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Imagine What’s Waiting on the Other Side of Our Obedience!

Scripture

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14 NIV

Observations

The time is coming, perhaps soon, when everyone on the earth will know of God. Not just know about him, but know of his glory. They will see it. They will experience it. Everybody will know of someone who has been healed in Jesus' name. Miracles will be common place. The presence of God will be manifest as the Kingdom continues its advance.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord…”

In the days of Jesus and then of the early church, God's glory was mostly revealed through healing, through “signs and wonders”, and through the casting out of demons. These manifestations of God's power came as first Jesus and then his disciples walked in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.

Application

It's so important that I submit completely to God. When I fail to act on the promptings of his Spirit, often because of fear, God is robbed of the glory that would otherwise be his.

Yet perfect love drives out all fear, and obeying God is my opportunity to tangibly demonstrate my love for him. Obedience always produces good fruit, and good fruit always glorifies God.

“This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8 NIV

Just imagine the blessing that is waiting on the other side of my obedience, and the glory that might revealed…

  • …when I love my neighbour
  • …when I offer to pray with someone
  • …when I pray for healing
  • …when I step out in faith beyond my natural abilities
  • …when I share something that I feel Jesus is telling me
  • …when I give of my resources

The God of the universe can actually be glorified through me! What an amazing thought! What a privilege! And it begins with me obeying him.

Prayer

Lord God, I pray as Moses did, “Show me your glory.” Open my eyes to see you as you really are. Father, I offer myself completely to you, and ask that I might reflect your love and draw the eyes of others to your wonderful goodness and grace.

 

Hearing and Sharing God’s Voice

Reading: Isaiah 50

Scripture

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. Isaiah 50:4-5 NIV

Observations

How beautifully this scripture describes the Holy Spirit at work, in and through Jesus. Speaking though Isaiah, Jesus reveals his attentiveness to the voice of his Father, and how the precious words he heard became, in his own mouth, such a blessing to others.

These were no ordinary words. They carried the power to save, to sustain the weary and bring hope to the broken hearted.

Not one word that the Father spoke to Jesus fell by the wayside. Rather, they were welcomed and acted upon, for this was his life and ministry – to do his Father's will.

Application

Here too is my life's calling, to hear the voice of the Spirit, and to obey it. Just as Jesus was filled with Spirit, so too God has graciously imparted his Spirit to me, and to all who would receive him.

Testimony

This entire week I have the privilege of 'escaping' to the beautiful Maniototo Basin in the South Island of New Zealand for the express purpose of learning to hear the voice of God and move in the gifts of the Spirit. With the guidance of Rodney Francis, Len Butner, and John Fergusson, I am discovering that, more than I ever knew, God is speaking to me.

I have often struggled with those gentle promptings. Is that God speaking to me or is it just my own thoughts? So this week, I have put it to the test. I have been asking God to speak to me, to give me specific words for the people around me – words that would encourage and minister to them. Most of these folks I have only met this week.

Trusting God for those first thoughts and impressions that come, and sharing them with those people in a spirit of love (and with some trepidation), I have discovered to my delight that the words really are from God. He has given me things I could never have known about those people and enabled me to speak healing and encouragement to them, often in very specific ways.

I feel so encouraged! The Sovereign Lord really is giving me “a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” He is “waking my ear to listen like one being instructed.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit and is, I believe, a ministry for all believers.

For so long I have prayed that God would open my ears, and it seems that perhaps, they were open all along. And so, with Jesus I declare that I will not be rebellious or turn away. Nor will I be constrained by fear. Instead, I will seek his voice, listen and obey.

Prayer

Thank you so much Father for your Spirit, and the gifts he brings. Thank you for your voice. Please help me as I endeavour every day to listen for your promptings, to put aside fear, and to bless others by sharing your precious words with them.

I acknowledge with grateful thanks the ministry and impartation of Rodney Francis, Len Butner, and John Fergusson. Their websites contain some excellent resources, and are well worth visiting.

 

Generation Changers

Reading: Joshua 23:1 – Judges 3:6

Scripture

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua 24:31 (NIV)

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord… Judges 2:10-11 (NIV)

Observations

Head knowledge will always be trumped by personal experience. Though stories be a powerful influence and storytelling vital to sharing and passing on my faith, being IN the story takes it to a whole new level. To walk on the bed of the sea with water heaped up on either side, to feel the heat and the power of God manifested in a pillar of fire, to see water spontaneously gush from a dry rock, and to collect bread from heaven every morning – these are experiences that no handed-down story can match.

In the days of Joshua, these and many other encounters with God influenced the heart of the entire nation. They knew God not just because they had heard the stories, but because they were in them. But as these encounters with God became past history, even by just one generation, the faith of the nation began to crumble.

