In my church small group we recently read through the book of Job, highlighting anything which stood out along the way. Not always the most uplifting book to read, but at the same time I found it to bring some comfort and also new revelation, which I wanted to share in this post. Have a look at this…
He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you. Job 36:16-17.
Several things stood out to me as I read this verse. Firstly, the idea of God wooing us away from a place of distress into a place free from restriction. How often in life do we allow our focus to be on things which cause us anxiety or fear, which, the more we look at it, the greater the distress it causes us. God is inviting us to move away from that place and to sit at our table in comfort. He is our comforter and provider, yet we all too often can forget that.
The second one is this – “judgment and justice have taken hold of you” – judgment is reserved for God, and yet we take it upon ourselves to judge or demand justice for situations out of our control. Before Adam and Eve ate the apple, humankind had no knowledge of good and evil, no ability to judge what was good or evil, fair or unjust. The bible mentions several times to leave the judgment to God, and yet we choose to allow the judgment mindset to take hold of us, choosing rather to trust our own abilities and judging rather than God. Living with this mindset creates distress in our lives, so can we give it to God, and trust that His judgment is just and timely? That can be easier said than done, especially when we feel like someone has done wrong to us, or if we have gone through a hard season, but we need to adopt the opposite mindset, that of love, rather than judgment.
I don’t believe it was Gods intention for us to live under the mindset of judgment, as this passage says, but that He want to woo us out into an open space, a place where He has laden our table with choice food.
This morning, as I left the train station for a meeting, I noticed a rather angry looking and sounding seagull above me on the street light. As it loudly squawked at me, it then began a series of dive bomb attacks on me, each time getting a little bit closer to making contact. As I made a hasty get away from my attacker, I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculous situation I found myself in, made even more funny by the conversation I had with a friend only last night. This friend is an anaesthetist, and was telling us of how common it has been during his time working in A&E for people to come in exhibiting seagull related injuries, from overly aggressive birds.
Later on in the day, as I returned to the station for my train home, this time with a work colleague ( safety in numbers), we noticed the same seagull sitting atop its perch on the street light. As we approached, we laughed at the thought of it once again preparing for attack, and my colleague made the comment of how can we fear being attacked by a bird, even though it was relatively big, but by comparison to us, it should be an easy victory for us. Sometimes the attacker seems to be indestructible, swooping and squawking at us, we can become intimidated and forget that actually we are more than capable of victory.
Really it’s the same in our lives when faced with an attack from Satan, the enemy. Whether it be by words, thoughts, feelings, fears, doubts, whatever his tactics are of trying to intimidate us, remember that we already carry the victory. Our God is bigger. Through he may make loud noises and swoop down to try and scare us off, he is, in fact, nothing more than a pest, a scavenger with the sole desire of pushing us off course. Well, today I choose not to allow fear to cause distress or anxiety for the road ahead.
We sometimes make the mistake of thinking the devil is on the same level of God, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to preach up in Aberdeen with a team from bethel who were out for a mission trip. It was the first time I had preached since losing our son last year. I wanted to share with you what I spoke about that night…
Recently I have been enjoying spending time with God whilst cooking dinner, and so as I was cooking and asking God what to talk about, I heard two words from Him- Go Again.
These words were actually words we said to one another after Elias died. We can’t stay here in this pit of despair, we have to keep moving. As the Psalm states, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t sit down and make camp. Sure, we get knocked down and taken out, but we need to get back up, to move forward, to go again.
Romans 8 is one of the most encouraging chapters in the bible, and it’s what I focused on in my sermons a couple months back.
We were saved by hope, but hope that is looked at is not hope – for who hopes for what they look at? But since we hope for what we do not look at, then we look forward to it with endurance. Romans 8:24-25
The word Hope Paul uses in the Greek language is Elpis, which means “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation!” Though we may go through struggles and trials, we live with the hope of what we cannot yet see, this eternal salvation. That’s Gods promise to all who come to Him. It’s what has kept me going these last few months, the confident knowledge that, one day, I will be reunited with Elias, in eternity. What we see here is only temporary. The pain and grief of loss is not permanent. As Abraham said once, we are merely aliens passing through this land, we don’t belong here. And yet, we experience pain, loss, uncertainty, but with the promise that all will be restored to us.
