14. Digging ditches for the year

The future has always been a source of fascination for most people. The uncertainty, almost mystical element of time to come, is weighed and reasoned. Tomorrow, next week and coming months are measured and counted, but our planning can only put a vague structure on time. Unplanned events can throw our life-map in disarray.

Knowledge and research are essential to responsible living, especially in a modern world where information is at our fingertips. We feel equipped and prepared for life, when we conscientiously prepare our circumstances, skills, money and even relationships for the future. Everything we do every day of our lives is future-driven. How can we live if we don’t know?

As children of God we live and move in a very privileged place. We are covered by the Shadow of the Almighty [Psalm 91] and

carried in His everlasting Arms [Deuteronomy 33:26-28], courageously journeying through life between His shoulders [Deuteronomy 33:12].

Our past, present and future are sealed and secure in Him, through Jesus Christ.

Our past sin and failure are under the Blood of Christ, removed as far as the East from the West and not ever thought of by God. [Psalm 103:12, 1 John 1:9]

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That is our past – the ultimate clean slate for our future.

Our past success builds our faith and becomes a beautiful royal robe, embroidered with precious jewels of answered prayer and miraculous outcome to wear with thanksgiving and praise for the future.

God says in Isaiah 45: 11:

Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;

And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.

The future is in God’s hands. He invites us to ask Him and put the uncertainty in His hands. We must realize that the content of our future is the promises of God. We are assured of the best, when we are surrendered to His love and grace.

In the second Book of Kings, third chapter is a very interesting story, full of lessons and miracles. We are in the time of Elisha’s ministry, the prophet who took over from Elijah and asked for a double portion of the anointing that rested on Elijah. Elisha did indeed do double the amount of miracles that Elijah did, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

After the reign of Solomon, the Hebrew kingdom split into the Kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem as capital and Israel in the north with Samaria as capital.

Moab, a kingdom southeast of Israel and Judah, bordering the Dead Sea, had to pay a tax to the king of Israel, because of a previous defeat by Omri, another king of Israel. The payment was made with sheep, but after the death of Ahab, the king married to Jezebel and who built Baal-temples for her in Israel, Moab decided to rebel and stop the sheep-tax.

Ahab’s son, Jehoram, decided to muster the help of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah as well as the king of Edom, who is not named in this story, to punish Moab. They had to travel through the wilderness of Edom to get to Moab. [3:8]

The three kings travelled with their armies through a barren land for seven days and came to a dry riverbed, where they obviously expected water for the soldiers and animals. It is a crisis. Thirst drives tempers high and the kings react. Jehoram cries out in despair that God wants to deliver them in the hands of Moab. He reacts out of the guilt and shame of his cold relationship with God and expects the worst, while admitting God is in control of things. [3:10]

Jehoshaphat, the godly king, asks if there is a man of God to consult. He reacts with wisdom and confidence in a word from God. The story is not clear whether he consulted God to join in the fight or not. It does not seem like it. He answers Jehoram’s call to arms with much conviction. [3:7]

One of the servants informs the kings that Elisha is nearby. How he came to be close is not explained, but I can imagine he was there on God’s command to stand in for the crisis.

One would expect the kings to summon Elisha to them, but they went down to Elisha. [3:12]. They find him in a black mood of defiance and anger. He lashes out against Jehoram and commands him back to his idol-worshipping parents. [3:13]

And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts lives, before Whom I stand, surely, were it not that I respect the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you [King Jehoram].

Elisha respects Jehoshaphat’s commitment to God and asks for a musician, probably to calm him down and bring him in a state of mind to hear the Word of the Lord. While the musician played the hand of God came upon him.

Music speaks to the soul. It calms our inner beings. Anointed words open our ears to hear the still, small voice [1 Kings 19:12]. So many times I got into the car and heard just the right song for my mood from my collection of spiritual music. I can recommend this. Favourite Gospel singers like Don Francisco, Hillsong and Chris Tomlin, to name a few, change the atmosphere of the space wherever you may be, into a temple of God where He can be worshipped. Faith grows in worship and praise. Sing with them and realize the greatness of our God.

In the calm of music the word of God came to Elisha: [3:16.17]

And he said, Thus says the Lord: Make this dry brook bed full of trenches.

For thus says the Lord: You shall not see wind or rain, yet that ravine shall be filled with water, so you, your cattle, and your beasts of burden may drink.

