Five years ago, we moved our family across country for my husbands work.
In two weeks, we do it again.
Last time, because of legal hold ups with our house sale, we had to rent a (very small) holiday lodge so that we could be here in time for our children to start the new school term – with no guarantee that the sale would go through. It was a real test of faith for a couple who had lived in the same county our whole lives.
In the middle of all this I found myself reading Joshua 3 – which recounts the people of Israel walking across the dry bed of the Jordan.
At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 [a]cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people….
14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16 the waters which were [d]flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, … those which were [e]flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. Joshua 3 2-5, 14-17
An encouraging passage, at a time like that.
You’d think so wouldn’t you?
Me being me though, I checked out what 2,000 cubits is in more familiar measurements.
Its about half a mile.
So as the Israelites walked towards the crossing place, they could clearly see a long way ahead that the waters had stopped and they were in no danger.
I mentioned this to a friend, who paused for a moment before saying
‘Aah yes, but it still takes faith to believe that the waters will STAY stopped when you put YOUR foot on the river bed”
Fast forward 5 years and we are selling our current home before the legal stuff is done on our new place. We have a rental organised for a few weeks, but there are no guarantees that our purchase will go through yet.
I believe Lord. Best foot forward.
The following post is taken from a “New Testament in a Year” challenge that I was asked to write some contributions for by my home church, Gateway
Yesterday’s gospel account was of the rich young man who felt unable to part with his worldly wealth in order to obtain eternal life.Today’s reading also involves money – but from a different perspective.
Jesus tells us that The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who hired people to work , and paid those who started later the same as those who were there from the beginning.
It is worth noting here that Jesus is talking about
Heaven – not God.
Elsewhere in the New Testament Jesus tells us that Heaven is all around us.
It’s at hand. (Matt 3:2)
It’s within us. (Luke 17:21)
(Its not just where you go when you die).
In this analogy, Jesus explains that heaven’s rewards are not based on length of service, or amount of work – it’s based on you turning up.If you believe in Jesus you are in.
You are in. That’s all that matters.
At the time Jesus spoke these words, the chief priests, religious rulers and the Jewish people would be regarded as the first, and only ones in line for God’s favour. They were God’s chosen people from the start – but Jesus says that those who were last – the disciples – and then the gentiles – and then us – will be first in line!
In our world, when someone jumps a queue, or receives a reward we feel they didn’t work for , we cry
“unfair! I worked harder than them, and longer than them, why should they get the same as me?”
When we live under heavens rule though – the rules are different. Everyone is welcome in heaven and everyone receives the same reward.
That includes you. Wherever you came from, no matter what your background or how late in life you came to faith in Jesus.
As if to underline this idea of the first being last, and last being first, Jesus’ next statement to the disciples is to tell them that he will be put to death and then rise again to life.
Jesus was, and is the first, and the last. He is both beginning and end – yet He humbled himself and allowed man to put Him to death. He died for our sins – in the ultimate sacrifice – and then His last act (dying) became His first – (He rose again) – so that through faith in Him we can “queue jump” and declare
I’m in. How about you?
Todays post is one of my contributions to a “New Testament in a year” daily reading challenge that I was asked to write for my home church.
Matt 14:1-21 20
In this passage Jesus has actually just withdrawn (or tried to) from the public eye for a while, after the brutal murder of His cousin and friend, John the Baptist.Yet even in the midst of His own grief, He still sees the people who had gathered and heals their sick. As a result, even more people gathered and by late afternoon a large crowd had formed.As the day draws to a close, the disciples are concerned that the people have no food. Jesus tells them to feed the people – but they have only five loaves and two fish to hand.The disciples focus is on what they dont have.
Jesus says “Bring me what you have”
Many of us are familiar with what happens next – but there is a point in this passage that we often miss:
- The loaves did not multiply in the hands of Jesus – they actually multiplied in the hands of the disciples!
- Jesus didn’t pray, and He didn’t ask God to multiply the bread – He simply said a blessing, and then the disciples gave the food out until everyone was fed – and there were still leftovers!
Having seen multiplication happen myself, I can tell you that actually, the one thing you never see is the actual multiplication itself. Instead, the food just keeps going, and it is only afterward that you realise that it should have stopped long ago!
