Friday, 28 December 2012

Ask for a sign

The following four scriptures appear in the Bible:
Isaiah tells King Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” Isaiah 7:11
God says to Gideon: “And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And He said, “I will stay till you return.”” Judges 6:16-18
Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matt 12:39
“And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”” Luke 4:12
When you read these scriptures it might seem like the Bible contradicts itself. How can God tell King Ahaz to ask for a sign, but tell the scribes and Pharisees that an evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign? Also Jesus said that you shall not put god to the test. The way I understand it, is that it is all about the heart.
Gideon’s heart was right, he asked God for a sign saying that if God gives him the sign then he will do what God tells him to. Also see Judges 6:36-38. Gideon is willing to follow God and believe His word wholeheartedly, when God gives him the sign. God knows that Gideon is not testing Him. He knows that Gideon's motive is genuine and that whatever God proves through the sign, Gideon will do. If Gideon asks for a sign and God knows that even if He gives Gideon a sign, he still will not obey God, then Gideon is just mocking God and then God will probably give no sign as God will not be mocked and will not be tested.
The scribes and the Pharisees on the other hand were not looking for a sign to help them obey or follow God, they were looking for ways to test Jesus and to prove that He is not the Messiah. No amount of signs would have convinced them that the Son of God was standing in front of them, because their eyes were blind and their hearts were hard towards God. Asking for a sign was evil and adulterous as they were ready to test Jesus and to find something which to betray Him with. They call Him teacher, but they don’t believe that He is the Son of God and they seek any opportunity to find fault in Him. If you read the first part of chapter 12, you will find that Jesus just healed a man with a withered hand, a man who was demon possessed, blind and mute and everyone else who followed Him. All these miracles were done moments or hours before they asked Him for the sign and they still did not believe.

Jesus was also healing people on the Sabbath day, which was unlawful according to the Pharisees, as you were not allowed to work on the Sabbath. They might also have been asking for more signs in order to have more evidence to incriminate Him with. Point being, their motive and heart behind asking were evil and adulterous and Jesus knew that.
I have found that when I ask God for a sign I have to be serious about it or God will not respond. Let’s say that you want to ask God whether or not you should take a new job. If you tell Him that you will say “yes” if they phone on Monday and “no” if they phone on any other day of the week, then you have to be serious about it. If God knows that you will say “yes” no matter which day they phone, because in your heart you have already decided that you want the job, then He will most likely not give you the sign as He will not be mocked. You cannot ask God for a sign if you have already decided what you are going to do. It sounds silly, but God is not stupid and He can see your heart. If you are earnest, He will respond, but if He knows that you will not obey Him after He gives the sign, then He won’t give you a sign. He does not put Himself or you in that position. The problem is that we are sometimes too scared to ask for a sign, because we are scared of what the answer might be and we are scared that the answer will not be in line with what we want.
So if you want to ask God, be genuine, be honest with yourself and get your heart to a place where you know that whatever He asks you to do or whatever His answer is, you will follow and obey. When you get your heart to that point, then ask for a sign and I believe He will give it gladly. Do not be afraid to ask, even if His answer does not match your wants, rather know that He is good and He always has the best plans for His children.
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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Not condemnation, but freedom

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:16, 17 ESV)

John 3:16 must be the most well known scripture and before I met Jesus, was the only scripture that I could quote from the Bible. This scripture popped up as the "verse of the day" when I opened my eBible today. Although I know verse 16 very well, I haven't read verse 17 as much and when I read it today, I felt to share the following.

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn us, but in order that we might be saved through Him. He sent Jesus so that we might be free and so that we might have life. Jesus says
"The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Jesus doesn't want to condemn people. People often think of condemnation when they think of Jesus, instead of freedom. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden the world has been condemned, they chose themselves over God and selfishness led them to turn their backs on God and His ways. They wanted to be better and more intelligent and they fell for the lie of Satan as he said that they would be like God if they ate from the tree and they will know good and evil. Instead they separated themselves from God by allowing evil into their pure hearts and their immortal spirits died.

How often do we still fall like this? No wonder we call it the "oldest trick in the book". How often does Satan whisper to us a false idea? "If you do this and that, then you will gain this and that. It won't hurt anyone, they won't even know, just slander that person, tell this lie, just take the praise for that and give the blame there." It's in our blood and we cannot deny it. We want more wealth, power and success. We think we are all-knowing and no one can teach us anything. Greed, vanity, pride and lust, all of these have the root of selfishness. We condemn ourselves just by being ourselves and submitting to our selfish desires. Our own heart and conscience condemn us and tell us that what we are doing is wrong. We justify, we fight and we try to convince ourselves and others, but deep down, the truth is imminent.

