When Passion Goes Quiet

There is a saying in the business world that you might catch on sites like LinkedIn, etc.:

“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.” – Tim McClure

For example, articles like this one: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/when-passion-becomes-quiet-sean-kelsey-1f

Will tell us that:

  • Breach of trust: leadership integrity is paramount to maintaining relationships and keeping people focused and energized. Not living the company values inevitably leads to distrust.
  • Lack of leadership consistency: fairness, consistently applied, leads to a growing confidence amongst the staff complement. Employees feel insecure when there is favoritism, nepotism or irregular behavior on the part of leadership. 
  • Being overlooked: not being listened to, being ignored or contribution not being recognized all lead to apathy. Energy gets sucked out of the system and people lose heart.
  • Dishonesty: leadership untruths breed distrust. Employees easily perceive dishonesty and hate any attempts at being conned. 
  • Insufficient information and communication: where managers withhold pertinent pieces of information for power purposes or fail to communicate adequately with employees, staff feel neglected and worthless.
  • Leadership selfishness: big leadership bonuses with small pay increases for employees, benefits and values being ‘customized’ to suit leadership desires, etc.
  • Lack of vision: when leadership operates out of a vague sense of direction with little or no communication of an expected future state. 

I’m not going to agree with Mr. McClue’s conclusion for the “biggest concern for any organization” because in the history of the world of business — many organizations have been insanely profitable on the broken backs of quiet people who were there not out of passion but out of necessity. It sounds great as a sound bite, and could even be helpful to leadership understanding the consequences of their leadership style and the culture it breeds. And it could be helpful to recognize when a once passionate and engaged team member has become disengaged. But even G.I. Joe will tell you that “knowing is half the battle” — it’s the other half that still has to be won, though.

So what can we as Christians say to such things?

When we find that the fallible humans in leadership roles around us have:

– Broken our trust by not living the espoused values

– Been inconsistent, unfair, and shown favoritism and irregular behavior

– Outright ignored/snubbed, or not listened to, or not recognized subordinates fairly for our contribution

– Been dishonest, deceitful, and manipulative

– Not communicated sufficient information or guidance/direction

What guidance does the Word of God have for us when we find ourselves in such a place?

Is our passion and purpose meant to die on the vine in such circumstances with an excuse like:

Where there is no vision, the people perish:
Proverbs 29:18a KJV

when the wicked rule, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2b ESV

No! Of course not! Because we do not find our hope in men. We do not even work for men. I love how straightforward the paraphrase version of this is from Colossians:

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
Colossians 3:22‭-‬25 MSG

And we are called to patiently endure evil:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil. 2 Timothy 2:24 ESV

And we are to respect those in authority over us:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Roman’s 13:1-7

Will this always be easy when we are faced with the consequences of bad leaders around us?

No, of course not! But the experience of enduring will produce character in us. Problems and trials help develop endurance. Endurance develops strength of character. And character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Don’t just take MY word for it — see what The Word says in Romans:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 5:3‭-‬8 NLT

Yes, He died for us while we were still sinners. He suffered unjustly with no cause. Are we so prideful that we think, “I deserve to be treated better than this!” Or that we would look at another fallible man in authority over us and somehow self justify resisting their authority because of their shortcomings — even while we refuse to pray for them:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬3 NLT

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:44‭-‬48 NLT

Or are we like Jonah who didn’t want God to save the people of Ninevah but he would have rather seen them destroyed?

Oh, Lord, grant us repentance and teach us to truly pray for those in authority over us and those who persecute us and treat us unfairly. It is only by the power of your Holy Spirit that we can accomplish such amazing things that are contrary to our nature. Instead of allowing us to foolishly make war with enemies greater than ourselves — Lord, go before us and prepare the way for victory without us even having to fight. Let us pray and praise your Holy name instead. Be both our passion and our purpose. To God be all the glory. Amen!

Miserable Comforters

“I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking?
Job 16:2‭-‬3 NLT

I just love the book of Job.

Job, more than many other servants of God, Job has seen clearly that:

for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:29 ESV

And…

For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
Hebrews 12:6 NLT

We are each worthy of punishment. We have all fallen short of God’s glorious perfection. And discipline, and even suffering and persecution in this life, are always good for us — they produce in us a harvest of right living, of character built through endurance. They are the narrow path by which we share in His holiness.

