New Year: New Beginnings

I’ve been offline for a couple of weeks now and it has been a nice break. December for working adults and parents tends to be a frantic race of ‘to-do’ lists, schedules, deadlines, etc. There’s a scarcity of time, or in other words, there’s just way too many things to get done within the confines of a normal 24 hour day. So it has been for me, especially with my work, so I have had to pick my battles of what I could and couldn’t get done, and frankly, with exams in early December and being out of school for Christmas, I’m sure you have enjoyed the break from our routine.

I wanted to close out 2016 to talk about “TIME”. The Lord has impressed upon me some thoughts about time; our time here on earth, our time together, our use of time, our waste of time, our stress over time, our importance around time. So please indulge me one last time in 2016 and take your time to read below and let me know your thoughts…

Moses leads the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, but they’ve got a problem; Pharaoh and his armies are on their heels and there’s a sea of water in front of them. There are no boats waiting, no bridge to cross, they are facing the end of the road, with no way out. They need a miracle, and (as we know from the Charlton Heston movie) Moses calls upon the Lord, and the Lord parts the sea by instructing Moses to hold his staff over the water. With a wall of water on either side, the caravan of Israelites crosses over the previously submerged bed of the Red Sea into the desert. As the Egyptian army’s chariots enter the seabed, God causes confusion upon them, and as the last of the Israelites reach the other side, the walls of water on each side collapse and drown the Egyptian soldiers.

Now there are a lot of object lessons in this story, but the one I want us to contemplate is this; the Israelites saw a clear, physical representation of God. They saw Him, the creator of the universe, at work, conducting miracles to get the Israelites out of their bind and to fulfill His purpose. He saved their lives and there was no doubt that He did it!

Having seen God at work to save them, how do the Israelite’s respond? Exodus 15:31 gives us their initial reaction, “And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” So impressed were the Israelites, they even wrote and sang a song of praise to the Lord. But that was short-lived. In fact, the bible (Exodus 16:3) says it was exactly forty-five days later when the Israelites complain to Moses, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Now, thirty-five hundred years later, it’s sure easy for me to be an armchair quarterback, but really?! God has delivered them from bondage, and when faced with certain destruction at the hands of Pharaoh and his army, he parts the Red Sea and wipes out the Egyptian army. Yet a mere forty-five days later, they have lost their belief that God will take care of them! On and on, the complaints come to Moses and Aaron, and God provides, continuing to take care of their needs. You would think the Israelites would be worshiping God day and night, but no, in fact, they end up making their own idol gods to worship. By Exodus 20, Moses is coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

They witness God in action. They see God take care of their needs. They see a pillar cloud hover over them by day and a pillar of fire by night, and yet they decide instead of believing in I AM, it makes more sense to believe in a god figurine made from their own hands. No wonder God let the Israelites roam the desert for forty years! Despite all of the physical, eye-witnessing signs of God, they simply didn’t believe and trust in the Lord.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

So, what does this have to do with time? Time is our marker. Remember, God doesn’t wear a watch, He is ageless, beyond the realm of time, but He gives us time, and free will to choose how we decide to use our time. When time is all said and done for you and me, what will really matter in the end is how we used our time. I have come to believe that God’s purpose for each of us for this brief, vapor of time on earth is to learn to love Him. He tangibly showed the Israelites His love for them, and yet they chose not to love and worship Him. He sent His son on the ultimate rescue mission to save you and me from our own destruction. Yet we tend to be like the Israelites, we spend our time worshiping other things and don’t spend time worshiping and growing to know Him. But, via our free will, we can choose to do a “reset”, and recommit our time and focus on learning how to love Him.

I’m challenging myself, and offering the same challenge to you, to start 2017 with a fresh fire and renewed purpose to focus on loving Jesus; learning the truths of His teachings and applying His witness to our lives. You may feel you are tracking along in this walk already, and that’s awesome! But I know for me; I could stand to go deeper in His Word, I could stand to be more giving, I could stand to be more compassionate, I could stand to be more prayerful for the lost, I could stand to be more honest with myself and those I love and care for the most, I could stand to let go of my priorities and focus more on His priorities.

We have 21 days of prayer and fasting beginning next week, and my hope is you will join me in taking a stand to love God that much more! Let’s stand together during those 21 days and I believe God is going to reveal Himself in ways we can’t imagine and that much more…

Love you! I pray for you and your family to have an incredibly blessed 2017!

Jim

 

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