Patience and King Saul

It was the end of the month yesterday. Judging by the activity in our little town it looked like there wouldn’t be another end-of-the-month for a long time. There were people everywhere! More than one customer complained that they wouldn’t be able to get to the ATM without a long wait in the queue. I know that waiting in an ATM queue (or any other queue for that matter) isn’t the most pleasant pastime. It can be really annoying especially if you’re near the front of the queue and someone takes a looong time doing their transaction. Why is it that most people rate patience as their least developed character trait? Does it have something to do with genes or is it learned? Or not learned?

I’m really quite patient in some circumstances. I can wait in queues. I remember writing a children’s story while waiting in a queue once. It was fun. I usually carry my Kindle in my bag and I don’t mind having an excuse to read. If I don’t have anything to read, I just allow my imagination to wander. But that’s me.

1 Samuel 13:8-11 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

And verse 14 “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

King Saul was impatient and he made the offering that the prophet Samuel was supposed to do. Granted, he waited till the last moment and he was really stressed about what his subjects would do and that the army you desert. How often doesn’t it happen that we are in a situation where we say we are going to trust God and not make our own plans? And then nothing happens by the time we think God should have done something and we decide He’s obviously too busy, or forgotten all about us or He just doesn’t care, and we make our own plan. That’s exactly what King Saul did. He got stressed about waiting and did his own thing. His own thing cost him his Kingdom. Will God come through for us if we do our own thing? No, obviously not, because we’ve shown him that we don’t trust Him enough to wait on Him and His timing. When we don’t wait for God when we know that He has promised to never leave or forsake us, we lose a lot of blessings that He had for us. We also lose faith. We have to work at building our own faith next time we have a situation that needs intervention.

Proverbs 3:5-6 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.

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

That’s how we know we can trust God always without doubt.

I wonder what kind of an ATM queue person King Saul would have been?

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Ascension Day

Today is the celebration of the ascension of Jesus to Heaven about 1986 years ago. As we know Jesus died because of crucifixion, was laid in a tomb, rose from death on the third day, spent 40 days walking of earth talking and teaching his disciples of what was coming. Then He ascended to Heaven. The bible says in Acts 1:9 – 11 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

So Jesus was standing there and He started to rise up off the ground. How incredible is that! I can just imagine all the gaping mouths. I would certainly have been shocked if I was there. I think they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The disciples knew from what Jesus had told them that He would be going to heaven and they hoped that He would be restoring Israel as a country. At that time Rome was governing Israel and the Jews had believed that the Messiah would come as a military hero to restore Israel which obviously didn’t happen. Now the disciples still held onto the hope that He would be making this happen.

Acts 1: 6 – 8  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus was telling them that it was more important for them to listen to Him and follow His instructions than to be worrying about when Israel would be restored. There are times that have been ordained for everything to take place and those times are not for us to know, or to get anxious about. We need to be following what Jesus said and not be following our own agendas.

The promise He did make that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the believers and that we would receive power. The other promise that the angel made when Jesus had gone to heaven was that He would return in the same what that He left.

We have so many promises that we can hold onto. We have the whole Bible which is full of promises but we often forget all about it and complain bitterly about how unfair life is and how disadvantaged we are and how difficult everything is. We put personal feelings and culture and all our other idols before the word of God and then we complain that we aren’t being blessed. I just wonder how God must feel when His heart is so full of love for each one of us, that He made uniquely and with purpose, when we forget all about Him and clutch at all kinds of straws when we are in trouble. If we put ourselves in God’s place and if our children were to treat us like we treat God, how would we react? But God says in Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?”

We forget that God is so big and people are so small. Let us remember this day that Jesus went to Heaven and left for us power and promises and let us rejoice about it. But we shouldn’t just do it once a year, we should remember it every single day.

Revelation 7:12 “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,

Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,

Be to our God forever and ever.

Amen.”

The rhythm of God

At our cell group the topic of discussion was joy. We had a really lively, joyful discussion. I have realized that in the past few weeks I have received a new rhythm in my life. A new peace, a new joy amid the chaos in the world. And it works for me. I and not frantically running around trying to get everything done. I am not thinking that I have to finish everything because I won’t have time if I don’t hurry. When I recognized that something was happening I said to myself that I found a new rhythm and I suddenly wondered if it sounded very new-age? I mentioned it to a friend and she sent me Matthew 11:28-30 which reads

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

But she sent it to me in the Message version which says:

“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.”