What did Jesus come to set us free from? Why do we need saving you might ask? We need to be saved from ourselves, from the condemnation in our own hearts, from the lies of this world and the blindfold over our eyes. The blindfold makes us think we are superior, strong and intelligent, but compared to God, we are only fools. But the blindfold (lie) keeps us arrogant and proud, it convinces us that we don't need God. That is the sole purpose of Satan, to keep us away from the truth, away from Jesus and away from freedom. Satan tries to convince the world that they are free and that God equals rules and condemnation.

The Bible says: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV)

When you are wearing a blindfold you cannot understand the words of God, they are foolishness to you and even if someone explains to you the truth it sounds foolish. Choose today to remove the blindfold from your eyes and live in true freedom. I cannot remove the blindfold, but God can, His love and truth expose the lie, the oldest trick in the book. Ask Him today to save you and to open your eyes to see and your ears to hear. Ask Him to forgive you for the way you talked about Him and the way you maybe mocked His people. His heart is for you and His desire is to reach each person.

"So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:14 ESV)

You have been forgiven before you even ask for forgiveness, Jesus paid it all for you and He just knocks at your door and asks you to let Him into your life. He brings no condemnation, but rather love and freedom. He's calling you back to life and into a relationship with Him. All you need to do is say yes.

"For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them." (Matthew 13:15 ESV)

Photo credit: weheartit

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Live with vision not discouragment

I am so excited to write this blog today as I feel that the Holy Spirit has really opened my eyes to this truth again this week and I’m so excited to share it with you.
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (or the people are discouraged), but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18
Imagine the following: You are traveling through a land and you have special eyes with which you can see far ahead. You can see through mountains and identify where the danger lies and where the fruitful plantations grow. This special vision that you have makes your journey easier as you can see which routes to avoid (desert and danger) and you can see which blessings are on your path (streams and fruitfulness). Even if you choose to climb a mountain, no matter how hard it is, you can see that there are beautiful streams and fruitfulness on the other side.
The Holy Spirit gives us this vision in our daily lives. He enables us to see past the difficult situations (rocky paths and mountains) and reveals the blessings, fruitfulness and gifts which are in store for us. When we keep seeing His vision, we remain in a place of faith, peace, joy and encouragement instead of a space of discouragement.
So often in life worries, fears, lies and anxieties wrap themselves around our heads blurring our vision and we become short-sighted. We lose the bigger picture. We stare into the rocky ground, the mountains and deserts and we become discouraged as we focus on the problems. We become tired of our challenges, anxious, lost, lonely and fearful.
Do not lose your vision as you will become discouraged. You might ask: ”how do I then remove the cloud around my head and regain my vision?”. The verse above says: “blessed is he who keeps the law”. We don’t follow the law of the Old Testament anymore, but the law that is written on our hearts of which loving God and loving our neighbour are the most important elements. When we follow these, we will be blessed.
We remove the cloud by fixing our gaze on God, His love and who He is, instead of the situations we face and where we find ourselves on the road. We focus on the promise and not on the problem and this will enable us to see into the future and give us hope. When we know who He is, the mountain becomes a heap of stones and the journey becomes a joy, because nothing is impossible for God. We were made to be a people with great wisdom, vision and perspective in order to also encourage and lead others to a place of vision and freedom.
So today, stop starring at your feet, leave the pity party, be encouraged and lift your gaze to heaven. Find yourself in His unending love and faithfulness. Get His vision and perspective, see the future and start walking towards it.  
Photo credit: weheartit

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Are you believing the lies?

