The year 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years for many people—a year of loss and yet times of victories. The key to the victories was faith in God and His ability to see you through, at least it was for me. Another key to getting through 2020 intact was a steadfast attitude and a will not quit heart. When you know that God has made promises that you have not seen yet, it is easier to stay the course.
I woke up the other morning, and at 5 a.m., I heard, "stay the course." I was then told to read about the time that Apostle Paul was a ship as a prisoner. Paul was told that he must appear before Caesar. While on the journey to Rome, the ship Paul was on was overcome with the winds of adversity. It seemed as if everything they did to journey safely was failing, and they were losing hope.
It seemed as if the adversity of 2020 was going to shipwreck many around the world. Paul addressed this type of mindset in a letter to his spiritual son Timothy. He said, Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. – 1Tim 1:19
The word adversity is a state of difficulties and misfortune. Most of us would agree that 2020 brought that for almost everyone. However, many businesses thrived and even new ones that were launched because they became creative. Our ministry had to think fast when the lockdown happened in March. We sensed an urgency to pray and bring people together, so we started the Zoom prayer call, Call to Arms. It kept us together in battle and fellowship. Because of the lockdowns and persecution against the Church in many states' leaders had to wake up to the potential problems that will be faced in the future, especially under a new administration. God forbid!
However, for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is always hope. The Bible encourages us to continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; - Col 4:2 Also to Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; - Phl 4:6
To be thankful is to have a heart of gratitude for everything. While we do not have to be thankful for the adversity, we must be thankful in them. A grateful heart and praise can break you through any situation. God can transform your thinking if you get His word in you.
We can see there was hope in the apostle's journey to Rome even when it looked hopeless. When God's leaders rise to the occasion and seek His face for direction, all things are possible. We see that even those with Paul on the ship were promised life if they did as he told them to do. "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. - Act 27:22
We are coming into a time where God will once again lead the Church, the Ecclesia, with His Apostles and Prophets. There will be those who will know what God is up to and how to navigate the rough waters if they do as they are told. Jesus ascended to heaven, but before doing so, He appointed what we call the five-fold ministry gifts. These are five types of people gifted with unique gifts to run the church and build it according to the ways of God and not man. Apostle first, then prophet, teacher, evangelist, and pastor (or shepherd).
Today, many churches are being run by administrators, those called to put things in order and take care of church business but not church people. Jesus told Peter if he loved Him, then he would feed and tend His sheep. Christians are an analogy of sheep. They need to be overseen and fed with the bread of life and washed with the word of the Spirit of truth. Sadly, there are sheep at large that does not fall into a specific flock; they do not have a body of people they fellowship with regularly. Sheep are prey animals and run when they are faced with danger; that is their instinct. They are not armed animals that can defend themselves. They need a large flock by which the weak can shelter or need to run away from a predator.
We are told to resist (not run from) the devil, and he will flee from us, but without the strength of the flock, we can grow weary. This year many have been separated from others because of lockdowns and quarantines. During this time, many have wandered off and left the church or completely backslidden from God. The next season will bring those who are willing back, but it will not be without a fight. We need true Apostles and prophets who are seeking God's face, His presence, and His voice. They will lead by His Spirit's direction and not their current situation.
Today, many are saying that people will be in survival mode and will not make an effort to excel in 2021. We say we will not only accelerate our speed in ministry, but we will grow! To excel is to stand out, outshine, or surpass others or something. The Church will excel and grow as they pull the harvest in for the Lord's glory. It is time to war and not from a place of fear or loss but from a place where we know God has given us the promised land, a place of victory.
When apostles and prophets bring a warning, we are wise to listen. After a long abstinence from food, Paul stood up from his weakness and addressed the men on the ship. "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss." - Act 27:21b He then begins to lead. Even though he is considered a prisoner on this ship, he operates like a man of God full of power and authority. He begins to lead from God's ability and not his or the inability of others. This is where genuine leaders will arise with wisdom and help pull us through!
"And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. - Act 27:22 Paul did not say there would not be casualties, but he did promise no loss of life if the men would do as he commanded. He was confident in his commands because he knew he had been with God; the angel gave him a visitation. We could use an angelic visitation at times to know that God is the One leading us.
The men on the ship had become driven with urgency and fear. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next [day] they lightened the ship. 19 On the third [day] we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on [us], all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. - Act 27:18-20
Paul was given courage when the angel appeared to him and reminded him of his destiny and God's plan. 24 "saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25 "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. - Act 27:24-25 Paul's mission was not complete, and God was on it with him to see him through; this knowing gave Paul courage and hope in what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
Sometimes it is wise to get rid of the excess baggage we are carrying so that we can navigate in the new territory we are about to conquer. But if the Spirit of God leads us, we will not incur the loss of as much as we will if we allow fear to overrun us.
36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea. - Act 36-38
Think about the excess baggage you may be trying to bring into this new year, 2021. Are there hurts, wounds, worries, or anxieties that you know will hinder your future? Are you weary and need refreshing but cannot seem to let go of the losses of 2020 or even before that? Take advantage of God's promises never to leave you nor forsake you. To give you hope and a future. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares deeply for you.
A prayer you can pray.
Heavenly Father, thank You for getting me through the trials of 2020 and before that. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me from myself and for setting my feet upon a solid Rock. You are my shield and strong tower. You are my place of refuge. I choose to forgive everyone who harmed me in my past, and I bless them, Lord. In Your name, I bless those who have cursed me, abandoned me, or disregarded me. I toss of procrastination and ask for daily direction and blessing on the work of my hands. I am asking for this new year to produce spiritual fruit and that I might know joy, peace, and righteousness as Your kingdom is manifested in my life. In Jesus name, Amen