Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Refining, restoration, revival

Here we go again. The same Bible passages within 24 hours. Joseph this time.

First, from Max Lucado via Devotionals Daily: the story of Joseph. A story of restoration.
"Initially, Joseph chose not to face his past... He kept family secrets a secret. Untouched and untreated. Joseph was content to leave his past in the past.

But God was not.

Restoration matters to God. The healing of the heart involves the healing of the past. So God shakes things up.
And Max Lucado talks about Joseph's initial reaction to his brothers. Anger. Put in prison. What was going on?
"I think he was trying to get his bearings. This was the toughest challenge of his life. The famine, by comparison, was easy. Mrs. Potiphar he could resist. Pharaoh’s assignments he could manage. But this mixture of hurt and hate that surged when he saw his flesh and blood? Joseph didn’t know what to do.

Maybe you don’t either.

Your family failed you. Your early years were hard ones. The people who should have cared for you didn’t. But, like Joseph, you made the best of it. You’ve made a life for yourself. Even started your own family. You are happy to leave Canaan in the rearview mirror. But God isn’t.

He gives us more than we request by going deeper than we ask. He wants not only your whole heart; he wants your heart whole.

Why? Hurt people hurt people. Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone? Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake."

God Will Carry You Through by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.
And think: "Maybe God is disrupting the comfortable distance for a great purpose... "

Maybe it is time for restoration.

And a thought from Jennie Allen,  adapted from Restless, reflecting on Joseph's suffering: "With suffering comes a morbid but helpful perspective that life is moving fast and earth is not our home. I used to live afraid my life wasn't going to work out just right. The more I surrender to suffering and joy and whatever God has for me, the more my fear becomes that I won't spend my life well. I can run farther and longer than I could before. I am not despairing; faith is growing."

I'm studying two Bible plans, through the You Version, at the moment: Discover God's Dream for You by Jennie Allen at the same time as Release, Repair, Revive, Rebuild by Brian Houston.

And this is fascinating - a similar theme: he says "To give us a measure of revival in our bondage."
Here in Ezra 9, we see how the measure of revival God's people have received is within the context of their bondage. But this revival has liberated them and given them a purpose. When God gives us a measure of revival, His measure is not in terms of limits or just enough to survive. God's measure is always more than we need and carries with it the means to fulfil our life's calling and purpose.
Charles Spurgeon said, "Revive means to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished."

When God brings revival into our life, we receive a kind of awakening, a revitalisation. Things that were left for dead suddenly come to life. Like rain on a desert, what was once barren and lifeless begins to overflow with life and promise. In your everyday life, your coming and going, expect revival. It's God's divine touch in your personal world. Revival will lift you above your circumstances, open your heart and fill it with purpose.

What needs to be REVIVED in your life? What is it that is dead and dying, or perhaps held in bondage? Jesus came to breathe LIFE into dry bones, to declare RISE UP to dead things. Maybe it is your passion for the House of God. Perhaps it is love for your husband or your wife. Maybe your hunger and thirst for the Word of God needs REVIVING today. Speak these verses over your life and watch as dead things come to life."

How do we do this? With PATIENCE:
"But those who trust the Lord
will find new strength.
They will be strong like eagles
soaring upward on wings;
they will walk and run
without getting tired" 
Isaiah 40:31

Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards. Learn to be patient, so you will please God and be given what he has promised. As the Scriptures say, “God is coming soon! It won't be very long. The people God accepts will live because of their faith. But he isn't pleased with anyone who turns back.” We are not like those people who turn back and get destroyed. We will keep on having faith until we are saved. Hebrews 10:35 - 38

And then 'Verse of the Day': "live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace." Ephesians 4:1-3 CEV

If we followed the latter advice, we wouldn't need restoration of broken relationships and revival would be much more likely to happen in our lives.

All this in one day. Phew.

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