Packed Up And Moving Forward

Shelves of boxes

Christmas is over, the new year is here. Most people have probably already packed up the Christmas ornaments and decorations, taken down their tree and are ready to move forward with the new year.

All those Christmas decorations and ornaments are packed up for another year. They will not be taken out until November or December of this year. They are hidden away in a attic, closet, shed or garage to not be seen until Christmas season arrives again.

During the Christmas season, everyone is quick to talk about the birth of Jesus, about giving and loving others. The focus for many, at least for believers, is why Jesus came to this earth. Churches are often packed out for the Christmas service. People go to Christmas concerts and performances. Radios play songs about the birth of Jesus.

Manger scene

Yet, as soon as Christmas is over and the new year has begun people move on. Very quickly the heart of Christmas is missing. Generosity is forgotten. Joy is gone. Jesus is often put back in a box, packed away until the right season comes along.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:17-18

Looking back at the time of when Jesus was born, the shepherds were the first ones to learn about His birth. Immediately upon meeting Jesus, they went out and told everyone about what they had seen and learned. They did not pack up Jesus for the next season, but did it immediately.

While the bible does not say anything more about those shepherds, I often wonder if any of those shepherds later followed Jesus. How long did they keep talking about what they had seen?

Shepherd with sheep

I believe that they did not stop any time soon. This was a major event in their life. Think about it, how often do you suddenly see the sky filled with angels to bring you a message from God and you are able to verify the message is true? I have never had that experience.

There are experiences that I have had in my life that occurred 30+ years ago that I still talk about to this day. They had a major impact in my life. I want to continue to remember those experiences and share them with other people.

Drop in water

Trusting that you are a believer, Jesus has impacted your life. There was a point in your life where you chose to believe in Him and it changed your life. Do not stop at that point, keep allowing Jesus to impact your life and share that impact with others.

While Christmas is the season in which we focus on His birth, it does not need to stop there. Many believers are quick to talk about Jesus during the Christmas season, but quickly forget talking about Him after the season. Carry Jesus with you every where you go. Pack up the Christmas ornaments and decorations, but do not pack Jesus up until the next Christmas season or even until the next Sunday morning.

Child walking forward

Move forward in what God has for you, sharing what Jesus has done in you, for you and with you. Be willing to tell the world the good news. The good news of His birth gets better after His death and resurrection. You have great news to share, so go out and share it.

As this new year has begun, find out how you can draw closer to God. Find out how you share Jesus with more people. Do not hide Jesus away so that they world cannot know Him, but allow Him to shine in this dark world through you.

As you move forward in this new year, move forward in His joy, His love, His peace, His comfort, His strength, His life, His ways, His mercy, His grace, His patience, and His salvation given to you.

Psalm 29:11 Strength And Peace

Nature deer lake

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 

Moving forward in life is very difficult for many people. They get worn out from the battles that are in their lives. As they are going through their days, challenges rise up to stop them or divert them from the path they desire to be on.

The greatest battles that many are fighting are to have more possessions, which is believed will bring more peace and contentment in their lives. In order to get more, people will work more. As they work more, they get worn out and wear down, which then causes them to lose their peace, fearing they will lose what they have obtained or are aiming for.

In the middle of all this, there is also very little peace because of the fighting that is going on in this world of crime, abuse and wars.

David states that God gives strength and peace to His people.

The strength that God gives is the ability to keep going day after day. It is the ability to stand up and keep moving forward in spite of difficulties or battles. When the world is trying to take a believer down, he is given power to stand up and hold on to his belief in God.

God’s peace comes upon the believer in the middle of the battles. He can know that no matter what happens, God is on his side and in the end will gain eternal life. As the world is falling down all around him, the believer has a supernatural peace that God is still in control of everything. When the world is dark all around him, the believer has God’s light shining in him showing him the path to take, bringing great peace and comfort.

No matter what is going on in your life, God is with you. Look to Him for your strength to keep moving forward. As the world attacks you and strives to pull you down, keep in mind that God is with you and gives you all that you need for the battle.

Hold on to the peace that Jesus is giving you. This peace is not the absence of trouble in your life, but that God will bring you through all troubles. It is a peace that in your heart that passes all understanding. You are at peace with God, which means everything.

I pray today that you will know God’s power in your life; that God will give you the needed strength to make it each day; that your heart will be filled with the peace of God; and that you will rest in knowing that God will help you through every battle. 

Faith: Against Reason–Mary And Joseph

Angel vision

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:24 

Many people know the story about Mary and Joseph, but few really think about the faith of each and what faith it must have taken to move forward as they did.

Mary was probably a teenage girl who was in an engagement to get married to Joseph. The time of the wedding was some time off. One night an angel appears to her and tells her that she will be pregnant with a boy who would become the savior of the world.

