Honor your self

David was small compared to Goliath but not to other men. The idea that David was some kind of small, puny guy is not true. David was a shepherd, he was a tough man, and he was a man’s man. He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands!  Saul was a head & shoulders taller than anyone else in the land and Saul must have sized David up before he offered David his armor.  So it is likely that David was a big and strong man like his bother Eliab “So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off  (1Sam 17:38-39) 

David couldn’t use the armor, not because it didn’t fit but because he hadn’t tested it.  Because he wasn’t used to it – it wasn’t his tools.  David was anointed to be king, but it wasn’t his time, his calling was still a shepherd. So he goes down to the stream picks us five smooth stones and puts them in his shepherd’s bag. When Goliath who was over nine feet tall, looks down at David, he doesn’t see a small man he sees a shepherd. David still has his staff, and his shepherd’s bag, containing the sling, and the five rocks.   He wasn’t trying to be a soldier; he had no proof of any other calling.  The Bible says, “and Goliath was enraged, and he said am: I a dog that you are coming at me with a stick (which is a staff)?” Goliath dishonored David’s calling but God honored it. David knew that God will prosper you in your calling.  One of the most destructive things we can do is always wish we were somebody else. To be the best Bob that Ted can be.

Friends, honor the strengths and callings of other people and live within your own.  Go through a process to find your talents and calling.  Work out what God has gifted you to be and live in the centre of that.  That is your sweet spot. Don’t live your whole life and never become who you are meant to be.

 

 

 

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The Second Time

One day God told Jonah to join Him in a great mission. God wanted to take God wanted to take Jonah to a greater place in him and for him to grab hold of His fuller purpose for Jonah’s life but Jonah didn’t want to go there because it didn’t sound like an easy thing to do.  To go up may mean we have to face difficulties and hardship and like Jonah we don’t always want to go there. We know it’s not as easy to walk uphill as it is to walk down.  So Jonah went down to Joppa which means beautiful and as people, I think it’s fair to say that we that we prefer the beautiful life.  Jonah paid his small fare to Tarshish but the cost of the ride would be far more. You could say “his decent” was continuous.  He went down to Joppa, down into the depths of the boat and finally down into the deepest sea and all God wanted, was for Jonah to go up. There were great storms and impending disaster until Jonah admitted he was running and was tossed overboard.  Jonah braced himself again the wall of the fish’s stomach, it was very hard to breathe and slippery under foot.  While amazed he was still alive, he wondered how much longer he would be.  As his soul began to grow faint, he remembered the Lord and began to pray.    But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jon 2:9-10

What seemed like a grave was Jonah’s transport to dry land and eventually Jonah is vomited up by the fish.  Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:1-2).

God spoke to Jonah a second time.  This is not the same as a second chance. God is the God of the second chance and many more chances beside but the “second time” is something different.  Let’s think of the other places God spoke the second time and notice it is always about breakthrough and blessing.

When Abraham was about to offer up Isaac in obedience God spoke the first time to stop from offering Isaac!  Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven(Gen 22:15), and said because of your obedience I’m going to bless you!

When Solomon had offered up a thousand bulls as a sacrifice to God in worship, God spoke to him a second time. Again God said He was going to bless and establish Solomon with a new level of favor (1Kings 9.2).

When Jeremiah was in prison “the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time (Jeremiah 33:1), saying, I’m going to heal, restore and favor Israel.  As Peter was on the roof, he was assured that God had declared even the gentiles to be clean.  And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Act 10:15). The second time was a new flow of revelation to Peter.

The significance of the second time is seen by the fact that all of these people weren’t running from God or disobedient like Jonah. So rather when God speaks to Jonah the second time it is not a second chance but the promise of total restoration, complete blessing and the giving a new commission with a new level of favor.  The second time is not just a reluctant reinstatement to the place we fell from but the pronouncement of favor and a new level of authority and purpose.

If you need a second chance God will give you one but He wants to speak to you the “second time.”  The book of Hebrew says “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, (Heb 1:1-2)  Our Father has spoken to all of us the second time.!

Friend, are you ready to go up? Are you ready to follow God into a new place? You can’t decide when God will talk to you but you can decide to offer yourself to him a living sacrifice.  When Abraham offered his best, God spoke the second time. When Solomon offered his best, God spoke to him the second time and when Jonah offered his sacrifice to God in the fish Gods favor and purpose came again to Jonah.

