Monthly Archives: April 2016

In The Eye Of The Storm

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

I recently watched an interesting video on YouTube of a scientific expedition into the middle of hurricane Hugo to monitor and record what went on inside the hurricane which was rapidly approaching the east coast of America. The aircraft in which the scientists flew was a sturdy, four-engine propeller plane which had a fuselage strengthened to withstand the strength of the wind and the turbulence inside the storm.

As they approached the hurricane, preparing to fly at a mere 1,500 feet above the ocean, they were unaware that the hurricane had strengthened from a category three to a category five storm with wind speeds of over 250 miles per hour. The pilots had no idea that inside the storm was a circle of tornadoes which made it an even more dangerous mission.

To cap it all, they lost their number three engine because a fault in the engine had flooded the engine with fuel and caused a fire which threatened the aircraft. Operating on three engines inside a hurricane was almost suicidal but they had no option but to continue. After experiencing violent turbulence during which all the loose bits and pieces inside the cabin were being flung about, endangering the scientists, they flew through the wall of the hurricane into the perfect calm of the eye of the storm.

Although they had respite from the wind for a while, they had to face the fury of the storm a second time as they tried to find a way out of it. With the help of a military plane which accompanied them, flying at a higher altitude, they managed to find a less violent passage through the storm and out into a quiet and peaceful blue sky on the other side.

For the past year and a half, I have been living through a gathering emotional storm in my relationship with a friend. My heart cry to the Lord has been, “How do I use the weapon of truth rather than emotion as you did, Lord, without damaging the other person.” I felt bad that the truth was hurting my friend instead of helping her through her own issues. I felt restless and disturbed – the peace that was always so strong in my heart had left me. Did I do wrong? What could I do to fix it?

In prayer one morning, I became aware that peace had returned, and stronger than ever before. What had happened? Why did I feel so different when I had done nothing except plead with the Lord for wisdom and understanding? I had a sense that the Holy Spirit was affirming me and assuring me that I had not created a disaster as I thought, but that I had done the right thing.

That same day I watched the video of the hurricane and suddenly the light dawned. What I had watched was a visual aid of what I had experienced and what the Holy Spirit had revealed as I cried out to the Lord in prayer.

It is inevitable that we go through storms of one kind or another in our lives. Whatever the cause of the storm, it is important for us to understand what is happening, why we lose our peace, why we feel as though we are all alone and why God seems not to hear us or answer us when we cry out to Him. Let me list some of the important lessons this has had for me.

  1. Like the military plane that accompanied NOAA42 (the research plane), God is with us, but He can do nothing and say nothing until we are through the storm. This is a very important part of our journey because the devil would have us believe that God has abandoned us. He has not! He is there but He cannot interfere with the process because we must pass the test of faith alone.

 

  1. Without the process of going through the storm, we will never experience the supernatural peace of God that we break into when we are through the wall of the “hurricane”. This means that we must stay with it, no matter how long it takes because we will get through it into the calm of the eye if we persevere.

 

  1. Both the violent “winds” of our circumstances and the tornadoes of our emotions throw us around. Our misunderstanding and misinterpretation of God, ourselves and what is happening to us produce the emotions of anxiety, fear, or guilt which cause us to blame the devil or to mistrust God in our storm.

 

  1. Like the aircraft in the hurricane, we must keep going in the right direction – towards, not away from God. The pilots had to fly the plane at an angle to keep from being blown away by the wind. We must keep our faces pointed towards God no matter how we feel, fuelling our minds with His Word so that we are not thrown off course by our circumstances.

 

  1. Part of the journey is learning to deal with the accusation and condemnation of the devil. This is one of the real issues of spiritual warfare, not our circumstances, but our interpretation of them so that we mistrust the Father regardless of His promises. Satan will cash in and inflict as much damage as he can to malign the Father and cause us to mistrust Him. We must trust His perfect love, even though our circumstances seem to contradict what we want to believe.

 

  1. Our faith in God will be vindicated. When God is satisfied that we trust Him no matter what or how long, He will confirm that confidence by restoring His supernatural peace – so strong that our circumstances will no longer have any detrimental effect on us. The circumstances may not change or they may persist for a while longer but God’s peace will hold us secure, not matter what.

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.

Heart Or Hand?

HEART OR HAND?

Have you ever said, or heard someone else saying, “I’m believing God for…” Now there is nothing wrong with believing prayer. In fact,

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

The problem arises when the one who is believing God for something does not get what he wants. Does he become disillusioned, misjudge God as unloving or uncaring and walk away? Oftentimes, he does. Sometimes the answers we get or don’t get tell us more about ourselves than about God.