The unforced rhythms of grace. It sounds so peaceful. It sounds like being totally at peace and not under pressure. It sounds like a holiday by the sea, watching the waves rolling onto the beach and seeing the tides changing without fail and knowing that the sun will rise every morning and set each night. Everything in nature has rhythms. The earth rotates on its axis at a set time. The moon and the stars have set paths that they follow.

Psalm 8:3 – 4 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?

God cares so much for us. He made the moon and the stars, and everything else, will care that I am under pressure and show me a better way of living. That is such overwhelming knowledge.

Psalm 139:1 – 6

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know my sitting down and my rising up;

You understand my thought afar off.

You comprehend my path and my lying down,

And are acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word on my tongue,

But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

You have hedged me behind and before,

And laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is high, I cannot attain it.

Here David spells it out perfectly. God cares so much for each one of us. We are like ants or specks of dust in the greater scheme of the universe, but He cares. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows what’s going on in our minds and our hearts. He knows and He cares. What reasons can we find for not loving a God such as this? What reasons can we find for resisting the call He is putting out to us?

Revelation 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

How can we not accept that call and how can we not share it with everyone we meet?

Plait a whip

On Saturday someone mentioned a public figure who was always in a conflict about something. I am assuming that he reacts according to his character. There are so many times that we judge people according to their reactions and when they don’t act like we would have we often consider their reaction to be incorrect. But when are people standing up for their convictions and when are they just reacting out of anger.

Galatians 5:25 – 26 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Clearly we shouldn’t take negative action because of our emotions that are stirred up.

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your anger.

But look at John 2:13 -16 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of chords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

Usually we hear that Jesus got really angry and cleared the temple of the people who were trading in it. But I look at this piece and I don’t think that Jesus reacted out of anger. He was probably angry at first when He saw what was going on. His emotion was anger, but His reaction was not anger. His reaction was what was fitting for the occasion as well as being a prophetic action. Jesus cleared our all the incorrect activities because the temple is supposed to be a holy place. Just like we cannot serve mammon and God.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve God and mammon.”

If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 6:19, then we have to keep our bodies and minds clean and pure, just like the physical temple had to be clean and pure.

But Jesus did not react out of anger because he took the time to make a whip of chords and only then did he drive the traders out. It couldn’t have taken just seconds to make the whip and in that time His anger, or His initial anger would have subsided in the time it took to make the whip. I love crafts and I see therapeutic value in plaiting or knotting a whip. Therefore I truly do not think that Jesus could have reacted out of anger. His actions were definitely pre meditated. Jesus acted on the evidence that He had seen, but He most certainly didn’t react.

We can learn a great lesson out of his actions. Firstly that we should stop and think when we get angry. What if we stopped and plaited a whip before we reacted? How would our reactions change if we took time to do something with our hands? If we do something like squeeze a stress ball before we spoke or acted, it could diffuse a situation that was potentially explosive. Just thinking logically about what is happening can make a big difference.

Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Is the public figure who is always in conflict wrong or right? I don’t know because I can’t judge the motives of his heart. But I would give him the same advice I would give all of us: if we get angry we should first stop and plait a whip. Once that is done we can prayerfully decide whether we should use the whip or not.

The Secret Place

I was looking at a post on the internet about what women over 50 should be wearing and what hairstyles should have. Each one of us has been made differently and we enjoy different things and we have different gifts and talents. We look different, we think differently and we express thoughts and emotions differently. There are an estimated 7,7 billion people on earth and every single one has a different fingerprint. Not one thinks and acts exactly the same as anyone else. Not even identical twins are exactly the same. That’s how God planned things to be.

So, if I am not exactly the same as anyone else why does the media and popular culture try putting me in the same box as another bunch of people. We get fashion for over 50’s and make-up for people who are in their 30’s and music for young people. Even church services for older folk. And do you know what the scary part of all these labels is? We believe them and we willingly get into their stupid boxes! We believe that people over 50 shouldn’t be wearing bright colours or blue sandals or flowers in our hair or whatever it is everyone is shouting about. We believe that if we use a certain moisturiser or anti-wrinkle cream we are going to look younger, but even though we look younger we are still going to follow the rules for our age because that’s the right thing to do. Seriously? Are we going to allow people to make up rules for us? People who sit somewhere in an office and are paid to sell magazines, cosmetics, jewellery or clothing are doing what they do best in order to make some company a big profit.

