Another year draws to a close and another year begins. In some ways, as Christians, this is not an epic event as for us every day is a new beginning.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” “ (Lamentations 3: 22-24 NKJV)
Every day our hope is renewed because His mercies are new!!
Nevertheless, many of us look to January 1 as a symbolic way to close the door on the old and open the door for the new. With that in mind I have some verses to give you encouragement for the start of 2019. They are my prayer for you and over you. I hope you will declare these verses over yourselves.
Most of the verses are from Psalm 20, which without apology I will quote in full.
“The Assurance of God’s Saving Work
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; 2 May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; 3 May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
4 May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfil all your purpose. 5 We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfil all your petitions.
6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright.
9 Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call.” (NKJV)
This is an amazing psalm and very appropriate for the start of something new. King David, who wrote it, continually brings us back to the one who we need to keep looking to for help…. “May the Lord….”, “May the name of the Lord…..”, “May He….”, “May He….”, “May He….”, “May the Lord….”, “May the King….”!!!!!
My favourite verse is verse 4…..
“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfil all your purpose.”
Wow!!! What else do you need for your new start along with His mercies renewed every day? I pray this for you and have no doubt that God will fulfil this for you. Your heart’s desire may not even be that clear to you, but God knows. He sees your heart. Let me make this clear, your heart’s desires are not necessarily the things you want or feel you need. Your heart’s desire is that deep longing in your spirit that only God can see. He will answer that longing as He is the only one who can fulfil it. It is the second half of the verse, however, that speaks volumes to me and I hope resonates with you.
“May He fulfil all your purpose.“ !!
May the great I Am complete everything He has planned for your life. I love this. God will fulfil everything He has purposed for me. Declare this. You see, that deep longing in your heart, that deep desire, is a desire to obtain the purpose He has for us. He wants nothing more than to achieve that because that is His best for us. That is what I pray for you as you read this post, that you will receive all that He has for you.
I don’t want to labour the point, so let’s look at the other prayer points in Psalm 20.
May the Lord answer you when you are in trouble! May the great ‘I Am’ defend you. May He send you help and strengthen you! May He remember the sacrifices of praise and worship. May God give you answers to your prayers. May He give you the strength of His right hand. Even the strength of His little finger nail would be amazing, never mind His whole hand!!!!! Of course we must remember who sits at God’s right hand.
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. “ (Romans 8: 34 NKJV)
This verse brings us very nicely to the final verse of Psalm 20…..
“Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call.” (NKJV)
Our King is Jesus and He is at God’s right hand interceding for us. Yes our King stands continually in our place right next to the father. He is our go between, our intermediary. He is always involved in our lives.
So… let’s remember that God wants to bless you. He wants to strengthen you and be part of your life. Let these next two verses be so much part of your life and mine each new day.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13 NKJV)
““The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’“ (Numbers 6: 24-26 NKJV)
If you have that longing to be part of God’s family, declare openly that Jesus is Lord of your life and believe that God raised Him from the dead and you will have a glorious future with Him.
I know it has been months since I have written anything, and for that I apologise. It has not been because I had nothing to say but basically because I felt I needed to stay quiet and wait. Today I woke up at 2.30 am, and knew today was the day. This is a combination of lots of the ideas I had wanted to post in the last few months. It won’t be a long one so don’t be put off.
We are coming to an amazing time of the year. CHRISTMAS!! It is a time of paradoxes for me personally. I both love it and loathe it at the same time. It is both Hallelujah and Bah Humbug. I loathe it because the world celebrates the birth of the most amazing person ever to walk on the earth without actually acknowledging Him. I love it because it gives me the opportunity, as an entertainer, to sing to people about God’s lovely gift to us in sending Jesus without them closing their minds and thinking I am evangelising when all they came to do was listen to some nice music!!
Anyway, that is not what I want to write about. At Christmas we often give our loved ones presents. How many of you, when buying the present, choose the box for the present to go in first? Do you go out and look for the box and then choose the present to fit the box? Do you say, “They would love that but it won’t fit in the box, so I will have to keep looking” Of course we don’t. We buy the present we know they would love, regardless.
I once was given a puppy for Christmas. Can you imagine my parents saying, “We can’t give him that because we can’t wrap it up”? Yet, we do this with God all the time. Let me elaborate.
