Another incredible year has passed by in 2012 and I have enjoyed learning what it means to be “master of life in earth, sky and sea.” I have been challenged more often than not and especially the last 20 postings in December have hit me more than any of the others.
I am at Urbana 2012 right now as I sign off on this last post for 2012. I am being challenged to making 2013 a year of missions. Emmanuel, God with us – is a theme we usually hear at Christmas but I am called to look at this every day for 2013.
What does my day look like when I really believe that God is with me?
Am I afraid – yes – will it be another year of adventures – yes – but the peace, joy, hope and love that will sustain me as I hold His right hand will make this an amazing year for sure.
Come and join me and move over to my new site. Your encouragement matters.
Many blessings to you and your family and I pray that Emmanuel, God with us, will walk with you too each and every day!
Life can get pretty difficult. It gets more difficult when we see those who abuse, getting on well. When it seems that the work of God does not move forward, but rather backward. In our culture, we call that failure. We begin to feel unsuccessful.
I believe that is why we are encouraged to stand. We actually mimic the character of God by standing. When we stand, we declare that no matter what may seem to be happening around us, no matter what people may describe as failure, no matter how disrespected we feel in various circles, God calls us to stand.
Trick of standing is in the waiting. How long do I stand?
How long Lord will it be when you start to fight for us and turn things around? When do get some respect or acknowledgement of success? When will you be honoured because of what you have done for us?
Yeah, I know, it sounds like God needs to make us look good for Him to look good. So lets not go there. Instead, we stand so that God can move forward and take over and receive the glory Himself as He moves through us. Then those who have been abused get healed, those who work for God see fruit in their own lives as well as in others and the work of God moves forward.
I am not saying that when God takes over and fights for us that it will be a silent event – in fact, I believe it can be quite dramatic and eventful. What is important to understand, what is critical for us in order to succeed in standing, is in the knowing that at some point, the Lord will go out to fight for us. He will be the difference between life and death. He is anticipating to surprise us with His amazing love and determination to see something happen in our lives and for us to be astounded of what can happen through our lives when we submit to His timing and His plan.
Pray that you might be found standing in the midst of whatever life has decided to through your way – and I looking forward to hearing how and when He will go out and fight on your behalf.
Nothing gives me more comfort than knowing that God is guarding me – looking after me.
I think that from that perspective I can see how upset He gets when we trust our inanimate objects like other man-made idols and our money. Even when it comes to putting ourselves, our jobs or whatever else we feel makes us successful in front of our affections for Him.
It takes the heart of God and we tell Him that He does not matter and that pain must crush Him incredibly.
I see God watching us closely, watching our every move and keeping harm away from us, keeping others who curse us from being successful in doing so and making sure that no one overruns us.
That is why we can rejoice in song on Sunday morning with other followers of Christ! That is why we can shout for joy! Our King is here, the Righteous One, the Victor! He came at first lowly, riding on a donkey’s colt and He did that to disarm us and bring us peace. He did that to deliver us from death in a waterless pit so that He could create a new covenant with us, sealed with blood.
Can you here Him calling? Come to a place of safety, all you prisoners, for there is yet hope! For every one of your woes, I will give you two mercies!
Even when I need to take up arms, the Lord leads me as I fight. It is His arrows that fly straight, it is His trumpet that makes the call. You will defend me, You will subdue those who are against me and because they are under your feet, I shout with triumph!
It’s like a shepherd caring for their sheep – how wonderful and beautiful is that. Such peace and such protection ensures an abundance of wealth and young people grow strong and everyone is radiant with health and happiness.
Gift giving has been a tradition that stems back to the beginning of time.
It used to be in forms of blessings, then moved to both blessings and material goods.
When material goods take on the form of blessing, then the gifts really come alive. I remember when my wife and I were expecting our first child. We really had nothing. I served as a youth pastor and my wife just left her job to become a full-time mom and we really had nothing – no crib, no dresser, not a single piece of baby furniture in the house. My brother-in-law and his wife were self-employed and they had nothing, but decided to give anyway – unbeknownst to us. It was for them the right thing to do. He shared the story with us sometime around the middle of July. He had to tell us because they were not Christians but felt God blessed them for giving. He felt that way because his business tripled in the early spring from what he had made the entire year before.
He learned how giving can be such a blessing.
Gifts are significant messages from God. We miss them sometimes because gifts usual come with a giver and every giver has some sort of history. That history can mess things up or can create a sense of honour and awe.
I find it amazing that the past few days we are rediscovering prophecies of Jesus coming, hundreds of years before His arrival, and they came true. He could not have fabricated the fulfilment of these on His own. Zechariah mentioned that people would come from afar to bring Him gifts. Gifts befitting a King, a High Priest. He was told that the significance was not just in the gifts, but in the fulfillment of the prophecy. Since God’s Word is true and He has never lied, it is our kind reminder to carefully obey the Word of God in our lives.
