#Complacent

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Complacent

By Patricia Knight

Each day I traveled to work, I encountered a stretch of residential build-up on a secondary road where the speed limit was reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph. Familiar with the road land marks, I decreased my vehicular speed in preparation for the new speed zone.

One morning a state police vehicle passed by me from the opposite direction. I perceived I was within the posted speed limit, so I ignored his presence, assuming he had business elsewhere. That is, until he negotiated a screeching U-turn! Suddenly I was engulfed with eye-popping blue lights and ear-piercing sirens. The policeman then had my undivided attention.

When the imposing officer appeared at my car window, he was straightforward. “Do you know you were traveling 52 mph in a 35 mph zone?”  He had the proof; I had no excuse. Still I felt obliged to offer a weak explanation: “I drive this route to work every day and I’m usually more compliant with my speed.”  To my surprise, the state policeman gently responded, “It’s easy to act complacent when repeating the same activity frequently.”  Fortunately the officer dismissed me with a warning. Little did he know the impression he made that day, affecting my driving alertness and compliance, as well as my reaction to life in general.

Complacency denotes self-satisfaction that results in false comfort, diminishing an awareness of danger.

Apathy is closely related, expressive of indifference, a lack of feelings, or inaction. The opposite of complacency is passion; zeal rather than indifference. Jesus taught that love knows no boundaries, tantamount to the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and love your neighbor as well as you do yourself” (Luke 10:27, The Msg.).

Jesus defined our neighbor with a parable: A man was attacked while traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho through rugged, crime-ridden terrain. He was stripped of his clothing, robbed of his possessions, beaten unmercifully, and left for dead. A Levite, a priest, and a Samaritan eventually passed the victim’s way. The first two ignored the assaulted man and intentionally crossed to the opposite side of the road.

Complacency reeks of self-importance and indifference. What could possibly have been so pressing in the lives of the Levite and the priest that neither could conjure up the minimal time and compassion to cover the naked, bleeding man with a garment? It is obvious that neither religious leader cared about his fellow man. The suffering victim’s pitiful condition didn’t tug on their heart-strings. For them it was easier  to turn away and ignore their neighbor with an indifferent attitude, though they would likely claim personal righteousness. Complacency is the greatest hypocrisy.

Historically, Samaritans and Jews exhibited open hostility toward one another. But, it was a Samaritan who ran to the aid of the beaten, robbed man lying beside the road. He bandaged his wounds, and lifted him onto his own donkey for transportation to a local inn. There the Samaritan cared for the assaulted man. The following day, the Samaritan gave sufficient funds to the inn keeper to provide for the man’s future care, assuring the inn keeper he would reimburse any extra expenses incurred when he returned (Luke 10:27-28).

The man who posed the question to Jesus, “ ‘Who is my neighbor’” (Luke 10:29), learned explicitly from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ story highlights a neighbor as one we help when a need is displayed, to whom we may give of our time and treasure, and for whom we are willing to be inconvenienced.

One great danger of complacency is that it gradually overtakes the heart space reserved for kindness and decency. Apathy is so deviously replaced with nonchalance and mediocre responses that it is easy to ignore danger along life’s journey. Complacency bows to subtle changes. The process is so insidious that before we are aware of the changes, we’ve been converted to a curmudgeon who increasingly replaces a once tender, passionate heart with reluctance. What happened to fierce, dynamic faith? It cooled to tepid.

Jesus didn’t call us to follow Him when it is convenient. Our time on earth is brief; we are here on assignment. There is kingdom work to be done, people to help, and the gospel to proclaim. He wants 100% of each of us, with the adoration of our hearts, the zeal of our souls, and the days of our lives. Because Jesus died for us, no sacrifice can be too great for us to make for Him.

What is your response to Jesus when you recognize a paramount need in another person’s life? Do you avoid prayer, assuming Jesus is incapable of surpassing human limitations? “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God’” (Luke 18:27). Continual prayer is our most powerful deterrent to apathy, preventing us from slipping into smug self-dependence and self-satisfaction. Acknowledging that God is supreme and capable of the miraculous, dispels indifference. Apathy requires low energy output and provides no positive returns.

