THE CHALLENGE OF TRANSITION
Be strong and very courageous. —Joshua 1:7
After former professional athlete Chris Sanders suffered a career-ending injury, he told a group of military veterans that although he had never experienced combat, “I understand the pressures of transitions.”
Whether it’s the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, a serious illness, or a financial setback, every major change brings challenges. The former athlete told the soldiers that the key to success when you are transitioning into a new way of living is to reach out and get help.
The book of Joshua is recommended reading whenever we find ourselves in transition. After 40 years of wandering and setbacks, God’s people were poised to enter the Promised Land. Moses, their great leader, had died, and Joshua, his assistant, was in charge.
God told Joshua to “be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Josh. 1:7). God’s words of direction were to be the bedrock of Joshua’s leadership in every situation.
The Lord’s charge and promise to Joshua apply to us as well: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (v. 9).
He is with us in every transition.
Father, I’m bringing You my trials and frustrations. You know each and every detail. Please comfort me as only You can, and provide exactly what I need for today. Help me give my unfulfilled expectations to You, trusting You’re working out a plan for me.
God remains faithful in every change.
I appeal to you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another… – 1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV
To lead your family effectively, you need to learn how to huddle regularly. The ‘huddle’ is where a team: (1) sets its goals; (2) discusses the division of responsibilities; (3) tackles the issues that determine whether it wins or loses. Parent, even though you call the plays from overhead, your family must be taught how to accomplish them on the field. That means working through things, talking through the disagreements, motivating and appreciating each member. Try to listen with an open heart. Don’t just hear what your children say, try to understand how they feel. Yes, you’re the boss, and yes, you can try to enforce your will if you want to. But sooner or later you’ll have trouble, for resentment grows when people feel left out.
Every member of your team has got to be part of the decision–making process. Involve them! Ask God to help you look beyond what you want to what’s best for all of you. And don’t fall under the spell of instant gratification. What looks good to you today could be taking you off the path to a better tomorrow. And don’t let ‘outsiders’ into your huddle. Tell them to stay in their own. Too often their opinions are based on hearsay, self–interest or jealousy. Respect the privacy of your team. Build loyalty. Huddle regularly in prayer. When you do that, everybody wins!
A LOVING FATHER
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. —Psalm 103:13
The parents were obviously weary from dragging their two energetic preschoolers through airports and airplanes, and now their final flight was delayed. As I watched the two boys running around the crowded gate area, I wondered how Mom and Dad were going to keep the little guys settled down for our half-hour flight into Grand Rapids. When we finally boarded, I noticed that the father and one of the sons were in the seats behind me. Then I heard the weary father say to his son, “Why don’t you let me read one of your storybooks to you.” And during the entire flight, this loving father softly and patiently read to his son, keeping him calm and focused.
In one of his psalms David declares, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:13). The word pities refers to showing love and compassion. This tender word gives us a picture of how deeply our heavenly Father loves His children, and it reminds us what a great gift it is to be able to look to God and cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).
God longs for you to listen again to the story of His love for you when you are restless on your own journey through life. Your heavenly Father is always near, ready to encourage you with His Word.
I rejoice in Your presence and Your love for me, Lord. Today I choose joy in knowing Your love is constant and unchanging, forever fixed.
God’s great love for His child is one of His greatest gifts
GOD MADE FLESH …
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. – John 8:57-59
Jesus didn’t seek to clarify the Jews’ misunderstanding of His previous statements. Instead, He made a new statement that those who would not accept that Jesus was God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16) could not possibly understand. “Before Abraham was, I am.” He not only said that He existed before Abraham, but He was again associating Himself with the great “I AM” statement of Exodus 3:14. This statement could leave no doubt that Jesus was claiming deity in the highest sense of the word.
Jesus proclaimed “I am.” This is how Jehovah identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. When spoken under the anointing power of God, Jesus’ pronouncement that “I am he” knocked all of those who came to arrest Him backwards to the ground (Jn. 18:5-6). Jesus was the great “I AM THAT I AM” of Exodus 3:14 manifest in the flesh!
When the Jewish authorities heard Jesus call God “my (own) Father,” they immediately understood that Jesus claimed for Himself deity in the highest possible sense of that term. That claim was either blasphemy to be punished by death, or Jesus was who He claimed to be.
The purpose of the fourth gospel is clearly stated, “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (Jn. 20:31). The object of John’s gospel was to show that Jesus is “the true God” (1 Jn. 5:20) who was “made flesh” (Jn. 1:14).
LOOK TO THE WORD, NOT NATURAL FACTS
Numbers 21:9 – So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
“Pastor, I know that God is my healer. But why is this sickness and pain still in my body?” If you have been looking at your sickness and pain all this while, stop looking at yourself and start looking at Jesus. Did He or did He not take upon Himself your sickness and pain?