If there’s one thing that I really do not like, it’s a lie. The Bible says this of the devil: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
The devil has no power over us except when we give him power. When he lies and we believe him, we allow his words to influence our lives. I have noticed over the years how easy it is to fall for his lies. Some lies are recent and some lies date back many years and by believing them, we have carried them into our futures. These can be lies which people have told you or just lies which you started believing due to your experiences.
I wasn’t an extremely vibrant and talkative person before I met Jesus, but soon after meeting Him I started talking more and more, often very passionately as my encounter with God was so life changing. The devil started telling me that I talk too much and that people are thinking that I am a “know it all” and an irritation. For a girl who has never been the “centre of attention” type of person, this quickly made me withdraw. The more I spoke, the more I felt that I was being an irritation to people. But 6 months after meeting God, I told a friend that I think it’s so amazing that we all want to preach for Jesus and encourage people. She quickly commented that she doesn’t want to preach at all, but rather wants to work in orphanages in Africa. As I asked around I quickly realised that I’m the only one of my friends who wants to preach and I realised that God put this dream on my heart and it’s been on my heart ever since.
I realised that day that the lies that the devil brings are intended to keep us from reaching the destinies that God has for us and suddenly the voice telling me to keep quiet disappeared. As soon as a lie is exposed, it loses its power and Satan knew that by preaching the truth, I was exposing his lies. Since then I have identified many other lies in my life. Many years before I met God and some years after I used to think that I am a burden to people and this stopped me from meeting and encouraging new people and being involved. It seems so ridiculous when I look back at it now, but in those times the lie was very real to me and it stopped me from approaching the people God wanted me to help.
Lies are specifically aimed at distracting us from our destinies and Satan knows that when his lies are exposed, you will move forward with God in the plans which He has for you. For example, if he’s telling you that you are a lazy person, then you probably have an amazing ability to manage and organise. If he’s telling you that you have an inability to love, then you have an amazing undiscovered heart of compassion. If he’s telling you that you are not worthy, then you probably have an amazing gift of confidence to encourage others. If he’s telling you that you are broken, then you have an amazing capacity to love and give and so the list goes on.
Where in your life is Satan lying to you? Where is he keeping you from the plans that God has for you? The Bible says that as a man thinks, so he is. Try to identify the discouraging and fearful thoughts which you hear throughout a day and start fighting those thoughts with the truth. Maybe have a discussion with God or a friend that you trust and feel safe with and share your apparent flaws and fears with them. You might be surprised at how quickly they will tell you that what you believe about yourself is not true.
Begin to see yourself as God sees you and become free to be everything He has made you to be. Don't be blinded by the lies and don’t let anything or anyone’s opinion hold you back. Pick up the Bible, ask God and get a second opinion about yourself.  
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Rom 8:37
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Monday, 17 December 2012

A desperate place

At times you can reach a desperate place, a place in your life where everything is overwhelming and you have no energy left. The problem is not the amount that needs to be done, but rather the lack of enthusiasm to do it with. You are busy, but bored, around people, but lonely and you are weighed down by cloak of sadness. You ask advice from almost anyone and even scarier, you consider or actually follow advice from people that you normally never would have. My point being, you are desperate.
You might believe in God, you might not, but my advice still remains the same… relax. Just take a moment, just calm down. There are a million voices in your head, opinions, thoughts and fears, just put them aside and just relax for a moment. Currently anxieties, fears, emotions, opinions etc. are forming a cloud around your head making you unable to see ahead or even feel a way out, you have reached your end.
When God looks at you He sees potential, He sees future plans and a destiny. He sees wholeness, not brokenness, peace instead of turmoil and joy instead of sadness. Why, you might ask? Because although the world has told you that you are broken, desperate, sad, alone and a failure, He still believes in you and He sees a prince(ss), He sees a success and child to love. Your challenges are no match for Him as nothing is impossible with God.
Can I challenge you? Humble yourself before God. Go on your knees in whatever desperate place you are in today and bring your troubles to God. Stop listening to the lies, opinions, self-help books and mantras, but bring your heart, in whatever state it is in, to Jesus. Put it in His hands, His love and His peace. I challenge you to ask Him to allow His love into your heart and to allow His love to change you and encourage you. If you do not know Him, ask Him to help you to put your trust in Him and in His love and to show you the way. Ask Him to wipe away your fears and tears, to pick you up from the mud and to put your feet on a solid foundation.
It is Love that brings the change, it brings the joy, peace and the enthusiasm for life. Hold on to the Love that you know and it will help you to cast out all fear and doubt. The Bible says: “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 You cannot be afraid of punishment if you know God’s perfect love, we need not fear punishment, because there is no punishment in God’s love.
Let go into His love, it is safe, secure, not judgemental, kind, peaceful, generous and mostly everlasting. Allow yourself to experience this today, to bring calmness to the storms in your mind and the fears in your heart.
“Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” Matt 8:26
Jesus doesn’t need you to have a lot of faith, all you need to do is come to Him and ask Him to save you from the storm.
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” Rom 10:13
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.“ Lamentations 3:22-26
Photo credit: the rainbow maiden