There are blue lights of warning surrounding many of our personal scenarios, reminding us to slow down to discern and evaluate. It is never too late to comply to the greatest commandment in which there is no provision for self-serving motives. Complacency and apathy provide only convenient excuses.

Jesus desires to fill our hearts with a deluge of joy. In addition, He clothes us with joy.

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).

From the riches of heaven’s own wardrobe room, swishing robes of rejoicing define us externally, as Jesus, the source of our praise, engulfs our hearts. Joy is to be the constant dimension of a life of faith, a sovereign characteristic that flows freely from dwelling in God’s presence, a gift that interlocks with God’s everlasting nature. Following His example, let us love our neighbor, reaching out with enthusiasm and joy.

Thankfully, neither complacency nor apathy are permanent states, easily remedied with commitment to spiritual renewal as we discover anew the exhilaration of displaying our Lord’s characteristics. We are transformed by Christ; a holy reconstruction project uniting us with Him that motivates us to ask,

“What can I do to help my neighbor?” 

Complex Creativity

Pitcher Plant

Complex Creativity

By Patricia Knight

All our enemies have gloated over us;
panic and pitfall have come upon us…
—Lamentations 3:46-47

 Lest we fail to recognize that all of God’s creations are spectacular, consider the amazing complexity of the pitcher plant.  It is so named to reflect the modified leaves rolled to resemble a receptacle such as a pitcher. Indigenous to marshy forests of the American continent, the pitcher plant is carnivorous, possessing a mechanism called a pitfall trap. The trap is a deep pit filled with digestive fluid. Insects are attracted to the plant’s cavity by visual lures or by its sweet-smelling nectar. The rim of the pitcher plant is wet and slippery, causing prey to fall into the trap. The one-way insidious pit is aided by downward growing hairs, waxy scales, or guard cells on the interior of the plant to ensure prey have no means of escape. Liquid inside the pitcher plant drowns and dissolves the insects, converting them into nutrients and minerals.

How many pitcher plants have we encountered in our personal lives? Disappointment, disillusionment, and discouragement are all capable of entrapping us. If we aren’t diligent, those same lures are capable of engulfing us with negative attitudes that, over time, drown our hope and dissolve our faith, leaving us no escape from danger or strife.

Satan is a spiritual pitcher plant. Like the insects that are attracted by fragrance and color, Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), though in reality he is the prince of evil and darkness. Satan isn’t the red-horned monster wielding a pitchfork as frequently depicted in cartoons. However, he always appears as something pleasing and captivating, making temptation attractive and irresistible. If Satan were to visibly appear to us, he would be stunningly beautiful and charming.

It is Satan’s purpose to rob us of joy and fellowship with our heavenly Father. He exploits God’s gifts to us by misrepresenting them. Reflect on his cunning methods of manipulating Eve in the Garden of Eden, misquoting God’s words to suit his purposes.

Satan is the epitome of sin and darkness. He is evil to the core, not possessing one good intention. The only way we are able to protect ourselves from his evil intrusion into our lives is to surround ourselves internally and externally with the overpowering love of God.

Don’t be a victim to Satan’s manipulative gimmicks. Claim the victory Almighty God offers:

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“Submit yourselves, then to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8).

God is a gentleman; He never cajoles or begs. He waits patiently for us to call upon His name. Immediately our Lord responds with forgiveness of any wrongdoing and surrounds us with His love and grace. We need only accept His free gift of salvation as He releases our bondage of sin.

The devil is the enemy of every believer. Each Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare against Satan and his minions. Our Lord doesn’t expect us to fight against Satan, for our strength is inadequate, but God’s power is undefeatable. We are urged to stand firmly as our Lord defends us. “Be prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon” (Ephesians 6:15-17, The Message).