Psalm 139:13 – 16 For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

If God formed us in our mother’s womb, if He is the one who made us ‘fearfully and wonderfully, shouldn’t we be asking Him what we should wear and what we should do instead of following whatever fashion or culture dictates? I am not saying that there’s anything wrong with dressing fashionably, we just shouldn’t get carried away with it and let it become the focus of our lives.

God has a dream for each one of us. He has a plan that is so special that we wouldn’t believe the whole plan if we got to see it all at once.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Song of Solomon 2:14 O, my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

Imagine being in that secret place with God, and He tells us everything that He has planned for us. He tells us how much He loves us and how special we are. Just think of the intimacy we are missing with God because we spend so much time worrying about material things. Each one of us has things that we do and things which we allow to steal time from us that we could have been spending with God and hearing His voice and doing His will. I am going to make a plan to spend more time with God. Not because I am worthy to be in His presence, not because I did anything right, or didn’t do anything wrong, but because Jesus died for me and I have been made righteous by His blood. I have the right to come right up to God’s throne and pour out my heart to Him and hear His heart for me because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. Let us pay less attention to what the world expects of us and pay more attention to God’s great love for us.

He gives His angels charge over you

There was a little girl on the beach dressed in pink. She was probably about 2 years old, walking quite well but not altogether able to run on the sand confidently. There were a lot of footprints in the soft sand making it very uneven. This little girl didn’t let it put her off though. She was walking and running and making the most of the good weather and the open space. I haven’t seen a child that young with the kind of confidence she had, for a long time. Her dad was keeping an eye on her and sometimes had to run to make sure he was close enough to her in case she ventured into the water.

Psalm 91:11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Matthew 18:10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels  in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

These verses tell us that there are angels that look after us, who have the assignment to take care of us. I know that there are false religions where people worship angels, but God’s angels have been put there to minister to those who are believers. It’s really comforting knowledge.

As I watched that little girl, the Lord showed me that we are often like her. We can’t do things all on our own, but we try all the time. Obviously it’s a very good thing for the child because that’s the way she’s going to strengthen her muscles and learn to walk properly. It is also going to teach her about potential dangers. When we do things in our own strength we often need to be picked up and set upright and steered in the right way. Just like her father was hovering nearby to assist her if she needed help, or if she got into trouble, I believe God places His angels nearby us to watch over us. We don’t have to worry about the angels or even be aware of them. That’s God’s job. Just like the little girl wasn’t at all concerned that her dad was nearby her all the time.

Proverbs 3:5 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.

Psalm 37:3 – 4 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall five you the desires of your heart.

Once, when the little girl looked up and saw her father coming towards her, she joyfully ran towards him. He showed her something on the sand, probably a shell, but I think to her it was a great treasure. That daddy would give that little girl anything she asked for. There was so much love evident in the relationship. If we see God the way she sees her father, if we trust God with the unwavering faith she has in her daddy, then we are delighting ourselves in Him. Then He is going to give us the desires of our heart. There are so many different roles that were personified to me in that father on the beach. The guardian angel, the loving father, the provider and the giver of life.

I pray that the relationship between that father and daughter will always be as beautiful as it was on the beach. And I pray that each one of us will have that kind of relationship with our loving Father.

Prayer 101

I’m gathering Scriptures which can help strengthen my faith. Obviously all scripture can be used to that, but in certain circumstances different bible verses have different purposes. That’s what is so amazing about the Bible, it is a living breathing book that can serve so many purposes.

Firstly, before I look for specific scriptures for my situation, I need to know whether I can pray, how I can pray and what it means to pray.

2 Timothy 3:16 – 17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

What gives us the right to go to God and ask him for the things we need?

Hebrews 10:19 – 22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Ephesians 2:13

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Luke 23:45 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

In the Old Testament only the high priest was allowed to go through the curtain into the Holy of Holies and into the presence of God. There is nothing standing in the way of a believer to have access to God. We can speak directly to Him, we don’t need a priest to intercede for us.

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

We can’t have a proper conversation with God while we are being dragged down with worries. First of all we have to give Him our cares. We have to really give them to Him, not just for the duration of our prayer time. We have to leave them with Him. They now become His possession, they no longer belong to us.

We can also pray anywhere, anytime. And we should be praying much more than we actually do.

Ephesians 6:18

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication

What can we pray for and how?

John 14:13 – 14

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Matthew 21:22

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

John 16:24

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

These verses say that we should ask in the name of Jesus. I understand this to mean that we have the right to ask if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. And we did not accept Jesus out of our own, God drew us towards Him first. If we are in Him and He is in us we can approach the throne and we can ask for what we need. We have to pray in accordance with scripture and with God’s will. We can’t pray for the downfall of fellow Christians. That is not in God’s will.

