But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:29-30)
God’s prepares you to accomplish what He destined you for from the beginning of time. Many times, you pray for God’s provision and His provision first comes as preparation for His bigger purpose. That’s why many times our lives seem to become more difficult after prayer. We were expecting a divine miracle to bring us relief when instead God groomed our character to walk in His upcoming revelation. God is more interested in our character than our pleasure. That may sound unpleasant to someone who is always seeking instant gratification, but you should consider what kind of joy and peace come from a character refined by God. How much more will you be able to succeed in His provision and plan for your life when you have submitted to His preparation?
The scripture above shows God’s purpose in preparation. He could have driven out all of the enemies of the Israelites as they entered the promised land but that would have left them fighting into the dangers of the wilderness. Instead He allowed the enemies to keep the land farmed and provision gathered so that His people would be taken care of as they conquered each group of enemies in turn. At the same time, He was allowing His chosen people to increase so there would be enough to inhabit the land. God let His people grow in strength, number and relationship with Him before they were spread out over the land He had promised. Spreading His people too thin, too weak, and not focused on Him would have left them vulnerable to the things that try to destroy God’s plans.
Know that God has a plan much bigger than what you can see. His ways are higher than our ways. Rely not on your own understanding of a situation but on your understanding of the God you serve. Submit to His refining, like the refining of gold. Let God increase your strength and value for His name sake, for His kingdom purpose. Be clay that is pliable in the potter’s hand and know that the joy found in the purpose God designed you for is worth the difficult season. Know that the God that sees all things from beginning to end has your best in mind as He grooms you for a purpose beyond your wildest dreams.
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Romans 9:22-23)
Just because we see sinful people prosper doesn’t mean that God has looked away from their sinfulness. We are told not to envy wicked people in their prosperity, for that prosperity will lead to their ruin. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong (Psalm 37:1) The scripture above tells us about God and the great patience He shows toward the “objects of His wrath.” It then ask us to consider what purpose He has in showing them patience. He looks to show His children the “riches of His glory.” What could that mean? The Hebrew word for glory originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word is then used to express importance, honor, and majesty. Take a moment and consider that definition in this context.
How many people that the world views as prosperous are dead and empty on the inside? They have sought and gained the best the world has to offer at the expense of their peace and are now left with nothing to fill the void in their heart. Our sovereign Father gives us the opportunity to see what gaining the world and losing your soul looks like in the flesh. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26) These people who have chosen to ignore God are without the most fulfilling thing available to us, a relationship with the Father.
As the “objects of His mercy” we can live with the joy of knowing the riches of His glory. We know that the presence and provision found in relationship to God outweigh the lesser things of this world. God’s provision is designed for us by our Creator, not our sinful desire. Believers can live with the peace of knowing God and the assurance that we have more than enough to walk the path He has called us to. Gaining more might drive us into worldly assurance. God loves us too much to let us wonder from what is best for us. We can let His light guide us on our walk with Jesus and be an example to those God has “prepared for destruction.” God desires that none shall parish.
Let God’s glory shine through you. You might be the reason His patience benefits someone who is looking to fill the place in their heart where God is meant to dwell. Let others know what it means to see the riches of God’s glory and what it is to grow in His mercy. Show the world that God’s great power can also be shown in the grace and mercy of His patience toward all of us.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
It is inevitable in our Christian walk that we will encounter seasons of difficulty. Some people assume that walking with the Lord takes away the afflictions of this world. We might assume that God would only use those difficulties to punish people in their sin. He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love. (Job 37:13) Let’s consider that God uses the difficulties of people’s lives to draw them closer to Him. Not only to draw the lost to Jesus and reconciliation with Him, but also to draw His children closer.
God has no need to create punishment for those who walk in darkness. All He has to do is let their decision to turn from Him, into the darkness, leave them in a despair of their own doing. A life absent of God is all the pain most people need when all of their human effort fails. When all earthly securities fail there is a loving Father waiting with open arms to shine His light into their lives.
