It’s been starting to frustrate me how people talk about faith as something that ‘just happens’ but the more I read the Bible the more I discover that God often requires us to step out first… and at THAT point God comes and takes over.
Faith is a VERB… a DOING word.
I’ve heard it said “If God wants it to happen it will” and while that is true, it seems that we still have to do something to prepare.
It seems to me that God has placed dreams in our hearts for a reason… and it may be days, weeks, months, years before we see the fruit of that dream… but it must be in our heart for a reason.
So what are you doing to prepare?
I read through the Bible and I see miracle after miracle where the person had to ‘step out’ first before the miracle happen…
A few examples are:
- The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land and God commanded the priest to step into the river (Joshua 3:8) – it wasn’t until they had stepped into the river did the river part.
- Jesus asked the staff to fill the jugs with water and take them to the head manager of the house before the water turned into wine… not only did the staff know they were taking water to the head of the house but they knew it was from the place where the people got water used to clean their feet.
- Mark 16:20 says people went forth and preached everywhere… with signs following
- God told Joshua that he had given the City of Jericho to Joshua… however they still had to walk around the walls 7 times in faith before they saw the miracle happen.
It seems that the Bible is FULL of stories where God asks us to step out in faith first, and then the miracles happen.
We shouldn’t just pray about our dreams… we should act on it.
Act as if God is going to deliver on his promise.
Now let me give FULL disclosure!
- We don’t want to put God in a box and say “This is the only way that God works miracles” because our God is certainly bigger than anything we could ever believe or imagine.
- This is NOT some “name it and claim it” scheme. You see it HAS to be in the will of God.
- It’s not about getting God to give us what WE want.
- It’s not about working hard to prove anything to God, in exchange for a miracle
So don’t just pray… because if our prayer isn’t accompanied by acting then there is a good chance we won’t go anywhere. It’s about putting feet to our faith or put another way:
“After kneeling down, we need to stand up and step out in faith” – Mark Batterson
I like that…
I once heard Pastor Francis Chan use the analogy of cleaning your room. He says:
“When my daughter comes to me and I say to her “Go clean your room” she knows better than to come back and say
“Hey Dad I went away and memorized everything you said… you said to me ‘Go clean your room’ ” …
She’s also not going to come back and say “I remembered what you said and I can tell you now that I can say ‘Go clean your room… in GREEK’
Or “We’re going to get our friends together every week and we’re going to study what it might look like if I was to clean my room.”
It doesn’t work does it?We have to at some point we have to step out…
Do you believe that God has planted that dream in your heart… do you know in your knower, that this dream is from God?
Then after you pray… Stand up… and step out in faith.
One Day …
Two simple words but they seem to be so packed with meaning.
You may have heard them used in every day conversation:
Used to describe a sense of laziness “I’ll get round to it one day…” or “He’ll get round to it one day!”
Used to describe excitement for the future “One day we’ll be married…” or “One day we’ll have kids of our own”
Or of hope “One day I’ll get to Paris”
You see they’re just two words, but they’re packed full of so much meaning.
However when you say something like “One Day …” to a Christian and it seems to change EVERYTHING for them.
I posted a picture I made simply saying “One Day …” on it and posted it to my Facebook page.
Almost immediately someone replied underneath it “We will all be in heaven, praise The Lord!”
You see it seems to me it’s more than just a pipe dream “Oh well, one day…” it’s knowing that what God has placed on your heart he has placed it there for a reason. We need to hold on to those dreams that God has placed on our hearts… and pray over them… keep them in our thoughts… why?
Because by doing that it keeps us on our knees… it keeps us depending on God… because we know that without God we can’t make them happen.
Remember Joseph? You know the guy with the coat of many colours?
God gave him dreams that seems far fetched… dreams of his brothers bowing down in reverence to him.
I understand why his brothers were a bit jealous of him (especially as his father Jacob already made it clear that he was the favourite!)
The point is… God placed the dream in Josephs heart, there wasn’t anything that Joseph could do about it but have faith that God has given him that dream for that reason.