John 15:7

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

We should stay in the Word and we should not only pray when we’re in trouble. Prayer should be a daily, hourly, minute by minute conversation. God’s words should always be foremost in our lives. And we have to pray with faith. We must not  have doubts that God is hearing us and that He will answer our prayers.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

God wants us to speak to Him. He wants to give us what He has for us. We have to be willing to trust Him and always believe His promises.

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

This verse says it all. God gave us His own and only beloved Son so that we should not be lost. Why wouldn’t He give us everything else we need, and more?

A question to think about

Yesterday morning I was picking some lavender flowers in the garden behind the shop when I suddenly stood before a question. I was all by myself but the intensity of the question was so real, there might as well have been someone standing right next to me demanding the answer. It was intense.

Here’s the question: If you lost everything you have, all your possessions, everything, and you were homeless, would you still be a nice person? Would you still be friendly? Would you still praise God?

It made me think. It made me think very hard and take stock of what is important to me.

How would you answer that question? Think of everything you have, of everything that is important to you. It’s very easy to say that things are only earthly things, but at the end of the day, some of our earthly possessions do become very important to us.

What about your house? If you’ve been living there for a long time and it’s your safe place, your haven, what if it was destroyed? What if your insurance doesn’t pay for the damage? And everything inside our homes, our furniture, appliances, books and clothes? The photo albums and the Wedgewood teaset that belonged to granny? There are things that can never be replaced. There are handmade items, sentimental stuff. Can we put a value on those things? Your wedding ring of jewelry, things that you inherited. Original paintings, artwork and heirlooms. What about your car? How would you get from point A to B? How would you get to work? What if you didn’t have a job anymore? I’m not even going to go to cell phones, computers and technology.

I know this is a really depressing subject, but the question that was posed was so real that I couldn’t help thinking about it all day.

Would I be able to keep smiling and be friendly to people? Would I be able to encourage people if I was homeless? Is my personality and my character based on what I have? Does my identity hinge on possessions or does it depend on my salvation? Will  I have integrity if all I possess are the clothes that are on my back? Will I be able to stand up and look the world in the eye if I had nothing? Do I wear a mask and project the image I want the world to see or am I what I truly am? Do you get what you see? What do people think of me? Are they my friends because of who I am or because of what they think I am?

I often see people projecting the image of a perfect life on social media. I look at all the smiles and the photos and I think some people who them think that these people really live this awesome, trouble free life and they aspire to get there. It is obviously an impossible quest because the image that is reflected is not a true reflection but purposely and carefully cultivated. People make money and get sponsorships if they are media influencers.

James 1:23 – 25  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

We have to have a clear vision of who we really are. We can’t pretend to the world or to ourselves. We can’t wear a mask, or even multiple masks to suit the occasion. I we behave in a certain way with friends and in a different way with our families and in still a different way at work we must realize that there is a problem. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t be professional at work if we are casual at home, but our personalities should not change.

1 Peter 3: 3 – 4 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

We have to carefully take stock of ourselves and what is really important to us. Do we have the inner resources to be able to stand up and be counted no matter our circumstances. Can we truthfully say that we don’t rely on what we have to be what we are. Are we rooted deeply enough in Christ that we can say with David (Psalm 125:1-2) Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, SO the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.

