Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Different Seasons / Different Rules

Crossing Jordan

by Dennis Pollock

As I get older it has become clear to me that I cannot “get by” with things the way I used to. When I was in my twenties it seemed as though I could eat large breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and still maintain a reasonable weight. Today I have to eat less and less just to maintain the weight of my youth. Additionally I have developed a measure of insulin resistance, which means that those high-carb meals I enjoyed in my twenties without problems will wreak havoc on my blood sugar levels today. The only thing that stands between me and full-fledged diabetes is the grace of God and a significant restriction of carbohydrates in my diet.

In the past I could sit at my computer long hours every day and feel no ill effects, even with what I now realize was terrible posture. My blood pressure was fine, my neck and shoulders were without pain, and I went along blithely ignoring the fact that I was breaking some fundamental health rules. As the years went by, I paid a price for this lifestyle. I began developing neck strain, my blood pressure began to rise, and after a while I was taking far more ibuprofen than was good for me. I did a little research and realized that by constantly leaning forward into the computer monitor I was putting a serious strain on my neck. I adjusted my posture but the pain persisted. Finally after much prayer, the Lord led me to a series of exercises that brought about nearly instant relief. I increased my exercise routine, dropped a little weight, started taking blood pressure pills, and the blood pressure returned to normal.

A great revelation came to me. I am no longer in my twenties! The lifestyle that worked just fine for me in the days of my youth is absolutely inappropriate for me today. Actually it’s not all that bad. I am far more disciplined than I used to be, and making a few changes in my lifestyle to maintain my health is a small price to pay. As I considered some of the changes I have been forced to make, I began reflecting upon how our Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, leads us through different seasons of our lives, and how with each new season there are new rules and guidelines for us to follow. We find a number of examples of this in the Bible.

Israel and the Promised Land

Perhaps the most outstanding example of God requiring different rules for different seasons may be found in the Book of Deuteronomy. The people of Israel have been liberated from bondage in Egypt, and have just completed their forty years of wilderness wanderings, as a result of refusing to trust God. Now, with the older generation gone, it is time to finally inherit their promised land. Moses will soon die, but before he dies, he gives them instructions about how they are to behave in this new land.

Much will change. The manna that they had so constantly depended upon will cease. They will have to hunt animals and plant crops for their food. But God promises them that they will have far more than enough. Some of the changes had begun shortly after leaving Egypt, as Moses received a complete set of laws for this unique people. Comprehensive dietary rules were instituted. Old ways and old patterns must yield to the new.

Those changes will only increase as they enter the land which will be their new home. During most of their years in the wilderness, Israel led a relatively peaceful existence with little conflicts. It was only in the last two years that they had been given a real taste of battles and conquests. But wars and conflicts will be nearly unceasing during their early years in Canaan. If any of the Hebrews had the illusion that this new Promised Land would be pretty much a continuation of their boring, meandering wilderness times, except with a few slight improvements, they were quickly dispelled of such notions. The moment they crossed the Jordan River, they were in for one change after another. It would be good, indeed it would be great, but it would be radically different!

Their leader, Joshua, is given a new mandate of his own. Until now he has spent the last forty years as Moses’ assistant. Now it is Joshua’s turn. God instructs Joshua that he must employ a new lifestyle change to equip him for effective leadership: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Until now Joshua had learned God’s ways from observing his mentor, but now he must read and meditate in the words of God day and night. His new position comes with a new requirement. Joshua must become a reader!

Jesus and the Disciples

After Jesus’ disciples had spent enough time with Him to learn what He felt they needed to know, He sent them out to go all over Israel proclaiming His message. Until now they had been mostly observers; now they would be doers. They do not go unequipped. The Bible tells us that Jesus “gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matthew 10:1). But they were given more than just anointing and power for their new mission and their new lifestyle. They were also given rules. Jesus instructed the disciples:

Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. (Matthew 10:9, 10)


This was a faith mission. The disciples were not to take along any extra money, nor any extra clothes, or a spare pair of sandals. They were not even allowed to take a big bag of corn chips to snack on when meals were scarce. These men were being given a lesson in trusting their Heavenly Father. He would move upon the hearts of the people they met on the way, and they would have all they needed. And sure enough it worked out just that way. The sick were healed, the demon possessed were delivered, and the disciples did not go hungry. They returned to Jesus rejoicing in having completed this first mission successfully.

