Monday, July 24, 2017

Do you believe that God gets the last word?

To Him be the dominion (power, authority, rule) forever and ever. Amen (so be it). 1 Peter 5:11 AMP

Who is Him, this all powerful, supernatural being? The preceding verse tells us that He is the God of all grace, Who imparts all blessing and favour ...

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favour], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 AMP

The scripture tells us that through Jesus, He calls us. He makes us who we ought to be. He establishes us securely. He strengthens us. He settles us.

I don't know about you, but when I read that scripture, my heart is going, 'Thank you Jesus that You will complete this work You have begun in me. Thank you that You strengthen and settle me.'

The Message Bible says it this way...

The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ - eternal and glorious plans they are! - will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word, yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:10-11 The Message

He gets the last word, yes, he does. 

How different our lives would be if we lived completely from this truth He gets the last word, yes, he does. If we really believed that, there would be no fear, no anxiety, no doubt, just an unwavering faith, because we would perfectly trust Him.

But that is the journey we are on, one of daily growing in faith, continually understanding more and more about those areas of unbelief in our lives and asking God for His help in that transformation process. Living with the assurance that we are not perfect, but knowing that He is making us what we ought to be, strengthening us and settling us. To Him be the glory.

But grow in grace (undeserved favour, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honour, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)! 2 Peter 3:18 AMP

Question for today, what will you do today to move forward in this journey of growing in faith, building your trust that He will have the last word?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why bother going to church?

Most times, probably up to 95%, when I write this blog I have no idea what I am going to write. As I sit down to write, with no prior thoughts about the post, I normally say, 'Holy Spirit what do you want me to share today?' And then the words just start to come. When I've finished I read back through it once or twice, often surprised as what has been written.

This morning was a little different. For some reason I was thinking about this blog post before I got out of bed. It was as if the Holy Spirit was wanting to make sure I was hearing clearly from Him. So I am praying this post is a blessing to you.

Why bother going to church? And why bother going every week especially when you are tired, worn out and just need rest?

I am sure there are many theological reasons for joining with other believers to worship Jesus, receive teaching and fellowship together. But today I want to share a couple of recent experiences that have reminded me that there is another reason for going to church regardless of what your feelings are saying..... God has something to say to you that you really need to hear.

Story #1 - Late last year one Sunday at church our Pastor was sharing a story about integrity and 'taking the high road' when there were other reasonable options. These words, 'taking the high road' stayed with me. A few months later I understood why, Ken and I were faced with a tricky situation where there were a few options. One option would cost us financially and emotionally, but would benefit someone else greatly. That was the high road option. It was what we believed God wanted us to do. Choosing that road and staying on it was a test of character for both of us. It was definitely not the easy option.

I believe that without hearing those words at church, we could have chosen a different path that would have ultimately caused a lot more pain for all involved. 'Taking the high road' is not something we normally hear in this world - the message via media is usually, look after yourself, protect yourself, don't give more than is required or deserved, you might miss out. But God tells us His ways are higher. 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 AMP

We don't know why we had to go through that test, but we do know that we did it God's way and we can rest in that, believing that He worked all things together for good.

Story #2 - This week, about an hour before we were to go to church, Ken and I were having a rather heated discussion, actually it was an emotionally draining argument, the likes of which we have not had for years. Note, Ken and I had had a beautiful night away at the Crown Plaza Terrigal on Friday night - children free, an experience we haven't had for years either!

Anyway at a pause point in the argument I went outside to bring in the clothes from the washing racks. As I was unpegging clothes a thought came into my mind, there must be something that will be said at church tonight that we need to hear, and the enemy is trying to stop us getting there. Okay, I went back in side, determined that regardless of what was happening, we were all going to  church.

I would like to say I went back inside and then everything was smooth sailing and we went off to church as a happy family, but that's not what happened. Enough to say that we went to church, but some of us were far from happy.

Guess what the sermon was about? The enemy and his lies. Us, facing opposition and learning to build resilience. A key line for me was, 'It only looks like satan has won - there is another move.' (for anyone interested in listening to this sermon it will probably be on the Macquarie Life Church - Podcast later in the week - Sunday 16th July 6pm service). 

All of our family left that church service with a very big reminder about the spiritual realm and the impact it has on our lives, individually and as a family.

Be well-balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious as all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. 1 Peter 5:8 AMP

So what if we hadn't pushed through and gone to church? The argument probably would have continued, causing more hurt for everyone involved, increasing the need for forgiveness and emotional healing. We would have missed the opportunity to completely surrender our issues to God and receive emotional healing during an amazing time of worship. We would have missed out on teaching about the bigger picture of what is happening in the supernatural, and that we need to continually lean on God.

Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset - rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:9 AMP

We would have missed the opportunity to hear as a family that 'There is another move, there are things working in the spiritual realm for us.'

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] Romans 8:31 AMP

So on those Sundays when you feel you are just too tired to go to church, or there is some emotional upheaval that is draining you, I encourage you to push through and go, because it is highly likely that, God has something to say to you that you really need to hear.

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth (recount and tell aloud) all Your marvelous works and wonderful deeds! I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High! Psalm 9:1-2 AMP


Monday, July 17, 2017

All things working together for good

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28 AMP

This scripture has given me so much hope over the years. A scripture that at times when everything looks like it is completely falling apart, reminds me God has a plan and He will bring good from it for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

When you start to think, this is all too hard, I don't understand, I don't know what to do, and come to that place of simply crying out to God, 'Help me', He always answers. He loves us. We don't have to look far from that Romans 8:28 scripture to find a tangible act of His love for us.

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. 

And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God's will. 
Romans 8:26-27 AMP

The precious Holy Spirit, our comforter, our friend. We are not alone.

But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in my name [in My place to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. John 14:27 AMP

Today, with whatever challenges we are facing, lets ask God to inscribe His truth deeper on our hearts, and help us to continually listen to the perfect friend that He has provided for us, the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 The Message

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who are you calling on?

Just stop and think for a moment, what would you do if you didn't have the Name of the Lord to call upon? Who or what would you turn too? Who else is all seeing and all knowing? 

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.' Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV

Think about those really dark moments in your life when you have felt completely helpless. There is nothing you can do. Money can't change the circumstance. Knowledge can't change the circumstance. Time can't change the circumstance. 

For me, these are the times when there really is only one Name to call on - Jesus. These are the times when His truth feeds my soul and lifts my head. He alone brings life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10 AMP

While Jesus will always give the answer and direction, I know I also need other people, wiser and more experienced in living this life as a follower of Christ. People who are willing to invest time into others, share their wisdom and continually encourage. I praise God for every person He has brought alongside us, so generous with both wisdom and grace.

Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:13 AMP

It is with one of our current challenges, that one of these wise people encouraged us to daily declare together Psalm 91, inserting the name of the person we are standing in the gap for. Basically to call upon the Name of the Lord with His words of truth.

This morning as I read through this Psalm Jesus gave me a beautiful vision of verse 13 - A victor, who knows completely who they are in Christ, fully moving in the love and authority they have been given, to guide others to experience and know the same.

If there is someone in your life that you are believing God's best for (or maybe even your own life), I encourage you too to declare Psalm 91 (or whatever scripture the Holy Spirit prompts you with), inserting that specific name. Be expectant that God will speak to you as you make this declaration - giving you a vision or a rhema word for that person. He alone is all knowing and all seeing - the past, the present and the future.

Name who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

Name will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

For [then] He will deliver Name from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

[Then] He will cover Name with His pinions, and under His wings shall Name trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

Name shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near Name.

Only a spectator shall Name be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

Because Name has made the Lord his refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, there shall be no evil befall Name nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

For He will give His angels [especial] charge over Name to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. 

They shall bear Name up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Name shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall Name trample underfoot. 

Because Name has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set Name on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness – trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never]. 

Name shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Do you really know what is going on?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

Strife. Conflict. Do you really know what is going on? Are you able to step back and look at the situation with spiritual eyes? It may be conflict in the home, at school, in the workplace, in the neighbourhood, in the government, in the nation or globally. 

In Ephesians, Paul tells us that this isn't a fight against people. No, it is a spiritual battle that we are involved in, whether we are aware of it or not. 

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Ephesians 6:12 AMP

It is a very real battle. There is on who is looking to devour us, to draw us away from the beautiful, loving, life-giving, growing relationship we have with Jesus.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

I vividly recall a battle time, a few years ago just after we had received news about Victoria, that the tumour was growing for the third time. It was early one morning, and I was sitting at my desk, praying for Victoria. I sensed a darkness, a challenge, do you really believe your God will deliver on what His word promises? It was very tangible presence, almost as if an army of darkness was surrounding me, questioning me, did I really believe? Asking me - who really had the victory? Taunting me - aren't you going to give up now? How do you know that your God can and will do what you are asking?

My response was something like, 'She is a child of God, hands off, you have no authority over her life, or over this family. Go in the Name of Jesus.'

The physical fight for life was preceded by a very real spiritual fight.  It was a time of standing firm on the promises of God, regardless of what we were seeing in the natural.

