Silence and Solitude

sandsWhen you find yourself a bit frazzled and frayed by the various stressors you encounter each week, where do you go to find solace? Some people find a sanctuary in solitude and silence.

As a business professional, David Haber spends much of his day crunching numbers and wrestling with the stress of financial decisions.  Haber has said, “The biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is how to not get lost in the daily execution, but to take a step back and really think things through. Quiet moments give you the opportunity to reflect and make smarter strategic decisions . . . Finding balance between work and life, and using silence to help me decompress, is an important part of doing my job well.”

Like Haber, I also think quiet moments are beneficial.  These interludes from the hectic pace of the world rejuvenate me when I refocus my attention on God.

Silence and solitude of themselves are mere emptiness that cannot feed a hungry soul. To stave off starvation, your mind needs to be “stayed” on God. The words of Isaiah echo this truth: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You (26:3).”

Here are a few Scriptures to focus on as you try to keep your mind “stayed” or focused on God:

  • Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that am God.”
  • Isaiah 12:2: “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” ~JB Phillips

I encourage to check your priorities and to reorder your life. At the top of your To-Do List, scribble in: Quiet moment of silence and solitude—be still and know God.

First, Last, or Somewhere In Between

First-Fruits6Firstfruits:  This is a word that is rarely used today; however, it was an important principle in the Old Testament. People were to honor God by giving Him the firstfruits of their time, the harvest, and all of their resources

God has given you His best, and He wants the same from you.  This statement is easily confirmed by Scripture:

  • Exodus 23:19:  You must bring the best of the first produce harvested from your soil to the house of the Lord your God.
  • Proverbs 3:9:  Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.

Paul used the the churches of Macedonia as an example of the Principle of Firstfruits:

During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity.  I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints,  and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God’s will.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Do you give God the firstfruits of your life or the leftovers?  Think about it:  What if every member of the church was like you?

  • How much prayer would there be if everyone prayed like you?
  • How many people would hear about Jesus, if everyone shared their faith as often as you do?
  • If everyone served like you serve, how many hungry and hurting people would be helped?
  • If everyone attended church as often as you, would the church ever be filled?
  • If everyone gave as you give, could the doors of the church remain open?

Paul encouraged Timothy to be “an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (I Timothy 4:12).”  What kind of an example are you?  Where is God in your life?  Is He first, last, or somewhere in between?

 

Sodas, Saints, and Sin

big-gulpIf you’re like many Americans, you may believe that bigger is better.  Super-sized meals may be the  proof that this is faulty reasoning and that moderation might be a better approach to life.

In 1950 or shortly thereafter, McDonalds was selling 7 oz sodas, burgers that weighed in at 3.9 oz, and French fries in a portion of 2.4 oz.  Following the bigger is better mantra, the servings at McDonalds have increased  to 42 oz sodas, 12 oz burgers, and 6.7 oz fries.

The result of all this fast food grazing, is a raising in the average weight of Americans.  Women now weigh about 18.5% more than they did 50 years ago and the weight of the average man has increased 17.6%.

I find it interesting that during this same time period there has been both an increase in physical cravings and a decrease in spiritual appetite.  I’m not saying the food industry is the cause of our spiritual malnutrition, but we are a nation that is spiritually anemic.

The prophet Jeremiah ministered in a time like this.  It was a time when people had forgotten God and a time when the emphasis was physical and not spiritual.  It was to these people that Jeremiah said:

“My people have done two things wrong. They have abandoned me, the fountain of life-giving water. They have also dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can’t hold water.”  ~Jer. 2:13

A society that turns its back on God is one that embraces a philosophy that simply cannot hold water.  It might grow in size due to government programs, and it might increase in weight due to financial gain; however the only true hope is to return to the “fountain of life-giving water.”

The IMF and an IOU

IMF-gold_profitsWhen you think of spare change, what do you think of?  Maybe you think of a dime, a nickel, a quarter or whatever amount is jingling around in your pocket.

If you’ve been following the financial news of late, you know that Greece doesn’t have any change that they can spare.  Their concern runs much deeper than a pocket full of coins.

The International Monetary Fund has told the Greeks they need to repay the $334 million they owe by the end of this week. Apparently the lenders are tired of Greece’s foot-dragging measures, and they have issued some take-it-or-leave terms to the deeply indebted nation. imf

This scenario reminds me of the huge debt that Jesus assumed and paid for with His life:

  • Romans 6:23: The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • I Corinthians 6:20: You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
  • I Corinthians 6:20: You weren’t set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold which can be destroyed. Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ.

Jesus gave everything He had on the cross, so you could have it all throughout eternity.  Like the Greece situation, it is a take-it-or-leave scenario.  In this case, however, when you take Jesus, your debt is paid in full.