Israel was fed-up with God. He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, miraculously led them across the Red Sea and taken out the Egyptian army, given them food and water and provided shelter from the extremes of heat and cold. Instead of recognising His love and goodness, they whined about the manna and demanded meat. God gave them so much meat that, in their greedy overindulgence it made them sick. After all His miraculous provision,

They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. In the desert, they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness, they put God to the test. So He gave them what they asked for but sent a wasting disease among them (Psa. 106:13-15).

How terrible to get an answer to prayer like that and what an exposure of their unbelief!

Joshua also found himself in a situation where prayer was a copout for what he should have done. God gave explicit instructions about His strategy for taking the city of Jericho. After the city had fallen, His people were to not to take any spoils because Jericho was His. The firstfruits of their war effort belonged to God.

Achan disregarded God’s instruction, helped himself to clothing and gold, and hid it in his tent, bringing disaster on the whole nation – defeat at Ai and the deaths of 38 men. Joshua fell on his face before God, whining and blaming God for their failure.

And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! (Josh. 7:7).

Joshua had yet to learn that disobedience to God’s instructions, not God’s unfaithfulness, brought unpleasant consequences on the people.

There has been, over the past few decades, such an emphasis on faith and prosperity in the church that the faces of many of God’s people have turned to God’s hand and not His face. How tragic that many of us have turned God into a celestial “slot machine”! If we push the right buttons, i.e., quote the appropriate Scriptures, we hold God to an obligation to do what we demand. Health and wealth are often the measure of our spirituality. When we don’t get what we expect from God, the really “spiritual” ones blame our defective “faith”.

This is a lie from the pit of hell, not the truth of God’s Word. The overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that our faith is of such value to God that He constantly puts it to the test. He exposes the flaws in our confidence in His perfect love. He wants us always to focus, not on what He can give us, but on who He is. Consider these Scriptures:

My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek (Psa. 27:8).

Look to the Lord and His strength always. Seek His face always (Psa. 105:4).

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14).

To treat God as our heavenly “Santa Claus” is beyond abominable. Read the story of Job. God’s favour on Job prompted Satan to challenge God about His servant Job. “Strip him of all the “blessings” you have lavished on his and then see what he does,” he demanded.

“Go ahead,” God responded, ‘but don’t take his life.” The devil took everything to within an inch of his life. Just as God had anticipated, Job was not as concerned about what he had lost as about why God had acted in this way towards him. He mourned the loss of God’s presence, as one mourns the death of a beloved friend. God was silent and he could not find Him.

If only I knew where I might find Him; if only I could go to His dwelling (Job 23:3).

In the utter darkness of his feelings of abandonment, he never lost faith in His Friend.

Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face (Job 13:15).

It is this kind of faith that God treasures more than the faith that “looks to His hand.” We insult Him when our interest is more in what He can give us or what He can do for us than in the glory of who He is, our Father, our Abba who treasures us as His holy and beloved children. When we trust Him regardless of our circumstances, regardless of whether He answers our prayers the way we anticipate or not, regardless of whether He heals us or not, we honour Him for who He is and we give Him the right to be God in our lives and to give and do what is best for us according to His perfect love.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.

Potential And Opportunity

POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITY

I wonder whether Jesus didn’t see something else in little children that we sometimes overlook – potential.

What possibilities are locked up in the tiny frame that lies helplessly in your arms? All you are aware of at that moment is the beauty and perfection of the little one, the excitement of its safe arrival and the love that wells up from within and threatens to overwhelm you as you hold your new-born child’s warm little body against you. You are conscious of the great responsibility that lies ahead to nurture, protect and provide for your child as he or she grows up in your home.

There is, within that bundle of joy, great potential – for good or evil. I remember learning a poem at school which reminds me, in the superb poetry of Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” of the unlocked potential of the ordinary people whose bones lay beneath the sod.

Three verses in this wonderful poem stand out for me, expressing in Thomas Gray’s matchless arrangement of words his lament that so much unfulfilled potential lay buried in that forgotten spot.

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid 

         Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; 

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d, 

         Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.

 

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page 

         Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll; 

Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage, 

         And froze the genial current of the soul. 

 

Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 

         The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 

Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen, 

         And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44299 – retrieved on 2016.04.26.

 

How tragic that there was no one to give these humble peasants the opportunity to develop their potential!

 

Solomon, in his wisdom wrote:

 

Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov.22:6).