Pregnant lady

She immediately asks a legitimate question ‘How?’. This did not make sense to her, since she was a virgin. Mary obeyed the law and stayed pure for her wedding day.

The angel stated that it would happen by the Holy Spirit of God coming upon her. And it happens.

Now she has to face a dilemma. What is she to do? How will she bring this news to Joseph? How will he take it? How will she tell her parents? Her friends? What will the neighbors think? What will the priests think and do?

Her life is now in danger. During those days, once a person was engaged to be married, it was as if they were married. To have sexual relations outside of marriage was punishable by death because it would be considered adultery.

Yet, she had to trust God and move forward knowing what God had told her and knowing she was innocent, regardless of what may happen or what people may say.

Joseph also had a dilemma to deal with. Now he finds out that she is pregnant. He is a God-fearing, law abiding citizen and good upstanding in the community. What will people think and say of him? What will people think and say of her? What about his position in the community? What about his stand for God? What will the priests think and do when they find out? How will this affect him?

Question mark

He chooses to quietly divorce her and let her go her way without any direct punishment.

Yet, God has other plans. The angel appears to Joseph also, and tells him that what is happening is of God’s work. Immediately Joseph did what the angel does, trusting God, having faith that God knows what He is doing, despite how bad it looks on the outside. Joseph does not divorce Mary, nor does he go into hiding or run away.

God’s ways and thoughts are above our ways and thoughts. He sees a picture that is much bigger and clearer than we could ever see.

Jigsaw puzzle in pieces

There may be times when God will ask you to do something that will go against the cultural norms of the day, in fact, that will happen the majority of the time. He calls His people to be different, to stand out in this dark world as a light.

Light is different than darkness. It exposes, where darkness hides. As a believer there will be times when God will use you to reach this lost, dark world for Him.

God used Mary and Joseph to reach the world by telling them that they will raise the boy who would become the Savior of the world. He would be the long prophesied and awaited Messiah to come.

Split road

As you are a witness, there will be people who will not understand. They will not see the bigger picture. At times it may look like you are crazy and doing something wrong, though you are following God correctly.

Going against the cultural norms of this fallen, dark world can be dangerous. It may threaten your job, your position in the community, your title, and even your family. Sometimes it will be with just words, while other times it could be a physical threat. Regardless of how it happens, there is danger when you have faith in God and are following Him with a sincere heart.

Satan and this world do not want you to be successful in God’s eyes. They want you to fail. Yet, you must step up to the plate and move forward, trusting God. This is faith.

Just as with Mary and Joseph raising Jesus, God has a job for you to do. You may only touch a few people or millions directly, but through you, God can touch change the world. Be willing to step out in faith, following God when everything about it does not look right and sounds crazy. God is with you. Keep the faith!

Joshua 1:9 No Fear Or Discouragement

No Fear

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Facing the unknown or large enemies can be very intimidating for most people. Looking into the darkness of the unknown often brings on fear, because a person does not really know what is ahead. Most people will freeze up and not want to move forward. It is unknown, unfamiliar territory.

Very few people want to face an enemy. The larger and more established the enemy is, the more fear people can have. People do not want to be killed or cut down by the enemy.

Along with the fear, can come discouragement. It can be discouraging to face one enemy after another. It may feel or appear as though the end of the enemies will never come, there will never be any success.

As Joshua began to take over as leader of the Israelites after Moses died, God came to him and told him not to be afraid or discouraged. God would be with Joshua wherever he would go.

Although today most people are not going into physical battles against an enemy to take over some land, there are battles in every believers heart that they must go through. Looking forward in the direction God wants a person to go will often appear dark and unknown. God can lead a person to step out into a new ministry in the enemy’s territory to take back what has been stolen.

It can also be discouraging for a person to go through battle after battle in his walk with God. These can be battles to overcome sin, or to fight for what is God’s. Yet, the person does not need to be fearful or discouraged. God is with him.

As a believer, God is also with you. No matter what they battle you are facing or are led in, Jesus is right there with you. Jesus overcame death, so there is nothing that you can face that He cannot help you overcome.

The battles you will go through will not always be easy or fun, but with God, you will win. Do not give up in discouragement or fear for in the end you will gain eternal life. The world cannot take what it did not give you.

Go forward with God and do not fear or be discouraged…God is with you!

I pray today that you will know God’s presence in your life; that you will allow God to remove all fear; that you will trust God to keep you; and that you will have God’s strength and courage in your life. 

Numbers 14:3 Giving Up Too Soon

Brick wall

Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? Numbers 14:3

Having dreams to accomplish or do something is a thing a lot of people have. They have a vision to do something great and begin to move forward with it, with a lot of excitement and expectation.

