As I was studying this week’s Parsha Pearl written by my dear brother Nathan, I was reminded of a contemplation I had one morning this week. Before I go to work I like to spend as much time speaking with Father, reading and meditating on what He reveals to me at such times
I was struck by a frustrating sadness that often overtakes when I think of this subject: ‘fulfilling the potential within me’
About twenty miles from where I live are Yorkshire Dales. I grew up walking in these dales and also into the Yorkshire Moors which is a lot more hilly and rugged.
I remember years before I was saved I would take my dog ‘Monty’ a beautiful silver, white and grey-bearded collie onto the dales with me. One day I came across a descending stream between the cleft of two hills. By the stream was a single large rock by which you could sit in peace and hide. Monty would run off and bound over the heather and I would think and ponder over life which really was not good for me at the time. It was a place to escape and a place that would see me visit many times. I know now that YHVH heard every word I spoke and every thought and saw every tear.
Yeshua was with me even though I had not committed myself to Him and would not say the ‘Sinners prayer’ for many years. I’ll speak about that prayer in a moment.
I always believed in God. I was brought up a Roman Catholic but I never knew I had to have a relationship with Him and that Yeshua had provided me a way to do it. My religion was all about rules and the church as far as I could understand. Monday mornings at school brought trepidation amongst the class as the priest would visit each classroom and find out who missed mass in the morning.
Just as the Israelites in the passages we have read and will come to study further in the Parsha Pearls we too reflect a life where God is there but we never get to know Him. We still follow our traditions and heathen ways. We fear man more than God. We see in the early years of their relationship building that YHVH’s grace flowed abundantly over them. He gave them time to change internally and spiritually and to show that change externally. For these people, things would not change for many years to come. Nonetheless, YHVH, loved, protected and supplied their every need.
Our maturing in the faith does not go unnoticed by YHVH. As we trust in Him we know that the tasks and ministries He gives can be done because His grace is sufficient and empowers us to fulfil those tasks. He is showing us that He trusts us also with these things. Father, knows us better than we know ourselves. If YHVH has given you a task then we should know that we can do them because we can do all things in Him. The Ruach Ha’kodesh is charged with helping us and equipping us to do them. In turn, the offices or gifts within the body are charged with doing the same. However, because we are known by our Father, He knows that we will have times when we fail and fall. There is a caveat that comes with each appointment, this we must always be acutely aware of. We must not exceed our limitations or ignore the terms and conditions.
As Nathan has said, we often draw close to YHVH at these times of struggle and do the opposite when times are good. In fact, times don’t need to even be that good, they just need to be better.
This shows that we are a fickle people. Our loyalties are forever changing.
Israel as a chosen people are the epitome of this duplicity; the struggle and love for the God of Israel.
When I feel like giving up and putting the ministry aside, I too remember my great YHVH who’s has done so much for me, my family and for us. My time in this ministry may only be for a short time or maybe that it remains with me until my passing. I say this because it belongs to YHVH. We are just custodians and workers in it. We hold it tightly and lightly at the same time.
Responsibility and maturity will help me to know when things have run their course and my course is hoping to finish the race and to be known by Him.
For some time now I know that YHVH has been asking me to think of the deeper things of life and what it means to be in a relationship with Him.
Inside all of us is the person He made us to be. We really are not that person through nature, nurture and the experiences of life. We are ultimately shaped by this world.
Often we desire to be someone other than ourselves. The popular culture of society breeds that desire and disgruntlement. We can change whatever we want and be whoever we want. We strive for wealth and the acquisition of the material and are catered for by media, commerce, and the economy. Financial crashes, wars, and conflicts are caused by it. Often we want to emulate or be like someone else. Whether it be an actor, sportsman, politician, saint or sinner our focus is drawn away from who we really are. So we see that along the course of life’s pursuits we begin to lose ourselves along the way. Men cannot prepare us for entry into the kingdom for any semblance of this world disqualifies us. It is only by being changed by the hand of the potter that we can enter.
Nathan spoke about fasting. Generally, we consider this through abstaining from food but do you know that there are other things that feed us. Whatever we fill our hours with is another source. We can be addicted to mobile phones and other devices, we can spend hours watching TV or spending time in the gym. And it’s not that difficult to abstain from them. When I go camping or walking I am surprised how fast it takes for me not even to consider these things.
My wife and I used to walk through a graveyard by a church near a river in the dales and it was there that I began to think of the millions of souls who reach the end of the lives never fulfilling the potential within them. Now let us take a moment to consider (not just remember them) the events of our lives and what you have become because of them. Without them, who are we, what are we?
Think of this:
If I have faith then I have the potential to be the person God made me to be?
If I have no faith then am I someone else. I am who I want to be or what others want me to be.
If we strip away the things that have made us and influenced us then who are we? Really!
We are educated to work and strive and pursue the things which we believe enriches our lives. In some way, we might even believe that those things fulfil us. Often we go for careers that we are good at or trained at but what if we could just be who we were; do the things that God made us to do and not what we were trained to do or told by others to do.
