233.  Strategy for the Feast

It is the last days of November, and December with all the glitter and glam of Christmas is upon us.  Our thoughts are filled with parties, events, family, friends, food and drink.  We might  even think of a few days away.  All these things require planning, shopping and preparation.  We will again, like every year, make the most of our Feast.

Events and parties are not the only things that necessitate planning.  Christmas is OUR feast – a Christian feast –  especially when we plan to build the Truth into all the traditions and superstitions.   Do not underestimate our enemy with evil plans to make it as unpleasant for us as possible.  We cannot be victims of his devices.  We must be spiritually  prepared, in full armour, while we cook and laugh and sing with loved ones.

Our first line of defence is the high praises of God in our mouths.  Worship begins with gratitude.  Stand still and “taste”  that God is good.  (Psalms 34),  especially if we have the privilege to prepare a feast for family and friends and put our best before them.  Our provision has a source, the Source, of every good gift and favour.  Nothing can undermine our feasting if we praise God in humility to thank him for every luxury and delicacy.

Let us enter into our feasting with a few firm decisions.  We have often talked about offence.  The Greek word for it is skandalon, which means trap.  I always imagine one of those very cruel, iron-teethed wildlife traps  which causes the animal horrific pain and panic.

That is the trap that is set for you by the enemy in the words and deeds of the people around you.  The agony is intensified by the fact that it usually comes from people close to you.  It is their piercing words and actions, their lovelessness and jealousy,  their sin in your life that you have not asked for and usually catches you at the least expected moment, that is the fiercest snare. 

Your pain and woundedness become the root of bitterness – called a root because it grows.  Unchecked it might take on a life of its own and squash your soul.  If you do not bring your bleeding, festering inner being before the Lord, the enemy will form a stronghold of unforgiveness that will become part of your personality, manifesting in anger and impatience.  The recipients of this evil root’s after-effects are usually the peopleclosest to us and might even erupt in stormy relationships with our dearest and closest.

There is no way that the pain of harsh words can be softened except if we  are so hidden in the shadow of the Almighty, aware of his Presence, brought about by the high praises of God in our mouths.  Our safe place in the soft “feathers” of the Wing (Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1) will strengthen our faith so that our shield can guard us against the fiery darts of the enemy.  It helps to know that satan sets the trap and that the person through whom it comes, is used by him to get to us.  

We can only recognize evil with the discernment of the Holy Spirit.   Our position in Christ is our protection.  We are soldiers of love and love is the strongest weapon of the Kingdom.

Will we be triumphant over all the difficult people this Christmas?  Let us strategize  and prepare with the Sword of the Word to behead our own ego, and march in robust, brave love to let the offence-arrow break apart.  Pride is our greatest stumbling block.  Why on earth should we tolerate the humiliation without an angry retort to put the perpetrator of insult and hurt firmly in his or her place?  It is hard to respond appropriately, but God will enable us and equip us with love.  The most powerful reaction is to pray – like Nehemiah – in the moment, in a few words. 

Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
 (Psalms 50:15)

How will your “day of trouble” look?  Will it be the storm of words at family  gatherings, the disappointment of failed expectations, the insult from an unexpected corner ?  Look out for entrapment of the worst kind that will keep your thoughts occupied with motive and anger.  Let Jesus fight for you. 

The Word is our Sword. The Word in our thoughts, every day, will shift our  focus so that people will grow dim in the light of the glory of Christ.  It is our strategy for the Feast.  Just a few minutes of meditation on the Word daily will strengthen you inner being.

Remember the music.  Praise and worship music shifts the atmosphere.  We are in control of the atmosphere.  We are not victims  of the atmosphere, especially when it becomes unpleasant and hostile.   Pray God to enter and protect you.  God will be a wall of fire around you with his Glory inside.  (Zechariah 2:5)

Christmas is a time of reflection on the past year.  Maybe it was a particular difficult year, one in which your faith has been tested to the brink and many tears were shed.  Maybe Christmas is a financial challenge.  Bring it to the Lord.

Praise is the cure for the dry times in life.  In the desert  the people worshipped and God caused waters to flow from a dry well. (Numbers 21)

From this chapter it is clear that 

  • God’s instruction is to gather the people together – there is unity and power in corporate gathering
  • God’s promise is I will give them water [life]
  • The people’s responsibility is to sing.  They sang: Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it (21:17)
  • Our lesson is that in times of pressure, anxiety, or depression, we should not stay alone. Gather with God’s people, especially a praising people. Things will change in your inner being, long before circumstances change.

Regardless of your personal feelings, join in audible praise, and sing to your well – the living God.  

 …as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; (Romans 4:17)

Put your hand in the Hand of the Man who talks to the storm and calms the wind.  Live and celebrate in hope and love, hand in hand with the Child born to us.

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