It is November, the 11th month of the year and ahead is the promise of Christmas and then a whole, brand-new year. Here in the UK we are seeing the change of the seasons as winter takes hold and the temperatures plummet. The skies are grey, we are almost into the time of dark at 3 pm and light well after 8am, the leaves have changed and are falling off. We have transitioned from Summer into Autumn and now into Winter. Distinctive change brought about by muddled signs of occasional sun, sudden showers and unexpected wind and cold. Yet we are not taken by surprise because we know that each season follows the one before and in November you will need your boots and your coat…….it will be cold, that is the way it is.
Similarly we can know the things of God, they are foretold and we are forewarned; God does not want us to be taken unawares. Eleven speaks of transition, and it speaks of God’s promises. The promises that God has made to His creation, to those who know Him and trust Him. Promises that fill us with peace no matter what is going on around us. It is the peace of God, His Shalom, that He gives to us and is always there for us - that is what I want to focus on. This peace that our Father has said we are to have, a peace that does not consider the circumstances but knows it’s unshakeable source.
If we think of the early disciples who heard Jesus say that He was coming back and that before He did there would be a time of real trouble and turmoil. Although He didn’t say when, they expected it to be sometime soon. Their hearts were full of anticipation and expectation for Him to come back. And after He was gone, life was really tough; it was difficult and dangerous as many were killed, stoned and crucified. They must have wondered, how bad can this get? How much worse can things get and they must have longed for His return but they were comforted because they knew He would come. Today, in these times of unrest, with wars and rumours of war, floods and famine, drought and earthquakes, unspeakable evil tolerated and sometimes condoned, perhaps you like me wonder how bad can this world get? How long will Jesus tarry before coming back?
The war in Ukraine that has dragged on for years now, the situation in Israel and all that is happening unsettles us and causes the world at large to fear. People are suffering and afraid. But God, the God we call Abba Father, is speaking to us and calling us into His peace. It is not a place of denial or false courage but a place that God says we can reside, under the shadow of His wings. A place where the Holy Spirit fills us with a joy that comes from our inner being and reassures us that God and He alone is in control. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Mathew 24.6-8) God tells us, warns us of what is to come, so that we know and are not taken by surprise. He warns us so that we may be prepared, be ready and make sure our lamps are full of oil. We do not know the time or the hour that Christ will return but as a believer we are certainly aware that it could be anytime, the stage is set, and all the signs are there. What is our response? Certainly not to be alarmed but to enter the place of rest and peace for that is what we carry into a troubled world.
Christians are speaking about the 11th hour, a window period, a time of suddenlys, a time of transition all pointing to change and the unknown. But God’s promise, His answer to all the outside noise, it is one of peace. My peace I give to you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Eleven is associated with revelation that will help transition us into something new and overdue. A woman in labour goes through several stages; 1st the pains and 2nd the birth but between 1st and 2nd is transition. The mother often finds this a confusing and a very unsettling time but it is rewarded with the 2nd stage delivery of an infant. She knows what she is looking forward to and that is her focus. A focus that takes her through as she experiences a surge of adrenalin and all she really wants to do is quit! How often has a mother in this stage cried out “I can’t do this anymore” and then the baby follows very shortly after these feelings of “no more.”
God knows the beginning and the end, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last and He is not slow in fulfilling His plans, He the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (2Peter 3:9) And so it is today that we acknowledge that Christ will return but until such time we walk in the Shalom of God. What does that really mean…its so much more than peace as opposed to war or worry. Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight, it goes deep... completeness, soundness, wellbeing and complete reconciliation. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and this true shalom is only reached through God. It is found in the secret place of meeting, in quietness, stillness and prayer.
In relationship with the Lord, we may carry this perfect, supernatural peace, knowing that whatever happens we can rest in Him and know He has us in the palm of His hands. We walk in that peace, and we are called to share that peace as we speak of the love and gentleness and kindness of God that banishes all fear and draws people into His Shalom. We are the ones who allow peace to control our hearts and go out to make peace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”
Your witness and testimony in times of stress and danger can speak volumes to the unbeliever who does not know the love and protection of God. As the world sees the body of Christ at peace, trusting and waiting upon the Lord the one who does not know Him will look to see “where does your hope come from.” In the times of uncertainty may the Lord give us each one the discernment of the tribe of Issachar. I am sure you have heard it said many times before but let us earnestly ask the Lord that we may know as the sons of Issachar how to discern the times.
1 Chronicles 12.32
Of the sons of Issachar, men who knew how to discern the times, to know what Israel should do.
This will influence our prayers, our thoughts and our actions as we discern what is needed in our family, our community, our nation and our peace in Him will reign. I do believe that we are in the 11th hour, time is short, and the Lord would have none perish. Jesus in Mathew 20 spoke of the 11th hour. “And about the 11th hour he went out and found others standing idle and he said to them. Why stand ye here all day?” Here, in England the church bells are chiming, calling and warning all to come in. May we look to see what God is going to do, let us obey His words to us and encourage each other to know Him and to walk in His ways. His promises are true, and He brings change in His way and in His time. Let us use the time wisely, fill up the golden bowls spoken of recently as we pray and let our lives point to Jesus.
Enthroned in heaven, sovereign all-powerful, all-knowing God, we turn to you. Our eyes are fixed on You as we rest in the peace, the shalom, that you have given to us through your Son Jesus Christ. We wait on you and we ask that we may discern your perfect will for the times in which we are living. Let us speak with confidence that those who are unsure can be comforted in the knowledge that You are the living God, a loving and a merciful God who offers safety and security to all who will come into your fold. Your sheep are shepherded by the great Shepherd who always leads us into green pastures. As we wait on You, we rest assured of your perfect plan that cannot be frustrated by man or other for You, oh God, are faithful and will fulfill all that You have promised. In You we trust and put our Faith.