Reflections on the change of year
God gave the nation of Israel feast days so that they would remember and affirm who they were as a called-out people. They were to recount from where God had taken them, through what He had taken them, and to where He had taken them.
We’re in the New Testament age now, and there is no compulsion to maintain feast days. And when I started out many years ago, I didn’t place much value on them, but now I accept them unlegalistically and I see good in them.
(I love that about the Word. When I didn’t value the holidays, I had the freedom not to. When later it seemed good to me to enter in, I was free to. The Holy Spirit was free to minister to me according to my individuality, on His own timetable, not man’s. Not being under law is an advantage of our exalted position in Christ.)
I think the New Year holiday is a good time to reflect back on where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going. Jesus often exhorted the first disciples to “come apart to a desert place”. We need to periodically change our mental scenery so that we can get a fresh perspective on ourselves. It could be a change of geography, it could be getting on a motorcycle or taking a walk, it could be a seminar or fasting in the prayer closet. But we need to break the dulling, hypnotic effect of daily patterns and responsibilities so that we can see ourselves afresh and creatively, as with the honest eyes of a child.
And blessed is the person who has trusted, likeminded counsel he can mirror his thoughts off of. Jesus gave us the Body for this kind of mutual cleansing and edification.
God tells us that the Word is never far off from us. We don’t have to go to some far off place to hear it; it’s already in our heart. The issue isn’t where we are, it’s the quieting of our hearts so that we can hear. We need to tune out the Big Three obstacles: the world, flesh and devil.
Ronald Reagan used to say that the biggest mistakes people make are usually at root very simple. I believe that is true. We make a small error in approach or perspective, it gets leveraged and amplified by the realities of life, and then we end up in trouble.
And so the task before us is to let the Word penetrate our defenses so that we can hear it. So simple, yet it can seem hard. It can come down to blow-by-blow hand-to-hand combat with the Big Three, smashing idols, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
It’s good to know, as we do this, that we win. God has promised that if we stay the course there is no obstacle or hindrance that can stop us. We will prevail, even if every single thing in the world seems arrayed against us. We win.
So I’m going to try to get in better touch with where I’ve come from and what the Lord has faithfully brought me through. Samuel set up a stone of remembrance for just this purpose. He called it Ebenezer, which means, “thus far the Lord has helped me”. The Israelites would return to it to encourage themselves in the Lord’s faithfulness when their current situation grew dire.
And then I’m going to be giving thought to where He might be taking me. I know that He wants big changes in my life, and I know that life changes correspond to heart changes. There’s often a preparation work done inside us, if only to bring us to a place of yieldedness, so the outer work can progress. But also, the outer work often completes the work that God is doing within us. So there’s a symbiosis going on between the inner and outer lives. I personally don’t have a lot of specific clues right now regarding my life changes, but actually they’re not necessary at first anyway. The basic call is to abide, believing. From there, all things become possible, and God will reveal what needs revealing at its proper time.
Some are saying that 2010 is going to be a wonderful year in the Lord. I’m sure it will be, because anything in the Lord has to be, by definition. But I also think there are going to be many challenges, and dare I say, some suffering. I’ve been very tuned into the suffering of the church in the world this year, and it is overwhelming at times. We in the West have had it very good.
But notice the use of the past perfect tense in that last sentence, designating something already completed. We are entering a battle royale for not only our culture now, but for our very survival. Our enemies foreign and domestic are conspiring to knock us off the foundation of our Christian heritage, and frankly, they have been very effective indeed, to the end that families and lives have been destroyed.
Thus, one of my goals this year is to be more effective in waking up the church and in bringing the culture and society back to the Lord. Only when we have conformed ourselves to His truth – which is the only truth – can we reasonably expect to be strong and stable and able to defeat our enemies. But regardless of how well the macro work to restore the nation goes, the focus must be on individual souls. Revival occurs one soul at a time, and each one gained or regained is of infinite value and causes joy in heaven and on earth.
I want to thank those who have stopped here to read, or to contribute in word or prayer over the half-year this blog has been up. I hope in some small way you have been helped in your walk with the Lord of Glory. May He bless all our efforts, and may the glory of His Kingdom thereby be extended into Creation, such that the defensive gates of hell will crumble before us.