Jan. 7, 2021
Lessons were learned in 2020! Looking back on 2020 is a hard thing to do. I want to just move on and get to 2021, like most of you probably do as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to just start fresh and not even think about the crud that 2020 was – still is…
However, it is essential to growth to look back, process the lessons and then apply them as we move forward. I for one don’t want to repeat any of these particular learning experiences! That being said, here are my lessons learned and the people in Bible history who exemplify them. Ah, that we would learn from them without doing it the hard way!
The Sodom and Gomorrah situation
Abraham saw what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah, and he spoke up. He prayed for God to intervene, to save them. He begged non- stop for God to spare them. When he realized they could not be saved, Abraham went into the midst of them to pull out his family. Lot had gotten his wife and their children into a horrible mess. Yet Abraham risked everything to save even one – just like Jesus would on the cross. Abraham brought the word of God to them and urged them to follow.
Lot’s wife was so entangled in that life that she gave in to the pull and looked back – only to be destroyed herself. No matter what Abraham did, he could not save them all, he could not even save one. They each chose their own path. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? No, absolutely not, but it does tell us where we need to put our trust.
Abraham did what God told him to do and was able to get Lot and his kids to safety. Lot’s wife chose to cling to the world she had known and that destroyed her. Also, Lot chose later to return to that same place. God never condemned Abraham for their choices.
Sodom and Gomorrah lessons
Pray for salvation, healing and rescue for those you love as well as whole nations. Leave the results to God.
Take the steps God tells you to – be an example for those you are praying for. Leave the results to God.
Don’t cling to a situation God is telling you to get out of. Move on in the direction he is showing you and don’t look back.
Don’t take the blame for other people’s choices. You are not responsible for their behavior. You did not cause them to suffer the consequences either – that’s on them.
The Nineveh situation
In our Mom’s Bible study this morning, we talked about Ps.33:17 and how we have so many things we think will help us escape the enemy. “Horses” that will take us away from our hard situations.
The two main “horses” I tend to ride off on are Netflix binging and Stress eating. This causes a spiral into body shaming and over working to make up for what I know are poor coping skills.
Jonah ran off on a boat – he was literally running away from what God had called him to do. Why? Because he didn’t have confidence in what God was wanting to do. Jonah wanted revenge, not salvation for those people. 'Salvation isn’t in the cards for them, and shouldn’t be', he thought. Not to mention, if he went where God was telling him to, he could be attacked. The people of Nineveh could have killed him. It was a very hard thing to do.
We all know where Jonah ended up! Being in the belly of a big fish was not in Jonah’s plan, nor did he see it coming. You know something, it thoroughly stinks inside a belly! You know what else happens in there? Digestion! Your circumstances eating away at you because you failed to obey. Instead of being obedient and trusting God to be God – you ran! Being eaten away at is a feeling I know well.
I ran from the hard thing of confronting issues in my marriage. Instead of listening to God and calling out sin as sin, I shrank back. Without realizing it, I feared the reactions of people (my husband) more than caring about their actual rescue. It is easy to think we are caring and helping and yet fail to see things as they really are. This is what codependency looks like. People-pleasing tendencies are not healthy and not truly helpful.
LISTEN was my word for 2020 and I could have done a better job at doing that. Especially when it comes to God, and that was supposedly my main focus.
Shrinking back from hard things prevents you from being effective, “God will not insult his children by giving them easy things to do”. Tina Smith – Raising Kids on Your Knees
The Bethlehem situations
This being December, a look at Bethlehem is pretty much inevitable. There have been so many different sources I have heard talking about Mary, specifically, this year, and her obedience.
I love how there has been a focus on the fact that she was already following God. Mary listened well and trusted God. This is one reason why she was chosen – she knew who God was and trusted Him completely.
While she did ask questions of the angel Gabriel, she did not doubt the truth of what was said. She asked HOW it was going to happen, she looked for understanding. This is different from Zechariah who said “How shall I know this?”. Zechariah, with an angel standing before him, says “Are you sure?”
Mary’s question was asked with the assumption that what was said was true, she just wanted to understand what to look for, how to obey. She fully trusted that the Angel spoke the truth. The angel answered with the equivalent of “God will handle the how ''. In response to that, Mary’s reaction is simply, “Well, I am God’s servant, Let’s do this!” (My paraphrase.)
All kinds of thoughts and fears must have gone through that young girl's head at that moment. Things like “What will mom and dad say?” or “Joseph!? – am I going to lose him?” “No one is going to believe this; I will be shunned”. Joseph could have had her killed for adultery. This girl had so much faith in who God was that she was ready to obey, no matter what it cost.
The Joseph factor
Joseph, while he didn’t immediately believe Mary herself, had his own angel visitation. This he did believe and also chose to obey no matter how hard the circumstances looked. He trusted God to provide and to hold both He and Mary up through what had to be a lifelong struggle.
The angel didn’t ask Joseph or Mary if they wanted this to happen. The only choice they were given was to go with it or fight it. Choosing to let God have the control and just obey had to be so hard. Knowing who God is and trusting Him is essential to freedom.
Fighting God only leads to longer lesson time and hurting yourself. Why would we want to fight when we know that He only wants the best for us? It is like a kid fighting Dad to be let go when Dad sees the car coming. If the kid in us would just stop for a second and remember it’s Daddy that has us, maybe we would find it a lot easier to obey.
Letting go of control brings freedom. To let go of control we must trust (have complete confidence in Christ).
What lessons has 2020 brought for you? How can I help you to walk in obedience in the new year? If accountability is what you need, sign up now for the upcoming group coaching!