Yesterday we attended community group. If this term is unfamiliar to you, it’s essentially where members of a church come together to meet on a regular basis. The purpose is to study, discuss, fellowship & pray together. In some church’s they are called life groups, home groups etc. We’ve been leaders & attendees for years in whatever you want to call it. In all of them the essence remains the same.
For us, they’ve been the means to growth & connectedness in the church body.
Last night’s gathering included prayer & worship. The Holy Spirit empowered & encouraged my friend who took the time to pray over each attendee. She also asked us to share how God is showing, or has shown, His love to us recently. Or perhaps, what He is showing us for the coming year.
One word came to mind. Territory.
Territory? I wondered.
Ok, God. Tell me what you want me to know about territory.
I pulled out my phone in the middle of our beautiful worship to look up territory in my handy Bible app. Yes, I’m one of those who no longer brings a heavy Bible with me everywhere.
What struck me were a number of verses in Ezekiel 48 (of all places) about the Israelite tribes as each were granted their territory.
Verse after verse declared an assigned place for each tribe, by name & location. Each territory adjoining the next heir’s and each their own portion.
Adjoining the territory of Reuben, from the east side to the west, Judah, one portion. – verse 7
I considered how Father God gives to his children.
Oh Lord, yes. The territories you give us. The passions, the talents, the gifts, the places, the spaces, the stories, they are all yours and a lotted to each one of us. To each our own.
This resonates deeply with the messages stirring in my heart, for you, friends. And for me.
For we who are in Christ, we are co-heirs in His riches. Ultimately this refers to our salvation, redemption & our placement in the kingdom that awaits us. Yet, while we remain on earth we are each given a territory to steward over. We are each a lotted our spaces & places, our connections & convictions, our gifts & our service. We stand next to each other as brothers & sisters in Christ with a responsibility & a privilege to tend our territories well.
We are given the privilege of being side by side, adjoining each other’s territories, as one united church for the kingdom of Christ. That’s what was given to us. It’s our responsibility & our opportunity.
And dear friend, the enemy wages war to separate our stories & lives in such a way that we become weaker & more vulnerable to his attacks.
Satan wants to render our territories useless for the kingdom.
Our King calls us to steward our territories well, for our good & His glory.
It’s time for us to rise up & declare that Lord is victorious. It’s time to recognize the gift of our individual territories; the gift of our lives & our stories.
For the one who says, “But my place is not where I want to be!” I hear you. I get it. The Lord knows even more & He says to trust Him with where you are & seek His will daily. He reminds us that He is sovereign over everything.
For the one who says, “But surely God doesn’t want me here, living this part of my story. It’s wrong. It’s evil.” I hear you. I get it. I don’t have the answers but I do know that is God is still good. He weeps with those who weep. He desires better for you too. Seek His best & cry out to Him in honesty.
For the one who says, “But my space is too big, too hard, or too little, too insignificant.” I hear you. I get it. God is the one who determines our size. Dear friend, He knows what is for now & what is to come. Trust Him daily. Let Him expand where He wishes to expand & I promise you, His ways are always, always best.
Here’s the kicker. For the rest of the evening one song stuck in my mind & heart though we didn’t sing it. “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary”. This morning I read verse 8.
“Adjoining the territory of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the portion which you shall set apart, 25,000 cubits in breadth, and in length equal to one of the tribal portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the midst of it.
With the sanctuary in the midst of it.
In the midst of our places, our territories as believers, He is in the midst. The Holy Spirit resides in us and remains with us through it all & in it all.
We who have Him residing with us; we live with a sanctuary in the center of our territories.
Friends – it’s time to steward our territories for the sake of the kingdom.
Dear Father ~
We humbly come before you today with praise & thanksgiving. How good you are to grant us our unique places & stories. Give us eyes to see your goodness in the midst. Teach us to steward our days & places well. Equip us to hear & respond to the Holy Spirit as he leads us day by day. Strengthen us to stand against the enemy who wants to break our territories apart & make our lands unusable. Let us boldly declare, The Lord goes before us. He is our shield & our strength. Thank you Father. ~ Amen
with love, Jolene