POWER OUTAGE

The winter storm we have been experiencing all across the nation has led to widespread power outages.  We woke up this morning thanking God for our power, and as I write these words we are still on line.  But there are many who have lost power, and others whose power is unstable.  We are currently sitting at a temperature of -4 degrees with a wind chill of -21.  At those temps it doesn’t take long for a house to cool down.  And for the homeless it is a life or death situation.  It is dangerously cold!  I was supposed to have an important Zoom call this morning, but others on the call have lost power, so we are changing plans.  We are so reliant on power and an outage changes things quickly.  

As I was thinking about the importance of power this morning, my mind shifted to spiritual power and what it is like when we lose that kind of power.  In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus promised the disciples of a power that would come to them after He departed.  And in the very next chapter it happened, just as Jesus said it would.  The Holy Spirit came in like a rushing wind and filled them with power.  This power enabled them to do the work they were called to do.  Likewise, when we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and empower us, instantaneously and permanently.  While we can never truly lose this power, we can, in a sense, become disconnected from it.  The Bible calls this the quenching of the Spirit.  It can flicker and dim, just like what some of my friends are experiencing this morning. 

What would cause a power “outage” in the life of a believer?  1 Thessalonians 5 gives us some instructions. The first thing that comes to mind is sin.  Disobedience.  While we are secure in our salvation, we still live in a sinful world with trials and temptations.  And we still have that pesky free will that often yields to temptation.  That is why the apostle Paul admonished us in Romans 12 to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (not giving in to the temptations of the flesh).  He went on to tell us that we are not to follow the behaviors and customs of the world.  Instead we are to let God transform the way we think.  

And that brings me to the second reason we might lose our power: we neglect God’s word.  For me, this is where that transformation of thought occurs.  Where I have my “aha” moments.  I need to think God’s thoughts and see the world through His eyes.  The only way I can do this is through studying the Scriptures.   The bible is where God reveals His heart to me, where He tells me how He sees others and me.  In order to put on the mind of Christ we must know the mind of Christ.  God’s word guides me.  David said, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Ps. 119:105 NLT.  There is nothing like a power outage to revel how much we need light!

The other way we can lose our power is through prayerlessness.  Prayer is where I meet with God and get my spiritual batteries charged.  Oh, the mistakes I have made when I have gone off alone without consulting God.  My car is not going to get out of the garage unless it has gas in the tank.  When I run low on gas, it is time to get to Quiktrip and fill my tank.  In the same way, Christians will soon venture off God’s path and run out of spiritual gas without the constant filling of the Spirit we receive through prayer.  I’ve heard it said that power failures are prayer failures.  

Finally (and this might have gone first), is pride.  When we start getting real with God we will see what a problem pride is and how it keeps us from being all we can be in God’s kingdom. We get so full of self there is no room for the Holy Spirit.  And we lose power.  We are told that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).  Life is tough enough.  I certainly don’t want to go up against opposition from God Almighty.           

Sometimes the storms of life cause power outages, just like the winter storm we are enduring now.  We need to be prepared because storms are inevitable.  Confession of sin, Bible study, prayer, and humility all serve as backup generators for the sudden storms of life.  I must always be on guard against the things that disconnect me from God’s power and I must continually rely on His grace.  

Thank you, Lord for the gift of your Holy Spirit.  Please give me the grace to stay connected to you.      

STORMS

We are accustomed to extreme weather in Oklahoma, but this week has gotten our attention and tried our patience.  I’m talking storms!  I’m talking frog-strangling rains, baseballs of hail, bolts of lightening, rivers rising, dams overflowing, sirens blaring, and cell phones shrieking with ear-splitting warnings. And tornados!  Yesterday we had two dozen that hit the ground and numerous that didn’t.  A popular meme on social media called it “drop-a-witch-on-a-house” weather.  

So like most Oklahomans, we have a “fraidy hole.”  In our case, the only interior “room” in our house is a small closet under the stairs. And like most such closets, ours has slowly been accumulating stuff.  Jerry kept assuring me that in case of an actual tornado he could have that space emptied in seconds.  I wasn’t so sure, so on Monday when warnings were dire, we (I) decided that we should clean it out and make room for two humans and two dogs.  Mission accomplished.  It always feels so good to clean a space and get rid of junk…including a box still packed from our old house.  If we haven’t needed it in eighteen years, we probably don’t need it.

