God’s hand ready to uphold you
By Rev SEIK PITOI
WE’RE now in the second week of the brand new year of 2020.
Akin to the finishing part of a cross country marathon, the runners are tired and sore from the long run, having to cross streams, run up mountains and other obstacles along the course. The finishing line is therefore a truly welcome sight.
Yes, there will be only one winner but the joy of finishing the race is still a huge blessing to every participant. Taking a backward glance, though, one realises sadly that some who began the race didn’t get to finish it!
At this time, many people are still ‘recovering’ from of the Christmas celebrations. The carols were sung, presents given and the turkey (or mumu pork) enjoyed!
Now it’s back to work and time to get some more cash for the second round of celebrations. Hopefully workers have not forgotten to return from the brief holiday to work again, if only just to say hello to the boss and wish him a Happy New Year before heading off again!
But as we come to end of one year and cross over to the new, the usual stocktake and evaluation takes place. How have I fared this year? Did I reach my goals? What are some resolutions I should make to keep myself on track?
Personal, family, health, educational and business goals are the main areas of life that people look at when evaluating. Some are happy with how things panned out; others aren’t too sure.
A new year always brings a sense of excitement at what new things are on the horizon. Christian folk usually look forward to what God is ready to do in their lives. One young lady recently told me she was ‘tired of being where I am. I want to move on to the next level God has for me. I’m willing to take chances and trust Him to move me forward’! That is an excellent attitude to have for the coming year.
I have taught much about the Jewish year and how it speaks prophetically about the coming year or season (decade). In my article on the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement in October, I talked about the Jewish year 5780 (year of Peh – the mouth) and the Roman year 2020 (having ‘2020 vision’), which is the ability to look and see clearly.
We talked about declaring with the mouth what God has spoken about our lives, grabbing hold of those truths by faith, and asking Him to clarify our vision for our lives in this season.
I will not speak much more about this in this article. I will however, share a passage of scripture which I believe will be a blessing to help us as we begin this new year. It is found in the 37th Psalm:
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37: 23 to 24 NKJV).
To me, one particular word stands out. It is the word “though”. Some translations say, “When he falls.” Note that it does not say, “If he falls.” There is a big difference between “when” and “if.” The latter states a probability (he may or may not fall); but the former declares a certainty (he will fall).
David understood that all believers fall eventually. We stumble, we lose our way, we struggle, and sometimes we trip and fall on our journey. No one is exempt. We all fall sooner or later. It’s what happened to David, the ‘man after God’s own heart”. He fell, but as always, he stood up again. So it’s what we do after we fall that makes all the difference. Do we arise, or stay down?
We can summarise the teaching of this text in two simple statements:
1. God ordains every step we take—the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative.
The verb “ordered” is very strong in the original Hebrew. It means to establish something so that it has a strong foundation. Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “in his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
It is the same idea as our text. Most of us know that God “directs” our steps (Proverbs 3:6). But this verb is even stronger. God not only “directs” our steps, he also “determines” or “orders” or “ordains” our steps.
This includes our going out and our coming in, our lying down and our getting up, our waking and our sleeping, our buying and our selling, our talking and our listening, and our walking and our driving (Deut 6:7).
Because he is God, there are no accidents with him. Nothing ever happens to the child of God by luck, chance or fate. No circumstance—whether good or bad—can come to us apart from God’s determined purpose for us. In other words, nothing coming in 2020 will be a surprise to God. He will be with us in every step of the way.
2. God promises that when we fall, we will not be utterly destroyed.
Picture a bush track in your village. You’ve just come from the city and you are not familiar with the path. As you walk, you do not see the rock buried just beneath the surface, and so you trip and fall to the ground. Or you trip over a large tree root hidden among the leaves. When the path is narrow and winding, it’s hard not to fall sometimes. Life is like that. We all stumble in many ways. The word translated “utterly destroyed” means to be cast headlong into a deep pit. To hit the bottom will be to be “utterly destroyed!”
But God promises that won’t happen to you and me. Though we may face desperate, life-changing circumstances next year, God will not allow us to be utterly destroyed. Nothing can happen that will sever our relationship with him. The reason is clear. He upholds us with his mighty hand. Think of a father walking along with his young son by his side. There are two ways father and son might hold hands. The young boy may reach up with his tiny hand to grasp his father’s huge hand. That works until the child stumbles and he is forced to let go of his father’s hand. But if the father places his huge hand around his son’s tiny hand, the boy is safe no matter what happens because his father’s hand holds him up. He may stumble but the father’s hand “upholds” him.
