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Spring Forth into the New

Green shoots are springing up everywhere as we look around outside in this new season. Some plants that appeared dead have sprouted new growth, and isn’t it a delight to look upon evidence of new life? This can bring hope, hope as new life is seen in the natural world and hope as new life is in us as God’s children.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

As a friend said to me recently, the past year was a rough year. Certainly we all dealt with the usual challenges in life, but also had to face the pandemic, turmoil in our country, and, in Texas, a rare deep freeze. The Lord has seen us through it all, wouldn’t you say? Thankfully, we can emerge from this time with stronger faith, with more resiliency and endurance, for we have seen again that God is good and that He has brought us through. God is always faithful to be with us and to bring us through.

It is time to shake ourselves off and move forward. It is time to step into all the Lord has for us ahead. It is time to giddy-up and go!

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV)

In order for us to go on into the new, we must move past the past that would hold us back. What is holding you back? Are you still reeling from what’s happened this last year (and may still be happening) to your family, your ministry, your job, things you care deeply about? Are you caught in a place of fear, sorrow, pain, hopelessness? Are you worn down and worn out?

The scripture above commands us to leave the past behind. Easier said than done, right? Sometimes our focus is on those things we no longer can do anything about resulting in regret, discouragement, depression, or overwhelming sadness or grief. We are to process with the Lord that which is hindering us or stopping us from moving ahead. We are to trust in God as our Healer, the Lifter of our Head, and the Restorer.

Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)

Then we move on. We are open to the new thing the Lord is doing; we are looking for it to spring forth. Even where there has been wilderness or desert in our lives, we trust in God to make a new way. We are not stuck any longer. A road in the wilderness! Rivers in the desert! Jesus is the Way. As we put our hand is His, He leads us forward showing us the path. He directs our steps. He makes the crooked places straight. We are simply to trust Him.

In chapter 1 of the book of Joshua, God calls Joshua to become the new leader of the Israelites and is given his assignment: to lead the people across the Jordan to Canaan to claim the land as an inheritance. God’s words to Joshua ring true for us today as we say “yes” to God’s call and to God’s assignments as we advance His kingdom.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9 NKJV)

It’s time to move forward in the light of His glory and grace. It’s time to spring forth into the new!

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The Power of Deception

wisteria1This morning at breakfast, I happened to mention to my husband how much I had been enjoying the beautiful vine with luxuriant purple flowers that adorns our back fence.  Previously unnoticed, it is draping along the top of the fence behind our stand of cannas.   Since purple has always been my favorite color, these blooms have been a delight these past few weeks, particularly now (autumn) when a few other plants have already passed their prime.  To my great surprise, when I asked him the name of that vine, my husband responded that it was an invasive plant that he needs to eradicate as soon as possible, as it will overtake all the other plants in the yard and choke the life out of them.   I was properly horrified!   “How can that be?,” I thought to myself.  

The spiritual lesson instantly registered in my heart:   more often than not, deception initially presents itself as something attractive, innocent, life-enhancing, and even beautiful.  However, as it progresses, it proves toxic and chokes the life out of everything around it.  Its appeal causes us to ignore prudent investigation of how it operates or what effects it may ultimately have on our lives.  After all, if we initially recognized deception as deception, it would (by definition) no longer be deception, would it? 

Although we hardly need to re-visit the oft-cited example of Eve yielding to the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life in the Garden of Eden,  we certainly would benefit from applying the same lessons to our own lives, communities, and cultures.  Even a cursory glance at the news reports  exposes the rampant hatred, malice, selfishness, lying, and exploitation that run completely counter to Scriptural principles of integrity and personal accountability for our misdeeds.  Our media reflect who we are:  it appears we worship ourselves, our own conveniences, our own opinions, and our sexuality.  We accuse others of the very things of which we ourselves are guilty.   Are we even recognizable any longer as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles?   

While no one may deliberately purpose in his or her heart to deceive and exploit others (at least not initially), when we fall prey to deception, we find ourselves choking in the throes of our own demise.  What initially seemed appealing, or even beneficial, proves toxic.  This principle holds true both personally for individuals and corporately for nations.   

I praise God that He is the source of hope for me, for my family, for my community, and for my nation.  Jesus is faithful to unmask deception in our lives and deliver us from every darkness.   Repentance is a gift we desperately need God to give us; happily, He gives that gift quite willingly, as He does not want us to perish!  I pray He exposes deception in my life, unmasks anything toxic, and empowers me to repent; He is able to deliver me and heal me, and He is my only hope!  I pray similarly for my country and its leaders.  

Jesus, send Your Word and heal us, and deliver us from our destructions!  (see Psalm 107:20)

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

 

 

 

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Abiding in Christ or Living in a Deserted Camp?

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After a recent visit to Shiloh in Israel, I began to meditate on what it means to abide in Christ.   I have always thought of abiding as residing or remaining somewhere; that definition, in fact, is correct.   However, abiding in Christ does not necessarily mean we remain in the same physical or spiritual place forever.   When the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, they encamped according to very specific instructions from the Lord; not only did they set up camp when the pillar of cloud or fire stopped before them and break camp when the cloud or fire moved, but they also adhered meticulously to a set process He had given them for moving the tribes forward and transporting the components of the tabernacle.   I would imagine the process would become fairly routine during the seasons when they moved frequently after shorter periods of residence in a particular location.   However, the tabernacle remained at Shiloh for 367 years.   Personally, if I had lived in a place that long, or my ancestors had lived in a place for centuries, I am not certain WHAT it would take for me to understand the signal to move on!   That order to disencamp would become even more challenging if God had worked miracles in my life during my residence in that place.

Since my parents moved frequently, I never lived more than three years in one house (at least, not until much later as a married woman).  As a result, I never associated home with a particular place, but rather only with my family.  My sense of abiding was completely relationship-based.   I experienced feeling of jealousy toward friends who actually had a home town, who were really “from” somewhere.   However, in retrospect, God used my childhood to teach me something significant about abiding in Him.

As a child, I remember being fascinated with a place near my aunt’s cabin in the Colorado mountains called “The Deserted Village.”  When we hiked over there, we could only imagine real cabins on the few nearly-buried wooden foundation beams that remained in the ground; most of them were nearly covered with grass and weeds.   Still, I loved fantasizing about what life was like for the children who had lived there a couple of hundred years ago.  I stood in that bygone village and concocted scenarios of a life that no longer existed in a small settlement that had since evaporated.  Would I have considered pitching a tent there, only because I found the place intriguing?   No, as my parents and siblings and I lived in a house in another state.  The idea of corporate life there was captivating, but the thought of being alone there was terrifying.

That deserted village has a spiritual application. Often the Lord works wonders in our lives during a certain season; we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and sense His anointing in a particular spiritual activity or a certain period of our lives.   When the instructions come to move out of that spiritual place and abandon that camp, we resist.   After all, it was a good place, a place God Himself had called us to inhabit!   However, abiding means to dwell in HIM, to sit on our Daddy God’s lap.  That means that we need to move with Him to the new places He is establishing for us to occupy.   If we insist on remaining in the glorious seasons of the past, we will miss the new adventures He has in store for us in Christ, and we may find ourselves living in a deserted camp.

Psalm 84, verses 5-7 expresses God’s heart for the man who does not insist on remaining stuck in the same place, the one who instead is willing to follow Him:  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Father, help me to remember the mighty works You have done in past seasons of my life, but do not allow me to dwell there!  Empower me to pursue You and leap into Your lap as You move me forward to new vistas and fresh challenges, in Jesus’ Name!

 

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