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.
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.
I was reading through Ephesians earlier this week, probably one of my favourite of Paul’s letters, and this time reading it in the Source translation, which is directly from the Greek, rather than a translation of a translation. I came across this passage, which has been on my mind ever since:
Due to God’s favour you have been saved through faith; and this is not due to anything you yourselves have done; rather, it is God’s gift to you. You weren’t saved by your actions, and so no one can boast. It is his workmanship that we are! We have been created by the Anointed One Jesus to do the good things God prepared beforehand for us to do, and to live how he wanted us to live. – Ephesian 2:8-10
It’s not through our works that we have been saved, by through His grace, favour and love for us. It’s because of who we are and not what we do. You can’t strive to get something that has already been given to you. This passage gives us the freedom to step into all that God has got for us, it invites us to take the focus off of what we do and choose instead to look at Him. How many Christians live today with the mind set that if they just work a little harder, live a little holier, then maybe they can catch a glimpse of God, maybe they can earn they way into heaven. It doesn’t work like that. In fact, it’s the opposite. As we learn to live from His Presence, His rest, His comfort, and not for it, we learn to let go of the things that the world deems as necessary to move forward.
So, this week, take the pressure off yourself, you can’t do anything to earn more love from God, He already loves you so much He sent Jesus to die in your place. There is no striving in the Kingdom of God, our work for Him shouldn’t come from a place of trying to earn something, rather to show to the world of the grace God has given to us.
Last Sunday I had the incredible opportunity to preach at a church in the beautiful town of Pitlochry, such an amazing part of the country filled with some of the friendliest folks around. After the service, we had a time for people to come up and receive prayer for healing. The first lady we prayed for had arthritis in her shoulder, which caused pain as well as clicking in her joints there. As we prayed, she began to feel the pain leave her shoulder, much to her surprise. We prayed again, and the clicking had completely gone. She was blown away by the Goodness of God. God honours the prayers said with expectancy. When we partner with Him and release healing, rather than plead for it, He is moved by our faith in who He is, it’s in His very nature to bring healing to all who come to Him.
I then had the absolute privilege to pray for a man who turns 90 next year. I was amazed at this man, his faith, his testimony, his love of God and the hunger he had showed throughout his life. Here was a man, who although almost 90, understood that as long as he is alive on this earth, God still has a plan and desire for him to live a pain free life.
Too often I see people accepting their sickness or pain as just a way of life and something they have to put up with, rather than believing that God has more in store for them. You are not too old to receive healing. This man understood that. He knew that one touch from God and his shoulders would be healed.
What struck me was this man’s hunger for God, which he had shown throughout his life, constantly seeking out more of God. I was almost in tears as he was telling me his testimony, his hearts desire to know God and to experience what it means to be born again. It was this hunger that had brought him up to receive prayer from me on Sunday. May we never lose our hunger for God. May we never become content with what we have. You are never too old to receive a fresh touch from the Lord, whether its healing you need, or breakthrough in another area, stir up your hunger for God, seek Him out and, as the Bible says, He will be found. He loves to be found. He loves to reveal His love and passion for you, His desire for you to be healed and set free.
This last week has been one of those weeks where I found myself going from one thing to the next, with little time in between to do anything. Ever had one of those weeks? As we were approaching the weekend, Emma and I made a decision that changed the way we went through the weekend we had ahead of us, with all it’s busyness. We decided that we would thrive through everything we had to do, that we would do it all with joy and excitement rather than just trying to survive through it all. That changed a lot. I could notice our whole countenance shifting and although we were tired from all the painting of a church building, worship leading, driving to the west coast to lead a days training, driving to Aberdeen to be with family, we were able to do all this with genuine joy in our hearts.
Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit. We weren’t designed to go through life being all serious about things and allowing our circumstances to take our joy away from us. Yes, we were busy and tired by the end of the weekend, but we chose to do it all with joy and laughter, and that changed everything. The enemy would love to rob us of our joy at every opportunity, because he knows that is where our strength lies. It’s the joy of the Lord which is our strength, so let’s choose joy today. Let’s choose not to be swayed by what is going on around us.
We are called to thrive through life, not just survive. When we put our trust fully in God and hold on to His promises, nothing can stop us from moving in to what He has called us to do. I refuse to allow myself to become swayed by finances, circumstances or anything else that will try to rob me of my joy today. So, may you be filled with joy today amid your circumstances, may you choose to thrive rather than merely survive today, God is a God of abundance, He wont let you down.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to travel around the country, ministering and training up people to minister. What has struck me is just how much God is on the move across this country, and indeed around the world. This is an exciting time to be alive. There is a move of God happening that will not be stopped, and there is an invitation for us to get involved with the movement. That can be a scary thing, or that can be an exciting thing, depending on our perspective. As I travel around the country, I get to see God move in powerful ways, as He releases His healing touch to those we pray for. Just recently we have seen broken toes healed, back and hip pain leave, shoulder and neck pain instantly leave, and many more instances of healing, both physical and emotional. God is definitely on the move.
We are invited to join with God in a movement that cannot be stopped, so how will we respond? There is a danger that we become familiar with what God seems to be doing, and so we allow ourselves to get comfortable with where we are and instead of pressing on for more, we become stagnant and miss out on what God wants to do in our community.
Faith requires movement. Let’s move forward together, full of faith, full of expectation for what God will do next. God has started something that cannot be stopped, so let’s join in with what He is doing, let’s see His love be unleashed wherever we go. Let’s get involved with the ministry of reconciliation, bringing back the lost into relationship with the Father. God’s not mad at them, He’s madly in love with them, and through us, He gets to reveal that to them.
I was reading John 11 the other day, and the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead. It’s such an incredible story packed full with so many lessons, along with a raw demonstration of the power of God, the power that could raise a man from the grave, the same power that is available to us today.
One of the things that caught my attention was Jesus’ dialogue with Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Martha knew who Jesus was, she fully believed He was the son of God, the One who was sent to the world. She believed that Lazarus could be raised from the grave “on the Last Day,” to which Jesus replied “I am the resurrection and the life.” (verse 24,25).
Martha believed who Jesus said He was, yet didn’t seem to understand that Jesus had the power to raise Lazarus from the grave there and then, not some day off in the future. Jesus pulled forward what was meant for the “Last Day” into Today.
Later on, Jesus is standing outside the tomb and asks for the stone to be rolled away. Martha says to Him, “Lord, there’s a bad smell by now – it’s the fourth day!” (verse 39). I wonder what Martha thought Jesus was going to do. He had just told her that He was the resurrection, that He had the power to give life to those who believe in Him, but Martha seemed more concerned with the smell of the body than what Jesus had in mind.
So they roll the stone away, Jesus gives thanks to the Lord, and Lazarus comes walking out of the grave – death had been defeated, the power of the Lord was on full display, Jesus had brought forward what was meant for tomorrow to today.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not something that is far off in the clouds or something that will be revealed off in the future, it is here right now. It’s true that it will be fully revealed in the future, but today we have access to the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus knew that which was why He was able to witness such incredible miracles and healing’s. The sooner we realise what has been made available to us, the sooner we will be able to release heaven into every situation we are faced with. Fear has no place when we have the Kingdom working in and through us.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:33,34 to trust in the Lord’s provision, not to worry about tomorrow but to be fully present in today. When we are anxious about what tomorrow will bring or how God will provide for us tomorrow, we run the risk of missing out on what God want’s to bless us with today. Live for today with the full assurance that God already has tomorrow figured out. Trust in the Lord and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
I often wonder what the world would look like if the whole church caught what Jesus was saying here and fully trusted and believed what he said to be true. How many salvations would be happening each day? How many lives would be radically transformed by the power and love of God that gets released through the church’s prayers?
The trouble is that for many people, they say things like, “if God heals this person, then I will believe He is healer today”, or “when God answers this prayer, I will trust Him with the other things in my life.” We need to flip that on it’s head, and put our belief firmly on God today. God is healer, today, He is at work within us, today. Faith in who God is today will bring hope for what God will do tomorrow.
Jesus came so that what was meant for tomorrow could now become available today. We get to pull down heaven to earth – today! We get to release the answer today. The Kingdom of heaven is here today, will we access it today or will we miss out on what God intends for us?