It is so good to be back, thank you so much for the prayers. For those who don’t know, our family has been away in South Africa on a Sabbatical for the month of July.
I didn’t know how much I needed the time off. Honestly, everyone around me, mostly my family could see that I was emotionally and spiritually spent. The last few years have been particularly challenging with a global pandemic and family health concerns.
This month 8 years ago I began pastoring here at Grace Point, and it has been the best and most challenging assignment of my life. I want to say that I am grateful. Grateful to you as a church for the gracious time off, grateful to Debbie and my kids for their love and support. And I am most grateful to the Lord for His faithfulness and His goodness.
When we left on July 3, we decided to be on the lookout for what we began calling, “Kisses from Heaven”. Unforeseen gifts and blessings from the Lord.
It would take weeks to share all of them with you but one overarching kiss from heaven was the way God orchestrated the beauty of His creation to minister to us.
I love mountains and the ocean. I love speaking with the Lord while gazing upon the beauty of creation. I quickly realized that God was refreshing my soul through nature. I wasn’t simply looking at a vista, I was drinking in the beauty of creation into my very soul.
It was winter, and chilly, but when we decided to go up Table Mountain for instance, it was a perfect near windless day. When we visited Cape Point, it was a howling north easterly wind that whipped up the ocean. We were in awe of the power of creation as the mighty waves crashed on the rocks.
From long prayer walks on the beach, standing on mountain tops, gazing at the majestic milky way and the southern sky, seeing multiple rainbows after a storm, seeing the incredible beauty of the birds and the majestic big five animals, God was restoring and filling our souls. He was so good to us.
Over the last week, the Lord has highlighted a certain text and it is found in Lamentations 3:19-26
The context for this book is the judgment of God on Judah. In 587 BC, the Lord used the Babylonian empire to destroy and take into exile most of the nation of Judah. Most scholars agree that the book was written by Jeremiah and it is a sad outpouring of grief. But right in the middle of the book, it seems like Jeremiah has a change of heart, he sees God in the midst of the grief and he begins to pour out his worship and appreciation.
Amid anguish and suffering, Jeremiah declares one of the greatest confessions of faith in the Bible. In the midst of his sorrow, he remembers the mercy of God.
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
In the world around us, there is much that can cause us to grieve and become anxious. If we look to our finances or personal security as a foundation for hope and peace, we will always be discouraged. But if we build on Christ, the faithful one, he will never fail us.
Lamentations is a call to repentance, as we see in verses 39 and 40,
“Why should the living complain
when punished for their sins?
Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.
Under the New Covenant we have the incredible promise of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God is faithful to forgive.
He is faithful to carry our burdens (Hebrews 2:17).
He is faithful to deliver us from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God is Faithful to keep us in this life and for eternity.
Do you trust God to be faithful?
One of the things the Lord impressed on me during the last month, was that the path ahead for us individually, as a church, and as a nation, is treacherous. This is not a word we often hear today, and it is defined as, “hazardous because of presenting hidden or unpredictable dangers.” Sounds like the world we live in.
How are we to respond?
We can become discouraged, and retreat into escapism. Hiding from reality by numbing our senses with addictions, whether it is drugs, pornography, social media, accumulating things, entertainment, sport, or any number of other distractions. How do we face the treacherous future?
The answer is clearly given in Lamentations 3:24-26,
“24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.”
Notice the underlined words, “wait and seek”
Waiting and seeking is prayer, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Truthfully it is difficult to wait on the Lord, our human nature craves activity, we want to fix things.
As you wait on the Lord, you will see the fulfilment of another prophet, Isaiah 40:31. During our time in South Africa, the Lord slowed me down, he taught me to wait on Him, and he renewed my strength.
What about you? Are you experiencing kisses from heaven?
Are you waiting on the Lord? Are you seeking Him? What do you need to bring to the Lord today, that only He can solve?
As a church, do we know what it means to wait on the Lord?
Are we a praying church? I would say we have begun to scratch the surface of all that God has for us in the place of prayer.
We still have so much more that God wants to show us and power that He would release as we wait on Him.
Are you prepared to seek Him? Are you prepared to wait on the Lord?