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Volume 10, Issue 26: You've Got This

As I stumbled into Joshua's commissioning section of Scripture once more this morning, it occurred to me that God affirms us for the work He gives us to do. I also remembered Jesus' commissioning and noticed how related it is to Joshua's. When He was being baptized by John the Baptist, as He came out of the water, a dove rested on His head and God spoke in a loud voice saying, "This my son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased."

Jesus was just about to begin His ministry, which would culminate in sorrow and crucifixion a wooden cross. And God gave Him a prep talk in the hearing of people. I believe this affirmation was to prepare and encourage our Lord Jesus to step into His job with courage, the same way Joshua's was. And I believe that this commissioning is for us too as heirs with Joshua and Jesus.

Joshua's job was to lead the children of Israel across the Jordan River into the promised land. He was taking over where Moses left things. God must have figured that Joshua was probably intimidated by the task ahead. I mean, he was being required to step into some really big shoes. Having walked closely beside Moses, he knew the weight of responsibility Moses carried and probably felt he wasn't as mighty.

I think if Joshua was oozing with confidence, God wouldn't have given him this particular prep talk, commanding him to be strong and courageous. As He commissioned him, God told Joshua, "It's all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul." Joshua 1:1-9 MSG.

God was in essence telling Joshua, "You've got this." And He is telling us that too for the work that our hands have found to do. Believe that your line of work is not just random, and that God is interested in you succeeding in it.

I am mesmerized by God's words to Joshua. If you know that God has told you that all your life no opposition that raises its head against you for the work He has given you will succeed, you walk on air, humbled to be loved and protected. When you know that God has promised to be with you, to never give up on you however weary you get at your work from time to time, and to never leave you, then you know you've got all you need to succeed at it.

Whatever it is that you do for work, you've got this. However big your responsibilities grow, you've got this. Joshua's responsibilities started small. He was just an assistant. But then he got promoted to team leader position. It appears that Joshua gave everything to his assistant job and God was impressed. And now as a team leader, God needed Joshua to know that He had noticed his strong work ethic when he was an assistant, and that because of it, he was good enough for the leadership job.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 29: Choose Joy

This piece is made of extracts from the work of Kay Warren from her "Choose Joy" study plan in the YouVersion Bible app, which is derived from her "Choose Joy" book. The outstanding thing about this devotional on joy is how Kay beautifully illustrates the truth of how life is more of a set of parallel train tracks, joy and sorrow running inseparably throughout our days, and how it is possible to choose a life of joy while still recognizing sorrow.

Kay defined joy as the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of our lives, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.

Life is much more like a set of parallel train tracks, with joy and sorrow running inseparably throughout our days. Everyday of your life, good things happen. Beauty, accomplishment, pleasure, fulfillment, and perhaps even excitement occur. That's the track of joy. But everyday of your life also holds disappointments, challenges, struggles, and perhaps even losses for you or those you love. That's the track of sorrow.

Most of us try to "outsmart" the sorrow track by concentrating our efforts on the joy track, as if by our positive outlook or outright denial of reality, we can make the sorrow track go away. That's impossible, because joy and sorrow will always be present together.

No matter how "positive" we think, or how hard we try to visualize only happiness, the sorrow track remains. And in the strange paradox of the universe, at the exact moment you and I are experiencing pain, we are also aware of the sweetness of loving and the beauty still to be found.

One of our toughest challenges in life is to learn how to live on both of those tracks at the same time. But there's hope! Consider what's it's like to stand between two sets of train tracks and look into the horizon. Those parallel tracks come together as we look ahead. They are no longer distinguishable as two separate tracks.

That's the way it will be for us too. During our lifetime, we "stand on the tracks" looking for signs of Jesus Christ's return. We watch for the sights and sounds that will alert us that his appearance is very close. One day, in the brightness of His coming, we will meet him face to face. And when we do, the tracks of joy and sorrow will merge. The sorrow will disappear forever, and only the joy will remain.

Jesus was a man of joy. Luke 7:34 says, "the Son of man came, enjoying life." I love that. He didn't come bent over in pain. Jesus came eating and drinking and loving life. He was a vibrant, compassionate man, a man of both sorrow and joy who could enter fully into life with all it's brokenness.

It is possible to choose a life of joy while still recognizing sorrow. Jesus, knowing full well what was ahead of him, chose to laugh, to tell jokes, to roll on the ground with children, to build rich relationships, to have meaningful work, to experience joy. Jesus' life is an illustration of the two train tracks converging into one. He shows us how to see joy, a joy that sometimes comes in darkness.

Don't miss joy. Don't miss the reason for your existence. But if you are going to experience joy in this lifetime, there's only one possible way: you are going choose it. You will have to choose it in spite of unbelievable circumstances. You will have to choose it even if your worst nightmare comes true.

This isn't what we want to hear. We want to believe that if we get our act together, we finish the huge project, our health clears up, we get a raise, or we can just get things right, then we can finally be joyful. But that's just not how it works. So ask yourself, "What unchangeable circumstances stand in the way of me choosing joy? What fears of the future keep me from choosing joy?"

Then pray something like this, "God, thank you for making joy my purpose in life. Thank you for Jesus Christ, whose life as both a man of sorrows and a man of joy gives me permission to seek a life of joy for myself. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who graciously gave me the gift of joy as part of my spiritual inheritance, my birthright. I courageously choose joy, because happiness will never be enough. I choose joy!"

