Article 34 : Thoughts from the cross trainer - THE SPARK

I saw a report in the newspaper a few days ago about a bush fire in Australia, as it’s the start of that season there again. It doesn’t seem two minutes since we all watched in horror at the fires last year burning both in Australia and in California. Some, unfortunately, were set on fire deliberately or carelessly, with dreadful loss of life and property.
That reminded me of this verse:

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5–6

 It’s talking here about the terrible destruction that we can do with our tongue, the words we speak, if it is not ‘tamed’ by the Holy Spirit. However:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

What power!! However, the Proverbs scripture talks not only about the destructive power of the tongue but also its ability to give life. We have the power to curse or to bless!
Thinking of how huge things, like a forest fire, can come from tiny things, like a spark, a friend rang me the other day to encourage me, by reminding me of a very small thing I’d done some 25 years ago that set in motion a train of events that have now resulted in something that is very big, and that the Lord is using mightily for His kingdom. We were both moved to tears at the goodness and faithfulness of God.
As it says in Ephesians 3:20:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

 Not only do we not ask big enough prayers but we can’t even imagine what those things could be!!
Truly, God’s ways are not ours nor is His timing like ours:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 3 Peter: 8–10

The Lord always has the bigger picture in His mind – someone once said it’s like He‘s playing a game of chess with 17 dimensions and when we move one small piece, it has repercussions in so many other unimagined places!
It doesn’t matter how ‘small’ or ‘mundane’ our actions may be, if we are doing everything ‘as unto the Lord’, it will bear fruit for His kingdom. We might never see it this side of heaven but just think of the joy we’ll have there as we go through the heavenly archives and have yet more reasons to lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.
I had no idea of the consequences of my actions 25 years ago but, thanks to my friend, we were both able to rejoice at the amazing outcomes and give glory to Jesus.
We live in such an ‘instant’ society, where we want everything to happen now, if not sooner. It reminds me of that old adage, ‘Lord, please give me patience… but I want it NOW!!!
I was reading in Numbers about the Israelites coming to the borders of Edom on their journey to the Promised Land. They requested to pass through the Edomites’ territory without causing any harm. They were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, who was the ancestor of the Israelites. So, from a ‘kin’ point of view, the Edomites should have blessed them as they passed through their land. However, their refusal meant a longer journey and more delay for the Israelites. Why did God allow that to happen to His people? Why didn’t He punish the Edomites? Well, dear readers, He did
In Obadiah v18 we read:

There will be no survivors from the house of Esau. The Lord has spoken.

Some one hundred years later this prophecy was fulfilled by the Babylonians and the Edomites were no longer a people.
God never forgets, as it says in Jeremiah 1v12:

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am [actively] watching over My word to fulfil it.”

However, the Israelites did not take their diversion and delay with good grace but began to grumble against the Lord.

They travelled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Numbers 21:4–5

We can all so easily take our eyes off the Lord and His plans and purposes and begin to focus and dwell on our current challenges and difficulties.
Pastor Tim has been encouraging us to be careful where we allow “our minds to rest”. We’re to deliberately choose not to listen to the wrong voice or fix our eyes on the wrong horizon but, instead, to listen to the voice of Jesus – to listen to His voice first and foremost! We’re to allow His peace to displace our anxiety. Also, we’re to pull down the stronghold of despair and hopelessness that seems to be all around us by allowing hope to open the door for the river of life of the Kingdom to flow through us.
I’m trying to learn (– as we were encouraged to do) Romans 15:13 in the NIV version (– cos it’s shorter and the old grey matter is not as nimble as it once was!), but I love the way the Passion Bible translates that verse:

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with His super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

So, be encouraged, and do those small acts of kindness, those ‘sparks’, to bless a friend, colleague or neighbour. Pick up the ‘phone and express your care and compassion for someone who needs that today. Let the river of hope, life and light flow through our lives in these troubled times and be sure to give all the glory to Jesus!
We might not see instant results but, be assured, God will fulfil His plans and purposes through us!

by Ev Cowan Blog #10, 15/01/2021