Christianity

Going home another way

After all we have been through in 2020, I think it is impossible to still be the same! I don’t know about you, but I want to take as much as I can from all that happened last year and allow God to use it for good.

Just before Christmas, I was reading Matthew 2:11, which tells the story of the birth of Jesus. We are told that the wise men ‘departed into their own country another way’. In other words, their plans changed and they went home a different route to the one they had planned.

The wise men travelled miles to see Jesus the King of the Jews, and when they found Him, they responded with joy, sincere worship, and abundant gifts. To be honest, it was quite different from the way many people approach God today! Many people tend to expect God to come looking for them, prove Himself to them, and give them gifts. However, we are told that after the wise men found Jesus and worshipped Him, they went home another way. What does that mean to us today?

1.  When you encounter Jesus in your life, you can never be the same again

Having an encounter with Jesus means our life has to take a different direction, and just as the wise men (after being in the presence of the Living God) were changed, so must we be changed too. After the unprecedented experience of the last twelve months, I do not believe that we can move into 2021 the same way that we entered 2020.

As I look through God’s Word, I am amazed to read story after story of people who experienced an encounter with the Almighty God and could not ‘return home’ the same way. Their lives were turned upside down and their direction changed.

Let’s look at a few examples of people ‘going home another way’.

Mark 5:1-20 — The demon possessed man

No man could bind or tame him; he had a legion of demons and was running wildly in a totally possessed state. And then after meeting Jesus, he was totally set free, clothed and in his right mind to the point that he begged Jesus to be able to travel with him. Jesus said: ‘Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord’s done.’

Let me tell you: he definitely went home ‘another way’ – joyful, dancing, praising God, and telling many what Jesus had done for him.

John 8:3-11 -The woman caught in the act of adultery

By law she shouldn’t have gone home at all (never mind another way). She should have been stoned to death. But as she encountered Jesus, He said to her: ‘Go and sin no more.’ And she went home another way!

Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus  

Jesus stood still, lifted his eyes, and called Zacchaeus down from the tree: ‘Zacchaeus, quickly come down; for this very day I must stay in your house.’ Jesus knew the mess that Zacchaeus‘ house was in! And Scripture tells us that ‘Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, “behold Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”‘ Jesus said: ‘This day salvation comes to this house.’ He went home not only by another way but with Jesus. How awesome is that!

All those who met with Jesus, all went home different than they came: the woman with the issue of blood, Blind Bartimaeus, the man at the gate called ‘Beautiful’, the crowds on the day of Pentecost. I tell you that even those in the upper room – they all went home different than the way they came: full of the Holy Ghost and totally transformed.

I believe we will discover in this new year that many are entering 2021 totally transformed because of what they have experienced in 2020. But at the same time, we also have to be aware of the enemy’s strategy to ‘steal, kill and destroy’ if we do not take heed of God’s instructions.

Matthew 2 tells us: ‘So the wise men decided not to go back to Herod as he’d commanded them, but to go home by another way…’ Herod’s intention was to find Jesus – he certainly didn’t plan to worship Jesus as king but rather to kill him and destroy all what he stood for. In this there are warnings for all of us:

1. Not everyone is going to embrace your visions and dreams, hence it is wise sometimes to keep them to yourself to prevent the enemy from killing what God has given you.

2. Remember that the enemy hates your experience of transformation and will tempt you in every way for you to return home ‘the same way’ and deny what God has done for you.

3. Be sensitive to the voice of the Divine Shepherd, for His instruction is for your good: to protect you from the wiles of the enemy.

Don’t ever forget that just as God dealt with Herod – who set out to destroy Jesus and everything that He stood for over 2 thousand years ago – God dealt with Satan, who then too tried to kill him. Praise God that Jesus arose on the third day triumphant and glorious that you and I might be victorious too!

And because of this victory and this transformation experience, we can enter this New Year full of joy, full of worship, ready to fulfil the assignment that we have been given for His glory. Therefore today make sure that ‘YOU GO HOME ANOTHER WAY!’

Christianity

When the disciples were in isolation…

Right across our world, we have not just a physical pandemic of sickness, but we also have a ‘pandemic of fear’.  Right from the start of Genesis, fear has always been used by the enemy of our souls, but praise God, His Word has so much to say about how we can face fear, with faith!  As we are approaching Easter, it is a good time to reflect on the death of Jesus and how, even after his execution, the close disciples became imprisoned in fear and went into hiding and isolation.  And one could even say ‘and rightly so’, because there was a very real threat to their lives.

John 20:19 tells us that on the evening of the first day, they were together, not just hiding in a room, but in self isolation ‘behind locked doors’. It must have been a very distressing time. Their best friend and Saviour had been publicly executed and they must have been very shocked by all they had witnessed. In fact in fear for his life, Peter had denied knowing Jesus and now, they were all hiding behind locked doors, isolated from the whole world.

This picture hidden away in a room, is an illustration to me, of what the enemy tries to do in our lives – he wants us to isolate from each other.    I am not in any way belittling the pandemic we are currently facing, but I believe the enemy knows that fear is his greatest weapon in all of this.   With just one news headline or a phone call from a friend, repeating something they have heard, whole families and communities can become paralysed by fear of ‘what might happen’.    It might be the fear of the coronavirus or any other ill health, of losing your job etc.    It does not matter, it all has the same outcome – it holds us back from all that God wants us to do. It was the same for the disciples in this account in John.     Just a few days before, they had been enjoying a Passover meal with Jesus and now they were in hiding, trying to preserve their lives. They were unable to move forward, they were in total isolation.


The amazing part of this story is that when Jesus appeared to them, He asked them, ‘Why are you frightened?’.

In Luke 24:36,  Jesus asked them, “Why do you doubt that it is really I? Look at my hands! Look at my feet! You can see that it is I, myself! Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost! For ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see the marks of the nails and showed them the wounds in his feet.

Luke 24:41 says, ‘Still they stood there undecided, filled with joy and doubt’. Even when Jesus appeared to them in power and wonder, after being so brutally killed, they were still not sure whether they could believe their eyes!

In whatever situation we find ourselves in, even if we are in total isolation, Jesus has promised to be with us in every situation for His Word declares, ‘I will never leave us nor never forsake you (Heb 13:5).

From my own experience I found His manifest presence to be the strongest, when I have been in the middle of the fiercest, raging storms of life.

The journey of faith is not always an easy one and sometimes even when we know and experience Jesus in the middle of the situations we face, we wonder if He really will save us.

This story speaks to us of the heart and mercy of Jesus. He appeared to the isolated disciples in the middle of all their doubt, confusion, and then he ate a meal with them. As they listened to all that he said, the Word of God tells us that they, ‘opened their minds to understand at last the Scriptures’.

I believe that faith is a journey. We do not always feel full of faith, but we can make a decision to trust in all that God has said to us.

Faith is not the absence of fear, it is the mastering of fear.

For me, the story of Easter speaks to us of hope, of life and of Jesus meeting us in the middle of our confusion, and reminding us that we have nothing to fear.