The word Paul uses for endurance in this passage translates to mean “in the face of aggression”. Regardless of what we face, we hold on to this Elpis hope, this confidence that one day every tear shall be wiped away as we enter into enteral salvation, through Jesus.
In the same way also, the Spirit takes hold together with us in our weaknesses – we don’t know how we are to pray so that our prayers will correspond to the need, but the Spirit intercedes with deeply emotional heartfelt groanings.
Ever felt like you don’t have the words to pray? Here Paul tells us that even in that moment, we have the Holy Spirit interceding for us when our words fail us. God wants so much for us to succeed that He instructs Holy Spirit to pray with us and for us when we don’t have the words. The word for groanings there is a violent ailing and loud noise, it’s not a passive prayer.
If God is for us, who can be against us? … he will also give us all things as a favour, as well as giving his own son!
Guess what? God is for you! He is so for you He sent His son to die in your place so that you would not die but have eternal salvation. Whatever you’ve been through or are going through, have confidence that God is for you and with you and has good things for you!
I know what it’s like to go through stuff, trust me, these last few months have been horrendous, but we have determined to hold on to the truth from Romans 8, God is faithful, and He is calling us to get up, to move forward, to go again.
Last week I entered myself into my first ever 10k running event. The last, and only, run I entered was in Colorado when I lived there about 8 years ago. That time, it was a 5k race, and my plan was to simply walk it with some friends of mine. As I stood at the starting line, coffee in hand, my plan was to just run the first part to get through the crowds as we began. But it didn’t take long for my competitive spirit to take hold of me, and I soon found myself racing round the course, once I had disposed of my coffee of course. Needless to say, my time that day wasn’t the best, neither was my overall fitness. A large coffee is not the best pre race drink after all.
Anyway, this time round, I am determined to run the race well, and have already begun my training with a couple runs this week under my belt, and a big blister on my foot. Maybe time for some new shoes. I’m raising money for a charity called SANDS.
This charity provided us with counselling during the months following the death of our son, Elias, last September. Even writing that sentence causes me such pain. I want to be able to do something to help this charity continue with their work of supporting people who go through such horrific loss.
The weight of grief over the loss is at times unbearable, or at least it would be if it weren’t for God. I’m not sure how people without faith get through something like this. Not once have we ever blamed God for what happened, instead we have felt and seen Him at work in our lives. He is shielding us from the worst of it, I know that. God is still God. God is still Good.
I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning before work, here’s what I read…
We do not keep our eyes on the things that are seen, but we keep our eyes on the things that are not seen – for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are not seen are eternal. (4:18)
How much time do we spend worrying or busying ourselves with what we see around us, that we lose sight of the real prize? Jesus said countless times, “those who have eyes, let them see” – do we have eyes to see that which is eternal around us? I’m so thankful for the eternity we are promised with, it’s what carries me through during my times of deepest despair. My separation with my son is not eternal, thanks to Jesus. I can rest and find peace in that assurance. Paul said the things we see are transient – passing through, temporary.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, on eternity, on the prize.
If you would like to support me in this endeavour, you can do so by following this link
It’s been a while since my last post on this, and to say that a lot has happened since then would be the greatest understatement of all time. Perhaps, in a later post, I will try and unpack it all, but for now it’s all a little too fresh.
Today I want to write about living from Gods peace. In John 15:27, Jesus says this;
“I am leaving you peace- I am giving you peace – I am certainly giving it to you but not in the same way that the world gives it. Don’t let your hearts be disturbed, and don’t be cowardly.” (Source translation)
This word for peace here, the root meaning of it is Eiro, which means to join. Jesus is offering a peace that it to join with us, not something that gets taken away or that is finite, but something that will remain with us through whatever situation we face.
Jesus then tells us not to let our hearts be disturbed. The peace we join with will overcome the anxiety we face. Peace is internal while anxiety is based on what our eyes perceive about a situation. It’s our choice whether to remain at Peace, or to allow anxiety to imbed itself in our hearts. And this is what Jesus is warning us about here. You have the power to choose what your hearts feasts off – peace or anxiety. The anxiety we have towards something will always grow the more we feed it. But the same is true about peace. The more we seek peace the more we have of it to get through the stuff life throws at us.
