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 1 Corinthians the other day, and came across this verse, “…the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Good News should live from the Good News.” (1 Corinthians 9:14, from the Source Translation of the New Testament) We are called not only to preach and tell others about the Good News, but we actually need to live from the Good News. What does that look like? What is the Good News?
The Good News is that Jesus is alive. The Good News is that He died and rose again so that we could be set free from sin, sickness, oppression from the enemy. The Good News is that we have a heavenly Father who loves us with such an extravagant love, such unconditional love, such unmerited favour and such undeserved acceptance. The Good News is that, as Psalm 103 tells us, God does not treat us as our sins deserve. He loves us, heals us and forgives us of all sin. Now, that is Good News.
So, what does it look like to live from the Good News? Well, I believe we have a choice, what do we partner with, what do we apply to our own lives, our own mind sets? With every thought that comes our way, we have a choice as to what to do with it. Will we allow that thought to rob us of our joy/peace/freedom, or do we choose to partner with the Good News? As Christians, we should be the happiest people on earth, we don’t actually need to be swayed by the things of the world, instead we can be deeply rooted in God and His Good News for us. It was never God’s intention for us to live in a way that brings restriction and anxiety to our souls – that’s living from bad news. It’s the Joy of the Lord that is our strength, we have actually been given a weapon to defeat anything the enemy throws at us – laughter! Living from Good News means that we already have the answer to the “problem” being thrown at us…
Living from Good News means that we get to look at every situation that comes our way with confidence and courage that no matter what we are faced with, God is bigger. If we are partnering with God, then we can expect to see His provision, guidance and peace all the way. That doesn’t mean that we abuse that or sit back and wait for Him to move, that wouldn’t be a partnership.
Let’s choose to live from the Good News today, may you be blessed today in all you do, and you make the decision to live from peace, love, joy, abundance.
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.
I sometimes wonder what it would have been like being the Israelites after they had been taken out of Egypt, and moved into the wilderness. For years they spent their time complaining about being out there and romanticizing their time in slavery back in Egypt, wishing they could be back there where at least they had plenty of food to eat, more than the boring manna which fell from the sky each day! It’s easy to read about the stories from that time and criticize them for their lack of faith in God, and for how quickly they seemed to forget what God had done during the great escape from Pharaoh and his men. When they were faced with challenging times, they immediately looked back to their past situation, a time of captivity and bondage, and dreamed of being back there, where at least they were guaranteed food, forgetting the reality of slavery.
I think sometimes we too act like that, looking back with a fondness to a past season in our lives, and wishing we were back there. But what we need to be doing instead, is to be always looking forward, always moving in the direction God has got us pointed in, always believing that God knows what He is doing, despite what our current circumstances may be trying to tell us.
I picked our car up from the garage yesterday after finding out that it will cost hundreds of pounds to get it to pass it MOT test, and so have since been looking for scrap yards that will take it off our hands in exchange for at least some cash. So, we are now car-less and dealing with some other financial uncertainties. But, a midst it all, I find myself full of joy and expectancy that God is about to do something amazing. Just this morning as I spent time with God, I was reminded of James 1:2, which reminds us to “consider it pure joy…whenever you are faced with trials of many kinds…” I have never really understood this passage before – how can I expect to be full of joy when going through trials? And then it hit me, I can consider it pure joy because I trust that God is for me and not against me, I know that He is at work to make all things good in my life, and I know that His peace fills me in the process of it all. Instead of looking at my current situation with fear and anxiety, I get to look at it with joy and excitement about what God is going to do, and how I get to partner with Him and be a part of it all the way. If I can just keep moving forward, trusting Him, then nothing can rob me of my joy!
I love Psalm 23, it’s a classic passage which gives us such a clear image of the character of God. He will never leave us, He is our comforter and strength, as we walk through the valleys. There are a couple things we need to do if/when we find ourselves in a valley – first is to walk, not stop, keep moving forward and not become overwhelmed with what we see around us. The enemy would love for us to stop and wallow in the valley for a time while he feeds us with doubts and fears that are lies and couldn’t be further from the truth.
The second thing we get to do is to remember all God has done for us. People back then would carve on their staff testimonies from their life of what God had done for them in the past, as a reminder for when they are faced with trials that God has helped them before, so He will help them again. It’s with that in mind that we can freely and joyfully move forward, laughing at the plans of the enemy because we have a big God who is on our side and who is guiding us through.
