Saturday, September 12, 2015

Grace Under Pressure

Despite what is going on around us, we need to remain calm and proficient, performing our duties effectively under pressure; cool, calm and collected when under attack, in quietness and confidence is our strength, trusting in God, placing our faith in Him showing grace towards others despite the way they act or how they might treat us.


There has been a continuous increase in pressure mounting against decency, fairness, and morality. Each iteration is a personal attack on our values and the things we hold dear. We tend to take it personally. We get the latest news item by whatever means we prefer, TV, radio, or internet and we become emotionally outraged, disgusted, or distraught. There has been a growing spirit of anger in this country over the past two decades, (Fox News began Oct. 7, 1996) a mounting pressure, a seething just under the surface that builds like a pressure cooker until a man can become angry at the slightest provocation. If we let ourselves continue to focus on these things we can become distracted from the more important things we should be doing.


Just about everyone we encounter is under stress in one form or another. Stress has a way of bringing out the worst in people. As we deal with others throughout the day we're almost certain to come across someone having a bad day. We might have to deal with an ill-mannered a clerk, or be shown a lack of common courtesy by a stranger, or encounter out and out road rage. Our spirits are vexed on a daily basis.

We replay and rehash the confrontation over and over in our minds as we analyze it to death trying to understand what we did to provoke such treatment or how we could have handled it better or what we should have said. We replay the daily news in our minds shaking our heads in disgust as we wonder why would they do such things? How could those in charge be making such ridiculous decisions? How could this be happening?


We become worn out to the point that we have no energy left for the things that are most important. In many, if not all, cases we have no power to control the circumstances that are making us angry anyway. We get ourselves all worked up over the events of the day to no avail and to no repair.


Now we have movements like #BlackLivesMatter that are stirring up one race against another that cause us daily to shake our heads in disbelief.  Christ told us that nation (ethnos) would rise against nation (ethnos) and that this is just the beginning of sorrows. He gave us a book, the very word of the living God that tells us the Lord is not willing that any should perish, that #AllLivesMatter (2Pet 3:9)
And so here we are. The things Jesus told us were going to happen are happening, so why should we be surprised when they do? Why should we be angry? Why should we be upset? We should count it all joy. It should increase our faith as we see what was foretold actually come to pass.


Rather than getting emotionally wrapped up in all this, we need to distance ourselves, to come out of it and be separate, to be observers and not participants. We've been instructed by the word of God that this would happen so that we would not be dismayed when it does. Until and unless our nation repents on a wholesale national basis we know things will not get better and in fact will continue to deteriorate. So though we are pressed in on every side, how should we respond?

2Co 4:6-10  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  (7)   But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  (8)   We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  (9)  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  (10)   Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Despite what's going on in the world around us we are to be a light to others. Bear in mind that one of the reasons for the tribulation is to get peoples' attention and turn their hearts back to God. Well, if we are all in a panic, who can they go to for help and instruction? If we are all in a dither, who will take care of enriching their lives through the gospel and preparing them for Kingdom? We must remain focused on God's Word, Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. We mustn't be completely focused on ourselves and our problems but must let others see Christ manifested in our lives. Give them a cause to ask us for the reason of the hope that lies within. If we're always complaining about what's going on or angry and afraid, why would they ask us the reason for the hope and joy in our eyes. If we're not calm and collected with hope in our hearts and joy shining in our faces, we look just like them, angry and afraid. There's nothing to ask us about!


We shouldn’t just be calm under pressure maintaining our own composure. We are ambassadors of Christ and the Kingdom of God. We are to go the extra mile and show grace towards others, even those who abuse us.


I saw a sign once that said -

be kind (sm).jpg


We can all be self-absorbed and are to some degree. We have a tendency to assume everyone else is as focused on us and what we are doing as we are. Well, guess what? They're not. Everyone else is just as focused on themselves as we are on ourselves. When they are unkind to us or rude, they may be dealing with some issue we know nothing about. We need to make allowances for that and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn't mean it that way.


But so what if they did? What if they were rude or mean to us intentionally? If it's not life-threatening, maybe we should just take a deep breath and calmly respond with a kind word; a soft answer turneth away wrath. Grace under pressure is not just that we should remain calm ourselves but that we should bestow that grace upon others who may not deserve it. Regardless of what we may be going through at the time or what pressures we're dealing with in our lives we should practice passing the grace that God has given to us on to others. We didn’t deserve it either. We are to show God's grace to others so that through that abundant grace God will be glorified.


2Co 4:15-18  For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  (16)  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  (17)  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  (18)   While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
 
We must not allow ourselves to be spiritually weakened but be renewed and refreshed each and every day. So, in these troubling times, what manner of persons ought we to be?


2Pe 3:11-16  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,  (12)  Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  (13)   Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  (14)   Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.


Our focus needs to be on the matter at hand, to be diligent in our studies and prayer, to make our calling and election sure lest we fall  (2Pet 1:10) that we may be accounted worthy in that day to stand before the Son of man, (Luke 21:36) growing in grace as well as knowledge.


2Pe 3:17-18  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  (18)  But grow in grace,G5485  and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Rather than respond in kind to others we meet who are under the same stresses we are but are without Christ, we ought to give them some respect, exhibiting grace under pressure and allow our light to so shine before men that our LORD is glorified. Rather than quarreling with them, maybe we can leave them better than we found them. Maybe they will inquire of the reason for the hope that lies within us, and we can lead them to the gospel of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God where God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away and all things have become new. (Rev 21:4)



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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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