First things first

As Jesus walked slowly through the town “A leper came and worshipped him saying if you are willing you can make me clean.”  To encounter Jesus in worship you have to come to Him.  He came to worship; he came focused and determined. It was premeditated; I will worship. He didn’t say now that the music is slow and they are playing the songs I like.  He worshipped him saying. “You can make me clean.”

When we worship we are always saying something out of our heart. The heart and the mouth speaks.  Sometimes we think that worship is not a vocal but is quiet. Of course, praise is never quiet; praise is always expressive, whereas worship could be a quiet, but still every worshipper is saying something. The leper worshipped Jesus by saying make me clean- not make the famous, rich or even employed but make me clean.  To encounter Jesus in worship our first need is not understand me or even please forgive me but please cleanse me.  That’s repentance!  We can ask for forgiveness and never want to give up our sin and be clean. But the voice from the heart of a worshipper says wash me clean.

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Mat 8:3

Friends, If purity is the desire of our hearts it is likely that we will encounter Jesus consistently. And we never have to question whether Jesus is willing to make us clean. If we cry out to be clean – He will touch us immediately.

 

 

Because of His mercy

Noah believed Gods warning about the coming rain, built his ark and survived the flood. Afterwards, he built an altar and offered burnt offerings upon it.   Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.  And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake” (Gen 8:20). 

Noah is a picture of a “saved” man; a man delivered from judgment.  All flesh upon the earth apart from Noah, his family, and some clean animals were destroyed. Because Noah was delivered from the judgment of God he makes an altar because he had experienced God’s mercy.

God revealed Himself to Abraham so he made an altar to God (Genesis 12.1). The Lord delivered Moses from the enemy so Moses built an altar in recognition of Gods help and mercy. (Exodus 17.1)

Able, Gideon, Joshua and David all experienced the mercy of God and then built altars to the Lord.  Worship is a recognition that God has manifested His mercy to us; that we have been partakers of His love and delivered from our enemies.  Their worship and their sacrifices were acceptable to God because they were offered because of their experience of the mercy of God.

Today the only acceptable altar on which we can offer our sacrifice is a revelation of the mercy of God.  I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1). 

The “therefore” is the conclusion of what preceded in Romans three to ten.  In Romans three it tells us God saves us and we are justified from sin as Able was.  Romans five tells us we have peace from God as Gideon had.   Romans six tells us we are told we are now alive to God like Noah was alive after the flood. In Romans eight, we are told there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus and Romans nine says that the Gentiles have received mercy and been grafted into God’s purposes like Abraham.

All these Old Testament men had received mercy and then worshipped God. Therefore in Romans twelve Paul says because you also have experienced God’s mercy like Able, Gideon, and Abraham, present a sacrifice!  Our body – a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service or worship.

Friend, devoting ourselves entirely in worship that stems from a revelation of the mercy of God, will always be acceptable worship to our God and Saviour.

Saved by the Donkey

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the ass or donkey, just before the feast of Passover. I even had been prophesied “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt of a donkey.'” Mat 21:5   Jesus rode on a donkey because the ass in the Bible is a symbol of the work of God or His Spirit in our lives.   Most of us are familiar with the horse representing man’s ability, or the work of the flesh. Man without God.  Psalm 20 tells us “Some trust in chariots some in horses but we will remember the name of the Lord God”.  The horse is an impressive beast that man can trust in as a source of strength, in the time of battle.   God’s commentary on this is “A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver by his great strength (Psalm 33:17).    When Israel was redeemed from Egypt they sang this song after the waters had closed in over Pharaoh and his horses. “I will sing to Jehovah, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea” (Exodus 15:1).  The red sea symbolises water baptism in which God triumphs over the horse (flesh) and the rider (devil who rides or dominates the flesh).

Where the horse is symbolic of works of flesh, the donkey is symbolic of work of God, the work of Christ or the work of the Spirit.

In Numbers 22, the prophet Balaam got on his donkey to go on a disobedient mission. On his way, the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord who had come to kill Balaam and turned off the path. Balaam smote the donkey to get it back on track.  In the end the donkey had to collapse under Balaam, to save the disobedient man from being killed. Balaam was angry at the donkey who protested his innocence.  Finally the Angel of the Lord asked why he had been beating his donkey since the ass had been trying to save his life and assured Balaam that “if she had not gone to one side, I would certainly have put you to death and kept her safe.”

