Thursday, November 20, 2014
Shake The Dust Off!
We hear it all the time..."Just shake it off!" But what does this really mean and from where did this little colloquialism come? Well I heard it with new insight and context recently as my Bible study group was reading Acts chapter 13. Verses 51-52 read:
"But [the apostles] shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled [throughout their souls] with joy and the Holy Spirit."
These apostles were mere men, yet full of power from God as they shared the Good News to the ends of the earth. They were speaking boldly of the hope found in Jesus and proclaiming the Word of God to people of all ages and backgrounds. In the midst of this, they were facing severe persecution and ongoing threats. This was no game for them- this was a daily choice to risk their lives so that others might receive grace and truth. As they were driven out of the region, their response was one of surprise and bravery, strength and grace. They shook the dust off their feet and walked on. They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. The lesson in a way is so ordinary and simple, we could easily read on and miss it. But please, don't miss it. If you catch this, your victory is assured.
Shake the dust off your feet.
Walk on with joy.
Be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The battle is not yours, but the Lord's.
Wait. What about that last line there? The battle is the Lord's?
Yes. It is. Why are you fighting, dear friend, when it's not yours to fight? Your duty is to keep walking on, and shake it off! The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
We head back to the Old Testament to 2 Chronicles 20:12-18 and read a passage that is just mind blowing- a story about God's chosen people facing a vast enemy much too great for them to ever defeat...stick with me for a moment and travel back to the ancient land of Judah.
"'O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.' Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel...in the midst of the assembly. And he said, 'Listen all of you of Judah...Thus says the LORD to you: Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up...and you will find them at the end of the brook...You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.' Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshipping the Lord..."
What happened next? They rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness. They believed. God established and prospered His people. Those who could sing, sang praises to the Lord for the beauty of His holiness and His great enduring mercy. Meanwhile, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies, and their foes were completely destroyed.
So what's the secret to letting God fight and win whatever battle we face? As we're shaking the dust off our feet, worship is such a key element to victory. If we focus on God and sing His praise instead of wasting time talking over and over about the trial, the foe, the danger, or the dread...we are filled more and more with the secret weapon of joy in the Holy Spirit. He is the One who takes care of us and leads us on into victory after victory, promise after promise.
Want one more secret? I believe joy and enthusiasm are tightly knit cousins. How do we live enthusiastically in the face of daily challenges and hardships, enemies and change? The Greek root of this word, enthusiasm, is "En Theos"- to be "in God" or "inspired by God". Let's look to Jesus for our inspiration, to the Father for our strength, and to the Holy Spirit to fill us with life. When we are fully present with His presence alive in us, we have enthusiasm that no foe can match. Our joy becomes invincible and our spirits become so alive and filled to overflowing abundance (John 10:10).
I read this little quote the other day, "Rise up and attack the day with enthusiasm!"
Let's do just that- embrace whatever is ahead with matchless joy and unrivaled enthusiasm.
May we also today...
SHAKE THAT DUST OFF...SHAKE IT OFF!
MARCH ON WITH JOY!
LET THE HOLY SPIRIT INFUSE OUR SPIRIT WITH LIFE!
LET GOD FIGHT THE BATTLE!