What you have to remember also is it wasn’t easy for Joseph… he was sold by his own brothers, he was made a slave, he was thrown in prison and waiting to die, before God started to unravel his plans. In the story of Joseph it talks about him having God’s favor upon him it’s even retold in Acts 7.
It sometimes seems that we’re going through a whole lot of pain and anguish for nothing… but Gods favor is upon us when he has placed a dream in our hearts that only he can fulfill.
That brings us back to “One Day …” it brings us back to having faith in God who has a plan far greater and grander than we could ever think of, and because of that it means that we have to stay humble and focused on God because we can’t do anything to make it come to pass apart from being obedient to him (the Author of Life).
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see – Hebrews 11:1
One Day …
One Day …
One Day …
In research done by the Barna group in the USA showed that only 27% of church going school kids had some sort of prayer or devotion at home… this number is REALLY low.
However what’s the most alarming is that if you take out grace at dinner time… the number drops to between 10-12%
So that means that almost 90% of church going school kids never get any kind of devotion…
Now parents in Christian homes tell me that they want their kids to discover a relationship in Christ… so the question has to be asked…
How are they expecting that to happen osmosis?
John Piper writes: “If there is one memory that our children should have of our families and of our church it is this; they should remember God. god was first. God was central”
The Bible tells us to get the Bible message inside our children…
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
Kids need and long to hear from us…
Our Testimonies… Our Experiences… Our personal encounters with God.
You see they want to know that what you believe isn’t just real but life changing.
Here’s the thing if parents don’t start to impress these on our children… you can bet that the enemy of souls will… in a subtle… but very real way.
Our kids are FAR TO VALUABLE to just to hand over to the enemy without a fight!
If you have children under the age of 12… and really would like resources for the home to help give your children EVERY opportunity to discover the amazing adventure God has in store for them. I would recommend Faith box.
For more information click on the link here!
and even better… I would strongly recommend you purchase it!
According to research from the Barna group in the U.S.
60-90% of Church going School kids will not carry their faith with them into young adulthood – they just let it go.
When asked “why?”, by far the largest reason was “hypocrisy”.
You see what they heard at church and what they saw at home wasn’t the same thing.
There was never the God conversations, between their parents… they never saw how the parents faith impacted their lives.
We talk about how important it is for our kids to grow up in a Christian environment yet we’re treating church like a drop of zone for them to get their weekly ‘Jesus dose’ – but we wouldn’t not feed our kids Monday to Saturday and only feed them on Sunday would we?
So why do we do that to ourselves and our relationship with Christ?
Just as importantly why would we do it to our kids and jeopardize them having a lasting relationship with God?
Why would you, a parent do that to your child?
Why wouldn’t you give them the opportunity to discover the amazing adventure Christ has in store for them?
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it
Our kids need and long to hear from us as parents…
OUR testimonies… this is what God has done for me
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15
Are you ready to talk to your kids about your Christian hope?
OUR experiences… This is the adventure God took me on
OUR personal encounters with the living God… God changed me, I once was this and now I’m this.
The bottom line is this… if we want our kids to have the faith that influences the way they live their lives then in our homes we need to be modelling faith through a personal relationship with Christ…
I’m not talking about just putting on some Christian music in your house every now and then
I’m not talking about saying grace before you eat your dinner
I’m not talking about saying prayers before bed.
What I’m talking about is this: how does your faith… and your relationship with Christ impact your life and those around you?
You see it has to do with not just teaching faith… but journeying with your children.
FAITH starts at home… is faith at your home?
To say I love Christmas is an understatement…
I LOVE CHRISTMAS…
I even start playing the Christmas Carols a month out… I love it. There are some REALLY cool Christmas carols, but one of my favourites lyrically is ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’ a song originally written in the 1700′s – I think it’s the simplicity of the words and the fact that the more you look into what they mean the more they reveal.
One of the verses particularly stands out for me:
Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more shall die
Born to raise the sons of Earth
Born to give them second birth…
Did you pick that up?
Among the story of a baby born into the world in one of the most unlikely places… there is a future.
But not the future of this baby… a future for us.
Here lies this baby… growing up… to die for us.
