How much further?

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.
Acts of the Apostles 1:6-7 NLT

Oh how impatient I can become when I’m wanting to know what is ahead,  when I’m wanting to know what the future holds for me and my family, when I’m wanting to know how to best plan for the future. But some things are not meant for me to know.

I am humbled so often by my search for knowledge and understanding that at times is in perfect alignment with seeking the Kingdom of God and righteousness,  but that at times seems to compete against that goal.

Sometimes I try to put God in a box by thinking that I understand how He works,  then I am reminded of Job and Ecclesiastes. Sometimes I try to put Him on the shelf as I try to figure out how I can accomplish these goals. Sometimes I find myself needing a reminder that the power of Christ is in me and that through Him all things are possible.

You see,  there is great Hope that can be found in realizing that we don’t have to figure it out on our own. HOPE is the gift of grace that we grasp hold of and cling to, thankful for the gift, even while we haven’t even yet unwrapped and opened it.

I wonder what percentage of our life opportunities for joy and peace in each moment have been squandered by our wanting to know,  by our anxious thoughts, by our stress, by our contemplating the future instead of making the best of this moment? And don’t the clouds begin to roll away and reveal the glory of a future where we are building up the best in each moment instead of being paralyzed by anxiety?  What good does it do for us to worry about the future? It will not change it for the better, but our pressing on and doing our best right now will. This is why we need the grace of HOPE.

But you might say, this is easier said than done – and you are right. I am no wiser for saying such things, I am only wiser if I actually do them. And this takes Faith. Faith is not the easy and broad path chosen by the many,  but it is filled with trials,  and with struggles,  and with lessons,  and with discipline – but it is only there that we will grow. It is only there that we will no longer be paralyzed. It is only in Faith that we will find that peace that comes without understanding. It is only in Faith that we will find the joy that comes from giving what you cannot afford to give to those who are not able to repay you. It is only in Faith that we will find the forgiveness and mercy to extend to those who consider themselves or enemy but who are merely lost friends waiting to be freed from the bondage of their captors. 

FAITH is grace awakening, arising from sleep, stepping forth into our lives. Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. Faith is the life giving waters that feeds the plants. Without Faith,  there is no power,  no source,  no authority over the enemy’s plans to harm you. With Faith we are able to participate in His Kingdom and we are able to participate in righteousness. A lack of Faith leaves us fruitless, powerless, and not equipped for His use.

So let’s not become confused and seek to only grow in understanding, which is a never ending pursuit of knowledge, but let’s seek His promises and His commandments and exercise the Faith to see them fulfilled in our lives. Let’s walk in the confidence of knowing that His power is real and that He is working all things for our good. And this is especially true in those fiery trials that give us the opportunity to bear fruit abundantly as we long for the treasures eternal and remove or eyes from the distractions of this world.

So He promises that we will be freed and we find HOPE in that promise. And He tells us not to worry about tomorrow but to focus on the work at hand, so we walk in FAITH. And the glory of the Lord is that His LOVE reveals itself to us when we are not even prepared or expecting it,  because only He knows the date and time to provide for our Freedom.

And the freedom that I speak of is not freedom from the fiery trials,  but the freedom from slavery to sin,  the freedom to walk above the trials and temptations,  the ability to tread upon the heads of serpents and scorpions – and in the trials for His power and authority to be manifest in our lives.

This is a new kind of LOVE, a gift of grace powerful and militant and victorious over sin and temptation. And He pours it out on us,  grace upon grace, victory after victory. And we know the treasures worth having and holding onto that will not rot or rust – treasures of love like joy,  peace,  patience,  kindness,  goodness,  faithfulness, long suffering, and self control. And these treasures eternal are called the fruit of the Holy Spirit because they are the fruit that grow from trees that are tapped into the vine of Jesus Christ, the source, the life.

Yes,  this is His LOVE, that He loves us and He frees us so that we can bring this hopi fruit into the world, that we can be the seed bearers of His LOVE into a world in need of Hope,  Faith, and Love – a world in need of deliverance from bearing the rotten fruit of disease and death into a life eternal.

And what is amazing is that He does it on His time and His plan. We find Hope,  we walk in Faith,  and one day we look up and realize the Love that He is pouring out through our lives,  we realize the victory that is taking place over our old temptations, we realize the change that is taking place – and that we never knew the dates and times that He was using us,  nor will we know them in the future as they come to pass – but like the wind that we know exists because of that which it moves,  He has moved us,  and used us, because we were equipped,  because we were faithful.

What an amazing realization, to be used by God – either to serve someone,  or to encourage someone,  or just to be an example to someone that Christ is real and alive and that He has the power to change lives. You see, I find that the undeniable times that He used me aren’t in the grand plans or efforts that I’ve make to serve Him or others,  but in the times unexpected and unnoticed – He surprises me,  He humbles me,  and He touches me.

And this is nothing compared to the glory of that day when we will be fully in His presence, freed from this temporary world and it’s opportunities to grow and shine and be refined by the trials. But have we yet realized that the growing occurs now? If we have a foundation of Jesus Christ, what have we built upon that foundation, friends? Are we growing? For we also never know the date or time at which our opportunity to grow and bear fruit will be at its end. What will we have as the testimony of our Love for our Lord and Savior?

If tomorrow was that day, are you ready? Use your time faithfully friends.

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