Jesus’ final instruction here is to not be cowardly. These words are the same as the parting advice Moses gave to Joshua at the beginning of the book of Joshua, right before he led the Israelites into the promised land. We have not, as Paul reminds Timothy, been given a spirit of cowardice, but one of power.
So, choose to grow in peace today over your situation, live from that place and guard your heart against any anxiety. Move forward with the courage and confidence that God is for you, that Jesus’ words here are true.
Well, quite the week we have had in the UK. First, the result of the vote, a self imposed exiting of the preverbial building and into a season of unknowns… and then England getting knocked out of Europe for a second time in a week by being beaten by Iceland!
Whatever way you voted last week, the result stands and there is now going back. We have a choice of what to do when faced with the facts of a rapidly de-valuing currency, with the potential of being hit by another recession. Do we succumb to fear? play the blame game? Or do we instead look to God and trust in Him during this time?
It can be easy to very quickly blame others for our predicament, or to join in on the scare mongering, but, if we are to be true representations of Christ here on earth, how is that any different from the worlds response? It’s sad to see on certain social media outlets church and ministry leaders using this time as an opportunity to share their political views and how, by signing petitions, we can bring about change. The biggest change we can bring about is through our actions during this time. We, as Christians, need to be beacons of hope and vision for the future, not to be swayed this way or that. If we give in to that then we are no different. Let’s not view this as a disaster, but an opportunity to partner with God in moving forward. What will it look like? I don’t know. Will it be easy? Possibly not. Jesus never said it would. But He did say we would never be in lack. He did encourage us not to be anxious but to keep our eyes fixed on things above.
Whatever you voted last week, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, become distributors of hope and get excited, because God is about to move in a way we have never before seen. We are in days of uncertainty, that’s for sure, but what is certain and true is that God is for you, He’s not sitting in heaven concerned about how we’re going to get through this, He is sitting waiting to give us wisdom, strength and vision for moving forward.
I love how God doesn’t waste a thing. He literally makes all things work together for our good, so, as I heard Kris Vallotton once say, if it’s not good right now, then God is not finished with what He is doing in your situation. He is always shaping us, always preparing us for the next season.
I spent six years living in America, where I felt God was preparing me and shaping me, breaking off old habits, mind sets and hurts, and bringing me into a place where I could receive from Him, and where I could have an impact on others around me.
Something God has been teaching me a lot recently is that once we have been in a season of preparation, we are then equipped with all we need to thrive through the next season we are coming in to. Whatever comes our way, God has given us the answer, the tools needed to succeeded through the situation. Sometimes we spend so much time looking at our problem and asking God to help us, when God has already helped us in the previous season, and has given us what we need to work through whatever has come our way.
The Bible says that God never puts us in a situation we cant get out of. If we believe that as truth, then that means whatever we are faced with, God has a strategy for us to get through. What keeps us from moving forward can be a mixture of fear, doubt, lack of trust or lack of fully understanding who we are in Christ. If we become focused on our lack, we will never move forward. If we instead focus on what is already in our hands, then nothing can hold us back. It’s like when a you are teaching a kid to ride a bike. For a time they require stabilizers and guidance to be able to ride the bike without falling over and hurting themselves. Once they have mastered that, its then time for the stabilizers to come off. There can then be a moment of doubt before they head off, but if they learn to put into practice what they have just learnt, they will soon be riding their bike. Yeah, they may fall once or twice, but the key is to get back on and get moving again.
Too often we put ourselves in a self imposed wilderness season, because we wait for the Lord to do something in our life, when He has already given us what we need to walk over into the “Promised Land”. We wonder where God is, when He is wondering what we’re doing hanging out in the desert! Let’s not be like the Israelites and spend more time then we need to out in the desert. God has a Promised Land ready for you, all you need to do is move forward. God wants to give us the wisdom we need to thrive through our circumstance, rather than us sitting back expecting Him to provide for us. Of course, God can and does bring in provision when we need it, but He also invites us to partner with Him to bring about the solution.