Balaam represents all of mankind; we have made mistakes and disobeyed God. The donkey is a picture of Jesus and all that he did for us.   Jesus saw the judgement coming and acted to save mankind from the judgement of the Lord. He never did mankind any harm but like the donkey, Christ was misunderstood and punished unjustly.  He was an innocent sufferer and the persons he was seeking to save wanted to kill him.   The Jesus like the donkey asked “If I have done no wrong why you strike me? “(John 18.23). Jesus was willing to be struck wrongly in order to save man from death.

Friend, thank God for his love for sinful men.  If His “humble donkey” Christ hadn’t saved us by taking the punishment that we deserved, we would have met with judgment instead.

Just like Jesus?

Sometimes we feel a little bit underpowered and think “shouldn’t I feel like a super hero. When I walk down the street shouldn’t people fall under conviction and telephone poles melt into the pavement or shouldn’t our day filled with miracles as the sheer power of our shadow falls upon broken people .

We forget that Jesus divinity was veiled by His humanity. When Jesus walked along the street people couldn’t see obviously that he was the Son of God. Some people still thought he was the son of Mary and Joseph. He wasn’t glowing apart from on the Mount of transliteration. The rest of the time he just looked like everybody else and still needed to eat and rest. As a child he knew nothing and had to memorise the Torah by the age of 12.

We can not know anybody after the flesh. Your humanity doesn’t matter;  it’s your divine nature inside that counts.  You don’t need to have a degree in order to pray for a doctor with a Ph.D.  You don’t need to have money to pray for a rich man; you have more resources than the U.N. you have the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus became a man, to win back that which was lost by men. What was lost by the first son (Adam) was won back by a Son of God and that dominion is now given back to the sons of God.   Jesus and us are brothers for we are both sons. The difference is that  Jesus was sinless and Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation. Col 1:15.  We are touched by sin and we are the second born.   The firstborn son in a Jewish family got the double portion because they were responsible to care for and provide for the rest of the family. It was a heavy responsibility. It was their responsibility to bear the judgement for all the other siblings’ errors and provide judgements were needed. When Joseph was about to be killed by his brothers, Rueben the firstborn said don’t kill him.   His firstborn responsibilities were kicking in.  You could say that the firstborn were liable for Justice and judgement while the second borns receive mercy. Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation. He was the one that received judgement. He was the one that brought justice so the second born (that’s all the rest of us sons and daughters) could receive mercy.

Friend,  we are the sons and daughters of God  in the world.  The Son and the other sons have the same purpose.  “I came down no to do my own  will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6.38 .  Jesus said “as Father sent me so I send you into the world” John 17.

We may feel not much different but we are completely different. We are 100% human but with a divine nature. He is resident within us and that changes everything, every moment, everywhere.

Breaking the vessel

Mary came to Jesus with the alabaster box filled with fragrant ointment.  Nobody knew she had it right by her, they didn’t know what that box contained.  They hadn’t even noticed until she broke the vessel and then everybody knew.  Everybody smelt the fragrance, everybody knew what was inside the box, it could not be hid.  She worshipped Jesus and anoints Him filling the whole house with the fragrance and touching everybody around about her.  That is the power of the broken vessel.   It is only when our vessel is broken, that the water of life or the anointing of the Spirit, is fully released.

Now to be a broken vessel might not sound too good. I’m not talking about a car crash or some physical breaking and smashing. The breaking of the vessel simply means that the vessel itself no longer hinders or impairs the expression of the life that is within it.   And that basically means dying to self. No surprise there.  Jesus  is called a broken vessel in his death.  Ps 31 .12.

Ever noticed what happens when somebody breaks their vessel.  Someone might stand to testify, they are polished their clear and people may be impressed by the speech. But what about the person that gets up admits to being nervous, they tell a story of pain and honestly share their struggles.  They might begin to cry, everyone feels for them and somehow seeming courage fills their life as well. It may not have been a great speech but somehow when the person breaks open their vessel there was a fragrance of Jesus that filled the room.   Maybe it was someone who steps out to prophesy; they take a risk or a singer who breaks their vessel to sing a song –  scary as it might be, the vessel is broken and fragrance fills the house.  Even just walking over to say hello to a new neighbor, or stopping to help someone in trouble when you’re busy, is breaking the vessel and letting the oil and fragrance of life flow out into the world.

When Gideon broke the vessels, the light shone out bringing victory over his enemies. It was only a clay pot but it contained something greater. You contain someone wiser, someone more powerful, someone more benevolent and purposeful; someone more loving.