Thursday, 13 December 2012

With praise and thanksgiving!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes 5:16-18
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:4-7
God wants us to “rejoice always”, “give thanks in all circumstances” and “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.  It sounds so simple, but when we find ourselves in a desperate place of hopelessness, sadness or discouragement the last thing we feel like is praising and thanking God. Especially if you have been waiting and waiting for God to change your situation, to provide or to restore and you are not seeing any change.
I don’t know about you, but I have found this to be very challenging over the years. I don’t like pretending and I don’t like thanking and praising God in a fake way just because I’m supposed to. I want to thank Him from my heart in truth and love, but still the Bible tells me to “rejoice always” and “with thanksgiving”. So how do I do this without being fake?
My search has led me to the word “faith” and the definition of faith. Faith is knowing that you already have what you have asked for and faith comes from hearing the Bible. I looked for scriptures in the Bible to strengthen my faith and I started from there. I would find verses that tell me who God is and that He is faithful and I then thank Him because He is faithful, kind, gracious and in control. I thank Him for who He is and praise Him because He is God.
Then I look at scriptures which directly relate to my situation and I thank God for what He has already promised me. I allow them to give me hope and by the Spirit my faith grows and I start climbing the mountain, even if it is just with a small thanks. As we build our foundation on God and on who He is, the mountain becomes smaller and we become taller and we reach a point where we can look over the mountain and receive vision. We see God’s plans fulfilled and our needs met and we receive the peace of God which transcends all understanding.
Our mountain has not yet been moved but, we have already received the victory and we can walk out the last stretch with peace and joy, thanking Him for what we are about to receive. God knows that praise and thanksgiving focus our attention on Him and not on our circumstances, break the chains of despair and give us strength to persevere to the end.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Rom 8:38

Monday, 10 December 2012

Never be afraid to change

Photo credit: favim
Tonight I have a simple, but truthful message on my heart. “Never be afraid to change.” God never changes, He was, is and will always be the same, but we need to constantly renew our minds. Our greatest enemy is our minds. We think we know everything, we understand everything and can anticipate things. Logically this actually doesn’t make sense, because 100 years ago people also thought that they were intelligent and on the forefront of technology, but now we look back and everything seems to be so primitive back then.
It doesn’t take much to remember the transition from record player to video tape to CD to DVD, everything is getting smaller and faster and wireless and and and we still think we are so intelligent! But in 100 years people will probably look back and think we were pretty primitive. The same with the universe, the further we travel, the more we realise that we are smaller than we think and the universe is larger than we thought. Our galaxy is a galaxy in a galaxy, but is there an end to the universe? Is it round? Ha ha, some random thoughts that fill my (very not scientist) mind at this moment. I’m sure there are people working on these things. ;)
Why do we think that we are so intelligent and that we have all the answers? And when we have no answer, we make an answer to fit a theory, so we can say that we have some idea and therefore we are intelligent. But just to be proven wrong a few years or decades from now and then we call it a new scientific breakthrough. It’s funny how we just assume that we are right. I like science and I think scientific breakthroughs are amazing, but at some point we need to realise that every generation needed to change to adapt to the next generation. In the way they think, dress, communicate, travel, live life etc.
My point is this: we cannot assume that we know everything about God. We cannot just read books with people’s opinions from years and years ago and take that information above the voice of God. Each one of us needs to have our own revelation of who God is and allow Him to teach us. What else is the point of having a God who speaks? It is too easy to just listen to a pastor or read a book. How do you know that they tell you the pure truth? What if they genuinely don’t know that they have a skewed or limited view of Jesus? How do you know that you are interpreting the Bible correctly?
I know that these are all scary questions and I don’t want you to panic, I’m not against church or books, but I do want you to think... Do I know what Jesus says on a topic or did I get it in a book or from a person? Is it your own revelation or second hand information? God loves to speak to His children and nothing is as precious as hearing His voice. Do not substitute His voice for anything. Do not be afraid to be led by His voice, even if it means that you have to change. God is a good God and He knows what is best for you. He will always lead you in peace. If you desire to know the truth on a certain topic, he will open your eyes, only be ready to believe, receive and follow Him.
This post is not about being right, it’s about knowing the truth. The bible says that the truth sets us free and when we live in the truth we will be able to show Jesus to people in a more real and accurate way. Religious thinking is acting on knowledge without having had a heart revelation and is a very dangerous thing as not all knowledge is correct and from God and not all knowledge will bring you revelation. This can lead you to wrongly make people feel condemned or judged. We should rather love all people in the seasons that they are in and walk patiently and graciously with one another in love, encouraging them to seek God’s wisdom and hear His voice. God is the one who brings change, we can only be willing.
“Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”” Matt 13:14
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:31-32
Thank you so much for reading my blog, it truly is a pleasure to write and a delight to read your comments. After chatting to the Holy Spirit last night, I feel that I should commit to writing around 2 posts per week instead of 5 and use the additional time to talk to God and to enjoy His presence. I trust that my posts will be more Spirit filled and encouraging as He takes me to new heights. Be incredibly blessed on your journey with God. He has great plans for you! :)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Do not give up!