When we have our eyes set upon eternity, momentary sufferings are endured through hope in the Lord and not in ourselves. We find our comfort in the arms of the Lord, because He is in the midst of the furnace with us. He may not remove the bitter cup of suffering from our hands, but He will not forsake us. Think back to Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace:

Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:14‭-‬18 NLT

Or remember Joseph put in the pit by his brothers, or in the jail by false accusations. Servant of God, remember this when suffering comes and those around you prove to be miserable comforters:

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord , “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord ’s presence.
Job 1:8‭-‬12 NLT

But remember even moreso, when you religious hypocrites (like Job’s “friends”) seek to attack another with the Word of God, judge another, make assumptions about why another is suffering harm.

Would you wicked people go to a man who has just lost a child and say, “It is your sin that has found you out and this is why your child has died.”

Would you wicked people see your enemy suffer harm and rejoice in it? Have you forgotten that a forgiven man is a forgiving man and is one who loves his neighbors and blesses those who consider themselves his enemies.

Would you wicked people judge a person by his outside circumstances and appearance alone? Have you forgotten the empty tomb of death and lies and wickedness and jealousy and pride and sinfulness that lies at the core of you that can only be covered up by the blood of Jesus Christ shed for you on a cross?

Yes, we may know many who have been miserable comforters to us in our times of suffering — but dwelling on that does little but sow seeds of bitterness towards an outward target with a speck in their eye. No, instead of proudly placing ourselves in the seat of “persecuted” and staying there — maybe se need to be reminded of how many times we have been miserable comforters to others, how often we have failed to forgive, how often we have lifted up accusations against others in our minds and in our hearts.

Lord, forgive us. We have many times been miserable comforters to our brothers, sisters, and neighbors. Help us to love, to comfort, to make peace — and to endure. Amen.

Don’t Engage Toxic People

One of the quickest ways to enrage a toxic person is to refuse to engage them on their own terms — and it is one of the best ways to restore your own peace and do not allow them to continue stealing it from you.

Your peace does not have to be contingent upon whether or not toxic people around you continue to do things like:

– Giving Unsolicited Advice
– Insulting Others
– Spreading Gossip
– Pitting people against each other
– Constant Criticism
– Not Respecting Boundaries
Etc. (See the linked article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theactivetimes.com/healthy-living/habits-of-toxic-people%3famp )

This Christmas, you may have enemies who masquerade as friends, you may have family or friends who thrive on drama, you may have people around you who insist on conflict, abusive behavior, and all kinds of pride and narcissism — who want to leverage their physical proximity to you during the holidays to sink their poisonous fangs into you. Or maybe I’m the only one who sees the possible evidence of such things around themselves?

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. And if you are a Christian, you believe that God came in the flesh to offer us a salvation that we couldn’t earn ourselves because we were all enemies of God. We see times when the people sought to kill Him and He just seemingly walked right through them thwarting their plans ands not getting engaged with them on their terms. We see the Pharisees asking Him questions to try and trap Him and He doesn’t engage their attack, He redirects and leaves them grumbling amongst themselves. We see when they sought to try Him that He was silent and did not engage them directly and even suffered their attacks and persecution, knowing that there was something much greater at stake — suffering for the sins of the world. His suffering had a purpose, and therefore,  He could withstand the taunts and not have to engage them on their terms.

We can learn from this example.  We know that the Bible tells us to “resist the devil and he will flee” — but tells us “do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” So if we are dealing with an evil person who likes to provoke and attack us, we are encouraged to not engage them on their terms. And when we trust and obey in this way, when we offer blessing to those who seek to curse us — we are free and full of peace, while it is to them “like having hot coals dumped on their heads”.

Lord, give us the humility and gratitude and trust in you that allows us to not engage those who are toxic and evil, but to “[walk] right through the crowd and [go] on [our] way” as You did in Luke 4:30 and “[hide] [ourselves]”  as You did in John 8:59 and “[escape] their grasp” as You did in John 10:39. Order our footsteps and be delighted in our way. Remind us of what we can expect from wolves as described in Matthew chapter 10, but let our hope be in you and not in ourselves. Amen.

On this Day

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
John 16:21 ESV

On this day 9 years ago, my wife and I headed to her doctor’s office confident that this would be the day we got to meet our daughter for the first time. We had been to the doctor and even admitted to the birthing center at the hospital many times before, so we knew there was a possibility that they would send us home again — but we had a sense of urgency and purpose this day that we had not before. My wife had been on bed rest and had been dealing with a condition that was really taking a toll on her body during the last months of the pregnancy. It had been quite a frustrating experience up until this point. But they admitted us to the hospital, scheduled surgery, and we let our family know that today would be the day. After all of the time of challenge and pain and struggle, our lives would be rocked with this baby girl who would change our whole world.