So, let’s exercise our laughter muscles today, as we laugh at the plans of the enemy, and as we look to God to fill us with joy and peace as we keep moving forward, from strength to strength, from glory to glory.
Last week I packed my bags and returned home to Scotland, after six amazing years spent living in the States. It has been incredible to look back on these six years and to see all that has happened within me, all that God has done in my own life, as well as those I have ministered to and lived life with.
Tomorrow I pack my bags up once more, load them into the car my fiance and I were blessed with, and head down to begin life in Edinburgh. Monday I begin working for the first time in two years, after having spent my time in Bethel trusting God for providing me with more than enough. God has taught me to trust in Him with all my life, after having seen Him provide for me in so many amazing ways over there, I now move forward confident that He will never leave me and will always continue to be my provider. I learned that God is far more equipped at providing for me, His beloved son, than I am for myself. It is never His intention to bring us so much life and fullness and then to leave us in the lurch, there is only one way in the Kingdom of God, from glory to glory, strength to strength.
So, as I move forward in this new season of life, I move forward not in uncertainty of whether God will still provide for me over here, instead with assurance that He is and will continue to provide me with more than enough, because He is a God of abundance. Transitions don’t have to be scary, as long as we continually remind ourselves of all that God has already done for us. With this in mind, we should be filled with joy and anticipation for the coming season.We have already been entrusted with what we need to thrive in every area of life.
In fact, God trusts us with way more then we may allow ourselves to believe. Paul says in Ephesians “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight”
I spent over an hour last month in Jamaica reading this passage over and over again. What if that is actually true? That means that we already have been entrusted with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ. This is written in past tense. God has already granted us full access to the heavenly realms and given us all we could ever need in our lives.
God doesn’t see you, see me, with all our faults, failures or past sins. Instead, He sees us as blameless, holy in His sight, as victorious conquerors of the plans of the enemy. The sooner we fully grasp this, the sooner we can move forward into our full potential of who God says we are.
Whatever season you find yourself in today, rejoice – you are exactly where God wants you to be.
I stood there, staring intently at it, manically looking around for some sort of weapon to defend myself with. It stared back at me, with all eight of it’s eyes. Finally, I used the paintbrush in my hand to beat it down from its lofty position on the wall next to me. I was in my worst nightmare. I was round the back of the garage. After battling through bushes, squeezing between walls and trying not to be attacked by the neighbours dog, I finally made it to the back side of the garage. Yes, my painting exploits continue, but the end is firmly in sight, praise the Lord.
Now, two things scare me more than anything in this world, snakes and spiders. And yesterday, it was the latter that was wreaking havoc on my usually peace-filled spirit. I felt claustrophobic standing between two garages fighting off spiders in every direction I looked. “Why did you create such creatures?” was among the many questions I put before the Lord. I am still awaiting an answer on that one. As I tried to gather myself together and get on with the painting, I remembered something a friend of mine in Seattle would always say when in a time of trouble – “You’re still breathing, you’ll be OK”. And indeed I was OK. Despite my intense fear of these eight legged beasts, I managed to get done what I needed to and survived to face another day.
That other day was today, when I once again had to return to the dark side of the garage. Only this time my peace had once again been returned to me. This time, fear had no place within me. I was reminded of something today. When faced with fear, we have a choice. We can either turn and run, or meet our fear’s head on, knowing that breakthrough is waiting on the other side. Now, my dislike of spiders is still strong, don’t get me wrong I have no plans for buying a pet tarantula. But, I don’t have to let this fear control me or rob me of my peace. As I worked out there today, I thought of where in 1 John he talks about perfect love casting out all fear. God is love, and when His love is within us, fear has no place. That doesn’t mean that we never face fears again, but it does mean that we have something, someone to fight with us through our fear. I hope that makes sense, because when we fully get this, we should no longer be gripped by what scares us, unable to move forward, instead we should look upon these situations with joy, joy that on the other side of it, there is breakthrough, if we just keep moving.
Yesterday, I kept thinking of Psalm 23 – “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” David, who wrote the Psalm, knew that there would be times when he would be walking through the valley, but he also knew that he had nothing to fear, because God had already given him everything he needed to make it through the valley. He also knew that when he was in the valley, the important thing to do would be to keep walking, and not stop and linger!
Fear has no place in you, don’t allow it to stop you from receiving all God has for you.