The Battle is the Lord’s

Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s [1 Samuel 17:47a]

Fasting makes the Word of God a little bit clearer. Those usual phrases you have read many times, jump out at you, to get your attention.

Too many times I have endeavoured to deal with different situations the best way I know how. After all, I am a reasonably intelligent person, I should be able to figure out a way of overcoming something, of removing an obstacle.

Then these words come at me. The battle is the Lord’s.

These are words I know. These are words I have spoken. But in this moment these words came alive.

The context here may be familiar to many of us…David is speaking to a giant, a literal giant, and one who is shouting him down, belittling him, telling him how he will be defeated.

Somehow David stands tall. Unintimidated. No fear. And it’s because he understands how things work for those who have God on their side. This battle was not about a natural fight, this was not about swords and spears, this was about God bringing a win as David remained faithful.

My ‘giant’ may be different but it can still shout the same intimidating things. Yet sword and spear, those man-made solutions are not the answer, working out the fix in some clever way through my own creativity is not the answer. David demonstrates that with some giants in our lives, only God will do.

The battle is the Lord’s.

I have seen a victory this week while fasting and praying which could only have happened because the battle is the Lord’s. A human response would probably have created frustration, a well-worked plan for all parties to keep to. Instead the battle was the Lord’s and our own-made solutions got ripped up.

Maybe you need to remind yourself today, while trying to work something out, that the Lord doesn’t save by sword or spear, not through our own made up solutions, but instead ‘THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD’.

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Pour Out Your Heart

And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!’ And Hannah answered and said, ‘No my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither win nor intoxicating drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now [1 Samuel 1:12-16]

I read this at the beginning of 10 days of prayer and fasting and it immediately spoke to me about how to approach those 10 days.

I am not a woman so I cannot comprehend the emotion she was feeling as a result of being unable to have a child. However, I can understand barrenness. I can understand what it is like to have a deep desire for something significant to happen and for it to not be, while around me others are quite obviously living a fruitful life.

Reading these verses encouraged me in a few ways…

Hannah would not allow barrenness to define her. Instead she kept believing and trusting in God. It’s too easy to think how things are is how things will always be. With God, things always have the potential for change.

Hannah poured out her heart to God. Sometimes it is not about the words we could say,  but the cry of our heart before God. He hears the deepest of sighs, the longings we have which are caught in the depths of our souls.

Hannah was misunderstood. In pouring out her heart in such a way, comment was made. Doesn’t that happen? The emotion of all which is going on, can cause others to wonder why you are behaving the way you are. Why fast for 10 days? Why pray with such purpose for 10 days?

Hannah shared from a place of complaint and grief. We might know we are positioned in a place of victory, yet life may not always feel victorious. Be encouraged that it is alright to allow God to hear you, hear your complaint, to understand your grief.

Hannah left it all with God. Allow your heart to be heard by God. Allow those longings which come from a place of complaint and grief to make their way in to God’s presence and then leave them there.

Hannah sees something new birthed in her live. Within the year, a son is born. A gift from God, birthed from pouring out her heart to her God. And she immediately give what has been birthed by the power of God, back to God.

So here’s what I did at the start of my 10 day fasting journey…

I poured out my heart to God. I spoke some words, but more importantly from the quietness of my heart, I allowed my complaints and my griefs to shout out to my God. After all, I want to hear from Him, I want to be moved by Him, I want to see some change and some direction. I want some fresh revelation for myself, my family, for my future and for my Church too.

I am choosing to leave them in His hands. Just as Hannah said ‘I have spoken until now’, so have I. Now I am trusting God to birth something new, to bring something new to life, something which will grow to honour Him.

 

 

Who Are We Taking With Us?

The currency of heaven may be many things but in my opinion, faith and people are at the top of the list.

The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please God. Add to this the greatest of treasures we can store up in heaven, people, and we are on a winner. Begs the question then, as we work out our faith in Jesus, who am are taking with us?

Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land, eventually. They had to wait what may have seemed like forever, 40 years, for the moment to finally arrive. Yet they entered with the same focus and determination they had when the first opportunity had been provided them. More importantly though, they didn’t just enter for themselves, they took the next generation in with them.