And my daughter was born.

In the delivery room, “All I Want for Christmas is You” played on the radio just as our daughter came into our lives, and it couldn’t have been more true or perfect for that moment:

Even as the fearful realization set in of my responsibility as a father to this tiny little baby girl set in, and as I hoped that I could love her and be a good daddy — she grabbed hold of my finger as they weighed her for the first time and joy surged through my body like a lightning strike from her tiny hand right to my heart.

And I know in my mind that those first months were challenging dealing with little sleep, etc. but I can’t think of a stronger bond of love and joy that had ever touched our marriage to draw us closer together than ever before.

It seems that hope of what the future holds, and gratitude can truly carry us through difficult times full of joy and rejoicing.

And for those of us who are Christians, we have a great hope in what lies ahead for us — a hope and a blessing even greater than the birth of a beloved child. Our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has sought us and bought us lies ahead for us. We eagerly await that time when we will be united with Him. That gives us strength to suffer and struggle in this life, facing troubles and challenges that are forging character in our innermost being through the raging fires of trials and suffering.

He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
1 Corinthians 1:8 NLT

Today, we celebrate my daughter’s birthday, and we celebrate the Christmas season when another child was born to us in Bethlehem:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8‭-‬20 ESV

Thank you, Lord, for so many beautiful blessings that are born to us this day, and that have be born top us leading up to this day. Help us to not waste the day, to not let our joy be stolen away, to not let the challenges of the moment overshadow our hope in your promise, to not allow your Holy Spirit to be hindered in our walk today. Amen.

The Mind of God

Verses about the LORD does not change:

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
Malachi 3:6 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17 ESV

Verses about the LORD will not change His mind or will not turn back:

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalms 110:4 ESV

“For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark; for I have spoken; I have purposed; I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”
Jeremiah 4:28 ESV

I am the Lord . I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God .”
Ezekiel 24:14 ESV

Verses about the LORD regretted, repented, and/or relented:

And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord .
Genesis 6:6‭-‬8 ESV

Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
Exodus 32:12‭-‬14 ESV

For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.
Deuteronomy 32:36 ESV

Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.
Judges 2:18 ESV

“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.
1 Samuel 15:11 ESV

And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Samuel 15:35 ESV

And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
2 Samuel 24:16 ESV

And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
1 Chronicles 21:15 ESV

Return, O Lord ! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Psalms 90:13 ESV

For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
Psalms 106:45 ESV

For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
Psalms 135:14 ESV

If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
Jeremiah 18:7‭-‬10 ESV

It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.
Jeremiah 26:3 ESV

Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.
Jeremiah 26:13 ESV

Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord , and did not the Lord relent of the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster upon ourselves.”
Jeremiah 26:19 ESV

and said to them, “Thus says the Lord , the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you.
Jeremiah 42:9‭-‬10 ESV

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord , “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
Joel 2:12‭-‬14 ESV

When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, “O Lord God , please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” The Lord relented concerning this: “It shall not be,” said the Lord . This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said, “O Lord God , please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” The Lord relented concerning this: “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God .
Amos 7:2‭-‬6 ESV

Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Jonah 3:9‭-‬10 ESV

Verses contrasting the mind of the LORD to man’s:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Numbers 23:19 ESV

And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
1 Samuel 15:29 ESV

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9 ESV

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
Titus 1:2 ESV

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:18 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8‭-‬9 ESV

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
Romans 11:33‭-‬34 ESV

Encouragement when it is hard for us to put the above together into perfect harmony and understanding– He knows:

O Lord , you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord , God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? Therefore thus says the Lord : “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord . I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
Jeremiah 15:15‭-‬21 ESV

And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God , you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord . Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord .” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God : Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God : Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord , when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord ; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord .”
Ezekiel 37:3‭-‬14 ESV

Wait and Hope

When we find ourselves in circumstances where we have been receiving “bad” or “challenging” news repeatedly for a while, the words “wait and hope” can seem… well… tiresome to be quite honest. If you were struggling, and I told you to “wait and hope”, that might not seem very helpful if you were worn and tired and didn’t know if there was any reason to continue to hold out hope any longer.

You might be weighing the options trying to decide whether to hold out hope in the direction you have been headed, or whether a change in direction is necessary. You might be at the end of your own strength ands no.t knowing how much longer you can make it under the current circumstances.

