So what is it, that the Father might be saying to us at a time such as this? It seems to me that it is as simple and as profound as a story of glory—the triumphant glory of God that has not been and will never be, extinguished by the darkness!
Imagine that you’re present—in this story recorded for us in the book of Acts 6-7. You are there living the journey with Stephen—working alongside him, helping him.
How exciting it was to be present that day when he was chosen by the community of Jesus-followers to serve them in the distribution of food to the widows of the Greek and Hebrew speaking believers? It was like you could feel the atmosphere was charged with the holiness and passion of God!
You had heard that Stephen had a reputation for being ‘a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit’. (Acts 6:5) and now you realised that Stephen was not just serving food to the people in need. Important though the task is, you have been recognising that it is never all about that. It is about relationship. Whenever authentic community is allowed to exist and is practised, God’s goodness and grace and mercy and compassion are on display for all to see!
Whenever the Word of God speaks, you have been learning that we do well to listen. But not just to listen because it is when we believe God and put what we have heard into action that it becomes life… And life charged and empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit changes everything!
You saw—sometimes through your tears—that through Stephen’s life in-action, God had gifts to give to the ‘little ones’ who are so easily forgotten—marginalised by a world locked in an insane struggle for power.
Now of course you remember… Jesus always honoured the people who the world rejected. He only did what he saw the Father doing! He never treated the vulnerable—the ‘lepers’ of society, the ‘invisible’ people like they were victims and expendable— people to sweep out of his way.
Their needs were (are) opportunities… opportunities for God to reveal his glory, his majesty, his goodness and his eternal loving-kindness to the world who was (is) watching.
You stood with Stephen as he along with his colleagues was prayed for and commissioned by the twelve apostles. Then in the days to come, you watched as a principle was displayed for all to see and understand: in the hands of the author of our lives, a job description becomes something infinitely more than anything imagined, planned or authored by man alone.
You watched in amazement as Stephen—full of God’s grace and power—performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. You had learned from history so you were not really surprised that he attracted opposition. It came this time, in the form of a group of Jews from a local Synagogue. But do you know what the worst thing was? These men couldn’t stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke so they persuaded others to tell lies about him.
It was awful! Of course, the people always did become enraged in an instant whenever they imagined the law of Moses and the holy Temple were being blasphemed but the speed with which you saw the religious leaders became involved was incredible.
That day, you heard truth! The very words of Jesus (yes, you heard him speak them with your own ears) were twisted and used with malicious intent against Stephen. You sensed evil at work that day—invisibly and visibly—bent on stealing, killing and destroying…
But the wonder of what happened next! You watched in awe when you saw Stephen’s face became as bright as an angel’s with the glory of God shining upon him, within him, all around him. Everyone just stared at him in amazement, their mouths wide open!
It was then that the priest in-charge spoke. You turned, this time to stare at him as he arrogantly asked Stephen if the accusations levelled against him were true! The way he asked made you wonder if he had already made up his mind about the matter.
The way Stephen replied was amazing and reminded you of the words Jesus said about a time of great persecution ahead. He said, “You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!” (Luke 21:12-15 NLT)
It looked to you like the religious leaders were pleased with what Stephen was saying… in fact it was like listening to the lesson for the day in the Synagogue. But all that changed when he pointed out to them that they were ‘heathen’ at heart and deaf to the truth! And then he asked if they were going to forever resist the Holy Spirit—which was what their ancestors did!
Oh! He really gave it to them! The Truth would not be silenced! He said that their ancestors persecuted every one of the prophets that God sent to them but not only that, they even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, the Messiah. He even told them that the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands! After all, who amongst men could build God a resting place when heaven is his throne and earth is his footstool!
You wondered… is it possible that the Temple and the traditions of the law of Moses had tragically somehow become a form of idolatry reinforced time and time again? Had this idolatry hardened—even encapsulated—their hearts to the Father of our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?
It seemed like the Father was giving these people whom he loved so much, another opportunity to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus in faith. But they would have none of it that day. The power of the ‘story’ was too strong in them and it was like they served it. Anyone perceived as a threat to their story was being treated as ‘the enemy’. They chose that moment, to become infuriated by Stephen’s accusation. They could have chosen to turn to God—truly remorseful and repentant. They had a choice but sadly, you recognised, they had made this choice so often that it was like it now owned them.