God’s Word declares, “Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, and our pains—he hath carried them…” (Isaiah 53:4, YLT) Since Jesus has already taken your sickness and pain at the cross, then He cannot “untake” them. Even if you find it hard to believe that Jesus has paid for your healing, especially when the pain is unbearable, the truth is that it is still paid for. It is a finished work!
God is not saying that your sickness does not exist, nor is He asking you to pretend that it is not there. He is asking you to look away from the sickness, painful as it may be, and look to the truth that it has already been judged at the cross in the body of His Son.
Once, while still in the wilderness, the children of Israel were bitten by deadly desert serpents. The serpents were real. The bites were painful and deadly. So God told Moses to point the people to the bronze serpent put on a pole—a picture of the cross. (John 3:14) Bronze signifies judgment. In other words, the serpent—their problem—was already judged at the cross.
Those who kept their eyes on the bronze serpent lived. Those who focused on their wounds died. So stop looking at your sickness. Instead, look to the cross and see your sickness already judged in the body of Jesus. Surely He has borne your sicknesses and carried your pains! That is the truth of God’s Word. And His Word supersedes natural facts.
My friend, you let natural facts rule or establish God’s truths over your problem by what you choose to focus on. So decide today not to focus on the facts concerning your problem. Instead, establish the truth of God’s Word and Christ’s finished work over your problem—and live!
SICKNESS IS NOT FROM GOD
And his disciples asked him saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? – John 9:1-4
The disciples asked a question that still puzzles many people today. Why is a child born with a physical defect? Is it a judgment of God upon the parents for some sin, or is it possibly God’s judgment upon the child for sins that God knows he will commit?
Jesus Himself had previously linked sickness with sin. In this instance, however, Jesus said this blindness was not caused by this man’s or his parents’ sins.
This has led many people to interpret the rest of this verse as saying that God made this man blind just so that He could heal him and be glorified thereby. From this thinking, many doctrinal teachings have risen about how sickness and other problems in our lives are actually blessings from God, intended to bring glory to God and correction to us. This reasoning, however, does not line up with the other truths of God’s Word.
It was not God who made this beggar blind. This man was not born blind because of any one person’s sins but because sin in general had corrupted the perfect balance that God had created in nature. Therefore, some maladies happen, not as a direct result of an individual’s sins but as an indirect result of sin in general.
Deuteronomy 28 settles forever the question of whether sickness, poverty, and oppression are really blessings in disguise. God says that sickness and poverty are curses – not blessings from God. Christ redeemed us from these curses of the law so that now the blessings may come upon us through Him (Galatians 3:13). God’s curses have been placed on Jesus and removed from those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice. You are blessed!
JOY IN HIS PRESENCE …
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11, NIV
Are you experiencing the fullness of His joy? God promises that joy is found in His presence, and if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then His presence is inside of you! Joy manifests when you focus your mind and heart on the Father and begin to praise Him for what He’s done in your life. The Bible says that He inhabits the praises of His people. When you begin to praise and thank Him, you are in His presence. It doesn’t matter where you are physically or what’s going on around you, you can access the joy that’s inside of you at anytime, day or night.
Know this: God wants you to experience His supernatural joy and peace at all times. That’s why He chose to live inside of you and give you an endless supply. Don’t waste another minute feeling overburdened and discouraged. Get in His presence where there is fullness of joy because the joy of the Lord is your strength!
HANDLING YOUR FAILURES (1)
‘…the hearts of the people melted, and became like water.’ Joshua 7:5 NKJV
Even the most seasoned believers experience failure and the big question at such times isn’t, ‘How could I have let that happen?’ but, ‘What’s the right way to deal with it?’ Indulging in self–condemning thoughts comes naturally to us, but it does no good. It just produces discouragement, and adds failure upon failure. As a result of Achan’s sin, Israel was defeated at Ai and fled before their enemies. Like us, in response to their defeat, ‘…the hearts of the people melted, and became like water.’ Their faith forsook them, and they ‘lost their courage.’ (Joshua 7:5 GNT) Even their leader Joshua ‘…fell facedown to the ground…’ (Joshua 7:6 NIV), despairing that things could only get worse! Have you been there? Do you recognise the pattern? Defeat, discouragement, despair, and more defeat. What was God’s response? ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus…? Israel has sinned… Get up, sanctify the people…’ (Joshua 7:10–13 NKJV) He’s a God of repentance—not wallowing in remorse; a God of getting up—not lying down in failure! Holiness is a path, not a place. When you’re off the path, God’s plan is simple—get back on it immediately. Confess your sin (1 John 1:9). By faith ac-cept God’s mercy and forgiveness. And refuse Satan’s condemnation (Romans 8:1). ‘…Forgetting those things which are behind…press toward the goal…’ (Philippians 3:13–14 NKJV) Like a child learning to walk, when you fall don’t lie down and give up. Minimise your down–time—get back up and walk again. Remember this: the moment that brings the awareness of sin should also bring the confession of sin and the assurance of forgiveness!