As they are moving forward, suddenly they hit a road block or an obstacle. The majority of people will suddenly give up on their vision. They freeze and quit, not knowing how to get over or around the obstacle. They feel as if they cannot move forward, no matter what they do.

By the miraculous hand of God and many miracles, the Israelites had left Egypt. They had food and water provided for them by miracles in the wilderness. They had the great vision of going into a new land and possessing it.

Now when they see that land, they see some obstacles. Immediately they lose vision and give up. They no longer want to move forward, but go back to what they know and understand. They are willing to go back to slavery and lose their freedom, then to attempt to take the new land with God’s power.

This kind of action is common with many believers today. They become a believer. Shortly afterwards, they get a vision from God to do something. As they move forward, they hit some obstacle blocking them. Then they quit too soon. They do not give God the opportunity to do a great work through them.

Giving up and quitting is easy to do. It takes more strength and faith to keep moving forward with what God has said to do. However, if God has said to do it, it can be done…in His way and in His time and in His power.

Don’t let some obstacle or hardship in your life block you from the vision God has given you. He has promised you a new land, go in and take that land with His power. What He has called you to, He will accomplish.

Quitting too soon, will always guarantee failure. God is not a God of failure, but of success.

Don’t allow yourself to go back to the old ways of living, but be victorious in God’s strength. Keep the vision alive and move forward!

I pray today that you will know what God has called you to do; that God will strengthen you to keep moving forward; that you will have a God-sized vision; and that God will do great things in and through you.

Psalm 74:9 When God Is Quiet

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. Psalm 74:9

Silence is a difficult thing for many people. There are many who can remain silent themselves, but very few can handle silence around them.

When there is a speaker talking to a group of people, and that speaker stops talking for just fifteen seconds, many start to wonder what went wrong. They wonder why he stopped speaking. Yet, it was only for a few seconds.

This is a common thing for churches. When a pastor stops speaking for a few seconds, many start praying, thinking he lost his way or notes, when it could have been intentional.

People like to keep hearing what is going on. They want to see signs that things are still moving forward. In the same way, when a person is driving down on a long road trip, he wants to see signs that he is getting closer to his destination and is still on the right road.

In the life of a believer, there will be times when God is silent. He will not speak out loud to a person. During those times, many wonder if God has left them and how long God will remain silent. The devil may place thoughts in the mind that God no longer cares about the person.

There may be times when you are feeling like that. You may be going through a time where God is silent right now. Just like with the psalmist in this passage, you must remember what God has done in the past, both for you and for others.

Unless you have totally rejected God, He has not left you. He may be silent, but He is still right by your side. Jesus said that He would never leave you.

Continue to do what God had last told you to do. Give God praise that He is still in control and by your side, though you do not feel or hear Him. When the time is right, God will move you on. There were times God was silent with the Israelites, and He will be silent with you.

Are you trusting God?

Are you waiting on God to move?

I pray today that you will know God’s presence in your life; that you will know God’s will for your life; that you will trust God when He is silent; and that you will remember all that God has done for you in your past.

1 Kings 19:21 Burn The Bridges Of The Past

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21

Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal and brought rain back to the land. Jezebel was set out to kill him and he felt alone. God sent him to Elisha, a farmer, to anoint him as the next prophet. As soon as Elisha was anointed, he killed his oxen and burned all his farming equipment. Elisha would  not be able to go back to being a farmer and plowing the fields, his equipment was destroyed, the bridge was burned. He chose to follow Elisha and become his servant.

When a person gets ready to leave a job for a new job, it is often said that he should not burn his bridges to the old job. That is saying that he should leave on very good terms with everyone at the old job. The purpose of that is because there is always a possibility that you may have to return to that old job, because the new one may not work out as planned. This is more common when a person leaves to do a new business adventure.

While this may be acceptable in the business world, it is not acceptable in life where God is leading and guiding. When God calls a person out of one area, He will never have that person return to that area. The Israelites were called out of Egypt and were never to return there. People are called out of sin, to never return there.

At a minimum, as a believer, you have been called out of a lifestyle of sin. You are not to go back into that sinful lifestyle. Burn those bridges to that lifestyle to prevent being able to return.

God may also be calling you forward into some ministry position. Be willing to move forward with God by stepping forward and burning the bridges behind you. When God moves you forward it will always be for the best. Do not hold on to the past. Grab what God has for you now.

Has God asked you to cross a bridge to a new location, physically or spiritually?

Have you burned that bridge?

Or do you keep going back over that bridge?

I pray today that God will guide you forward in His path for you; that God will remove all fear of moving forward and burning past bridges; that God will help you to not return to old ways; and that God will use you to build His kingdom.