Have you ever faced a situation where you felt alone; where you felt like no one understands what you are going through? Have you ever been faced with a problem which you cannot solve and no one else seems able to solve it? Have you ever felt lost in life? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions you are in ‘Uncharted Territory’.
Life is full of uncharted territory. Uncharted territory is an area “not recorded or plotted on a map, chart, or plan” (Merriam Webster). No one plans to experience negative situations. No one plans to lose a loved one. No one plans to lose their job or lose their money in a bad investment. Sometimes these events occur when we are happy and enjoying life. Suddenly the happiness and the joy we felt earlier turns to sorrow and despair. Uncharted territory is not a good place to find ourselves in for the following reasons:
- You feel afraid;
- You feel helpless;
- You feel like giving up
If we are going to live the ‘Overcoming Life’ we will need to know how to overcome Uncharted Territory. The Prophet Elijah found himself in uncharted territory. Elijah had just overcome “450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah” who served Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. However, when he heard that Jezebel wanted to kill him, he ran away in fear. Elijah found himself:
“…alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:4 New Living Translation)
Elijah decided to give up on life. He told God to take his life and then lay down to sleep. But God’s response to Elijah’s request is amazing:
But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. (1 Kings 19:5-6 New Living Translation)
In the midst of Elijah’s feelings of fear, helplessness and giving up, God sent an angel to HELP Elijah. Elijah was in the wilderness, far away from civilization, but God found him.
GOD KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!
You may be in Uncharted Territory but God knows where you are. You may know someone who is in Uncharted Territory. God knows where they are too. There is no place too high, too low or too isolated that God does not know your location. Though we are far away in fear, helplessness and despair, God can find us.
We are never alone. We are never in a place which is too far for God to reach us.
Knowing that God is always with us will help us to find our way out of Uncharted Territory. There will always be a situation that we never faced before. There will always be a problem that we never solved before. However, God is ABLE to help us overcome every one. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us:
…God has said
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper,
so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:5-6 New Living Translation)
Believe the Word of God: He will help you when you are in Uncharted Territory.
In a previous post I spoke about my transition to a new job. My working environment changed. My salary changed. I was now self-employed. Although I was qualified to practice law, self-employment was new to me. Many changes were out of my control but there is one change that I could control. This was a change that I had to make if I wanted to overcome the transition:
Renewing my Mind
I had to change my way of thinking. I had to conform my thoughts to the Word of God and His will for my life. There was a young man called Joseph whose life is recorded in the Bible. This young man was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was accused wrongfully and imprisoned. However, Joseph did not allow his mind to conform to the negative environment he was in. Joseph decided to conform his mind to the will of God. In the end, Joseph was released from prison and promoted by the King to the second highest position in Egypt. When Joseph finally came face to face with his brothers, they were afraid that Joseph would seek revenge for their betrayal. However, Joseph responded in an amazing way:
…“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives…God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-9 New Living Translation)
Joseph experienced several obstacles in his life but he overcame them all because he renewed his mind to the will of God. Joseph looked at everything he experienced and understood that everything he suffered was part of the plan of God. The plan of God was good. God wanted to preserve the lives of Joseph’s family, the lives of the Egyptians and everyone else that came to Egypt to buy food during the famine. The execution of the plan caused Joseph to suffer.
From the beginning of time God had a plan to save the entire world from sin. God’s plan was good but the execution of the plan caused one man to suffer. Jesus, the Son of God was betrayed, beaten, bruised and crucified on a cross like a common criminal. Jesus suffered many things but Jesus conformed His thoughts to the will of God. While Jesus was praying, He said:
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42 New Living Translation)
When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter resisted by drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus told Peter:
“Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 New Living Translation)
Jesus accepted that it was His Father’s will for Him to drink the “cup of suffering”. His mind was renewed. His arrest did not change His mind. His trial before the high priest did not change His mind. His suffering did not change His mind. Jesus was prepared to fulfill God’s will to the end. Jesus died on the cross but that was not the end. Three days later He rose again from the dead. More than a month later Jesus ascended into Heaven and sat at the right hand of God.
When faced with suffering Jesus looked to His Father in Heaven. We must look to Jesus in our suffering. It is God’s will for us to overcome just as Jesus overcame:
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 New Living Translation)
God’s plan for every person that believes in His Son Jesus Christ is that they overcome. You may be in a negative environment at this very moment. You may be suffering and wondering when it will end. Do not lose hope. Let your mind conform to the Word of God and to the will of God. Keep your mind focused on Jesus and you will remain in the will of God:
You will Overcome!
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 New Living Translation)
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
(John 3:3 New Living Translation)
New Year. New You! We usually hear these words at the beginning of a new year. Some persons enter the new year with the hope of changing some aspect of their lives. Some persons resolve to change their physical appearance, their bad habits or the amount of money on their bank accounts. The new year is a time when we look for a fresh start or a renewed vision. However, there is a great obstacle that many persons face in their pursuit of a new way of living at the start of the year: The Transition.