You watched with awestruck wonder as Stephen—full of the Holy Spirit—gazed unwavering into heaven and saw the glory of God! He saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. He testified to what he saw even in that moment, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)
The speed and violence with which the engaged religious leaders grabbed Stephen was awful and terrifying! You watched with horror when men took up one stone after another and with a deadly force borne out of self-righteous fury, struck him again and again…
With tears streaming down your face, you watched as Stephen—innocent of the charges brought against him—prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” (Acts 7:59-60)
And you remembered Jesus…
Oh… and the triumphant glory light of God? One of the witnesses who stood in agreement to the killing of Stephen, was a young man known as Saul who was soon to find himself in the very centre of the focus of that same glory!
Oh merciful and great I AM! Keep us from the folly of resisting your Holy Spirit! Help us to more fully surrender (by faith with joy and thanksgiving) to Jesus and experience true and lasting freedom to live in unfettered abandonment to your ways and to your will… No matter the cost of the opposition that we will attract! For Jesus sake! For your glory!
(References: This story was taken from the Bible book of Acts chapters 6-7 NLT.)
We might describe the living of life—day by day—as a journey.
Where are you going on your journey in life? What is your destination? And how do we make each day count? Who do we count it for?
Imagine… you are preparing for the journey ahead of you. Excited, you begin dreaming about all the adventures you will have—the places you will visit, the people you will meet.
A question forms in your mind, “What will I pack in my suitcase so I have everything l need—on this journey of mine?”
A man comes and stands beside you. You recognise Him. It is Jesus! He says, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with (God) the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” (1John 2:15-17—The Message)
Jesus goes on to remind you that you cannot follow two masters—you will eventually love one and hate the other. The Father—God—is good all the time. He does not want you taking your journey through life alone. He invites you to join Him and work with Him in His mission of love to a confused and hurting world in need of the Saviour.
Jesus says you are valuable to the Father whose Spirit will never ever leave or abandon you as an orphan. He will help you, guide you and teach you all that you need to know. He will even provide for you in ways that will bring great glory to His Holy Name.
You look up into the face of Jesus—in his eyes you see Truth. You see grace and mercy. You see compassion. You see joy! This is Someone you can trust. You say to Jesus, “Yes! I will trust you. I will submit to you as my Master. I will follow you and serve you. I will go where you go. I will say what I hear you saying. Yes Jesus. Yes!”
It feels like you have come home… when Jesus takes you into his Father’s arms and holds you secure. Jesus and his Father are One—perfectly united.
Now it is time to pack your suitcase for the days ahead. Jesus offers to help and you accept His offer knowing how wise he is! You remember that he once took a journey too. He set his face resolutely for Jerusalem so you feel confident that he knows all about being prepared for the journeys of life.
You recognise now that you are no longer anxious about what you will need—on this journey of yours. At peace now, you watch and listen as Jesus describes some of the things He gives you to pack in your suitcase…
Compass: The Holy Spirit will guide you and keep you in the power of the Father’s love and in the Word. He will remind you to check the compass—to ensure you keep heading ‘true north’—in step with Jesus into an eternity with him. The compass might also be called a ‘moral compass’ designed to keep you pure, holy and blameless in Christ.
Magnifying glass: represents God’s gift to you to help you examine and test everything to ensure it is of His Kingdom. You will be able to see so much more clearly with the magnifying glass—the lens through which God sees everything.
Sandals: these are sturdy—you are not surprised to find they fit you perfectly! Jesus tells you that they have been tailor-made just for you. They will protect your feet even on the roughest of roads. These are the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace.
Tool box: The Father knows what you need along your journey. He gives you tools such as patience, wisdom, knowledge and other grace-gifts designed to build up the body of Christ in the way you live. (Some tools you will be given further along the journey as you need them.)
Walking stick: this is designed to steady you. As you practice the Presence of Jesus wherever you go, His Spirit will steady you. Even if you stumble you will not fall.
Lantern: even in the darkest of places, this light will never go out. Jesus reminds you that the light of his life can never ever be extinguished by the darkness. His light within you means that even in the darkest of places, you will be able to see what God needs you to see empowered by His Spirit.
Clothes: Jesus does not pack these clothes—he dresses you in them! The robe of righteousness is a brilliant white and the garment of praise seems to be made of cloth the colour of a rainbow!
Now Jesus places His Hand upon you and speaks an ancient blessing. It is like holy oil that He says you will pass on to other people who you meet along your journey… ‘‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favour and give you his peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)
You pick up your suitcase ready to set off on your journey—Jesus looks at you with a smile that reaches all they way up to his eyes and says, “Let me carry that for you…!”
Do you ever wonder how you will move from one position to another… in life?
If you paused to consider the question, metaphorically speaking… would you take a running leap & jump—even if you risked falling? Or would you construct some sort of bridge? You might even use people to walk over to get where you want to go. Perhaps you might resign yourself to looking for a different path—the long way around if necessary. If there is one. And there would be no guarantee of not getting lost…
Of course, if you sit at the impasse long enough, you might get so tired of waiting that you turn & go back the way you came, disillusioned & disappointed, wondering what it was all about.
What if fellow-travellers distracted you with their ideas? For goodness sake, they might even convince you to abandon your own plans & join them on their journey! Being carried along in someone else’s hopes & plans for the future might help you to forget all about your own… for a time.
Imagine a vehicle pulling up beside you. The door opens—the Holy Spirit invites you to get in. He even helps you & shows you to a seat—reserved for you! There beside you with a smile that goes all the way to His eyes, is Jesus! The light of His pleasure shines into your face. “Welcome! You‘ve joined Me for the journey! “
Breathing in the atmosphere—replete with the exquisite aroma of joy & peace & love—you respond from a deep place within. If you could even find the words, you might describe feeling more alive than ever. Paradoxically, every cell in your being seems ‘electrically’ excited but completely at rest.
Words are coming to your mind… Our Father—the One true, powerfully gentle, majestic & holy God—knows the plans He has for you. He reminds you that, “My plans are for good & not for disaster, to give you a future & a hope.”1
You remember that Jesus said, “… ask for anything in My name, & I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”2 HIS word will be a lamp to guide your feet & a light for your path.3
Now Jesus reminds you, “Keep hold of your Daddy’s hand & walk resolutely with Him—one step at a time—just as I taught you. My Spirit will help you.” And remember… He said to His Daddy, “Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”4
Just like Jesus said to weary travellers so long ago, so He says to you now, “Come to me, all of you who are weary & carry heavy burdens, & I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble & gentle at heart, & you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, & the burden I give you is light.”5
Still another thought comes like a gentle wind strengthening you in Christ—preparing you for the journey ahead. ‘Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.’ 6
God has not left you alone like an orphan to find your own way in life.7
Choose this day! Choose to rest in the Spirit of Jesus Christ? Trust Jesus to be the way who will reveal truth & give to you His amazing gift of joy-filled life in all its fullness!
So… how do you move from one position to another? It happens as you practice abiding in Jesus Christ. You are carried in the Living Water (the Holy Spirit) in harmony with our Father’s heart.
God made Jesus Christ to be wisdom itself8 therefore walk in wisdom… in every footstep of Jesus, there is so much to explore!
There is freedom in Christ—to move forward with courage & confidence—even when it is in the face of fear.
Scripture references (NLT)
Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on the sand just by the water’s edge. Not so close that a more daring wave will take you by surprise but close enough to guarantee your access to the ocean.
Feeling pleased with yourself—for claiming such a prime location—you entertain the thoughts that come to mind. Of course, you would never voice them out loud, but they are there all the same—wrapped up in, “It’s mine!”
Dreaming about what it will be like, you set yourself up for the day. Building ‘sandcastles in the air’, you imagine the admiring glances of your neighbours as they wonder who you are and how you got to where you are.
Time passes… Unnoticed by you, the crowds have gradually departed until now, no one is left around you. And still, you hold your position.
But, now you see something you did not expect. There is water swirling all around you. Even as you watch, it slowly but relentlessly continues to rise.
The tide has turned.
So focussed as you were on maintaining your place on the beach, you did not see that your environment was changing. And yet you remain. The water continues to rise…
To the Observer, only your head is visible now. But you are not alone because fear and anxiety have become your companions. “Where will I end up… if the next big wave washes me away?” Now you begin to think. Maybe the sand was not such a smart place upon which to build a house.
A question forms in your mind even as you scan your surroundings looking for a way of escape… “Where is Jesus?” You realise you have not seen Him in a while but with a sinking feeling, you know you were not even looking for Him—preoccupied as you were with your own plans.
The water is now threatening your very existence. You decide to call out for help because you remember do you not? He is the ‘Master Life-Saver’. Tentatively at first… “Jesus!”. No one can rescue people like He does. But you wonder, will He want to?
Maybe your growing sense of courage is fuelled by you admitting to the reality of your desperate situation. Louder now, you call out again.“JESUS!”
Then you see Him. Why did you not see Him before? He is standing on higher ground. You hear His voice saying, “Come to Me beloved one. Come to where I AM”.
The water of your circumstances weighs heavily all around you but you have made a decision. Determined, you take the first small step towards Jesus.
You have surrendered to Jesus.
Now you see something wonderful taking place. It changes your whole world in a moment in time… Jesus is moving towards you! And then—He is with you—standing right beside you. Feeling magnetically drawn to Him, you look up into His face. There reflected in His eyes, you see the warmth of His eternal loving-kindness, compassion and mercy… focussed on you. God’s amazing grace!
“Come with Me” He says.“I want you with Me where I AM going. I promise you an adventure-filled life. It will not be an easy life—there are challenges ahead—but My Spirit will be with you and will be your Helper and Guide. Imagine the joy of following Me and serving God—My Daddy and yours! It is a lifestyle you do not want to miss out on.
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all your mind and all of your strength.”
Imagine… You are climbing a mountain. Now you are on the final ascent—the pinnacle is within sight. Exhorting yourself on, you shout on the inside, “Come on! I can do this. Just a little further.“
And just for another moment. Imagine… What do you do, once you have reached the mountain-top, celebrated the victory & surveyed the land laid out before you?
Have you ever thought about what is on the other side? Or do you simply presume you would descend the mountain using the same path by which you climbed it?
Are you curious—even a little bit—about what lies on the other side? Or do you presume it would be the same as what you experienced before? And after all… you just want to get there. No surprises. No distractions. No detours along the way. Tired & weary you turn. Ready, set…
Suddenly, you realise you are not alone! Instinctively, almost as if you are being drawn to a magnet, you turn to your left & slightly behind you.
There stands a Man. Dressed for hiking complete with sturdy boots & a backpack, he stands holding his hand out towards you with a welcoming gesture.
You sense your soul within you relax. At the same time, there are some things you simply just know… He is a Man with strength & power born out of identity & authority. His confidence & wisdom gives you assurance accompanied by peace that finds its way deep into the very centre of your being. You see that he knows what he is doing. Looking into his face you recognise—reflected in his eyes— an authentic kindness & honesty… an ‘openness’ together with a warm twinkle that draws you into a place of wanting to get to know him more.
You realise that you deeply want to remain with him.
You recognise something else. Where there was weariness within you & all around you like a blanket—now there is a new energy. Perhaps you might even call it… joy.
Whatever it is, you know that within, something has changed. Hope has lightened your soul where there was previously heaviness & an unrecognised (to you) expectation of loneliness, boredom, routine, of ‘going through the motions’ & more… that you thought was all you deserved.
Now you know… you will go anywhere this Man goes. Adventure beckons. The promise of enjoying the journey. Even the landscape around you seems different! Through fresh eyes, you see colour. With unplugged ears, you hear the sounds of life. And it is good.
“Come”, says this Man. “Come to me. I AM. Walk with me. I will show you the way & lead you. You will not be disappointed.
Together we will travel & together we will explore. I will provide for your journey… Look! I have everything you will need—I come prepared. Do not fear getting lost—I know the way. I even know what we will encounter along the way—I will shield you. I will help you. I will steady you when you stumble.
The adventures we will have together will give you stories to tell that will amaze all who hear of them. Others will want to join you! Place your trust in me—it is safe to trust me. Take a risk. Come on… take a risk!”
It is safe to place your faith & trust into the Spirit of the one true God revealed to the world through His Son Jesus Christ, the Man.
I could tell by the smell of my bread baking in the bread-oven that something was wrong. My family’s hope of fresh homemade crusty bread for lunch that day was not going to be fulfilled. When I looked at the finished product—resembling something like a sad, tooth-breaking biscuit-slice, I realised what I had done. I forgot to add the yeast!
One of the illustrations Jesus used to help us understand the ‘Kingdom of God’ is recorded in Luke 13:21: “It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
What happens when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? What happens (personally, family, ministry, work, relationships, etc) when we let God’s authority rule and reign in power within & over our lives? The very atmosphere around us is changed by the Presence of the One True God. In Christ & by Christ in us (the hope of glory)… we become agents of change in a world desperately in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
It is mankind’s natural inclination to want to go his / her own way & be in control. But we know don’t we. God’s Kingdom is different to the kingdom of the world. You & I have stories about the times in life when we chose to surrender to God—our Daddy—even in the face of temptation screaming at us to resist Him, to turn away & do ‘it’ our own way. But the Holy Spirit helped us, didn’t He! He helped us to stand firm, trust our Father & Jesus, resist the devil & so we saw amazing things—miracles—happen.
Jesus said, (Matthew 6:31) to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, & He will give you everything you need.” It seems to me that this is an ‘inside-out’ lifestyle. The power of a transformed heart & mind is amazing & brings glory to God. Our lives are being daily transformed to be like Jesus by the renewing of our minds—work being accomplished by God, the Holy Spirit. But we must choose to agree with His thoughts & His ways.
Are you even now in the midst of a situation where you must practice the presence of God & allow His Kingdom to rule here on earth? You are not alone. Turn to God in surrender. Keep your peace. Listen to what the Spirit of Jesus is saying to you. Look at what He is doing. Who does God want to be for you today? Remember when… Remember your testimonies of faith. (If you need to, turn to Hebrews Chapter 11 to be inspired by examples of faith.)
Begin to worship God even in the midst of today’s trial. His joy really will be your strength. His love will usher in rest. His wisdom will give you strategies that will change everything. And sensing the Holy Spirit’s confidence in your spirit, you will turn away from fear & the temptation to be in control. Be patient & wait for Him to act… God’s grace will be sufficient for you.
Our God … will give you everything you need.
The ‘year of the shoes’ stands out in my childhood memories. That year my mother passed on to me a secondhand pair of ‘Sunday-best’ shoes (‘hand-me-downs’) complete with the unspoken expectation that I would and could walk in someone else’s footprints. It was never going to work for me. Not only were the shoes too big for me but into them had been imprinted a legacy that did not fit me. Instead of taking delight in going to Sunday School, I became overly-conscious of my feet—anxious and fearful that I might fall down. I tried so hard to fit into those shoes…
Using this story (of the shoes) as a metaphor, have you ever been expected to walk in someone else’s ‘footprints’? What legacy has been handed on to you? Has it been a positive experience? Is it bearing good fruit? Have you been freely walking—taking delight in following Jesus—living the ‘rich and satisfying’ life that He came to lead us into? (John 10:10) Or… have you been so focused on maintaining your balance to avoid stumbling and falling down, that now you are beginning to recognise just how weary you have become?
Or was it you asking another person to accept something that no longer fits you or someone in your care? Maybe in that moment when you first tried to walk in those ‘shoes’ never designed with you in mind at all, you began looking around with a burning question in your mind, “Who can I pass this on to?” “How can I get rid of this…?”
What do you do with a legacy which you have inherited and are perhaps even now trying to operate under? What might be the expectations wrapped up in it? Has your identity been entangled or even somehow lost in it? How has your attitude—your stance in life—affected your behaviour?
With the eyes of your heart (your mind), let God’s Spirit help you to re-focus on to Jesus. Who does God want to be for you? What does He need to do? Take courage! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there really is freedom. Is today the day the Lord has made for you to surrender to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fit you with ‘shoes’ lovingly, wisely created by Him—tailor-made for you—with a Kingdom of God calling and purpose.
Our gracious, merciful and creative Father God calls you to trust Him and follow Jesus walking in His footsteps. His grace means that His Spirit will help you to do this daily. Your footprint is unique to you as it is to every single person, but we each discover in Jesus, a perfect fit—the ‘sweet-spot’! Freedom in Christ!
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me (Jesus Christ). 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message —emphasis mine)
I wonder how God our Father through the work of His Spirit—the Spirit of Jesus Christ, plans to apply this in your life? Have a conversation with Him today. Ask questions. Be prepared to listen and watch for the answers…
What is written in blue (below) was something I wrote last week as I enjoyed time with God. It seemed like He was giving it to me as a gift. As Monday approached last week, it seemed right to share it in the ‘Monday Morning Minute’. Ross (my husband & MMM’s International Director) challenged me to ask God how it might be applied to our lives. I pray that as you read it, you’ll encounter the beloved Spirit of the Lord Jesus &… explore the Father’s heart.
I have loved you with an everlasting perfect love—untainted by the dust of the world. Pure & undefiled, this love brings life. This love has brought an end to the problem of sin & pain. This love builds up—it does not tear down.
My love is My character reflected & expressed in Jesus Christ. My love is good—all the time. My love has divine, eternal purpose. My love is like an oasis bringing hope & life in the desert. My love is a well watered garden that produces fruit in seasons & out of season. In my love there is no fear of lack, no anxiety of famine. I send My love to you & … I will perfect it in you. The world needs to know My good & perfect love.
My love sets you free—to be who I call you to be—for the glory of My beloved Son Jesus Christ. When you honour Jesus by recognising that He is My only begotten Son, righteous & holy, pure of heart… you honour Me.
Submit to the authority of Jesus in all things. In this way, you please Me. Through you, My joy will overflow & change atmospheres. Practice resting back into Jesus & you will be made whole by the work of My Spirit.
The process of you being made whole is a glorious one—enjoy it! I do!
What is our default ‘turn-to’ setting when we have a ‘problem’ in life? Some of us might want a problem-free life but what if God actually needs us to have a different mindset? What if He needs us to view our problems as ‘opportunities’? Opportunities inviting us to explore the Father’s heart in a new way. Opportunities where perfect love has a chance to flourish & drive out fear. Opportunities that are created where believing God & trusting Him displace doubts about who God is & wants to be for us. Opportunities to let God out of the ‘box’ & give Him the freedom to be God in, all around, through our lives. Opportunities…
I’ve noticed Jesus attaches the gift of a promise to each ‘problem’ that His Father permits to intersect with my life. Years ago, I was surprised by the voice of the Holy Spirit who seemed to say, “Heather, you’re an overcomer.” Of course He was giving me such a gift… being intentional, compassionate & eternally lovingly kind, my Daddy (God) needed me to be more than an ‘overcomer’ in Christ. Just as important as that is, He needed me to know & accept that I am who He says I am! The first step of this process becoming a reality was, by faith to receive His good gift.
Various ‘problems’ rose up to challenge His gift to me over the following year. But God was equipping me by His grace & goodness. Contrary to my former thought patterns, I began to exchange the (mindset) lie for the truth… “I’m an overcomer” & reflecting to God words like, “I will trust You. Thank You for making me an overcomer in Christ.”
By giving me a constructive, life-giving framework to which I could continually reference what was happening in & around me, the Spirit of Jesus helped me move through the problems in life rather than getting lost in them or disabled by them.
When you & I encounter a problem, it might be like arriving at a T-intersection on a road. We need make a decision & choose which direction we will take. Do we turn ‘left’ reacting as if we are orphans—all alone—not knowing who our Father is? Turning that way, we might find that fear, anxiety & worry have opened the door to other things like the need to be in control, relying on our own resources (or those of the world) & working to navigate a safe route through an unsafe land.
Or, do we intentionally choose to turn ‘right’ into the arms of our Father through faith in Jesus who has everything we will ever need (& is not reluctant or miserly in giving!). That would be like jumping into the River of Living Water in which we are gloriously out of our control & depth!
Submitted to the flow which is neither haphazard or without meaning, we are carried in & nurtured by the Water, whose Source never ends, will never be defeated, will never be overwhelmed & will never be taken by surprise. Nothing is impossible for HIM! Let us today & each new morning, surrender in trusting submission to the Lover of our souls.
Upon Him we can depend with certainty even in times that scream to us, “uncertainty’ ahead”.
Walking along a beachside track with Ross last week, I was startled by a brief flash of dark colour & the sound of something nearby. Hearing the sound again, its source still eluded me. Quickening my step around the bend in the path, I was amused to see a bird running for the cover of a bush!
Another day & another walk… This time it was on the cliffs high above the beach. Perched on the fence, I saw a young magpie watching our approach. Despite Ross’ sudden & inexplicable attempt to make it fly away, the bird settled back & focussed its attention on me! The pleasure I felt in the moment of interaction brought a deep bubbling-up sort of joy from within!
These two experiences led me to think about what might characterise our relationship with God. He makes no secret of the fact that not only did He decide to adopt us into His own family through Jesus Christ but it gave Him great pleasure to do so. (Go to the Bible & explore the book of Ephesians Chapter one to find out more.)
