Of Conspiracies, Fear, and Love

Today is Thursday, the 20th of October, 2022, in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ enfold you, today!

Day 23,597


Lord our God, we gather together in your presence and ask you to let your light shine in our hearts to strengthen us in times of need and trouble. May we come to know that through all the storms and distress of the world, you are mighty in protecting and sheltering those who trust in you. May we realize the power of your kingdom. Even if all the kingdoms of the world rise in rebellion, you are with us. You are with those who have set their hope on your kingdom and who go on hoping that even in evil days something must happen through your great and holy rule. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
 let all the people of the world revere him. 
For he spoke, and it came to be; 
he commanded, and it stood firm. 
The LORD foils the plans of the nations; 
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
(Psalms 33:8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for poetry and poets, those who can put words together so beautifully
  2. for this moment, for it is all I truly have; Lord help me to be with You in this moment
  3. for the fullness of love in Christ
  4. for the guidance of Christ, in the Holy Spirit
  5. for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through whom we can overcome the world

Where I Need to Be, by Daryl Madden

Feeling overwhelmed
With so much to do
Not sure where to start
All these tasks to get through

Thinking of the future
In the hope of “someday”
When I’m in control
All will go my way

Or thoughts of the past
Where all was easy
Of the good old ole days
To live life, simply

A prayer to my Lord
And He says to me
Take me to this moment
It’s where I need to be

The last two lines say it all. This moment is where I need to be, and it is where I need God with me. This moment is all I really have. Yesterday is irretrievably gone; tomorrow is unattainably in the future. I only have now. And now is where I need to be.

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.

To Love Means, by Daryl Madden

To love means loving
The unlovable
To forgive means pardoning
The unpardonable

Faith means believing
The unbelievable.
Hope means hoping
In the unattainable

Humility means knowing
We’re incapable
Grace is receiving
The unachievable

Joy is the blessing
Of His gifts sharable
Peace means trusting
In the unfathomable

I don’t think I’ve ever shared two in the same day, but this second one was so good that I felt compelled. I believe this poem sums up the Gospel quite well. Thank you, Daryl!

For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
(Isaiah 8:11-15 ESV)

If I take the wings of the morning 
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalms 139:9-10 ESV)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
 my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 
Even the sparrow finds a home, 
and the swallow a nest for herself, 
where she may lay her young, at your altars, 
O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! 

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
 in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; 
the early rain also covers it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength; 
each one appears before God in Zion. 
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; 
give ear, O God of Jacob! 

Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. 
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
 the LORD bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
(Psalms 84:1-12 ESV)

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
(1 John 5:5-6 ESV)

There are many conspiracies in our land. Regardless of which “side” you are on, there are conspiracies abounding. I’m not going to list them, primarily because of that passage from Isaiah. To list them would be to validate them. And none of them have any validity. None of them.

Why do I say “none of them?” Because of that very passage that instructs us, essentially, to pay them no mind. Right on the heels of that, Isaiah says that the Lord says to not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

In addition to being my fear and my dread, the Lord shall be my guide. He is my light and my salvation. And then what? Again, “whom shall I fear . . . of whom shall I be afraid?” Not the things that the conspiracy people fear. Only God shall I fear. And only God will I look to to be my guide.

This is, of course, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. No matter where I am, according to Psalm 139, the Lord, His right hand, shall lead me. When I don’t know where I am going, He will lead me. When I don’t know what I am doing, He will lead me.

This is conditional, of course. Not 100% conditional, however. I have known God’s hand to lead me, even when I was mired in the pits of sinfulness. But that was a different kind of leadership.

The condition for the powerful kind of leading/guiding, requires faithful, unceasing prayer. (You saw that coming, right?)

Why do we not see more people with joy in the Spirit, being powerful witnesses of the Gospel of Christ, in the Church? “Some will acknowledge that the hindrance undoubtedly lies in the fact that the church is under the sway of the flesh and the world. They understand too little of the heart-changing power of the cross of Christ. Because of this, the Spirit does not have vessels into which He can pour His fullness.” (Andrew Murray)

You see that? The Spirit must have willing vessels; vessels that are not entrenched in conspiracy theories and fearing men rather than God. He must have vessels that have not aligned themselves with the policies and plans of worldly leaders.

But the Spirit is more than willing to guide us. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every person who calls on the name of Jesus. This is not something that comes later, through some kind of mystical “baptism,” in spite of popular opinion. But the power of the Spirit only comes through a life of private prayer, through “self-denial, taking up your cross daily, and losing your life in order to follow” Christ. (Murray)

I confess that I am still, myself, lacking in this area. Yes, I do pray a bit, probably more than many folks. But is it enough?

Is it ever enough?

That is not a guilt trip. I don’t walk around with a sad face, thinking, “I should be praying more.” I don’t believe God wants that, either. That is a form of shaming, and I fully believe shame to be one of our enemy’s biggest tools.

But first and foremost, believing that Jesus is the Son of God is the main component in this. The verse in 1 John 5 tells us this. Who can overcome the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That is the key.

And I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, I have everything I need to overcome the world and live a godly life. What does living a godly life look like?

Love. Plain and simple. Sure, I could list a lot of things, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, freeing people from oppression, caring for refugees, widows, and orphans, and freely giving away my resources that are not truly mine, but the Lord’s.

But all of that boils down to love. If I love the Lord with my whole being and love my neighbor as myself, I will be doing any of those things for which I have opportunity.

Father, there is so much to be thankful for, today. I thank You for Your guidance in my life, through all my life. I thank You for the guidance with which You rescued me when I was drowning in the pits of sin. I thank You for Your guidance when I was more faithfully following You. I pray for more guidance today, as I consider the future (not spending too much time on that, because I recognize the need to be fully present in this moment). When I don’t know where I am going or what I am doing, please guide me by Your Spirit.

Please, also, make me more faithful in prayer and devotion, taking up my cross, that I might be fully following Your Son, and, thereby, overcoming the world, all its conspiracies, all its plans, all of its fears, and all of its dread. I know and acknowledge that, in You, through the Son, and by the Spirit, I have nothing to fear, nothing to dread. Even if I find myself in the darkest of places, You will be my light and my salvation! “Whom, then, shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid??”

Hallelujah, my God! “Guide me, O though great Jehovah!” I am, indeed, a pilgrim, wandering through a foreign land. My citizenship is in Your Kingdom, not on this earth. Make me stronger in You, more resistant to the conspiracies, fears, and dreads of this world. Truly, a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.