The most important thing for believers is to make sure they turn to God when life becomes difficult. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him. Part of loving Him is the obedience found in reliance on His provision and perfect plan for your life. The times of trouble in our lives leave us with a big decision: turn to God or turn to the things of this world that are destined to fade. We can turn to the eternal or the temporary. Our treasure can be gathered here or in Heaven. Turning to God in a difficult season is not a onetime choice but a daily decision as the deceiver looks to draw you away from God in your desperation for immediate relief. Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction. (Job 36:21) Look to God’s purpose, which is growing the faith of His chosen. Let hard times draw you to love God in deeper ways. Make relationship with God the result of troubles.
6) Rising Above
As a believer walks in the Spirit and their spirit matures and grows they become aware of how dark the world is. They see how fallen this world has become. It becomes clear how content people are with their sin and how normal sin has become. Believers who continue to grow realize they are in a foreign place. A place that they were never designed to walk. Man was made to walk with God in the garden. They were never designed to taste death, or experience fear, or feel angry. All of our cares were meant to be in God. He was meant to guide our every step in His Holy Sovereignty. Original sin went against that design. Sin created separation from a Holy God. The grace and mercy of God kept His heart for His creation in tact. He always looked to keep a living testimony in the lives of His people. He used laws to guide and protect His chosen and then became man to fulfill that law and reconcile everyone to Him who chooses to accept Him as Lord. His Spirit indwelling in us allows us to rise above this sinful world and walk in the process of sanctification with God. As growth occurs and the separation from the things of this world become so great we must fight the desire to return to the comfort of our past and continue to follow God into our greater purpose. Continue to rise above when friends and family can’t see your path and some may fall away. Look to God for your support because the things of this world can’t support the growth toward things that are above this fallen world. Learn to lean on God and continue to rise. Focus on the Father that created you, knows you, loves you, and looks to make you live above your greatest expectations.
We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10)
For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
God equips each of us in a unique way to serve Him and to glorify Him. In His infinite wisdom He molds us through our troubles in order to strengthen us for our journey. When troubles come into our lives, our first instinct is to run to our friends and family for counsel or consoling. That can be useful some of the time but we must use discernment with their advice. The important thing is that we give God’s Word precedence over all other counsel. This all became clear when I was reminded of the story of David fighting Goliath.
David came to the army camp to bring lunch to his brothers. They were not accommodating to him when he came to them. He then hears the army’s trouble with a giant Philistine named Goliath. David approaches King Saul while all of the other soldiers are afraid to fight. The king reluctantly says ok to this undersized minor fighting the giant. Saul then proceeds to give David his armor and weapon to fight. The problem was David could not use Saul’s weapon or armor (advice) to approach the battle God had for him. He had to use the skills of a shepherd to fight the way God had equipped him. He approached the Philistine with the power of the God of Israel made whole in David’s faith and weakness. David trusted God and ignored the advice of his brothers to return home and his king to use a sword. In his obedience to God he glorified the Lord and solidified his own place as the future king.
Listen to the wisdom of those around you and accept their love. But in those moments of weakness give the highest position to God and let His power be made complete in your weakness. Discern the counsel of the people around you and lean always on God’s word always faithful to His word made flesh in Christ.
With the growth of technology and social media, we are bombarded with people’s opinions and the idea of social acceptance. The current culture changes and flows as ideas of what’s popular change with the ease of a social media post by a celebrity. As Christians we are faced with the difficult task of swimming against the tide of this world. We are called to things that are greater than this earth in its fallen condition. God’s will was established when He created the heavens and the earth and have remained unchanged since. Human history shows people turning back to His way in desperation as they struggle in the emptiness of human wisdom. It’s amusing to see how people even take the ideas of God and ‘re-package’ them into ideas that are supposedly human wisdom. The attempt to walk around God leaves people lost and short of His desired completeness.
