Yesterday I mentioned a story in 2 Kings 6 about the prophet Elisha and the attempt by the king of Aram to capture him. The servant saw the army and wondered what they were going to do to stay alive. Elisha encouraged his servant to not be afraid, but he also prayed for him. He helped to connect the dots between what God was doing and his life. “God help him see it” God answered the prayer and he saw.
Isolation is no friend to someone walking in faith because we are easily shaken on our own. A life of faith is not something we just do on our own, nor should it be. We live it out with each other. We grow together. What a privilege to be able to help someone see what God is doing in the midst of crisis and to receive the same ourselves! It is awesome to be able to look at our brother and sister in Christ and say – “Keep your eyes on Jesus. Let’s do this together.”
How can you encourage someone to keep their eyes on Jesus, not in some cliché way like — “it will be okay”, but in a real way? How can you help someone in a way that doesn’t diminish the junk they find themselves swimming in, but instead helps them look up out of it to the Lord who walks with them through it. We need to pray with each other that God would open our eyes to whatever He has for us in any circumstance and to give us the faith needed for anything that might happen.
It is at this point that we are no longer paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, but are empowered by faith in the risen Savior. This changes how we live! Elisha acts on what his eyes of faith tell him and he prays that God would strike them with blindness in verse 18 and God does it.
It would appear that the servant takes a deep breath and calms down also. He has now seen that God is up to something big and he rests in it. Do you rest in Him? Do you find ways to stop, in the confidence of God’s Word and the ministry of His Spirit to rest in Him? Do you apply that which we confess with our mouth about Jesus being the Lord? That means giving up the desire to have it all perfectly arranged before stepping out in faith. That means coming before the throne of God with open hands and knowing that the assurance we have for each day does not come from a paycheck or a career, but a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We need to be connected with each other. We do know is that we will accomplish more walking in faith together than we will when we try to do it alone.
In 2 Kings 6 there is a story about the prophet Elisha and the attempt by the king of Aram to capture him. Early in the morning Elisha’s servant wakes up and looks out to find that a superior military force surrounded them while they slept. This terrified him as he could see the dangers, but he had no concept that there could be deliverance from it He wondered to Elisha, “What should we do?”
Truthfully, we relate pretty well to this servant. We worship together on Sundays and declare great truths about God together only to be discouraged by the chaos we find ourselves in on Monday. How do we apply faith to daily life?
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
I remember when I would take my children swimming when they were babies. They would be absolutely calm and happy if I held them so that they could see me. They would laugh, splash in the water, and even let me toss them in the air. But the minute I spun them around in the water, and they could not see me any longer, they got tense and started to cry. My hands never left their bodies and I never came close to letting them drown, but they lost sight of me and panicked at the sight of the mass of water around them. While this seems funny to us, we just as easily do that when the circumstances of life overwhelm and we take our eyes off our Jesus.
Life through eyes of faith is life fixed on Jesus Christ; we are called to look to Him in all things. In Christ we receive the ability to stand firm no matter what circumstances come our way and gain confidence to take faith-filled risks. There is a calm that comes upon us as we decide to keep looking to Jesus Christ and not to the circumstances around us.
Elisha tells his servant, “Do not fear! Those who are for us are greater than those who are against us.” It took eyes of faith to see that. It took assurance that there was greater power and purpose than what could be physically understood.
Everyday brings new opportunities to fix our gaze on Jesus Christ; He offers Himself to us. It means to follow Him, even when the odds seem against us and the challenges are overwhelming. We do well when we remember that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We gain confidence when we let God’s Word remind us that if God is for us who can be against us. Our job is to glorify God by walking in obedience to Him, no matter what happens in life, because our life of faith is not built on life circumstance, but on Jesus Christ.
It has been a while since I have written one of these. We moved to Wisconsin the end of December, which gave us many things to do in a very short time. Moving is a stressful endeavor. Moving in the middle of a school year is difficult. Moving to Wisconsin in winter seems kind of crazy. But since when have things made sense?
I grew up in Wisconsin, but 3 of my 4 kids were born on Cape Cod. That means their idea of winter is snow that melts in two days. That has made for some minor complaining and wondering about the deep freeze and the cold. I have been asked on more than one occasion if we will ever see the grass. The sunsets are beautiful though.
We do have some snow.
The kids do amaze me with what they come up with. My daughter told me one day that she wanted to cut my hair “all by herself” and then ran off to get a knife. One of my boys came home with something that made us smile. His dream is that everyone would read the Bible. How can you not smile?
The kids have been making new friends. Last Sunday after church we went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Somehow we managed to have a whole bunch of young kids with pool sticks running around. Well, actually, they were attempting to play the game. I just stayed out of the way.
As I reflect on the last year, I am amazed at where we are today and especially God’s faithfulness to us. For example, we moved from Cape Cod to Southwest Wisconsin in the winter and had no problems with weather. In fact, the day we unloaded the truck was really warm. It was the last warm day before some very cold weather. I mean it feels a like we have turned the page on a different life. I know that sounds weird, but things are much different here. We are so grateful for how God lead and planted us here.
But for some of us, it will be nice when summer comes.
It has been almost two months since we left Cape Cod for Wisconsin; time has really been moving along. This journey from where I had been for 7 years to where I am today was a long and emotional one. And yet as I reflect this morning I am reminded of God’s obvious hand in it all. This was not something I went searching for. It was not something I manufactured under a veil of ‘seeking God’s will.’ I truly was listening to the Lord’s leading and taking the next step.
I am grateful to be where I am today. I believe this is an excellent fit for our family and for what I am gifted in. I know God has a plan for His Church here. I believe as He looks out on our city His heart breaks even more than mine for those who willingly walk away from Him. I had that on my mind as I was praying for our community this morning. The Lord led me to Isaiah 12.
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2-3
I am reminded again that this church has a specific purpose in the community to point people to the God who is our salvation. We draw on that water ourselves and we give it away. I recently saw a well being drilled just outside of town. It is a messy and difficult task, but once that well is finally established, it gives water for years. That is a powerful picture of what the church is to be about here. The hard part of establishing the Church has already been accomplished through Jesus Christ. Now we come to the well of living water and find that it never runs out. It encourages me to continue to be faithful to Jesus Christ and continue to point people to Him. God is not done yet!
Tonight before I put the kids to bed I was able to have a brief conversation with my oldest son about heaven. We were listening to a version of the song “Be Unto Your Name” I told him that around the throne of God there is constant worship going on. It was a special time in the midst of a chaotic day. The kids have gone a little stir crazy with the cold weather we have had.
Yet, for all that we do with our kids to try to entertain them, what could be better than helping them worship God on their own. They need an authentic sense of worship. They need to catch a vision for the glory of God! Maybe you need some time in the throne room of God right now.
It has been a few weeks, but we have started to settle in here. Of course it has been below zero much of the past couple weeks, but God has been good to us. As we get started here, I just wanted to share something again that the Lord has been teaching me. I look back at the past year and am amazed at how God led us to where we are. I would not have placed myself here now, but there is such a peace that comes from knowing this is where God has us. We were able to pack up our things, drive out here, get unpacked, and make meaningful connections without having too many melt downs. That is God’s work, no doubt about it.
Today I am walking in the confidence again of knowing my calling and resting firmly in it.
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve.” – 1 Peter 5:3
Even more amazing is that way that sun has been coming up even in the cold. It is like God is smiling on us and reminding us of His blessings to come. I look forward to them and all that He will accomplish in 2014.