Did you ever get the feeling someone is watching you? That sense that someone who doesn’t really want to interact with you or even really make their presence known is looking attentively at what you’re doing? Guess what?
It’s human nature. We watch other people. We eavesdrop on their conversations. In malls, in restaurants, in airports. People-watching can be very interesting.
There’s another kind of people-watching. The kind where people watch our lives, not just our attempt to manage our luggage at the airport. Others watch and listen to see how we react and respond to the events in our lives – the disappointments, the joys, the testing, the trials. And even more so if we claim to have faith in God.
They are watching to see if we really believe.
Our walk through life is never entirely personal. The people-watchers are there, even if they don’t say anything. Will they see us falter in our faith, or will they see a valiant fight against the odds? Will they see us hold fast to God, or walk away from Him? Will they see an unwavering trust, or will they see us stumbling over doubt?
God wants to use our lives to encourage and inspire others. He wants to use us to show others what it means to confidently trust Him – in spite of whatever it is we’re in the middle of. Don’t ever think you aren’t being watched. You are.
So as long as they’re watching, let them see something that could change their lives.
“That you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” 1 Thess 2:12 (NKJV)
“…among whom you shine as lights in the world” Phil 2:15 (NKJV)
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Matt 5:16 (NKJV)
Something delightful happens in Florida at this time of year and even though we still have temperatures in the 80’s – I know it’s Fall.
We don’t get the beautiful tapestry of changing leaves. We don’t get to wear sweaters or dream about steaming mugs of hot cider. But I know summer is behind us.
The shadows are different.
I look out my windows in the late afternoon, and the shadows are longer. And even though I’m still running my air conditioning, those long shadows made by a sun setting just a little lower in the sky (behind the odd mix of pine and palm trees) tell me that things are about to change.
They are “shadows of turning”. I guess I never really thought about them like that until recently. The words to one notable hymn have been going through my head. “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee…”. That’s from James 1:7. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”.
It’s reassuring to know that my God has no seasons, no times when He changes how He feels about me, no times when His Word can’t be trusted.
I like the afternoon shadows to change. But now when I look at them, I’m going to think about the fact that my God doesn’t – and I like that even better.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8
“For I am the LORD, I do not change”. Malachi 3:6
Faith is the grasping of Almighty power. The hand of man laid on the arm of God. The grand and blessed hour in which things impossible to me become possible, O Lord, through Thee.
Anna Elizabeth Hamilton (Irish poet 1843-1875)
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Sometimes there’s just nothing like an old word.
I’m reading a book about faith and the author referenced a passage in Daniel that I’d never heard before. “The people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:32). Great verse. I wanted to remember it. It was “underline-able”. So I got out my own Bible and this is what the New King James Version said:
“The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits”.
Exploits. “ A striking or notable deed or feat, a spirited or heroic act”. It conjures up images of Narnia or Indiana Jones. The Bible details the exploits of God’s people: giant-slaying, lion-taming, water-walking exploits.
While we may not live in the times of giants and lion’s dens and invitations to literally step out of our boats, God promises that opportunities for action and adventure abound. We’re told to put on battle armor (Ephesians 6:11), use weapons of warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4), fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), run the race like we intend to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), press toward the goal for the prize (Philippians 3:14).
I don’t want to sit in the equivalent of a Christian La-Z-Boy chair with my hand on the remote watching other people’s spiritual adventures. I want to put on that battle armor, lace up those running shoes, go for the gold – and carry out great exploits.
Sometimes there’s just nothing like an old word.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10
Have you ever found yourself worrying about tomorrow? I realize that’s somewhat of a silly question. I think we’ve all had moments of “what if _____happens?”, or “what if _____doesn’t happen?” Here’s a great perspective by author and pastor Kevin DeYoung on Matthew 6:25-34:
“The big idea of this passage could not be any clearer: Jesus does not want us to worry about the future. God knows what we need to live. When He wants us to die, we will die. And as long as He wants us to live, we will live. He will provide us with the food, drink, jobs, housing, with everything that we need to live and glorify Him in this life until He wants us to glorify Him by dying. Worrying and fretting and obsessing about the future, even if it is a pseudo-holy worry that attempts to discern the will of God, will not add one single hour to your life, and it will certainly not add any happiness or holiness either.
Worry and anxiety are not merely bad habits or idiosyncrasies. They are sinful fruits that blossom from the root of unbelief. Jesus doesn’t treat obsession with the future as a personal quirk, but as evidence of little faith. Worry and anxiety reflect our hearts’ distrust in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Worry is a spiritual issue and must be fought with faith. We must fight to believe that God has mercy for today’s troubles and, no matter what may come tomorrow, that God will have new mercies for tomorrow’s troubles. God’s way is not to show us what tomorrow looks like or even to tell us what decisions we should make tomorrow. That’s not His way because that’s not the way of faith. God’s way is to tell us that He knows tomorrow. He cares for us, and therefore, we should not worry.”
Kevin DeYoung, “Just Do Something – A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will”, Moody Publishers, 2009
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-27 NKJV