In spiritual battles, God has provided two weapons for our defense: the Word of God and prayer with God. Jesus quoted the living Word of God as His defense against Satan’s methods when He was tempted in the wilderness. The Word of God is also referred to as the sword of the Spirit. “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Hebrews 4:12-13, The Message).

As we immerse our thoughts in the Word of God, He guides our actions. God opens our hearts to understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. His Word is filled with assurances of love and grace, which He delights in lavishing upon us. When we spend quality time in sincere, secret prayer, Jesus intercedes for us to the heavenly Father.

Our second weapon of defense against Satan is prayer. If on earth we desire to know people more fully, we spend time communicating with them. The same holds true with God. Not only do we talk, but we also listen, as God directs us into His paths of righteousness.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice as the perfect Lamb when He offered His one holy life to redeem the sins of those who believe in Him. Due to Christ’s grace, God now looks at us through Jesus’ righteousness. We still face temptation, as Jesus did when He walked this earth. But temptation only leads to sin when we yield to Satan’s lures.

The consequence of slipping away from God’s care is that Satan allures us with his devious, nefarious purposes. Like the pitcher plant, Satan’s methods are slippery. Before we realize it, we have succumbed to his wily ways, drowning in bitterness and anger, dissolved in hate, and digested in evil.

“Now that we know what we have—
Jesus, this Great high Priest with ready access to God—
let’s not let it slip through our fingers.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing,
experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him
and get what he is so ready to give.
Take the mercy, accept the help”
(Hebrews 4:14-16, The Message).

Wait For the Lord

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Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the LORD.

—Psalm 27:14

No one likes to wait.

I can remember when the only ways we got in touch with each other was to phone them or send them actual written letters. I know, I’m dating myself here! Then email became the preferred method of communication because it was so much quicker.

We still use email but most of us now text our messages to each other because that is even faster. And don’t even get me started on how much we rely on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to instantly transmit our thoughts.

We rush through fast-food drive-thrus.

We even drive faster than we should because posted speed limits seem impossibly slow to us.

How many times have you been waiting for an elevator where you or someone else has already pushed the “up” or “down” button. The button is already lit up but then another person approaches and presses the button again because that will obviously make the elevator arrive faster.

And check out the “Walk” light image above. In big cities, most people walk to their destinations. Waiting at crosswalks is always interesting. Many people repeatedly push the button that changes the light as if the light will immediately change in their favor. Some people step off the curb as they’re waiting so they’ll have a head start when the light does change. And then there are those who are so impatient to get across the street that they won’t wait for the “Walk” light to appear. They dodge cars as they force their way to the other side.

It strikes me that all of this is similar to the way we sometimes approach God when seeking direction in our lives.

Sometimes we swamp God with prayer because we think we might get our answer faster.

Other times we’re like those who step off the curb while waiting for the “Walk” light: we know God will answer our prayer but we step out ahead of His timing.

And how about when we rush headlong with our agenda without waiting for God to show us His will? We mistakenly proceed on our own to do what seems best to reach our goal but how often do we get tangled up in what might have been because we jump so far ahead of God’s timing?

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Beloved, I have been there more times than I can count! Waiting for God is not easy, is it? Sometimes that kind of silence can feel like forever. We start to think we’re praying the wrong way or that God doesn’t understand how urgent our situation is.

Beloved, God knows exactly what is going on in our lives and in our hearts. He has always been aware of what we need—before we were even born! His timing is always exactly right!

Even though I am still in a season of waiting, I am faithfully trying to remember that:

…with the LORD one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.

—1 Peter 2:8

What that means to me is that even though I may think it’s taking too long to see the Lord’s will in my life right now, that doesn’t mean He isn’t already working things out.

This is exactly the time for me to keep on praying while waiting and trusting. How about you?

The Law is Only a Shadow… Old and New, Part 2

From GraceThruFaith, Part 2 of 2.