Therefore put on God's complete armour, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. 

Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. 

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people).  Ephesians 6:13-18 AMP

I don't know about you, but when I read these scriptures from Ephesians, they make me feel invincible - look at what God has provided for us as we wrestle each day in this spiritual battle. He has provided it all, and He has given us the victory through Jesus. 

Our part is to be alert and be prepared, know the authority we have in Jesus and to be able to discern what is happening in the spiritual realm of our lives.

Let's pray,

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to earth and that through His death and resurrection He overcame darkness. Thank you that when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we receive that same authority to overcome. Please teach us to use that authority wisely. 

Thank you for the armour you have provided us with, available to use every day and night in this battle for our growing relationship of intimacy with You, and for the salvation and protection of those we love. 

Please give us more discernment to see what is happening in the spiritual realm over our lives, and in the bigger sphere of cities, countries and this world You created.  

Please help us to remember always and only that is in Your strength that we can overcome and experience victory. 

In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Ephesians 6:10 AMP

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Look for what God can do

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?"
Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."
John 9:1-5 The Message

The single action of 'looking for what God can do' sounds so simple.  In my life I have found that it is not always simple to do. There is so much of 'me' that gets in the way, my own thoughts and plans distracting me from looking singularly for what God can do.

And that's why I have found that it is so important that I start my day with reading God's word, which always points me to what God can do.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners. Nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV

Without fail, His words help to re-align my thinking about anything and everything, with His truth.
That familiar verse in Hebrews encourages us to study how Jesus did it, how He lived on this earth, not losing focus when the going got tough.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he's there, in the place of honour, right alongside God.  Hebrews 12:2 The Message

Jesus only ever did what the Father asked Him to do, and Jesus always waited for the Father's perfect timing. 

So Jesus added, When you have lifted up the Son of Man [on the cross], you will realise (know, understand) that I am He [for Whom you look] and that I do nothing of Myself [of My own accord or on My own authority), but I say [exactly] what My Father has taught Me.  John 8:28 AMP

And Jesus knew that His Father was with him.

And He Who sent Me is ever with Me; My Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him. John 8:29 AMP

Now, I know I don't always do what pleases God, but I do know that Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, is perfect. And He stands in the gap for me, enabling me to experience an ever present Heavenly Father with overwhelming love. And it is that love, of which I am reminded every time I read The Bible, that helps me to look for what God can do in anything and everything.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again item, by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:3 The Message

Questions for today, in whatever is going on in your life, are you looking for what God can do?  Are you reading His word, aligning your thoughts with His truth? Are you reminding yourself that no matter how imperfect you are, Jesus is perfect and His perfection give us direct access to a loving Heavenly Father today?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Let's encourage one another

Yesterday in my quiet time I was reading from Philippians chapter 3 in The Message Bible. I found myself being so thankful for that version of the bible with it's every day language. 

I could so easily visualise Paul speaking to a group of us, encouraging us to keep going, reminding us to keep looking to Jesus and not let ourselves get distracted. Reminding us of who we are in Christ and our future with Him. 

Let's have a read of the passage together, starting at Philippians 3:12  ...

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have made it. But I am well on the way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wonderously reached out for me.

Pause - Can you picture this? Us reaching out for Christ, ever growing in the understanding that He reached out for us before we even knew we needed Him. 

Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

Pause - Can you picture this? Jesus, standing on the horizon and us, eyes looking only to Him. Every step we take goes in His direction, the right direction.

So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision - you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it. 

Pause - Some questions, what is it that you want from God? Is your vision blurred in an area? If so, ask God to clear it, so you can see the next step and align your actions with Him.

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running the same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods, belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. 

Pause - Some more questions - who are you running this race with? Are they headed for the same goal? 

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Saviour, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthly bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Pause - Can you picture this? A life beyond here on earth. A life where we are beautiful and whole. A life where there's no tears and no pain (Revelation 21:4). 

My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don't waver. Stay on track, steady in God. Philippians 4:1 The Message

Pause - Let's give thanks for those who we run this race with, who encourage us and lift us up. Those who intercede for us and stand in the gap when we are weak. 

Let's pray;

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your mercy and Your grace in our lives. Thank you for Eugene H. Peterson and The Message Bible, that it enables us to hear Your truth in a contemporary way. Thank you for those beautiful people You bring into our lives to encourage us to say the path, and who gently nudge us when we are wavering. Thank you Jesus that you are ahead of us, calling us on when we are tired and weary, continually reaching out for us. Thank you that You are our hope. Thank you for heaven and life eternal with You Help us to choose You always. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him!
Philippians 4:4 The Message