This afternoon I took off in Houston for a flight to Chicago. The weather has been rainy and miserable for a couple of days and as a child of the sunny South Africa Highveld, that tends to make me sleepy at best, and unhappy at worst. As the plane rose past 10,000 feet, we broke through the thick layer of clouds into bright blue skies and happy sunlight. I pressed my face against the small window, closed my eyes and let the sunbeams warm me; within minutes I felt cheerful again.
It struck me how this is a picture of our connection with God on earth: on this side of eternity the radiance of God’s sunshine is very often hidden by thick clouds, part of what Jesus meant when He said, ‘in this world you will have trouble‘. Man’s sinful nature spews fear, insecurity, guilt, anger, greed and a hundred other ‘pollutions’ into the spiritual atmosphere and, like thick clouds, these dampen the Father’s warming sunlight for men. Our enemy, the ‘ruler of the kingdom of the air’ accumulates and steers these evil clouds to oppress and distress, darkening and crushing hearts.
Quite a depressing picture? Actually no, because our Lord Christ tore apart the clouds, exploding with the ‘radiance of God’s glory’ to shine brilliantly on all those who call on Him for help. By His Spirit, God creates an ‘open Heaven’ for the each of His children every time they reach out to Him in faith to do so. The Holy Spirit carries us, like a Boeing, through the dampening clouds of the world’s heavy atmosphere and into the sunlight and blue skies of God’s Presence, otherwise know as ‘Heaven on Earth’.
This is lesson #1 of how we hear God’s voice, and it is expressed so well Continue reading Hearing God #1 – His words to us are never clouded with fear, guilt, anger and the negatives of fallen man
Our Father is not silent. Some have a picture of God as a silent person who folded His arms after the Bible was given to men, now sternly watching to see if they will do what He said.
Not so. The Father made us to be His children and re-created us in Christ, holy, righteous and full of His living Spirit so that we could interact with Him as sons and daughters do with their fathers.
He loves and He speaks, and He listens to us when we talk to Him. He sings songs over us as we sleep, and He loves the worship we sing back to Him. He put His Spirit in us so that we can walk with Him in a ‘new and living way’ – this isn’t dead religion. The Father has specific things to say to each of His children to express the individual thoughts and plans He has for each of our lives as Ps 139 beautifully describes.
Continue reading Hearing God Series Intro – The Father speaks to His children. Life is learning how to hear Him
There are two things about Jacob that put him into history’s ‘hall of fame’ of heroes in God’s eyes. Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. What stood out to God about Jacob is that he left a legacy of blessing to his descendants, and that he worshipped in the dying moments of his life. Its striking that his worship was not a set of elaborate actions or huge effort – in fact it seems he had little strength left – it was an act of faith. Think about that: his worship is noted for being ‘by faith’ in weakness.
Bill Johnson recently wrote something that caught my attention and seems to grab everyone I tell it to: Continue reading Worship is our response to God’s Presence
By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit, the righteousness for which we hope. Galatians 5:5
As parents of three young children, my wife and I have lot’s of training and correction to do. When dealing with a behaviour problem in one of our children, we’ve found the best approach goes along these lines, “Son, what you did there is just not you, it’s not who you are. You are better than that. God has made you awesome and you had a bad moment. Let’s put that moment behind us and help you to be the great young man that you already are.” On the other hand, a really terrible approach is one that leaves a child downcast about how bad they’ve been, hoping somehow that guilt and shame will be positive motivators.
God is the wisest of Fathers, and has a way of transforming us into the most glorious of children, like the Firstborn of all Creation. Continue reading If righteousness is your identity, it will become your destiny
Everyone in Jericho had a sense that they were going to loose a battle, that they were on the wrong side of God who had defeated other nations for Israel. Fear filled them all. But just one person stepped out of fear into faith.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Heb 11:31
Hebrews 11 salutes Rahab, a prostitute, as one of history’s heroes of faith. How did she do it? Quite simply, she saw something God was doing, and she took action with risk to step into God’s purposes. And so she received a ‘scarlet ribbon’ as a guarantee that she and her family would be rescued from destruction, a prophetic sign of the saving work of Christ. You can read more of this great story in Joshua 2:18 – it speaks an important word to us in our age. Continue reading Faith is crossing the line of our fears, into the safer hands of God
“How much more will those who receive the abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through Christ Jesus” Romans 5:17
Many Christians live with insecurity about their position with God. They’re not sure whether they’re doing enough to be acceptable to the Father and their effort becomes focused on trying to achieve what they’ve already been given in Christ – a full “thumbs up” from God. Living to earn God’s acceptance is “living for righteousness” and its an awful thing. Its not how we were created, because its the nature of a slave rather than a child.
Instead we need to learn to live “from righteousness”. Continue reading We’re meant to live from righteousness, not for righteousness
We’re praying for our university student brothers and sisters in South Africa at this time as they’ve been taking a stand for an important cause that will shape our country’s history. Its not just about fees. They’ve been protesting the injustice that flows from poor governance: money managed wastefully, or worse, resources filtered away to enrich a few through corruption; but there’s no money to invest into crucial education for the leaders of the future. There’s frustration with the powerful putting themselves first rather than serving those who entrusted them with power. There’s a cry for good leadership; for God’s type of leaders.
There are times when Christians are called to take a stand – to follow the conviction of conscience and to push against injustice – even if its uncomfortable and the cost is sacrifice. Great men and women of God in times past took a stand against evil, connecting with God at the same time, and so brought the touch of Heaven into their communities. Continue reading When you stand for a cause, stand with the strength of Christ at your side, confident in His righteousness