Something Old, Something New

Part 2 of 2 in the series Old and New

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley 


What’s external and physical in the Old becomes internal and spiritual in the New.

The Epistle to the Hebrews underscores the issue we covered last time on the nature of the Bible. The 66 “books” penned by 40 scribes over hundreds of years are really components of a single message … a message describing two agreements or covenants, but consistent in design and intent from Genesis through Revelation. You’ll hear liberal scholars (oxymoron?) talk about the differences between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the new. Nonsense. It’s simply a matter of which side of the cross you’re on. We used prophecy as both an example and an authentication of the Bible’s singularity of purpose and its supernatural origin.

Demonstration Please

Now I’d like to demonstrate that every event and requirement commanded by the Lord in the Old Covenant has its fulfillment in the New. They all began as external and physical acts and became internal and spiritual principles. In addition to being real requirements given for sound purpose, they were also symbolic; models meant to teach us lessons about God and His incredible plan for us. Hebrews 10:1; the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.

And just as it is with prophecy, understanding the context of the old dramatically increases comprehension of the new. Let’s try a few examples. 

Read the rest here.

The Prophet, The Priest, And The King

The Prophet, The Priest, And The King

From GraceThruFaith

Commentary by Jack Kelley

I think you’ll agree that this is a fascinating account of how God used Daniel the Prophet, Jeduah the High Priest, and Alexander, King of Greece  to prepare the world to receive the Gospel, beginning over 500 years before the fact.

Alexander The Great was born in 356 BC to Philip, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, his wife. As a boy he saw how his Macedonian countrymen, a loose knit group of autonomous tribes, experienced impossible difficulties trying to unite themselves into a strong cohesive force. Because of this the Persians, rulers of the known world, kept them under subjugation. Alexander was particularly incensed when the Persians defeated and humiliated his father, treating his people cruelly.

He determined that their problems were due primarily to an inability to communicate clearly with one another because of the many individual dialects they had developed. This caused misunderstanding and distrust which resulted in a reluctance to fully commit to each other.

With the help of his father Phillip, Alexander crafted a new language, later called common Greek or Koinonia, taught it to the tribal chieftains, and convinced them to use it for inter-tribal communications.  Soon their disagreements were resolved and their mutual trust restored. What had been a rag-tag mob of self-interested tribal factions was on the road to becoming a powerful  army.

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: More and More

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Happy Sunday, Beloved!

I have to confess that these Sunday Praise and Worship posts are my favorite ones to put together. Why? Because I get to spend so much time listening to some wonderful praise and worship songs, which lead me to search Scripture for passages that go well with those songs.

I cannot sing along with lyrics like these without feeling the overflowing love of God, the undeniable mercy and grace of my Savior Jesus. and the fire of the Holy Spirit that guides me through my days.

Now as the people were in expectation,
and all reasoned in their hearts about John,
whether he was the Christ or not,
John answered, saying to all,
“I indeed baptize you with water;
but One mightier than I is coming,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in His hand,
and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor,
and gather the wheat into His barn;
but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
—Luke 3:15-16

…..
The words of “More and More” by Selah should echo our hearts’ desire. May we always yearn for more and more of God in our lives.

 

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Pathway of #Pain

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Pathway of Pain

If my days were untroubled and my heart always light,

Would I seek that fair land where there is no night?
If I never grew weary with the weight of my load,
Would I seek for God’s peace at the end of the road?

If I never knew sickness and never felt pain,
Would I search for a hand to help and sustain?
If I walked without sorrow and lived without loss
Would my soul seek solace at the foot of the cross?

If all I desired was mine day by day,
Would I kneel before God and earnestly pray?
If God sent no winter to freeze me with fear,
Would I yearn for the warmth of spring every year?

I ask myself these and the answer is plain,
If my life were pleasure and I never knew pain –
I’d seek God less often and need Him much less,
For God is sought more often in times of distress.

And no one knows God or sees Him as plain –
As those who have met Him on the “Pathway of Pain.”

Author: Helen Steiner Rice