For the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Cor. 4:20 AMP).
Our world is so precariously strung together by words, ideas, opinions…judgements. Just listen to business news of looming rate hikes or weather reports of deepening drought, and notice how your mood dips with the dire predictions of deprivation.
See how friendships waver in the face of quick and half-informed opinions. How relationships dent and harden under hard words and snap judgements.
How a doctor’s bad diagnosis can plunge a whole family into despair.
Core to our experience of so many words are (our) hearts gripped by uncertainty and fear about the hearts of those who face us – what are their intentions? Do they even understand? Do they care enough to hold us when everything falls apart? Who will make it all ok again?
Like most, my world is divided between those who know (and want to know) Jesus…and those who don’t…and in this time of bad reports and scary words, I see how those who know Jesus navigate the consuming waves with such beautiful surety that it just makes me love Him more.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Rom 8:29 NLT).
I see how day after day the family of Jesus finds unexpected strength to remain steady and kind and open to be changed.
I see those, who seek out Jesus and hear Him talk about the Father’s love for us, grow deeply unshakeable in their belief that all the real or imaginary tribulations they encounter have meaning.
I notice that people who know Jesus, know that they matter and that His Father knows them personally, and they come to understand that His sovereign plans, albeit momentarily unfathomable, are fundamentally good. And FOR good.
And so I see them lower defensive hackles, and open their hearts in trust – even as the onslaught of the world continues.
The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord, He guides it wherever He pleases (Prov. 21:1 NLT).
As I look back at the past year I find myself reflecting on all the ways in which God fulfilled His word in the lives of our home and church family and the wider body we connect with.
Stories of how God’s Holy Spirit speaks and leads people to Jesus’ cross with accelerating urgency in this time. At church we see how more and more broken lives get turned around and fuelled with absolute certainty of the truth and love of God’s redemption in Jesus – and so we see more and more people choose the steps that set their lives right with God and each other.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God (Heb 12:15 NLT).
The testimonies we collect at Scratch speak so much more than just words…in them is a witness of power and love and redemption. A God who comes through the words to bring solid change.
We also see how those, who follow and choose to live out the commission that Jesus gave to make disciples of “all the world”, find a rock-solid identity and peace in their lives that bad reports can’t upset.
In the lives of those who seek Jesus, who search the Bible to know Him more, who walk out the instructions they find there…we witness a deepening faith take root that has more substance than any of the turbulent reports that come at us.
No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy] (1 Cor 10:13).
And we are led to believe that we will increasingly need this certainty of who God is…and what His command structure is, to know where we stand, as we battle so many invisible foes.
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Is.41:10).