers’ but outside the family of Hebrews.  Judgment against God’s people, his ‘church’ may come from outside the family of believers; it will still carry the curse of God, ‘anyone who injures you injures the very pupil of my eye.’  Whether or not the judgment comes is not based upon belief.  God’s word does not return void, or empty, it does accomplish what it sets out to do.

When one is used by God to correct another it would be wise to remember to do so humbly; not in weakness but with the knowledge that the correction comes through them not from them; it comes from God…this might help those who often say to ‘correct with love,’ since our definitions of love have been corrupted.

*[Micah 6:8 NKJV] 8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (emphasis mine)

Correction has an objective and that is to change direction or purpose; it also has an end goal and that is one of rebuilding something anew.  When one is going in the wrong direction, it is good to be redirected. It may protect from future harm; it may enable one to have an increase in purpose.  In this portion, the horns destroyed the old ways and paved the way for the craftsmen to rebuild.  Those giving correction and those receiving correction can more easily move through the process if they keep in mind the purposes of correction.

Any thoughts on this?

 

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

be holy because I am holy…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From 1Peter:

10The prophets, who prophesied about this gift of deliverance that was meant for you, pondered and inquired diligently about it. 11They were trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of the Messiah in them was referring in predicting the Messiah’s sufferings and the glorious things to follow. 12It was revealed to them that their service when they spoke about these things was not for their own benefit, but for yours. And these same things have now been proclaimed to you by those who communicated the Good News to you through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things!

13Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is revealed. 14As people who obey God, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant. 15On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; 16since the Tanakh (Old Testament)  says,

“You are to be holy because I am holy.”

 17Also, if you are addressing as Father the one who judges impartially according to each person’s actions, you should live out your temporary stay on earth in fear. 18You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold; 19on the contrary, it was the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot. 20God knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the acharit-hayamim (last days) for your sakes. 21Through him you trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory; so that your trust and hope are in God.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/1pe.1>

Words in parentheses placed by this author

The Christian way is not new, only new to those who just received recently the message of Christ.  This way is rooted in the beginning of time.  It has prevailed all attempts to destroy it; it has withstood the test of time.  It is not a passing fad or trend.

The Father created and nurtured, disciplined and provided for his creation.  The Good News is how that was done.  The coming of Christ, his suffering and sacrifice are what was necessary to cleanse the creation of the evil it had given way to.

This event and its implications for mankind were foretold to give encouragement to those who sought after the Father.  Today the message continues to be told for the same reason.

To those who receive the Good News, Peter answers the question, “How then shall we live?”  One, “get your minds ready for work,” is a mind-set;  it is set on spiritual matters rather than earthly.  Fill up on scripture, God’s words of love, direction and encouragement.  Two, “keep yourselves under control,” speaks to possessing less self-inspired living and demonstrating more  God-inspired living.  Thirdly, “fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Christ is revealed” tells where the focus is to be placed.  Next, “become holy yourselves in your entire way of life,” instructs the believer to be holy;  God is referenced when he says;

“You are to be holy because I am holy.” 

This last statement clinches that something is required of the believer.  But the believer is not abandoned; “trust in God, who raised him (Christ) from the dead and gave him glory; so that your trust and hope are in God.”

Pray – Father God, I praise you for what You do, for who You are.  I acknowledge Your majesty and greatness.  I look to You for help; no other can keep me as you do.

Repent – I am sorry for a generation who continues to turn from you to self.  I repent for those times I lived selfishly instead of selflessly.

Ask – Be the power that enables me to have a mindset for work in Your kingdom; that gives the ability to exercise control over selfish desires and actions; that gives me the breastplate of Your righteousness so that I may be holy as You are.

Yes – To you be all praise, honor and glory.

Source:   1 Peter and Leviticus 11, 19, 20

 

be full of joy …

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From 1 Peter:

1From: Kefa (Peter), an emissary of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah

To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora — in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia — 2chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua (Jesus)  the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood:

Grace and shalom be yours in full measure.

3Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, who, in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, 4to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven. 5Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by God’s power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. 6Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. 7Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.

8Without having seen him, you love him. Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words. 9And you are receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/1pe.1>

Words in parentheses placed by this author.

“Born again to a living hope”  that is, Christ.

What is alive does not fade, spoil or decay.  The life received through faith in Christ, gained in his resurrection, is the hope he grants to always, eternally, be his chosen.  The rough times, testing times that come need not take the believer’s full focus.  They are a process of refining, as gold is.  The old is removed and the new remains.  In this, the believer can rejoice they are worthy to be refined!

The genuineness of the believer’s faith is revealed through the trials.  Therefore, rejoice in the tests, the down times, the stretching.  Rejoice because the very existence of the hard times speaks to the hope Christ gives.  The joy is in him, not in the trial, not in the pain, but in the Christ who will deliver.  So think of it as endurance or strength training.  It’s not easy, it calls for discipline, but the benefits are well-being and good health.  So too, the hard times bring spiritual strength and well-being; they should teach the believer how to lift their focus from themselves to God.  Not looking at the situation but looking forward to the deliverance, looking upward to the God who delivers.  “In all things give thanks” for this creates a strong army of believers who continue to stand for truth.

Pray – Praise be to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for us in heaven.

Repent – I repent for those time I allowed hard, painful experiences to refocus my attention from You to me.

Ask – May my experience with grief be the test of fire to reveal my genuine faith in You, God.  May I be found faithful, full of faith for removing my focus from my experiences to You and what You do.

Yes – trusting in You brings a joy the unbeliever cannot know. It is an impossibility to be thankful during pain; unless one is refocused to thank You for the deliverance which will come.  Loving Christ, even though unseen, is joy.  1 Peter 41:1-9

Source: 1 Peter

open your eyes and look… – Jesus

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From John 4:

31Meanwhile, the talmidim (disciples)  were urging Yeshua (Jesus), “Rabbi, eat something.” 32But he answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33At this, the talmidim (disciples) asked one another, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, “My food is to do what the one who sent me wants and to bring his work to completion. 35Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest’? Well, what I say to you is: open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest! 36The one who reaps receives his wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the reaper and the sower may be glad together — 37for in this matter, the proverb, ‘One sows and another reaps,’ holds true. 38I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard labor, and you have benefited from their work.”

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/jhn.4>

*words in parentheses are mine; English for Hebrew.

Humility is a result that comes from realizing that what each accomplishes rests upon the efforts of others and all that is done is the result of God’s work.  The call is given to ‘see.’  There is always work to be done; some work the soil, preparing for those who sow the seed, and those who harvest come after.  God gives the increase.

The kingdom  grows and benefits from the efforts of those who can see and hear the voice of God.  These efforts provide the ‘food’ of which Jesus spoke.  When one is engaged in a project and they are inspired to complete it; all else, even hunger, disappears until it is accomplished.  And the results satisfy more than any food or drink.

O that the church would catch this inspiration from Jesus!  The fields are ripe.  There is so little of real truth and worth today in this society that the hunger for God is increased.  Not a hunger for ‘church’ or even a brand of Christianity for what it has become in much of this world, but a hunger for the genuine Word of God, Jesus, come to give what is missing in today’s world.  He came to give genuine peace of spirit, genuine  love and compassion, genuine praise that is God-centered and not self-centered.

Pray – May my eyes and ears be opened to hear your voice, Lord, directing me to do what you want and bringing your work to completion.

Repent – I repent for the times I do what I want, thinking I am working for you.

Ask – Open my eyes so I can see the fields!  Open my eyes so I can see the harvest ready to reap.  May I be a part of the harvest team you are sending to reap what isn’t sown by us but by you.

Yes – How happy are those who observe Your instruction, who seek You wholeheartedly! Psalm 119:2

Source: John 4 and Psalms