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Transition

Transition

Monday See, I am doing a new thing… I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

Transition: the process of changing from one state of being to another. We don’t like change. No matter how positive the change may be, it feels like someone threw out our favorite shirt. We cling to ratty garments, even when a designer wardrobe is available, because they’re familiar. We do that with spiritual things too. We may not like the past, but at least it’s familiar. The new makes us uncomfortable. And what about transitions we never asked for? A child dies. A spouse leaves. An eviction notice arrives. We’d give anything to hit rewind, but God says, “Don’t look back, look up. I’m doing a new thing.”

By the time we enroll in AARP, we’ve lived through a series of transitions and now expect them. Those who know God remember that He said He’s “doing a new thing.” Even when transitions we’d never choose are thrust on us, we have God’s promise: “I am making a way in the wilderness…” We can fight Him, or we can cooperate with that new thing He’s doing. Rather than get stuck in bitterness, we grow. Instead of wasting our lives complaining, we stockpile treasure in heaven. He uses transitions to launch us toward the new thing He’s doing. A med student becomes a surgeon. A prom queen becomes a mother. A country chapel becomes a mega-church. Parents become grandparents. Transitions don’t have to blindside us, even if they make us uncomfortable at first. If we hold our lives loosely, we’re ready to participate when God does a new thing.

Final Thought:  Think about the transitions in your past. What new thing might God be doing in your life now?

Prayer: Father, as I look back, I see your fingerprints all over my life, even during the times I was unaware. Help me be faithful in this season I’m in, but hold it with loose hands. When you’re ready to do a new thing, I’m in!  In Jesus’ name, amen

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Tuesday You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. Lev. 26:10

Last year’s harvest? Well, I planted one cucumber vine and it died in July, so I don’t think this is talking to me. We often feel that way about Bible verses, especially those from the Old Testament. And we’re right. Many Old Testament passages were written for a specific people in a specific situation. But we can learn from them because they reveal more about God. They show us what happens when we respond poorly and when we respond correctly. So what does this verse reveal about God?

Apparently, the Israelites were slow learners (like us) and God had to repeat Himself several times, followed by appropriate consequences so they’d learn. This passage in Leviticus is another of those times and it begins in verse 3: If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands…” God goes on to describe the abundance He plans to give them IF… If they obeyed Him, if they loved Him, if they turned away from idols, then He would bless them so much they’d have to clear out the old to make room for the new. We notice that God’s promises always contain an IF. He wants to be in covenant with us, but there are IF’s in covenants. God does most of it, but we have a part too. He is eager to bless those whose hearts are wholly His (2 Chronicles 16:9). But He can’t do that if we’re living like idol-chasing pagans. We’re not in position to welcome the new if we’re clinging to the old. So God designed a fix for that—repentance clears out the old; obedience ushers in the new.

Final Thought: God’s blesses those whose hearts are wholly His. Becoming wholly His is a great New Year’s Resolution.

Prayer: Father, I’ve been holding back from total devotion to you, but I know that obedience is the path into your presence. So this year will mark a turning point, a moving away from the past. I repent of the old; fill me with the new. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Wednesday On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  Acts 1:4

“Wait? Did He say wait?” Peter swallowed a hunk of bread in one gulp and looked around. Andrew shrugged and nodded. They tried to catch Jesus’ eye, but He was still talking. It was probably important, but Peter couldn’t hear. His head was spinning. Wait? They had to wait? They’d seen Jesus killed and then raised to life! Shouldn’t they be telling everyone? What could be so important that they had to wait to get started? Peter frowned. “Time’s a-wasting, Jesus. We need to get out there.”

Don’t you feel like Peter sometimes? The goal is in sight. You’re on it. Full speed ahead—and God says, “Wait.” But you’re ready NOW, you think. What good is waiting? You’ve got the time NOW, the finances, the passion. An opportunity opened. Your biological clock is ticking. Your goal’s in sight, so why should you wait? What the disciples didn’t yet know was that their assignment would be so explosive that they could not succeed without the power of the Holy Spirit. It was His power that would make it happen, not theirs. God says that about our goals too. We’re not ready yet and He’s not in a hurry. But waiting isn’t wasting. Even when the wait seems pointless, God is working in our situation, preparing us for the next phase. As long as we hang on, trust His timing, and don’t give up or give in, transition is good. Wait means God has it planned to the last second.

Final Thought:  Waiting is the hardest part of transition. But God’s timing is the difference between success and failure.

Prayer: Father, you know what I’m waiting for and how hard it is to be patient. But I don’t want to rush ahead of you because your timing is the difference between success and failure. So I will wait on you and trust your timing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday  …the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.  Acts 11:1

Gentiles! Ugh! thought the Jewish believers. Dirty, pagans didn’t eat kosher or keep the law. Yahweh is OUR God. Jesus is OUR Messiah. But when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, the Jews had to rethink some things. This was supposed to be good news, but it didn’t feel like good news if Gentiles and Samaritans were part of it. Wasn’t salvation for the Jews only?

Before we smirk at those first-century Christian Jews, we should fast forward to 2022. Who are your “Gentiles?” I don’t want Muslims moving into my neighborhood!  Why are illegals coming to our church? My daughter’s marrying a guy of a different race. They’re putting in a rehab across the street. Transitions can stomp up the walk and barge right into our comfort zones. That’s what happened with the first Christians. They weren’t ready for Gentiles to receive their Jesus and some of them were angry about it. But God confirmed that this was HIS transition by filling those Gentiles with the same Holy Spirit. So the Jewish Christians had to wrestle with prejudice, pride, and tradition until they could welcome new believers from ANY walk of life. They had to tear down the barriers they created to make room for what God was doing. What barriers in your life need transition?

Final Thought:  Before we can cooperate with God’s transitions, we have to tear down the barriers we’ve created.

Prayer: Father, help me be honest with myself about whatever barriers might block me from cooperating fully with you in the next phase of my life. Reveal any prejudice, pride, or tradition in your way. I’m willing to change.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday Saul waited seven days for Samuel… but Samuel still didn’t come… So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.  1 Samuel 13:8-9

You tried it God’s way, and nothing happened. So you decided to do it your way. That’s what King Saul did. It seemed like such a little thing. God wanted a sacrifice before they went to war; Saul would give Him one. Sure, he was supposed to wait for the high priest, but Samuel was late, so… This gross disobedience on Saul’s part marked a transition for him and for the entire nation of Israel. Because of it, God ripped the kingdom from Saul and his family and gave it to a shepherd boy named David.

Sometimes transitions come as a result of our disobedience. Just as God wanted to give the kingdom to Saul and his sons, He wants to give us amazing opportunities, too. But our disobedience forfeits those blessings. The rest of Saul’s reign was defined by strife, war, idolatry, and eventual insanity because he never repented. Jealousy consumed him and evil spirits tormented him. That’s what happens when we start thinking that our way is better than God’s way, or “God will just have to get used to it.” He lets us step onto the greased slide to self-destruction. We transition from purpose and blessing to bitterness and despair. God recorded events like this to show us the end result. Even though Saul felt great remorse and regret, he never truly repented, so he never transitioned back. When we’ve spiraled down, we can transition back by doing it God’s way.

Final Thought:  What transitions in your life began with disobedience? You can turn them around by doing life God’s way.

Prayer: Lord, my past is a series of transitions that were sparked by my disobedience. My life has been all over the place because of my own decisions. But I’m ready to do it your way. If you say wait, I’ll wait; go, I’ll go. In Jesus’ name, amen.