See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
In the wee hours of the morning I got up to spend my time with the Lord. As I paced the floor while praying, various thoughts started to form in my mind. Recently, I have been reading the story of Joshua and the Israelites in the book of Joshua. After Moses’ death, Joshua and the children of Israel made ready to enter the Promised Land. There was one problem – the Jordan river was before them and at that time of the year, its banks were overflowing making it even more difficult to cross over to the other side (Joshua 3:1, 15b).
As I thought of this, I pictured this last day of the year, 2021. Like Joshua and the Israelites, we too are about to cross a threshold. We are faced with the reality that the old year is behind us and we are about to cross over into something new. We have never been there before. We don’t know what the new year will bring but we may be filled with hope of something better.
The Israelites had gotten a glimpse into the Promised Land through the twelve spies who had ventured into the land some forty years before. It was a land with people that seemed unconquerable, yet, indeed as the Lord had promised a land of fertility and bounty. Ten of the spies had focused on the giants in the land and how difficult if not impossible it would be for them to defeat them. All twelve spies were in agreement that it was indeed a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Only two, Joshua and Caleb, believed that their God was well able to help them defeat the people of this land (Numbers 13).
You see, the focus was important. While some focused on the problems they would surely encounter, a few kept their eyes on their God who had given them a promise and who would not fail them – no matter how big the problem seemed.
As we cross over into a new year – and many of you will read this post after the year has already begun – we may be filled with trepidation, uncertainty, hope or a mixture of all of these emotions because of all that has gone before. Yet, we too have to keep our focus on our God. He is already there in the new year. He knows all that will happen – both good and bad – and He already has our backs before we can even encounter a single problem that this new year will bring.
I think it helps to remember that our God is ahead of us. He knows what we don’t know; He knows how things are going to turn out, we don’t. He already has the answers and solution to every problem we will encounter in the future, He is even ready for the battles that we are yet to face. When you put it into perspective, our God is more than ready for whatever will come our way – even when we are not! And that’s why it is a good thing to have God in your corner, the kind of God who is already there and waiting to help you face, survive and overcome any and every situation that will come your way.
But, the story doesn’t end there. The Israelites with God’s help are able to cross the Jordan river (Joshua 3:14-17) and enter the land of Canaan and under Joshua’s leadership, they conquer the inhabitants of the land and gain possession of much of this new territory (Joshua 11:16-23). This did not happen because of the Israelites’ fighting skills, rather the Lord fought for them and they were victorious. Just as Joshua and Caleb had believed and argued, the Lord fought for them and they were indeed able to defeat the giants of the land. God did it, it was never in their hands or ability to do it themselves, God did it for them.
We don’t know what the new year may bring. What we do know for sure is that our God is already there and He will fight for us and once God is involved in the fighting we will overcome. There is however one condition – we must be obedient. During Joshua’s reign, the only time the Israelites lost a battle was when one of the Israelites disobeyed God’s command and took spoil for himself from the city of Jericho when God had forbidden this.
In short, we can’t live our lives our way and expect God’s help. We have to choose to surrender our all and live the way He wants us to live and when we do life His way, He is obligated to come through for us.
Like you, I don’t know what the new year may bring. As I listen to the news and hear people’s predictions of what may come, I am confident of this – nothing is going to take my God by surprise, nothing or no one will be able to throw Him off. My God is stable, unconquerable, reliable, secure. He is still my covering, my shield, my rock, my defense, my Deliverer, my Provider, my everything. I don’t know about you but whatever comes my way, I know that my God’s already got it covered and He hasn’t failed me before and He certainly will not fail me now.
If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Saviour I really want to encourage you to do so now. With all that is happening in the world today, you need a God who will help you navigate, survive and overcome whatever comes your way. Give God a chance today.
I recently heard the experience of a young mother and her two children during the tornados that ravaged parts of Kentucky in the USA. As the tornado approached her home, the young mother clutched her two children – four and two years old - on the bed. The windows exploded and the roof collapsed crushing her arms. They were thrown some two hundred feet while still on the mattress which she believes saved her children’s lives. Her children suffered no broken bones. She wonders to this day how they were able to survive flying on that mattress from one point to the next. For her, being alive after that ordeal is a miracle.
Even as I listened to the account of this, I have to acknowledge God’s goodness in all of this. As she said, her neighbors next door to her died but she and her children survived – even after flying through the air on a mattress no less. Only God can do the impossible thing that leaves the human mind baffled.
