God’s Got It

I had a bit of a change this morning. I could have visited another church, but just wanted to be somewhere familiar. I really love being able to watch church-services online on Livestream and put one on today, in expectation that God would speak to me. I knew there was an American called Tommy Tenney preaching and I’d heard good things about him before (he prayed for the founder of Victory Church Cwmbran before the Welsh Outpouring), so I knew he was used mightily by God.

He talked about Joshua: In his opinion, the most uninhibited man in the Bible. The first time they tried to conquer Jericho, twelve spies gave the Israelites a report on the land, but their fear had been greater than their faith. Their fear disabled them from living out their original purpose, so God had to wait until the next generation; that first generation died in the wilderness. The only two left were the spies who hadn’t been afraid – Joshua, and Caleb.

Forty years then after spying out Jericho and measuring its walls, Joshua’s approaching it again, knowing full well how big the problem is. Then he meets someone with a drawn sword and says: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” If we saw a policeman or a security guard carrying a gun, it might reassure us to know we had some protection, but if a man’s gun was held out ready to shoot, how many of us would go over and ask: “Whose side are you on?”

Then of course, he applied this whole situation to our lives. Who or what intimidates us? Instead of being intimidated by a problem, shouldn’t we look up to our God? “Any battle the devil can convince you not to fight,” he said, “he wins by default.” It was just what I needed to hear.

Don’t you think it’s awesome that wherever you are, God can and will speak into your situation if you ask Him to? That’s what we Christians mean when we say Jesus is our best Friend. It’s not just some fluffy statement; it’s a reality. Jesus treats us as His friends. If you saw one of your friends in some difficulty and wanting your advice, you’d give it to them, wouldn’t you?

Your situation may seem small to someone else, or even in your own eyes, but know that God’s got it covered.

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Doubting his Calling?

I was reading the beginning of Acts 11 this morning, and it got me thinking. You know how in those stories you know really well, an earlier part can remind you of what happens later? Yeah, it was a bit like that.

I was reading about when Peter returned from telling the good news about Jesus to Cornelius and watching his household being filled with the Holy Spirit. Some people thought this good news should only be told to Jews, and Cornelius wasn’t a Jew, so Peter came in for a bit of criticism. Fresh from witnessing God’s power, this opposition didn’t faze him at all. You see, Peter himself had been reluctant to associate with non-Jews, but in Acts 10:9-20, God had shown him a vision of animals Jews were forbidden to eat and said: “Don’t call anything unclean which I have called clean.” So, Peter described the vision he’d had in the previous chapter as his reason for visiting Cornelius. Great! What a transformation!

But later on, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he writes that Peter ate with non-Jews, but when some strict Jews came along, he started to back away from them. In typical Paul fashion, Paul opposed Peter to his face ‘Because he stood condemned’. (I love how Paul confronts these issues.) Why did Peter stand condemned? Because God had already revealed how He wanted him to treat people: “Don’t call anything unclean which I have called clean”, but instead of being led by the Spirit of God, Peter was acting in fear – backing away from the non-Jews because he was afraid of those who were Jewish like himself.

What about the vision? What about the power God had given Peter to communicate with non-Jews? Perhaps it’s not dissimilar to that day in the Garden of Eden, when the serpent came along. “Did God really say …?” As time passes, it can be so easy to let doubt creep into our minds, but Paul tells us: “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Instead of walking in the flesh (in our fears or doubts), let’s walk according to God’s Spirit and be faithful to our callings.

Possible

This week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt is “Believe”, and I just felt to write a little poem this time:
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When we think that God created the world – everything in 6 days – do we believe it’s possible?
When we hear that He parted the sea for His people – do we believe it’s possible?
When we picture a giant, slain by a shepherd-boy – do we believe it’s possible?
When we hear of a suffering servant, taking all our punishment – do we believe it’s possible?
When we want to be like Peter, in whose shadow people were healed – do we believe it’s possible?
When we hear of a disfigured body straightened – do we believe it’s possible?
When we seek provision for those in great need – do we believe it’s possible?
When we want a thriving church, people worshipping in spirit and in truth – do we believe it’s possible?
When we want a peaceful life, lived in a strength not our own – do we believe it’s possible?
When we search our hearts, and lift our eyes ...
Believe – it’s possible.

5-Minute Friday: Whisper

My thanks to Kate Motaung for this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Whisper.
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My first thought when I hear the word ‘Whisper’ is of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. God wasn’t in the earthquake, the wind or the fire, but He came to Elijah in a gentle whisper – a still-small voice. Some say it could be translated as ‘The sound of silence’.

Have you had any of those whisper-moments with God? Sometimes His voice says things you don’t want to hear. I remember when my uncle was dying – how badly I wanted God to heal him and people to listen to his testimony and believe; God whispered that this wasn’t going to be a time of harvest, but a time of growth.

His whispers can give you comfort too. I remember sitting on my bed, wondering who would look after me when I was old and unable to do the things I do now; the children I write to in the Philippines are so far away … God whispered that even to my old age and grey hairs, He would sustain me, and a song came out of that:
Keep me safe in Your will, dear One;
I know Your power will sustain me to the end:
When there’s fear that could come in,
I remember the hope and the future that You have for me.

I know it’s safe to trust in You;
I know You will never disappoint:
I know You loved me enough to send Your Son;
You will not leave me alone –
You’ll sustain me as I grow old.

Tuesday at Ten: Time

Well, I’m quite pleased because I can give a bit of a shout-out to not one, but two people through this post. Today is Tuesday, which means Karen’s back with her Tuesday at Ten linkup. This week, her prompt-word is: Time.
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So I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine, and how she spends her time. Alex has always been a quiet person one-to-one, but put her behind a microphone and she speaks with real authority, so I’m thrilled she’s using that voice of hers for God’s glory.

Alex spends three hours on a Wednesday, 6-9 pm here in the UK (that's 1-4 pm Eastern), playing music to praise God to on her radio-show – Worship Unlimited. I plugged her show when she first started broadcasting in 2011, and now three years later, you can find her on ACB Radio Interactive. This Internet radio-station showcases blind DJs from around the world, but Alex is listened to by people of all ages with very different musical tastes. One request might be a children’s song for a girl in her local church, the next a hip-hop song popular in Germany, or perhaps Alex’s personal favourite – Christian country. As long as it glorifies Jesus, she’ll play it.

Worship Unlimited now has a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, giving you plenty of ways to connect, so why not spend a bit of time tomorrow night listening to Alex on ACB Interactive? Let’s see if we can make this a community, and not just a three-hour show.

Let’s do This Together: “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days” (Book-Review)

It’s a real honour to review one of Holley Gerth’s books. If you’ve read here for a while, you’ll know she’s a favourite writer of mine. “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days” is a 52-part devotional based on the Psalms. I love the Bible, and I love when someone who’s had her share of emotional pain opens it up and finds comfort in it. With 3 Psalms per chapter, you could make it a daily devotional to finish in just less than 2 months, or read 3 Psalms per week and let it take you through the year.

In each chapter, Holley picks out a small portion from those 3 Psalms to explore in more depth. Reading “God Calls You His Own”, I imagine God delighting in me as a parent delights in a new-born baby. You may be better reading a hard copy of this than the Kindle version because after Holley’s thoughts, there are prayers, with space for you to personalise them and to journal what you’re hearing from God. Possibly my favourite of Holley’s books, I’d recommend this to anyone who’d like to see God as more than a distant grandfather-figure. It shows He understands your sorrows and wants to be part of your life. As Holley says, “What if instead of ‘Get it together’, God’s whispering ‘Let’s do this together’?”