What if God is For You, Not Against You

Yesterday at church I asked the congregation some questions, one of which could just change our life. After all, how we view God will either drive us ‘to’ Him or ‘away’ from Him.

Having spent the end of last year talking about the Kingdom – what it is, how it impacts us as believers – a bunch of what if questions have come to mind. What if the Kingdom stuff is actually true? What if Gods Word is really real? What if I lived as if I believed it?

What if God is for us and not against us? If we think God is against us then we may believe God is unjust, is waiting to judge us and that there is nothing we can do to improve the relationship. Because of this we can become driven by guilt, fear, resentment, anger, materialism and the need for approval.

If we can accept that what we know about God isn’t necessarily true then it opens up the possibility that God is for us. Then life gains new meaning, motivation and energy. We can know that God loves us, believes in us and has made the move Himself to restore the relationship.

The acceptance of this truth, according to Gods word, it can completely transform our life. It will shift us living just for the here and now, setting our minds on eternity instead.

The Lord Who Provides

provide-001-001In 2017 remember this…He is the Lord who provides.

In Genesis 22 we read the account of how God asked Abraham to prepare to make a sacrifice, and how the thing to be sacrificed was his only son, the son of promise too. This is difficult to work out and seems an odd thing for God to ask. It’s definitely a divine test at a whole other level.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [v2]

However, I think it is a test God asks of us more often than we may care to acknowledge. This is not about sacrificing our firstborn on an altar. In some senses it’s much simpler than that but just as difficult.

God’s question: are we willing to give up what is most precious to us?

Think about those things which have our heart, our attention, our time and our resources. Those things we can elevate and give greater importance than we ought to. The things which can easily get between us and God.

God first. Then family. Then church. I think this is a good way to line things up. But we have to be like Abraham, be willing to let go of what’s most precious and have faith that God will provide and therein lays the test. To let go of what we think is best for something God may provide which is better.

Yet therein lays the wonder as to how much God knows what we need and can bring it us, seemingly from nowhere, out of the ‘thickets’, from the other side of the mountain even.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” [v12-14]

In 2017, remember…He is the Lord who provides.

This Kingdom Life [3]

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

Matthew 6:33 is a scripture we have held on to as a couple and a family at different seasons in our life. The reminder recently though is that when it comes to being the best kingdom person I can be, then this verse is not just for a season, it’s for all time.

Actually, isn’t this really obvious. All the Bible stands for all time but sometimes what it is saying resonates louder because of circumstances.

Yet this is the simple and powerful call for those who desire to live the Kingdom life.

To seek first the kingdom of God. To look for it, go after it, place it in a foremost position, above all other things. To seek the kingdom above all other things.

I’m curious about the word ALL. When we consider the benefits of living in the kingdom we want the ALL spoken of in this verse because it comes to us. Seek first the kingdom of God…so that ALL these things we have need of will be added to us. That’s our favourite kind of ALL.

The other ALL, where I am called to give my ALL to Jesus, this is the one I like a little less. Surely this ALL doesn’t mean ALL. In other words, I want the ALL for me from Jesus without giving my ALL in return.

Even if I have confused you, we can’t live like that.

Seek first the kingdom. It is a journey of discipleship. Having entered the kingdom, we learn about the need to seek first, to lay aside our own kingdom and focus on a life of righteousness with God. Then, we are well positioned to be blessed by God, with all the other things He knows we have need of, being added to us.

This kingdom life is a faith life, a trust life, a disciplined life and a rewarding life.  And like I mentioned the other day, maybe that’s why there is a fight on. We just have to let God win.

God Knows & God Hears

I can remember climbing Helvellyn. You start out full of energy, you climb the first part excited that you are on the way. The summit can’t be far now. Yet it is. In fact I can’t even see it. 

Tiredness begins to creep in. Walking across striding edge now I can see the summit, what I long to reach is before me. But my legs are aching, I am tired, my breathing is laboured, I am sighing from exhaustion. 

You look, you wait, you rest, you feel overwhelmed, unsure if you can continue.   I know for me walking and climbing that last but was hard work but I kept going and made it to the top. 

Perhaps life can be like this at times too. 

We see where we want to go but it still seems so far off. We get tired, exhausted even, unsure if we will make it through. 

  • What are you hoping in God for?
  • What burden are you carrying?
  • What is weighing heavy on you today?

Don’t know about you but right now I am waiting on God for some breakthroughs, some things to change. I am hopeful, looking ahead to a preferred future, exercising my faith, trusting and expectant for a good outcome. I am determined to not allow the enemy, circumstances or thoughts to defeat me. 