Often when we meet together as Christians we say to God, “Okay! Here is our gift box come and fill it but I am sorry you can’t go over the limits we have set”. Of course He comes and is with us but He doesn’t move past the box walls we have erected. If this resonates at all with you, I want you to stop reading for a moment and ask God what He wants you to do about it………but don’t go yet keep reading for a moment!! If you are the leader of the church there is no problem here but if you are a beautiful cog in the wheel, like me, you cannot go above your leadership. If you have the urge to tell your leaders that God has told me you should do this, I can assure you it is not God speaking to you. We have to honour our leadership! He will give you the way forward and for each of us it will be different. We are all unique and God will use our uniqueness for His advantage. Alright, you can go and pray now but come back and make sure you write down what He tells you!
If this is not resonating with you, that’s okay, perhaps you might like to keep reading anyway just to see what I am getting at. I take a bit of getting used to I know. Welcome back to those who have prayed!!
The point I am trying to make is this (at last I hear you say!!) …….. we serve a very, very, very, very, very, very BIG GOD! Somehow to understand this very, very, very, very, very, very BIG GOD we have put constraints on Him mainly so we can understand Him. Let me tell you something…….. we will never understand the workings of our God because He is a very, very, very, very, very, very BIG GOD!!!!
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.“ (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV)
“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.“ (Psalm 147:5 NKJV)
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.“ (Isaiah 40:28 NKJV)
“In fact this next verse tells us not to rely on what we understand,Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV)
Recently I was reading Psalm 23. This is my go to scripture. I love it so much. I think it is the Psalm that most people know. There are hundreds of versions all over the world in every form you can think of. Does any one remember the fantastic British comedy, ‘The Vicar of Dibley’? Psalm 23 is the theme song for that! As a child it was one of my favourite hymns. You may think it is a strange thing that a child would love a hymn but I was brought up in Wales, a country in the United Kingdom. It is called the Land of Song. Still today, hymns can be heard at sporting events!! I digress………. I know the Psalm very well
“The Lordis my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. “ (Psalm 23 NKJV)
It is the the only Psalm I know off by heart but this particular day I only got as far as
“The Lord is”
I couldn’t go any further. It just hit me like a train. That’s all we need to know.
Say it to yourself….. “The Lord is” “The Lord is” “The Lord is”
This needs to be the foundation of everything. HE IS!!
So often there is this little voice that says but what if He isn’t? We need to know that HE IS!! We need to declare My God Is! Nothing else matters, He is. This is not head knowledge but a deep knowing in your soul. My God is. He exists in all His entirety, power, might, omnipresence and omnipotence. If God is, then what are we worried about? We don’t need to know much more. God is therefore let’s rest in Him.
Can you see how simple this is? We make everything so complicated. We start at this point. When we have our times of quiet, start with acknowledging He is. When we meet together, start with acknowledging He is . Praise, Worship, Prayer starts with acknowledging He is.
Can you let that sink in. It is not for your head but for your heart and soul. What does it mean for you ? We always have to start at that point. I know this is basic but I honestly believe we forget the fact that God is.
When Moses encountered God at the Burning Bush God introduced Himself as ‘I Am’.
“And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” ” (Exodus 3:14)
The starting point for Moses was ‘I Am’. He was to tell the Israelites that “I AM has sent me to you.” This would resonate with them! It is our starting point, “I Am”. He Is!!
Let’s get back to our Christmas Box. (You’d forgotten all about that hadn’t you???) Just to jog your memories….we don’t first by the gift box and then find the present to fit the box. When it comes to God we often start with the box. Let’s have a look at our Sunday services as an example. How often do we start with a format and then ask God to fit around it. “Here you are God we can only do 60 minutes today or it may be 90 minutes because we have to get home and we can’t forget the poor people looking after our children, God, we have to relieve them of the burden”!! I understand that in the society we live in there are time restraints but are we sure that these restraints are not restraining Him. Seek first the kingdom of God.
“Butseek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.“ (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
We may put the box first in the way that we think of God. We may say God is ,,,,,,,, my shepherd, my healer, my provider, my lover, my all in all etc etc All these are fantastic but, you see, God is all these and an infinite amount more. Google ‘My God is, bible verses” if you want just to see. He is everything! My God is too big for a box. Way too big. We cannot understand Him. Remember me telling you about the puppy I had one Christmas. Could you imagine trying to wrap him up!! Even if you put him in a box he couldn’t stay there for long. We, I do feel, have put God in a box for far too long. Myself included. Let us stop putting the dots after God is. It is not God is……….. There are no blanks to fill. God is!!! I AM!!