Through her story I am reminded this Christmas season that Jesus came to give us the gift of life – eternal life. It makes no sense to this mother, but He chose to give her and her children life. The story I shared a few weeks ago about the woman who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse after facing abuse at the hands of her stepfather, God gave her the gift of a second chance and offered her a better life than the one she had. The story of Paralympic swimmer, Jessica Long, born without her lower legs, is the story of a God who is not deterred by our limitations but in fact uses them to prove that we can still accomplish anything through Him. He gave her the ability to swim, using those same shortened legs, helping her to win numerous medals and break records.
In short, there are a number of stories I have shared that are examples of the reason why Christ came to this earth in the form of flesh – to give us life, to give us a second chance, to give us hope, to give us peace, to give us joy, to give us love... He came to give...! And no matter what we go through in this life, when we put our eyes on Him, trusting Him to see us through every situation, He will GIVE us what we need to survive, to make it, even to prosper and thrive in the midst of every trial and testing.
Look at Jesus’ life here on earth. Everything He did was about giving to others. He didn’t do anything for Himself but He made other peoples’ lives better. He healed the sick, He cast out demons, He raised the dead. Everything He did was for the benefit of others...not Himself.
What gift or gifts has God given to you? Maybe He has given you peace in the midst of your storm, or love in the face of rejection, or even His grace and strength as you go through that situation that seems to have no end. Maybe He has given you hope in the face of a dead situation you have given up on. Whatever your gift looks like, it’s your gift from a God who loves you and wants the best for you.
The thief on the cross next to Jesus comes to my mind. Jesus is about to die, this thief is about to die yet, when he acknowledged Jesus, Jesus did not turn His back on him but willingly offered him the gift of eternal life...even at the very last (Luke 23:39-43). It didn’t matter who, once a person turned to Him, Jesus did not reject that person simply because He came to this world to give...
I thank God for who He is and for all He has done for me. He continues to pour into my life not because I deserve it, not because I am anyone special or better than anyone else, because I am not, but because of who He is! God has given me so many gifts – life, love, joy, peace, salvation, strength, grace. I am pretty sure He has given me so much more. So, in this Christmas season I can be thankful that He came because my life certainly would not have been the same if He had not!
Can you say the same? What is God’s gift or gifts to you? The negatives can rob us of the ability to see and appreciate what He has blessed us with. Don’t be blind to His goodness but use this season as an opportunity to be thankful for His gift to you.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior I encourage you to do so now. Jesus came to this earth and put on a body of flesh so that we can have life and life more abundantly. He wants us to be able to live our best life in spite of what comes our way.
I was drawn to a sermon by Pastor Mike Todd on fractures. There was a full-length mirror on the stage and he had a hammer in his hand which he used to hit different parts of this mirror. Of course, with each hit, the mirror became damaged at the point where it was hit. Interestingly, he could still see his image in the mirror.
He used the story of Joseph in the Bible to illustrate his point. I, however, thought of others whose lives had been fractured in some form or another. One example is Naomi. She and her family faced famine in their home town of Bethlehem, Judah. They decided to move to the pagan country of Moab seeking a better life. While there her husband died. She was left with her two sons who both married Moabite women. Finally her two sons also died and she was left alone with her two Moabite daughters-in-law. Imagine her feeling of despair and hopelessness there in a foreign land. She had no family or friends but her two daughters-in-law. She finally decided to return home to Bethlehem because she heard that the famine had lifted and there was food once again. She did not go alone, one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth returned with her (Ruth 1:1-18).
We can’t always stop tragic circumstances from coming our way. Naomi and her family could not control the famine that came to their home town. Their solution therefore was to leave to pursue greener pastures. Naomi could not stop the death of her husband and two sons in Moab just when things seemed to be improving. It seemed that life was throwing hit after hit her way. She could not control or stop it. She felt so defeated that on her return home she wanted to be called “Mara” because she felt that the Lord had dealt bitterly with her (Ruth 1:19-21).
I think many of us can relate. We can’t stop painful circumstances from coming our way. As we face, it would seem, hit after hit, we feel out of control and discouraged. Like Naomi, we wonder where or who to turn to next. Fear, bitterness, anger at God or even life can easily step in, not to mention confusion as we struggle to figure out where we went wrong and why all of this is happening. Naomi’s conclusion was that God had brought this her way. She couldn’t figure it out otherwise. They had been doing the best they could but bad instead of good seemed to follow them.
Yet, God had not given up on her. As fractured as her life seemed, and as useless as she felt, it was not over for her. God still had a perfect plan for her life although she could not see it. God would use that same broken situation along with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to catch the attention of her husband's relative, Boaz. His marriage to Ruth elevated Naomi out of her defeated state and positioned her to be a part of king David’s bloodline as well as the bloodline of the Messiah, Jesus (Ruth 4:13-22).