It is the process of transitioning from the old life to the new life that can cause us to give up on our goals for the new year. Usually transition is not comfortable. I remember when I changed jobs two years ago. I have been a qualified Attorney-at-Law for the past six years. Two years ago I worked as a civil servant doing legal research. My contract ended in the civil service and it was not renewed. I had to look for another job. In that moment I had to made a decision about my future. I decided to start my own legal practice.
The transition was not easy. I was in a different atmosphere. I was faced with new challenges. I had to learn how to overcome the difficulties of transition. It is the same with Christianity. The Christian life is a life of transition. We are moving from one kind of behavior to another. We are moving from one way of thinking to another. We are moving from the old to the new:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 King James Version)
Some persons read the above verse and believe the words the emotional changes that occur when we first believe in Jesus Christ are enough to take us to Heaven. That is wrong thinking. We feel like new persons when we first become a believer in Jesus Christ. We feel like new persons when we have just experienced water baptism. We feel like new persons when we start working for God. These things are good and necessary and they bring good ‘feelings’ into our lives. However, a time will come when we are in a hostile environment or faced with a great problem. In those times we do not feel like ‘new persons’. We start to feel weak and inadequate. We start to doubt the path we chose to walk. Sometimes we even doubt God.
God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Egyptians treated the children of Israel cruelly. Israel were forced to work as slaves. They were in bondage and under heavy burdens but God delivered them from the forced labor, the bondage and the burdens. God said He was taking them to their own land. However, they found themselves in the wilderness with the King of Egypt and his entire army behind them. There was no place to run and no place to hide. The children of Israel did not know that what they were going through was part of the transition process:
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? (Exodus 14:10-11 New Living Translation)
The people were frustrated and upset with God and with Moses. They were in a hostile environment (the wilderness). They were faced with a great problem (Pharoah and his army coming to destroy them). However, God did not bring them to that place to kill them. God brought them to that place to defeat Pharoah and his army. That place was their place of victory. It did not feel like their place of victory. It did not look like their place of victory. Always remember this when we are facing difficulty times in our lives:
In our darkest moments it is time for God to shine. In our greatest difficulties it is time for God to show us His great ability. (Corey H.D. Beckles)
Christianity is a new life. It is a life of transition from a non-believer to a believer. From a sinner to a saint. From an old person to a new person. It is a life of transition from depending on our own strength and ability to depending on God’s strength and ability. The difficulties we face may just be part of the transition process. The transition is difficult and we will not feel like an overcomer. However, these moments are simply opportunities for God to show us His strength and ability. In these moments let us depend on God to give us the victory:
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20 New Living Translation)
Now the Lord had said unto Abram…So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him… Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:1-4 KJV)
What would cause a married, seventy-five year old man who is living with his family to suddenly leave his country, his family and his father’s house and go on a journey to another country that he does not know anything about? Let us think about this for a moment. Abram was living a very comfortable life. He was married to a beautiful woman called Sarai. He was surrounded by all of his family. If he and Sarai ran out of salt all he needed to do was go next door, knock on his family’s tent door and borrow salt. Even though he lived at a time when seventy-five was still a young age, he was old. He should have been looking to slow down; not go on a dangerous journey to literally ‘God knows where’. Yet Abram departed…
There were many justifiable reasons for Abram to stay in his comfort zone. But Abram was motivated by something that he probably never heard before in his entire life:
THE VOICE OF GOD
Abram grew up in Ur of the Chaldees. Abram’s family worshipped other gods (Joshua 24:2). Abram did not come from a family who worshipped the Living God. In other modern context, Abram did not come from a Christian family. Despite Abram’s unrighteous background, he responded positively to the voice of God. He heard God’s voice. He heard the word of God and he decided to obey the word of God. Abram was in a comfortable place but he wanted more. He found it in the Living God. One day Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, hard at work. Jesus said something that caught their attention:
Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people! (Matthew 12:19 NLT)
Peter and Andrew stopped working immediately and followed Jesus. They had justifiable reasons to refuse Jesus’ request. They had their own fishing business. Furthermore, they were sinful and unrighteous men and Jesus was holy and righteous. Peter admitted that he was “a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). In those circumstances, why would they leave everything behind to follow Jesus?
THEY WERE MOTIVATED BY THE VOICE OF GOD
Saul persecuted the Church (the body of believers in Christ) day and night. He “agreed completely” with the execution of Stephen, a faithful member of the Church (Acts 8:1 NLT). Saul’s sole purpose in life was “to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison” (Acts 8:3 NLT). With every breath Saul threatened the Church and he received authority from his superiors to travel to Damascus to arrest every Christian he found. However, something happened on the road to Damascus that changed Saul’s sole purpose in life. Saul heard the voice of Jesus. What inspired Saul to stop persecuting the Church and to start working for Jesus?
