God of the Valleys

Many years ago I was in Nepal, when I heard the news that my wife had almost died from a hemorrhage, due to an ectopic pregnancy. It was hard for me being overseas and even harder for my wife. As leaders, we’d like to think that God would keep us from the valleys of trouble and pain, but one thing God wants to do is to teach us that he is God of the mountain and the valleys.
He does not lead us there but he doesn’t keep us from the valleys either. He may not lead us there but he will be there with you. If you like – God doesn’t prevent every trouble – He doesn’t step in and stop every challenge and difficult time coming our way, but He will help us out of the troubles or through those troubles. The Bible says “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers us from them all”
What God wants to do, is to be part of your life; to be in your life. He wants to be the wind beneath your wings and to have involvement in your challenges and simply keeping you from every trial and trouble would inevitably keep Him locked outside your life.
God does not always control circumstances on the front end but he always gets involved and delivers on the back end. This is how we grow. As His children we don’t just go through trouble; a believer always grows through troubles. David was convinced that God never left him nor forsook him. That conviction changes everything
Friend, heaven is no place to grow kids. There has to be some resistance; some things to overcome some trouble to bear in order to grow up strong and capable. A strong faith cannot be achieved by weak or small challenges

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Emmanuel

The prophet said He shall be called Emmanuel (God with us) but the angel told Mary to call His name Jesus.  (God our Savior) These are effectively the same. God saves us by being with us.  Within us and with us, He is our righteousness, our Life, and our mighty Helper.   When Jesus left the planet He said “Go and lo, I will be with you always, until the end of the age. Or I will always be Emmanuel as you go.

Jesus was born to be with us and continues to be with us as we execute His mission. When the apostles cried out to God for help, God shook the place where they were praying. God answered with His power not just because they asked but because they were going to continue the mission; they went out and kept preaching.

He has a fresh anointing for you on His mission. You don’t need a fresh anointing to heal the sick, till you actually start to pray for those who are ill. You don’t need a fresh anointing to prophesy until you stand up to prophesy. You don’t need a fresh anointing to witness till you begin to do it and only when you actually stand up to face the enemy or confront your stronghold, is the Holy Spirits powerfully released through you.

When you have received the fresh anointing it will change the way you live because Gods anointing enables the changes you have decided to make. The evidence of the anointing is not running, falling or shouting but being able to live in righteousness peace and joy. To live in righteousness rather than compromise; to live in peace in the midst of trouble and joy when required to live alongside difficult people.  Now that He is with us, we are changed and He changes the way we can live.

Friend, Jesus the Savior came to be with us. The presence of His Spirit means all of Heaven is with you in the battle. The anointing doesn’t mean there will be no enemies; it means that God can defeat your enemies.  It doesn’t mean there will be no troubles but it does mean that you can live for a purpose and a mission bigger than your troubles.   “Go and Lo I will be with you …”

Convictions

A man without convictions is as weak as a door on one hinge.  In a postmodern world where everything is “true ” or at least acceptable, convictions are becoming rarer.  But convictions give us a right perspective on life. Strangely people have strong convictions about unimportant things like football and politics, but no convictions about the important things like the killing of unborn people or other plainly ethical issues of right and wrong.

The people who make the greatest impact upon the world were and are those with convictions. There’s was Paul, Jesus, Gandhi, Luther, Hitler and MauSetung.  When Jesus said “I must …..”  it was evidence of a conviction.  People can hold wrong or even evil convictions.  Therefore convictions like conscience, need to be informed by a reliable guide.

The biblical definition of faith is an unshakable conviction that a thing is so.  So a person of true faith has convictions.

Without a conviction about spiritual growth, people that live through trials of faith could give up.  No one stays on a task unless they are convinced it is important.  Convictions enable us to endure suffering for Christ and to reject sin and soft choices.

Having convictions or true biblical faith helps us resist temptations.  We see the long-term consequences of sin are greater that any short-term pleasure it provides.  We have a conviction that we are in the world to make it more like heaven not to increase the culture and reach of hell.  We can see the long-term blessings of obedience are greater than any short term suffering we may experience as we obey now. These convictions come from understanding that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Friends, when we don’t have our own convictions we are at the mercy of everyone else’s convictions.  Your boyfriend who believes you belong to him or your boss who has a conviction that he has first claim on your life 24 hours a day!  If our convictions don’t determine how to live others will determine it for us.  Can you list 10 things about which you have a solid conviction?

It’s working great

Wherever we face trouble or a great problem God steps in and meets that with His great power.   The disciples found a great stone lay over the grave, but God sent a great earthquake to shift it. The result was the disciples had great joy in their hearts!