As children of God, the same is true for us. No matter how broken and useless we may feel, as life seems to hit and break us over and over, God still has a plan. God is not moved by our fractures. He is moved by His purpose which will still come to pass if we just put our trust in Him, if we choose to focus not on the reality of our situation, but on the God who is able to still use what is broken.
I think we just have to turn it all over to Him – the broken pieces as well as what’s left. Remember, although Pastor Mike hit and damaged different parts of the mirror, he was still able to see his image in what was left. Let’s face it, we can become so focused on the broken pieces or crushed particles, that we don’t even realize that what’s left can still be used. The nice thing with God is that He uses both what’s broken and what is still intact – God uses everything and uses all of it to produce something good and useful. Only God...!
In my own life, I can testify of the times when I faced situations that were designed to break me. I was discouraged, I was fearful, I felt like giving up. Instead, thankfully, God directed my focus to Him. I can honestly say, that God used each hit to redirect my focus to Him and as I did this, God matured me and brought me even closer to Him. He has used and continues to use both the broken pieces and what’s left to bring honour and glory to Him. I am in a position to better understand, relate and minister to those who also face fractures in their life. My brokenness has not been wasted!
I just need to remind someone here that it’s not over! Fractures can cause us to believe that that hope or dream may never come to pass, that we are so useless and washed up not even God can do something good with us. Don’t believe that lie! When you turn it all over to God, He can and will still use you, He can and will still make your life one of purpose and excellence. It is God who is working His will and purpose for your life, not you. You can’t but He can!
If you have not surrendered your life to Christ I encourage you to do so now. Give God your fractured pieces, give God all of yourself and watch Him transform your life into one of worth, usefulness and excellence. Remember, God can and He will do it!!!
I watched a video this week about a young lady who had been hooked on alcohol and drugs. As a child, after her parents’ divorce, her mother remarried and immediately she was faced with physical abuse from her stepfather. This led her to a world of alcoholism as a teenager which helped take away the fear. Unfortunately, on the inside she battled with feelings of rejection. During this ordeal, her aunt encouraged her by letting her know that Jesus was always with her even while she was going through what she was going through and in spite of the bad choices she was making. So, as she faced abuse at home and got hooked on alcohol, she constantly reminded herself that Jesus was with her and would not abandon her. She literally felt as if she had Jesus in her pocket giving her the strength to go on.
This part of her story brings to mind the fact that even while we are going through Jesus is right there. Here’s the thing – His presence does not necessarily mean that the problem will automatically and immediately go away. But, His presence provides the strength we need as we go through. Her problems did not go away just like that. In fact, they remained but her comfort came in knowing that God had not left her. We too, sometimes have to comfort ourselves with the reality that as we go through, for however long we have to go through, God will provide the strength and even at times peace we need to make it.
For fourteen years she battled with alcohol and for two years with drug addiction. She hit rock bottom and couldn’t seem to climb her way out. She continued to make a series of bad choices and it wasn’t until she found herself briefly in jail after a hit and run and ended up in rehab that she started to feel a sense of hope. She was finally ready to surrender and admitted to God that she didn’t know how to stop her cravings but asked for His help. He showed up and broke the chains off her life.
We can so easily take a simple prayer for granted. From her heart she simply asked God for His help and He answered. She knew she was delivered. Yet, she admits that the cravings did not go away immediately. It was a process she had to work through trusting God that He was there helping her.
I love her honesty. She didn’t say that the desires for the drugs and alcohol left immediately, she admitted they were still there. Sometimes, like this young woman, we just have to trust that God has answered even if some of the symptoms are still there. We have to trust that we are delivered, even though we are still experiencing desires and cravings. This is where I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s testimony about his thorn in the flesh. He prayed three times about it, but God chose not to take it away. Instead He told him that His grace was sufficient for Him (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). That’s not exactly the answer we want to hear many times. This young woman I am sure would have preferred these wrong desires and cravings to just disappear, but they didn’t. Like Paul, she too had to rely on the grace of God each day to get her through the day.
We too sometimes have to depend on God’s grace. It’s not that God is not seeing what we are going through, it’s not that He is not hearing our cries of desperation and frustration. I think sometimes that even in what He allows, there are lessons He would have us to learn. Paul’s thorn probably kept him humble (2 Corinthians 12:7). This young woman’s desires probably kept her depending on God in a way that pleased Him because for so long she had been depending on alcohol and drugs to help her survive.
In my own life, there were many times when I wanted God to just take away the temptation, take away the stress or hurt or pain, take away the struggle. Believe me, there were times when He did but there were times when He didn’t. In retrospect, I can now look back on all those times when He didn’t answer the way I wanted and I see that in spite of it all, I am still standing, I am still serving Him, I am stronger, wiser, a whole lot more dependent on Him. This would not have been the case if every problem in my life He had taken away immediately. Some things I just had to ride through as He used those things to mold me into the person He wants me to be and ultimately use those same experiences to help me minister to others.