These two men demonstrate 3 simple but extremely powerful qualities which in the busy way of life can so easily get lost.

TO WALK WELL WITH GOD

TO POINT PEOPLE TO JESUS

TO NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF GOD’S PROMISES

I watched an episode of Ambulance on BBC yesterday. The people being served were normal, every day people but they were broken people, some in desperate situations, others needing care, friendship, conversation, or even just someone to make them a cup of tea. Their stories were captivating and they stirred my heart.

Questions came flooding in.

Who am I taking with me?
How is my walk with God influencing the lives of those around me?
How is my people focus?
If my life is supposed to point people to Jesus, is it working?

This has to be the greatest of challenges for all Christians. We do well, we don’t do well. So maybe we need to be more vigilant. Is our belief coming through in how we live?

So here are some ‘top tips’ (for want of a better phrase) which I am committing myself to work on over the next few months and the rest of my life…

I will not let myself get bored with God.
I will work to keep my life pointed to Jesus.
I have to sharpen my people focus. To see people.
I won’t allow myself to become so easily frustrated with Gods ways.
I will always have people I want to take with me.

So who are we praying for, not preaching too? Who are we listening to, not just their voice but their heart too? Where are the opportunities to serve, not only ourselves but others too?

Maybe then, as we live out our faith in Jesus we will almost inadvertently be taking some people with us. And that will be AMAZING!!

Share your thoughts. Why do you think this is such a big challenge for us?

Walk With God: According to His Word

Then Mary said…. ‘Let it be to me according to your word’. [Luke 1:38]

Isn’t this the battleground we so often find ourselves in with God. My word versus His word. My desire to have control versus giving God permission to have control.

Walking with God well is possibly only about one thing, centred around adopting the same attitude and heart Mary so easily demonstrates. In fact, there are 3 things Mary does so well…

She has a willingness to serve. Let’s be honest the Bible reads so calm sometimes. Surely she was a little freaked out when an angel appears and tells her what’s about to happen. Or maybe she really was that calm. Ready to serve, ready to hear God’s word, ready to respond.

She accepts God’s Word. Let it be to me, just as you have said. Amazing. Mary is amazing. This is not your average request God is making here, this is a world-changing moment. Ready to trust God, ready to let Him bring to pass what He has spoken, ready to respond with a yes, no questions asked.

She remembers to magnify the Lord. There is no panic shown by Mary, just thankfulness and rejoicing. God has moved miraculously in her life and in the life of her relative Elizabeth. She was able to notice that God was most definitely up to something. Ready to praise, ready to see what God was doing in her own life, ready to see the difference He was about to make in the world.

I desire this kind of walk with God. There is great power in the simple faith Mary shows us. It wasn’t complicated to her that God would ask something of her. This was not about looking only for great things from God. This was about being willing and obedient. You get the feeling whatever the request had been it would have received the same response ‘Let it be to me according to your word’.

Let’s take a moment today to reflect on our own walk with God and how well these three things Mary did are demonstrated in our lives.

Walk With God: Impossible Made Possible

A few years ago Honda had an advertising campaign all about making the impossible possible. It was innovative, creative and definitely caught your attention.

Dare I suggest that such a strap line could be used by God. He is all about ‘the impossible being made possible’. He is innovative, creative and definitely good at catching our attention.

For nothing will be impossible with God [Luke 1:37]

When those who can’t have children start having children, the impossible is being made possible. When God uses a young woman to bring the Saviour of the world into existence, the impossible is being made possible. And that was just the start.

Read through the Gospels and you discover moment after moment of impossibles being made possibles. Water into wine. Lame start to walk. Blind get their sight. Dead people being raised. People healed and in put in their right mind. Walking on water. Storms calmed. Multiples fed with a kids lunch. The worst of sinners forgiven. Religion put in its place.

Jesus laying down His life for us. His death for our new life. Transformational moments. Impossible made possible.

