Year of Jubilee

Leviticus 25: 14

In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.

Well, we certainly did return to our own property and stayed there. 2020 is the year we will not forget. Many people have surrounded themselves with more deep thought and philosophy in the months since the coronavirus invaded our lives than perhaps in entire years. Here is the question, though, what do you want to be able to say in say, 2022 when you look back at this year? Will you be able to say that despite the monumental challenges, the unprecedented impact upon our way of living, that you, none the less, we’re able to come out the other side having gained something important?

This could be our year of jubilee despite the trials. It could be the year of redemption. Perhaps this is the year you drew closer to God. Maybe you want to use this time to get in better shape, read a book, do that project that has been neglected. Maybe it is time to work on a degree or undertake a crazy idea for which you have not had time. This might be the year your prayer life takes on a substantial change. There are all kinds of things you can do to redeem this time so that positives come out of this time.

Romans 8: 28 says that God will take whatever lemons life hands you and make lemonade from them. Of course, it is a partnership, right? You and the Lord. Together you can find ways to redeem the year that the locust has stolen. I live by this verse. It is a promise from our Lord, so I am always looking for lemonade, and I love lemonade.

Another philosophy of mine is that today is January 1st, every day is January 1st. By this I mean that we get to treat every day as if it is the first day of the year. We get to start over whenever we want. So, I am suggesting today is January 1st. You are confronted with life being very different. What do you want to do with it? What do want to say about you and your life when this is all said and done? This year has been very disruptive but what can you do to redeem the rest of the year?

What if you decided to write a book? I want you to think big and decide to be better coming out of this year than when you began. I hope you will have grown spiritually as well as personally. Write the book, read one. Paint, workout, walk, learn to play bridge, sit outside, talk with your Father. What will be your silver lining? What will you say you got out of this year?

Let’s all share our thoughts. Leave a comment to this post. We can use this forum to encourage each other to make the best out of a difficult year. Let this be our Year of Jubilee where we redeem the land we lost.

Contemporary Historical View

Deuteronomy 5:33

You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Let’s go back and reread this verse. It is potent. Here is my takeaway, God’s commandments are meant to prolong our days and bless our way.

I was thinking about a different verse which says, He will lead us in the way we should go (Isaiah 48:17) when I had a nudge to go look through a document I have and Eureka! here was this verse. It was meant for us and is better than the one I was thinking of because it is more complex.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we will say about ourselves during this coronavirus lockdown when we look back on it. What will be our historical view of now? Will we remember how stressed we were and maybe how negative our language became? Will the time be characterized by a shrinking of life or an expansion? I have talked and corresponded with quite a few people who have found ways to grow their lives during this time and that is the very soul of God who has promised that in all things, He will cause us to prosper. He said He would make all things, even bad things, work for our good because we love Him and are called to Him (Romans 8: 28).

Today’s verse is important, so important! It tells us that God’s will is that we may live and that it may be well with us. Isn’t that key language for our current situation? God doesn’t just mean that we shall survive, though. He means that we might have an abundant life and life in abundance (John 10: 10).

So, what is happening in your world right now? Are you expanding? Is your life expanding? Are you setting and accomplishing new goals? Are you finding blessing amidst this challenged time? God is speaking to you. What He tells you will lead you to possessing the land of promise. This is a great time in history to expand your outreach to God and to other people. Life has slowed down for many of us so that we have more time to spend with God and that is some great news because He has a word for you, a word that will lead you into greater life.

Right now, Yahweh God is speaking and showing all of us the way. If we walk in the way our Lord is commanding us, even in these stressful times we will find the fruit of life. This is exciting news. In the midst of battle, God is showing us a way to fullness of life.

When you look back at this time, what will be your judgment? Did your prayer life expand? Did you start an exercise routine? Maybe you read a lot, started a Bible study group or just cleaned your house and yard. As we begin to relax our stay at home restrictions, think about what you have gained that you don’t want to lose. Think about what you want your new normal to look like. I hope you have gained a new measure of life with God that you will guard jealously. It is also not too late to stake out some new ground for yourself. Make this a time you can remember with some good memories too.

Connected

Psalm 96: 1 – 2

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

I wrote to you last week about praise. This song is titled “A call to Worship.” I think this is worth some thought. As you read further in this psalm the author also says to take an offering to the Lord. This made me think of how we can partner with the Lord in devotional unity against the viral situation we are facing but also unified towards and in one another.

We are living in a historical moment, no doubt. I have asked myself this question, “When I look back at this time, what will my own legacy be? What will be said of me?” I have answered that I want to grow, spiritually especially, and have looked after myself physically with a good diet and exercise. When hardship strikes, one of the ways we can fight back is to become better versions of ourselves. Make a silver lining. Romans 8: 28 promises that God will help us do just that. If we will give Him our lemons, He will make lemonade.