Dialogue

Yesterday I mentioned Jeremiah and how he had asked God why it looked like there was no justice because it was going well with evil people. This is in Jeremiah chapter 12. The beautiful part of this chapter is where God answers Jeremiah and spells out how He is going to cause justice to be delivered.
In the Book of Job there are a lot of questions posed to God and in Job chapters 38 to 41 God gives Job some very complicated answers to his questions. In Daniel 9:22 the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and gives him the answer to his prayer. And in Daniel 10:12 – 13 Gabriel explains to Daniel that he was held up for 21 days in delivering the answer by The prince of Persia and that the angel Michael had to come and help him.
Moses speaks directly to God through the whole of Exodus and God answers him. Abraham negotiates with God about Lot’s rescue from Sodom and Jacob wrestles with God all night and demands a blessing.
I can go on and on and on about how God speaks to people and about how He answers their prayers. A two way communication with God was a very common occurrence in the Old Testament. There were prophets and priests and kings who were anointed and on who the Holy Spirit rested who had access to God’s ear. Special people. Then Jesus is born and He speaks to His Father all the time. He makes it seem as natural as if He is speaking to a natural person here on earth. When Jesus is taken up to Heaven after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit is given to all believers.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 12: 12-14 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
These verses are saying that God sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper and He will teach us all things and He will also allow us to remember things which Jesus said, or in our case it would be to remember things we have heard, and read in the Word. In order to be taught we have to be able to hear. And in this case it is hearing spiritually because He isn’t going to be speaking with audible words. Also Jesus says that whoever believes in Him will be doing greater things than He did. And whatever we ask in His name He will do. Now, if we ask and He does it, it means He hears us, and if He is hearing us, why shouldn’t we be hearing Him?
How come there are so few people who claim to be hearing from God. Even some ordained ministers say that they are sceptical when people say they’ve heard from the Lord. Why should it be such an unusual thing for someone to have heard from God?
I’m speculating that people are often like the Israelites in the desert when they said God should speak to Moses and not directly to them because they were afraid. Are people afraid that God will be showing them where they are going wrong? Maybe they don’t make the effort to spend quality time with God, tuning in to hear His voice. Perhaps they are afraid to say anything when they think they do hear from God because they might embarrass themselves if people ridicule them so they just keep quiet? Have they been hurt by people who didn’t believe them?
I know that God wants to have a relationship with each and every one of us. We cannot have a relationship with anyone if there isn’t communication, and the essence of communication is speech that goes two ways. I know that there is a lot that God wants to share personally with every believer and He isn’t going to tell everything to the prophets to come and tell people. He’s waiting patiently for a dialogue with you and with me. We need to take every opportunity we have to practice hearing God’s voice. Maybe we should ask less and listen more.

Fly above your circumstances

I was at the filling station when a man I knew pulled up in the next lane and greeted me. I asked how he was and he said, “We’re struggling,” but he said it jovially so it could really have meant anything. I thought that if it goes too well with us we won’t stay on our knees. If we don’t lack anything we really won’t need God.

Then I thought about Moses who grew up in the courts of Pharaoh. He had every resource at his fingertips. He had servants at his beck and call and he definitely never had to wonder where his next meal would come from. The princess who adopted him was the daughter of the Pharaoh. So his adoptive grandfather ruled one of the mightiest kingdoms in the world. I think I can say with certainty that Moses didn’t have a disadvantaged upbringing. The Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and he had to flee for his life when he was found out. He stayed in the land of Midian for a few years until God called him back to Egypt to free the Hebrews from bondage.

Now what if Moses hadn’t killed the Egyptian and had stayed in Pharaoh’s palace and led a life of luxury? He might have. He would have had a nice life. But when he died he would have missed out of heaven.

How often don’t we think that if we had a better life we would be happy. We won’t have to worry about money and be stressed about where the money will come from that we need. Obviously everyone’s needs are different and wealth is relative. But we all think that way at one or other time.  Why do I have to struggle while my neighbor has it easy? Why can some people go on long holidays and I always have to count the cents. Why?

I don’t know the answers, but I do know that God uses the situations that we are in to work in our hearts. If we live a life of luxury it might be too easy to forget all about God. If we never got sick we could take it for granted that we are healthy and not look to God to live in divine health. If our children were perfect we might think that we are perfect parents and we wouldn’t pray for them. If our businesses were just churning our cash we wouldn’t have to be on our knees. What if our lives were perfect and we had lots and lots of money and we were healthy and our kids were amazing? What if it was like that but what if we didn’t know God? But what if our lives are like they are and we do know God and we think it’s not fair that God’s children would be in the situation we are.

David was God’s anointed. The Bible doesn’t leave us guessing about that. He was physically anointed by Samuel and God even called him a man after His own heart.  (1 Sam 13:14 and Acts 13:22). In Psalm 18:6 David says In my distress I called upon the Lord.

Psalm 13:1 – 2 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 69:1 – 3 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Psalm 140:1 – 3 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men, preserve me from violent men, who plan violent things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips.

Jeremiah was a prophet of God and he complained to God. Just look at Jeremiah 12:1 – 2 Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; They grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from the mind.

Jeremiah did not have an easy life at all. He was imprisoned and beaten and taken captive. Yet, he was chosen by God to speak to the people. Jeremiah certainly did not live a charmed life, but he knew God and that is worth far more than all the wealth in the world.

Next time I want to complain I’ll think about Moses, David and Jeremiah and instead of being miserable about what I’m going through I’ll look up, spread my wings and choose to fly above the circumstances.