I need to bring this to a close. Let me wrap this up!!! (Did you see what I did there??) I believe that God is pouring out New Wine. There is definitely a new outpouring. Please don’t try and put that new wine in an old wine skin. Let’s get rid of the boxes and say to God come and be I AM! Let us be the ones who are prepared to shout on the roof tops. “Get rid of your boxes, He is!!”
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor 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 NKJV)
I was praying one day and I saw God standing in front of me. He was my size and He looked at me. He then started to move away but as He did, He got bigger and bigger and bigger. I couldn’t comprehend how big He was. This is the opposite of what our senses have been told. We know that a twenty foot tree looks taller the closer it is and conversely, the same tree seems smaller the further away it is. What God was showing me was that my perception of things, is not God’s. He doesn’t look at things the same way as I do. My perception needs to change to Spritual Perception. His thoughts are not the same as my thoughts.
God does not think as we do! Let me say it again – God does not think as we do. Last time – God does not think as we do. Has it sunk in? We bring God down to our way of perceiving things. It is easy for us to picture the God who walked with Adam in the cool of the evening. That God is relatable to. We can see God as a Father especially if our Father’s were a good role model but what about the God who made this……?
There are a 100 trillion of these in the universe.
Each one of these bright stars is larger than our Sun. God made all this. That God lives in you, in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was there when all this was made and He lives in you!
“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:5 NKJV)
God’s understanding is infinite and yet so often we make His ways finite. King Solomon grasped it when He was building the temple.
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”(1 Kings 8:27 NKJV. Also 2 Chronicles 6:18)
All those 100 trillion solar systems are too small for Him. Heaven and all the heavens are too small for our Father.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth,Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
How do you see God at the moment? Ask God to show you who He is at the moment to you. If He is small, ask God to forgive you for not seeing who He really is and ask Him to show you how big He actually is.
Remember, God does not think as we do!! So we need to allow the Holy Spirit to show us how He perceives the circumstances we are in. I can tell you now they will be different perceptions.
Just to summarise….. It is wonderful to see God as a God who wants to walk with us. It is amazing to recognise that He is our Heavenly Dad and His touch is so Gentle. It is even more awesome to see that this God who relates to us so intimately is too big for 100 trillion Solar Systems. We need to start to use Spiritual Perception and not our natural perception. To do this we need the help of the Holy Spirit to see the way He sees.
Precious Holy Spirit, thank you that you live in me and can’t wait to show me how wonderfully gigantic Heavenly Father is. Let me see Him as you see Him. Let my perceotions become Spiritual ones. Holy Spirit ones. Let my Spiritual senses grow.
Are you a glass half full or half empty person? Do you see things as if they are positive or negative, are you optimistic or pessimistic? How do you look at your life? Is your life a half full life or is it a life half empty?
I want to challenge you to see the glass completely differently. Have a look at the picture at the top of the page. What do you see? I want to challenge you to see the glass as full. Not half of any thing but full. The glass is full. Bottom half is liquid and the top half is air. It is full. Now stay with me, don’t go away! I will explain.
When we look at the glass we look with our knowledge, what we think we know. Turn it around to our lives. If your life has always seemed to throw up complications and pitfalls, your mind will tell you that this is the norm and so you tend to look at situations pessimistically. Even when your life is going swimmingly you are waiting for the problem to arise! You may have the opposite mindset and know that you have always some how got through, you may be a ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ type of person. Both ways of looking at life are intrinsically wrong. Why? Because we need to start looking at life as God does and not as man does.
If you are an optimist or a pessimist both arguments are wrong because it makes you think that life is all about you. Situations always workout well for me and so I look positively at life, or conversely nothing works out for me and so what can I hope for. SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Life is not about you but about God. We are created for God, not ourselves. We are here for the sole purpose of bringing Glory to Him. We need to start allowing God to change our perspective. How many of you pessimists out there have tried in vain to change your outlook on life. You have tried valiantly to learn ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, and for a time you succeed but it doesn’t last. The reason is that you think that life is about you but it’s not. Life is about God. Your life is all about God and we need to learn how to Glorify Him in it. Paul in his letter to the Romans explains it better than I can:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12: 1-2 NKJV)
Our life is about God. We give ourselves to God as a “Living Sacrifice” and through this our mind will be renewed. When Paul wrote this letter he didn’t write with chapters and verses so it is important to see what he wrote before this. At the end of chapter 11 we have:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?”“Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.“ (Romans 11:33-36 NKJV)
Read them both together………. Do you see the picture? God is all Glorious and so we give our lives to Him as a living sacrifice. If we don’t conform to this world, i.e., don’t think like the world thinks but have a change in the way we think. This is the renewing of the mind. Life is not about optimism or pessimism, life is about God. God is in charge. He is our shepherd. When Paul in his letter to the Phillipians tells us to Rejoice always, he is not telling us to think positively. He wants us to know that God is in charge. How is it possible to be anxious about nothing. We are born being anxious but if we can see that we are here for God and that He is our Shepherd, then we can have peace that is beyond what you can understand.
” Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV)
Paul also says:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thes 5:16-18 NKJV)
This is God:
“For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64;4 NKJV)
No matter how hard we try to understand God’s ways we can’t. His ways are not our ways. He never seems to do the same thing twice. Every miracle that Jesus did is done differently than the one before. One blind man is healed differently than the next. Jesus shows us how big God is and yet we still put Him in a box. He is too big for that. He will show us how amazing He is if we let Him. He wants to glorify Himself through us! David puts it so well in my favourite Psalm:
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3 NKJV)
Why does He lead us? For His name’s sake!! Not for our sake but for His Glory!
I know I might be stretching the analogy but look at the glass at the top of the page again. It is a glass just waiting, resting, standing……. expectant. The glass has a purpose, it is useful no matter how much is in it. Let us all see that we are all useful to God no matter how we think our lives look. He has chosen you before the beginning of time to bring Him the Glory.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5 ESV)
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:4-6 NKJV)
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11 NKJV)
We need to see this is God’s truth. When Paul talks about the armour of God, he tells us to put on the Belt of Truth. The ‘Truth’ here is God’s Truth, what God says. The only way we can find out what God says is by getting in His word. You will be so surprised about what God says about you. I can tell you that you have ideas about yourself that are certainly not God’s.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth” (Eph 6:14 NKJV)
If you look at the first couple of Posts on this Blog you will see they are on declarations, declaring God’s word over your life. It is so important to see yourself as God sees you. Put on the belt of all that God thinks about you. You need the best information to make the best decisions! Who has the best information about you? God does! Where do you find that information? In His word! In the Psalms we find this verse:
“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.“ (Psalm 119:147 NKJV)
Most Bible historians attribute Psalm 119 as a psalm of David although the Bible doesn’t tell us. So by the looks of this verse David was a glass half full kind of guy, an optimist. The key is the word ‘hope”! His hope is in God’s word. At least optimists have hope. They feel there is going to be something better. Hope is vital to life, but…..and yes there is a but!! There is something bigger and stronger than hope and that is FAITH!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.“ (Heb 11:1 NKJV)
Faith is real, it has substance. It is not some airy fairy thing. Faith is reality. Let me give you an example… You are promised a house by an elderly relative, it is a great home but until you get the deeds of the house in your hand, you can only hope that the house is yours. When you do get the house and you can move into it, then it becomes reality. That is Faith. The reality of a hope. When we look at our lives we are often still in hope that things will turn out right whereas the reality is that if you are in God then of course it will. No doubt.
Let’s get back to our glass:
Half empty – Pessimistic, very little hope if any. If something can go wrong then it will.
Half full – Optimistic, there is always hope that things will turn out good.
Full – Faith, seeing that God is in charge so life will be abundant no matter what.
Without Faith you can’t please God:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6 NKJV)
The bottom line is, God either is who He says He is or not. There is no half way. He is either God or not. Therefore let us come to Him as God, believe what He says about us, trust that our lives are in His hands and have Faith that He loves us unconditionally. Start declaring what God says about you. There are over 7000 promises in the Bible!
Our glass is full. It is always full and not only that but our glass is full to overflowing. He pours out of us. We can’t contain Him. Rivers of living water flow out of us when we have Faith in Him.
Sometimes when you read the Bible there are certain passages, sentences, or even just words that suddenly stand out, even though you have read the Bible Story over and over again. You suddenly have a new revelation! You see something in a different light. The Holy Spirit, living inside you, gives you a little nudge and says, “Look closer. Sometimes it’s not just a little nudge either!!! The title of this post is one of those! I had read this story probably hundreds of times, heard countless sermons on it, have seen dramatisations of the story but this time these words just stuck out!
