Rivers, in a Dry and Desert Land

The Torah, Taurat, or ‘Law of Moses’ as some people know it, is the first five books of any Old Testament of the Bible. These writing are attributed to Moses:

– Genesis
– Exodus
– Leviticus
– Numbers
– Deutoronomy

These are the foundational books for all ‘Abrahamic’ religions of the world such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

For in them alone do we have an account given for the creation of the heavens and the earth, the very first man and woman, what God intended, the first mention of a serpent who had thoughts and opinions contrary to God’s intention, what went wrong, and the promise of God’s salvation and redemption.

The world famous ‘Ten Commandments’ are also given in these books; the call of Abram, the mighty deliverance of God’s people out of Egypt, and hundreds of prophetic words and symbols given to recognize the *Messiah* who was to come.

Most people know at least one of these historical facts already.

But what if I told you that these books were all written by a murderer?

Before his call by the true and living God, Moses tried to exert the same sort of politically motivated power of his native Egyptian upbringing and murdered his Egyptian neighbour while trying to defend his Israelite brothers to whom he had recently learned that he was rightly a descendant of.

—————-

Later on in history, we have a compilation of poetry that can be found in any Old Testament or “Tanakh’ as the Jews call it. It is the book of Psalms. In Islam, it is referred to as the ‘Zabur.’

These are one-hundred-and-fifty Psalms written by twelve authors – seventy-three of which, have been attributed to *King David* – one by Moses. These poetic writings make up a very wide range in themes:

Psalms of Laments
Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalms of Confidence
Psalms of Praise
Enthronement Psalms of the Divine Kingdom
Royal Psalms
Historical Psalms
Messianic Psalms
Songs of Zion
Imprecatory Psalms
Psalms of Ascent
& Acrostic Psalms

Every human emotion is covered in these hymns of aspiration to God.

What if I told you that the predominant writer of these Psalms – was a murderer?

King David, after becoming a powerful ruler over all of Israel, committed adultery with the wife of one of the soldiers of his armed forces. Then in an attempt to cover up the birth of an illegitimate child, King David had the husband of that woman intentionally killed in battle.

—————

Lastly, in the New Testament, we have twenty seven books written by about nine authors.

The *Apostle Paul* who was one of the most prominent writers of the New Testament letters and epistles to the early church has a whopping thirteen books attributed to him. And one more that has caused a little bit of controversy as to whether he too might be the author – the book of Hebrews.

But of those we are absolutely certain:

– The book of Romans
– 1st Corinthians
– 2nd Corinthians
– Galatians
– Ephesians
– Philippians
– Colossians
– 1st Thessalonians
– 2nd Thessalonians
– 1st Timothy
– 2nd Timothy
– Titus
– Philemon

Paul, previously known as Saul of Tarsus, was one of the most violent persecutors of those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah – that is, until he personally met Jesus after his resurrection – which then transformed Saul into one of the most dedicated ministers of the Gospel both to his own people and to people all over the ancient world!

What would you say if I told you that the Apostle Paul was once a murderer?

——————-

Do you realize that over one-third of our Bible was written by people who had formerly (and in one case even after coming to know God) committed murder?

Now that’s not a statistic that we might often hear in our gatherings, maybe because we sense that people are looking for a ‘pious’ faith to follow, and to highlight the reality that God actually chooses whomsoever He sees fit in His Sovereign rule over the nations – including murderers – is an offence to our false sense of safety and control.

In reality however, that could be exactly who God is searching among to find his next powerful preacher of the Gospel! But instead of using Samuel’s example of discerning the Lord’s anointed, (1 Samuel 16:7) we simply disregard one-third of the potential powerhouses that were once considered as pioneers of the Christian faith as secondary citizens in the Kingdom of God because of their criminal record, and choose those who give us a safer though ‘false’ sense of security by their immaculately spotless pasts.

Now by saying that, I do not intend to lead you to develop a ‘reverse-bias’ that neglects the wisdom in acknowledging a demonstrated history of committed faithfulness and putting forward those who have shown this sort of consistency in their lives, but since it is clearly not the norm to go outside of these lines, what I am trying to speak to is all the powerful but lost potential sitting behind bars who are looking for leadership, meaning, and purpose to life who are being overlooked – while those who have completely lost touch with the reality of human suffering, misery, poverty, loss, and even sincere love for others – are being promoted on account of their educational credentials and popularity instead of the Lord’s choosing.

The Bible shows us that some of the most powerful pillars of faith were often the most passionately misdirected at first. And that’s what you find in prisons all across Canada today.