The point is, now we have a place to go when storms are coming right at us.  A place of safety, of refuge.  But where do we go when the storms of life threaten us?  When there is a different type of peril, one that threatens to overwhelm us?  I’m thinking of those I know with serious life-threatening illnesses.  And I’m thinking of their families, so concerned about the loss that might be coming.  I’m thinking of those I know who are walking through the valley of bereavement, who are flooded with rivers of grief, and blindsided by sudden memories that release fountains of tears again.  There are those who are going through financial storms, so worried about the wolf at the door.   And those who are walking through relationship storms, including the storm of divorce or estrangement from a family member.  And there are those who are scared to death about a child who has veered from a safe path.  

Where do you go when these types of storms are bearing down on you?  You go to your interior safe room.  To your internal prayer closet.  You go to that place down deep in your soul where you meet with the only One that can protect you from the trials and tribulations of life.  You meet with Elohim Machase Lanu, God our refuge (Psalm 62:8).  You turn to Jehovah Magen, the Lord who is your shield and helper (Deuteronomy 33:29), to Jehovah Mauzzi, the Lord your fortress (Jeremiah 16:19) and to Jehovah Mephalti,the Lord who promises to deliver you (Psalm 18:2).  There is something so powerful about praying His names!    

Here is the truth.  We can plan and prepare, but our only real protection from the storms of life is God.  Sometimes He delivers us from the storm, and other times He delivers us throughthe storm.  No matter what storm you are facing, you can rest assured that El Shaddai, the sufficient, almighty, God of Heaven, always comes through and always accomplishes His purpose for us and in us (Genesis 17:1).

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the 
LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”  
Psalm 91:1-2

THE STORMS OF LIFE

 

 

                     Storm Coming

 

In Oklahoma spring usually brings a rash of storms.  Rain is a delicate balancing act here.  We either get too much or too little.  For the last several years we have been in a drought, so we could use some moisture.  But when it comes all at once it creates problems.

Our part of the country is known as tornado alley.  In the spring it is not unusual to hear the warning sirens sound.  We take those seriously around here, because Oklahomans know how much damage can be done in just a few seconds.  While you can never totally tornado proof your home, there are certainly precautions you can take to save your life.  Some people have storm cellars or safe rooms, while others of us have a designated interior room.

I have a little “Nervous Nellie” dog.  She lets me know when a storm is coming way in advance of the thunder. Sometimes her internal radar goes off a day in advance.  Wouldn’t it be great if something would trigger an alarm when a life storm was approaching?  If we just had a little notice, maybe we could get out of the storm’s path or at least take some precautions.  Sometimes there are some warning signs that we just don’t notice.  At other times we are blindsided, and we foolishly tell ourselves if we had seen it coming it wouldn’t hurt so badly.

Are you experiencing one of life’s storms right now?  Take courage and know that storms don’t last, but you will. You will get through this!  And the good news is, God promises to walk through the storm with you!  Instead of asking the futile question, “Why me,” ask yourself what this situation has for you that you would not get any other way.  Begin to look for the hidden gifts in your adversity.  When you get on the other side of this you may look back and think, “I didn’t like it, I didn’t ask for it, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.  But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything because it made me the person I am today.  It got me to the place I need to be.”   And hopefully you will use this storm experience to encourage others in their storms.

Maybe God is using this stormy time to develop your trust muscles. After my knee surgery I had to go through physical therapy. I didn’t like it!  It hurt!  But that physical therapy made me stronger. And the therapist wasn’t deliberately trying to harm me, he was trying to help me.

It is the same thing when we go through a hard time.  We may think that we have walked with God long enough to have a mature faith.  Then something happens that rocks our world and we find that God has put us in the path of a storm to develop our faith.  Maybe He is using the storm to reveal a new path we are to take.  One of my favorite quotes is, “Sometimes in the winds of change we find our true direction.”  Storms provide an opportunity to cling to the promises of God and allow Him to demonstrate His power in your life.

 

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:2-3a (NLT).

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1:2-4 (NLT).

Revised and updated from the book, Seasons: Devotionals for the Seasons of Life.

 

 

 

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