He Heard Music and Dancing!
For those of us who possess a vivid imagination, words really do paint pictures. The saying, ‘A picture paints a thousand words” is not just the lyric to a Bread song!! Words do paint pictures. So what picture does ‘He heard music and dancing’ paint for you? Obviously there is a man and hears something. Can you see the man, can you hear the music, can you hear people dancing? Obviously something is happening. So this guy is walking somewhere and hears something unusual. You know it’s unusual because you tend not to notice the usual sounds in your life. Maybe you are sitting at home relaxing, nothing will move you unless you hear a loud crash, or something smash! Then you are up like a flash! (Did you see what I did there!!! CRASH! SMASH! FLASH! Not impressed? Can’t please everyone. What if I tell you they are all onomatopoeias? Still no?? Oh, Well!) Back to the story. This guy hears something unusual. It makes him stop and take note. In the story he actually stops someone and asks what on earth is going on? Things around him had changed, he was slightly unnerved.
Perhaps the time has come to unveil another part of the story. The music and dancing arer from a celebration. It’s a party. Someone is having a get-together beyond all get-togethers! The man listening to the joy is not part of it. He is an outsider looking in. It’s an awful feeling isn’t it when you feel there is something amazing going on and you are not involved. So this is where this guy is at, he sees something that he is not part of and he doesn’t like it. What makes it worse is that the party is in the house where he lives. There is a party happening and he hasn’t been told about it. In fact he has been out all day working for the person who is holding the party. To add to the bad feeling, the host of the party is his dad!! What? Come on? No way!! Yep way! This poor guy had been working for his dad all day and on his way home he hears music and dancing coming from his dad’s house and he wasn’t invited.
You probably have guessed the story now. The Prodigal Son! You can find the story in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 along with the stories of ‘The Lost Sheep’ and ‘The Lost Coin’. The items that are lost are not the main focus of each story but the people looking for what they have lost. It is the shepherd, who has lost his sheep, and the woman, who has lost the coin, who are the main characters of the first two stories in the chapter. It is the same with the story of ‘The Lost Son’, it is not the son but the father who is the main character here. The son and his brother are minor characters. They are important to the story but not the main focus! The story is about the Extravagant Father! He was the one who provided the ‘Music and Dancing!’
We know the story really well and we know it shows us how God forgives the one who goes away from Him. We are taught from an early age that the father in the story is a picture of God and the son is the one who goes against God! Thisis a story about forgiveness but more than that it is the story about God’s extravagance in His love for us! ‘Music and Dancing!’
This is what caught my eye this time. We have such an Extravagant God! This is part of His character all the time! It is not just for the lost, we are His children too. The brother who had stayed with the father and was working in his fields is the key to seeing God’s extravagant Grace towards us. Let’s start at the end of the story. We’re not doing a Julie Andrews because in this case the end is the best place to start and not the beginning. (Just a quick nod to the Sound of Music.) So at the end of the story the father says to the brother:
“Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.“ (Luke 15:31 NASB)
The son was very angry that the father had wasted so much money on his brother but what is interesting is the father’s reply. The words ‘always’ and ‘all’ are important. Can you see where we, as Sons and Daughters of the Mighty God, stand. We are always with Him and allthat He has is ours!! The brother’s problem was that he didn’t ask. If he had asked for the cloak, ring, fatted calf and the party, he would have got it. How often do we complain about things without seeking God and asking Him. Do you actually believe that God will give you all you ask for as the Bible says or does your experience tell you something else! The brother’s experience tells him that life is a hard slog. You work and work and really get nothing. He lived as if he had nothing but all the time his father has extravagant love for him.
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.“ (Mark 11:24 NASB)
Let’s stop just hearing the singing and the dancing but join in. Go for all that He wants to give you. Don’t ever settle for anything other than God’s best. His desire is to bless you. As a child of God expect the robe, the ring, the party with the best food.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.“ (Psalm 23:5-6 NASB)
We can spend our whole earthly lives on the periphery looking in. We see other people being blessed and appearing to be free while we have to work, work, work to get anything from our Heavenly Father. Why don’t you just stop, take time to get to know who your Father is? Get to know His character. See that He has everything for you. The ring, the cloak, the feast and He provides the music and dancing for you to enjoy. ‘His cup overflows’! Just imagine pouring something into a glass and not stopping when you reach the rim. Pouring out over every where. That is God’s Love, Grace and Blessing. Abundant! Extravagant! Seek and find Him and you will see. He is faithful!