————

I found it telling that the books of Moses were placed at the beginning of our Bibles when in fact it is actually the *Book of Job* that is the historically oldest and therefore should be the ‘first’ book of the Bible.

I found it very telling because if we set aside our presumption about what is foremost important to God, and consider what the Book of Job is actually about, it would seem that long before God desired that we understood:

– where we came from
– Who created it all
– why He created it
– how sin entered the world
– or even how He would redeem it

Our Creator appears to be far more interested with us thoroughly reflecting on the question of human suffering, to maybe lend wisdom on how to best counsel those who are going through difficulties – as well as for our own adversities when we go through difficult trials in life.

I think that since God in His infinite wisdom recognizes that our hearts are so desperately wicked and prone to evil, and the preparation of it can be a long and difficult process before we are truly ready to fulfill our calling, that we’d be more adequately prepared as ministers of the new Covenant to learn how to walk with and comfort others in their sufferings with far more understanding – if we took the time to reflect on trials and tribulations more intimately.

This is why sometimes the drug addict needs to reach a certain point before they can realize how much money, time, health, and life is lost by ‘lighting up’ every week.

Sometimes the pleasure seeker needs reach a certain place before they can realize how the happiness that all the pleasures of the world try to offer, doesn’t actually make them feel any more loved, fulfilled, or joy-filled day-to-day than it first appeared that it would.

Sometimes the gossip has to reach a certain point before they can look back on their past reckless and destructive use of their tongue, and all the division it has caused before they can understand how much harm they have caused others and themselves before they decide to depend upon the Spirit of God to bridle it.

Sometimes even the murderer has to reach a certain point before they can realize that no matter how much they think they are in control of situations and circumstances by exerting power or force over others, they are actually powerless and desperately in need of the only true saving power of Jesus Christ through surrender.

And sometimes we too need to realize that – just as God patiently loves and waits for us to learn these things in our own hearts through our own failures, and yet He has _never_ given up on us through it all – this world is also waiting to see the true sons and daughters of the living God revealed who reflect the same character of unfailing love for them as they work through the unimaginable difficulties of navigating life on earth amidst its ever-increasing sounds, sights and experiences vying for our souls.

—————–

In one of his worship songs, Jason Upton wrote something that I believe so accurately captures something of our Heavenly Father`s heart for prisoners even though I don’t think that was the intention of the song. He says:

“I want to build you a garden
In a dry and desert land
I’m gonna find a river there
I’m gonna find a river there

I have seen,
a garden grow
In a land,
filled with injustice
And I have heard,
a mother’s cry
For her child,
to live again.”
– verse from ‘The Garden Song’

This is God’s hope for prisoners of every kind, and should also be the heartbeat of the church.

—————–

This is what the Lord says:

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!

Do you not perceive it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16, 19

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To learn more about the work of Prison Fellowship Canada, please visit our website at:

http://www.prisonfellowship.ca

And I implore you,

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

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Sinners Who Judge Sinners for Sinning Differently

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There’s an influential problem in our culture that pervades our Christian witness today: A lie from a close friend has more authority in the ear of its hearers than the truth spoken from a stranger does. And although I do not agree that this should’ve ever been our standard of measure when making honest considerations, I actually do understand the reasoning behind it.

It’s really a heart issue at its root, just as most things truly are.

Because the eternally Triune God has created us in His image, we are likewise built with a need for authentic community in which we can trust. The reality that a close friend or family member might be wrong, ignorant of the truth, or even outright lying to us, has all sorts of implications that we’d rather not confront. After all, we might even reason that if we start getting wrapped up in the sincere pursuit of truth beginning with ourselves, those who have walked nearest and dearest to us would probably be the first to expose us and our deepest and darkest secrets – and as it turns out – we don’t really trust them as much as we may have convinced ourselves that we do when all these things were never a consideration.

In addition to that, since a lot of the practices of religion are merely outwardly adorned externalisms, the call to transparency seems to be easily overruled in favour of the traditional and institutional facade that have plagued both our churches and communities in the name of piety since days of old.

But unlike the false religions of the world, Christianity at its core actually does contain paradoxical supernatural power in its foundational message to transcend the hindrances of our culture through the testimony of the Gospel.

Why? Because the Gospel is the only message in the universe that removes the power of our adversaries by starting us on our journey with one key foundational truth:

“So far was it for you and I to extend anything that could even remotely be acceptable in God’s sight, that the only atonement worthy of God’s Majesty to reconcile sinners to Himself and make a way for us to enter His Holy presence, was for Him to shed the pure and holy blood of His only begotten Son on the cross of Calvary!”

