Archives for posts with tag: journey

promised land 2

What if the “Promised Land” is literally the territory that becomes Israel in the Bible…AND figuratively the blessings of God on the obedience of His people? What if our study of Old Testament history is meant to lead us to deeper understanding of both God’s will for all his people, and God’s will for us individually? I believe God set aside a geographic place, but I also believe God prepares a “promised land” that is unique for each of His children. It may be a geographic place. It may be a relationship or a ministry or a front row seat to see God at work…it was all those for the ancient Hebrews. There are some things that were true about the promised land God gave to his people back then that are also true for each of us as we seek God’s will for us right now.

 We have to separate themselves from what has been and allow God to do a new thing. God required that Abraham leave Ur and that the Hebrews leave Egypt in order to inhabit a different place. They could not have become the people God intended them to be if they had refused to obey God’s instructions. For us, that may not necessarily mean physical relocation, but it will mean that we have to let go of things that keep us bound to the past, or prevent us from seeing new things about ourselves and about God.

 Getting from where we are to the promised land God calls us to is not a magic miracle; it is a journey. There will be times in the wilderness. The journey to possess our promised lands may be fraught with tests and tribulations intended to make us strong enough to overcome the “giants” that already live there. Dwelling in our promised land will require that we trust God more than we fear those who oppose us, that we want what God chooses for us more than we want what we’ve chosen for ourselves.

 Promised lands are not a one-time gift; they have to be defended. Satan is threatened by those who obey God’s call on their lives and inhabit the promised lands God gives them. But when we stand firm in what we know is God’s call on our lives, God fights the battles for us, just as He fought for the ancient Hebrews as they moved forward into Canaan to possess their land.

 God led those ancient peoples each step of the way. They walked across the Red Sea on dry land as they left Egypt; they walked across the Jordan River on dry land as they arrived in their promised land. And in between, they saw some of the most magnificent miracles recorded in the Bible.

 God still leads those who will follow. May we let go of the things that prevent us from knowing the full measure of His blessing on our lives, and may that process let us see His glory and allow us to fully trust Him for our next step forward.

 

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stars and angelsUneducated shepherds were doing a menial job and were interrupted by angels. They found God in the middle of the night in a manger in their hometown. The Wise Men didn’t hear from angels; they saw a star. They felt compelled to travel hundreds of miles in a time when travel was dangerous and difficult. Their education and curiosity led them to leave where they were and follow a hunch to see where it led them. They found God at the end of a long, tedious, intentional journey.

Every once in a while, we see evidence of God in our world. Our awareness can come as an unplanned event that takes us by surprise, or it may be an intentional choice to pursue our faith in God, rather than focusing on our circumstances. Sometimes we “find” God when we’re not looking for Him. We are going through the motions of our lives, doing what must be done as best we can, when God interrupts our schedule and unmistakably calls us to Himself.

But sometimes finding God involves our commitment to keep looking. It may be a long journey from where we are and what we know to the place where we understand and see Him face to face. We may have to keep our focus on what we believe as we journey through all that will lead us from where we are to where He is.

The shepherds could have decided that a decent night’s sleep was more important than traipsing off into town. The Wise Men could have easily justified simply recording the appearance of an unusual star, rather than sacrificing a substantial amount of time and money on what could very likely be a wild good chase. But they didn’t. Their hearts were unmistakably stirred, and they ignored common sense and beheld the face of God.

We don’t know what happened after they left the Christ child and went home. Were they permanently changed by their encounter with God come to earth, or was the thrill temporary? Did they spend the rest of their lives telling the story of the moment they saw God, or did their circumstances and schedules retake control of their expectations? Was Christmas a one-time event for them or was it a turning point in their lives?

Our culture has tried to reinvent Christmas into something less than God intended it to be. Receiving the gift of the presence of God is too often eclipsed by the frantic search for presents to buy. Anticipation of His presence and blessing gets lost in the preparation and parties. We’ve made Christmas into something we do, rather than a celebration of the God who never forgets a promise, whose incredible love continually calls us into His presence, the one who left Heaven to come live with us.

Whether your invitation looks like an angelic interruption or the nagging hope of a star that draws you to seek Him, follow your heart into His presence. Find Him amid the to-do lists and demands of your Christmas. Immanuel, God with us, wants relationship with you. Let that bring you hope and joy that transforms the event of Christmas Day into a turning point in your journey with God.