What would it have been like to be with Moses and the Israelites between Egypt and Canaan? If ever there was a time when the direction of the Lord was clear, it was then. By day the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire. “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:22).
Before we start longing for that day of such an obvious manifestation of the Lord’s presence with His people, we must remember that the Israelites were still a “stiff-necked, rebellious people” who grumbled at every inconvenience! Our desire is certainly for clear direction from the Lord but even more so for His presence to accompany us as we proceed, for His character to reveal itself through the faithfulness of His people.
At one point, Moses said to the Lord, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). I share that sentiment entirely! Since God has brought us a long way in ministry over the past few years, it is crucial for us to continue to go with Him. We dare not venture out alone in ministry. If we are not led specifically by the Lord, we will of necessity pray “Do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16).
How, then, can we be led by the Lord? No clouds or pillars of fire present themselves to us. But in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son. In Christ Jesus we are led with assurance both of His direction and of His abiding presence! When we abide in Him, the Vine, we as branches will bear much fruit giving further confirmation in the changed hearts and lives of people touched by Christ that He goes before us and with us.
More days of stretching and growing are before this body of believers. We will follow wherever He leads. We will wait until He does lead and then with the boldness, power, and authority of a people who bear the name of the King of Glory, we will not be diverted by lesser callings!
He still leads with clarity today in His Son, by His Word, through His Spirit. With the evidence of His presence and the promise of His presence, we must keep our focus on our exalted Head so that His name is held in honor by all who recognize His presence among His people.
Over a decade ago, thousands of college students assembled for a day of worship at a farm on the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee. I nearly wore out the DVD that came out of that event, but one song in particular has been on my mind lately and today I found it on YouTube.
Shelley Nirider sang this piercing song of worship, affirming that when we have given our lives to Jesus Christ, life is all about Him and no longer about us. There are a couple of comments by participants during the first 30 seconds but the rest of the video is just the simple, gentle song acknowledging that life really is all about Jesus!
Also, love the closed caption translation across the bottom of the screen! Definitely a moment of worship worth sharing!
Tomorrow I will be preaching on how we respond to the call of Christ on our lives by looking at how Simon, James and John left everything to follow Him in Luke 5:1-11. Be sure to watch this video before you listen to the sermon if you can!
As you begin 2012, your desire to stay on track for an effective year will depend on the path you follow. Followers of Jesus Christ have a commitment to live in the freedom of eternal truth. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Therefore, it is essential to your spiritual well-being that you have a plan for the new year to know His truth and apply it in all areas of your life.
The way you incorporate the Scriptures into your life will go a long way in determining the progress you make as you conform to the image of Christ. So what will your plan include this year?
Personal time in the Word provides the most basic foundation for your spiritual growth so it will be important to put a plan in place that takes you to the Bible each day to read, reflect, meditate and apply what you learn.
Family time in the Word establishes a priority that speaks volumes in your home about the place the Lord has in your life together, so you will want to set regular times for reading and discussing His Word as a part of your weekly routine.
Corporate times with other believers hearing the Word taught and preached in the context of public worship has to be given a place of high value for you and your family as you share life in Christ with others who are being built up together to maturity in Christ.
If you want some help scheduling a way to read through the Bible in a year, there are many plans available for you. I have enjoyed using one by Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th century Scottish pastor. It takes you through the entire Bible, once through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament. Another plan you might like has been put together by Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Oahu, called Life Journal Reading Plan (both plans and many others are available at http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/life-journal-reading-plan).
Since this is the second day of the new year, you can get started now and catch up quickly if you want to follow a annual plan.
Others may want to follow a more concentrated reading plan, reading less and digesting more. Some have found great help in digging into the New Testament more deeply and then supplementing that with readings in the Psalms and Proverbs. That is a great plan…just don’t forget about the wealth of the Old Testament and devote some additional reading time there as you can!
Just remember the great value the Lord gives to keeping His Word in its rightful place in your life! Perhaps this word from Joshua will spur you on as it has me.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).