Photo credit: sparklingheart
You are just at your end. You don’t know which way next. You hold on, but you struggle and it’s not that you don’t have faith, but you are just tired. You know the miracle is coming, but when? Why is it taking so long? You have no idea and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s not in your hands, it’s out of your control and you feel helpless and discouraged.
“But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” 1 Kings 19:4-8
Elijah was probably the greatest prophet who ever lived, but still he finds himself in the wilderness asking God to take his life. Ironically Elijah never died, but was taken up to heaven by God before Elisha’s eyes. But at this stage Elijah was at his end, Jezebel wanted to kill him and he fled into the wilderness. He obeyed God, slayed and defeated the priests of Baal and was now suffering persecution because of it. He had no reason to doubt the power of God, as he just saw the power of God in 1 Kings 18, but still he flees to the wilderness as he is the only prophet of God left in the entire Israel.
“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And He said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””
Maybe today you are at your end. You don’t know how much longer you can hold on and you are just tired. Can I encourage you today? God is with you wherever life takes you and He will sustain you as He sustained Elijah with food and water. Not just food for your body, but food for your soul and Sprit through His word and His voice. Seek Him. He will give you the strength to go on fighting. He knows where you are at and what you are going through and He is not oblivious to it. His voice is in the whispers and He will lead you through. Even though you do not feel Him, He is definitely there carrying you. Don’t run away, but stay and fight, your victory is around the corner!
“But He answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
 but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt 4:4
“ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal 6:9

Thursday, 6 December 2012

What is the condition of your heart?

What is the condition of your heart? If you had to draw a picture of your heart, what would it look like? When I met Jesus years ago, I underwent a radical transformation. I remember seeing my heart depicted as a house, it looked like one of those deserted, wooden houses standing in a field with a big tree next to it. As Jesus invaded my heart it turned into a beautiful glass house. He opened every window, old door, cupboard and spring cleaned so thoroughly that there was no darkness or weed to be found. I felt as if my heart was made out of glass and that there was nothing hidden and that I can stand in front of Him and He can see through me. I was hiding nothing and nothing was holding me back.
It is our responsibility to keep our hearts in that condition. We need to be careful what we allow into our hearts. I can immediately feel when anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred, unforgiveness, offence etc. try and worm its way into my heart. It’s like a rotten egg thrown at my window and I just know that there is something unpleasant going on. If you don’t realise it immediately then it might happen over a few days, you start feeling less peaceful and more irritable and the condition worsens the longer we take to deal with it.
The problem with the emotions mentioned above is that they take up space in our hearts, the space which love used to fill and this makes us feel drained, burdened and irritable. Your glass house now has weeds growing out the window and this is embarrassing, so you just withdraw because of shame and anger towards others. And if the weeds are not dealt with, our hearts close up, the glass turns to wood and we design walls to keep others out, mostly because we are angry at the world, vulnerable and ashamed of our pain. The worst thing is that we don’t just keep people out, but we also keep the love of God out and then our hearts can grow hard.
If you find yourself in this situation, whether there is a small weed growing or whether your house is completely closed with extra barbed wire around the wall and a big “keep out” sign out front, it does not matter to God. Nothing is impossible for Him and there is no heart that He cannot heal. God is more than capable to deal with any issues that you might have. All you need to do is allow Him to enter.
Often we already know what we have allowed into our hearts, especially if it’s something small, but sometimes it can be years of brokenness, hurt and rejection and these things will take time. Remember that He is gentle and kind and that He operates in love. He knows how fast He can clean and what you can and cannot handle. He works at your pace, slowly pulling out weeds and replacing them with love.
I’m not encouraging you to go on a journey of introspection and to find issues in yourself, but rather take the things that you do know of or the things that are bothering you and sit with the Holy Spirit and ask Him to show you how to deal with them and to fill your heart with love. God is taking us from glory to glory on this wonderful journey with Him. Do not be anxious because of where you are at in your journey, but know that if you hold His hand you will always reach your intended destination.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps 51:10
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24
Photo credit: favim