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33 NASB)
Don’t wait for Heaven to receive what you can have now. Read the two posts Where Do You Live? and The Sequel” and see that we are already seated with Christ in Heavenly places and therefore can claim what is rightly ours.
I do wonder how many of us actually enjoy waiting for something? It doesn’t seem to be part of our make up does it? You go to the local supermarket and you hear a parent say to their child who is trying to open a chocolate bar , ‘You can’t open that yet as we have to wait until we pay for it!” Then the child sits back in the trolley and waits patiently for the checkout. NOT!!! There is suddenly an explosion of noise in aisle 3!! You then see an employee scanning an empty chocolate wrapper at the checkout, with an apologetic Mum looking at her child’s chocolate covered face.’I want it now, and if not now then sooner!’ Yet, the bible is full of passages where we are told to wait, be patient, hope, have faith, trust, etc., etc.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)
When I hear the word wait I shudder. I want God to use me…. now. I want to see people released from bondage…. now. People healed. People saved. I get so frustrated. Surely God you want me out there doing, what about the great commission?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,“ (Matthew 28:19)
I want to make disciples of the nations…..now, I want to preach….now, I want to lead…..now. But the doors don’t open. The doors are clear but they don’t move, no matter how hard I push at them. So what is it you want me to do God? “Wait” I want to serve you! “Wait” Why aren’t people healed when I pray? “Wait” What about victory in my life?“Wait” Why can’t I get free from sin? “Wait” What was that? “Wait” Sorry, did you say wait? “Wait” Wait! Really? But there is no time, it is urgent? “Wait. Time belongs to me. I am time. I stop time. My timing is perfect”
It has taken a while but at last I am beginning to see it. I am to wait!!!! I realise now why I need wait and why it is so important.
To start with I needed to see that there are different kinds of waiting and they are not all bad. First we have the “Wait until your father gets home, he will deal with you!” That’s a horrible ‘wait’. Then we have the boring wait. Just hanging around with nothing to do. Then there is the waiting for the bus to work wait. That’s the one where you are waiting for something to turn up, that will move you onto something unpleasant. e.g., the dentist waiting room!!! Then we have the best wait….. the child’s Christmas Eve wait. This is full of excited anticipation, wonderment, awe, expectancy!!!!
I say that the word wait causes me to shudder but I still love that expectant wait. Let me give you an example. I love going to the theatre, especially to see musicals. Even though I have purchased my ticket long before and it has my seat number on it, I still have to get to the theatre early. It has nothing to do with making sure I don’t miss the start but because I enjoy the wait! I love the anticipation. Watching the people, feeling their expectancy. I love experiencing the amazing atmosphere of the place. Buying my program. Not looking at it because I don’t want to ruin any surprises!! I know that part is just plain weird so let’s move on quickly. I will go into the auditorium to see the orchestra getting ready, tuning up. Then minutes before the show starts I will take my seat and I am ready to enjoy the show fully. Without the preparation I would not be ready to enjoy the show at its best. Are you seeing the importance of waiting? (By the way that is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, otherwise known as a…. parable. Not a good one, I admit, but a parable none the less.) The waiting with expectancy is the Godly wait. Let’s look at God’s wait in more detail.
When God asks us to wait on Him it has to be for a reason. It is not a pointless exercise. The reason is always to bring more glory to Jesus. This is our purpose here. We bring glory to the Son. In the process we receive blessing after blessing. You see we cannot do anything without God. Jesus only did what he saw His Father doing.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.“ (John 5:9)
Therefore we need to wait and see what the Father is doing. When you wait on God you are not just sitting around in a meditative state, emptying your mind and humming. You are waiting expectantly! When I go early to the theatre I don’t just go into the foyer and wait. I am watching, listening, smelling, touching and tasting (especially if I have bought an ice-cream!! I am present, aware, in the moment. It is not about past shows or even the show itself it is about the moment. Our wait on God is not about what has happened in the past or what will be in our future but the moment. Moment by moment with God. We can’t change the past and we don’t know what the future holds but we can wait on God expectantly in the moment.
