Friday, January 21, 2011

Facing The End Of My Rope

I think most of us go through our day without realizing the responsibility we have been given. It's a pretty big responsibility and we are the second group of people it has been given to; the first group failed. Some people never realize they have this responsibility and others forget over a period of time. The problem is we are going to have to give an account for what we did with it and there are going to be a lot of people surprised by it. Our responsibility is to live in such a manner that God is able to reveal himself to others through us, no matter what we do in life, and no matter what kind of day we are having.

It was the reason God grew Israel into his nation, to be his people, to be a priesthood to the world, a people through whom God would reveal his glory. This did not mean a golden state where everything was perfect and the people grew fat and lazy. It meant a people completely dedicated to God, honouring him in everything they did so the world could see they were different because they belong to God. It meant that when the enemy attacked they did not fight back but instead took it to God who would decide what they would do. Sometimes small army's fought big battles and won. Other times they didn't fight at all but instead were instructed to sing and watch, and they won. Sometimes the battle was over even before their army could get there. There were battles but they always belonged to the Lord, and he was the strength of this nation. The world could see that the God of Israel was greater than any idols they possessed and they quaked in their boots, but that was not God's intent. He wanted the whole world to know him and return to him.

That's the hard thing about serving God, we have to stand in the face of diversity and demonstrate to the world that our faith and relationship with Jesus will never waver. Remember Daniel and his run-in with the lions. God could have saved him from that situation but he used Daniel's words of faith and trust in God to convict the king's heart. When Daniel emerged in the morning the king announced that there was no God like Daniel's God and worshiped. But God's nation of priests forgot their responsibility and let go of God. They would never be the same again. To this day they are not what they once were. So there had to be a change, and Jesus explained this change to the priests and the Pharisees at the temple.

Jesus gave them a parable about a landowner renting out some farming property for a share of the harvest. However, when he sent servant's to collect his share they were beaten up. Eventually he sent his son but they killed him too. Then Jesus made his parable very clear to those who were listening:

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Matthew 21:43)

After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to the Father and soon after sent the Holy Spirit upon his followers and a new nation was born. It would grow to include people from every race, nation, and language in the world. The diversity of this nation is breathtaking. The Word says:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

A holy nation, a people belonging to God, who have the same responsibility as what Israel had: to declare the praises of God. We are a people who belong to him, and we have a purpose. We are the salt and light in this world and that must always be our highest priority. Higher than any personal stuff we may have going on is the priority to allow God to reveal his glory to the world through us. As for the personal stuff, Jesus told us that if our priority remains the Kingdom then our Father would look after everything else. This is so important because this is where Israel failed.

Israel became like a spoiled child, not willing to be obedient in their purpose. They became more concerned about themselves and let go of God more and more. The division of the kingdom and the start of idol worship in the northern half were all the selfish act of one man, but the entire nation followed. The zeal and passion for God was forgotten. His goodness and mercies were set aside. All that he had done for his people was treated as nothing. He corrected them as any father would a spoiled child but Israel never recaptured that incredible relationship they had. The spiritually strongest generation was the one that emerged from 40 years in the desert because the adversity had forced them to depend on God.

I don't know about you but I have only had mild cases of dependency on God and it has caused my zeal and passion to dim. Sometimes I make it through a whole day without even thinking about his goodness and mercies. I am beginning to forget my purpose, or, I should say I was. At the moment I am facing a great deal of adversity and it has woken me up like a bucket of cold water dumped over my head. I now have to wrestle my flesh so it goes down and the spirit-man in me rises up to praise the Lord. This will either strengthen or destroy my relationship with God and, as far as I am determined, this will be used to catapult me to a higher relationship of trust and praise with my God. I have become keenly aware of how I have set aside my responsibility as a member of this nation, to pursue personal interests. My desire now is that God will reveal his glory, grace and mercy as I stand in faith while the adversity surrounds me. What kind of God would be portrayed through me if I did not stand in the storm?

Faith is useless if it is only good for perfect days. We are useless to God if we are nation filled with people who do not know how to stand in faith in the storms. We have lost our understanding of our responsibility if we cannot see what God is doing through us in these times. We pray that God will reveal himself to the world without understanding what it will cost us. Jesus told us it will cost, he never hid that fact from us. So, as a holy nation from every tribe of the world, we need to listen to the instruction of the Word when it comes to an effective witness:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

In most cases there is nothing we can do to prevent the storm. All that is left for us to do is sing, dance, trust, pray and wait for the Lord. It is as we do this the world looks on us in wonder. It is when our God saves us through his strength that they realize how mighty he is :

We wait in hope for the LORD; 
   he is our help and our shield. 
In him our hearts rejoice, 
   for we trust in his holy name. 
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, 
   even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)

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