It’s a long time coming, but I’ve finally had the time to sit down and put down my thoughts about God’s blessings in my life for September in this Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness.
I think that my reflections for September are best captured in Zechariah 4:6:
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
In the Message paragraph, Eugene Peterson renders it this way: “You can’t force these things. They only come through by my Spirit.”
By far the greatest blessing for me in September was the experience of being part of Arrows College for the Worship and Songwriting module. As I had shared in a previous post, God reminded me again about who the main stakeholders were of worship: namely God, the congregation and the lost.
I also got to try my hand at songwriting and I’m actually beginning to think that Faith Community Church could probably write enough songs for a live worship recording in the near future!
Beyond that, I was really inspired by the stories of some of the students and how God had brought them through their own journeys to their “now”. Even though some of them had gone through some difficult times, it is clear that God was with them through it all, teaching them important life lessons as they learnt to trust Him more.
One of the students shared from an interesting passage in Judges 20, which describes how the Benjamites were shielding some wicked men (who had committed a heinous sin) from Israel’s just retribution. The tribes of Israel, the passage says in verse 18, went up to Bethel and enquired of God, and God told them that Judah should attack the Benjamites first. However, instead of victory, the Israelites suffered the loss of 22,000 men.
The Israelites again enquired of the Lord and the Lord answered, “Go up against them” (verse 23). Again however, instead of victory, the Benjamites cut down 18,000 Israelites.
On the third occasion, the Israelites again inquired of the Lord and the Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.” It was only on this third occasion that victory came.
The student who shared from this passage was a ministry leader who felt God had challenged her to make some radical changes to her ministry methodology and she had felt at times that she wasn’t seeing the results of those changes.
I can relate to this, particularly because this year, I felt that God had called me to play a bigger role in worship within the city, rather than just within one congregation (Don’t get me wrong though. I am blessed to have started serving in Faith Community Church’s worship team and to work with an awesome band!). There have been several confirmations of this, and more recently, I was privileged to be asked by the Director of Global Day of Worship to organise a GDW event in the city of Perth. But I have to admit that I don’t completely feel comfortable doing any of this. I feel completely stretched, taking steps of faith in unfamiliar territory!
But I was really encouraged by the lesson from Judges 20. Even though you have enquired of God, and He has given the confirmation, the answer might not always come immediately. There may still be times when it seems like nothing is happening, or there may be some setbacks. (I like what Joel Osteen often says: “God uses your setbacks as a set-up for your greatest comeback!”) But in time, God will bring it to pass.
I felt that God packaged this lesson nicely for me last week when Edmund Chan came to preach at Faith Community Church on the message “When Your Dreams Remain Unfulfilled”. He made three points:
- Make sure your dream is rooted in the promise of God.
- Make sure your confidence is rooted in the resources of God.
- Make sure your perspective is rooted in the timing of God.
The key to understanding Zech 4:6, Rev Edmund says, is the context. Unlike David or Solomon who was endowed with material resources, Zerubbabel was confronted with the task of rebuilding the temple with very little manpower and materials. And in the midst of this apparent lack, the voice of God came as if to say “don’t focus on what you don’t have, because God will cause it to happen by His Spirit. It’s not about you and what you don’t have, but about Me and what I do have.”
And this is counterintuitive because when we face challenges, we tend to rely on our little resources. God however is calling a kingdom people who will live counterintuitively and rely on His resources.
So I am encouraged to live what Rev Edmund calls “diachronistically”, i.e. to live through time, i.e. to take a long-term view, to see the long haul, not to look at disappointments and challenges, but to focus on the destiny.
And so, now that we are in the final quarter of the Year of Unceasing Fruiltfulness, I am convinced that God who started a good work will be faithful to complete it. As it says in Zechariah 4:7, the capstone, the point of completion, will come forth with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” By His grace alone!