Overwhelming Work? Never Ending Grace- Purity 818
Purity 818 08/24/2022 Purity 818 Podcast
Today’s photo of a view of the Grand Canyon comes to us from a friend who visited there back in April while on an epic road trip that took them throughout the Southwest and terminated in California. With views like this we are not surprised that our friend fell in love with Arizona as they were surprised to admit that “Arizona will apparently forever have a piece of my heart now.”
I know that a canyon is perhaps not the best way to visually represent “hump day” but I would imagine that those canyon walls sure look like a mountain to the people at the bottom of it! Also it sort of visually represents how I feel this morning as I contemplate the “mountain” of tasks that seem to be surrounding me as I have decided to prepare for the ministry work I have committed myself to in the upcoming weeks and months as summer will give way to “back to school season”.
So this morning, I thought I would give a little advice on what to do when we feel overwhelmed with work or have realized the responsibilities that are involved with the promises or commitments we have made. While my suggestions may be adopted by anyone in general, I will be specific in saying that we will rely on the Lord to help, strengthen, and guide us as we seek to climb out of the valley of the things we agreed to or to keep going over the mountain of things we have to do from “here to there”.
And I guess that’s where I will begin: at the end.
Okay, so we are talking about stress, we got things to do, we have limited time, and limited resources, and just thinking about it all can cause us to freak out, to grow anxious or become depressed.
Unfortunately, in my experience I can attest to the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to love to pile it on when we may have over extended ourselves or have agreed to things that we didn’t realize would entail what they entail.
So if the work itself wasn’t enough to deal with, we will be distracted and led astray by our emotions or temptations to make decisions that don’t help or can make matters worse by squandering more of our limited resources. Ask me how I know!
So back to the end, while some of us may be on a journey with no end in sight and with an uncertain destination, we can find a measure of peace in doing what we can do for today and in making short term goals to not only measure our progress but to motivate us with the fact that we can accomplish some things in a short time even if it may take months or even years to accomplish our long term goals.
So we contemplate our “ends” – What do we need to do, and what can we do, by the end of the day? the end of the week, or the end of the month?
Instead of growing anxious because of all the situations and tasks that are on our plate, we divide and conquer it by being realistic and intentional in assessing and prioritizing the things that need to be done now versus the things that can be done later. So what needs to be done today and what can wait?
Also in this assessment, we should also consider the things we can complete and the things that will be an ongoing issue or require a sustained effort to complete.
Once we get an idea of that, we can choose to take on our work in various ways. We can take on each task one by one and press in until their completion or we can split our time and energy between tasks in equal or unequal measures to begin an overall campaign of activity that will result in “everything” getting done before crucial deadlines.
So yeah we have to know those deadlines – that’s the end right and be diligent to meet them in a way that will not cause unbalance with the rest of our lives.
A broad approach that takes everything in consideration and balances your efforts in small increments over time is preferable to leaving things to the last minute in terms of our peace, so avoid the temptations to be lazy but at the same time be wise in knowing your limits and be sure to get some rest when you need it.
This is all just general advice that anyone can take but I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t remind you that your relationship with God is continuous and the Lord can help you in your efforts to dig yourself out of the hole you are in or to climb over the mountain of work you have to surmount.
Without God in our lives, we could probably manage to get things done and we will have varying levels of success in performing our tasks and in avoiding making dumb decisions that will hinder our progress but when we walk and talk with Him in our “Everyday” lives we can benefit from His presence, His wisdom, His strength, and His rest.
The very fact of our covenant relationship with the Lord is a game changer. His grace is enough and it liberates us. When we know that no matter how we perform in this world that we are approved of and accepted by God, we can watch the pressure and stress of the things that usually cause us fits disappear.
The amazing thing about grace is that we can fail. Failure is an option. Quitting is an option. There really is no case scenario with God. No matter how we mess up God will still love us. We can even literally die of shame and embarrassment of failing at our accomplishments and God would be there to welcome us into His arms.
God knows our pain. God knows our struggles. God knows our situations.
But He never leave us or forsake us in them and He will be available to us to comfort us and to encourage us through the things we need to do.
So as we plan, as we prioritize, and as we work to “get ‘er done”, we shouldn’t forget that we are not alone. God is with us and just knowing that and being able to go to Him for comfort, guidance and strength will give His power to persevere, overcome, or endure the things that this life will bring to us.
Although, the things I have committed myself to and the work that is involved in doing them can seem overwhelming when I look at them, when I remember that God approves of me regardless of my performance and that He is with me all the time, those tasks don’t seem so scary anymore.
I’ll either do a good job, or I won’t. I’ll either get ‘er done or I will have to humble myself and admit that I took on more than I was able. But even if I do less than what I would have like, I won’t die and even if I do, God will still be with me.
So don’t be afraid of the “Big Old Pile of work” before you, Don’t be afraid of the opinions of others if you fail. God loves you and you will never be rejected by Him when you put your faith in Jesus and follow Him to the best of your abilities.
God encourages to stretch ourselves to do the impossible, but He has already accepted us as we are.