The other thing I have learned, and this reading shows us, is that the Kingdom principle is to take what you have, and use it.Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
Jesus didn’t tell the disciples ahead of time what was going to happen – I would imagine that as they first began, they were thinking “Well, this isn’t going to be any use – we have over 5 thousand people here and He thinks we can feed them on 5 loaves of bread!”
Then as they got further and further into the crowd and the bread still had not run out, there must have been a moment where the disciples realised what was happening. How amazing to witness a miracle on such a scale!
I love how this account shows us that Jesus is interested in our needs, not just in a spiritual sense but in a very practical sense too.
How often have you thought that a situation was hopeless, only to realise when you looked back afterward, that God was with you all the time?
I know I have.
It’s still January – lets make a resolution that this year – in every situation – we will bring what we have to Jesus for His blessing, and then use it – in the sure knowledge that our Father in Heaven will always provide for our needs.
You were born to give birth.
That sounds slightly mad now that I typed it “out loud” – but it’s true. You were created to recreate. To bring forth things into the world that only you can bring.
The thing is though, that often the process of birth is glossed over. We don’t talk about the realities of childbirth, especially around expectant mothers and fathers, for fear of scaring them. I have always thought this is rather a short-term measure because eventually, they are going to be faced with the reality of the birth scenario and if they go into it unprepared, it is much more likely to scare them.
The same is often true in church. We like to talk about the promises of God, and our specific prophetic words we have received. We like to prophesy “wow” words over each other and get excited. I have never heard much talk about the birth process though. The hard work, nitty-gritty of actually taking what God has said to you, and beginning to walk it out.
I remember going to birthing classes when we were pregnant with our second daughter (I had a hard time with the first so we went for a refresher)
They showed a video of a woman giving birth. The expressions on her face were something close to one who has indigestion – I almost got in trouble for laughing.
Obviously this lady in the film had a very easy time of it – but that certainly isn’t typical.
I was amused but also a little annoyed on behalf of the first timers in the group.
This was hardly preparing them for the realities of the big day.
Here’s what I tell young women now – including my own teenage daughters. Giving birth is the hardest, most painful thing you will ever do. It is also the most beautiful, satisfying and rewarding thing you will ever do. The pain serves a purpose – it binds you to the result. Who would lightly give up on something they had invested so much in to see become reality?
There are many believers who are pregnant in the spirit right now. Myself included.
It’s time to pack that overnight bag, decorate the nursery and prepare for the hardest work you have ever done to see that promise come into the world.
Sitting on your backside is no longer an option. You may have had prophetic words stretching back years about this, or it may be a fairly recent thing – all I know is, that for many of us -the baby is coming and you need to PUSH to bring it forth quickly.
Sure it’s going to hurt. Sure it’s going to be tiring, and it will probably turn your world upside down when it arrives -but it’s also going to be amazing. Start rolling your sleeves up and actually doing those things that God has spoken – even if you can only take a small step toward it – do it. Take that class, make that call, apply for the job – whatever you can do to cooperate with what God has spoken about your destiny.
You were born for this – time to birth what you were born for. The world is waiting.
A few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, something happened. I have been pondering on and off about whether to share it with you or not, simply because some people are deeply opposed to the idea that God does things like this.
Then I realised that actually, that is EXACTLY why I should share it. It is part of my journey. I am not dogmatic about this particular issue and have seen some things I can’t be explained except that God was at the bottom of it.
So what is it that happened?
I found a gemstone. There, now I have admitted it.
This is a photo of the actual stone. I say stone because I haven’t had it checked out anywhere. It **could** be plastic – I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is that I just glanced down at the ground when I was out shopping, and there it was – nestled in the dirt between two paving stones, just catching the light enough to get my attention. It was partially obscured by the mud and so I had to dig it out a little with my fingers to pick it up – and it is very pretty!
The reason I say I don’t care what it is made of in the natural, is because I know what it’s made of in the spirit, if you like.
It’s made of love.
Let me explain.
The day before I found this stone I was having a real crisis of confidence. I was doubting everything and seriously considering just giving up on ministry altogether and just settling for a “normal” life. (Whatever that is?!)
