Mac 'n' Cheese for the Soul
Greetings Narrow Gate,
A few weeks ago I sent out a call for volunteers to help with a Thursday evening take out meal with drive through prayer. I received only one message from someone who was interested in getting things going again at Narrow Gate. I am not here to wring my hands and brow beat any of you. If you are not ready, that's OK. The staff, I believe, is ready. However, I am not going to dump this on the staff of Opportunity House. They have been working too hard on the front lines of this pandemic from the beginning. We need 18-24 volunteers to make this work properly, safely and with good food. Three or four people from Opportunity House does not come close to meeting those volunteer numbers. I'll check back with you all in September. If, though, you and others are interested, just contact me and let me know. I'm happy to start a list with volunteers ready to go. I truly understand how everyone's own personal situation dictates how each of us deals with the decisions we are confronted with by this virus. There is no condemnation from me or anyone else here at Opportunity House for choosing not to serve at this time.
Now to continue on with scripture that is among my personal favorites. I write this to encourage you, to help alleviate worry and concern, to also rid yourselves of fear and doubt. Do you realize that when we worry we are really giving into to fear and doubt? If I asked you if you doubted the truth in the Bible, almost all of you would say you don't doubt the validity and truth of the Bible at all. Yet, I know many of you are worrying now, during this pandemic, the related economic downturn, and all of the really weird social upheaval that is taking place in our country.
It's in our human nature to worry. It's in our human nature to doubt truth. But you can overcome this by focusing on certain scriptures that help to erase fear and worry. The scriptures that I have been led to share today are mac'n'cheese to my soul. I pray that these scriptures will be comfort food for your soul also.
These scriptures are about Jesus and his birth, and are all considered to be "Christmas" scriptures. These verses can also be classified as prophecy, which to me, greatly enhances the ability of these passages to help eliminate worry and doubt. Prophecy that has proven to be true in minute detail is very reassuring to even the greatest doubters among us. All of these scriptures are from the book of Isaiah, a book all about "fearing not" Isaiah lived 700 years before the birth of Christ.
Our first scripture takes place as the political and violent turmoil is taking place between a declining Judah and Israel, and an ascending Assyria. Isaiah 7:10-14,
"Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 'Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.' But Ahaz said, "I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test." Then Isaiah said, 'Hear now, you house of David! (Ahaz was from the house of David) Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).'"
Again, Isaiah prophesied this 700 years before Jesus birth. Obviously, God was using Isaiah to instruct this and future generations. Hear this instruction for Isaiah, take it as you own. Isaiah 8:11-14,
"The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. (ie, don't follow the world) He said: 'Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary...'"
Please hear and take these words of Isaiah to heart. They were meant for us in our difficult times, times such as these that we are going through now. Hold on to these prophetic promises of God. Isaiah 9:1-7,
"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Naphtali (a tribe in northern Israel that had suffered greatly), but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles (this is a remarkable promise at the time, 700 years before Christ), by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as those who rejoice when dividing plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. (The peace train is coming, people). For to us (you and me, all of us) a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
So not all of this promise has come to fruition yet. Jesus has been born, yes, the first advent. The second advent of Christ, The Glorious Return of the King, this will usher in The reign of Christ. The beauty of the first advent is that it helps to reassure us of the inevitability of Christ's second advent, whenever that will be.
Be healed of your fear and doubt. Isaiah 53:2-5,
"He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him., nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."
We are healed of worry, fear and doubt by the punishment that brought us peace. Believe and be healed! To be healed you have to have the desire to be healed and choose to be healed. We see this every day at Opportunity House. People want detox or rehab, but then, when the choice is 100 % their choice, for many different reasons, they do not choose the healing available to them.
Admit it, some of us are worry warts, right? I am a recovering worry wart. I know of what I speak here. We are not in control of this pandemic. But God is. Don't fear God's control of this situation. Choose to be healed of your doubts and your fears. I will be praying for you all. I miss you very much.
Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC