God’s words to us are like food – they’re life-giving nourishment to our hearts. When a child of God has recently heard from the Father, there’s a sense of being “seen” and loved by God that brings fresh energy, faith and peace. Hearing Him is like eating life, and God invites “those who have no money…come and eat” (Isaiah 55). We need to eat healthy food daily to sustain our bodies, and also we need to hear the Father regularly and clearly to strengthen our spiritual lives. So how do we do this? Continue reading
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
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
In Acts 3 we gain insight into the supernatural lifestyle that Peter and John lived, or as the Bible terms it, the “spiritual life”. We learn secrets of experiencing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, living surrounded and overshadowed by God Himself.
We owe the world an encounter with the living God, or as Paul put it, we should give more than “persuasive words but a demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power”. The truths of Acts 3 show that this is possible not only for elite Christians, but a clear path for us all. Continue reading
When God created you He made something very wonderful. Men and women are the pinnacle of the Father’s world and we are different from His many other works in that we are created to be His children, to relate directly to Him and to be lovingly connected to Him.
Psalms 139:14-16 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
One thing that’s wonderful about you is that there was a unique ‘secret place’ where God created you, and you can always go there to connect with Him. Continue reading
“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.” John 16:1
One night recently I woke at 4am and felt that I was in a real battle with darkness and fears. I felt like a helpless ship buffeted by a raging storm. Reaching out for the Lord’s help, I began reading His Word and felt Him speaking to me from John 14-16 in a special way. Verse by verse as He spoke, the darkness faded and my heart filled with the light of faith, joy and peace. Calm waters returned!
In the ‘red letter’ words of John 14-16 I saw a couple of anchors of encouragement that Jesus gave his disciples so that they would not ‘go astray’ in the raging storms of life. Here’s what struck me:
- We each have a special place reserved in God’s Kingdom, a unique ‘room in the Father’s house’ where we belong as sons and daughters. We are not left as orphans.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms…I prepare a place for you…I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you…My Father will love you and we will come to you and make our home with you.”
- God loves us to the maximum, as much as the Father loved Jesus. And He commands us to stay connected to His love because we need this great love constantly!
“As the Father has loved me, so I have love you. Now remain in my love…I too will love you and show myself to you.”
- Life in this world will bring challenges and difficulties, but He’s given us what we need to overcome, and thrive. Battles and struggles shouldn’t surprise us.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world…I have told you this so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.“
- What He’s given us to overcome is His Holy Spirit. Living intertwined with the Spirit is like a ‘branch abiding in the vine’; its living united and connected to God Himself.
“The Father will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth…you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you…then you will realize that I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you. Abide in me and I will abide in you…I am the vine and you are the branches.“
- We thrive because He defends our hearts with His peace, something the world can’t experience. The world’s peace comes from calm circumstances on the outside, but Christ’s peace comes from His Presence on the inside.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid…I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”
- We thrive because He satisfies our hearts with His joy that can’t be taken away.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in your and your joy may be complete…you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.”
- We didn’t chose God, He chose us, and destined us for tremendous fruitfulness on earth and into eternity.
“You did not chose me but I chose you and appointed you to bear much fruit, fruit that will last.”
- We are invited to the unimaginable – to do greater works than Christ did – and to ask the Father for as much as we can imagine in Christ’s name.
“He who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name…Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
These ‘anchors for the soul’ are all unshakeable and true for each of us if we come to the Father through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
Meditate on these truths and allow the Holy Spirit to plant them deeply in your heart so that they will become strong anchors for your soul when the storms of life try to knock you off course.
“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power…and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” 1 Sam 10:6-7
In the Old Covenant, the most sought after, distinguishing blessing from God was the anointing of His Holy Spirit. Less than 100 men and women were entrusted with this gift over several thousand years, and they are the ones about whom pre-Christian history is written. Many of them were flawed people – think of Moses’ stuttering, Gideon’s fear and David’s adultery. But when the Holy Spirit came upon them, each became “a different person” as the nearness of God amplified their lives, covered over their failings and turned their ventures into magnificent works.
Today, Christ brings us something even greater. Continue reading