So, what are we going to do during this time of challenge? Hopefully we will never have to experience a time like this again but there will be other challenges in our lives. How do we respond to them? Do we grow or crumble? Can I come out stronger on the other side?
Here is the other question this psalm brings to my mind? Does praying, praising, worshipping or giving offerings to the Lord stimulate Him to action? That is what this psalm seems to suggest. I do not believe that our Father is sitting on His hands. Further, I do not believe there is anything I can do, or need do, to cause our Father to feel compassion. He is the embodiment of compassion. So, why this psalm?

There is something which happens when we praise, worship and make an offering? We are not moving God to action; we are activating our hearts. That is what is so important, in fact, it is vitally important. God’s heart is crying out for people who will connect with Him. We are His hands in the earth. We are His feet. If we fully understood this “partnership” we would be amazed at the power Yahweh has put in our hands. With a prayer you can “put ten thousand to flight,” (Leviticus 26: 8 KJV). Jehovah God has put weapons, or tools, if you prefer, in our hands. I wrote last week (Monday, April 6, 2020) that praise is one of the biggest guns we have (please forgive my weapon analogy but it works in my heart. Translate it to tools for yourself if you prefer). I wanted to disclose in that Word of the Day the strongest of all weapons but didn’t because I did not want to veer from the point of that message. However, I find my greatest tool in the time of great stress is an offering. I pull out my checkbook and give to a ministry. This is not a time I give to the Red Cross or any other worthy charity. I give into the hands of God. For some of you prayer is your biggest hammer. Others are able to release themselves into this partnering with God through praise. My worship and weapon is a check to an anointed ministry which feeds me. It puts power in my hands but more importantly it releases my faith. I feel that I am connecting with my Lord and that I am striking a blow against the enemy. I don’t give hoping something will happen. I give knowing I am impacting the world around me.

So, I think the psalm does make sense. We need to connect with our Father during this time. We might connect with Him more strongly than ever before. Our hearts certainly need it and our world needs it. Perhaps you dedicate yourself to prayer. Maybe it is worship. Some of you will feel empowered and connected with Dad by writing out a big check. Whatever it is, I hope you will make this sheltered time a point in your personal history which you will remember as a time of personal growth. Maybe you will start doing push-ups and can say it began in the midst of a crisis. I hope, and pray, that whatever transformative strides you make during this time, spiritual growth will be among them, because we need you. As this psalm says, “Bless His name.”

Good God!

Psalm 73: 1       TPT

No one can deny it—God is really good to Israel and to all those with pure hearts. But I nearly missed seeing it for myself.

I have just returned from an Impact Ministry conference with Dr. Jim Richards. It was a special weekend with a special acknowledgement of Jim’s sister, Pat Richards. I am sure as time goes on, more and more will filter through my mind about what I learned. The takeaway that I loved most, though, was this statement from Dr. Richards, “God is good, and only good.” That is the point of this scripture, that God is good. And let’s get this part right – who is Israel? Well, that would be you. You have been made a royal heir according to your ingrafting into the family of God. However, some of us have nearly missed understanding about God’s goodness.

I’ve been teaching on the goodness of God for a long time, but the way Jim phrased that really resonated with me. We often hear, “God is good all the time” but it seems people don’t believe that. Perhaps we’ve heard it so many times that we have ceased to actually hear it with our brains. It amazes me how often Christians talk about the bad things God has given them. They will even praise God for it and tell you how it made them stronger. That comes from a misunderstanding of God but more particularly of Romans 8: 28 which teaches us that although bad things happen, God will take them and turn them for good. I call it the “Lemonade Scripture” because it basically says that God will take lemons and make lemonade. Because good comes out of a situation, does not mean, though, that God created the situation. That is very poor logic and just wrong. God is a good and benevolent God. He is good ALL the time and He is only good. He is never bad.

John 10: 10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Of course, these words were spoken by Jesus. If you understand, and even memorize, this verse, you will understand a great deal of the Bible and you will have a solid personal theology. First, you have to understand who the thief is. Jesus spent most of this chapter explaining the difference between a good shepherd and a bad one. He identifies himself and the Heavenly Father as good. They care for the sheep. The bad shepherd is, of course, the devil. We need to get this settled in our hearts and minds. You can imagine how funny the devil finds it when he sends bad into the world and our benevolent, good and gracious Father gets the blame for it.

Settle this once and for all in your heart and you will understand much about life and the world. When you see good, that is your Father because He is good and only good. Heaven doesn’t have any bad for Him to give you. There is no cancer in heaven. There is no hunger. There is only good in heaven. Our Father is only good, therefore always good. Don’t let this be a point of confusion for you any longer. Satan doesn’t bless you, he only curses. Goodness is of the Father. He is the source of all goodness in the earth. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Therefore, if you see theft, death or destruction, you should be able to identify the author. The devil is a corrupter of good. He twists and perverts. He steals whatever is good and turns it inside out. There is no goodness in him.

