I’m here in the Galilee on the shore of the Kinneret. It’s late afternoon and, as usual, the winds have come up. It’s a beautiful time of the day and these cool breezes will continue until the sun sets.
I have found a shelter from the wind while still enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of early spring. So that’s why I’ve chosen this setting for today’s message, “The Winds of Change.”
Friends, we have all been thrust, suddenly and unexpectedly into these winds of change. I believe this is a kind-of dress rehearsal for what lays ahead. Therefore, we need to find refuge in God’s hand of grace and mercy. Being assured of His faithfulness, we can walk through these winds with determination, regardless of the circumstances, to fulfill God’s purposes through our lives for such a time as this!
Let us lift up our eyes unto the hills where our help comes from and beyond this current situation. Corona 19 will come to an end so as to make room for Corona 20, 21, maybe up to #30.
Scripture warns us there will be:
- Perilous times
- Wars and rumors of wars
- Nation will rise against nation
- And kingdom against kingdom
- And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places
All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows!
Jeremiah’s challenge is relevant to each of us today:
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)
Friend, it’s crucial that we learn NOW how to walk peacefully and victoriously through winds of change.
For the last 15+ years, many people recognized that we were headed for a change. We kept hearing “this is a new season.” But neither the season nor the goal were defined. We seemed to take a step forward and two steps back. Nothing was certain. We were definitely in a time of transition, but a transition to what?
Yet the suddenness of this catastrophic challenge was indeed unexpected.
So let’s step back and take a larger view.
Whether personal or political, transformation usually doesn’t happen suddenly. I suggest there are three steps of change:
Tradition: Our lives are, to some level, secure. Our days are structured, ordered, and in a word comfortable.
Transition: The in-between time of uncertainty, discomfort. We know change is in the wind, but we’ve lost our balance and desperately try to control the situation by clinging to the past…our comfortable traditions.
Transformation: Our new normal.
Yet seemingly overnight, God moved the entire world out of the uncertainty of transition and brought us a step closer to His ultimate transformation as revealed in Scripture when:
[W]hom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
and the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory,” (Romans 8:9; Habakkuk 2:14)
and I might add: His love, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.
In the words of a great rabbi, “The old is gone and the new has come!”
Personally, all the comforts of our lives and traditions are gone, having been violently ripped, away. Likewise, our plans and dreams have become doubtful if not thwarted. Despite our efforts, we can no longer put this new wine into old wineskins. We are at a loss.
Globally, nation after nation is in chaos.
Politically or personally our dreams are fading. We speak of the “good old days,” but friend, be honest…they weren’t that “good.”
We try, but simply cannot find our footing as God is bringing us back to the ancient paths, devoid of the traditions of “man.”
Scripture told of this day, but most of us either ignored or denied what we deemed to be “Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow” is here and now.
O dear one, God has not and will not forsake us. He is “making ready the people who are prepared for His coming.” (Luke 1:17)
This is the time of our final preparation.
So how can we find hope and peace during these winds of change? Let’s open our eyes and our hearts, look through our circumstances, and hold onto the nail pierced hand of our Savior. Then we will walk together through these winds of change as we prepare ourselves to be ready for the coming of the Lord.
Let’s consider 6 ways of preparation:
Recognize the surveillance
Surveillance is not new; it’s just been hidden. Now we know we’re being watched, but by who?
But remember that there has always been Another who has been watching not only our movements, but knows our thoughts and hears our words:
I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Worse, all your words will be broadcast so that everyone will hear! (Luke 8:17)
Many people today are “home bound” with severe limitations on movement. Suddenly neighbors who were once strangers are now friends, concerned and willing to help. Now, let’s be real, one day a lack of petrol would have brought us to this same place!
Through this crisis, God has brought us back to the first church of Acts 2:40-47 when the church:
continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,
fellowship, and in prayers.
Breaking bread from house to house,
they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
I wonder if it’s God’s hand that has allowed our church buildings to become unnecessary and released its finances so we can each minister locally to our neighbors? Meanwhile, we can thank Him that as long as possible, we can still keep connected to our pastors digitally.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can adjust to a simpler way of life? Lack has a way of changing our priorities.
Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years and were used to lack. But influenced by the “mixed multitude” Israel soon began to complain about the food left behind. Their murmuring was not pleasing to God and He gave them the desires of their heart – quail. And while the meat was in their mouths, He brought judgement.
We need to beware of satisfying the flesh while starving the soul!
Discern the voice of God not man
There are so many voices screaming to be heard. Self-made prophets are clamoring for attention and their many followers are willing to send their “Words from God” to the thousands on FB lists.
Now is the time to be quiet and learn to discern God’s voice: test the spirit against His Word. God will never contract His written word with His spoken word.
Please beware those who claim that God is “doing a new thing.” That phrase is used only twice, and both times the context is clear…and it is NOT now!
Establish healthy boundaries
God is identifying His remnant. Don’t be unequally yoked, your time and energy are precious.
Stay out of the wilderness of the flesh
The wilderness can be a place of transformation, consider the future of Israel (Hosea 2:14) when God allures her into the wilderness to speak tenderness. And then there was the transformation of Paul (Acts 9:5)
At the same time, as the Spirit brought Yeshua into the wilderness, it can be a place of testing (Matthew 4:1).
Finally, the wilderness can be a place of temptation and discipline as Israel learned; the wilderness kept them out of the Promised Land.
It’s so easy for us to keep one foot in the wilderness (the flesh) and one in the Promised Land. Paul turned to Jesus to win the victory over temptation (Romans 7:13-25.)
Every morning I use the words of Paul to make this commitment to God and to myself,
by the mercies of God, I present my body a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is my reasonable service.
I determine not to be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of my mind,
that I may prove what is that good and acceptable and
will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Beloved, consider these winds of change as God’s gift to be prepared for the coming transformation.
What started as a global health issue has now expanded into a financial crisis of proportions beyond that of 1929.
And, in the midst of the upheaval we, the followers of Jesus, are God’s beacon of light reminding the world with His message:
Be still and know that I, God, will be exalted over all the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
Sadly, the hearts of many are focused only on the situation before us. I hear pain and fear in their voices crying, begging for God’s grace and mercy to protect them against this terrible virus.
These prayers will not prepare us for what is to come.
Friends, we don’t need to beg God for His grace and mercy. Because of and through Jesus His grace is assured in any and every situation. Look back to those times in your lives when God did what only He can do…rescue you from the seemingly impossible.
Furthermore, we have the example of the Apostle Paul:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.
(2Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:11-2)
Consider God’s grace and mercy:
God’s grace and mercy when Israel was in bondage to Egypt:
He heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. So I have come down to deliver them and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.
God’s grace and mercy because we are alive for such a time as this.
God’s grace and mercy because He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
His Grace and mercy as He has given us His word to discern these times and His Holy Spirit to
Shed his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5)
Lead us into all truth (John 16:13)
Give us power to endure to the end
His ultimate grace and mercy:
Consider Jesus, who, being in the form of God,
did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
For the joy set before Him endured the rejection, abandonment and betrayal of the very people for whom he came to save and those who had been His closest friends.
Precious friend, God’s grace and mercy has been, is, and will always be with us!
Let me close with this challenge from the prophet Isaiah!
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.