Choose Joy by Kay Warren.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 25: Enjoy the Stretch

Do you remember praying for promotions? I can't believe I almost forgot how much I prayed for promotion at work. Yesterday a friend of mine posted on WhatsApp a piece of writing by someone by the name Dawn Chere that hit home for me in a big way. I have copied it here word for word for your reflection.

"When your dreams get bigger, the weight of responsibility does too. If you aren't careful, you'll find yourself complaining about things you once prayed for. Complaining isn't harmless, it is addictive and a thief that steals strength. What we need is gratitude.

Gratitude for the added pressures that come with influence. Gratitude for the stretch in the unknown that forces growth. Gratitude for the chaotic hustle that happens in seasons of unexpected blessing and opportunity.

I have caught myself saying, "if I can just get through this week" in busy moments. When I pause, I realize I don't want to just get through it! I prayed for this, and I won't let the pressure force me to feel overwhelmed or unprepared. I want to have a heart overflowing with gratitude that realizes it's a miracle that weeks like this even exist, that dreams are slowly coming to fruition and progress is being made daily!

Open doors don't remain open when you start resenting them for the responsibility they bring to your life. Sometimes we don't need less on our plate, we need to make the choice to enjoy the stretch. Crush that path before you and do it with an attitude of gratitude!" Dawn Chere.

Wow! Talk of a slap on the wrist just when you need it. I don't know about you but I needed to hear this. I have needed to hear it for maybe a year now. This is something I need to put in front of me every working day. I don't want to forget that it's a miracle that I have the kind of weeks that I have and let my heart overflow with gratitude. I don't want to let the pressure make me feel overwhelmed.

It is so good to realize that it's not that I need less on my plate. What I need is to make the choice to enjoy the stretch. I am making that choice right here and now. Let's be grateful for the answered prayers that got us here. And remember that we can handle the weight of responsibility and the pressure that accompany our blessings and opportunities.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 24: Give it Everything

We can never say too much about the importance of a strong work ethic in the times we are living in currently. Many people excuse their lack of enthusiasm for their work on being on the wrong job. But if we are really honest, we will admit that the extent to which we like our job has little to do with how much we give to it.

On the other hand, when I find myself working a bit late in an attempt to finish tasks well, I fail to appreciate that the reason I feel pushed to the limit at the end of the day is because I have given it everything I had to give that day. If you are anything like me, you try to make sure that you do all that you could possibly do today, and in the best shape possible. Then I realized that this is actually how we are wired.

God didn't make any mediocre people. He didn't make some us sloppy and others diligent. Otherwise, He wouldn't have declared "It is good" after He created man if some of the man was no good. Additionally, he wouldn't expect us to work at what we do with all we have if He made some of us incapable of doing so.

As God was commissioning Joshua to take over the leadership of the children of Israel after the death of Moses, He gave him two main instructions to undertake in leading the people to their inheritance. The first was to give it everything he had, while following the directions given to the letter. The second was to not let God's Word out of his mind. These two, God told him, were the recipes for his success.

“You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out the Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.” Joshua‬ ‭1:5-8 MSG‬‬.

God instructed Joshua, "Give it everything you have, heart and soul." This is what God expects of us in our work, in every task we get our hands on. So let's not be bothered if we find that we spend a little bit more effort on our work to produce quality results and get it all done. We are not going beyond the call of duty. We are simply doing what is expected of us by God. We are giving it everything we have like we should.

God repeats this instruction for us in the twenty third verse of the third chapter of the book of Colossians where he says, “Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men." Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭AMP‬‬. In other words, whatever you are working on, give it everything you've got. As I write and edit my articles, I give it everything I've got for the Glory of God. As you work on your job or in your kitchen or laundry or backyard, give it everything you've got for the glory of God.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 23: We Worship From Victory

I made a phone call today, and what threw me back was the great sense of enthusiasm that oozed from the other end of the line. This dear friend of mine has been grieving the loss of her son but whenever I speak with her I get blown away by how jovial she is despite the difficult times she is in. My friend lost the battle for having her son cured but because of Whose she is, she is not defeated.

In the formative years of our walk with God, many of us lived off the help hotline. It was easy to let our new found love for God slip into the back banner as we sought Him mainly for what He could do for us. But as we mature in our relationship with God, we ask for His help a lot more, but not from a selfish standpoint. We ask for His help from a point of surrender.

As we mature, we get to the point where our passion for God tramps every disappointment. We are more desperate for Him than we are for answered prayers. And so we worship, not for victory, but from victory. What victory? You might ask. Victory from the part of us that thought we couldn't go another day without an answer to a petition we had offered over and over again. Victory for all the battles we fought but didn't realize we had won because we were fixed on God coming through a certain way.

As believers in God, we have been given a seat. A seat of authority and a seat of victory. We don't worship for victory. We worship from victory! Jesus tells us that "In this world you will have many troubles, but take heart, for I have overcome the world." Doing life with God doesn't exempt us from challenges, but it gives us the privilege of facing every battle from a point of victory.

One of David's Psalms written during times of immense trouble goes like this, "Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalms‬ ‭16:5-6‬ ‭CSB‬‬. When David wrote this Psalm, his life was full of trouble. But because he knew and trusted God, he was joyfully content.

We too often go before the Lord with burdened hearts. But as we present our petitions to Him, we can't help but recount His goodness to us. We remember the victories He has given us in the past and lift up our worship and adoration, knowing that He sees and knows just what we need this time. And He acts on our behalf however He chooses. And so we don't worship for victory. We worship from victory.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi