August Devotional – Calm in the Eye of the Storm
There’s too much going on in the world. Israel is fighting Hamas. Russia thirsts for more power. Syria is still in a civil war. The U.S. is fighting immigration. An Ebola outbreak is wreaking havoc in West Africa. And America still feels the need to be everyone’s savior.
If none of this affects you, set an appointment with your doctor to check your pulse.
Have you forgotten we are all in this together? Everything we do affects those around us. The Middle East crisis is not theirs alone. Their conflict is sure to find itself front and center of our next political campaigns. But don’t be fooled. Democrats and Republicans don’t have concrete answers to solve the Middle East problems.
I’m tempted to say we need better relationships with Honduras and Mexico to solve the immigration crisis. What good would that do? If Mexican and Honduran citizens can’t trust their government to protect them from the drug cartel, how can we expect their government to negotiate with us in good faith? And why are we contemplating paying them to solve their issues? Don’t pay Mexico and Honduras a dime. Who do we think we are? God? Use American money to secure the borders and let Mexico and Honduras deal with their issues. The very dollars we’re spending to house people could be spent securing our borders.
Is it just me? Can anyone else see a pattern about to develop here? Have either of you thought about the real issue behind this influx of immigrants?
Place yourself in the shoes of a terrorist. If you do, you’ll find yourself watching CNN and getting the latest updates on the immigration issues. What do you notice first? The American government is wasting time bickering over policies. If you’re a terrorist, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Ah ha! We can enter the United States through Mexico while the government is fighting among themselves.
Am I the only one who can see this? When it’s all said and done, while Washington is hating Obama, terrorists are scheming and infiltrating our borders. How easy would it be to disguise themselves as a Mexican citizen (providing they don’t speak)? What if we wake up one morning and find ourselves watching numerous reports on CNN of skirmishes across the country? Who would we be fighting? Or should I ask: Who’s fighting us?
Tightening our borders is a grave matter that must be dealt with immediately. This isn’t a race issue. This is a security issue. Love your freedom? Get ready to fight to keep it. I just hope we’ll only be fighting politicians and not a terrorist militia.
We can’t continue to think we are the superpower. If we continue with this line of thinking, we will be forever burdened with responsibilities that don’t belong to us. This way of thinking is the main reason there is so much fighting in Washington. Many politicians tend to think we have the power to persuade countries to do this or that. What we fail to realize is that we have no power at all. If a host of terrorists enter our country and cause havoc, what good are our powerful ships and high-tech jets? And even if they are effective in killing the enemy, won’t numerous civilians pay with their lives? And doesn’t this scenario sound a lot like the Middle East conflict?
A house divided cannot stand.
While Boehner and the Republican Party are entangled in a political battle against President Obama, Russia is gaining ground and a life-threatening disease is creeping inside our country.
No one mentions God. No one looks for the answers within the scriptures. Few seek the betterment of others over themselves.
So how are we different from the Middle East?
And where in the world is God in all this?
Jesus Christ died at a time when Israel was dying spiritually and on the brink of political disaster. Jewish priests catered to the Roman government to win their favor and keep control of the Jews. Taxes at an all-time high propelled much unrest among the people. In need of peace, spiritual soothing, and freedom, the people looked forward to the day a new king would come and save them.
What they got was a common carpenter—someone who looked like them.
They expected a savior with clout and might—someone powerful enough to dismantle the Roman Empire and establish a new earthly kingdom. They hoped for reduced taxes. Peace and harmony. This new king might be adorned in a purple robe, a gold scepter. The priests surely expected him to agree with their way of oppression.
What did they get?
In the midst of all the noise, they got a messenger of peace. I find it interesting Jesus didn’t go to those in power and preach the good news. He didn’t seek people of stature to convince them he was the Christ so they’d spread the word. He didn’t attend committee meetings with high priests, or walk across the Mediterranean, Ionian, and Tyrrhenian Seas to whisper in the ears of Roman officials.