“Born that man no more shall die…”
Let that sink in for a while… he died for you…
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
1 Peter 1:3-4
You see Christmas is more than the story of when a baby was born into the world… this is a story of a rescue, God laying aside his Gloryand putting himself in the place where we should have been… taking the punishment of death for the sins that we did… the punishment that WE deserved.
God was giving us a second chance…
Hark the Herald angels sing.
The word awesome is a bit of a funny word isn’t it?…
Awesome… it’s like “I have some awe… but that’s all”… yet we use it to mean “Wow… that’s more than amazing”
An even funnier word is ‘Awful’… it’s obviously a bad word… yet it would seem it should be a much happier word… “I’m full of AWE”
Either way… I like the word AWESOME… it may seem at times to be over used… but I genuinely like it as a word… there is nothing better than hearing someone say to you “You’re awesome”… and it feels just as good telling someone “You’re pretty awesome”…
It warms up your heart… it’s one of those ‘Awwwwww moment’ words
Yet why do we think of ourselves less than Awesome?
You see not only are you made in God’s image… but you were saved from Sin, even when you weren’t worth saving.
Do you see that?
God really likes you… he thinks that you’re awesome enough to save you, even when you had turned away from him… even when you didn’t want to know him…
And he did what only he could do… you couldn’t save yourself… but God loved you so much that he sent his only son to die in your place.
You see you matter to God… anyone would be happy to take a hit for someone who was good… but for Jesus to DIE for us in our wretched state only shows how much you mean to God.
God thinks that you’re pretty awesome.
So why do we hide away in our own self pity… or knock ourselves down?
The rest of the world tries to knock us down… so why should we?
“let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” Romans 12:6 (The Message)
God loves you so much… and not in a cliche sticky sweet way… but God actually likes you… he really likes you!!
He thinks… You’re AWESOME.
I wish you could know that for yourself…
not because of what you’ve done…
or look like…
but because you are God’s masterpiece (Eph 2:10)… God doesn’t make junk.
I was talking to a friend of mine, and I was reminded about the amazing provisions that God had continued to bring into the life of myself and my family.
There have been so many times in my life where our cupboard was bare… and just at the right time someone came with a box of food…
Or when our car had been in need of repair… and just at the right time the money came into our account – the EXACT amount.
I can give story upon story of how God has provided for us at just the right time in so many ways.
Revelation 12 says:
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die – Revelation 12:11
Testimonies remind us that God is still in charge… how?
Because no one can take away the things God has done in our lives… we EXPERIENCED it.
It’s kind of like walking in and seeing your grandmother naked… you can’t UN-SEE things like that… and you can’t un-experience the things that God has done for you.
When we share the things that God has done for us we take away from the enemy his lies telling us that “God doesn’t work in our lives anymore” when we know he does because we have experienced that in our lives.
We have experienced his Grace, we have experienced his healing, we have seen and heard his answers to prayers… and we can say with all honesty that “God has been with us Thus Far and we know he will continue to be with us.” (1 Sam 7:12)
Often we think that Testimonies are only to do with how we became a Christian… and what God did for us does come into the story of how we became a Christian… but Revelations 12:11 talk about how POWERFUL our testimonies actually are.
One of my favourite testimonies I have heard was in Mark Batterson’s book ‘The Circle Maker’… t goes something like this:
Bob Bagley was a missionary to Africa. His tribal church was literally meeting under a tree and one day the local witchdoctor cursed the tree and all the leaves withered. They lost their shade. They also lost their status! That curse overshadowed them. So Dr. Bagley decided to call a public prayer meeting. He laid hands on the tree and prayed that God would resurrect it. I love his prayer: “It’s not my name that’s at stake.” He knew that he couldn’t establish God’s reputation without risking his own! The rest of the story? Not only did God resurrect the tree, it became the only tree of its type that yielded fruit twice a year!
Isn’t that great… those sort of testimonies remind us who’s really in charge, and that God is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)…
But here is the thing – If we don’t share the way God is at work in our lives, then we’re tempted to think God isn’t working at all.
So what are the stories that YOU have of Gods provisions in your life… God’s Grace etc…
Are you telling people about them… because they are YOUR stories to tell… and another way of overcoming the enemies in your life.