Your Father knows how to give good gifts to His children, and He knows how to care for the sheep. He is the good shepherd for He is good and only good.

Behind My Back

Isaiah 38: 17      AMP

You have loved back my life from the pit of nothingness (destruction), for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Do you ever wonder what God is thinking about your sin? Well, here is your answer. He has forgotten it. He cast it behind Him. It is where He cannot see it or be reminded of it. Maybe you should cast it behind your back as well.

The God’s Word version adds this, “Now my bitter experience turns into peace.” Why? Because God has forgotten our sin. Our sadness and disappointment from our many mistakes and sins is changed to peace because God has looked upon us with compassion and never-ending mercy. Romans 8: 28 reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Did you ever consider this includes our sins? It does say “all things” does it not? So all of your errors, whether intentional sin or errors in judgement are cast behind God’s back because He cares for you. He is turning your bitter experience into peace; peace for you, peace between you and He.

God doesn’t want to be angry with you. He does not want you condemned or feeling guilty. He sent Jesus so that you could experience true freedom in your life and in your inner self. He has redeemed you from the pit of destruction by His own choice. Why would He hang on to your sin. Why would He continue to dangle it in front of you in that He gave His most precious asset in order to redeem you? That would make no sense.

Is there something that has troubled you for years? Let it go. God has put it behind Him so it is time for you to put it behind you too.

 Fire for Four

Daniel 3: 25

The king replied, “But look, I see four men. They’re untied, walking in the middle of the fire, and unharmed. The fourth one looks like a son of the gods.”

I saw a quote recently that makes sense to us and can be inspirational. However, taken out of context may also communicate a wrong message. There is so much misunderstanding in this regard that I thought it important to reassure us as to God’s position.

The message of the quote is that God is with us in every crisis. The unfortunate language quoted in this book was, “As sure as God puts His children into the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it.” First of all, this may well have been lifted from a larger message so we bear that in mind. However, some people may read this and rather than take away the good news that God is with you at all times, even in the roughest of times, they may only hear, “God caused all this bad stuff to happen to me.” That is not the message of the gospel.

Of course the quote brings to mind the three Hebrews who were tossed into the fiery furnace: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Do we think, though, that God put them into a fiery furnace? “Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with anger toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face turned red. He ordered that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than normal. He told some soldiers from his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego so that they could be thrown into the blazing furnace. Then the three men were thrown into the blazing furnace. They were wearing their clothes, hats, and other clothing. The king’s order was so urgent and the furnace was so extremely hot that the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed by the flames from the fire. So these three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—fell into the blazing furnace. They were still tied up” (Daniel 3: 19 – 23 GW).

It wasn’t God who condemned them to burn in a furnace. That was Nebuchadnezzar’s doing, wasn’t it? This is the truth we need to embrace. Although God shows up when we are in hot water, it is not He who turned on the boiler. God is love. That is who and what He is and He cannot act in any way that is inconsistent with a full expression of love. Once you nail down this cornerstone of your personal theology then other pieces begin to fall in place automatically.

Romans 8: 28 is the seminal scripture regarding God turning lemons into lemonade. It reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He takes those bad things and turns them around but He is not the author of them. When you combine this verse with James 1: 13 you begin to have a sustainable personal ideology about God’s role in calamity, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” This tells you that God isn’t bringing these challenges on us but we are assured by Romans 8: 28 that He is the first on the scene, ready to rescue us and to turn the situation around so that it benefits us.

God sent Jesus into the midst of the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into the furnace. That is the message I believe was intended to be conveyed in the quote. No matter how hot the fire or deep the water, God will always put Himself or His son right there with you so that you will not burn, drown or fail. He is not only the God of love but He is love. He is the strong fortress and the very first Red Cross agent. God gave His son and Jesus gave his blood so that we never have to face tribulation alone. We are intertwined with the most powerful force in the universe and we shall, therefore, prevail. Praise God!

Lemonade

Romans 8: 28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

I call this the “Lemonade Scripture.” It says to me that God will take the lemons handed you and make lemonade from them. Whatever Satan means for harm in your life, God will find a way to turn it to good. God will not allow the devil just to rain bad things into your life. He is going to turn them around for you. Your part is to give the Lord that kind of authority over your life. When the devil hands you lemons, you just call up God and say, “Hey, there is a delivery here for you.” It is not your job to create the miracle or fight with the devil. You just know that God is Lord and tell the devil to get back under your feet where he belongs. In your prayers, tell God what you think you need or what you desire and then you can thank Him and let it go. Go enjoy a tall glass of iced lemonade, on Him.