2020 In Retrospect

Acts 16:22-25 NASB

The crowd joined in an attack against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” (Emphasis is mine)

Well, wasn’t 2020 a hoot! I obviously can’t speak for anyone else but for me, 2020 was a year of some difficult rethinking. And as perplexing as it was, as some of the dust seemed to settle towards the end of the year (key word being “some”), there have been some positive and solidifying results. I think one of the positive aspects (again, for me), is learning to focus on the eternal versus the temporary. If you are wondering why I chose Acts 16:22-25 as my lead-in Scripture, I would like to draw your attention to the last sentence in this portion of Scripture, in particular “Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God . . .”

Note what had just transpired, Paul and Silas had been bodily detained, had their outer garments taken from them, beaten with rods many times, thrown into an inner cell with their feet put in stocks and here they were, praying, which is throughly understandable, and singing hymns of praise to God.

What is wrong with this picture? Nothing, from the perspective that we serve a God who IS in control of all things, and that is the whole point. And what do you suppose, the other prisoners, who were listening to them, thought? Can you imagine some of the dialogue that might have gone on between some of those other prisoners or in their minds? “What is with these two guys?” “They have their freedom taken away from them, their outer garments taken, they have been beaten, thrown into an inner cell with their feet in stocks, and they are singing!

It’s almost like the other prisoners might say, “You two fellows obviously don’t realize what has just happened!” And Paul and Silas might have responded, “No, we do understand what has just happened, what you fail to realize is that the God that we serve, is thoroughly able to remedy this situation that we are in, should He chose to do so AND because He has called us to preach the Gospel AND because we have complete trust and faith in Him, what happens next depends not on what has transpired here, but in fact, what our God decides to do. And regardless of what happens next here, we are assured that we are eternally safe in the arms of our God.”

If there is one thing that has been made very clear to me this last year, it is this:

What happens to me and around me, is secondary, to the reality of filtering all things through my total dependency and need to follow the perfect will of God for me. God is in control, not me, and if I really believe all that Jesus says about not worrying about what I am to wear or eat, or whether I succeed or fail, or even live or die, then that changes how I interact with others, what I focus on and how I relate to what happens around me.

Jesus told us that He would not leave us like orphans, that His Holy Spirit would live in us and guide us. Jesus is our shepherd, He is thoroughly capable of guiding us. I call that Jesus ordering or directing my steps and that is what I seek. Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice and hear Him.

The practical application of this mind set has a learning curve.

Did Jesus tell you to quit your job? No? Then don’t. Does God’s Word tell us to love our wives as Christ loved the Church? We know He does. Do it. Does Jesus tell us to do good to our enemies and bless them? You know He does. Some of these are not optional choices. Jesus said to learn of Him and we would find rest for our souls. I’m in the “modifying my behaviour” mode right now and it is progressive but I am backing off from some of the things that I used to do. I am trying real hard not to jump into every conversation or comment that my mind takes exception to. Jesus tells us that making judgements about things starts with ourselves. We are indeed to make judgements but not hypocritical judgements. Just using that filter alone reduces my output considerably. My heart needs to be softened to be more like God’s heart, my mind needs to be renewed to include God’s thoughts and God’s ways. I have already spoken about some of these things in some of my recent posts.

This world is temporary, God’s Kingdom is eternal. We really need to grasp this reality and all of its implications.

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have a whole bunch of time to get to where God wants me to be or comprehend what God knows I can comprehend or need to comprehend, so what with me being completely overwhelmed at accomplishing this particular task, I have decided to leave that totally to Him. I’m thinking that is what He wanted me to do a long time ago and although I thought I was moving in that direction, God has been turning this perspective up a notch. He will show me what I need to know, He will show me when to speak and when not to speak, when to act and when not to act in some particular situations that I do need direction on. Then there are the “no brainers”, forgive as we have been forgiven, do good to all, especially to those within the household of God. Forsake anger, malice, and any attribute that puts a bad light on who God is.

So that is what came to the surface for me in 2020. It was not an easy year but it was a good year. I readily admit that I am not even close but there is some additional clarity that wasn’t there before, so I will, with God’s help, continue to move in that direction. I do not know how God keeps His patience with us, especially me, but He does and I love Him for that and so much more.

I do have one closing thought. Jesus is the bodily personification of God the Father. He who has seen Me has seen the Father. Hebrews 1:3-4 NASB reads as follows:

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, to the extent that He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

I may not know all the answers but I know Who does.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!


15 comments

  1. “…learning to focus on the eternal versus the temporary.”

    Same for me. And I’ve been trying to induce some friends to do the same, but it doesn’t appear to be working. I’m of the opinion we’re quickly nearing the ‘end of all things’, i.e. Jesus’ return. Hallelujah!

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    • There are so many off road ramps attached to the straight and narrow that can detract one’s focus that it isn’t funny. I would say that we’re probably looking at Jesus’ return sometime roughly within the next 10 to 13 years or possibly sooner. I am TENTATIVELY basing this on the following measurements of the Tabernacle as per this note on the Tabernacle :
      The Tabernacle
      If you know anything about the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build, you will know that it had three main areas – the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. Many books have been written on this subject, as it is an awesome type of the salvation of God. But there are many other pictures in the tabernacle and I want to look at one of these now because it may shed further light as to the plan of God in regard to the length of time given to each of the ages.
      The outer court – contained the altar and the laver and man couldn’t come any further if they didn’t have a sacrifice upon the brazen altar. This area represents the period of the law. A fence that had the following dimensions enclosed the outer court:
      Exodus 27:18 ‘The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits, made of fine woven linen.’
      Thus, the entire area of the fence that enclosed the outer court was 100 (length) X 50 (width) X 5 (height). The total area being 1500. We know from history that the total period of the law went for approximately 1500 years.
      The Holy Place – contained the golden candlestick (symbolizing Christ as the light), the table of showbread (Christ as the bread of life), and the altar of incense (Christ as our intercessor). This room speaks of the church age and its dimensions were 20 cubits (length) X 10 cubits (width) X 10 cubits (height). Thus the total being 20 X 10 X 10 = 2000. This again, like other scriptures mentioned above, seems to indicate that God has set aside around 2000 years for the church age. Considering that Jesus died on the cross in either 30 AD or 33 AD (this link refers: https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-year-did-Jesus-die.html), that would mean that the 2000 years would tentatively be completed in 2030 or 2033.
      The Holy of Holies – contained the Ark of the Covenant, which was the very presence and power of God in their midst. This room speaks of the millennial kingdom in which the very presence and power of God shall be evident, as Jesus Himself shall reign upon this earth. The dimensions of this room where 10 cubits (length) X 10 cubits (width) X 10 cubits (height). Thus it was 10 X 10 X 10 = 1000. So, as discussed above, it is no coincidence that the Kingdom on earth shall exist for 1000 years before the New Heaven and New Earth are established.
      Conclusion
      Jesus is coming and the plan of God will be established just as He has laid it out in His word. The points that I have written above I have found interesting as possible indicators as to the general timing of Jesus’ return. But it is NOT FACT! Always remember that we are not dealing with doctrine here… we are dealing with Old Testament types and as such there is definite room for error! Having said that, I still do find these types very interesting.

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  2. Thanks, Bruce. Yup, Paul and Silas were focused on the Lord rather than on the circumstances. I need to do more of that. Happy New Year in the Lord to you and yours!

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    • And how many times and in so many ways has that very thought crossed my mind? The ease at which man’s heart can be led astray astounds me when I compare it to the holy will of God, as expressed in His Holy Word. And the part that is most bothersome, is that it includes me.

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