July 24, 2016

Sunday Musings

It is a good day here in sunny, and yes, very hot Phoenix. I think we hit close to 114 yesterday, and I believe the high for today is going to be close to this mark. I am praying for rain! Please Lord, let the rains come! Today, though, I am home and resting. My stomach is a bit off this morning, but my head is clear (PTL!), and generally, I feel good. I didn't sleep well last night. I had a bad dream about midway through the night, and I awoke with my hands tightly closed (as in a fist). My arms are even sore this morning. I know that whenever I am stressed, really stressed, I will often clench my fists or my jaws as a way to control my emotions. This stress motion is something I have done since I was a child, and it was a reaction to my life back then, when I was deeply troubled or afraid. It has been a long time since I found myself doing this stress-reactive practice. I have worked very hard to train myself to stop doing it. In fact, I can almost always sleep at night with my body completely relaxed. I am not sure what prompted the reaction, but I am sure my dream (somewhat scary) had something to do with it. Needless to say, I am a bit worn out this morning. My mind is rested, but my body feels weary. O, Lord, please help me recover your blessed peace this good, good day!

It is Sunday, BTW, and I am praising the Lord this morning for He is good, so very good to me. I read Psalm 35 today as part of my morning study, and I was taken a back by David's prayer for the Lord's help. I cannot imagine what it was like for him when he had enemies who were trying to kill him. His prayer is a good reminder of the nature of the wicked, and the contrast between the wicked and the righteous. In this Psalm, David says that he was persecuted unfairly. He was a good man, a righteous man. He even prayed for people who were his enemy, and he treated them as if they were like a family member. Then, these same people, took joy in his calamity and in his downfall. I couldn't help but reflect how this seems to be similar to our current socially mediated environment. I mean, I see Christians lash out at other Christians, call them names, treat them rudely, and then turn and fain righteousness. It is serious business, and the Lord is not pleased when we eat and devour one another like this. We must stop doing this, stop treating everyone with such disdain. I digress.

Nonetheless, today, I am feeling sort of "off" and my heart is saddened somewhat. Again, I woke up this way, so I am not really sure what has prompted this oppression. I simply feel as if I was attacked last night, and now I am suffering the repercussions of that event. How I pray today for the Lord's goodness, His grace, and His favor. May I be protected, O Lord, from my enemy who encamps about me, and who seeks to steal my joy and my well-being, this good, good day! Selah!

He is Coming Quickly

In the latter days, the Word tells us that we are to be on the ready, to be alert, and to remain faithful because the Lord will come again quickly. In 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NLT), Paul writes, "For you know quite well that the day of the Lord's return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night." He goes on to say, "While people are saying, 'Peace and security,' destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape" (verse 3). Many people will not be ready, many will not be prepared, simply because they will see what they want to see, and they will believe the day is far off in the distance. Yet, Paul tells us that His return will come quickly. Thus, he says, "But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day should overtake you like a thief" (verse 4). And more so in verses 5-6, he stresses, "For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day; we do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not sleep as the others do, but let us remain awake and sober." Yes, Paul reminds us to behave, to live as children of light (sons of light), so that we are ready, alert, and watchful. He says in verse 7, "But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of our hope of salvation."

This word sober means "having or showing a very serious attitude or quality" (Merriam-Webster), and as such, Christians are called to be sober minded, to be serious in both mind and body. We are not to act or behave like those in the night. Paul uses an illustration of drunkenness saying that when people get drunk, they do so at night. He is suggesting that people do dark deeds under the cover of night, where their deeds are hidden. Yet, because we are of the light, children of God who walk in the light of truth, our deeds cannot be hidden. Therefore, we must walk in soberness, in seriousness, especially in regard to our Lord's return. Paul reminds us in verses 9-10, that the reason we are to do this, to remain sober minded and watchful is because of what is to come -- the promised reward -- salvation. He writes, "For God has not appointed us to suffer wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him." O, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not forget what we long for, what we are waiting for, and let us not lose our focus on what is to come -- the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!

This morning, in particular, I am struck by these verses. They serve to remind me that we, as Christians, can get so caught up in world events that we forget our purpose, we forget our mission in this life. We are not here to simply "eat, drink and be merry," but rather we are Christ's ambassadors, chosen for specific work, in order to spread the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How quickly do we become like the world, acting like the world, turning on every page in the world's handbook. Instead of standing on the Word of God, we become like those around us. We seek the joy, the satisfaction, and the scintillation of materialism and pursuits of godlessness. Yes, we become no different than the lost who live around us. We are called to be salt and light, yet our life doesn't reflect that fact. We are no different than the world if we seek after the things of the world, we pursue the these things, with ardent fervor and with passionate desire.

My heart thinks on these things today because I am often swept along with the current. I am often taken down a path where I do not wish to go, simply by the force of the stream. I want to stand firm, I want to remain alert, I want to be watchful, yet often when I am not steady and standing my ground, the enemy, my enemy comes and woos me to follow after him. I will not go, I say. I will not give ground, but I find that time and time again, I am easily moved, easily shaken. O, Lord, please help me to stand my ground, to not give way, to be as your word instructs -- alert, steady, on the ready! Selah!

Planning for the Day

Sunday is reserved by God as a day of rest. I know some Christians believe that the sabbath day of rest is Saturday and not Sunday, but I believe that God intends us to rest one day out of seven, and Sunday is historically (outside of Judaism) the day given to the people of God. Thus, today is a day of rest for most people in the world. I will not argue with those who prefer to rest on Saturday or who choose to worship the Lord on this day. What matters is that they rest, that they remember the goodness of God, and they take time to reflect on His goodness in and through their lives. This is what matters more than the day chosen to rest (in my view).

My plans include resting, of course, but they also include some work since I am now an online instructor. My students will be submitting assignments, so I need to be ready to return them with feedback. My plans today include some grading of assignments, some follow up with students who have not posted or attended this week, and some other small things here around the house. The Lord knows I need to rest, but today's rest is more mental than physical. I need to rest from my endeavors, from my work (as in striving), and that means that I need to consider everything I am doing now that runs counter to His will for my life. I am in assessment-mode, so to speak, and I need to assess my current workload, and determine a way for me to proceed this fall. You see, I am going to be really busy. I have five classes right now, though I think I will only teach four once my class at ACU is dropped next week. Still, with my classes and my dissertation, I have a lot on my plate. God be praised, I know that I can do whatever needs doing, and I am trusting Him to keep me on track, to hit my goals, and to complete all the work He has assign to me. He is good to me, so very good to me. God be praised, He is so very good to me.

I am thinking more and more about my timeline for graduation and for keeping my plan for finishing my dissertation. Right now, I am stuck. I am waiting on my professor to send me back revisions for chapters 2-3. I need his feedback before I can move to the next step: presenting my proposal. Until I hear back, I am on hold. This bums me, of course, but there is nothing I can do about it. I am praying the Lord covers me, the timing and all, and I know that He does know what is best. He will see me through this last push toward graduation, I know He will! He is good, so very good to me.

Thus, my plans for today are pretty simple: do whatever needs doing this good, good day. Selah!

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