The Psalmist writes:

I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
Psalms 130:5 ESV

And Isaiah tells us:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28‭-‬31 ESV

And Matthew tells us:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 ESV

So when we understand “wait and hope”, it doesn’t just mean to “wait for the bad to pass” and “hope that better things lie ahead” — it means “wait upon the Lord” and “hope in His word”.

You might ask, “What does it even mean to wait upon the Lord?”

“Waiting upon” is not the same as “waiting for”.

If I am “waiting for” someone — I have an expectation of their arrival, they are coming to meet me.

If I am “waiting upon” someone — I am serving them, I am going to them.

Can you see the difference in direction?

“Waiting for” means I’m expecting someone to come to me, while “waiting upon” means I am going to them and serving them willingly.

So can we see the difference in perspective with respect to God?

Are we “waiting for God” to “fix” or circumstances to what we think they should be — expecting God’s to come to us on our own terms and conditions?

Or are we “waiting upon God” as God and faithful servants seeking God’s wil and His glory in whatever circumstances the day brings to bear?

And when it comes to “hope” — are we “hoping for” what we want instead of “hoping in” His Word?

Again, we see the same difference in direction with regards comparing a carnal “hope for” versus a spirit filled “hope in”.

So yes, if you are tired, if you are weary, if you do not know where to turn, I say “wait and hope” dear friend — wait UPON the Lord and hope IN the Lord. And in that perspective, you will know peace even in the midst of the fiery furnace and the raging storm.

This is How I Fight My Battles!!!

This recording is unlike most praise and worship songs. This is a recorded testimony. It isn’t acting or performance, but is the raw emotional reality of my life — where I could see the very real recognition of the powerful enemies that lay in front of me as I tried to sing this song as a garment of praise even in the midst of the storm. Come see the Lord is faithful and true:

Today I deal with 3 enemies or challenges that seem to be encircled against me. I will not mention how these 3 particular enemies are named/manifested in the world around me — because you may be facing enemies this morning that are quite the same at the core but that wear different shells/appearances in your current circumstances.

The point is — that these enemies were like mountains seemingly standing in my way. I do not know what my right next steps should be.

I sought counsel this morning in Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 ESV

I was encouraged about direction this morning in Psalm 143:

Hear my prayer, O Lord ; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah Answer me quickly, O Lord ! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord ! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O Lord , preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.
Psalms 143:1‭-‬12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.143.1-12.ESV

I was reminded of the way of the enemy in I John 3:

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:4‭-‬10 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/1jn.3.4-10.ESV

This passage from 1 John about sin and righteousness will either offend and condemn the dead, lost rebellious who feel justified to do as they please, or raise up the leaven of prideful self righteousness in the dead, lost religious hypocrite who feels self justified in their outward performance — or it will remind the humble Christ follower in that awe and wonder energized by the fear of God that leaves us even more grateful for the cross today than the day we first heart this Good News, knowing that otherwise we would be doomed.

If you are offended, repent:

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4:6‭-‬7 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.4.6-7.ESV

If you are pridefully self- righteous, repent:

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33‭-‬37 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.12.33-37.ESV

As for me, and only by the grace of God, I was reminded of my hope in:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1‭-‬3 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.61.1-3.ESV

My next step is to:

– bring good news to the poor

– bind up the brokenhearted

– proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound

– proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God

– comfort all who mourn

And in setting my eyes upon those goals, what once seemed like mountains will be laid low below the feet of an eagle soaring high above them. By setting my sights upon the needs of others to hear this Good News, to be set free, to be readied, to be comforted — I will know that God has it all firmly in hand.

He has won the victory, and like Jehosephat in 2 Chronicles 20, we will know rest and our enemies will be laid low through faith, through putting on the garment of praise, ands by humbling ourselves to seek God first:

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord ; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord . And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord , before the new court, and said, “O Lord , God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord , with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord , worshiping the Lord . And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord , the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord , for his steadfast love endures forever.” And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord . Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord . And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around. Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord . The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.
2 Chronicles 20:1‭-‬33 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/2ch.20.1-33.ESV

Are you seeking the Lord today for victory, for redemption, for deliverance, for freedom, for comfort? He is the only way these things well truly be yours. Don’t trust in your own plans and efforts to get you through. Repent. Set your sights on trusting the Lord, put on the garment of praise today, lift up His holy name, and see that He has won the victory for you too.

Hallelujah!