Notice, there’s not a hint of me-centrism in that statement. Nope, that’s all Christ-centric!

In fact, only in Christianity do we hear that God takes it one step further to clarify and says that even our ‘righteousness’ were as filthy menstrual rags.

Think about that…

Not only is our ‘bad’ deeds bad, like any and every religion would easily affirm, but our good deeds are actually abhorred as putrid and vile.

What an offence this must create to the self-righteous and overtly religious mindset.

But herein lies the secret untapped power of the church.

To be able to freely say, ‘I struggle with swearing,’ ‘I’m a chronic liar;’ ‘an alcoholic;’ ‘an addict;’ a rebel,’ ‘with sexual perversions that lusts after the opposite sex,’ or in some, even after the ‘same’ sex, is to simply concede to something God’s Word has already acknowledged lives in us:

Sin.

None are righteous – no, not even one.
Romans 3:10

————

But even more powerful than our sinful destitution and spiritual poverty is God’s unmerited favor toward us!

What if I told you that not only is God not counting our sins against us, but that He’s accepted us, forgiven us, and welcomed us to be part of His eternal family forever?

Now THAT’S powerful!

Ground breaking!

Transformational!

————

 

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for IF righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Galatians 2:20-21

———-

The deeper root causes of all sinful out-workings in our lives cease by the mighty power of the cross when we understand that it is God’s unceasing love, acceptance, unfailing mercy and unmerited favour (grace) bestowed on account of Jesus sufferings that has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege.

The sad reality however, is that instead of the ‘unbelieving’ world becoming a hindrance to this untapped power of God gently loving us into freedom through the message of the Gospel, it’s actually the professed ‘church’ who has posed the greatest barriers to this truth in the past two millennia.

How so?

Because the implications of our practice as believers sometimes tells the unbelieving world around us a very different message than the lives of the early disciples once preached.

In our own struggle through sanctification from our past or even current religiosity, we don’t realize how much still exists, and we want to see the sanctification of others completed cosmetically and superficially in a way that looks, smells, and feels like our own ideals. If it doesn’t, we reject them.

We’re no longer concerned about where you are in your journey, the influences of your upbringing, what you’ve been through, what obstacles pose a hindrance to your growth, or how your cultural, religious and social paradigms may be causing you to see this Good News as something less than the absolutely glorious news that it is!

If we did, the church would be a place where a person battling with sexual identity issues feels welcome to come and learn about God’s intention and design without criticism, ridicule or condescension.

One where the addict – whether to drugs, alcohol or otherwise – can come, try, fail, and try again, and fail another hundred times, and still be seen as a valued and valuable part of the greater family of God.

But what our religious brothers and sisters have not yet considered or realized is that God has graced our fellowships with these weaker members in the body of Christ for the sole purpose of exposing the deeper heart condition of His own people.

————

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honourable are those we clothe with the greatest care.
1 Corinthians 12:22-23

————-

It exposes our underlying and unspoken meritocratic values that all pervading religious mindsets have believed for ages, that has actually begun to convince itself that its own righteousness is actually belonging to itself; that its knowledge of the truth is on account of its own cunning and brilliance; that its power over sin is self-sustained, and it is no longer the imparted life and righteousness of Christ that guards our hearts as the breastplate in the armour of God, or that it’s the Spirit who gives life, or the Spirit who leads into all truth. (Eph 6:14, John 6:63, John 16:13)

And by doing so, though our speeches wax eloquent week to week from the pulpits; though our religious zeal for Bible studies and weekly prayer nights are carried out without truancy; though every facet of our lives become better from the practical applications of God’s wisdom in His Word day by day – our witness to the glory of God revealed through the Gospel has been gravely distorted and led many astray, even pushing them further away from Jesus.

Now this is not at all to excuse the unbelievers responsibility either. I’ve seen the earnesty with which the world pursues all of its temporal ambitions, and the complacency it demonstrates to seek out eternally important matters with the same veracity.

Even in this generation, demonically inspired religious ideas about God still succeed in giving ‘outsiders’ a prudish impression of Christianity (even though they have an updated vernacular in how they address it) but even in these things, it should’ve never been endorsed by the church of living God!

We should be the leading voice in our communities on every topic regarding life on earth and its many facets as God intended.

Yet, it’s not some ‘heretical church’ that is responsible for this misdirection. It happens in every assembly across the world where believers gather to call on His Wonderful Name unfortunately.

And as believers, if we truly acknowledged the truth, we have a valid answer to that contention as well! There is no ‘perfect’ church. The Gospel itself is a testimony against such a thing!

