Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, October 28, 2011
Isolated and Vulnerable
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
On the Serengeti Plaines in Tanzania, a drama will unfold within the wildebeest migration that happens from December – July. It happens every year, for there are natures of the beasts that drive both prey and predator alike. The wildebeest is a “herd” animal and it stays together for comfort and protection. Although it can kick and run, it has no other means of protecting itself except to stay close to others of its kind in a herd. These beasts protect one another using what is called by researchers as “swarm intelligence,” where the animals try to overcome a threat by confusing an attacker with a circling stampede. Even so, a predator such as a lion counteracts this distraction by fixing its eyes intently on a young or ill animal within the herd before it makes its attack. When the lion spots such a beast, the predator will then attempt to separate his prey from the herd and attack it. I have watched with amazement how a lion will lock on one of these weak or young animals like a heat seeking missile, and block out every other animal in its pursuit of its prey. Very scarey and desperate for the wildebeest when it's in the lion's focused stare. But, also very scarey and desperate for the man of God who has become weak and isolated, for the devil, as Apostle Peter describes him, takes on the same predator instincts and goes for this man without mercy. Are you weak or isolated? Better give it some serious thought, for you could be in the devil's focus even now.
How do God's men become weak and isolated? It is one thing to willingly take this route by choice, but another to do so out of ignorance? I cannot say much to the man who will not be convinced of his vulnerability and stays in it, for he is a fool. If the Holy Spirit cannot convince this man through His word and conscience, no servant of His can do so either. This man will likely come to understand his predicament after his fall, and perhaps he will come back to the Father as the Prodigal son came back to his father. Unfortunately, a fool only comes to understand his vulnerability when he is in the clutch of the Roaring Lion, for he thinks he can never be caught, for he is too smart. G K Chesterton has a good thought on this:
“When all philosophies shall fail, this word alone shall fit; That a sage feels too small for life, And a fool too large for it.” - Ballad of the White Horse, bk.8.
A fool is “too large” in his own eyes, and he cannot be convinced until the blows and pain come his way. Unfortunately, the consequences for himself and his loved ones come as well. Too bad that he must be left to figure it out for himself. However, if a man is only ignorant rather than being willingly disobedient, and he wants to know how to stay safe, then I write this devotional to that man.
How do we safeguard ourselves from weakness and isolation and the resulting vulnerability? First we must consider that isolation comes in many forms. For example, we can be in a group of people such as a church, a small group or even among friends and still be isolated in mind, emotions and soul, even though we are around these people physically. Have you ever felt lonely while in a group of people? Have you ever been around a group who have there “own thing going on” and you are not part of it? Kind of hard to be part of “their thing” isn't it. This is the beginning of isolation. Better find some friends who are interested and concerned about you, if you want to draw strength from your relationships. Otherwise, you will find yourself isolated, and the uncaring group you've been running with will not even miss you when you are picked off. Find some people who really care about you and allow them to keep you from isolation. But, it is a two way street in your relationship with them. You also need to be interested in your friends and their needs, for there is nothing more anti-relationship building than a self-absorbed person who is concerned only about himself. Don't allow a friend to become isolated by not showing concern for him.
Next, when you build a relationship with some guys who you trust, and who are interested in you, it is essential that you are transparent with them. You will be surprised to find that you are not alone in what you are being tempted in, and through prayer and encouragement with your true friends, you will draw close to these men and grow stronger against the Lion, and they will as well.
Back to the wildebeest. When this beast is physically weak, it is also vulnerable to attack. When God's man is spiritually weak, he is also vulnerable. This weakness most often happens when his intake of God's word is sporadic, or non-existent. Too often we see men relying only on what they grab from a 30 minute sermon or devotional, rather than the feast found in the presence of God in His word. This limited intake of God's word creates a spiritually anemic condition in a man. God's man will not grow spiritually using only spoon fed meals from someone else, no matter how good the speaker, rather than learning to self-feed from God's word. Now don't confuse what I am saying to you. I believe it is good to be under the steady teaching of a wise man of God. We should not exempt ourselves from this. If this pastor or teacher is under God's leadership, he will agree with what I am saying to you about his words not being enough for you. He will agree that a man of God must also have a steady diet of God's word. Therefore, commit to becoming stronger and less vulnerable by prioritizing your day and life around getting your spiritual food for the day. Otherwise, you will become prey to the predator of your soul.
“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
It has been said that casualty is the next word after casual. Casual means: “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned: a casual,nonchalant air.”
When a man of God becomes a casualty in his soul, it is because he was casual in his commitment to staying close to Christ. Do not allow this casualty in your life, for the Roaring Lion is watching for an opportunity to attack you.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, October 14, 2011
Are You Expecting?
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” Romans 8: 22-25 - The Message
I realize my audience for this devotional is primarily men, and this title would likely be seen in a woman’s magazine instead of a devotional for men. If the reader were a woman and pregnant, she would be interested in any new information that could make the childbirth process easier, and the title would capture her attention. Believe me, as a husband of one wife for 43 years and the father of two daughters, I speak with great experience on this. I’ve had more than enough magazines around me than I need for the rest of my life that discuss this issue. Maybe you are the same? But don’t let the title confuse you, for I am asking you men directly, “Are you expecting?”
Several years ago I heard my son, Gorden, preach on the Bride of Christ. He sounded like his old man when he said, “I’m like most men, and I don’t get real excited about being anybody’s bride.” He took the words right out of my mouth with this intro, and he summarized the attitude of most men who would agree with him. But, he followed his opening statement with, “…unless it is being the Bride of Christ. As freaky as it sounds, I want to be His bride.” The rest of Gorden’s sermon was given to understanding what The Bride of Christ means, and the fact that if we are His man, or woman, then we are in His Church, and His Church is called, The Bride of Christ.
