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
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.
Throughout the NT we see many occasions where Jesus instructs and encourages us to ask of Him anything we want, and it will be given to us. Its an invitation to partner with Jesus, as we bring forth our requests to Him, He in turn brings it before the Father. Paul talks about our partnership with Jesus in 1 Corinthians 1:9, we were created for this very reason.
The trouble is that for so many of us, we feel guilty asking for something from God, thinking we just need to work for it, or earn it, or that perhaps it’s too big or not important to God. If it’s important to you, it’s important to God.
Jesus gave us the ultimate gift, through the work on the Cross. He set the bar pretty high and still invites us to ask of Him the desires of our hearts. The danger is that when we don’t ask, we miss out on joining with Jesus and receiving all that God has for us. God wants to lavish us with gifts and provision, but if we don’t ask and seek, then why should we expect to receive anything from Him? The whole point in Jesus dying on the cross for us was so that we could experience an intimate relationship with the Father, and what Father doesn’t want to give good things to his children?
It’s time to get specific when we ask God for something, press in for it. It can be too easy to ask and then move on, without pressing in for an answer or for breakthrough. Write out in your journal all the desires of your heart, all that is on your mind, then lock yourself away with God, press in to Him for answers, for breakthrough, for provision.
Last week my mum shared with me some thoughts from Psalm 33, and ever since then I have kept coming back to that Psalm, reading and re-reading it, looking up word meanings and pressing in for more from God. Here’s what it says
” We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22
The word here used for Hope in the Hebrew language is “Yachal” which means “expectant waiting”. I love this idea of expectantly waiting upon the Lord, hope is not in something or someone that will let us down, God never lets us down, He will always move in our lives. When our trust is in Him, our hope becomes loaded with expectancy as we wait upon the Lord to move in our lives.
With that in mind, the whole way in which we come before the Lord in prayer changes. We no longer come to Him pleading for Him to move, we know and have seen Him move before, we know who He is – our help, our shield etc. and so we pray expectant prayers filled with this Yachal Hope. We can actually begin to thank Him in advance for what He is about to do. Our prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16), and so we know that when we pray, something is happening.
The second part of this passage is equally powerful, as we invite His unfailing love to rest upon us, even as we wait in hope for Him to move. We are never left alone while we wait for Him, He covers us with His unfailing love. This love that casts out all fear, anxiety, lies, hurt, pain etc. There is nothing too big for His love, in fact in it we find all we need and yet there is more. We wait in expectant hope for the God of more to move in our circumstance, situation, finances, relationships, whatever we are facing this week, this day, God is with us.
As we enter into the week before Christmas, and all that the day will bring us, we can enter into it with an expectant hope that Jesus will come in power in our situations. He came so that we may have life to the full, so any area we are not experiencing fullness is an area we get to give to God and expectantly wait for Him to bring us the resolution we need.
It’s in the waiting that we find the strength for the next season of our lives. God never wastes anything. He is at work in your life, your health, your finances, your relationships, trust in Him and wait with an expectant hope for Him to move.
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?