2023: The Year Of Moving With Christ – December 31, 2022 (381-382/365)

It’s been a while since I’ve hit the keyboard and fired up Evernote to put something of value. Well, I have been typing… and it has been on Evernote… but the thing is I haven’t been posting. Yeah, I guess that’s what I meant.

I’m pretty stoked about tomorrow. I was pretty happy with how things turned out last Christmas service, and I guess it’s set me up with more expectations for myself for tomorrow – the first service, the first day, the first Sunday of the New Year.

What will I be talking about? Well, what it’s looking like for me right now, given the time I have, is that I’ll be writing down the entire outline here, and then going back to each item to put in additional text.

I’m believing and declaring 2023 to be a Year of Movement for the Good News Aces. This will be a year where we will be moving forward, and we will move to cover wider territory, and we will also move higher and higher… all in observance of our mission, which is to celebrate Christ and His finished work.

This sort of feels like I’m pulling off how the legendary Rokusaburo Michiba would prepare his dishes in Iron Chef Japan’s Kitchen Stadium. While his opponent would usually scramble to the stage to pick the best off of the theme ingredient, he would take his time. He’d stay at his side of the stadium, roll out some paper and whip out his brush, to write down all of the dishes he intends to prepare. He readies his menu so his team is aware of what is to come.

We’re coming off of 2022 – a year which I declared was to be one where we would be overwhelmed by Christ and His finished work. And I could stretch my mind and say that we as a church have been overwhelmed, indeed – in terms of the amount of overwhelming and the quality of the overwhelming events – but I only saw in the tail end of this year, another aspect to exactly how overwhelming things got. That is, we’ve also been overwhelmed in terms of the diversity of the experiences we’ve had. See, it wasn’t just about seeing God’s goodness in the midst of success and new beginnings, but we’ve also seen God’s goodness in the other side of the spectrum, in failures and disappointment. We’ve also seen the impact of Christ and His finished work in the boring and idle times, just as much as we’d see it in times when we are literally swamped with tasks and obligations.

We’ve seen and appreciated the validity of Christ and His finished work at the start of this year, when things we still pretty strict at the borders and with all the quarantines and lockdowns… and we’re certainly seeing just how Christ impacts us as we slowly and apparently painfully adjust, as the fears of COVID-19 fade away.

On my part, I’ve enjoyed more travel especially in the fourth quarter of 2022, and especially in December. It all started with a conference I was told to attend, one where I was told to represent our church as a whole. All this time I was meditating on what 2023 was going to be like for us. I wasn’t necessarily feeling pressured, but I didn’t expect a good amount of what I have to share today to come from that conference.

We only listened to one guy – His name was CB Samuel. I Googled his bio and copied the following: CB Samuel is a Bible teacher, pastor, CEO of a major Indian relief and development NGO, missiologist, passionate advocate for the poor, and evangelical leader. CB and his wife, Selina, live in Delhi and minister to university students and Christian young adults as well as mentor those on missions.

It’s the words of CB Samuel that got to me – and without looking to my notes, I will say what he had to say: That Christianity is a movement, and not an institution.

Christianity is not an institution where we standardize and organize and advertise Christ. God forbid that we try in vain to contain the infinite and everlasting love of God within finite and constrained borders, physical and perceived. No, friends, Christianity is what it is because it is Christ and His finished work that would have us moving. I have a feeling that I will be needing to review my previous notes and posts on the matter but that’s the general point I wish to present.

We’re coming off of getting overwhelmed last year… and, in typical Joseph Prince style, I’m not going to say that we won’t be overwhelmed in the year to come. No, in fact, what we proclaim for this year shouldn’t overwrite, but add on to what was said about last year. Therefore, we’re moving this 2023, because we continue to be overwhelmed.

The X Coordinate

“…the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hand.”

1 Samuel 17:41-47

We have been overwhelmed by God’s love, more than we have been exhausted by anything and everything this finite world threw at us. With that said, we are able to deliberately and intentionally face any and all barriers and hindrances in our way, without fear. We may see the mountains and the valleys before us, but we take step by step ever forward, without fear.

And just like David spoke to Goliath, he did not rush recklessly. He recognized that Goliath was equipped with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, capable of taking on him and being rid of him from all ranges. He was aware of the nature of his enemy, but he did not give his attention to that. No, he was more focused on the fact and the Truth that this seemingly fearsome opponent of his was inferior to who he had on his side – the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re moving forward, in perfect love that casts out all fear.