God’s answer – pure and simple – your need will be met. He commands action. You need activity in the face of need. The soldiers were still thirsty while they were digging without physical promise of outcome. They had to dig ONLY because God said so. They did not dig into water. They dug DRY trenches. The water came the next morning without the usual signs of rain or springs welling up. After the morning grain offering – your time of prayer and Word-meditation – the ditches were filled with water. Faith-action conquers doubt and despair.

Then the inspiring words at the end of the prophecy: [3:18]

And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.

Providing for the army and their animals is just the beginning of the miracle. Without even a word of prayer from the kings for the battle that lies ahead, God provides victory over Moab. The victory is a miracle of confusion on the part of Moab. [3: 21-25]

We believe ONLY because God’s word promises His goodness and love towards us. He promises that our needs will be met. Psalm 37: 4-6:

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.

He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,

And your justice as the noonday.

Your miracle is waiting. Hear the word of God and believe. Your faith will be rewarded.

Romans 10:17:

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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13. Look – I have something new!

There is a thrill to it – something brand new. All over the world the people celebrate a new calendar year, simply a day like all others that starts with the usual daybreak and sunrise and ends with sunset and darkness. Still, it is different and marked by the date with which we count it. New resolutions are made. Thoughts and actions are lined up to change for the better and the hope of success is the motivation for an effort towards greater goals and higher achievement.

For the child of God every day is a new year. It is a new beginning with the ultimate clean slate. Isaiah 1:18 – to be quoted again and again until it becomes our default setting:

Come now, let us settle the matter,

    says the Lord.

Though your sins are like scarlet,

    they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

    they shall be like wool.

In these days of new beginnings, sweep the old under the Blood so that no baggage of failure and disappointment clouds your new beginning. God is ready for you, with a good year ahead. He is a

good God who cannot act out of anything but the love that He is. He defines Himself as abounding in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6:

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth…

He is the source of all good things. Exodus 33:19:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you…”

He loves you and wants to bless you exceedingly with His goodness, even in your wilderness and desert. Isaiah 43:19:

Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Sit still for a moment and think how you think. Thoughts are the key to new beginnings in every aspect of life. We all know how fruitless our new year’s resolutions can turn out to be. We need God and by the working of the Holy Spirit, renewed thinking. Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Make a list of all the characteristics of God that will carry you through 2015. His goodness, unconditional love, faithfulness, grace, unmerited favour and the promise of His presence will be the foundation on which everything else in your life stands and grows.

If you have God, nothing else matters, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter what you have.

We are caught up in our calendar – counting and marking our days with numbers. God set Israel in a rhythm of celebrations for worship throughout the year. These first days of a new year are the perfect time to mark you calendar with special occasions of personal celebration.

Feasts are anointed parties, consciously celebrating blessing. Build them into your year and if you have children or family with you, include them when you dish up something special, marked by the testimony of God’s grace. Blessed is he, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary. Make the ordinary holy. Holy means to set it apart for a specific purpose. It is not something falsely elevated to be boring or unreachable. Just go ahead and declare an ordinary meal a celebration of blessing. Say it with joy and praise God in the process. Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Celebrate blessing!

The Amplified Bible defines blessing as:

happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions…

with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace.

Now that is a mouth full of honey – eat it and be filled, just like Ezekiel in the presence of God so long ago. Ezekiel 3: 1-3:

He said to me, Son of man, eat what you find in this book; eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat the scroll.

And He said to me, Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.

When we feast on the Word our eyes will be opened to see God’s goodness and direction in our lives. That is what makes life worth living. We are not the mindless victims of circumstances. We are princes and princesses of the Almighty and have access to supernatural intervention.

Please pray with me a New Year’s prayer:

My Father, thank you for Jesus your Son, who was born to die for my sins and to give me access to the throne room of the Most High.

I celebrate Your greatness and submit all fear and uncertainty to Your unconditional love for Your unmerited favour and me over all aspects of my life.

Open my eyes to see into the unseen of Your goodness and grace over my life.

Open my ears to hear Your voice, through You Word and in everything I do.

Lead me into Your presence to taste Your goodness and communicate through ceaseless prayer throughout the day.

Set a song of praise on my lips as I wake each morning, to thank You for blessing and submit my routine to Your direction.

I thank You that the content of this year will be determined by the promises in Your Word.

Praise the Father, praise the Son, Jesus and praise the Holy Spirit our comforter.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).

[Romans 11:33,36]

Be greatly blessed in 2015.