I love you Jesus but ...
Christian conferences are the best because they challenge and encourage. They provide focused time in God's Word looking at His principles. Since you are with like-minded people, the fellowship is beyond rich and new connections and sometimes even friendships made. Oh, and the worship! At this particular conference, the maintenance team said they actually watched the temperature in the room rise as we rose to worship and go back down as worship ended. Glory!
Then you leave.
If you live in the south, the summers here are hot and humid. On those days, when you open your door to walk out of your house you can be hit with a hot and humid blast. In the time it takes to walk from your front door to your car in the driveway, you've already worked up a sweat. These hot and humid blasts test the application of your deodorant, hair, and makeup.
Walking out of a Christian conference and back into everyday life and situations can be like that hot and humid blast. It can test the application of the Word you've just received. That's a good thing. But what if you fail? What if you fail to apply the Word received?
You see, I failed. Within hours of leaving #Forum2017, I was presented opportunities to bring Jesus and wisdom into several situations. Why didn't I? Well, that's the conversation I've been having with Jesus. And, I believe the answer is FEAR.
Of course, it is no accident that the ending conference session was all about being strong and courageous. And so, the situations I walked into were a new test of courage. I say new because I have honestly never had the realizations from failing a test as I experienced in failing this one. Let me explain.
As I rewound the tape in my mind of what went down, I saw where fear kept me from bringing Jesus and wisdom into these situations. Let me make a list here of some fears that the Lord has brought to mind.
- Not being liked
- Over-stepping my bounds
- Not my place
- No one will hear me (literally and figuratively)
- I don't know what to say
Yikes! Fear silenced this saint. Shocked, ashamed and sorry, I continued to seek the Lord on why and what to do when the next test comes. As I was praying, the Holy Spirit brought to mind Matthew 10:16. I'm sure you are as familiar with this verse as I am.
"Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves."
I know that verse! I've said it so many times and heard it even more times. But on this day the magnitude of this verse hit me fresh and hard. Self-Talk, the book I've been writing, has an entire chapter dedicated to the truth about the world in which we live and the ruler of this world - Satan. He is also known as the serpent of old. He's a crafty devil.
Wise as a serpent.
This morning as I sat and studied Matthew 10:16 as well as what comes before and after this verse, I realize Jesus is calling me to be as wise as that serpent of old. To be as wise and crafty about doing good as he is about doing evil. Look for, plan for, anticipate and be ready for opportunities to speak Jesus and wisdom into situations.
In Matthew 10:19, Jesus says "...don't worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn't you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you."
I know it sounds like a "no-brainer" and you might be as surprised as I was that I didn't act on these verses. But you see, I wasn't mentally prepared ahead of time. I wasn't ready for the unexpected. When the situations were presented to me, I was like a deer in headlights. Frozen in fear. I was anything but wise and crafty.
In Matthew, 10:26-31, Jesus goes on to say "Therefore, don't be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won't be uncovered, and nothing hidden that won't be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetop. Don't fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny?Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Don't be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows."
A dear pastor of ours posted this on Facebook yesterday: "The chief means of attaining wisdom (which is the application of knowledge)...are the Word of God and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw." John Newton
Thank you Lord and Pastor Dean for that reminder. So how do I get to be as wise as the serpent? Stay in the Word, pray, apply what I learn to every situation. Be intentional about every moment. Be better prepared mentally and spiritually - on the alert.
Yeah, I know all of these things but I wasn't. These were very new and unexpected situations and I was not prepared. Thank you God for your grace in showing me where I need to let Your Word and Your Spirit do heart work.
I love you Jesus but I let my fears quench the Holy Spirit within me. I did not walk in faith and in the power of the Spirit in those situations. Oh how I thank Him for these realizations and I ask Him to give me test after test after test until I learn to apply these truths from Matthew 10 to every situation in my life.
Living and learning. Hallelujah!
Lord, give me a love for you and for others that causes me to be obedient in all things. Help me and teach me to walk in the truth that I am not to be afraid...that I don't need to be afraid (even if things don't go well and my fears are realized) because you love me and will care for me.