The culture of marriage in Christ’s day was different from ours today. We think in our culture a marriage is completed when the ceremony is done, papers are signed, and the bride and her groom go and live together. In Christ’s day, the marriage ceremony was followed by a lengthy delay before the groom could claim his bride. They were legally married, but she went back to her father’s house to wait, and the groom went to his father’s house to build a room addition to it that was equal or better than the one the bride had lived in at her father’s house. After it was built and the local Rabbi approved it, then the groom could go and claim his bride. The bride had to be ready at any time and have her trousseau packed and ready to go, for she could be surprised with the call, “Here is the bridegroom!” Knowing this information helps us understand better what Jesus meant when He made the statement that His Father has many rooms in His house and He goes away to prepare a place for us. When you also read the following words of Jesus in Matthew about His return to claim His Bride the Church, it helps to understand how we could fail to be ready for that day:
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meetthe bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose andtrimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you,I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for youknow neither the day nor the hour.”
How does this passage apply to men today? It applies to us as directly as it would the five foolish virgins, or the wise ones. You decide which camp you fall in. What we see with the foolish gals is they were not prepared for their bridegroom. They had grown weary of waiting and forgot about the big day that would come. They began to doze off, and were surprised by His call. On the other hand, the five wise gals were expectant of Him for they had prioritized their life around their bridegroom's return. They were ready, and they were not disappointed. The foolish brides were. How about you? Are you expecting your Bridegroom to return? Are you living with this expectation? Have you prioritized your life around being prepared for it? Are you prepared today to greet Him when He returns because you are doing the things He left for you to do in preparation of that return? Will He find you laboring for Him, or will you be slumbering?
Another of Jesus' instructions given to us is that His Bride is to pray for laborers,because the harvest is ready. Are you one of His laborers? His Bride, the Church, should be the greatest labor force He has for shining a light to our world. This light is “the oil for the lamp,” of the faithful brides as represented in the parable, and it shines in the darkness to this world. Will He find you being light to this world by your witness and actions, or will He find you with no oil in your lamp and as dark to His ways as the rest of the world is?
As I look at current events, I am reminded more each day that the Bridegroom is close to His return. Is your oil lamp lit, and are you great with expectation? If you listen carefully, you may hear His footsteps outside your door. Better be ready, for it could happen anytime.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Friday, October 07, 2011
Abide with ME
by Rocky Fleming
“I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, 'Lord, this causes me such heartache.' To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy 'world within the world,' and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being 'frost-bitten.”' Oswald Chambers - My Umost for His Highest
Growing up as a “young-un” in the South gave me an opportunity to hear and experience some “humdinger” expressions. For example, there is a real good one called, “fixin to.” This is a phrase many southerners use frequently. I know I do, while mistakenly forgetting how it can confuse the listener if he or she doesn't know what it means. This is especially true if this person is not from the South. These “foreigners” hear the phrase and often laugh, and some even make fun of the one who spoke the word, while mistakenly thinking that he or she is ignorant. We understand we must be patient with an uninformed person, but we still don't like, “being made fun of.” When it happens to me, I explain that the term is used to introduce an event about to take place, such as, I am “fixin to go to the grocery store.” As a way to hammer home this southern colloquialism to the unenlightened one to whom I am talking, I ask the person if he knows the past participle of “fixin to,” which he generally does not. I tell him the past participle of“fixin to” is, “done done it.” Now I don't know if they really get it, but I notice it makes them wonder if they need to change how they talk. But I get the problem! I understand, being a writer born and raised in the South, that before one could translate my books into Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin, they had to first translate them into English. This doesn't make me mad, “cause we-uns” in the South understand the great disadvantage most people have with their language because they were not raised in the South, and we need to be patient with them. But also know this: We feel that all you other people speak with a dialect, not us.
“Ingrown eyeballs”could also be one of those expressions that says a lot, if you will think about it. It means to be selfish, self-centered, self-loving, self-serving, self-seeking. Narcissistic is a word people from the South do not use, for we can't pronounce it, and selfish sounds better. Either way, wherever you were raised on this earth, all of these synonyms have the same origin. They were inspired by the evil one himself, for they are his perspective that he tries to get us to adopt. Think about it. Didn't Satan see himself as equal with God and wanted to overthrow Him? Wasn't this inspired because of his pride? Wasn't it his self-pity that made him act out against God? Can you see why Oswald Chambers would declare: “Self-pity is of the devil”? Now think about this: Who do you want to believe? Do you want to believe the father of lies and the accuser of God, or do you want to believe God Who has declared to you in His word that all things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?
Self-pity is a dangerous thought process that our enemy convinces us to have, and it generally comes back to injure us and those we love in some way. When we have a temptation to fall into self-pity, we had better suit up and battle this thought coming at us, for it leads to misery. It is dangerous, and that is why Chambers had further thoughts on it:
"If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God's riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges--always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And, there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives. "~Oswald Chambers
Men, all I can say is: Don't go there with self-pity! Do not swallow the lie that leads you to this place! It will lead to a bitter life, and destroy the good things that God will lead you to if you will trust Him.
Like they say in the South: “Satan will clean your plow (beat you up) if you let him.” But you can clean his plow by reminding him, and yourself, that you are a man of God, and you will not take his bait.
To the King's honor:
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Links & Resources
Influencers- Bakersfield, CA
Influencers-Bayside Church, Northern California
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"
Tulsa Men of Christ
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