From Tent Pegs to Pillars
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people."- Exodus 13:21-22
This Christmas season is one that is quite different than any we have experienced as a church family at The Shepherd's House. We are in a unique and expectant time, a historic and hope-filled time, as we prepare for the transition to our new church home on Townsgate (early 2017). As I am learning on this journey, transition brings with it added responsibilities, important decisions, and unpredictable twists and turns that needs to be handled with care (or better put handed over to the Lord). For many the thought of "change" can be difficult to digest.
As we enter into this most special, most holy, and most joyous holiday season I want us to be reminded of two things as we continue onward with one heart, mind, and spirit in this transition season. First, movement to a new place is nothing new at all for God's people! Many times traveling to a new place was the very sign of the Lord's promise, deliverance, and Sovereign plan taking place. In the Scriptures we see many examples of the Lord leading people to new places:
* The Lord makes a Promise to Abram
"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."- Genesis 12:1-2
* The Lord delivers Israel out of their enslavement in Egypt
"So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey."- Exodus 3:8
* The Lord provides grace for Joseph and Mary as they travel to Bethlehem
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."- Luke 2:6-7
Secondly, movement does not mean there has to be a change in our MISSION! Over these last many months one of the frequent statements I have made is that we do not want the change of address, facility type/size, and financial demands to restrict or compromise our call to serve/equip the people of our church family, reach people in our community, and partner with other ministries globally. Our mission must be rooted in sharing the Good News, making Disciples of Jesus Christ, and caring for people at their point of need. I believe this focus is being highlighted during this holiday season as we continue in our series entitled, mIssioN: Living "IN" Christ mode. This series has focused us on the three pillars that define our church's unique identity and purpose:
1) JOYFUL EXPECTATION- We believe that God meets us and moves mightily every time we gather together.
2) GENUINE LOVE- We make it our highest priority and joy to do faith and life together.
3) COMPASSIONATE EVANGELISM- There are a whole lot of people out there, who need a whole lot of light, who God cares a whole lot about!
Our mission must be visibly and tangibly lived out in a way that it makes a present, physical, and powerful impact. Our church's identity and activity must be wrapped up in the life-giving grace, truth, and power of Jesus Christ. The mission of Christmas is clearly defined in Matthew 1:21, "She will give birth to a Son, you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." That miracle continues to have forward movement to this day! As I shared in last Sunday's message, "The miracle of Jesus' birth continues to work wonders, change lives, and advance God's plan. "
As I think about the passage I used to begin this devotional, I am encouraged by how the Lord guided the travels of His people with a PILLAR. The Israelites may have dwelled in tents that were temporal and fragile, but they traveled by a constant and steadfast symbol of the grace, favor, and power of God! Another huge source of encouragement came to me last week as I was visiting the new property. I was looking at the many Scriptures, prophetic utterances, and names of people written on the floor and walls, when I came across one specific note. It had the three pillars of our church's mission written out with mine and Joanie's name next to them. As I looked at that message I thought to myself, "This is great! Someone is getting this mission fixed in their heart, mind, and soul." May the Lord continue to write His vision and mission on our hearts and minds, individually and collectively in such a way, that no matter the season we are in or the location we find ourselves, we are always operating out of His love and continuing in His purpose!