#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?” 

#Majesty and #Mercy

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  In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

—Matthew 6:9-13

Marriage: So much more than a partnership

This great article about marriage is reblogged from a wonderful site, Oceans Never Fill.

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MARRIAGE: SO MUCH MORE THAN A PARTNERSHIP

My husband recently matched into a residency program on the other side of the country, far from the area I have considered home the entirety of my short life. The Pacific Northwest, with its mountains kissing ocean, its gloomy rain and gloomier culture, has shaped my childhood and most of my adulthood. The enormity of this move isn’t something we took lightly when my husband applied for residency programs, but when you look at the whole of life: our purpose and what’s truly important, suddenly the comfort of home, familiarity, and even preference, fade in light of the hope of following  God wherever he leads. It’s a bit terrifying as we gaze at this great chasm of eternity that opens up with limitless, unknown possibilities for our future; but simultaneously peaceful as we rest in the knowledge that our eternal future is already secured, and all these moments in between are held in the hand of a good God.

Through the process of applying to residencies I had countless people ask me how I felt about the move; if I wanted to go wherever it was my husband’s career took him; or if I was okay with his specialty choice. It was a weird line of questioning to me. Of course I want to go wherever my husband’s career takes him.

Read the rest here.

Lamplighters

 Photo credit: The Victorianist

Photo credit: The Victorianist

Lamplighters

By Patricia Knight

Before the innovation of electricity, the local lamplighter was a familiar figure at dusk and dawn. It was his responsibility to illumine and extinguish city lights. Initially, oil or candles were used, eventually progressing to gas lights. Whatever the type of lamp, the citizens gained a modicum of security at night from the predictable illumination of their walkways.

Every night at dusk the lamplighter walked or rode between individual lamp posts spaced throughout city streets. Some lamplighters carried a ladder, while others gained the appropriate height to reach tall lamp posts from the back of a horse. Still others carried long poles with a source of combustion at the tip, providing the length necessary to reach the lamp post. A sole lamplighter extended his staff to ignite each secluded, dark lamp stem with a small flame. Light flooded the space behind the lamplighter as he continued forward to punctuate darkness along his route.

The original source of light penetrating darkness occurred at the creation of the world when God commanded, “ ‘And, let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:3-5).

Exclusively by His power, God led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He promised His children He would guide them on their journey to the Promised Land. “You {God} go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14). Just as God’s pillars of cloud and fire consistently led the Israelites long ago, Jesus provides His guiding light in our world today. As Jesus reflects His light to us, we absorb it and disseminate love to others. Jesus said, “ ‘You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven’” (Matthew 5:14a,16). Jesus fulfilled His mission as the Light of the World when He walked this earth. Now that He has returned to heaven, Jesus commands His followers to continue His light-bearing work.

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We are admonished to “Shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15b).When we gaze at millions of stars piercing the night sky with dazzling points of light, we are reminded that God views Christians as His own beacons of light piercing a dark world. It is our purpose to bring glory to God by expanding His outreach of light to others.

In the summertime, twittering fireflies shower the night sky with thousands of sparkling lights. In a similar way, Christians radiate Christ’s light in a dark world. If each of us were to introduce one flicker of sovereign light, soon individual flashes would be so numerous, they would coalesce to form a massive glow of love. Kind words, intercessory prayers, or warm smiles convey encouragement, distributing the light of Jesus into all areas.

In the Old Testament, light was symbolic of life and blessing; darkness represented evil and death.  Darkness is projected in the expression of a grumpy, foreboding person, whereas light shines through those who are positive and encouraging.

By New Testament times there was no further need of a symbolic representation of God’s presence like the pillars of cloud or fire. Centuries later, God’s Son, the Light of the World, came to earth to shine His love, power, and grace on His followers. By sacrificially offering His unblemished life to redeem us from sin, Jesus transferred His light to those who believe in Him.

As Jesus’ disciples in current times, God’s glory shines His infinite light through our lives. Like a magnet attracts metal, we are drawn to heavenly light. Those who trust in Jesus depend upon Him to illuminate lives and to light walkways. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), without which we would only grope in darkness.

The old lamp lighter left a linear trail of visible light in his path, but we have the ability to perpetuate light in all directions from our hearts. We reflect love and grace from Jesus to those whose vision needs the supplemental light of guidance and mercy. Immersed in Jesus’ light, we are then prepared to minister Christlikeness to others.

Just as the sun supplies the physical light of our world, Jesus embodies spiritual light. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5b, 7). The moon has no illumination of its own, reflecting light from the sun.  So too, Christians have no inherent light source. Jesus’ light is reflected in His followers. We are feckless without a personal infusion from the Light of the World, enabling us access to His profuse energy, irrepressible light, and dynamic power.

Light symbolizes the glory and radiance, beauty and love, splendor and majesty of God the Father and God the Son. Light represents the absolute purity and holiness of God, who moves without casting a shadow. His characteristic is light; His light and glory are harmonious. Christ is the lamplighter of our souls. Once His light lavishes our hearts, we are filled to capacity with the inherited qualities of Jesus, spreading the goodness of spiritual light wherever we go. As we identify with Jesus, we appropriate His attributes of love, kindness, and humility.

“It started when God said, ’Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful” (2 Corinthians 4:6, The Msg). Through the love and enthusiasm we share, people we meet breathe in the exquisite fragrance of the Savior. Like a perfect flower blossom in form and fragrance, our spiritual transparency allows the Light of the World to shine through, illuminating the darkness of this world one small light beam at a time. Let us make heavenly light distribution our high priority.

“In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on their way to salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15a, The Msg.).

Sunday #Praise and #Worship: Psalm 5

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Psalm 5

A Prayer for Guidance
To the Chief Musician. With flutes.

A Psalm of David.

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.

2 Give heed to the voice of my cry,

My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.

3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;

In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,

Nor shall evil dwell with You.

5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;

You hate all workers of iniquity.

6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;

The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;

In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.

8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;

Make Your way straight before my face.

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;

Their inward part is destruction;
Their throat is an open tomb;
They flatter with their tongue.

10 Pronounce them guilty, O God!

Let them fall by their own counsels;
Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions,
For they have rebelled against You.

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11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for JOY, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be JOYFUL in You.

12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;

With favor You will surround him as with a shield.


New King James Version (NKJV). Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Rain Clouds

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If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. —Ecclesiastes 11:3

If we believe the message of this verse, then why do we dread the clouds that darken our sky? It is true that for a while the dark clouds hide the sun, but it is not extinguished and it will soon shine again. Meanwhile those clouds are filled with rain, and the darker they are, the more likely they are to bring plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s bright and glorious grace. Before long the clouds will be emptied, and every tender plant will be happier due to the showers. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with His mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes. His wagons may rumble noisily across the sky, but they are loaded with benefits. And His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. So let us not worry about the clouds. Instead, let us sing because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.

O Lord, “clouds are the dust of [your] feet”! (Nah. 1:3). Help us remember how near You are during the dark and cloudy days! Love beholds You and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and thereby making the hills on every side rejoice. —Charles H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.

“The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds.”


© Copyright 1997. Streams in the Desert, by L. B. CowmanZondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

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.