But the idea pervades wherever healing miracles are exalted over the supernatural testimony of the Gospel that leaves someone wondering why they didn’t merit or experience the same healing miracle in their lives, causing them to doubt the power of God’s abiding Spirit in their life through faith in Jesus Christ.

It happens wherever an arsenal of theological knowledge is exalted and used to assault others over and sometimes against the simplicity of the Gospel that leaves people feeling stupid that they don’t intellectually measure up if not otherwise completely lost in the vast ocean of meaningless information that doesn’t even have the power to help you to live victoriously in Christ, to find the deeper inner-healing, or to love others any better.

It happens wherever the outwardly religious decorum of the church or the believers therein is exalted over the transforming power of the Gospel that leaves people feeling like they have to look a certain way, talk a certain way, or behave a certain way in order to be accepted into our communities.

It happens because in our lack of true transparency about our weaknesses and through our spiritually shallow gatherings, we have misrepresented to the world around us what Jesus alone had the power to do, and by doing so, we usurp His righteousness given as a gift and present it to the world as our own self-righteousness all the while still calling it the Gospel!

Selah.

————

So where do we go from here?

Find someone today, and don’t only tell them what God has ‘brought you through’, as we so love to proclaim, but also be so transparent as to share what He is currently walking with you through, and our reasons and need for daily dependency upon Him.

Take your relationships with those around you to new depths of vulnerability, and pray for one another, cry with one another, and be willing to even sit silently with one another.

So often we want to ‘win souls for Christ’ who we don’t even care enough about to invite over to our homes for dinner out of a sincere love for them in recognizing that they too are made in the image of God.

Instead of simply pushing our friends and family to ‘go to church,’ we must learn to demonstrate our faith in our unfailing Saviour by doing as the Apostle did and boasting all the more in our weaknesses, both so we can experience the true power of Christ to live free, but also so that our hope in Christ is exalted and our expected victory over these temporary and passing trials in Him rings true.

It’s time to abandon the underlying pride that exists in most of our wayward admonitions which inwardly says: “go to church so you can become like me” and rightly adjust it to say: “let us go to church so together we can become more like Christ!” and watch as real power is released over every situation in our families, relationships, and communities in this next season of our faith journey.

Since He alone had the power to do what we could never achieve on our own, it should be an easy decision:

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Save The Best Wine for Last!

Screenshot_20180702-215950

When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, 

Genesis 11:11-26

————

Arphaxad had his first child at 35

Shelah had his first child at 30
Eber had his first child at 34
Peleg had his first child at 30
Reu had his first child at 32
Serug had his first child at 30

Nahor had his first child at 29

And then,

After Terah had lived 70 years…

Seventy! More than twice the age of all his forefathers.

You can probably imagine all of the cultural pressures combined with societal expectations he felt burdened by during those ‘extra’ years of awaiting his blessings from the Lord.

Was it that he didn’t have a wife yet?
Was there medical complications?
Was his wife barren?
Was he infertile?

So many possible variables that we are not told about this situation; only who _did_ have kids, and _how old they were_ when they did. And inadvertently, how great a gap in one from the others.

And it’s funny, because as I thought about it, I suspect that most of the anxieties we end up having about how we might be perceived by others and the culture at large, are probably wrapped up in this sense that we ‘don’t feel as fully understood by others’ as maybe we think we ought to be. Or perhaps we feel stifled by knowing the expectations of others yet not having a voice to express or explain our circumstances.

‘After all,’ we say, ‘maybe if they knew my particular circumstances or situation they might have compassion instead of judgment.’

There’s this longing then to understand our own circumstances as well as to be understood by others.

And in the brevity of these above verses, we have no justification either. Even if we could deduce the historical context and easily fill in the blanks from the culturally expected norms of the time, we would never know for certain where the issue here – if there was an issue at all – really was.

We instead see that the primary focus of the Scriptures, is ‘God’ being understood, and ‘His’ glory being revealed.

Which is a pretty amazing revelation that I sense we really need to take some time to reflect upon so that we can fully take hold of it. Because only when we do, do we begin to realize the great precision with which God has purposed every detail of our lives.

And now in the redemption of our sufferings that made us the very focus of many by something we once maybe even despised about ourselves, God actually begins to empower it to be the very thing by which His promises are fulfilled through, and so many can come to know Him!

————

After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram

Genesis 11:26

———–

For those of you who aren’t aware, Abram, later to be named Abraham, was the patriarch to which God personally revealed himself to and called out of pagan idolatry to serve the true and living God.