Waiting on God is about faith and trust. We know that we can manipulate events to make things happen. My mother was a master manipulator. She was the Stephen Hawkins of manipulation and she taught me well. It is a horrible, nasty personality trait. Instead of trust or faith it brings the opposite and the results don’t last. It doesn’t last because its foundation is deceit which is the opposite of God, He is light with no darkness. When we let go and wait, we are in total reliance on Him. This is how God wants us to be.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;” (Psalm 37:7)
There’s that other shudder making word… patiently. Not only do we wait but we wait patiently. Not worrying, caring, fretting, resistant, restless, uneasy but steadfast, steady, unwavering, unmoved, calm, peaceful, tolerant. A friend of mine calls it that “P” word because he dislikes it so much. When we are patient we again allow faith and trust to grow. We wait in hope.
“Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land;” (Psalm 37:34)
So many times the verses that speak about waiting have a promise attached, like the one above. I love the promise in the verse I first quoted from Isaiah Chapter 40.
“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)
Surely it is worth waiting on God for the renewing of strength, to be able to have your Spirit soar like an eagle, to not grow weary or faint.
What about this for another promise. Receiving the goodness of God.
“The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25 ESV)
If we wait on Him God will listen to us and will act.
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
This is what I want in my life. I want God to take me out of the mud and slime and I want to be on a firm foundation, so that I am not tossed about by every whim that comes into my head. Oh to be steadfast!!! More than anything I want that new song in my mouth. Away with the old and onto the new. A new song in my mouth, please God!! “Wait” So I am learning to wait. That s all I to do, wait. I cannot get those things by doing only waiting. We are not raised up in the Heavenly realms and doing amazing things. We are seated in the Heavenly realms.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6)
There is a reason for us being seated. We are not just sitting down, we are seated in Jesus. Our starting point when we wait on God is there. Seated within, part of, inside, encompassed by, Jesus. We cannot do anything without knowing that we are seated in Jesus in the Heavenly realms. He is our starting place and our finishing place.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13)
We cannot do anything without Jesus. It’s not just about knowing in our mind but knowing in our Spirit. Knowing in our mind is taking the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Knowing in our Spirit is taking fruit from the Tree of Life. That is why we wait. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to show us who the power comes from. We can do nothing without Jesus. It is through Jesus that we have faith. Faith just doesn’t happen. We can quote scripture until we are blue in the face but until the Holy Spirit brings life into it we will see no results. Remember it’s not about knowing in our mind because that is taking the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but it is knowing in our Spirit, which is taking fruit from the Tree of Life.
“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.“ (Psam130:5-7)
I spoke in an earlier post about noticing when certain phrases are repeated in passages of scripture. Take a closer look! “More than watchmen wait for the morning” It was the watchman’s job to wait for the break of day to signal the start of the first worship in the temple. It also meant that his job was done so he could go home for a sleep. You can imagine how eager he was to see the dawn. The Psalmist waits more eagerly and expectantly than the man who can’t wait to get off work!! That is real expectancy. His whole being waits. Every part of him is waiting. I want to be like that. All of me waiting for God because in Him is unfailing love and full redemption.
I hope this is a helpful introduction to waiting on God. I want to finish with two quotes from Charles Spurgeon, who was a great man of God,
“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.”
“We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Are you always seeking something more? Is your life not enough? Are you never satisfied? Do the people around you let you down? Are people not there when you want them? How about Fame? Do you crave that 15 minutes of fame? What about your finances, your house, your work or even your family? Do you want something more out of life? Well I have the answer for you!!! God! That’s right G. O. D. God. He has everything you need. He has the answers to all your cravings. If people are not there when you want them to be, I can tell you that God will be. When you need to feel special and loved, God is the answer for you. I repeat, “He has everything you need.”
I could be in advertising! As a Christian that should be my declaration for everyone! God is enough. He is SUFFICIENT! You don’t need anyone else. As a Christian do we actually believe it? Can we agree with King David,
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62 v 5 – 8)
David didn’t have it easy. He certainly had to learn the hard way that God would be his provider, that God was enough. To be truthful with you I find this difficult myself. Whether it was because I was an only child or whether because my parents didn’t invest much time in me or a combination of both, I learned very early on to be self-sufficient. I learnt very early on how to get myself out of difficulties. You have to because when you have little guidance from adults, you find your self in self-created difficulties all the time. That word self-sufficient tells its own tale. My mother used to proudly tell me of my exploits as a young child. Doing things on my own. She used to tell me how at three and a half I would go down to my local school and watch the children play. This apparently showed my eagerness to go to school. It wasn’t till later on that it occurred to me, surely a three and a half year old shouldn’t be allowed to go off on his own, crossing roads without an adult in sight! Anyway, this self-sufficiency has been ingrained in me. “You need to do it yourself, find the answers, solve the problems, fight the battles!” God has been shouting “Stop!” to me for a very long time! Eventually I had to stop. I had nothing left. I found myself in a Psychiatric Unit of a local hospital. Literally nothing left. Friends gone, family gone because they couldn’t cope. Nothing except God.
