Psalm 14:2 (Message)
God sticks his head out of heaven. He looks around. He’s looking for someone not stupid—one man, even, God-expectant, just one God-ready woman.
Sitting in the Christmas production at church yesterday, it hit me. This year is almost over. Praise God! We made it. Looking back, the last three years have been a struggle but now we are about to enter a new year. I have always loved the New Year and thought of new beginnings. However, the past few years of our life have made time seem to string into one long chapter. Where is the fresh and new beginning that I have longed for? Each time the calendar flips I have believed this would be the beginning of something wonderful after all the tears that have been planted in the past. With a dear friends baby sleeping peacefully snuggled against my chest and my husband’s arm around me, I am watching our new son-in-law praise the Lord with all his heart to the left his wife, our oldest daughter surrounded by the children who are performing radiant in the glow of the soft lights. To the left our other two daughter’s whisper and laugh with their friends. I am content. As I watch before me, the choir sings praise to the Lord as the drama team depicts Jesus Christ ministering to people. Healing bodies, releasing them from bondage and mending their hearts – I know all these people. But I see past their faces to the reality that this is the God I serve, the Jesus I know and the Spirit who lives in me. I am overwhelmed. I begin to sob hoping no one will notice in this moment of pure revelation instead of a new year that the Lord is making a new me.
As time passes through Christmas moving to the New Year, I want the next couple of weeks to be the time God prepares me to be God-Ready in the coming year. Each year I have decided what I wanted in the New Year. I have joined my faith with pastors who declare new seasons of life. But this year, I do not want anything but Jesus. I put my faith and full expectation in His Plan and Purpose for 2015. I one to be the one person who is God-expectant and God-ready when the ball drops in time square. When He looks, I want Him to see me. Not for who I am, but who He has decided that I will be.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (Message)
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
I have seen the dead brought back to life. In a physical sense, I have watched the Lord heal our son’s body not once but on five separate occasions. Each diagnosis would make the prognosis worse in the eyes of the world, but God just keeps making Him better. I don’t get it but I have come to expect it. Each medical team more surprised than the next due to the gravity of the disease that attacked his body, but blown away when the Lord touches him and heals him completely each time. I don’t understand it. But when I think about what the Lord has done in his body I cannot help but believe. I have seen it with my own eyes. Not only that the transformation in me spiritually over the course of the last fifteen years, I do not know how I ended up on my feet. Right before I gave my whole life to Christ, I was a mess. God’s Hand of Protection surely saved me and the three little people who I had in tow. They are now wonderful, thriving adults. I am proud of my children for they represent the goodness and faithfulness of God. They are not perfect but they love Him. With all the craziness in our life, the centrifuge force of it all has pressed me closer into the center-focus of my life – Jesus Christ. He has given me life, resurrection life and a far better life. Why should I try to do anything on my own?
Isaiah 43:16-19 (Message)
This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, the God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
It is human nature to get caught up in the past. It is what we know and much more comfortable than the unknown reality of the future. We dwell on the past often choosing to live there rather than to step out in faith and embrace the future. I keep waiting for Jesus to part the sea and move the ocean as He has done before, but maybe this time I am supposed to walk on water. I keep trying to deal with the enemy that comes against my life but He has probably already planned to deal with them effectively sparing their very souls. I am holding on to what God has done, but He wants to do something new for me in the coming year that requires letting go of what He has already done. I must strive to be alert. I must be present. God is doing something new. I know it. I can sense it. I even feel it. But am I afraid of it? It happens if to the most faithful and God-loving people. To think beyond what we know and can perceive requires more faith that can be made into confident hope.
Mark 4:14-20 (Message)
“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them. And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”
What if in the coming year rather than deciding what we want or think God will do that we expect His Word to come to pass in our life? Plain and simple with no further expectation than Jesus Christ who is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. As we sow God’s Word in our life, we must not limit it to human expectation. We must become diligent and careful farmers. We are planting God’s Word in our life. How many times do we name our seed and try to make it what we want it to be rather than calling it by its given name? Jesus! I expect Jesus Christ is 2015. That’s it. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. I will continue to sow His Name through my life from the first day to the last of the upcoming year and see what happens. I will not dwell on the past but simply visit the field to see if there is a harvest yet. If not, I will keep moving and planting. I will protect My Seed from the enemy by planting it deep in faith and surrounded by confident hope that can only happen through a close relationship with Jesus Christ who provides and protects all that is mine. I will not be shallow but allow time and tests to develop my character so that my emotions no longer dictate the harvest in my life. I will pluck the weeds “worry about all the ‘things’” in this life in order to let my seed grow deep roots into the Love of God. I will not let stress strangle out my blessing and prosperity as it has so many times in the past. I am only human so on those days that I am not successful I will apply liberal amounts of His Grace to get through and back on track so His Goodness is always in my life. I will be the God-Expectant, God-Ready believer who hears the Word and “embraces it to produce a harvest beyond my wildest dreams!”
Ephesians 3:14-20 (Message)
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Our family has been through a great deal over the last three years, at first I wondered if my response to the coming year was that of a shell-shocked human being. Surveying my heart, I am at peace and it is well with my soul. I know that God is good. He is working every detail for my good, I believe that but now I must live what I believe. I do that by being God-Ready. My expectation, faith and hope are all wrapped up in the Word of God whose Name is Jesus. I want to stay right there this year and not get carried off by my own ideas of success and prosperity. I want what is eternal even on the days that I live in the external. I ask the Holy Spirit to do His Work in me this year and keep my feet firmly planted in the faith that I have found giving me the patience and strength to wait on the Lord in all things rather than just some things as I do so many times. I want to live a full life. I want the fullness of God to fill my life this year. I believe God can do anything. He has proven it over the last three years. May I take that same faith and apply it to every aspect of my life believing that God can and will do more than I could even think to ask for. He promises a life beyond my wildest dreams! That’s so crazy to think true after the many times that I have wandered off, but by faith I believe. I expect Jesus in 2015. I will be God-Ready!
Revelation 21:3-5 (Message)
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”