The X, Y Coordinate

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

Acts 2:1-11

See, here’s the thing. I understand that many other organizations and entities out there realize the superiority of a movement over an institution, and are quick to call themselves movements as well, whether Christian or non-Christian.

But what secures us, and what ought to give us confidence that we’re in the right place is that we’re not only moved by a movement, but a movement of movements, established by no less than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. CB Samuel said that it’s the Holy Spirit that is who is necessary for us to not only progress, but to stay progressive. And on that note, I add that it’s no less than the Holy Spirit that automatically brings us from glory to glory, no matter if we see/feel progression or not.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re moving to cover wider territory, speaking to nations, filled with the Holy Spirit.

The X, Y, & Z Coordinate

It wasn’t just CB Samuel who shared during my time in the Conference. A fellow named Jimmy Melado also took the stage. Jimmy was what we call a ‘Navy Brat’: His father served in the US Navy and he therefore was accustomed to growing up wherever the Navy would bring him. He has studied and made friends with families all around the world, including the Philippines – and as such, he has also bore witness to different perspectives of poverty all around the world. With this said, it a shoo-in for him to eventually be the President of Compassion International.

Couple of things about Compassion International before we go any forward – the ministry has been active for a little more than 70 years now, and they’ve been in the Philippines for 50 of those 70 years. Throughout all that time Compassion International had a very short but sweet mission statement – that is, “Releasing Children From Poverty”; And they’ve stood by this mission so much that they’ve rescued hundreds of thousands of children on record, possibly even more. But one thing that Jimmy pointed out was that when Compassion decided to amend the mission; That is, to add to the statement so it says “Releasing Children From Poverty In Jesus’ Name”, the graph they had which projected the overall progress of the entire ministry reflected a parabolic curve – Exponential increase in results!

So not only are we moving forward. Not only are we moving to cover wider territory… But, friends, we’re moving, and we are moving to higher grounds. We’re surely content in where we are right now, but because we have Christ with us, never leaving us nor forsaking us, we’re flowing in a river, and one that does not bring us downstream, but, again, to higher grounds.

Higher grounds entail wider perspectives. Personally, when I’m, say, on an airplane looking down – I don’t see how high I am, but I see how tiny I am compared to the entire planet, and I am reminded of how the earth is tiny compared to the stars in the heavens. And as such, we see, that sure, with great power comes great responsibility – but wise power is accompanied with great humility.

The higher we are, the more we realize we need Christ.

Consequently, the more we realize we need Christ, the higher we get.

And I thought I was going to end the message there… but it turns out, there’s another side to this coordinate.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalms 139:7-10

Notice that the Psalmist points out that the Spirit of the LORD is with him in the highest of heights and the heavens… but the same Spirit is also with him in Sheol, or the gates of hell. What does this tell me? Not only are we going higher up, but we are also going deeper down. What is this telling me? That in our moving, we move higher and see more, BUT we also move deeper and see what we’ve already seen, better.

So let me add on to what we’ve already established.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re moving higher in wisdom, and deeper in understanding, with Christ with us through it all.

Let me wrap it all up with this. The rest of the passage in Psalm 139 goes as follows:

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Psalms 139:11-12

Jimmy pointed out in Psalm 23 that Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd, and He is with us in whatever is going on in our lives – Whether we are led to lie in green pastures, or to walk beside the still waters; Whether we are led through paths of righteousness, or we walk through the valley of the shadow of death; Whether we are faced with the fiercest of enemies, or are being chased down by goodness and mercy; Behold, Christ is our Light. He is our Light who is with us through it all, and He is our Light who moves with us – forward, wider, higher, and deeper.

And with that, I declare:

2023 is a year of movement.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re moving forward, in perfect love that casts out all fear.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re moving to cover wider territory, speaking to nations, filled with the Holy Spirit.

2023 is a year of movement… and we’re move higher and deeper with Christ, and as such, our perspectives are broadened.

2023 is a year where we certainly aren’t moving alone, because Christ is our light.

The theme of the Compassion Philippines’ 50th Anniversary was “Moving Together, With Christ At The Center”

2023 is a Year of Moving With Christ… and to quote a surprise hit starring Michelle Yeoh..

We’re moving with Christ in ‘Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.’

I’d love to see how the Spirit speaks to our Pastors, and how it all comes together.

God bless us all.

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