Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Genesis 39:1–2 Would you consider the young man Joseph, who was about to be sold into slavery, "a successful man?" Of course not! Yet, God says in His own words that Joseph was a successful man.
God always gives me a word for the year. It's usually a word I either think I know or don't want to spend time thinking about. This was more than true with the word He gave me for 2021. It is the word "more." The first thing I thought when He gave me the word was, What more, God? I don't want more. More means I have more to do, more to handle. I'm not sure I like this word. Here's the deal: God doesn't care if I like it or not. He wants me to understand and experience what the word means.
In a dream I recently saw portions of heavenly cloud falling down out of heaven until the earth was covered with a cloud. It was white as snow covering the ground. Then I saw beautiful white turtledoves in small circles scattered in the cloud with flames of fire coming up out of them. They were somewhat elusive, but I was infatuated with this making effort to put my hand into a group of flaming turtledoves – once I did, it was an amazing experience as my hand was not burnt by the flames. Then I looked further seeing many groups of these turtledoves moving around in the cloud which so beautifully covered the earth.
"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath" (Ps. 34:18, MSG). Broken: having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order, (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing. It seems no matter who we are and how much we love Jesus, there remains a broken area in our lives that God is still working on. I said to my wife recently, "Do you know anyone in the body of Christ, including us, who's not broken in some area of their lives? Do you know anyone who is normal?" She said, "Bill, normal is the setting on the dryer downstairs."
In one hundred years, most of us will not be here. In fact, many who are reading this may not be here in fifty years, and others may have less than twenty-five years. By then, those who have committed will have met our sweet Master face to face and gained their heavenly reward. I do not write these things to frighten you, but rather to provoke you to deeper reflection. I have a pondering heart as I write this because eternity is closer than we even know. I feel a healthy fear of the Lord when I reflect on this reality. We will all stand before the righteous judge soon enough and give our account for the way we invested our lives. How did we spend the lives God gave us?
Matthew 6:33 (NIV) says, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." The key to living the abundant life God has for us is learning to make Him our first priority. Yet many people seek the "things" first, things like jobs, houses, cars or other material things. To seek means "to crave, pursue, to make sacrifices to get, to go after with all of your strength and all of your heart." It's a mistake to crave and pursue possessions, believing they will give us the lasting peace, joy and contentment that only come from God's presence in our lives. Take a moment and ask yourself, "What am I seeking? What do I spend most of my time thinking or talking about? How do I invest the majority of my energy?" These are important questions you need to answer from your heart.
This afternoon I was looking at an old notebook from 1991. I always loved spending hours studying the Word of God and taking notes. Even as a young believer I understood the transforming power of the Word of God. I learned that Jesus was with God in the beginning when He created the world, and He has given us the same creative power in our words, therefore we could speak things into existence. We could speak to mountains to be cast into the sea and it will obey. I understood the covenant that Jesus established with us when He died on the cross, and I knew that healing is always Gods will for us.
Every influential person has gone through a step-by-step process to their ultimate success. If you follow the same pattern, you too can discover ultimate success. That's one of the many wonders of human behavior. If you desire something, you can find someone else who has achieved what you want and imitate exactly what was done. This is called modeling. The Apostle Paul referred to modeling when he wrote, "And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT). Have you heard the story of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who co-authored Chicken Soup for the Soul together? In creating and publishing this bestseller, they went through the same process every successful person has gone through.
Sir Winston Churchill is credited with first saying, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." He stated it in the mind-1940s as we approached the end of Word War II. Rahm Emanuel used this expression during the great recession of 2008. And we hear it often when areas of life are monetized or politicized. I was praying Friday morning during my daily activities, and as I began to pray in the spirit, I heard the voice of the spirit. "Son, you have heard it said, never let a good crisis go to waste."
As we come into 2021, we enter the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is the Babylonian name for the 11th month on the religious calendar and the 5th month on the civil calendar, which begins Wednesday, January 13 at sundown. This is a month where we remember the abundance of God coming forth into the earth. In this month, is the celebration of is Tu B'Shevat on 15 Shevat, which begins sundown on January 27- sundown on January 28, in which another New Year on the Hebrew calendar is recognized. Tu B'Shevat represents the bringing forth of produce from the trees after a rainy season.