Isn’t it so easy these days to not engage with anyone… or you might engage but on a really small shallow level…
I was thinking about the things that influenced me the most… and it was two things.
Things that made me happy… and things that made me sad
Do you remember the things that your parents said to you when they said something like “You must always remember this…” – it’s great if you do… but I certainly don’t… the things I remember are the times that someone gave me encouragement, lifted me up… a parent telling me that they were proud of me… a friend giving me an ‘atta-boy’ at going a good job… it’s those things that stick…
On the flip side however it’s the things that often hurt the most that stay in your mind too… the time when you felt betrayed, shamed or guilty…. these things when held onto can hold back and cripple someone.
My thought is… if the things that impact us the most are so influenced by the people who are part of our lives, and if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and different from the rest of the world… then why don’t we encourage each other more and help take away those negative thoughts???
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
We’re to ENCOURAGE each other… lift each other up… motivate each other.
“By acts of love and good works…”
It seems to me that when we are being counter cultural to the norm and we start to show our love for others… and do things for these people… it makes a real impact. The world expects people to take advantage of them, to use them when they are weak, and to hold a grudge… what are we doing to counter that?
Notice however it does not say “just saying nice things”... but it’s “doing” nice things… it’s putting your money where your mouth is… it’s walking the talk!
After all LOVE is a verb.
And what starts to happen when we start to do things for other people and love them how Christ loved us (which is unconditionally – after all he died for us when we were still sinners) then not only do we see those around us change… but we start to change too.
You see we’re called to spur each other on… but how do you even start that??
We need to make sure that we’re taking our cues from the Holy Spirit… just ask if there is anyone in mind that he thinks you should ‘spur’ on… or maybe there is someone that comes to your mind straight away… how are you going to make them feel encouraged?
However here’s the thing…
Spurs often hurt… sometimes you need to give the person that you are trying to encourage a bit of a ‘dig’…
Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.
Sometimes you have to say the ‘hard word’ to a friend… sometimes you have to give your friend a reality check… and it can be hard and it can be painful… however if your friend knows that you’re saying it from a sincere place… and if you feel that you’re saying it as a prompting from the Holy Spirit… it may be the things that sets them free from some of the pain that they have been holding onto for sometime.
So are you encouraging your friends?
Are you spurring them on?
What are you doing to change the life of your friends?
Because isn’t it easier to be right… than it is to love someone?
Lets not choose the easy option!
Have you ever been in a place where you have been making progress in your faith and all of a sudden you get railroaded?
I have… after a hard couple of months due to business and just ‘life’ in general I finally felt like I was in a place that was a place where I could get real with God again… it was time to do business!!
I had been really getting back into the word of God and reading it each morning with my wife Emma… and then last night we were with our growth group and we decided to have communion together… it was something most of us had never done outside of a ‘church’ building before and it , and most of us agreed that it gave it a different feel… a different focus… as we wrestled with how it was described in the Bible.
Spiritually I was feeling like things were getting back to where they had been before…maybe even better… until today.
A while ago I was in a position where I was being pursued by another woman… it was getting pretty messy (I won’t go into details) however I was given the opportunity to move to another part of the city for my job and I took it… and things were going pretty well… until today.
The same person I had being trying to stay away from and cut out of my life, started to message me, and text me… out of the blue?
I don’t think so… because all of a sudden I found myself thinking of where I had been before instead of where I was going.
It hit me like a bolt out of the blue…
I was frustrated on the drive home in my car… why this… and why now… things were starting to look so good.
And then I realised the hugeness of what having communion and remembering where we had come from as sinners meant to me… and then what it meant to the enemy.
And then I started to be frustrated at myself…
“Of course this has happened now… you had drawn a line in the sand and declared that you are aligning yourself with God… and the enemy doesn’t want that”
It was a ‘Duh Goose moment’
The reason it took me off guard was because I wasn’t being vigilant.
“Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…” – John 10:10a
Was I that naive to think that these things happening were an accident?
The enemy is strategic and forceful, and he’s playing for keeps… the Holy Spirits role is to help you have a closer relationship with God… and the enemy wants the opposite…
Be vigilant… keep and eye out.
Now I realise what is happening I am certainly going to be.