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭38:9‬ ‭ESV

“But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭38:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Word of God is so full of encouragement. Like the people around me when I was climbing kept telling me to keep going, so God is always with me. 

I am so glad God sees what I long for, that the sigh of my heart is not hidden from Him. 

I am so glad that as I wait on God, it is Him who will answer.

I am so glad that He will not let anything defeat me and that my future in Him is safe and secure. 

I just need to keep on walking. I pray that you would be able to do the same.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalms‬ ‭36:7-9‬ ESV

Read this and just loved the picture of feasts and fountains.

When walking with God we will become aware that everything we need for life is available in Him. Yet we often live life as if we have forgotten this simple truth.

His steadfast love provides a safe place for us, a place of protection. But more than that, we can benefit from all that is ours. 

We can feast on all that God provides.

We can drink from the river of life. 

We can stand under the fountain that brings us life.

It’s so simple – eat, drink and be merry. 

These verses reminded me today that all I need really is found in God, He is more than enough.

The challenge for me is remembering this and choosing at the start of each day to position myself well, within the safety of His precious love, as close to Him as possible. 

Taste and See

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)
Test drives. Taster sessions. Free samples. Life is full of opportunities to try something out. 
This is the cry of David’s heart to those around him. Listen to me when I tell you about all that God has done for me. 

He answers me. 

He delivers me. 

He saves me. 

He makes not ashamed. 

He causes me to lack nothing. 

His eye is toward me. 

He hears me. 

He is near to me. 

Why don’t you give Him a go?  Why not give Him a taste, you will not be disappointed?  Why not look more closely at all He desires to do for you? See what He has done for me and know that He can do the same for you. 

Maybe we should be more like David and set the same challenge today to those closest to us. God is good. He loves you. His heart is toward you. Give Him a taste, give Him more than a cursory look, see that He is not the God you have thought He is. 

Acknowledge What God Has Done

And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Genesis 21:6-7]

Ever used the phrase ‘Who would have thought?’ I know I have. You know, when something you are wanting to happen suddenly happens or something unexpectedly good happens and we are like, ‘Woah, who would have thought?’ It’s that questioning phrase indicating surprise and amazement. In other words, ‘I know that ‘thing’ has just happened but how did that ‘thing’ just happen?’

I like to imagine Sarah, son in her arms with a kind of bemused look on her face as if to say, ’Who would have thought? We’ve had a son, at our age. I’m literally holding a baby. This gobsmacking!! I mean I know these things happen but how has this just happened?’

As we walk with God, I think it’s alright for us experience some moments like these. I might go so far to say we actually need them. Moments where God truly astounds us. Moments where we are lost for words. Moments when our jaw hits the floor.

Why do we need them? They remind us about the character of God…

He loves us and loves to bless us.

God is God and we are not.

Nothing is impossible with God.

If God says it will come to pass, then we best be ready for Him to bring it to pass.

When such things happen,we must remember it is God who brought it about.

Joy and life come to us through such moments.

Think about your own walk with God. Take a minute to ponder, stand amazed even, at the hand of God moving in and through your life. What has God done for you? Is it healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, opportunity, favour, protection? Perhaps it’s simply the fact that through the work of Jesus you have been redeemed, set free and saved. All are moments of awe and wonder, any of which might have caused us to say ‘Who would have thought?’

An ‘Instead of’ God

In our walk with God we are going to be challenged to compromise what we believe and what we know to be true about our God. People have interesting views of God. Many see Him as some sort of big cosmic killjoy, sat ‘up there’ just waiting to strike us down when there is the first sign of us ignoring Him or behaving inappropriately.

Others feel that God cannot be interested enough in us, otherwise, if He really cared, He would act and do something about how the world looks.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Gods heart is towards people. It’s our heart that is not always toward God. All the work of the greatest exchange was accomplished by God, through His Son Jesus, done on our behalf and for our benefit.

He needs to become our ‘instead of’ God, a way of bringing to mind all that He has done for us. Think of where you may be if it was not for God. Instead of being there, you have been saved, set free and are walking on a different path of life and discovery.

In Psalm 30 King David dedicates the temple but more than that he is recognising the goodness of God, speaking out a testimony of truths that are still applicable today. When it comes to his life He sees God as the One who creates an ‘instead of’ exchange

Lifted up instead of brought down
Given help instead of left helpless
Favour and blessing instead of anger. 
Joy instead of weeping. 
Dancing instead of mourning. 
Gladness instead of sackcloth. 

Praise instead of silence.

What has God done for you that you could describe as an ‘instead of’ exchange?