Imagine. Jesus (He exactly represents Father God) is walking towards you. Hearing His footsteps before you even see Him, you take flight running for cover. Hiding, your heart is beating with a sense of anxiety & fear accompanied by something else you can’t identify & you wonder why… Why did you hide from He who is Love—from He who does not condemn you but comes to save, heal & deliver you?
Imagine again… Sitting on a fence, you watch as Jesus approaches you. Something just tried to scare you off but this time… you’re determined not to give way to fear, anxiety & worry. Watchful, you sit even while poised to take flight.
But peace has come near, the atmosphere has changed & your confidence & trust develops moment by moment. More settled now, you listen to the sound of His voice—He might even have something to give you. Even as you wait, you’re becoming bolder & more courageous as you take joy in soaking in the life-giving pleasure & delight He has in you! Yes, you!
The Spirit of Jesus—our God—is calling us! It is time. It’s time to plunge deeper into a true heart-to-heart intimate relationship with our majestic, powerful Father for whom nothing is impossible! In this place (in Him), competing forces vying for His rightful place in our lives melt away recognising their defeat!
It is impossible to live the ‘rich & satisfying, abundant’ life that Jesus said His purpose is to give us (see John 10:10b) if we are habitually running or hiding from His Presence. It’s time to come down off the ‘fences’ straddling the high places of life & the sea of God’s radical, life-changing love, grace & goodness. His ways. His Kingdom.
Come on! Let us joyfully & courageously choose to surrender & submit (all things) to our God whose good thoughts towards us outnumber the grains of sand on the sea-shore! His plans for us are all about Jesus Christ… establishing the life of Christ in us for His glory!
We are in the process of learning to authentically live a life of glorious obedience to Jesus who calls us not to worry about everyday life & whether we will have ‘enough’. He says (See Matthew 6:25-27—NLT), Look at the birds. They don’t work or harvest or store food in the barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Let us joyfully, faithfully & courageously walk in a submitted, surrendered, trusting life of joyful obedience to partner with our God! Come on beloved of the Lord! Let us practice resting back into God, our Daddy—from this place of love—we lean forward & give out on life’s journey. Let us not give into intimidation or fear of that which belongs to the world because, the victorious Jesus Christ… He is our Lord! And empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will walk in His footsteps!
I want you to observe the rhythms of life. The words wafted through my mind like a gentle breath of cool fresh air. The words—an invitation—held the promise of deepening intimacy in relationship with He who spoke them into existence…
But what did the words mean? Rhythms of life? Now & then I have felt myself being drawn back to them… I see myself looking at them, testing them out like I’m tasting & smelling them or feeling & listening to them. Rhythm. Life. Come with me to explore them but then keep exploring, one day at a time, hand-in-hand with God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ said, The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, & destroy. But… He went on to say words reflecting the ‘Kingdom of God come here on earth’ reality wrapped up in love, faith, hope & glory (truth & a promise)… I came to give life with joy & abundance. (John 10:10—The Voice). God’s amazing grace & love in action—His love-gift to the world.
Paul wrote in the Bible, You were dead because of your sins & because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us & took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers & authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15 NLT)
So then, we are free, in Christ, to observe the rhythms of life by the power of His Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Back to that question I asked earlier. What are the rhythms of life? If it was God who asked me to observe them (& it seems right to share this message with you today) then He holds them in His hand & wants them to be a deeper reality in my life & yours.
Rhythm speaks to me of music… the music of heaven. Rhythm speaks to me of the sound of flowing water in the river… the River of Living Water. Rhythm speaks to me of the sounds of birds singing in the early morning… glorious songs of praise & worship lifted up to our Daddy God whose mercies are new every morning.
Rhythms of life… flow from a life connected deeply into & embedded securely in the heart of the Father through the Spirit of Jesus Christ… Prayer life—listening, talking, writing. Community life— embracing relationship with God & people. Work life—being lived in partnership with Jesus empowered by His Spirit for the glory of God. Rest life—being still & letting our Lord be God. Taking time to let our bodies rest, relax & be restored & renewed. Letting our kind, powerfully strong & gentleman Father God carry our burdens as we continue on our journey through life.
Only in & through Jesus Christ, the hope of glory, will we discover true life-giving rhythms. Why? Because He is rhythm itself. So when our being is one with His, we will be moving in concert with Him… in harmony with the rhythms of life.
Heather Henson – 16-11-2015