I posted in a Facebook group that I am part of for a little encouragement – and one of the members posted this graphic below – you may have seen it before.
An encouragement to keep going, of course – but look at what is on the other side of the rock? Gemstones.
So when I found this gemstone the following day, I knew that God was speaking to me through it. I had to dig it out of the dirt, and clean it up – I had to recognise it as being special and turn aside to hear what God was saying to me.
Later in the day Holy Spirit reminded me of something He said to me a number of years ago.I had to go back through some old journals and it took a while to find it – but eventually I found the entry, from early 2010. In worship I saw a diamond, buried deep underground. When I asked what it meant I heard Him say
“You are only in the topsoil of what I have for you – keep digging”
So you see, irrespective of what earthly substance that gem may or may not be made of, to me it is priceless because i know it’s made out of love. It is a special sign between me and my Heavenly Father, who knows me intimately and wants me to know Him in the same way. I will keep digging, because I know there is great beauty underneath all the dirt that so often obscures my view.
I was pondering recently about Jesus words when He said “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” (John 14:13)
The phrase “In Jesus name” is often tagged on the end of our prayers (mine included) – but I wonder – is that what Jesus actually meant us to do?
The Bible tells us that “He who joins himself with the Lord is one Spirit with Him” (1 Cor 6:17)
Which got me thinking. We are one with Christ – His bride in fact. Just as I am one flesh with my husband, Peter – I am one spirit with the Lord. It’s a tangible thing.
Now, when I married Peter I took his name. I am no longer “Miss Oiller” (yeah, it’s a funny name – move on … 😉 )
I became Mrs Clayton – and now I live in his name. Because my husband loves me, he shares what he has with me – including his bank account. When I write a cheque in his name – I know that it will be honored. The bank knows we are one and the same unit, and the money goes through.
So, getting back to Jesus words “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” – we ask in His name every time – whether we declare “in Jesus name” or not. We rest in that position of privilege because we are one with Him.
Now, I’m not saying every prayer I pray gets an instant answer – but Jesus talked about believing we have received and it will be ours.
In Mark Chapter 11 Jesus talked about two types of prayer:
Firstly the commanding prayer – when we tell the mountain (or sickness/problem) to be removed – we tell obstacles to be removed from our life.
” Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him” Mark 11:23
Secondly the request – which I would argue is what we pray when we need something to come into our life (or the life of the person we are praying for).
“Therefore I say to you,all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24
In both cases though, Jesus said that if we believe it will happen, and believe we have received – it will be granted to us.
Perhaps the key to believing is understanding our one-ness with Him? I never doubt, when I write a cheque or use my debit card – that the bank will honour my request – because I know I do it in Peter’s name – and the bank know that too. I have the authority to draw on his account.
How much more then, can we trust that when we make a withdrawal on heaven, that our request will be honoured? We have the authority to make that request, heaven knows our name…
I was reading Marks Gospel recently and I noticed a connection that I hadn’t seen before.
In Chapter 7 we read about the Syrophoenician woman who begged for healing for her child:
But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. Mark 7: 25-30.
The very next account -In Chapter 8 – we read of Jesus feeding the four thousand. The crowds had been with Him for three days without food, and He was concerned about sending them away hungry.
[Jesus said] If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?”
And He was asking them,“How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over. Mark 8: 3-8 (emphasis mine)
I had often wondered why the gospel account tells us about the left overs. Why mention it if it’s not important? Why not just say “and there was plenty to eat?”
I believe it is no accident that the writer told these two stories together (we must remember that the chapter breaks were added much later) It is no accident that the leftovers – the crumbs – from the multiplication of the bread are so carefully mentioned.
The Syrophoenician woman was not a Jew. She was the wrong race, wrong faith tradition altogether. She was not a descendant of Abraham. Yet, because of her belief that it was POSSIBLE – her daughter was set free. Yes, the bread of healing was primarily for the Jews at that time – but there was enough overflow that anyone could taste and see God’s goodness. There were plenty of crumbs under the table – and she knew it.