HE WAS MOTIVATED BY THE VOICE OF GOD
An obstacle we often come face to face with in our journey as a Christian is our past. Sometimes, our past failures, sins, disappointments and other negative experiences become great mountains that stand between us and reaching the goal of being like Christ. However, we are not without hope. Abraham, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul all had a past that was stained with sin but they overcame. How did they do that you ask?
THEY WERE MOTIVATED BY THE VOICE OF GOD
God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. God changed Peter from a Fisherman to a Faithful rock of the Church. God changed Saul from a Persecutor of the Church to a great Promoter of the good news of Jesus Christ. These men were motivated by the voice of God. God says:
…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
No matter how stained our past is, we can overcome our past and walk victoriously as the new person that God has called us to be.
BE MOTIVATED BY THE VOICE OF GOD TODAY AND LEAVE YOUR PAST BEHIND!
I like a good mystery and crime drama. One of my favourite mystery and crime dramas was Columbo. (In case you were wondering…I am young but I like the classics). Columbo was a detective who had a very unique gift for solving crimes which seemed unsolvable at the beginning. Despite the many deceptive tricks used by the killers to lead the Police in the wrong direction, Columbo was able to ignore those tricks and remain focused on the person he believed was the killer. One of the aspects of the crime that Columbo sought to identify was the alleged killer’s motive for committing the crime. Once the motive was identified it became easier to capture the killer. The killer was motivated to commit the crime and Columbo was motivated to capture the killer.
Motivation is absolutely vital to accomplishing a task. Without motivation persons will give less than their best. Without motivation persons will give up when things get difficult. What motivates us as Christians? What motivates us to pray until we see our prayers answered. What motivates us to continue to believe in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in a world of atheists, agnostics and atheists? If we want to live an overcoming life as Christians we need to be motivated. We need to be motivated to overcome on a daily basis.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob faced many difficulties and obstacles in their lives but they were motivated to overcome and they overcame:
And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt.8:11 New Living Translation)
Jesus, the Son of God, was persecuted, wrongfully accused and was crucified on a cross along with criminals. However, Jesus was motivated to overcome and He overcame:
When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. (Mark 16:19 New Living Translation)
Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was persecuted, stoned and left for dead, experienced shipwrecks and imprisoned. Paul experienced much more difficulties and afflictions but he was motivated to overcome and he overcame:
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. (2 Tim.4:6-8 New Living Translation)
We too can overcome! Join me for the next 30 days to find out what motivated those who went before us to overcome and by the grace of God, to receive the motivation we need to overcome every obstacle, difficulty and affliction we are experiencing in our lives.
I am not an electrician but I do use electrical items on a daily basis and what I recognize is that even the best made electrical item has a weakness:
It contains delicate parts which can be destroyed or damaged under certain conditions.
Very often, if not always, those electrical items cannot function effectively or at all without those delicate parts. The manufacturer of the electrical item built it with the best materials and it was wired correctly for success but the item still had that weakness. The weakness was not the fault of the manufacturer. The weakness is a natural part of life on earth. The strongest tree can be uprooted. The strongest house can be destroyed. Everything in the world is vulnerable to something greater than itself.
The delicate parts of an electrical item are similar to the delicate parts of the human being. Those delicate parts are our heart and our soul (mind, will and emotions). The strongest person can suffer from a broken heart. The most intelligent person can lose their mind. Human beings can do extraordinary things. They can build extraordinary things. However, we all have a weakness:
We contain delicate parts which can be destroyed or damaged under certain conditions.
Our weakness was not the fault of our manufacturer. In the beginning:
God created the Heavens and the earth…And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was VERY GOOD…(Gen.1:31 KJV)
Everything that God made in the beginning was very good. However, mankind had some delicate parts which needed to be guarded on a continual basis. If these parts were not guarded then mankind would become subject to death. God told Adam:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen.2:17 KJV)
God created Adam in His own image and after His own likeness. God crowned Adam with glory and honour (Psalm 8:5). However, there was a commandment (a rule or law) that Adam had to observe if he wanted to be free from death. We all know about instruction manuals. These manuals give us information about the product; how to assemble it and how to operate it but these manuals also inform us how to of the product to ensure that it remains in good working order for as long as possible. Sometime we ignore the ‘warnings’ of the manufacturer and we treat that product in many different ways. Then one day we find that the product is not working or not working efficiently. In those times we cannot blame the manufacturer. The manufacturer wired that product for success and gave us the instructions on how to protect it but the user had different plans.
God wired human beings for success and warned them of the danger of making the wrong decision concerning the ‘forbidden fruit’. However, they still made the wrong decision because they were led by the wrong thing. We know we have weaknesses as human beings but God has made a way for us to overcome those weaknesses:
Being led by the Holy Spirit
Adam was led by Eve. Eve was deceived by the Serpent and led by her desire for the ‘forbidden fruit’. As a result we all became weak to sin but God has given us the victory through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus overcame sin by giving His life for the entire world on the cross. Because of His sacrifice all who believe in Jesus are able to receive the Holy Spirit and all who are led by the Holy Spirit will overcome their weaknesses:
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8: NIV)