(January 25, 2023) Robert McQuillan shares encouragement …
As with other articles in this issue 2023 can be a time of accepting a challenge from God, whatever it may be. And if one does, it’ll involve three Cs… Callings, Changes and Challenges.
Callings – that’s between you and God. Answering them, I’ll just point out, will mean…
- Trusting the Lord more than ever.
- Discovering more about God.
- Serving Jesus in new position(s) with the Holy Spirit’s anointing and power.
- Believing for and seeing more miracles and salvations.
- Making your mark for Christ.
As for changes and challenges, they’ll involve…
John 14:1 is such a well-known scripture, and often preached on. As I’m talking about challenges and changes, some of which I’ve mentioned above and some readers might be concerned (oops, another C!), I’ll quote from the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) – ‘Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me.’
Trust is pisteuo… to believe, have faith in, be persuaded, to place trust in. Read the preceding chapter and note that tension was really in the air among the first disciples! Jesus had been indicating challenges and changes that lay ahead – His betrayal, death, the depths of Peter’s commitment, and now He indicating that He will be leaving them. Doubt, distrust and uncertainty had crept in already. No wonder John 13:22 tells that the disciples were staring at one another!
Then Jesus, the prince of peace, encourages them not to be distrust, just trust Him and Father God!
Now no one likes changes, few go looking for challenges… whatever either they be when you accept calls from God! Jesus promised a 2-fold answer – the Holy Spirit (v26) and peace (v27). Whatever He wants to take us into this year, the truth is that God’s grace and enabling of God will be sufficient!
- The Holy Spirit is power, peace, provision and protection… there when we respond to God’s callings.
- As for peace… that precious, powerful eirēnē peace of God indicating tranquillity and assurance. (See my article on eirēnē – Holy Spirit Eirene Comfort).
How convinced are you about challenges and changes involved in responding to God’s calling this year, that no matter how big, the call, the mountain, with God’s peace, you’re convinced you can fully trust Him?
1 Kings 19:19-21 tells how Elisha committed himself to changes and challenges when he accepted God’s calling to link with the renowned prophet Elijah.
When it came Elijah’s time to be miraculously taken to heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12), Elisha willingly accepted the challenge of picking up Elijah’s fallen mantle (the prophet’s badge of honour as Matthew Henry puts it). With his mentor gone, Elisha goes back to the Jordan, strikes the waters with that cloak (which signified authority, responsibility and power). When they miraculously part, even as they had for Elijah, he crosses and goes on to fulfil his ministry calling! Do read how God used him to achieve even greater deeds than his master (v13ff).
But note the changes involved in Elisha accepting God’s challenge…
- When Elijah went looking for him to anoint him, he found his protégé was already a diligent worker, even ploughing himself (1 Kings 19:16,19). More assiduous work of a different kind in store for him. As will be for us if we dare accept God’s callings.
- To make the change, Elisha willingly burned his livelihood, and all that would harness him to the past. He’s totally committed to the change and challenge of following Elijah and he willingly paid the price. There’s always some(s) price to pay when we accept God’s challenges!
- One other change that we can’t overlook! Elisha, the businessman, became the servant of Elijah in a humbling capacity, a servitor (a person who serves or attends on a social superior, even performing menial duties). God is looking for people today that He can thrust into ministry! May a new mantle be dropped on us… if we humble ourselves.
The kingdom today needs committed workers. Will you be one? How sold out are you to changes, challenges and commitment in 2032? Remember Jesus’ warning in Luke 9:62… ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’
Remember that great old chorus line ‘I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back…’ (Attributed to a dying martyr in India).
Moses has accepted God’ challenge and his status changed. No longer was he a humble backwater shepherd but a leader of some ‘six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children’ (Exodus 12:37).
Jeff A. Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center, writes‘If each man is married with an average of five children, this brings the entire population of Israel to 6,000,000.’ Whatever the total figure was that Moses freed along with ‘large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds’(Exodus 12:38), like us he was human and no doubt help, needed confirmation.
What a challenge it must have for this changed Moses, now shepherding so many people! One can imagine him thinking, ‘God, you were at Sinai, you were in Egypt, but what about the future, this wilderness and Canaan?’
But no, Moses had confirmation in his heart! He’d already boldly proclaimed to Israel, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’(Exodus 14:13-14).
And as he moved ahead into God’s calling and trouble arose, the Lord would confirm that His servant was not alone – ‘Set your mind at rest – my presence will go with you’ (Exodus 33:14CJB).
- As with Moses, God knows us intimately – and through Jesus we are in favour with Him. Whatever He calls us to, He will not leave us to work alone (Matthew 7:23, Hebrews 13:5).
- Know that His presence will be with us – the promised Holy Spirit of John 14:16-18 who will lead us ahead and into all truth and whose power is available to us.
- Learn the ways of the Lord. Yes, know His supernatural, but above all know Him and His ways! Psalm 105:4 says, ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.’ Seek here is bâqash to search out, to strive after.
This new year can bring you a new release in ministry effectiveness, power and destiny! Are you willing to accept great changes and challenges – and responsibility as well as power?
For that matter, may we all keep moving onward in God, neither afraid or discouraged as Moses directed!