 

Sadly, most of us miss the point of this instruction. We take comfort from a promise that our children will return to God in later life even if they stray from His way when they are young in spite of our teaching. This verse does not mean that at all. Solomon is not speaking about backsliding. He is encouraging parents to recognise the potential in their child and to guide him or her along the “bent” that is already within them.

 

Many parents try to live their own unrealised dreams and unfulfilled potential through their children or to force them to follow in their footsteps because it is a family tradition. Solomon gave wise advice – get to know your child and help him or her to develop what is inside them. In their adult years they will not try another way because they will be fulfilled in what they have become.

 

Side by side with potential goes opportunity. Children should be given the opportunity to become what God has placed inside them to be. This can only happen when parents are loving, affirming and supportive. There is no greater gift a father can give his child than the words, “You are my son, my daughter and I love you. No matter what you do, you will always be my son (or daughter).” If Jesus needed to hear His Father speak these words of love and affirmation to sustain His through His earthly life, how much more do our children need their father’s blessing to give them identity and security.

 

Within each new-born baby is the potential for great good or great evil. What they become will depend on the foundation upon which their lives are built. Parents who nurture their children in an environment of love and acceptance give them every opportunity to become not only what they were created to be but also mature and responsible adults who are givers, not takers in their own world.

 

Society, unfortunately, is flooded with maladjusted and angry people who were raised in an environment of rejection and insecurity, often fatherless, without an identity who take their anger out on the world around them. Denied the opportunity to become who they were meant to be, they can only fulfil their potential for great evil.

 

It is up to every parent who brings a child into the world, to play his or her part in creating the environment for that child to become everything a loving Creator put inside of them when they were formed in the womb.

 

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available

Reconnect The Umbilical Cord

RECONNECT THE UMBILICAL CORD

Jesus loved little children. What was it about them that delighted Him? He even used a little child as an example of greatness.

At that time His disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to Him and placed the child among them. And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:1-3)

Imagine the disciples’ surprise when Jesus equated little children with greatness. They were the lowest in the pecking order of Jewish society. When mothers came to Jesus to bless their children, the disciples shooed them away in irritation. Didn’t these mothers know that He had better and more important things to do than lay hands on their kids?

What do we see when we look into the face of a new-born child? What is hidden in that fragile life? Little children have many common characteristics, some good and some bad. Bible commentators have made many suggestions about the meaning of Jesus’ words. Why should those who aspire to becoming part of the kingdom of God become like little children? What is it about them that resembles what pleases the Father?

Some have suggested humility. How truly humble is a child? Curious, inquisitive, gullible, trusting, even dishonest or devious perhaps but not humble. Just the opposite, I think. Little kids constantly draw attention to themselves. They demand to be noticed, applauded for their efforts, acknowledged and praised especially by their parents and people significant to them.

Among their many qualities is one which is characteristic of every child and which I believe is essential to every child of God – helplessness. Every new-born is utterly helpless and dependent upon its parents for care and protection. A parent’s task is to train his/her offspring for independence.

It takes many years to teach a child to stand on his own feet. How delighted dad and mom are when their little darling reaches each milestone along the way. The first smile, learning to sit, to crawl, to walk, to feed himself, the first day at school, graduation day – these are all major achievements along the road to independence. When at last the day arrives when their fledgling leaves home, the tears flow once again. Their son or daughter has finally reached the goal but, in spite of all their efforts it is very hard to let them go.

God has a very different goal for His children. Adam declared independence at the beginning and every child is born with his nature. He may need parental nurture, care and training to become an independent adult, but he thinks he does not need God. It takes a lifetime for God to train His children to recognise their dependence on Him for every aspect of their lives.

God created the first man and the first woman to be one with Himself, living in harmony with each member of the Trinity in loving submission just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit interact with one another in perfect unity. Each loves and is submitted to the other in a union so close that, although they are three, they are one.  Even as a human being who was born into the human race and became one of us, Jesus insisted that He and the Father were one.

Adam and Eve forfeited the privilege of enjoying this union which God intended to share with His human children when they chose to believe the devil’s lie over His word. They declared independence from God and we live with the result.

Learning to trust God and to obey His word is an uphill battle for us. We are naturally suspicious of Him. Those who don’t know Him, hate Him and are afraid of Him because they instinctively know that they are accountable to Him for their sin. They prefer to deny His existence or ignore Him completely rather than acknowledge that they have defied Him and are guilty of rebellion.

God has a lifelong task of teaching us to trust Him and to rely on Him for the grace to live in Him and through Him. Being followers of Jesus is much more than copying Him and trying to do what He did. Jesus lived by His absolute trust in the Holy Spirit and in the Father’s love.