I have often had conversations with folk, when the subject of healing comes up, who say “oh, well, my [insert medical problem here] isn’t really that bad – there are plenty of people who need God’s attention much more than I do.” – and they just continue on with their problem, thinking that they mustn’t take what might be needed more urgently elsewhere.
Jesus doesn’t work like that though. His goodness and love are limitless, and however much He gives away – like the bread He gave to his followers so long ago – there is always more, and leftovers besides. There are enough crumbs to go around. Even for those who don’t necessarily believe He is God. The supply of love and healing is limitless.
Take, eat and be filled.
Jesus never asked us to spend hours and hours singing to Him and reminding Him of how great He is.
He knows how great He is, we know how great He is.
Surely the ultimate expression of this should be what we do with our lives -how we use the freedom that He has given us.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with worship and singing, indeed Paul urged the church at Colossae to
“sing spiritual songs…with thankfulness in your hearts to God…” (Col 3:16)
Worship should be our starting point. It is not and never will be – this side of eternity – our only purpose to give Him praise, sing songs and merely celebrate what He has done for US. IF that were the case, then there would be little point in us remaining on earth after our salvation.
As Bobby Conner puts it: “if the only reason for you to get saved was to get you into heaven we would only need two ministries: evangelist and ASSASSIN”
OK, so it makes you laugh – but you get the point!
Worship and spending time with Jesus should be a daily reality, but not our end goal. Personally I like to “hang out with Jesus” while I am doing the housework – usually with some worship music playing – I enjoy singing, so it helps me focus on Him. In fact, that’s exactly what I was doing when these thoughts came to mind. (so much for the cleaning..)
A number of years ago during worship, Jesus said something to me, and showed me something that I will never forget. I was telling Him how wonderful He is, how amazing, how powerful etc. Suddenly I saw myself kneeling at his feet saying these things, and He reached down and lifted my face up to look into my eyes and said “Don’t keep telling me – tell THEM” and as I followed his gaze I saw a large group of people, all trying to worship him and draw nearer. Among this crowd there were also hooded figures and dark shadowy beings. As I watched they began grabbing many of the crowd from behind, by the throat, and dragging them backwards and away from Jesus.
We cannot make our focus purely about giving thanks. We must be agents of change for others. People are suffering.
So next time you sing “I exalt thee” or “Lord I lift your name on high” or say “oh Lord, I bring you glory and honour and praise” , consider this:
If every person who stands up and sings those words actually goes out and exalts God, lifts His name on high, and brings Him glory by doing what Jesus told us to do -then we will have the revival that so many of us sing about and pray for.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 a]”>[a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you b]”>[b]always, even to the end of the age.” Matt 28:18-20
I know lots of folk around the world who operate in healing – and almost none of them have a “ministry”. They are housewives, IT technicians, film producers, mothers, nightclub bouncers.. – ordinary folk.
It’s been almost 12 years now since I first decided I wanted to follow Jesus. It’s been quite a journey so far – with more highs and lows than the roller-coaster at Blackpool Beach.
And I ‘ve never been good with heights.
During all that time, I considered myself a disciple of Jesus. I have publicly described myself as such.
After all, thats what makes a disciple right? A decision to follow Jesus – pray a prayer. Sorted.
Then in 2010, I got a bit radical. I started asking questions, and really studying what Jesus said. And I have to say, the answers I found weren’t comfortable, and at times they keep me awake at night.
The dictionary definition of disciple is:
“a person who believes in the ideas and principles of someone famous and tries to live the way they do or did”
WWJD (what would Jesus do). So what did Jesus do?
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Matt 9:35
And ultimately, of course, he gave his life for the gospel. Literally.
What did Jesus say qualifies someone as a disciple?
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his a]”>[a]life will lose it; but whoever loses his b]”>[b]life for My sake will find it. Matt 16:24-25
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26
I was starting to get the picture.
But HATE? whats that about – Jesus was all about love surely? Well the Greek word used there – miseo means to prefer – to elevate one choice over another.
Phew, I can live with that, I thought.
Then I made the mistake of reading up on what Jesus said a believer looks like.
These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:17-18
It seems I have some work to do. The only thing affecting my ability to see the sick healed and the kingdom of heaven on earth, is the degree to which I believe it is possible.
Lord I believe – help my unbelief.