I am reminded of my “Babylon”

God is fully aware of our condition.  God sends us out as gift-bearers-of-light to a lost and broken world.  Think of Jeremiah 29: 4-7

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God gives us peace in the storm and we begin to overcome.  God can use the mess of our lives to bring hope lost sheep.  Reach out.  Be a hand, a shoulder, and an embrace to the community you are in right now.  Even if your circumstances don’t change, your life can still speak of Him who came to restore us.  Even if you think God cannot use you, you can.  He loves the broken.  He loves the contrite.  He loves the messed-up.  He, God, loves perfectly and without condition.  And I believe He wants to bless your right where you are in a way you could not imagine.

I am reminded of my “Babylon.” It was several years of toil, troubles, ups-and-downs, breaking, and recovery in a place I just did not want to be.  However, there was not provided any kind of escape route.  Instead, God lead me through the valley.  It was not wasted.  I was stretched.  I grew.  My heart and mind changed.  I become less of the yuck and more of Christ’s love.  There was some dying too, but those things had to die so that God could birth new life.  Still, I am His work in progress, and still can be used by Him.  God isn’t holding our mistakes against us.  He gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  He makes beautiful things out of our lives – though we often think it is impossible.  With God, nothing is impossible.  So where are you at today?  What ashes would you like to leave at Christ’s feet?  Are you ready and willing to prosper where you are and let God move through you?  Are you ready to stop casting stones?  Are you ready to put down your judgments?  Are you ready for grace like you’ve never known?  Are you ready to befriend the tired, the weary, the worn, the unlovely, the unbecoming, the broken, the misfit, and the outcast?  These are those to whom Christ came (Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17).  You can be the beautiful message of hope right now, where you are, and to all who are around you.  Extend the hand of fellowship and friendship.

Let today be that day.  God can move in you.  He can restore your life even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).  He can lead you beside still waters while the storm is raging all around.  God is more than able to care for His children.  God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” as told to us in Ephesians 3.  How can God use your right-now life to draw others near to Him?  Ask Him.  Ask for His Shalom to move in and through you, and see what He will do.  With God, our lives are an adventure. Cling to faith in God.  Trust God to move in your life.  He is faithful, and He is always ever present with us on the journey.  Let God build and strengthen your faith as you live out your life in the hard places.  Shalom is with you.  It means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony” (Roth, nd).  You may not escape the storm, but you can have Peace in the storm.

Today may your faith grow deeper roots.  Today may your heart be set on the King.  Today may soul say, “yes.”  Today, may today be the day you decide to stand in the gap, seek the peace and prosperity of your community, and be the hands and feet of Jesus – our Shalom and Beautiful Message of Hope.  May today be the day your choose to press in and lean in to what God has for you no matter where you are.  Wherever you are whether working or living, let that be the place where it and you prosper.

Now we are invited to be a part of His kingdom here on the earth.  We are invited to point the way through hurt and pain.  We are invited to be a part of His work as He is the Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Isaiah 58:12).  To think that God wants us to be a part of His work is amazing!  As Paul told the Ephesians, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  We speak of Him and not just in our words but in our actions too.  Consider what Paul told the Corinthians, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life” (2 Cor. 2:12-17).  May today be the day you change your thinking about your circumstances.  May today be the day you see them from God’s perspective.  May today be the day the fragrant goodness of the King pours out on you, in you, and through you.

Think of Christ who left the comfort of heaven and entered our messy, filthy world.  He brought a peace we never had.  He bridged a gap we could not repair.  He reconciled us when it was beyond our power to do so.  He made peace for us in His body on the cross.  This is our Advent.  Christ is our Advent.  God is a Shalom-maker.  Will you be His Shalom in the earth, in your work, in your family, in your community?  There is a vibe, a human pulse longing to be connected in community to its Creator.  You can be God’s heartbeat now.

My reflections from today’s message. @Irving Bible Church.  It was really good!  I encourage you to watch or listen online.

Grace and Peace to you Beloved!

References:

From  NIV at http://www.biblegateway.com

Isaiah 61:3

Luke 19:10

Mark 2:17

Jeremiah 29: 4-7

Isaiah 58:12

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Ephesians 3:20-21

Roth, Andrew. “Meaning of the word shalom.”  The Refiner’s Fire.  Internet. Nd.  http://www.therefinersfire.org/meaning_of_shalom.htm  Accessed December 9, 2012.

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