I’m not a fan of waiting for things. We live in a culture of expecting things immediately, and so when it comes to having to wait for something, we don’t always have the patience required to see it through.
I remember as a kid growing up, the pain of having to wait for Christmas Day to come, or for the summer holidays to finally arrive, wishing the time would speed up just a little.
But there’s something that happens during the waiting. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait, and it’s during the waiting where God equips and readies the people for what is to come. We see it with Joesph in Genesis, where he spent years in prison before he finally stepped in to what God had for him. But, without the time spent waiting, Joseph would not have been prepared for what was to come, the waiting was necessary. Painful at times, I’m sure, but necessary nonetheless. It’s in the waiting where we are sharpened and prepared for the coming season ahead.
Last year was one of waiting for us, one of constant anxiety and strain as we endured 9 long months of pregnancy before the safe arrival of our boy. After what had happened the previous year, every minute of this pregnancy was a battle. Waiting was not fun. There is a song which I listened to a lot during this time, called Take Courage, by Bethel music. The song has the lyrics,
Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting. Hold on to your hope, as your triumph unfolds, He’s never failing, He’s never failing.
These words really resonated with me, as we held on to the hope of a successful pregnancy, and the promise God gave to me in the days after losing Elias. The promise that within a year, we would have another child. God’s word and His promises will not fail. We don’t always know why some things happen the way they do, why we must endure such pain or trauma, but can we hold on to the hope that God has good things in store? If your situation is not currently good, Then take courage, for He is still at work.
And so, as I look forward to the new year and all that it may bring, as I wait for His lead on things within my life, it’s a choice I must make daily to hold on to the hope that He knows what He is doing, that He is bringing us to a place of fulfilled promises, joy and life. And it’s my prayer for you, too, that as you may be in a time of waiting and discerning, that the God of fulfilled promises will sustain you and guide you through all the decisions you need to make. It’s often only when we take the first step out that we see God at work.
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.
A little over two weeks ago, we held our Annual Conference here in Glasgow, with Steve Backlund from Bethel Church in California. It was such an incredible time and a real honour to have Steve with us for his first time to Scotland.
One of the things Steve spoke about was the power of our words, they literally carry the power of life and death. Something he and his team did recently was to make 100 declarations daily for 30 days, declaring who they were in God and speaking into being areas of breakthrough they wanted to see in their own lives.
Two days ago, I decided to try this out for myself, and downloaded a Tally Counting app to help me keep on track with how I’m doing each day. Each time I begin to make declarations – “I am loved” ” I am trusted” ” God provides all my needs” “I thrive in all my relationships” – I can feel my faith and expectancy raising within me, as I declare things that are not yet a reality in my life as though they were. I know that by the end of 30 days, my life will never be the same again!
I wanted to encourage you to try the same – begin speaking blessings and life over your circumstances. For us to truly allow a transformation to happen within the way we think and view God and our situations, we need to first speak it out.
We often find it hard to be open to others, especially in this culture of “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but that is not how God intended us to be living. The enemy would love for us to remain silent on matters, and keep things pressed down, believing it to be better to keep things hidden then to bring them out in the open. We begin to believe lies about our situation – I am the only person to feel this way, or If they only knew the truth, then they wouldn’t like me quite so much… These lies, when allowed to, give the enemy authority to rule them over us, preventing us from moving forward and weighing us down as we live out our lives. Jesus came so that we may live a life free from burdens and junk, so that we may be free to enjoy live to the full. Anytime we are not living in this way, we are perhaps still holding on to a lie from our past.
There is something powerful that happens when we open up to someone and confide in them. I believe that God honours those who are vulnerable. The bible tells us to confess our sins to each other, not to keep them penned in, which will only bring us ruin. When we actively speak out our sins to each other, we are releasing ourselves from the bondage of that sin. Freedom comes when we do this, fullness comes when we do this. By confessing to others, we are breaking the power the issue has had over us, and giving room for God to restore us back to what He has intended us for.
Of course this doesn’t mean we go around bearing all for all to see, we must be careful about who we confide in. Proverbs tells us to guard our heart, Jesus tells us not to throw our pearls before swine, we need to be wise to who we open up to.
Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. When we recognise the need for opening up, sharing what’s on our heart, we recognise that we were made for community, for union with others. The enemy would love to isolate us, and make us think that we are the only person on the planet dealing with that particular issue.
A hidden sin will fester and manifest itself in many different ways in our life, it’s time to break that power, it’s time to get vulnerable. When given space, what was once a small issue in our life has now become massive. If God already sees you as holy and blameless, then what use is it to hold on to something you have done it the past, believing that the best thing to do is to keep it covered up? That’s not helping anybody, especially yourself.
It may not necessarily be a past sin you are dealing with, it could be hard for you to just open up and share your emotions with someone. Men are particularly good at this. They find it hard to distinguish between emotions and so blanket it by saying they are tired, or hungry, when really there is more going on then they are willing to share, or even then they are aware of.
So, how are you doing when it comes to opening up, to being vulnerable with someone? Sometimes it is a trust issue, where we have been hurt in the past and so don’t want to fall into that trap again, when really we need to forgive the person who hurt us, and move on, recognising that there is, in fact, power in vulnerability.
The Bible says in Matthew 19:26, “…with God all things are possible.” What is deemed impossible by man and the world around us, God sees as possible. Do we believe that? It can be easy to not believe that and see the situation we are faced with as an impossible one, and almost conform to the fact that we just cant get around the problem. There is a danger that soon our fears and beliefs about the problem become a bigger problem than the problem. Nothing is impossible with God. Do we believe that?
The truth is that we have a really big, loving, powerful God that wants only good things for those who call on Him. I believe He is inviting us into a time of expecting greater things in our lives. We cannot allow our present or past circumstances or experiences dictate our view of God today. Let’s raise the bar. Let’s expect the impossible in our lives, in our relationships, our finances, our nation.
What if every believer truly believed those words from Jesus; that everything really is possible with God on our side? What would our communities look like then?
When it comes to healing, something I am passionate about seeing everywhere I go, do we pray with an expectation that God is about to do something, or do we pray in a way that we give God an excuse to not show up? Where is the power in that? We have the same power that rose Christ from the grave living within us, when we pray, we pray with that power moving in and through us. We don’t pray in the hope that God will show up, He already has and is living within us. We pray with the assurance and expectation that our prayers are powerful, that our prayers are heard by God, and that no matter what the outcome of our prayers, we know that something has happened. God is at work. Expect great things from Him.
So this week, let’s choose to partner with the God of the impossible, let’s not be downhearted about our situation or circumstance, we have a God bigger then that bill we have to pay, bigger than the sickness we are dealing with. Focus on Him, give Him thanks in advance for what He is about to do in your life.
It’s amazing how you can read a verse a million times and then when you read it again, something new jumps out at you. This morning during my time with God, I was drawn to read Romans 16:20:
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
That’s the NIV version of that verse. I also have the Source version, in which the verse reads like this:
“The God of peace will beat Adversary to a jelly under your feet soon!”
Ha, I like that version a lot. God will beat satan to a jelly under my feet! It’s amazing to read a verse like this, and remind ourselves that God is fighting for us.
How many times do we try and take on the enemy on our own, thinking we have to battle against him when actually God is more than willing, able and ready to lay down a beating on him for us! We have God fighting on our side, we just need to let Him do it, and know that as He fights for us, we get to receive His peace in the situation, knowing that the victory is already ours.
What really jumped out to me from this verse this morning was that the enemy is actually under our feet. So many times we elevate him to being at the same level or even bigger than us, perhaps even bigger than God, when all the while he is beneath our feet!
The biggest victory the enemy has is in convincing us that he is actually bigger and more powerful than he really is, and that he has more influence in our lives. The reality is that he only has the power and authority in our lives in the areas in which we give him authority. He’s actually beneath our feet, and it’s only a matter of time before the God of peace crushes him like a jelly!
So, this week we get to move forward, stamping our feet in his head, fresh in the knowledge that we have all of heaven backing us up, we have the God of peace ready to beat satan to a pulp for us, that’s Good News, that’s something to get excited about! Feel like you are fighting battles on your own? Get ready, get excited, God is about to break through.
We just get to align ourselves to the truth that God is for us, not against us.