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Claiming the promises

Photo credit: cottage960
God has equipped us in Jesus with everything that we need. I just want to have a greater revelation of this truth every day! We just need to realise daily that we have already received in Christ everything that we have asked for. The entire Bible is full of promises that God has made to us and any word that we believe, we can receive.
I always say that you can almost “sue” God. The Bible is a contract and if it is in His word, then you can claim it. The problem comes in when we don’t know what’s in the contract and then we have no foot to stand on in court. Satan comes as the accuser with his lies, doubts and fear and our only weapon as our defence is the Bible. When Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan, He exposed every one of Satan’s lies by quoting scripture.
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Eph 6:16
The Bible says “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17 Thus the “shield of faith” is hearing the word of God and knowing how to defend yourself from the lies and schemes of Satan and even from the insecurities in your own mind.
If you are struggling with something, whatever issue it is, take the thought captive and submit it to the word of God. For example, if you are doubting whether you can hear God’s voice, read John 10:1-18 where it says that a sheep knows the voice of the shepherd and claim it for yourself. I normally say something like “God, Your word says that the sheep hears your voice and I am your sheep, so I expect you to speak to me and I believe that you want to.” Or if you wake up not feeling loved or full of joy, remind yourself that “you can do all things through Him that strengthens you” and that God loved you so much that He gave His only Son to die for you or read Song of Solomon and know that “you are beautiful my darling, there is no flaw in you”. God likes it when we take His word seriously and act boldly. He likes it when we exercise our faith and proclaim what we know is true.
I just have this picture now of two kids, you are the child of God and you are saying to the lie of Satan: “I don’t care how big your dad is, my Dad is bigger and He can beat up your dad, one shot!” Every dad is proud when his son believes in him. It is the same with God, He is so proud of us when we know who He is and what we have in Him and that every lie that the devil will ever tell has already been beaten.
You can find a verse for any issue that you have and speak it over your life. Be bold and courageous and break the lies that Satan ties your mind down with. It really is ALL in the mind. The Bible says “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. Change your way of thinking by learning what the Bible says about you and the power that you have in Jesus and start living life free from the limitations that Satan, other people or even you for that matter have put on yourself.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

When the heart goes numb

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I feel today to speak to people who have been hurt. Hurt, shamed, abused or disappointed so much so that a part of your heart has gone numb and you just locked it away in a cold place somewhere where no one can hurt it or see the pain again.
A piece of our heart (an area in our lives) can so easily grow cold and hard. I've been speaking in previous posts about having a willing and open heart towards God, but it is possible to have your heart open to God is some areas, but not in others. It is also possible to have a willing heart towards God, but a cold heart towards certain people.
It might be that someone has hurt, offended or disappointed you and your heart has closed up towards that person or even a group of people. You might have forgiven and tried to forget, but consequently you were left with a piece of your heart numbed. A piece of your heart that got so hurt that you don't want to use it again, because you are not sure how much more you can handle.
You may be in a place where you have lost all hope in a situation and gave up trying. You have locked that area so far away, because you fear that you will feel the pain of disappointment or humiliation again. You fear having another failed or disappointing relationship, friendship, community, health, pregnancy, career, business etc. you fill in the blanks.
I want to tell you today that you are not alone. God knows what you are going through and He knows what you have locked up in your closet. Whatever it is, it is not something that God cannot deal with, it is not something that that He cannot restore completely. He can breathe life into any cold part of your heart and restore your faith, not just your faith in Him, but also your trust in people and in yourself.
You are not a failure, God does not create failures. Bring your broken pieces to Jesus today and He will restore your heart/situation with gentleness and kindness into something even more beautiful. Do not be afraid, you can put your trust in Him and He will never disappoint you. Allow Him to remove that coldness and hurt and bring you to a place of greater joy, freedom and confidence. When we try with Jesus, we can never fail, when we try with Him, we are more than conquerors.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Rom 8:37
“For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”” Rom 10:11
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps 147:3
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:7
“Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” Isaiah 49:23

Monday, 3 December 2012

It's all about the heart...

