Confused

Today’s Reading: Acts 19

One of the enemy’s best weapons is confusion.  When we are confused, we are unable to see things clearly.  It disrupts our decision-making process, often resulting in choices that are irrational and inconsistent with our core beliefs.  Many times, confusion is produced by the people around us.  We are continuously barraged with differing world views and alternative belief systems.  Want proof?  Take a closer look at today’s reading.  Did you notice in verse 29, “the whole city was in confusion?”

To understand the city’s confusion, we need to look back to verse 23.  Up until that point, Paul was actively spreading the word of God.  Acts 19:20 says that the Lord’s message Paul presented was “spread widely and had a powerful effect.”  Clearly, lives were being changed.  Not everyone, however, was happy about this.  In fact, a man named Demetrius was suddenly worried about the impact that these new beliefs would have on his business.  To combat this, he developed a strategy.  He knew, that it would be easy.  All he had to do was confuse people.

Demetrius starts with the economic conversation, encouraging them to consider the consequences of slowing sales.  It was enough to spark some fear, but not enough to start a rebellion.  To intensify their reaction, he adds confusion by suggesting that the magnificent goddess, Artemis will be robbed of her “great prestige.”  This was all it took.  The people were sufficiently overwhelmed by these significant changes.  The fear it stimulated caused their anger to boil (v18).  It wasn’t long before full on rebellion occurred and “everything was in confusion” (v32).

The sad reality is that we are subject to the same confusion.  J.I. Packer elaborates on this.  He says, “we are so consumed with great thoughts of man that we only have room for small thoughts of God.  Second, we are confused by modern skepticism.”  Is it any wonder that it’s one of Satan’s preferred weapons?  Thankfully, the Spirit who lives in us, is greater than the spirit who lives in this world (1 John 4:4).  When we arm ourselves with His truth, we win.  I have found a very practical way to avoid confusion.  It comes from remembering who God is and who I am.  The following affirmations, despite their simplicity, are powerful statements that bring clarity, hope, courage and refreshment.

I believe that God is who he says he is

I believe that God can do what God says he can do

I believe that I am who God says I am

I believe that I can do what God says I can do

God’s Word is alive and active in me

I believe God

 

Faith and Decision Making

Are there any big and generally permanent decisions that you made in the past that at the time seemed like a good and sound decision, but now you wonder if it was the right decision? This is not referring to situations that have gone horribly wrong as a result of a string of poor choices. This is about decisions that were made where it was quite clear that the outcome was far beyond your control. Brainstorming on a few of these types of examples:

  1. Attending one university as opposed to another.
  2. The city and state in which you live.
  3. Having a child start kindergarten at the earliest or holding him or her back a year.

We made the decision to have our son Peyton start school at age five instead of waiting another year. From an early age Peyton was curious about the world around him and had an affinity for mathematics. He loved preschool and was always eager to attend. We did not have constant prayer over this decision, nor did we sense divine inspiration. It was a big decision and it seemed like a “no brainer” at the time.

With Peyton now in sixth grade, Amy and I recently reflected back on this decision and recognized some of the impacts such as athletics, social skills, and academic achievement. If we see a negative impact now, should that cause us to doubt our decision? Granted, in some situations it is absolutely appropriate to hold a child back a year while in the middle of grade school. I’m talking about those shreds of doubt, the “what if” situations.

This topic is a wonderful opportunity to rely on our faith. If we lacked faith in an all-knowing, loving God, I truly believe we would be dwelling on this topic day and night, perhaps with regret, worry, and maybe even blame. We might ask, “what if his life is a struggle because he started school too early?” or ” will he be okay with sports, academics, and socially?”

It is in our hands to love our kids and abide in the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we lead our family, but we need not worry because God has it all. God knows the past, present and future. He knows Peyton. He has a plan; may his will be done. This is one of the many benefits of having faith. God didn’t make us to worry, he made us to worship him, to look to him, to honor him, to take refuge in him, to have relationship with him, and for that I am so thankful.

You came near when I called on you;
  you said, ‘Do not fear!’ (Lamentations 3:57)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
  and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

1 Samuel 18; Romans 16; Lamentations 3; Psalm 34