God literally started from scratch. Before going into hospital I had been systematically reading the book of Psalms, so when I was in hospital I found a Gideon New Testament with the Psalms in the back. (I want us to recognise the work of the Gideons and pray that God continues to provide financial support and open doors for their work.) I was up to Psalm 12 and so I started reading. I got to verse 5 and this is what it said:
““Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”” (Psalm 12 v 5 ESV)
It was God who was going to rise and it was God who was going to place me in safety. It wasn’t going to be me.He was going to do the rescuing and not me. You have to understand that I had been a Christian for many years but still not grasped that God would help. Even though I knew that the statement ‘God helps those who help themselves’ wasn’t from the Bible and I argued with people who thought that it was, somehow I felt that it was up to me to rescue myself from the messes I got myself into. After all it was me who got me into the mess in the first place. I was trying to help myself when all the while it was God who wanted to help. He couldn’t wait to help!!
A few months later I was in a new church with new friends. Part of a group of people who supported and loved me. It is important to find the correct church for you. Be connected and not isolated! I used to find myself isolated all the time and that is a place our enemy wants us to be. The reason I say that, is that God wanted me to be to be with people who would encourage me and allow Him to do the work necessary. He really did begin to work in me and quickly too. It was if He was making up for lost time. The support I had enabled me to go deeper into God. I was not a lone wolf. I belonged. God began to show me how He provides. Nothing I lacked was not found in Him. One day God showed me that I had been carrying my own cross around with me for years. What a weight it was. He literally lifted it off my shoulders. I think if we are feeling a heaviness in our Christian journey it is more than likely that we are doing this in our own strength.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt ch 11 v 30)
We make our life harder. God wants us to rely on Him.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55 v 22)
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.“ (1 Pet ch 5 v 7)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“ (Matt ch 11 v 28)
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah ch 41 v 13)
Do you realise that one of God’s names in the Bible is El-Shaddai which means ‘The All Sufficient One’ or ‘The All Bountiful One’. He abundantly nourishes, satisfies, protects and supplies. He knows what you need even before you ask and He provides.
“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“ (Matt ch 6 v 8)
You have to ask though! Then you have to be ready for the answer! It is not in our strength or we then will have the glory but it is in His. Why do we struggle when the God of all the Universe has all we need and is ready to give it to us. He wants to fight for us but we have to let Him.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus ch 14 v 14)
One of the most startling things I learnt was that anything we rely on to get us through life other than God is an idol. Anything that sets itself up against God needs to be torn down. What do you rely on to get you through life! It could be friends. Now it is vital to have the right people around you but if you put them before God it is a problem. I had to learn the hard way, but that is not everyone’s journey! I was a slow learner!!!! What is the first thing you run to when you are stressed? Chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, tea, ice-cream!!! Mine used to be my bed!! If I couldn’t cope I would take to my bed, where I was safe. I had learned this from childhood. Is there something that is your automatic go to place or thing. God wants us to run to Him when we are in difficulty. He wants to be first.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.“ (Matt ch 6 v 33)
Do you see this. Say the verse out loud. Declare it for yourself,
“I will seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all that I need will be given to me“
Or be more specific,
“I will seek God first when I am stressed, and He will give me the peace that passes all understanding“ (or whatever the need may be).
You don’t have to go through struggles to learn every lesson from God but you do have to learn it. Remember He has everything you need. I can tell you that if you put anything before God He will eventually tear it down because He wants the best for you. There is no need to use your own resources when God has bountiful stores of them which are better in quality and longer lasting!!! Why would you want to do things in your power when He wants you to use Christ’s power? Come on let it sink in. Jesus’ power in you or your own? There can be no battle surely? I want to finish with this verse. Meditate on it and let the Holy Spirit speak to you through it,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.“ (2 Cor 12 v 9)
Prayer – Heavenly Father you have everything that I need. Help me look to you when life becomes too hard. Let me see those things which I put before you and help me to tear them down. Please let me rest in you and receive all you want for me. Thank You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen