WEEK EIGHT, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK EIGHT THEME: SELF DISCIPLINE
DAY ONE THEME: TRAINING FOR A LIFE OF FAITH
SCRIPTURE: I THESSALONIANS 5:4-11 (CEB)
“But you aren’t in darkness, brothers and sisters, so the day won’t catch you by surprise like a thief. All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness. So then, let’s not sleep like the others, but let’s stay awake and stay sober. People who sleep sleep at night, and people who get drunk get drunk at night. Since we belong to the day, let’s stay sober, wearing faithfulness and love as a piece of armor that protects our body and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
God didn’t intend for us to suffer his wrath, but rather to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with him. So continue encouraging each other and bulding each other up, just like you are doing already.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD ~ THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: When God created thngs “in the beginning”, he created the sun to rule by day and the moon to rule by night. Nighttime is a creation of God. This scripture speaks however, of a different type of darkness / night. It speaks of the darkness that moves in on us when the things of life overwhelm us and we feel we just might drown… when life doesn’t seem fair or depression comes in and seeks to take our life away completely. That is a different kind of darkness than the natural darkness of natural nighttime created by God.
The only remedy for this type of darkness is our faith in Christ. Through Christ, whether we are asleep or awake, we are with him…eternally. There are things in daily living that can literally take our breath away. Having young grandchildren and hearing about sex trafficking snatching up innocence, for instance, can take my breath away. I get angry that the thought of my 12 and 10 year olds and even the younger ones being out of my sight might allow for that kind of darkness to come in seeking to destroy our lives – especially theirs. Additionally, it inhibits their freedom to come and go or take a walk as they naturally come into their own. This darkness is evil and if I allow it to, can already paralyze me and stop all joy in being with my grandchildren for fear of something horrible happening to them. I have to keep my faith, make sound decisions, and look forward.
As this evil darkness pokes and prodes, there could be the need to protect myself through self-medicating with substances that are not good or helpful or just sleeping my life away avoiding all manner of dealing with the situations or concerns that are at hand. God’s will for our living is that we turn to Him – our pure bright light that will help us in all circumstances to keep moving and dealing with or coping with the things that we just simply are unable to control. When it is time for rest – for me, the nighttime – I find if I cannot do so, I have not let go of all my concerns…the best remedy for me at those times is prayer. As I let go through prayer – turning to the pure precious light of my Heavenly Father – I can let go, relax and find myself waking the next day rested and ready. Some nights require more prayer time than others as I seek to be the one in control rather than letting go… those days I might have to find a time to nap!
In living with a cancer diagnosis, it is tempting to just curl up in a knot and give in. I heard it long before I was diagnosed with cancer, “it’s not the cancer that kills you, its the side effects of chemo”. That is horrifying! The “What-Ifs” and the “Yeah, Buts” will run me right slap into the ground if I would let it. But God has given me over six years of moving forward through it all and finding each day joyful and full of life and living – not without bumps and bruises, but moving onward in promise and possiblity.
My gratitude abounds to have had parents that taught me from DAY ONE to pray – in all things – pray. When my sister, Jeanne, their third child was born, they learned immediately that she was Downes. One of my Mom’s nurses as she recovered from her hysterectomy in the hospital told Mom that it would be her wisest decision to have Jeanne institutionalized and forget all about her altogether. Some people just don’t think. I was six when Jeanne was born, and had no idea that she was anything other than a beautiful baby sister. I am sure my parents were terrified – but their faith kept them keeping on and Jeanne – with help of family and much prayer for her benefit – lived very happily and with everything she needed to keep on keeping on too for 54 years! Thanks be to God for His perfect presence in all our “storms”. What that nurse saw as our storm was not a storm at all, but a life of pure sweet love that exuded from Jeanne!
That is what these scriptures say to me. I can’t stop bad things from happening – like Downes, like Covid, like Cancer, like demented souls robbing innocence – and I will feel paralyzed from time to time with circumstances and issues that I have little ability to endure. BUT GOD… but God is ever ready to fill me with His Spirit, resurrecting me day by day above and beyond what I cannot control and giving abundant life and hope in the midst of any storm.
I Thessalonians 5:4-11 commands us to stand strong in our Lord Jesus Christ and live fully in His understanding and His sacrifice never giving into the evil darknesses of the soul, the darknesses of this world. What a victory we have if we will only take hold and stand strong and pray without ceasing!