Friends, let God break the vessel today. When you choose to break your vessel the life of God will be expressed through us unimpaired. Let Him pour through you.

Amazing grace

The Grace of God creates, empowers, equips and calls us for a purpose all by grace.  Paul said “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (1Cor 3:10) 

The Grace given to Paul enabled him in his ministry. He built according to the Grace he was given.  The Grace of God is a gift to everybody but when we receive the Grace of God, He gives something to each of us in a unique way as well, so that the Grace you get, is specific to you in some way.  Grace equips you for a specific task and ministry.  Paul said it enabled him to labour abundantly.     “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Cor  15:10). 

Paul said the Grace of God in him enabled him to be a church planter, a grace which not everybody has.   The Grace of God equipped Paul for his purpose. When you have received a Grace from God, you have received a gift to do something.   Everybody has received a Grace.   Gifts like our motivational gift are from Grace, so you can do that thing really easily.  A server will serve and enjoy it a lot.  An Administrator gift won’t get stressed out having to operate that gift because it is a Grace upon their life, yet somebody else who does not have that grace, could be stressed by it.   It is the difference between burning the oil in the lamp or burning the wick of the lamp. People burnout if they haven’t been using the oil or gift of the spirit so they have to do something they are not gifted to do and end up burning the wick.  So we need to find out what it is we are graced to do and do that.

Friend, Grace is not just a doctrine to be discussed; the Grace of God is something that can be experienced.  You have experienced the grace of God if you’ve experienced Jesus working in your life

Baptism of Grace

When we need something that we don’t have, it is time for Grace.  Grace is our Fathers gift to us, to make up the difference between our weaknesses and Christ’s completeness.  We notice every day the difference between having Grace and not having Grace in our lives.  I know when people start getting on my nerves it’s time to go back to the throne of Grace. When I’m getting uptight and stressed I’ve know I’m running on my own resources.

Samson went into a deep sleep and Delilah gave Samson the most expensive haircut in history.  When we are in the “presence of Delilah” more than in His presence, the strength will drain out and it will need to be renewed.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us but His influence can drain from our life because we are not drawing from Him.  Paul knew from his own experience that the only way to overcome abounding sin is abounding Grace. “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” Rom 5:20 

He also knows that the only way to overcome abounding troubles was also abounding grace.  “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

You don’t have to be a strong vessel so long as you have a strong treasure. Paul was seeking to convince the people in Corinth that he was a true apostle. He had a difficult life.  He was persecuted, stoned and shipwrecked; he was hated by both Jews and false Christians.  The Greeks at the time believed that if you went through difficult times God’s favor was not upon you, so Paul corrected their thinking by revelation rather than logic.  I am going through troubles in seeming weakness that in my weakness God’s power might be revealed. (Note: This doesn’t mean that our situations cannot be changed. Many times people sought Jesus and He delivered them or changed their situation. Your current situation is not an indication that God will not change it, however, while it is unchanged His Grace is sufficient for you)

The Greek word sufficient was used to describe a man who had unlimited financial resources.  Imagine having a credit card with no limit which somebody else would pay off. That’s the idea of being sufficient so with Grace you can master the moment. You can’t exhaust Gods supply of strength to you; It’s just going to keep on coming.  Often we don’t come to the throne of Grace but we struggle on through the day by ourselves.  So whether we need to overcome sin or troubles, we are designed for Grace to empower us.   The Power of the Spirit of grace was so important to believers that Jesus said wait in Jerusalem till you get it.

Friend, don’t leave home without the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Enter the kingdom

God is righteous and heaven is for the righteousness; therefore everybody in heaven must be righteous. Under the law people had to be righteous to enter paradise. Under Grace, people still have to be righteous to enter heaven.  There is no change.  In fact Jesus said except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees you could never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The only thing that has changed is how we become righteous; how it is obtained.    We can now be righteous before God by faith.  It is not a lesser righteousness, but a different means to being right before God.

Jesus is the righteousness of God and if you have Jesus you have righteousness.   God demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:26 

 God is not indifferent to sin in fact He is holy and must condemn sin. This is the reason Jesus was punished for our unrighteousness. Now our faith in the Savior is accounted for righteousness.  Our faith justifies us – or declares us to be as if we had never sinned.

Friend, it doesn’t mean we are righteous in our self nor is it legal fiction where God says we are righteousness when we are not. But we are actually righteous in Christ or because Christ is within us, we truly are righteous.