REFUGE IN GOD’S WORD AND PRESENCE: REMOVING THE MASK BEFORE GOD


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came . . .  (Matthew 4:1-3)

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In a way, we are in a time of fasting– through abstinence. Due to the virus COVID-19, we are abstaining from societal involvement in life-changing ways. In Michigan, schools and colleges are closed, businesses are shut down, restaurant food is take-out or delivery only, salons are closed, only items deemed “essential” can be purchased at some larger stores. We are to “shelter-in-place” at home unless we are categorized as “essential” workers. We are to refrain from socializing with neighbors, friends, and family not living in the same household. Our faces are to be covered by a mask when making an “essential” trip to the store, the pharmacy, the doctor, a take-out restaurant and, in most places, when working with the public.

Our 40-day mark of abstinence in Michigan is upon us. . .

Has the tempter been waiting for us to approach the end of this forty days of abstinence? Are we weaker now? For what do we hunger? How will we act on that hunger?

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After His extended time of fasting, Jesus hungered. It was an opportune time for Satan to appear. Jesus was physically weakened. Yet, even in this weakness, Jesus was clearly strong in the Word and that sustained Him against the temptations of the tempter.

 4 It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

7 “Jesus said to him, Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:7)

 “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and Him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:10-11)

It is still the Word that will be our strength against temptation. It is still our God who will minister to us, through His Word, and through “angels” in the form of brothers and sisters in Christ, friends, family, or even a stranger. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

In this restricted time in 2020, will we use these days to seek God more in prayer? Will be become more patient and less anxious as we strengthen our relationship and communication with Him? Will we see more clearly that we can benefit from less societal distractions as we “serve” our time of abstinence?

When we take off the “masks,” what will we see in the mirror? What will we discern in our hearts that is different? Will we look at others more clearly with a renewed perspective from a God-view?

In a time of social and physical distancing, we can become closer to the One we need the most. With masks off, our true selves exposed, we come to Him. And He welcomes us with open arms.

When this time of distancing from others is lifted, let us not forget our God. Let us never distance ourselves from Him.

“And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

 When restrictions are lifted and boundless choices return,

let us choose first to meet with God, as did our Lord and Savior.

Let us hunger for His Word and for His Presence.

 

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/19/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/19/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

 

Surviving the Storms of Life

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

(Isaiah 43:2)

THE WATERS

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. (Isaiah 43:17-23)

SURVIVAL

9Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways . . . 17 “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.”   .  .  . 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.                        (Isaiah 43: 9-12, 17-19, 22)

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THE FLAMES

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

SURVIVAL

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:11-13)

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Do we wait until the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the forest fires, the outside storms threaten before we seek refuge and safety in God? Do we only become desperate for safe harbor with Him when the winds assail, the waters rise, and the flames roar –endangering our very existence?

The storms are not just perils from the elements. We face our internal storms daily, hourly, every minute and every second of our lives in this world. The refuge is only found in God. The safe harbor is walking as God commands, so we can meet Him one day in the promise of “a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 09/10/17)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Ringing in the New Year with the Lord

new-year-go-deeper-with-god

“They call us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast and,

in times of crisis, to come together.” 1

BELLS. Their tolls signal a new birth, a wedding, a departed soul, an emergency, a call to unity, a New Year.

Ringing in the New Year: What bells will we hear?

 Hear the loud alarum bells–Brazen bells!

What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune. 2

Does the New Year sound an alarm to our ears? Are these the bells we hear of fear, chaos, and uncertainty? If we continue to hear the peals of those clanging out the fright, then we will ring in the New Year with alarm shrieking in our heads.

If, however, we, the church, are one with the Lord as the bride of Christ, we should hear wedding bells.

 Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight!

From the molten-golden notes,

And all in tune.2

 The sound from within will be a harmonious melody in tune with God. Whatever alarms are ringing from without cannot disturb the joy of the Lord within and what the New Year with Him will bring to our ears and to our hearts.

 Ringing in the New Year: What bells will we hear?

A new birth that we helped deliver to Jesus.

A passing soul joyously ringing out “Saved!”

A unity resounding forth as “One in the Lord.”

Not the alarm, but the peace of Christ that chimes within.

  Let us ring the bells of a Happy New Year!

 1 The History of Bell Ringing. www.bellringing.org/history

2 Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Bells.”  From The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. II, 1850.   https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/bells

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/01/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word