God always sees what we don’t and what we can’t. What He allows will always be for our good. He knows how to give beauty for ashes, how to take the negative and create something beautiful out of it. He may choose to answer immediately or allow us to go through a process. Either way, we can be confident that He is working and He is bringing good out of every situation we may go through.
If you have not invited Jesus Christ into your life to be your Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. We can’t always avoid or even run from the trials of life but with God by our side we can face and overcome anything!
For the past few mornings the song “Too Faithful” by Moses Bliss has been playing in my mind. I wake up with it and it has almost become like background music playing subconsciously in my mind over and over. This is one of the ways that God speaks to me - through music. It doesn’t matter what I am going through, God will wake me up with just the song I need to take me through the day, through whatever season I may be going through. And, of course, because it’s God, it is always the perfect song, encouragement, strength I need when I need it.
I think this song sums up who God has been to me this year and actually even my whole life! I have found myself no longer making the declaration that “God is good” but saying “God is faithful.” It’s not that He isn’t good but somehow the word “faithful” feels like an even stronger affirmation than simply “good.”
I think of various characters in the Bible and God’s faithfulness to them. Abraham and Sarah, I am sure, had given up hope on ever being able to have children. Yet, God gave Abraham a word, a word that only He could fulfil – they were going to have a child. He didn’t require fertility on their part ... just their faith that He would do as He had promised. And He was faithful to fulfil His own word to them when they could not! (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:15-16; 21:1-7)
I think of David, an unlikely king chosen by God over Israel. David didn’t look the part of a king, yet God chose him. Even after being anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the new king, he was relentlessly pursued by King Saul who did everything in his power to kill him. Yet, God was faithful to preserve and protect David’s life ensuring that he would be the next king over Israel. God did it even when David could not do it himself. (1 Samuel 16:1-13; 19; 2 Samuel 2:1-7; 5:1-5)
I think of Joseph who had a dream of greatness even in an environment of jealousy and envy. He could have been killed by his brothers, yet God preserved his life and instead he was sent to exactly the place where that greatness would be realized. Even while there, in Egypt, he faced unfair treatment and imprisonment, but none of these unfortunate circumstances could stop God’s plan and purpose for his life. God, not Joseph, was faithful to make the dream He had given him a reality. God did it! (Genesis 37, 39, 41)
We can all, I am sure, look at our own lives and many times what we focus on are all the negative things that have happened and that may still be happening. Each of these characters in the Bible, and there are many more, faced trials, testing and uncertainties, a plethora of negative situations that seemed to challenge, even cancel out what God had spoken to them. I am sure many times they didn’t think they would make it. David’s psalms are testimonies of the many times he felt discouraged and alone as he was pursued by enemies. Abraham and Sarah, who may have felt helpless and hopeless because of their old age and the barrenness of Sarah's womb, turned to her handmaiden for help, help that was not approved by God. And, although the Bible doesn’t give us any insight into Joseph’s feelings during his ordeal, I am pretty sure he too was disheartened and in despair because of all the trouble that was coming against him. Yet, through it all, God was faithful to each of them.
What you and I go through is nothing new. The challenges, the testing, the negatives are all part of the devil’s scheme to discourage us from believing that our God is able. But even the devil’s best plans cannot stop God’s purpose for our lives. The thing is this – God is the One who is big enough, powerful enough, faithful enough to accomplish His will and purpose for our lives. Yes, trouble will come, that’s part of life. But God is still a present help in the time of trouble (Psalms 46:1). He is still the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). What He did for various people in the Bible many years ago, He will do for us today and even greater things than those. If you honestly think about it, God has truly been faithful to you more than you even deserve. He has come through for you time and time again and He will continue to do so. If God has done it for you before – and He has I am sure – He will do it for you again. Don’t be discouraged by every new - or old - trial that pops up. The same God that delivered you before will deliver you again and again. That’s why I can say He is faithful. Faithfulness speaks of consistency no matter the situation. He is consistent. He is steadfast. He is unwavering. He does not change.
So, yes none of like when bad things happen. But, if we were to look back on our lives we would see how faithful God has been to cover us, to keep us, to protect us, to sustain us, to deliver us, to strengthen us through every situation that we have ever been through and even what we are going through now. God. Is. Faithful.
If you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Lord and Saviour I encourage you to do so now. In this world there is tribulation, challenges, trials and we need Someone bigger, stronger and more able than we are to help us overcome what comes our way. God is faithful enough that He will never leave us or abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:8), He will always come through for us, maybe not always the way we would like but the way He knows best. Give Him a chance today. God. Is. Faithful.