“and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a great stone against the door of the tomb, and departed” “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it”  “So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word (Mat 27:60, 28:8). 

God brings us through situations that seem closed and blocked by great stones; they seem impossible difficult or burdensome but when Jesus rises up and the stone is moved by His great power we see that Jesus is not dead and we experience great joy.

Once When Jesus was in a boat there is a great storm but after they woke Him up, He rebukes the wind and there was a great calm.  “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that it was already filling. Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm and they feared greatly and said to one another what manner of man is this that even the sea and the wind obey him ( Mark 4:37-41).

What is placed into heart of the disciples?  Great fear or great awe of God.

Friend, God means the great storms in our life, to eventually become a great calm, not so we carry on to the other side unchanged unaffected, but that’s something of God’s greatness is deposited in our heart and spirit’s.

Unity brings Victory

Gideon shared his battle plan with the army.  “Do as I do; do the same as me!  Come together under my leadership” Gideon’s men never said “I’m not sure that is a good idea?

“And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do:  When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!‘ “Judges 7:17 -18

The devil knows the churches key to victory is unity.  You never hear of devils splitting up and starting a new hell.   God is not asking for our opinion. We do as the leader does.  That is how you have a breakthrough in a city.

This is demonstrated in our corporate worship times. Our task is not to score the worship leader on the job they do or decide whether we like their song choice.  No, our job is to follow their lead.   In the temple when they made one sound, the glory fell.    The Spirit of God will fall if there is one people, with one heart, in one accord, and in one place.  When we say whatever the leader is doing, I’m following it. It doesn’t matter what song is sung if people follow with faith and a good heart. If there is unity there can be a break through.  The power of God didn’t fall because Paul and Silas could sing well but because there was unity in the prison.

 And every man stood in his place all around the camp, and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. Jdg 7:21 -22

When every man stood in his place or the place he should have been standing, God moved and the enemy ran. If we are not bringing our gift to the house and our strength to the army, we are not standing  in our place.  One can put 1000 to flight and two can put 10,000 to flight.   If you have an enemy you can’t defeat by yourself,  find a friend to stand with you.

  And the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites.   Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barah.  Jdg 7:23-24

Soon all the other tribes’ joined in the battle.  300 brave men armed with lamps, vessels and trumpets brought all the rest of Israel up to the battle.  Our actions can inspire others to rise up.  Don’t wait for your mate to decide to be a world changer. When you decide you will bring your friends with you. Be the first.  Your decision will change not only your destiny but maybe the future of those that know you. God has not changed his mind about you.  You may have had a call and you may have got off track but there a great verse in Amos for you.  “So says Jehovah: As the shepherd takes two legs out of the mouth of the lion, or a piece of an ear; so shall the sons of Israel be taken out… Amo 3:12 .  Here the lion had devoured the sheep.  All that was left was an ear and a leg but God was going to take them out of defeat.

Friend, what ever enemy has stolen and torn you to pieces – as long as you have an ear to hear His word and a leg to stand on, it’s not too late for you.   God will restore the years that the locust has eaten.  You can get back in the game and back in the battle under leadership.

Esther

Years ago there lived a king of fabulous wealth.  When Alexander the great conquered Persia, he found 1200 tonnes of gold bullion and 270 tonnes of gold coins and that was only a fraction of what the wealth that belonged to King Xerxes.  He had incredible banquets lasting for weeks at which trained peacocks would walk up and down the tables carrying the best of wine which could be drunk from golden cups. One day after his wife had dishonoured him publicly he began to look for a new wife.  The search began throughout his kingdom and out of 1400 other young girls a woman named Esther was chosen to be the Queen of the whole world.

She was a Jewish peasant girl and only the scripture reveal why she was so delightful to the king and how we too can delight our Heavenly King.  Esther was lovely and beautiful.  Beautiful means she was stunning to look at but lovely means something quite different. It’s talking about who she was on the inside.   She was lovable; full of gentle kindness and grace.

But before she came to see the king she was prepared by the chamberlain to smell like the King.   The King was not used to dating girls off the farm and so for twelve months before she was ready to encounter the King she bathed in perfumed oil and milk. In India, in the old days, the bride to be of the Maharajahs would clothe themselves with a big tent-like dress. They then would light a smouldering perfumed candle under the dress and stand still until the incense filled every pore of her body with the fragrance.

It was fitting that Esther smell the same as her king and as we approach our King Jesus the fragrance he is used to and delights in, is the fragrance of the Holy anointing oil.

