Have you gotten comfortable? Maybe with this whole pandemic you’ve been enjoying having time off from work or school and you’ve fallen into a routine of getting up when you’ve wanted to, going to bed when you’ve wanted to, and wearing whatever you’ve wanted to … after all, without ever having to leave the house, who is going to see you wearing your bunny slippers all day? Problem is, it has been all too easy to get complacent … and when it’s time to actually get back into the habit of going to work or school (or just getting out of the house more frequently in general) it may not be so easy to get back into the swing of things. Taking a break is fine … and needed … from time to time. However, when that break becomes your “new normal” and the break turns into complacency into not just your outward appearance but your inward character as well, then there could be an issue that needs to be dealt with and dealt with decisively. Scripture warns against complacency. Proverbs 1:32,33 (NIV) declares, “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” So, this is a timeless truth we would all do well to remember … complacency isn’t something to be treated lightly. It’s one thing to let your appearance go when no one else can see you; it’s another thing entirely if you’ve let your inward character go … you may think nobody else sees … but God always sees … and He always loves us so much He doesn’t want our hearts to get complacent; He doesn’t want us to have a self-satisfied, smug, unbothered attitude that thinks no changes need to be made even if a situation is dangerous or harmful (the definition of a complacent person). We are always supposed to be growing, learning, and changing throughout all of our lives … no matter how old we are. Philippians 1:6 (NIV) tells us “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, we should come into agreement with God’s plan and open ourselves up to change – trusting it’s actually good for us – and will actually help us to have the kind of life Jesus tells us He wants us to have when He says in John 10:10 (NIV), “… I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” Therefore, be aware of complacency … it can be even more dangerous than the pandemic!
Life happens. In all of it’s craziness … in all of its ups and downs … life happens. Because of this, many people know it’s wise to be prepared. Whether it’s packing extra diapers and clothes in the diaper bag before leaving the house to go on a trip, getting gas for a snowblower before a predicted major snowstorm, stocking up on toilet paper when there’s word it may be in short supply, or making sure your first aid kit is ready to go in case of a medical emergency, wisdom tells us we need to do these things so we will be prepared … whatever may come our way. What some people may not have thought of, however, is the importance of being prepared in a less obvious, less visible, less tangible way … being prepared to give an answer for the hope they have found in a relationship with Christ.
1 Peter 3:15, 16 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” (NIV) The truth is, we always need to be ready … we always need to be prepared … in every season of our lives. As we go about “life” we will undoubtedly find ourselves in situations we didn’t plan … situations that are actually opportunities given to us to see what we will do with them. Will we be ready to share our hope with others? Will we be willing to do so? Will we be willing to be honest and transparent so that we can relate to others on whatever level they are currently at? Will we make the most of every opportunity, knowing in our hearts that we may only get “one shot” at speaking God’s love, truth, and encouragement into someone else’s life? If we want to share with others we first need to make sure we’re prepared. How do I do that? you may ask. Well, how do you prepare for other things? You anticipate what may be needed and you use wisdom to gather those things together so you’ll have them on hand when the predicted need arises. In the same way, if you anticipate coming into contact with someone who may be hurting and who may need a word of encouragement, a good way to prepare for that anticipated need would be to “fill yourself up” with encouragement in your own heart. Whether it be reading the Bible, listening to praise and worship music, listening to a sermon, praying and getting into God’s presence as you seek Him with all your heart, or any number of other things that may help you, personally, to get “filled up” yourself, in so doing you’ll have what is needed when the opportunity comes to let yourself be “squeezed out” and share what’s already in your heart. So, the next time you find yourself in the grocery store, the hardware store, or any other place we’re “allowed” to go nowadays (with social distancing of course), make sure you’re prepared. It may take a little ingenuity to speak to someone from 6 feet away, but it can be done. If God opens the door of opportunity for you to share the hope He’s given you, being prepared ahead of time ensures you’ll be able to make the most of that opportunity. Remember, you may only get that one shot to make an eternal impact on another person’s soul … so be ready.
So much destruction after the latest snowstorm. So many branches broken off the trees… having fallen to the ground … only good for firewood now. Even the branches that had started to bud with the promise of spring just around the corner are now lying … useless … on the ground after the storm ripped them away from the tree. And, as such, the branches are no longer able to bear fruit … for their “life” was in the nourishment of the tree … on their own, the branches lying on the ground can do nothing. In the same way, we, as humans have been going through various storms of life … some little and some big … most recently with COVID-19… a storm that is beyond our control … a storm that we all need to wait out … whether we like it or not. In this storm we are all like the branches – each one of us. Some of us are connected to the “tree” and some of us are not. Some of us are firm in our position in our relationship with Jesus Christ, some of us are “hanging” off like a branch ready to snap off the tree if yet another stormy wind blows through, and some of us have already fallen away and are lying on the ground feeling useless without any nourishment feeding our souls. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV) The “timeless truth” of this verse lets us know that we need a relationship with Jesus Christ … for He, alone, gives us the “sap” we need to be nourished so we can live. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV) So, if you recognize you are feeling like a “lifeless branch” today, know that there is HOPE. No matter what storm you find yourself in, no matter what your current position is in a relationship with Jesus Christ, know that He desires to give you life … in a greater measure than ever before… and that life begins now… even in the middle of the storm… as you call out to Him in prayer and simply ask Him to provide you with whatever it is you need. Whether you’ve drifted away from the close relationship you once had, whether you’re really, really far away or just a little bit “away” – or even if you know, in your heart of hearts you could be closer but the storms of life have distracted you from being as “connected” to the “vine” as you know you could be… today’s your day to come back to Jesus and get reconnected to the only One who can give you LIFE to the full… even in the middle of the storm. So call on Jesus today … be honest and simply tell Him what’s in your heart … simply tell Him of your desire to be connected to Him …tell Him your need for strength to withstand the storms of life … no matter how long they last … tell Him whatever it is you need … whatever it is you know only He can give you … and, as you believe and exercise faith, watch and see God provide whatever it is you need in the way He knows is best.
Want to hear a true story from my book, My Journey with God? Listen to this video (only on my Author Ann Marshall Facebook page)!
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STARTING THIS WEEK: TIMELESS TRUTHS: a once-a-week blog post similar to a devotion (usually posted on Thursday’s)😃
Note: (Even though this is Book 2 of a series it can still be read on its own)