Later on, just before Jesus is to go to the cross and die for mankind, He speaks to the disciples and reminds them of this early mission. He asks:

“When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. (Luke 22:35, 36)



Times have changed. Popular opinion has turned against Jesus and His disciples. It is no longer prudent to go about depending upon support from those you meet. This is a season of hardship and difficulty and you cannot live as you did before. Keep your money with you, carry provisions for yourself wherever you go, and you might even think about getting a sword. The days of popular acclaim throughout Israel are over. Batten down the hatches, tighten your belts, and be prepared for trouble. Different season – different rules!

In Our Lives

Seasons

To my mind, one of the most fascinating aspects of life is that it comes to us in seasons. Most of our lives are not merely a gradation of slight, gentle changes occurring progressively over time. Nearly all of us find major changes breaking upon us with such suddenness as to take our breath away. Some of these changes are delightful and welcome; others are painful and not the least bit appreciated. Some have been as a result of deliberate decisions on our part, and others come as a total surprise, brought about by forces utterly beyond our control. But change will come and it will often come suddenly. In every life there will be new seasons and new chapters, nearly always calling for new lifestyle adjustments, and an interruption and transformation of long-held daily routines.

A dramatic and widely experienced seasonal change occurs when two people get married. Until marriage, the single man or woman has all sorts of freedoms and luxuries which are afforded him or her. For example, the single man can go out with his buddies seven nights a week. He can spend hours every night playing video games if he likes. He can spend his entire paycheck on expensive electronic gadgets. No one will question him or call him on it (except perhaps his mother!). But once he gets married things will change. If he is foolish enough to think that he can import his old lifestyle and ways into this new chapter of his life, he will probably not stay married very long. Adjustments and sacrifices will have to be made, and the old ways must give way to the new. If this is done correctly, there will be tremendous blessings and benefits to be enjoyed. But he must harbor no illusions about keeping things exactly as before, defining marriage as merely the addition of a new roommate. If he stubbornly refuses to adapt to the new rules that go along with successful marriage, he will soon get all his old freedoms back, including the freedom to celebrate his birthdays by himself, and the freedom to grow old alone.

Leadership

In my earlier years I served as an assistant to Dr. David Reagan, who led Lamb & Lion Ministries. It was a pleasant time in my life. We did radio ministry in the early years, and then later switched to television. I was often asked to teach conferences in various churches, and traveled throughout many parts of our nation. In God’s time I left Lamb & Lion and founded Spirit of Grace Ministries. In a sense I was entering my own “Promised Land,” and as with all promised lands there were battles to be fought and significant lifestyle changes to be made.

One of the major changes had to do with the nature of my workday. At my previous position I went to work at a certain time, put in my eight hours, and went home. And when I got home I pretty well forgot about my job. I was “off the clock,” and engaged in family time, enjoyed my hobbies, watched television, and did whatever I felt like doing. Then, the next morning, I went to work and gave myself to my job once again. But when I became the leader of a ministry I found that it could never work this way. Nobody had to tell me this. I didn’t read it in a book. I just instinctively knew that leading a ministry called for more sacrifices and a different view of work. I found myself writing articles on weekends, working on the website early on Sunday mornings, or recording a devotional on a Saturday evening. I prayed and fasted for the ministry much more and far more intensely than I had ever done while with Lamb & Lion. In the past I knew that responsibility for the ministry’s success (humanly speaking) was on Dave’s shoulders; now it was up to me (and Jesus).

Summing Up

For every new season of our lives, there is a corresponding lifestyle, and there are rules connected to this season. For our own good, we had better discover those rules and begin to follow them. To attempt to import the old ways and the old rules into our new season will likely prove disastrous. Jesus said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22). As new chapters unfold in your life, seek the Lord about the new rules and ways He has for you. And embrace each new season, with its new demands, gracefully. Sure, there will be some things about “the good old days” that you miss. But there will also be new blessings that the old days could never match. In Christ, and through His cross and resurrection, we are always moving forward. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

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