Thought for the Week - 8th JanuaryPastor Gareth Watkins
For the land which you go to possess is not like
the land of Egypt from which you have come,
where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot,
as a vegetable garden;
but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys,
which drinks water from the rain of heaven,
a land for which the Lord your God cares;
the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it,
from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
I feel that in 2017 there’s going to be times of hills and time of valleys. Times of spiritual blessings, and times of challenges. But the Lord will be with us for the year.
In this year, there’ll be those who send and those who go. Those who go will do works. Those who send, will encourage and support those who go. There should be no one sitting in the middle doing nothing in the work of God. Everyone should be in one of these camps when it comes to the work of God.
In the passage above, which is about the Israelites leaving Egypt, we read: “the land which you cross over to possess”. There is a possessing! You have to go and possess it, there is no leaving anyone behind! You wouldn’t have wanted to be left behind in Egypt with pharaoh.
There is a sense of going forward as one people, into somewhere, and entering the things of God… new times, new blessings and new places. And it all starts with the sense of God. God is with us bringing the rains, bringing new life and bringing new things to be. The love of God will be with us for the whole year. He cares with all His heart and soul! He cares for us!
Where there is no vision, people perish. Some people are going, some are sending… but all are moving forward.
2017 will have those hills and valleys. We can’t hide away in the shadows, we have to be considering our walk from week one. Where am I meant to be? What’s my call? What’s God spoken to me about? We need to know every year that God is with us in what we do.
In the passage above, all the people had to move with Moses and the will of God. If they hadn’t they’d have died, whether it be through drought, starvation or the pharaoh. If we don’t move on in God, what happens to us? As Elijah had to pray for rain, sometimes we have to pray for that rain. He prayed seven times before it came the size of a man’s fist! That rain brings the blessing of God, stops the dryness within a church, and brings fruitfulness on the land. We need to pray for that rain, again and again!
We need to carry our load and not lost in a little bubble. We need to be a goer or sender. We need to enter the land and possess it.
Some will agree to send. Some will agree to go. However, some will blank off. If that’s you, we read in John:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls
into the ground and dies, it remains alone;
but if it dies, it produces much grain.
He who loves his life will lose it,
and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
In this passage there are two lives – those who love their life in this world and wants to enjoy all that this world has to offer, and the other who hates this world for Christ’s sake. The first life loses his life in eternity, while the other keeps his life in eternity.
If you find yourself not bothered whether you’re a sender or a goer, then consider this passage. Which person are you? Are you loving this life and the world? Are you holding on to things to the point that nothing of God touches you?
There’s no shutting down with the things of God – when Moses went, the people did too. There no doubt would have been bickering and arguments along the way! But to shut down and to have no interaction is a dangerous place to be.
Consider the second life… they might not be able to do the things they want to, or go where they want to go; but they end up fruitful, joyful, blessed and go on to heaven with Christ. There’s no shutting down. If you want to be as Christ would have you to live in this sinful world, you will find fruitfulness, joy and blessings!
Over time, the first life becomes so distant from these things that it doesn’t understand anything of life number two… yet can envy and be jealous of the blessings and things that life number two acquires. Life number one might acquire all the trappings of life, can go where they want and do what they want, but life number two is the one that gets you somewhere.
The grain has to go into the ground and die. If it doesn’t die – die to itself, die to what it wants – then it abides alone.
We need to examine ourselves. We need to deal with our selfish pursuits, our selfish desires and our sinful living. Otherwise our lives will not be full, they will not be complete and we will not be going on that road that ends up with Christ.
Consider this passage and go forward. Consider the grace of God to us. Grace means God’s favour to the undeserving and ill-deserving! We don’t deserve it, but He gives His grace to us anyway. His grace is infinite!
Going into 2017, if you’re not a goer or a sender, consider where you are in terms of dying to self and standing before God. Are you pulling with Him or against Him? Are you hiding from Him, or standing before Him saying you’ll go with Him?
Noah was a man who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This was one man among all others who were flooded. And this one man had a far different outcome to the rest of the people. We find grace in the eyes of the Lord! God has called you for usefulness, and to play your part!
There will be a time of judgement, where we will be held accountable. There could come a time of judgement in this lifetime. We read in Matthew 5: 13:
You are the salt of the earth;
but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
In 1 Peter 5: 10 we read:
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Peter knew about this word of Grace. He knew there were people who weren’t quite right with God and that God’s grace would cover it up for a time. In that time, he was asking that God would perfect, establish, strengthen and settle them! He wanted them to go on in God. He knew there would be a time of judgement and finishing of God’s grace. Then would come the new time; a time of eternity, when the heavens would be lit by the Lamb on the throne.
We have been given a vision of going forward, a vision of commitment, a vision of sending and a vision of going. Not to stay in a place of nowhere. Are you dying to self? Are you continue to deal with the hidden things that God wants you to deal with? Are you continuing to move forward with God? Do you have a vision for 2017?