Enjoy this guest blog from Pastor Helen Gwyn - Helen is a voice of encouragement and life in my world, and I know that what she has to share will empower you for 2017.
When I talk to my friends just after Christmas and at the beginning of a new year, I often hear them say 'I feel overwhelmed.' We can get so used to that phrase when we look at the pressures of Christmas bills, holiday expenses, the going back to school costs, those extra kilos we didnt want added to our middle, the in-laws relationship tensions, the ....... well the list could go on. But what if we could hear that word used in a phrase with a different context? What if we were to say, 'I feel overwhelmed at the provision of God?'
Jesus sends out His apostles saying:
'Take nothing extra on your journey. Just go as you are. Don't carry a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes.'
When Jesus sent out his disciples there was a revelation that he wanted them to carry. As well as sending them out with His power and authority, He also needed them to carry a knowledge that He is able - able to provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory. The kingdom is one of faith, and it is impossible to please God without it. The disciples needed to have faith that God would provide their needs. This had to be their belief just as strongly as knowing their identity in Christ.
You are entering a new year, a new chapter and maybe even a new season. What are you carrying with you that you are putting your trust in? What are you needing to leave behind before you enter this new beginning?
As we follow Christ, as we get sent out to be His disciples and to make disciples, we need to go with the same revelation that those first disciples had. He is our provider.
What would it look like for you to enter this new year with the truth that 'He is able to provide your needs?'
What area of your life are you you needing faith instead of fear?
Why don't you take a moment to bring those areas to God and ask Him to provide.
Join with me in praying this prayer:
Father, help me to enter this new year with a renewed sense of faith. Not faith in my resources and abilities; not faith in my possessions or bank account, but a faith in You. As I follow You, let my walk be one that others want to follow. Let my trust in You be a beacon of hope to those who are carrying things into their next season that they dont need to carry. You are a good good Father. Amen
Then over the next few months why dont you message Aimee with a testimony titled, 'I feel overwhelmed at the provision of God.'
I was sitting at the lights - running late, yet again. Inwardly I was berating myself. Why, why do I try and squeeze too much in? Why couldn't I just be on time for once?!
When I resigned from my role as an Associate Pastor earlier this year, I had all these visions of what life would look like with all this extra time. I was going to be the best home-maker ever. The house would be tidy; the cookie jar (if we actually had one - we have an assortment of mismatched containers) would be full; and on top of getting the kids to school on time, I'd be making memories and establishing traditions with them. I was going to be super-organised for Christmas (I started shopping this week), and life would look like one big Pinterest board!
Let's just say that life has conspired to be anything but over the last few months. Most weeks have seen us waiting at the doctors - so much so that the kids have called it our new tradition. When we had to go this week, they marvelled that a full four weeks had gone past without us needing to visit. Definitely not the traditions I had intended to be making with them!
But in the demands and pressures of this season, I have been so aware of God's grace. So overwhelmed by His presence and His strength. I have learnt that I can be busy, I can be tired and under pressure, but I can still be at rest. Because more than time I carve out of my schedule, true rest is the posture of my heart.
My key scripture for 2016 has been Isaiah 30:15, and throughout the year, God has had me revisit it, revealing new facets through its words. In it, God declares this truth:
"Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength..."
When God spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah, the Israelites were facing war and enemy occupation. They'd spent themselves, and their resources, on trying to build an alliance with Egypt that would turn out to be worthless. And God offered them this opportunity to try a different approach. To try depending on Him and not on themselves. And He offers us this same invitation - to find rest in who He is.
Resting in God is a conscious choice to redirect our thoughts - to allow His truth and love to overpower our fears, our disappointments, our impossibilities, our brokenness. When we choose rest, we are allowing Him to be bigger than what we face. And far from weak, far from lazy or passive, rest is a battle strategy. A powerful weapon that releases God to be God, and enables us to experience first-hand His acts of salvation.
I've found that the more I give my attention to who God is; to what He says in His Word; to His past and present activity in my life, the quieter and stronger I become. Because when we quiet our anxious thoughts; when we quiet our busy schedules, we make room for Him to be with us. And this is what Christmas is all about - it's about celebrating the arrival of Christ, of Emmanuel, God with us. More than preparing our homes; more than preparing food and gifts, it's about preparing our hearts. About making room for Him to be with us - not just in part, but in full.
There is something about the Christmas season; something about the closing of a year, that brings to the surface the cries of our hearts. What we have been able to push through and push down throughout the year, seems to bubble up to the surface. We pray for Christmas miracles and we hope that the new year will somehow magically wipe the slate clean.
But your circumstances do not need to rob you of your peace, because our hope does not lie wrapped under the Christmas tree or even in the changing of the hour - it lies in God Himself. He is our hope. He is our salvation. He is our place of victory and of rest. So invite Him to be with you in those places that feel heavy or empty. Let Him be your battle strategy. And I pray, that as you fix your heart and mind on Him this Christmas - as you make room for Him to be with you - that His truth quiets your soul and His presence enables you to be at rest.
Live today with purpose,
Learn how to experience rest with The Power of Quiet reading plan - you'll find it for free here.
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from the blogging team encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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