Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Month: September 2023

When Your Feet Hit the Floor

“Be the kind of woman who, when her feet hit the floor in the morning, causes the Devil to say, ‘Oh no – she’s up!’”

Joanne Clancy, Irish Author

I don’t have any context for this quotation, so I’m not sure if it’s meant in a positive way or a negative way. 

On the one hand, it could be referring to some women who are so thoroughly bad, that even the Devil trembles. Biblically, I think of King Ahab’s evil wife, Queen Jezebel. I think of their daughter Athaliah, who killed her own grandchildren so she could become queen. I think of Herodias, who engineered the beheading of John the Baptist. Some folks are so bad that they can give Satan a run for his money. 

I prefer to think of it in a good way, and not just about women. I’d like to think that when we Christians arise each day – when our feet hit the floor – we’re prepared to do battle with Satan. 

On one hand, that’s a scary proposition. In Ephesians 6.12, Paul said “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan has power and lots of help.

On the other hand, we have God’s power and weaponry available. In this same text, Paul goes on to describe in detail the armor of God, which is at our disposal. He says in verse 13 “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Elsewhere, in 2 Corinthians 10.4, Paul also said that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Christians have the most potent arsenal available. Each day presents an opportunity to war mightily against Satan and his forces.

Finally, we need the assurance that Satan can be withstood. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” was James’ counsel (James 4.7). Ultimately Satan prefers battles he knows he can win. He has little interest in a battle he knows he will lose. Stand firm, and Satan will run.

For today and every day, make the Devil regret that you ever got out of bed! When your feet hit the floor, be ready for a fight!

Me. Now.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Variously attribtued to Rabbi Hillel, JFK, Ronald Reagan, et al.

Regardless of who said it, it’s a powerful call to action. It appeals to our sense of duty and to our sense of urgency. For Christians, these two appeals should be especially compelling. 

Christians should have a strong sense of duty.

  • Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14.15).
  • Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13.17).
  • Paul said, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2.10).

Christians must also have a strong sense of urgency about our work.

  • Paul said, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5.15-16).
  • James said, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4.17).

No one in this world is better equipped than God’s people to act boldly and swiftly in a sinful world.

  • Who’s better equipped than children of God to care for the sick and dying?
  • Who better than children of God to show compassion to the hurting and lonely?
  • Who better than children of God to demonstrate divine love to the unloved?
  • Who better than children of God to speak the truth?
  • Who better than children of God to stand up for what is right?
  • Who better than children of God to exhibit hope in the midst of despair?
  • Who better than children of God to act with wisdom in a world gone mad?

Have I prepared myself to engage? Have you?

If not us, who? If not now, when?

Hearing Jesus

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…

Matthew 5.1-2 (NASB95)

Lord Jesus, I wish I could have heard you preach. I wish I could have followed you on foot in the villages and in the countryside, in public and in private. I wish I could have sat at your feet as did your disciples when you were here.

Lord, I’ve wondered how you sounded when you spoke. Did you speak loudly or softly? Were you animated or calm? Was your tone forceful and assertive, or was it quiet and assuring? Had I been there, would your voice have startled or frightened me? Would it have repelled me? Or would it have drawn me to you and made me desire an endless relationship with you?

Dear Lord, although I wasn’t there in your presence, I hear your voice in the pages of Scripture. I’m so thankful that your Holy Spirit preserved your sermons, sayings, parables, and conversations. When I read them, I picture you in my mind’s eye, and I imagine that I’m there. I read these words of yours and I’m challenged by their depth, inspired by their loftiness, encouraged by their kindness, and humbled by their truth. 

You challenged your audiences to have ears to hear, and that same challenge is for me as well. Dear Jesus, I’m not a good listener. When I read your words in Scripture my mind wanders. When I try to hear your voice in those words I’m distracted by the competing voices and noises in the world around me. As I ponder your teachings, I often get lost in my own thoughts. 

O Teacher, help me listen! Help me filter out the noise. Help me concentrate so intently upon you that nothing else can appeal to me. Let me comprehend the truthfulness, beauty, clarity, practicality, and depth of your matchless words. Let me hear you and you alone.

Jesus, my Lord and my God, grant me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Draw me nearer to you for your name’s sake, amen.

Purposeful Pursuits

“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.”

Attributed to Mary Kay Ash

Ouch! I can relate to both halves of that quotation. 

There are (far too) many days when I begin without a clearly defined agenda. Consequently, I resort to a series of familiar, but not always productive activities. 

Realistically, all of us have a certain amount of trivial, repetitive, more-or-less mindless activity in our schedules. Most of us don’t have grandiose thoughts as we empty the trash, put on our socks, brush our teeth, or check the status of our Amazon purchases. 

But that’s OK. The challenge is refusing to allow the trivial to define us and dictate our activities. Mrs. Ash was correct that we need clearly defined goals to prevent slouching our way toward the trivial. 

From a biblical perspective, I’d add one more step to the process. More correctly, I’d back up one step. We not only need clearly defined goals, but we also need an overarching purpose that drives everything we do, including our goals and activities. 

The Bible has numerous statements of purpose. Each of us would do well to adopt one of them as our own. 

  • Ecclesiastes 12.13 – “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
  • Matthew 6.33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
  • Philippians 1.21 – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Some biblical statements of purpose encourage us to look at our life’s purpose with respect to how we use our time.

  • Psalm 39.4 – “LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am.”
  • Psalm 90.12 – “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

Before we grade our daily to-do list, we should examine our goals. But before we set our goals, we should consider our purpose. Only then can we set goals and pursue activities that are consistent with our ultimate purpose in mind.

So instead of trivial pursuits, may God help us with purposeful pursuits.