We’ve been living in panic mode. When we see the latest evidence of darkness and evil on the news, we think this must surely be the end of the age. I can make a case that we’re getting closer to the return of the Lord, but I don’t want to get distracted by that discussion—it’s harvest time! We have an assignment between here and there. We have some things to overcome. We’re not here to capitulate. We’re not yielding the field. We’re not hiding. Instead, we’re learning to listen to God, and to follow Him, and to be willing to change.
Most people don’t like change. They think it was better before, like the Israelites after they escaped Egypt. As they wandered in the desert, they longed for regular routines, schedules, and food that wasn’t manna. God became so angry with their hardened hearts that He said not one of them would enter the Promised Land. So, they wandered in the desert in a circle until the whole generation was gone.
Remembering that story should encourage us to guard our hearts from grumbling and complaining. It’s easy to think life was easier before. There were no supply chain issues. The federal government wasn’t in the midst of the greatest expansion since the New Deal. They weren’t dictating how we traveled, and how we gathered with our friends and family. Instead of looking back fondly on the comforts and ease of previous seasons, let’s be fully invested in the King’s business today. He is doing something new!
Let’s pray: Lord, open our eyes, so we can see in new ways. Give us an understanding and an insight that we haven’t had before. Forgive us, Lord. We’ve been grumpy, and grumbled, and complained about the darkness, and we haven’t turned our faces to the Light. Help us to see.
In Acts 14, we find a man in Lystra who was crippled in his feet. He was lame from birth and had never walked. As he listened to Paul speak, Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed, and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” The man jumped up and began to walk. This wasn’t a healing. It was a miracle. Healing is the restoration of a natural, physical process that has malfunctioned. A miracle is something that happens beyond creation; it’s supernatural. Here the Bible highlights one man who had faith, and how Paul recognized his faith and was moved to help him. It resulted in a miracle that completely changed the course of the man’s life.
Let’s pray to have the same sort of awareness towards those around us: Lord, help us begin to listen with spiritual eyes. Give us eyes to see the people around us who are searching, who are hungry, who are desperate. Use my life to help them. God, do a work in my heart. Awaken me.
The outcome of being willing to listen to the Lord is understanding—and when He gives us understanding, there’s a choice before us. We want to choose obedience. In my experience with the Lord, when He gives me insight and understanding, He’s not a dictator. The Spirit of God will not force us to cooperate, yield, give our time or our treasure, or to invest our thoughts.
Also, fresh insight is not usually like a blinding light. It’s more like when you step outdoors this time of year, and you smell a whiff of smoke, and you realize somebody has a fire going, but you’re not quite sure where. So, you walk around to see if you can figure out where the fire is—especially if it smells like something good is cooking on the fire.
In my life, that’s generally how it begins. The understanding comes to me, and it’s like sensing something faint. If you walk towards it, and you care about it, and you listen, and you’re trying to see, and you attempt to orient yourself to figure out how to receive more, then you begin to gain a bit of clarity on what’s happening. When we catch that whiff of smoke, or feel an inkling from the Holy Spirit, that is the choice point. Are we going to follow? Are we going to choose obedience? Are we going to change? Are we going to repent? Are we going to align ourselves more fully with the Lord and His Word?
There have been many losses from COVID and its aftermath, but my hope is that we will begin to have a new perspective. We’ve gained strength as we’ve endured the hardships, and some tremendous gifts have been offered to us. We have been given an opportunity to align ourselves with God’s purposes as we’ve never done before, because the way we used to do life really isn’t available to us. We can be deployed in new ways. We can accept new assignments.
As we move forward, we want to be heavily invested in the rapidly approaching Kingdom of God, because the Truth of God is the only thing that will bring stability to the place where we live. He may leave us on assignment in this present world for a while to be His ambassadors. He may choose to pour out His Spirit and bring renewal and awakening. Whatever the path is, let’s choose to say yes to Him with new habits, new patterns, and new awareness, as we begin this new year.
Onward in Him,
Pastor Allen Jackson