In the eye of this political storm . . . amidst civil unrest, Jesus sat down among a crowd of spiritually hungry people and gave them hope. Out of all the healing miracles Jesus performed, not once did he transform the chaotic world around them. Rather, he changed men’s hearts in the midst of all the chaos. He didn’t preach revolt against the Roman government. Remember Jesus’ encounter with Pilate?
“9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:9-11)
He didn’t get all up in arms about their high taxes. Instead, he said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
God doesn’t want us focused on the noise. He doesn’t want you and I distracted by such nonsense. I do not believe for one moment God doesn’t want you aware of your surroundings. However, he doesn’t want you consumed with it either. He is God. He is in control. He is the Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the end. Not one thing is happening on this earth that he doesn’t know or care about.
When the noise around the world becomes too loud, God reminds me that he’s in control. He reminds me that our world will erupt in chaos and that I shouldn’t be surprised by it.
I have no idea how long the conflicts in our world will continue. And I don’t possess a wealth of knowledge or the gift of discernment in the area of politics to know what our government should or shouldn’t do.
I do feel, however, that a house divided cannot stand. America is divided. We are politically fighting among ourselves and not keeping a better watch on our country. If we’re not careful, we will become another Middle East conflict situated in the West.
Need you be reminded that we are not fighting a racial war? This is not about the color of President Obama’s skin. Did you give any thought to the color of President Bush’s skin? No, of course not. Why? Because the real truth is Satan is behind the divisiveness in our country. He will use any means to keep this chaos ongoing. If that means using the color of President Obama’s skin, the Russians blaming us for their flaws, skirmishes among many Americans over immigration reform, Israel’s constant feuding with Hamas, or China’s status on the world stage, Satan will do it.
Look beyond what you can see. Make no mistake about it. We’re in spiritual warfare. President Obama, Putin, Israel, Hamas, or immigrants crossing the border aren’t your real enemy.
Satan is all about distractions.
Keep your minds on the Holy One.
“5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:5-7)
“18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
“20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Romans 16:20)
“14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:14-20)
“33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace . . . .” (I Corinthians 14:33)
“2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6)
“14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:14-18)
“15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
“23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23)
“2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Bathe in God’s love and peace. Do not retaliate. Love one another.
Dare I say it again?
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)
Gravitate to God’s peace for he is our calm in the eye of the storm.
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
July Devotional – FAITH
“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.
But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
As I write these words, we have a brother in our congregation battling cancer. I have known him and his wife for over 30 years. No matter what curve ball life threw at them, they weathered the storm and remained faithful. What faith!
Not long ago, he gave my son a prized possession—a booklet showcasing the glory days of the 1972-74 Oklahoma Sooners. I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face. It was one of amazement. I could see the question in his eyes: “Why would he do that for me?” You see, my husband is one of the many football players showcased in this booklet. He’s never sat down and discussed his football years with either of our sons. And that’s what made the gift so special.
So, when the news came that our brother was suffering, I, like so many others in our congregation, fell to my knees. The news gripped me like a wet leather glove. Days before, I’d seen our brother smiling, greeting others, quietly going about his business—no doubt in pain.
I received an e-mail again today, this July 4th, requesting prayers for him. Hours after my prayers, hours after completing other work on my plate, I sat down and thought it’d be a good time to write my July devotional.
I thought of our brother.
My thoughts drifted to the centurion’s faith as recorded in Matthew 8:5-13. Many times since the first announcement of our brother’s illness I’ve asked God to just speak or think or whisper the word and our brother will be healed.
“Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.’”
As we await God’s answer to our prayers, I wonder if someone, anyone, can count on you to pray for them?
“. . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
I believe all things are possible for those who love the Lord.
Do you believe?
Prayer: God, please help me to glorify you regardless of my circumstances. Draw me out of self and into you. Help me place my brothers and sisters above myself.
Think: When was the last time your love for a brother or sister in Christ made you fall to your knees?
Read: Matthew 8:5-13; 9:18-22; 17:20-21; Mark 9:23; Philippians 2:3-4
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Novelist, Poet
Donna is a writer for Ruby for Women, a Christian online magazine (Rubyforwomen.com) and she writes devotionals for Hope-Full Living (Hope-fulldevos.com).