Enjoy this guest post from Karen Frith - Karen and I had a chance encounter in a bathroom one morning and ever since she has been bringing timely words of encouragement into my life and I know that this will be a word in season to help you to step into what God has prepared for you in 2017.
Are you looking forward to what 2017 holds? Could it be that you’ve been looking back over 2016 and reflecting on what did not happen; those things you had hoped would?
Maybe, just maybe, God has wanted our view point of all our dreams and destinies that He has called us to believe for, to die. Not that God wants our dreams to die, but rather our views of how he will do it and how it will look.
I draw parallels from the death of Lazarus as recounted in John 11. Whilst Lazarus is desperately ill, his sisters Mary and Martha beseech Jesus to come. Jesus however, does not rush to Bethany to see Lazarus, instead He REMAINS a further two days where He is, during which time Lazarus subsequently dies.
Yet Jesus decrees in John 11:4:
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
When Jesus does arrive in Bethany, Mary and Martha go to Him, opening up about their distress and pain over their beloved’s brother’s death.
Maybe your dreams and hopes died during 2016 and you feel that the Lord hasn’t answered your prayers as you hoped He would. This is the time to turn to God, not away. This is the time to bring your confusion and pain to Jesus, as Mary and Martha did over Lazarus.
Here comes the different view point. The one we do not always see.
“Jesus said to Martha, your brother will rise again... I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha responds to Jesus’s question with a resounding yes, declaring, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Let 2017 be a time to say look forward; to say yes I believe Lord; to be confident that He hears every one of our prayers. That we will see the glory of God, that the promises will come forth and we will have a greater revelation of Jesus. Because even though Martha believed in who Jesus was, there was still so much more that He wanted her to understand; that He wanted to demonstrate to her.
Jesus can show us in a far better way who He is to us and for us.
And as they arrive at the tomb where Lazarus has been buried, Jesus instructs that they “Take away the stone.” As it is rolled away, He calls out in a loud voice saying, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Even though Lazarus was free from the tomb; even though he was resurrected from the finality of death – he was still wearing the grave clothes of death, and these needed to be removed from his body. Just as Jesus calls Lazarus out from the Tomb, He calls us out from the places of death in our lives. And He asks us to take off our grave clothes; our mourning; our ashes.
Are we ready and willing to give Him those things? Are we willing to make the exchange, to surrender our pain and our past to Jesus?
We are promised beauty for our ashes and a garment of praise instead of garments of mourning. And throughout Scripture, God makes this exchange with His people - taking from them the old, and clothing them in His goodness; in His provision; in His promises.
In the book of Ruth chapter 3, we read about Naomi making Ruth change her clothes. Why? Because Ruth was still wearing the clothes that were linked with Moab and these garments were filled with grief from the loss of her husband. Before she could meet Boaz, her intended – she needed to take off the grave clothes.
In Zechariah 3, satan accuses Joshua the High Priest over his past. The Lord however changes Joshua’s clothing. The dirty clothes which represent his past are taken off and he is given new garments. A new turban is also placed on his head which indicates a change of mind, new thoughts in a new season.
“See I have taken away your sin and I will put fine garments on you”
God wants to give you new clothes for a new year. Clothes that reflect the future and the hope that He has for you. So as we go into 2017, let’s sort out our ‘closets’. Let’s make an active choice to shed our grave clothes - our filthy garments of the past, the clothes which carry mourning and grief - for the beauty and joy that Jesus has promised us.
Mourn no longer, rather rejoice as you go into 2017 in the beautiful exchange that Jesus is offering you. He is the restorer of life - your life!
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 both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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