When we visited the Fragonard perfume factory in Grasse, France, we learned that perfume was first used by men to hide the smell that God on them from being tanners of leather. They would rub it on themselves before they went home.  In the Old Testament, the priests were to make a holy anointing oil to cover the smell of man’s flesh.   Exodus 37:29, Leviticus 1.19

Friends, as His royal priests and lovers today, it is the fragrant oil of the Holy Spirit filling “every pore” of our life that covers the fragrance of man’s flesh and makes us compatible and attractive to Jesus.

Sons of God

Jesus is the fullness of Grace and when God wanted the world to see Grace, He sent Jesus to walk amongst us.  John 1.14.  When God wanted people to understand Grace He sent Jesus to die for us on the cross

When God wanted us to experience Grace he sent Jesus power to work in us by the Holy Spirit and now that God wants to demonstrate Grace to the world he sends Jesus through us – but it’s all Jesus. The powerful Grace of God can come on you today.

Sometimes we feel a little bit underpowered and think “shouldn’t I feel like a superhero. When I walk down the street, shouldn’t people fall under conviction and telephone poles melt into the pavement?  Shouldn’t our day be 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.

Paul’s advice is not to 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 resource than the U.N. – you have the Holy Spirit.

The Son and the sons have the same purpose.  Jesus said “as father sent me so I send you into the world” John 17.  He became a man to win back that which was lost by men. What was lost by the son (Adam) was won back by a son of God and now given back to the sons of God.

Friend let’s be about our Fathers business.

The Way of the Lord

John the Baptist cried out to the passing crowds and many were baptized in readiness to receive the Messiah. Mark1. 2 His message was repentance, because only repentance prepares the way for the Lord’s coming into our lives.  Only repentance prepares us for his rule and kingdom. Matthew 4.17.  Obstacles of sin, rebellion, uncleanness, pride, and dead tradition are removed and we make ready a way for the Spirit’s outpouring.

The kingdom and repentance are inextricably tied together.  God desires His will to be done in and through people. In fact the kingdom means: God’s rule, where Gods will in done.  Whenever a person knows the thoughts of the King and does them the kingdom is expressed. The kingdom is righteousness, its peace, its joy, is power its love, its victory over enemies, its provision for our needs, its healing for our troubled soul. Its restoration, is the heartbeat of God manifested in your life; that is why the kingdom is good news; the gospel of the kingdom. The good news is that God has purposed to bring His kingdom to earth. He said “For as truly as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

Our challenge is to know His thoughts and then to obey them. God said in the Old Testament “My thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways” but now the Holy Spirit is come to teach us His thoughts.

Friend, living in a state of repentance, soft toward Gods voice is the first step to begin to tune to His thoughts.

Work or labour?

Work is a blessing. It is blessed not cursed.  Sure there are elements of labor now because of sin, but Adam and God both worked before sin.

The Greeks used to believe that work was a curse. So the leisure market sprung up – it is still in our psyche.  They got slaves thinking “why spend 50 hours plus at work.”

We need to turn labor into work. We have labor unions because they saw no dignity in their work.  They felt they were just working for the boss; being forced to labor when they should have been out fishing and they got this begrudging attitude. If the hammer falls down we need someone else to pick it up for us because it’s not my task.  A labor mentality instead of a Christian mentality were work is an invitation to join with God in making a world!

What is the difference between labor and work?  Labor tends to be faithless and cursed, without God and filled with worries and sleeplessness?

When a man sees his life call in terms of work, it becomes faith filled and blessed by God without sorrow.

Friend, work is one of our ministries to God.  At work you’re in the ministry!   It provides necessities, it gives a stable society; it helps the poor and the needy. Mostly it offers worship to God.

Blessed are the peace makers

We know God is on a peace mission.  There was peace in the Garden of Eden, and history closes with peace in eternity, but soon after the man was created, peace was taken from the earth when man sinned. There has been trouble on earth ever since.  There is no economic peace, religious peace racial peace, social peace, family peace or personal peace.

There are strikes, referendums rallies and riots. There are demonstrations and wars are multiplying: the need for peace has never been greater than today.

God never forgot His plan for peace, so God ramped up his peace mission in Jesus Christ.  When He was sent, the angels announced peace on earth and good will to men.

And in this verse in Matthew, Jesus says whoever joins Him in this peace mission, will become a son of God or a daughter of God.

The one blinding fact about this verse is that peace makers are blessed.  Not the peace lovers, it’s not those who love peace that are blessed or called sons of God. Not the one that heads for the hill, buys a block of land in the county to get some quiet.  It’s not the one that withdraws from confronting those that need it, but the peace makers.

Friend, we are peace makers when we confront the problem, seek to solve it and after the problems is solved, seek to build a bridge between those who were separated by the problem.