Photo credit: weheartit
I can’t emphasise enough how walking with God is all about the heart. This does not mean that we switch off our intellect, this merely means that we need to stop viewing God as a subject (knowledge) and more as a person (experience) through which we also acquire wisdom.
We can briefly compare the Christian life to driving a car. We receive a manual (Bible) which will tell us how to start the car, but after that the manual will make no sense if we do not get behind the wheel and learn how to drive. On our journey we will see lights flashing and hear sounds beeping and as we experience these things, the Bible will describe to us what we are going through and how to handle each situation. The best way to read the Bible is with the Holy Spirit. Without Him, we are likely to read too much or too little into verses and misunderstand some verses completely. Then we start to form our own ideas of what WE think is being said in the verses and then form opinions that are completely off track and grow religious mind-sets. We are foolish if we think that we can interpret the Bible without God’s help and insight.
Our minds are often our greatest enemy. Instead of using our hearts, our relationship with God, waiting on Him and listening to His voice, we think that we are so smart and we formulate our own opinions without even consulting God and often to even suit our own ways.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
When we come to Him it must be with open hearts and open minds, asking Him to teach us His ways. We cannot comprehend His ways, not in the slightest. He is the creator of our brains and we cannot imagine Him or understand Him fully, even if we tried.
““‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’” Matt 13:14-15
God is not mocked. He will not give you guidance or speak to you if He knows that you are not willing to listen and obey Him. He does not put Himself or you in that position. Rather bring your heart to a place where you can honestly say: “God, whatever You say I will do, whatever advice You give, I will follow” and then He will speak to you. Sometimes our hearts need to reach a desperate place, a place where we can cry: “God, I am willing to give it all to you, no matter what the answer is, please just tell me so I can receive it and be free.” And if you find that your heart is not willing, do not worry, ask God to help you make your heart willing and help you to understand.
I pray that God would help me to always keep my ears, eyes and heart open to Him, that I would not harden my heart towards Him in any area in my life. I pray that my eyes will always be open to see what He sees and that I would not turn a blind eye, because of selfishness or pride. That I will be willing to learn and to hear what He has to say and be willing to lay my own agenda, thoughts and opinions aside regardless of the consequences. I pray that I would live with His input daily and not let my actions become religious and self-motivated.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Receive beauty for ashes

Picture credit: becauseofgrace
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favour has come and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:1-3
Isaiah is proclaiming of the One who is to come, Jesus, and that one day He will be all that the verses above announce Him to be. We see this prophesy fulfilled in Luke 4:18. Where Jesus reads the exact scripture from the scroll and says to the people: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. It was customary for the Jews to read from the scrolls each Sabbath in the temple and the people would take turns in reading from the scrolls. They would continue reading in the scroll at the place where the last person ended. Luke tells the story of how it was Jesus’s turn to read from the scroll in the synagogue that day.
God’s timing was perfect as Jesus had no way of orchestrating the reading of scripture so that He would end up reading that specific scripture which would reveal to the people who He truly is. This was the first time in Jesus’s life where He proclaimed to the people that He is the Messiah and the people knew exactly what He meant as they have been waiting for the Messiah to come.  
As the Messiah, He has come to do the things listed in the verses above and more. He has come to take away the poverty, the broken hearts, captivity and mourning which you have received from this world. He has come to give beauty where there are ashes, joy where there is mourning and praise where there is despair. He has come to establish His people in righteousness like great oak trees, planted to proclaim His glory.
So I ask these questions today: Where in your life do you have ashes (burnt down hopes and dreams or mistakes you have made), mourning and despair? Where are you in need of freedom? Ask God today to give you hope in the places where you lost it all. Do not give up. Jesus has already made to you this promise that He will freely give to all who ask and receive. Do not hold on today to the ashes of the world, but give it to Jesus and receive beauty. Jesus has come to set the captives free.
Maybe you have lost a friend, parent or child? Maybe you have lost your job, health, honour or reputation?
“Instead of shame and dishonour, you will enjoy a double share of honour. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land and everlasting joy will be yours.” Isaiah 61:7
Do not let Satan convince you that all has been lost, stolen or beyond repair, God restores with a DOUBLE portion all that has been stolen from you and nothing is impossible for Him. Jesus says: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24