Then you examine your own walk with God and see His handprints all over it. God making moves behind the scenes. Creating opportunities. Bringing about His providential plan.

When I reflect I can see where He has moved the pieces. If certain things which I could not make happen had not happened I would not be where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I was complicit in some of the actions but not in the final outcomes. God working out things from my indiscretions, for my good. Impossible made possible.

That is the God I walk with every day. So I should not be surprised when surprises occur. Maybe in my head I see the pleasure He takes in doing some stuff, a little glint in His eye as He speaks to me saying, ‘You didn’t see that coming, did you?’

Where have you seen the impossible made possible by God in your life?

Walk With God: 5 Ways to Partner with Gods Plans

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us [Luke 1:1]

Every now and then I take a moment to look at how far I have come. Not to boast in my own efforts, but to recognise and acknowledge how far God has brought me. On the other side of where I used to be, God & I have come a long way. On the journey He has done some incredible things, some of which I haven’t even noticed. Yet His plan for my life is taking shape and when reflected upon, it is truly amazing.

There are lots of things I have learned about being a better partner in the plans and purposes God has for me. I have discovered all of them throughout the Bible too.

In Luke 1, the writer comments how he wants to make an orderly eyewitness account of those things which were fulfilled. Even in this chapter we see people demonstrating 5 simple truths about the unfolding of Gods plans for our lives…

Be willing to hear Gods voice. 
Especially if what you are hearing may not make sense to you. Look at Zechariah coming out of the temple, dumbstruck by what God has said to him.

Be willing to obey those words.
Especially as others may just think you are crazy or talking plain nonsense. Mary is amazing. ‘Let it be to me according to Your word’.

Be willing to embrace the impossibilities of God.
Especially when you can’t work out how God could even make it happen. From barren to parenthood. From young woman to mother of the Saviour of the world. Nothing is impossible with God.

Be willing to see what God is doing through me.
When you hold the promise or see what He has said could happen, has happened. As Mary proclaims, ‘For He who is mighty has done great things through me’.

Be willing to magnify Him for all He has done.
If only because God deserves all the praise. Rejoice in His plans being accomplished.

Remember that God wants us to get where He wants us to go, more than we want to get to where God wants us. So let’s be willing to embrace the adventure and enjoy the journey has those plans for our own lives unfold.

Walk With God: Reset

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [Matthew 11:28-30 Message]

God is the creator of reset moments. Creation. The flood. Tower of Babel. Even through the Law, along with the different feasts and festivals. The Day of Atonement. Sabbath days. Sabbath years. Jubilee.

Jesus is the ultimate reset. He is our Jubilee. Just like the Jubilee for the Israelites saw a release for slaves, a reversion of property and a removal of debt, Jesus did the same for us. Through the cross He bought us freedom for sin.

It is the ultimate reset moment. To be born again. To be realigned with God and the plans and purposes He has for our life. Putting God first is the moment of reset God has created for us through Jesus.

We are surrounded by reset opportunities. Every 24 hours a new day. Every 7 days a new week. New months. New seasons. New years. All giving us the power to make a fresh start.

Yet some of us have already written off this year and waiting for 2018. We don’t need to wait. We just need a reset moment.

Little things can make a big difference. One behaviour can tip into others, then we may become unbalanced and out of rhythm. When we are out of rhythm it can have a knock-on effect with those closest to us.

Be it in work, health, family, finance, relationships or your marriage. In order to rebalance and get ready for a new flow and rhythm and come into God’s rest we need to be obedient to what God is asking.

So here’s the question: where would God say ‘trust Me’? Where could a reset help us?

Come to Jesus. Press the rest button. Cast our cares on Jesus. Do it to remove those things which stand in opposition or competition to Jesus. Press reset to be set free. To take our hands of the drivers wheel of our life and give Him control.

Make space for God to move, to hear what He may ask us to do and then respond in faith and be obedient. The reset moment then creates helps us to get in sync with the flow and the rhythm which Jesus is inviting us to participate in with Him.

And I am thankful for moments which create such opportunities.

Be brave today. Come to Jesus and press reset. What would that look like for you?