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Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Secret of Spiritual Power


The following is from Doug Hood's newest book,
Nurture Faith: Five Minute Meditations to Strengthen Your Walk with Christ

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; 
they will fly up on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.”
 Isaiah 40:31 (Common English Bible)

     A woman stepped into my office today. With tears and considerable emotion, she asked that I pray for the world. She mentioned nothing specific. She didn’t need to. Another shooting this week on a college campus that left ten people dead. An accidental bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan killed twenty-two people. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing terrorism, seeking news homes throughout Europe and the United States. These stories drain our strength and cause us to need renewed power.

     In the time that Isaiah wrote these words, his people also faced despair. Threatened by domination by a mighty foreign power, Isaiah’s people needed all the encouragement and strength that a genuine faith in God could bring. So do we. Just as the natural rhythm of life demands nourishing food, exercise and rest for the body, the same condition applies to our souls. Spiritual energies are rapidly depleted by the crises, suffering and fear that consume our attention. Replenishing that spiritual energy is urgently needed. So Isaiah reminds his people – and us – that our sufficiency is of God. We remain weak unless we derive strength from God.

     How do God’s people claim this strength? “Hope in the Lord,” writes Isaiah. The “hope” Isaiah speaks of is not wishful thinking or “hoping for the best.” Here is Isaiah’s call to “trust unfailingly in God.” It is a call to “hold onto God” with expectant dependence. A constant reliance on God, meditating on God’s words and promises in the Bible, generates spiritual power and makes each of us alert for God’s intention to use us mightily for God’s redemptive purposes in the world. Isaiah asks that we attach ourselves to God as a child clings to a parent.

     As in the day of Isaiah, it still takes time to be holy; to be a people set apart for God’s purposes in a world shaken by fear. Schedule time each day for reading the Bible and prayer, for reading devotional literature that awakens the senses to new understandings, and do not neglect moments to simply be still and contemplate God’s love. These things, along with weekly worship in a community of faith, gives release to the inflow of God’s power that renews strength, restores hope, and lifts hearts as on the wings of eagles.

Joy,

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Speaking of Faith


Dr. Hood is on vacation.
This is a repeat of a meditation from his first book,
Heart & Soul, Meditations to Encourage the Heart & Refresh the Soul

“Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. 
Yet do this with respectful humility.”
I Peter 3:15, 16 (Common English Bible)

I read recently that many people fear public speaking more than death. In multiple surveys that gathered information from thousands of people, death always ranked high among their greatest fears. Yet, in every instance, it is always second to public speaking. The mystery of death seems no match for the terror that is generated from the thought of speaking before groups of people. Make the suggestion that people speak about their faith and the terror quotient rises.

It is true that Peter is not necessarily speaking here about public speaking. Nor is there anything here that precludes that. In fact, Peter isn’t even asking that we initiate a talk or speech before one person or many on the topic of our faith. Simply, Peter is saying that if we are asked, be ready. Be ready to answer any question that may come from others about your faith. This seems a little more manageable.

The question that presses here is, are we ready? Are we prepared to share with another why we accepted Jesus into our life? Why we follow Jesus and try, as best as we are able, to live daily for him?

If we are not prepared to give an answer this may be a signal that we have some soul work to do. Perhaps it has been some time since we gave any attention to our walk with Jesus, any time to our relationship to Christ as one of his disciples. Relationships that are vital and meaningful rarely require much effort to explain to another. Rather, when we speak about a relationship with a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or a good friend, that conversation is always marked by energy, enthusiasm and personal anecdotes. Little thought is required.

If you are not presently prepared to answer for your faith then you know what you must do; you must become more intentional about your journey of faith. A deep relationship with Jesus is much like a deep relationship with anyone else. It requires time, commitment and energy. But most would agree that satisfying relationships are worth the effort.

Joy,