Now there is a statement most of us are familiar with!
In a natural frame of mind we tend to think that in order to survive in this world, a person must be tough, strong, unbending, and harsh. Then we get this little poke from God who says, no leave it to me and succeed because you let my Spirit reign as though you are few and weak and of course, we are.
You see, to the Spirit, He is interested in lasting value and really that is all He is interested in. So when we are harassed, tired, discouraged and poor, we need to rethink – God is on our side. As I live for God, I determine each day NOT to trust my own strength or abilities. Instead, I depend on God and the work of the power of the Holy Spirit.
My success depends on this!
Looking for mountains to be flattened and ready to give God thanks for His mercy and grace.
The imagery of safety is a strong one for me – one of the characteristics of God is that He is omnipotent. I think that there is a wall of fire protecting me and my family when I allow Him to be my glory.
What I still can’t quite grasp is that this is not as important to most Christians as one might think. In fact, I know that if we were living in an opulent lifestyle and God called us out to go to a place a little bit more rustic and a little bit more in the open plain, we would reject the call. Maybe I should go one step further. I am willing to suggest that even if God warned us that the opulent lifestyle was going to end and that destruction was coming to the region or our immediate world, we would still not want to go.
How do I know this. Just take a look at Lot’s family – I mean the angel pretty much had to drag that family out of Sodom. Look at the children of Israel after 70 years in Babylon. They did not want to go back to Israel even when God warned them the Persians were coming to destroy Babylon. Would you believe that 90% of the people of Israel decided to stay and perished in captivity.
Just the fact that I would know that I am no longer under the protection of the Almighty would make me want to go wherever He is calling me. He will always be my safe haven, my shelter, and my refuge. From that perspective I can lead with confidence.
I get so pumped about the fact that the grass withers and flowers fade but the Word of God endures forever. So often when I hear that I think of the promises of God that I can hold on to, His truths which will always be true and His love that is never-ending, He is faithful even when I am not.
However, I think it goes the other way too.
When He calls me on my sin and I do not pay attention. When He calls out the error of my ways and my judgement and I ignore that still, small voice. When He reminds me of His justice and His holiness and yet I seem to be able to shrug off those Words – do I really understand that His Word endures and that the consequences of continuing to reject them will bring about a lot of pain?
So it is that if I truly believe that His Word endures than those same Words that were spoken to generations before me hold still true today. They are very relevant for me. I must read, study and apply it – learning the lessons from those who have walked before me so that I do not repeat the mistakes of others.
Let’s face it, we all have lots of things to do, have all kinds of pressures, some of us are bombarded left, right and centre and find ourselves in more times than we care to imagine – frustrated.
So how can we encourage one another to seek God in the midst of all of this?
Encouragement I believe is the right word because when we look inside ourselves I think we can admit that we are discouraged, if left unattended, we stop our devotional time with God. Encouragement is the tool God has given us to motivate one another, turn ourselves around, pick up our tools and continue the work we had begun in our journey of adventure.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves not there.
It seems that instead of reaching the lost world for Jesus, investing in missions, interceding, giving…we have found our hope and strength and encouragement in the building up of our wealth. Then we have moved on to displaying that wealth in the homes we live and the decor displays our passion for luxury.
What we have failed to see is that the harder we work for ourselves, the less we have because we have ignored our spiritual calling. The exact same principle is true in the reverse. When we put God first, He will provide for our deepest needs. In other place of priority that we put Him in, all our efforts are futile.
Caring for our physical needs while ignoring our relationship with God leads only to ruin because you will find that material possessions do not satisfy.
Our problem lies in confused priorities. Jobs, homes, vacations, and leisure activities may rank higher on our list of importance than God. When is the right time to become unconfused? When is the right time to connect with our relationship with God?
When I stand in absolute silence in the presence of the Lord I see, hear and feel the people, things and actions I would rather do than worship and follow Jesus and I prove it everyday it seems.
My heart is burdened for my strength does not come from Him, it comes from myself. What hurts me most is I can see where I thought I was doing really well, but I know that His grace was there holding me, keeping me and blessing me even though I was unaware and unthankful.
With all the different ‘gods’ that surround our lives today, it’s no wonder that we are starting to relate more and more to the culture from which the apostles lead the early Church.
One thing is still missing from our first world nations – persecution. That would straighten things up right away. There would be no messing with this question – die following Jesus or do not follow Him.
There is another point missing – we are forgetting that He is coming again, to take us to be with Him. He is taking those who follow Him and He will utterly destroy those who have made the decision not too – that means either by word or by deed. He will not come as a babe, but as a King. He will not be a lamb set for sacrifice, He will be a lion set to rule.
Each day I will ask myself – am I following the Lord? I will answer to the affirmative and will ensure my life decisions and actions indicate that to myself in all I do and say.