But instead of staying where we are, let’s follow the Lord and see what we Can do with this life. Let’s see where the Lord has to take us and let’s see what we can accomplish when we walk with Him.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Isaiah 40:29 (NLT2)
29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Today’s verse tells us that God gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
And all the people said: Amen! – Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we’ve got God on our side guys! We know His grace and it will be with us to carry us wherever the Lord wants us to go.
Grace is God’s “divine, unmerited favor”. It doesn’t run out at salvation. As His adopted children, God wants to know His love and His care for us. If we ask for His strength, we will receive it.
While God’s power in us may not result in miraculous works or signs and wonders, His strength can be called on to help us to accomplish things we never thought we could or to endure trials and tribulations we would never have thought we could survive.
God’s strength is in His presence and when we continually abide in Him, we can cast out fear and have hope and joy as we walk through this life. So if you are feeling weak powerless, ask your Heavenly Father for His help and receive His strength.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
Discerning the Demonic
How can a person detect the direct influence of evil spirits as opposed to it being a societal influence or one’s own inclination toward doing evil?
In the Gospels and Acts it appears that Christ, the apostles and ministers had little trouble detecting the immediate work of evil spirits in the lives of demonized people. Their physical conditions (unusual muscular strength, physical debilitation or illness), bizarre behavior (like living among tombs), extreme reaction to Christ or the use of his name and authority, and the direct response of the demon using the person’s vocal apparatus in reply to Christ (or a follower of Christ) appear to have been foremost among the evidences. Many would contend that the same evidences of intense demonic influence can be seen in certain people today. Some argue that people involved in Satanism and the occult open the door to this kind of severe demonic control; in most instances such people specifically seek communication with demons and the prince of evil.
Yet we should not limit our perception of Satan’s activity to these more dramatic forms. We need to be wary of too readily restricting the devil’s work exclusively to murderous Satanic rituals, scenes similar to those in the The Exorcist, and witchcraft. Satan and his spirits can influence people even if they do not experience voices in their heads and roam graveyards. It is the broader activity of Satan and the principalities and powers that the apostle Paul appeared to stress in his letters.
While Satan may often work in a direct and immediate way in people, he also asserts his sway more indirectly through exploiting “the world” and reinforcing the appetites of the flesh (our inclination toward evil). Thus we need to speak of varying levels of his influence.
First, as “the prince of this world,” Satan attempts to exert his polluting influence on all aspects of societal life and culture. When biblical ethics are portrayed in a negative light in society, Satan has been successful in extending his evil influence on a broad scale. For instance, when pilfering from one’s employer is rationalized, Satan becomes victorious. When vengeance is regarded as the best course of action against a person who wrongs us, Satan has successfully twisted our moral conscience. In short, Satan can pervert societal morals, traditions and customs. (The next chapter will develop this aspect of Satan’s activity in more detail.)
Second, Satan works in concert with an individual’s inclination toward evil (“flesh”). If a person is naturally inclined toward anger and bitterness, in some way an evil spirit may directly encourage that attitude. If the malice continues and intensifies, demonic involvement in the person’s life may become more direct. This situation is what Paul referred to as giving “a place” to the devil. In principle, it appears that those who persistently and willfully continue in certain patterns of sinfulness may experience increasing amounts of direct demonic influence.
Paul did not speculate about how these powers precisely work their evil influence of temptation. He merely said the powers do exert this kind of influence as his way of motivating and preparing believers to face the impending trials.
During World War 2, Oxford Medieval scholar C. S. Lewis wrote an imaginative account of a series of letters, penned by an older seasoned demon to his younger inexperienced nephew. In this little book, entitled The Screwtape Letters, Lewis envisioned each of the powers of darkness as having an assigned “patient” for whom the demon is given the responsibility of using every possible means to direct the patient’s attention away from anything that would lead that person toward God’s kingdom. Throughout the book Lewis depicted the younger demon (Wormwood) as keeping careful track of everything in his patient’s train of thinking and then working to influence the subject’s thoughts in the areas the demon considered him to be the most vulnerable. In describing the elder demon’s instructions to the younger, Lewis used such phrases as: “make him think,” “fuddle him,” “tempt,” “keep everything hazy in his mind,” “keep his mind off …,” “turn their gaze away from Him [God] toward themselves,” and “let an insult or a woman’s body so fix his attention outward …” The power of Lewis’s presentation is in his ability to balance the “patient’s” free will with the compelling power of the incessant supernatural temptation that vies with the ever-wooing, enabling and encouraging Spirit of God. Lewis provokes his readers into thinking about Satan’s potential involvement in the hour-to-hour mundane affairs and decisions of everyday life.
While Lewis’s account moves far beyond the few insights given to us in Scripture, I do not think he contradicts what we know about the work of the powers in Paul’s writings. I am convinced that the apostle Paul would have gone far down the road with Lewis in agreeing with him that the powers of darkness entice unbelievers and believers alike. Lewis has served the Christian community well by heightening the awareness of the demonic in a stirring way that calls for vigilance and dependence on the Lord.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 187–189.