Jesus ‘had to’ to travel through Samaria in His journey to Jerusalem.(John 4:4) And he had to pass through Samaria. His journey was supposed to go around Samaria because the Jewish culture looked down on the Samaritans. They were ostracized by the Jewish. Jesus decided to bypass that cultural standard and reduce the 6 day journey to 3 days by following the will of the Father into Samaria. (John 4:1-42)
What must you do that goes against culture to walk in the presence of God? It is impossible to hold the right hand of God and still be ok with inclusion into such a debased culture. (James 4:4) You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. We live in a society that glamorizes excess of all types, promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, selfishness, racism, greed, laziness and false idols. They are even offended when God is mentioned. People walk around neglecting the needy and being too busy to be a part of anything bigger than their self-servitude. Kids are looking up to half-naked singers and people who are famous because of a sex tape.
What must we do to be a light in this dark culture? Imagine the difference when good is returned for evil. Allow the Spirit of God to set you apart in sanctification as His image bearer. Be the difference and not just another person lost in the plans of the deceiver. Make boundaries and respect yourself as a child of God. Turn to God and rely on a power much greater and fulfilling than anything found outside of Christ.
(John 17:14-16) I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
It is clear that our world is falling into chaos. As people turn away from God and toward their own abilities the deceiver gains a bigger foot hold on this world. We can rest assured that our God is victorious over death in the end, but we must endure the consequences of sin while we sojourn on earth. We have to remember that we were created in God’s likeness, as children of light. We were never meant to live in a world of darkness. We were never meant to experience death and fear. Sin made those things come into existence after man had been created to flourish in direct relationship with God. Sin created separation, darkness, and death. Knowing that we weren’t meant for this type of life we have to rely on the provision of God to live abundantly. The ruler of this world is the deceiver; he takes the people who have become lost in sin and convinces them that this is all there is. He keeps their eyes toward the earth so that God is never in focus. We were never meant to see hell either. The deceiver is meant to be there with his followers. (Matthew 25:41) Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
As you struggle through this life, always focus on the path lit by the light of God. That is, the path He designed for you. Leaving that path puts you in an environment where you were never designed to live. We are God’s children and meant to live in relation with Him. Stand close to your Protector, Provider, Sustainer, Creator, and Father. Be a child of light and refuse to live in darkness. You aren’t meant to experience that life, only what God chooses for you as you serve His kingdom.
We can never be too late. It’s intimidating to walk into a congregation of life-long church goers when you are still new to the word. You meet people who went to church camps and bible school and feel that there is too much catching up to do.
Know that you were called when the Lord wanted you there. Relish in the fact that you have been called and that you were able to hear your calling!
The service in the Tabernacle in Numbers didn’t begin until the age of 30 (Numbers 4:22). Jesus did not begin His ministry until the age of 30. King David did not begin his reign until 30 years of age. (2 Samuel 5:4) Just because your children’s bible isn’t full of your crayon markings doesn’t exclude you from His purpose. Your purpose is unique. Sometimes, God’s plan requires a person who has been beat down by the world, and sometimes sin has hardened a heart that must first softened through pain inflicted by the world. It’s when we realize our best efforts to comfort our longing for God with the riches of the world are always short of what we need to be complete. Our wholeness is only found in God and His desire for our lives and this world.
VERSE: (Zechariah 8:20-23) “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ 22 Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. 23 Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
HISTORY: Jerusalem was completely destroyed at least twice, once by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8-10) and again by the Romans under Titus in AD 70. The Mongols destroyed at least a portion of the city around AD 1260, and the Roman emperor Hadrian destroyed it in AD 135. In addition, the city was captured at least 40 times and besieged at least 23 times.
THOUGHTS: Many times throughout the Old Testament we see God allowing His people to be conquered and spread over the land. It always comes in the wake of them turning away from His commandments and guidance. (Zechariah 7:13-14) “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known… This seems to only be a punishment for those people. But once we realize that all things are done for the glory of God, I wanted to think deeper. What if God scatters His people to spread His presence over the earth? God’s judgement acts like a droplet of water to cause a ripple that spread to the corner of the earth. These people turn from God so He scatters them, they find the error in their ways and turn back to God from their foreign land. Now God has placed His people over all the earth who turn to Him and lead the other nations to turn to His as well. (seen in Zech 8:23 above) What a wonderful thought to see how God uses what seems to be a punishment for His people to not only draw them back to Him but also to spread His name and glory throughout the earth. How great if the God serve!