During this coming year, there will be many opportunities to fall. Trials and temptations will come your way, trying to swerve you off the path. With your hand in your Father’s hand, you will walk on strongly. If however, you choose to take another path, you will fall. But you will not be utterly destroyed. God will hold you up with His mighty right hand and walk you back on track.
I will conclude by saying that there is so much in store for the child of God in the coming year. Get excited about what God is ready to do in your life as another chapter unfolds.
Believe God for great things and allow Him to walk you through into achieving your goals. But when you feel human frailty sets in and you soon find yourself walking on the wrong path, consider what Jesus said to Peter in the Upper Room on the night before he was crucified:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
This statement deserves special notice because Jesus said it before Peter’s threefold denial. In fact, Jesus said it just before Peter made his boastful promise of unending faithfulness.
The point is, Jesus saw it all coming and knew everything before it took place. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. He knew the “steps” Peter was about to take in the wrong direction. But He was ready to uphold him, which is what He did. Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. He knows the steps you will take in 2020 before you take them. Keep in mind that He will order them according to His plan. But when you choose to walk otherwise and fall, He will still hold you up with His mighty hand and bring you back to His own path for your life.
Have a powerful and blessed 2020 with you family, church, employment or school. Know that your Heavenly Father will walk with you through the maze of the new year, 2020 and beyond!
Happy New Year.
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.
Lessons from the ‘Holy Family’
By KEVIN PAMBA
CATHOLICS worldwide commemorated the “Feast of the Holy Family” on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019.
The event is part of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar. The “universal” Church celebrated this day in the Mass in all its parishes across the world.
The Festival of the Holy Family falls on the first Sunday after the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day (Dec 25). The day is set aside to honour the “Holy Family” of the newborn Jesus Christ – that is Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is a time for Catholics to remind themselves and learn from the God-fearing traits of the Holy Family of the first century.
The Holy Spirit Cathedral Parish in Madang town was among the Catholic parishes in PNG and worldwide that marked the Feast Day of the Holy family in the respective parishes.
Fourteen Catholic couples renewed their marriage vows as part of the celebration presided over by Fr Joseph Durero.
In his homily (sermon) Fr Durero reminded the parishioners of the importance of families being God-fearing, organised, cooperative and harmonious like the “Holy Family” of Jesus.
He said the “Holy Family”, in its modesty and obedience to God, is a terrific role model that every Christian family should look up to and emulate.
Fr Durero’s homily was based on the Gospel of Mathew Chapter 2: 13-15 and 19-23 in the main plus two supporting readings from the Book of Sirach 3: 2-6 and 12-14 and Colossians 3: 12-31.
The reading in Mathew is about the God-fearing and protective father’s role Joseph played in taking Mary and the infant Jesus into exile in Egypt after an angel warned him in a dream to protect the newborn son from being killed under King Herod’s decree.
After King Herod died, the angel returned and reminded Joseph to take the child and mother back to Israel. Joseph was extra-cautious upon hearing that Herod’s son Archelaus replaced his father as ruler of Judea and instead he took his family to Nazareth where they settled raised Jesus.
Fr Durero pointed out that the God-fearing characters that Joseph and Mary displayed in raising the child Jesus is exemplary parenting.
Fr Durero’s message was that the immediate family is where everything starts, and it has to be the most God-fearing, organized, cooperative, harmonious and industrious unit.
The bottomline in the character of the “Holy Family” is its unreserved reverence to God and obedience to His Word.
The story of the “Holy Family” is out there for all to look up to and emulate in an age with so many dysfunctional families whose members constantly contribute to the myriad of socio-economic problems that shackles nations like Papua New Guinea.
Imagine the type of country we would have built for ourselves, if all the families in the 22 provinces of PNG emulated the “Holy Family” of the first century and were God-fearing, organized, cooperative, harmonious and industrious units of people.
If such were so, corruption, crime and all manner of societal malaises that pains our nation, would not be what they are today.
- Kevin Pamba PhD, is based in Divine Word University, Madang.