202. Step out and step up

The noise can be unbearable.  We have resorted to the amazing technology of our time.  It gives new impulse to this prolonged pandemic of which the end does not seem so close as we crave.  Various stages of a range of regulations persist in many countries.  A realistic perspective demands patience, which of course can be defined as endurance exactly as the Bible says.

As an encouragement I need to hear the words again.  Endurance or patience is the capacity to bear up under difficult circumstances not with a passive complacency but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resist weariness and defeat. [Spirit-Filled Life Bible]  These words lift me up and make me feel brave.  

We are equipped with everything we need to get through this, not by the skin of our teeth but triumphant and strong.

It is the point of the parable of the ten virgins. [Pebbles 27]  The Bridegroom’s arrival in the story of Jesus, is not the Second Coming; it is his Presence in the difficulty and predicament of the day.  We do not “see” or “hear” him in the problem.  We are so focused on adverse circumstances that we miss the coming of our Bridegroom exactly as He promised.  It is only the virgins with enough oil (Symbol of the Holy Spirit) that enters into the place of feasting and sit at the table in the valley of the shadow of death where He prepares the table of abundance. 

He is a very present help in times of trouble – yes, very present.  It means He is personally on hand, while you struggle.  

God on Our Side

46 For the Pure and Shining One, by the prophetic singers of Korah’s clan
A poetic song to the melody of “Hidden Things” 

God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge!
You’re a proven help in time of trouble—
more than enough and always available whenever I need you.

So we will never fear
even if every structure of support were to crumble away.
We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes,
moving mountains and casting them into the sea.

For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves
cannot erode our faith in you.

Pause in his presence. (Psalms 46:1-3 TPT)

Indeed – pause for a moment.  Become aware of his presence.  You will find Jesus in the storm.  He is in the boat with you.  Wake him up, call out to him and hear his voice.  It will change everything.

This return to silence is the way forward. Silence within the noise around you.

 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not,
  (Isaiah 30:15)

It is even clearer in The Message.

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
    has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
    and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
    in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
    you’ve been unwilling to do.

One of the consequences of the pandemic is that we rely on our screens so much more.  We have delved into the world of internet news and opinion, but also ministry.  With churches closed, our services have moved online.  It is often better to remain “plugged in” to your local church than to surf the vast “smorgasbord” of internet ministry.  “Smorgasbord” is a Swedish word that became popular in the United States halfway through the previous century to describe a buffet offering a variety of hot and cold meats, salads, hors d’oeuvres.  It is used to depict a wide range of something.  

If one does not “eat” with discernment, you can easily get sick.  I would like to think of internet ministry as a smorgasbord of voices and messages.  It can be confusing and upsetting.  However, it can build you up and encourage you for greater faith.  It depends on how you use it.  

There is only one way to use it.  It is with selectivity and discrimination.  The perspicacity that our screen-availability demands, can only be found in one source.  Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is promised – time and again, most notably in James.

 And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.   Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive.  (James 1:5,6, TPT)

The Bible has a lot to say about prophecy, the office of the prophet and false prophets – too much to cover in this short piece.  The warning against false teaching and false prophecy is all over Scripture.  Let us read a few together to sharpen our acuity and wisdom.  Remember always: It is the Holy Spirit who equips us to be “shrewd” in our choices and who works the deep discomfort in our inner being with that which is not right.  Do not ignore it.  Follow the truth.  The truth is in one Voice only  –  the One who said: I am the Truth…  John 14.

The Road

14 “Don’t let this rattle you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. (The Message)

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

14 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  (NKJV)

We are fully able to know right from wrong.   Let the Voice of God wash you with the Word (Ephesians 5:26)

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. (1 John 2:20)

26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.  (1 John 2:26,27)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say(1 Corinthians 10:14,15)

Idolatry in this context would mean a mindless, follower-mentality of people or “heroes” of faith in the public realm.  All internet ministry is not wrong.  That is not at all what I suggest.  We need wisdom to know to which ones we can expose ourselves.

The ministry of the Berean church. 

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10,11)

In Berea in the first century, they did not have the fullness of historic vision on the teachings of Paul.  They checked-up on Paul.  They searched the Scriptures.  The written Word of God that they had, was the Law and the Prophets.  It was not readily available on a device in their hands or a printed book in their houses.  The scrolls were well-preserved in the synagogue under strict supervision of the rabbi.  It was a special bother to examine the promises of the prophets of old concerning the Messiah.

What a wonderful compliment to be called fair-minded and searching.  We need to be wide awake, feet planted firmly in the word of truth that we have in our hand to navigate the cacophony of voices on-screen.  You do not have to listen to everything.  You do not have to know everything.  Ask God what is the next step in the finely tailored relationship you have with him that He and He only presides over.

Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.”   (Matthew 26:41)

Go ahead – switch it off…

Next time:  Leaders with feet of clay.

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