Application

It's not enough just to share stories handed down from others. I need my own stories. I need my own first hand experience of the power and presence of God. I need to have been on the receiving end of his goodness. I need to have been healed. I need to have prayed in faith and seen miraculous answers to my prayers. These things form the basis of my personal testimony.

Not only that, but others need to be able to see God at work in me and through me. Why would people be drawn to my faith if the substance of it was simply the stories of others? How much weight would that carry? No, I need my own stories.

It's not that my own faith depends on it. But the faith of others just might. Jesus himself expected that some would believe in him because of his miracles: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11)

And in the very next sentence, he reveals his expectation that some would believe in him because of miracles happening in and through me: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12).

These things aren't for my benefit. They're for those who don't yet know him, because just as it was in the days of Joshua, so it is in this day: To see God at work first hand, and even more, to experience him – to be IN the story – that is the stuff that turns hearts and generations to God.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I so want to be a generation changer! To be salt and light in this world and to see your hand at work, to be a testimony to all whose hearts would turn to you. Please break the power of low expectation that has defined my generation, and release in us faith to move mountains and to do the work you have commissioned for us, that through us your love and glory might be clearly revealed, in our generation.

See also Supernatural Encounters with God and Faith Isn't Just Believing – It's Expecting!

 

Faith Isn’t Just Believing – It’s Expecting!

Reading: Luke 8:19-56

Scripture

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:24-25 (NIV)

Observations

“Where is your faith?” [Didn't you know I could do that? You could have too with faith]. Jesus clearly expected his disciples to have faith. He often rebuked them for lack of it. Yet when faith was present, all heaven broke loose! People were healed. Miracles were performed. Hope was kindled where once there was despair.

All through the gospels I see that it was faith that released the power and presence of God. And Jesus makes it exceedingly clear that if I have faith to believe, I too can receive from God! Not only that, if I have faith to believe, I can in Jesus' name do the same things that he did, releasing his power to heal and to save. The very idea would be preposterous but for the fact that Jesus himself said it, and repeated it over and over. The power of God is released by our faith.

“According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29 (NIV)

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14 (NIV)

Application

Faith isn't just believing – it's expecting. There was another storm, presumably later, when Peter climbed right out of his boat, fully expecting to walk on the water, and he did! (For a short while anyway). He acted on the mustard seed of faith that he had, and the power of God was activated.

In the same way, my faith will only grow as I act on it. In the gospels, those who expected Jesus to heal them came to him and were healed. And as the faith of the disciples grew, especially after the coming of the Holy Spirit, they too learned to speak and act on the basis of expectation. Such is Jesus' expectation of me, that I would grow in my faith and act on it, releasing the power of heaven into the world in which I live.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want more faith! I ask that even at this very moment, you would in your grace impart faith into me. I receive it, and I thank you for it! And now I pray for opportunities to exercise that faith. Jesus, may I not be one of whom you say, “You of little faith”, but rather, one who steps out in faith and expectation, that you might be glorified and others might come to know your wonderful love and grace.

 

“The same works I have done, and even greater works…”

Reading: John 14

Scripture

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” John 14:12 (NLT)

Observations

Right! The time has come to stop tiptoeing around the tulips, because here, Jesus is making such a clear and radical statement that a response is mandatory. “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…”

What works did Jesus do? He healed the sick. He restored sight to blind people. He said, “Stretch out your hand,” and the withered hand was made straight. He said, “Stand up and walk!” and people lame from birth began jumping with joy. He set people free from demons. He even raised people from the dead!

So who is Jesus addressing when he makes his statement? Just the twelve disciples sitting in front of him? No, “Anyone who believes in me…” That includes me! Is that really true, that I might pray for the blind and see their sight restored, and for the lame and see their limbs made strong? And even that dead people might be raised to life through my prayers?

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…”. There really can be no other conclusion. He even begins his statement by saying, “I tell you the truth!” It is clear then that with this statement, Jesus is telling me exactly what to expect of myself, and also what he is expecting of me! Jesus is now in heaven and has left us, his church, to continue the work he started – the same work done in the same way, and empowered by the same Spirit. “And, even greater works…”

Application

Long have I stumbled on this verse, believing it in my head and seeing it happening for others but not experiencing it firsthand, except in ways that are more “ordinary”. If I'm honest, those times when I have prayed and not seen healing have sapped my faith and watered down the boldness of my prayers.

Yet faith is rising, and I find myself hungry for the reality of God's kingdom to come to the place where I live. I don't think I can stand any longer to live in that place of spiritual impotence and feebleness, nor to let fear hold me back from stepping out in faith. The time is now here for faith to start bearing its fruit.