Our new life begins when we realise that we are helpless without Him. Trying to be acceptable to God by obeying rules will not cut it. The Apostle Paul hit the nail on the head.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2: 20).

Unlike the maturing process our children go through to reach responsible adulthood, in God’s kingdom, the opposite must happen. The more we trust in and depend on the Holy Spirit to live the life of Jesus in us, the more mature we will become as God’s sons and daughters.

What is the bottom line?

There is no fear on love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 Joh. 4:18).

The more we become convinced of the perfect love of God, the more we will trust Him and depend on Him for everything in life. The maturing process for the child of God is not becoming independent but learning to be as helpless as a little child, leaning on and living in the perfect love of the Father. We need to reconnect our spiritual “umbilical cord”, relying on the Holy Spirit in us to be the “cord” through which we receive the life of God.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17b-18).

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available

 

 

A Callous Cop-out

A CALLOUS COP-OUT

I call passionate prayers for revival a callous cop-out! I guess that shakes you! Let’s start at the beginning.

The ancient Hebrew concept of life was a journey. The children of Israel’s journey from Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised Land was often used in the Bible as a picture of our journey through life. It was a dangerous journey through unknown territory. In order to reach their destination, they had to follow the instructions God gave them – the so-called Ten Commandments which were not commandments but directions for the journey.

Without landmarks to guide them, it was easy for them to wander from the path and get lost, taking them away from the source of food and water God provided to sustain them until they reached their destination. The concept of “righteousness” for the ancient Hebrew was to stay on the path, and “unrighteousness” was to stray from the path, get lost and die in the desert.

The ”landmarks” on the way that would show them that they were on the right track were those opportunities to do the right thing. When they followed God’s instructions regarding their relationship with Him and with one another, they would be on the right path, going in the right direction which would take them to Zion – their final destination. If they disobeyed His instructions – contained in His Torah (the five books of Moses), they were lost, in darkness and needed to “repent” or “return” to the path in order to reach the Promised Land.

Repentance was not an emotional response when their disobedience was exposed but a decision to return to God’s way so that they could follow His path and reach their destination.

What has this got to do with revival? The Bible is, among other things, a “GPS” which shows us the way to the Father. He is our ultimate destination. He sent His Son not only to show us the way but to be the Way by which we come to the Father. Jesus promised that, if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

The Bible speaks of God’s Word as light.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psa. 119:105).

When we walk in obedience to God’s Word, we are on the path, walking in the light and following the directions which will take us to our destination.

What has all this got to do with revival? Life is a steady walk on the path towards God, not a series of spectacular emotional and spiritual spurts with periods of cold-heartedness and lethargy in between out of which God has to shake us by sending His Spirit to wake us up and get us going again.

Our attention on and prayers for revival have spawned many erroneous ideas. This is not to say that revival is not of God. It is to say that revival is not God’s “Plan A” for His people. If we follow the path of the great revivals in the Old Testament, they happened when f the fellowship of God’s people with Him was at its lowest ebb, and the effects of revival were short-lived. His people were often more in a state of apostasy than walking in obedience to God and in fellowship with one another because they refused to stay on the path, following the way of the pagans around them rather than God’s way.

Praying for revival is a cop-out because it transfers responsibility for our spiritual health from ourselves to God. Instead of returning from our disobedient ways to God’s path – following Jesus who is the Way and walking in the light of God’s Word, we continue in our disobedience, praying and waiting for God to do for us what He told us to do – repent, i.e., return to the way of trust and obedience.

God has done everything for us that He will ever do – He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1); He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1); He has given us His Spirit to change our hearts, fill us, lead us and empower us to obey Him.  He can and will do nothing more to provide directions for the way and the power to live in fellowship with Him.

Consider these verses:

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people. if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chron. 7;13-14).

Did you notice that I included verse 13 in the quote? How often we interpret hardships in our lives as punishment for sin or God’s indifference to our suffering! Have you ever considered that God is trying to get your attention because He wants you to return to His way? Waiting for Him the “revive” you or to revive your church or your land, is not the answer. God calls you to return.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Air or water fills every empty space and will flow into every space where there is a vacuum. God’s presence is just like that. The Bible declares that He fills heaven and earth. Sin in our lives occupies what belongs to God. When sin is forsaken, He will fill that empty space with Himself with no need for us to beg and plead for His presence.

We do not need revival to heal our hearts, our churches and our land. We need to return to God Word and God’s ways. He always responds to those who make room for Him by getting rid of sin. When we return to Him, He will hear, forgive and heal. Guaranteed!

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.