Let me share something with you. Apart from the first three months of being saved, I have been in ministry and leadership. In those early days, I carried and fetched, cleaned toilets and swept floors, moved chairs and set up the church, and PA systems. Most times I would arrive before anyone else, even the pastor. I travelled across town and country picking people up. Sometimes, in the early years, I would have to get up early to pick people up across town and find that they were just getting out of bed when I arrived. I used to get really aggravated over this and found it very disrespectful. Here I was getting up early. Believe me, an extra half an hour would have been a delight. Putting petrol in the car, stacking up the mileage, getting to church to clean a setup and finding myself not getting back home until gone 3 pm. That was my ministry life for years and still, I had to work full time. It was tough and my marriage was suffering because of it.
The aspect of leadership as Nathan has highlighted in this week’s pearl begins with service; service to each other of course but service to YHVH primarily. I serve because I have a relationship with Him and that’s how He expects all of us to act.
As I act out my service I am finding out who I am. I was born with artistic skills and worked as a commercial artist for a company for many years. Those were natural skills. I learned different techniques and applications but being born with the talent helped me to learn those techniques very quickly. However, I trained and worked as a cook when I first left school. I enjoyed cooking and decided not to pursue an artistic career because I was not encouraged to do so. I had to find my own way. After four years I realised that what I wanted to do was to pursue that career as an artist. I am 57 now and have worked longer for myself that I ever did for anyone.
After all, this time, have I come to know who I really am? Well not quite, because YHVH is still on my case. I am, however, understanding that I have a yearning to be who I really am as a human being on this earth and to be a child of the most high.
YHVH is saying to me and to you. ‘Don’t settle for what you have become, of who the world says you can be or should. If you believe in Me and trust Me you will be the person I made you to be. If you allow Me to make the necessary changes you will fulfil the potential I have placed inside of you. I have made you, I have chosen you to walk the path I have for you with Me. I will never leave you or forsake you. Just trust Me!
Conflict begins when you don’t want to walk that path. When you contend with YHVH it will only be for a while because His word says that HE will not contend with us forever. You either want Him or you don’t.
Now to the sinner's prayer. You will not find it anywhere in scripture. But what it does is that it draws us to the realisation of our condition. Within and of ourselves there is no hope. Hope for us comes from a greater external force. What we hope for is the chance to move out of the life we live into another one; to find a better way and a better place. YHVH wants us to live the high life with Him not the high life on this planet. He wants us to be distracted by Him and not the things of this world. The relationship He demands begins by believing that He exists and is the creator of all life and order in the universe. Once having found Him we hand over this life to Him and allow Him to take control. But He won’t just lead you in this life form. Your life has to be changed and born again. It needs to reach a higher spiritual condition. This transformation allows you into His presence so that we can commune with Him. We see in scripture that all those chosen and used by YHVH for a purpose had to be changed in this way.
So let us be real for a moment. The saying of that prayer does not mean that you are born again. The mark of dedication and commitment to following the way and the fruit of that way is the qualifier. I know people who have said that prayer in church and in meetings and have not changed their lives in any way. There has been no genuine conversion. The prayer was said during an emotional moment. There is not only one signature on the covenant agreement my friends. For it to come into effect in our lives we have to sign and agree to the terms. YHVH knew you before you ever said the sinner’s prayer. However, He sees the heart of every repentant sinner. In all of this the struggle between what we have become and who we can ultimately be prevails. YHVH just wants you to realise that He can change your life for Him if you let Him. That’s the commitment and it’s a serious one.
Don’t think about things too long. There has to come a time when things need to be said and done. We have to allow YHVH to impact us so that we can be a people who impact others. We have to be a people that make a difference because we are in the here and now. Touching the lives of the young for instance will change the future. You were born for this time so take it, touch it and use it. YHVH has given it to you.
Before I leave let me give you somethig to think about.
1For the Leader. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.
2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
3Thou measurest my going about and my lying down,
And art acquainted with all my ways.
4For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.
5Thou hast hemmed me in behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
Too high, I cannot attain unto it.
7Whither shall I go from Thy spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?
8If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there.
9If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10Even there would Thy hand lead me,
And Thy right hand would hold me.
11And if I say: ‘Surely the darkness shall envelop me,
And the light about me shall be night’;
12Even the darkness is not too dark for Thee,
But the night shineth as the day;
The darkness is even as the light.
13For Thou hast made my reins;
Thou hast knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I will give thanks unto Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance,
And in Thy book they were all written--
Even the days that were fashioned,
When as yet there was none of them.
17How weighty also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand;
Were I to come to the end of them, I would still be with Thee
This scripture tells us that before you were born YHVH knew you and had a plan for you. That means that in His eyes you were born because this world needs you. That’s why you were born. How wonderful is that?
I pray that our ministry is blessing you and that you will consider this message and the pearls we send out to you each week. As we move on as a ministry we have to constantly draw near to Father for instructions. So we are aware that our work is changing. We ask that you continue to pray and support us. In the coming weeks, we will be developing the website so that we can get more information and teachings out to you. Please let us know your thoughts and how Father is speaking to you so that we can pray for you too. We’d like to invite others to submit articles and letters, so please contact us if you feel led.
May the LORD bless you and keep you on the path.
Grant Marshall: Co-founder Arrows of Ephrayim Ministries.