Prayer

Thank you Lord Jesus for your great commission, and for the expectation you have for your Church. Lord, we are your Body, and we want to function fully! Let faith rise in each one of us, Lord Jesus, and in us together as your people! May your Spirit move in power amongst us and your kingdom come, that those who are sick will be confronted by the power of your love, and the lost discover a life-changing relationship with you.

This week I took my first steps to being involved in a ministry called “Healing on the Streets”, which is soon to start in our city, God willing, and is already operating elsewhere. This ministry is very public but not “in your face”, and involves putting out a few chairs on the street, along with a “Healing on the Streets” banner, and simply inviting people who would like prayer to sit down and be prayed for. What an opportunity to share the life-changing love of Jesus with others! And so practical. Holy Spirit, let's go! You can read more about this ministry here: healingonthestreets.com

 

Kingdom of Possibilities

Reading: Mark 10:1-16

Scripture

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:14-16 (NIV)

Observations

Something about the way children come to Jesus delights him. Clearly it's not their spiritual maturity, nor their wisdom or knowledge, as these things are yet to develop. It surely wouldn't be their good behaviour, nor the selfless way they consider others before themselves, given that children are more naturally self-centred.

Children react with delight to anything that is fun and makes them feel happy. They often squeal and laugh and become playful. They are not limited by what they see around them. Instead their imaginations enable them to explore and enjoy all sorts of possibilities.

Application

The kingdom of this world may constrain me in all sorts of ways, but the kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of possibilities. If I can just let go the handbrake of my own limited thinking, and instead let my imagine run wild, I would be free! I have walked through the door into a rich and exciting land, but have spent far to long camped just inside the door. The Kingdom is for explorers, and it's time for me to explore!

Prayer

Jesus, I get the distinct feeling that there is a LOT more to living in your Kingdom than I currently know. Will you be my guide? I really want to explore and know more of what it truly means to be in the Kingdom. Please open my eyes, increase my understanding, and release me into the possibilities that you have for me and your children.

See also Supernatural Encounters with God.

 

Walking in Authority

Reading: Luke 2-4

Scripture

So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” Luke 4:39-41a (NIV)

Observations

Jesus was not just “empty talk”. He spoke with authority. He spoke with authority as he taught people, compelling some and threatening others. He spoke with authority over sickness and it left people. He spoke with authority to demons and they fled. He told people their sins were forgiven and they were. Because he carried authority, Jesus was able to bring real healing and transformation, both physically and spiritually, to all who came to him in faith.

Application

I long to be able to share the life-changing power of God with others, to see Jesus bring healing and wholeness to people physically and spiritually. Jesus gave his disciples authority to heal the sick and cast out demons, but he also gives authority to me as his ambassador to carry on the work that he started. He says, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go…” (Matthew 8:18-19a).

Prayer

Lord Jesus, even as I write I feel the desire to pray for people welling up in me. Lord, let your kingdom come! May it truly be on earth as it is in heaven. Please release your Holy Spirit to heal and restore. I pray for miracles that set people free and provoke great outpourings of joy. Let us not be impotent in our faith but instead walk tall in the authority you have given us.

I pray Lord Jesus for wisdom and opportunity, and for the courage to obey all of the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit!

Whoa! Sometimes it feels like God puts his hand right inside my chest and gives my myocardium a squeeze! I've found using SOAP is really effective way to open myself up to God as I read the Bible. If you'd like to know more about this simple technique, you can find out here: What is SOAP?

 

Supernatural Encounters with God

Reading: John 2:1-11

Scripture

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:11 (NIV)

Observations

Miracles open the way to faith in those whose hearts are open to the things of God. Jesus' disciples had already decided to follow him, but it was early in the piece, and they were still watching him, formulating their views about him. Their faith was in its infancy, but this miracle at the wedding in Cana sure had an impact.

Of course, miracles by themselves don't guarantee faith, as evidenced by the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus' miracles. But the “supernatural” sure opens doors, especially when God's love and kindness is revealed through it.

Application

I can't expect to make an eternally lasting impact in the lives of others simply through my own efforts. It is God who brings true transformation to our lives, and I need to be always open to the possibility of God doing his supernatural work through me. I need to be constantly asking, “What are you wanting to do here, Lord?” And then acting on the prompting that the Spirit gives me, no matter how silly it might seem. Jesus reveals how this works:

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19

Just as Jesus did what he saw his Father doing, I need to be alert, obedient to the Spirit, and open to what God is wanting to do.

Prayer

Father God, please open my eyes to what you are wanting to do in the situations I find myself in. “Your kingdom come on earth…” I offer myself to you, to be your agent in the world where I live. Holy Spirit, grant me faith and courage to act on your promptings, that I might be ready and available to usher people into a life-changing encounter with you.

 

 

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