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Mountain and climber

Therefore, then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.  Looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also it’s Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection). He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

A course has been set before each of us with our own personal lane for a Kingdom purpose. There is room on the course to accommodate everyone’s unique, divine assignment no matter how similar it may appear to someone elses.  Most importantly, there is an appointed time for each person to step into the race – onto their section of the course to fulfill their appointed time of destiny.

Favor, which is imparted by the Holy Spirit, rests first on the assignment, and then flows to the accepting person, manifesting through their actions and words and decisions. There are innumerable accounts in Scripture of favored assignments. When Jonah disobeyed the Lord and ended up in the belly of a fish, the Lord gave Him a second chance at his assignment which was to proclaim the simple message to the Ninevites, “Forty more days and Ninevah will be overturned.”  The bible states the result as – “The Ninevites believed God.” (Jonah 3:4).

There was nothing extraordinary about the actual words that Jonah chose however they were blessed and anointed by God, causing the Ninevites to fast, pray and repent. The King himself got behind Jonah’s words in support of his assignment.  Jonah 3:10 states, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion on them and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.“  Jonah saved an entire city from the wrath of God.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, and the resulting Eternal Covenant we have with God, we have permanent access to the redemptive covenant benefit of God as Jehovah Ra-ah, Our Shepherd.  Through the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit shepherds us on Jesus’ behalf to teach, guide, guard, comfort even pastor us through our assignments. The Holy Spirit is the divine equipper for every Believer, possessing the ability to release His power through us to accomplish our goals and destinies and complete the part of the race that God has set before us in its perfect time and season. The Spirit of God has been released to take up permanent residence as our divine cheerleader, compass, bell weather and soul caretaker through the Eternal Covenant and the finished work on The Cross.  It is the Holy Spirit that equips for everything good for doing His will and works in us what is pleasing to God through Jesus.

But in God’s grace and compassion He also provides for us earthly shepherds that are called by Him and come under the watchful eye, care and guidance of the great Shepherd. These men play a crucial role in the spiritual development of people in every community. A pastor holds the most esteemed position in every city because he is appointed by God and held to the highest level of accountability; a level at which few truly grasp.

Beneath every steepled roof works an earthly shepherd given a vision imparted to him by God (The Creator) for his community or region, carrying the responsibility to God as a CEO to forward that mission. It is critical work. Please express your appreciation by covering your pastors and their staff in prayer.

Luke 11: 29 – 32

Tracy Gatewood
Twitter – @TracyLGatewood
Facebook.com: Tracy Gatewood Sacred Ramblings
Author: Doorways of Grace: My Uncommon Journey to Healing, Wholeness and Meeting Jesus

After volunteering for my church for several months, in June 1998, I found myself in the fortunate position of working for this start up called North Point Community, pastored by Andy Stanley.  In October of 1998, we moved into the new facility in Alpharetta, experienced an explosive growth spurt and began having more formalized staff meetings and prayer time.

The very first time I prayed publicly was in a small staff prayer group with 4-5 people, one being Andy. I thought I was going to black out before it was my turn to pray. I have no idea what I prayed but probably recited the Pledge of Allegiance then buttoned it up with a chorus of Kumbaya. Andy, a very kind and compassionate man, never skipped a beat. I wanted to die but didn’t and for quite some time asked God to teach me everything possible about prayer. 
(Andy and his team are masterful at creating relevant environments and experiences that draw in masses of the unchurched and now have approximately 45,000 members and multiple campuses, no doubt because of my prayer prowess while working there.)  www.northpoint.org

In 2002,  I moved to Birmingham and struggled to find a new church home, truly convinced that heaven and God were only positioned directly over Alpharetta, Georgia. I visited good churches across Birmingham but there was always something just alittle off about these in my spirit so I continued to pray. One day someone mentioned a non – denominational church that was meeting in a high school auditorium on Sunday and on Wednesday meeting in an office complex behind a Shelby County Wal-Mart. I thought she was crazy but for some reason I still drove over there.

God apparently had to split His time and live over the High School / Wal – Mart church too because 21 years later, Church of the Highlands, pastored by Chris Hodges has 50,000 + members and 23 campuses. Chris is intentional about every aspect of prayer, and provides his church with all necessary tools and environments to walk out their God given destinies.  An equipper of leaders with few equal and a true pastor / shepherd, his deep compassion for people is matched with a laser-like discernment www.churchofthehighlands.com 

God graced me over a 17 year period  with two extremely gifted pastors not that I am so deserving but He knows I adore Him, and His Son and that I need all the help I can get each day and will even more so in the days ahead to successfully complete the assignment for my appointed time on His course. In both instances, I was led solely into these bodies of Believers, not by my natural mind, but by His Spirit. I remain very grateful for everything that Andy and Chris and their teams have done for me.  Their ministries dramatically impacted my life.    TG