And God gave him some of the most important Messianic promises concerning the Gospel of our salvation that would only be fulfilled through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.

————

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,

    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:1-3

————-

So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles (non-jews) by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:6-9

————

I mention this because if you or I are ever tempted to feel like our situation or circumstances are hopeless or not up-to-par with our culture’s expectations of what ‘they’ think our lives should look like, just remember… God is simply positioning you and I for the greatest fulfillment of ‘His’ _divine_ purposes, which always lead to the greatest blessings of all!

————-

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-11

————-

As we move onward and upwards toward the fulfillment of the great promises of God for our lives – both short term and long term, remember, God has not forgotten you…

He simply saves the best wine for last!

So with hopeful expectations I implore you:

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Blinding Heart Wounds in the Face of A Mighty Deliverer!

Deliverer

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh…

I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you* with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.
Exodus 6:1, 5-9


 

Heartbroken. Destitute. Hopeless…

 

Just some of the words that come to mind when I read this passage. Except, those aren’t the words that should’ve ever entered into our hearts while reading these amazing covenantal promises from God.Here is our great and loving God bestowing in His mercy and grace everything that a person could ask for by way of a blessing from Him:

1. I have remembered
2. I will bring you out
3. I will free you
4. I will redeem you
5. I will take you
6. I will be
7. I will bring you to
8. I will give it to you

I mean, what more could someone in bondage to slavery ever ask for?

But these are not the words the Israelites heard. Nor are they the words that we actually hear either when the promises of our great and awesome God reach their fulfillment and begin to unfold in our lives.

But why are we prone to such unbelief?

Well the last verse gives us some indication:

they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.
Exodus 6:9

Some translations say:

but on account of their broken spirit and cruel bondage, they did not listen to him.
Exodus 6:9

————–

Oh, how God’s perfect and holy heart must have broken through His great love for His people to know that their experiences of life while waiting for His redemption to come had cause their unprotected hearts to grow callous and hopeless in light of their painful affliction and despairing circumstances.

But God – the Great All-knowing Pursuer that He is – already knew what despair so easily abounds in our hearts and would never let that keep Him from His beloved that He loved so deeply.

No, while many of us in our humanity would simply give up, or call it useless and pointless to continue on, God the great lover of our souls saw this as an opportunity for the world to know the depths of His ever-faithful and relentless love for His Beloved – US – and by doing so, He would also bring glory to His Name!

So with great wisdom and patience He sets out to work immediately to begin to demonstrate the immeasurable depths of His unwavering devotion for a people so prone to wander.

He rolls up His sleeves and declares:

“Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to LET THE ISRAELITES GO out of his country.”
Exodus 6:11

And even as Moses and Aaron stumble around to see past the current circumstances themselves, the Lord’s powerful deliverance would not be delayed!

When the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, he said to him, “I am the Lord. TELL PHARAOH KING OF EGYPT EVERYTHING I TELL YOU.”
Exodus 6:28-29

————–Are you beginning to sense the intensity of passion with which the Great Pursuer here advances His plan of salvation? So confident is He even in the midst of using a Shepherd who fumbles for words, and the Shepherd’s brother who for the most part Scripture is completely silent about up until this particular point in history.

But the salvation of the Most High God shall not be delayed! For the Scriptures declare:

The foolish plans of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength!
1 Corinthians 1:25

And I’m sure I don’t have to remind  you of how foolish it seems indeed!A 80 year old man with a staff and his brother are going to go up against the largest superpower in history at the time.

But we all know how it all goes down…

The miracle of the staff…

The ten mighty plagues…
The first Passover…
The Exodus…
The plundering of the Egyptians…
The pillar of cloud by day…
The pillar of fire by night…
The parting of the Reed Sea…

The destruction of Pharaoh and his army…

God always delivers on His promises!!!

Today, I sensed in my heart that it was necessary to remind you of God’s unfailing promises, because we are often no different than the Israelites were back then.

“well the last five interviews didn’t work out so I guess I’m never going to find work…”

Or

“well my last three relationships were a disaster so I’m just gonna give up and stop expecting…”

Or

“I always get overlooked for promotion so why even put in the effort anymore…”

Or

“I never get healed so I’m just going to stop asking for it anymore…”

————-

Every day of our lives God is inviting us to go against the odds and live victoriously in the very places where we’ve allowed our failures, heartbreaks, and losses to develop within us the very same hopelessness that Satan would love for those very difficult seasons to do in us – steal our joy, peace, love freedom, and especially our faith in the promises of our Victorious King who reigns forevermore!

But GOD has taken these very same circumstances and purposes them to instead sculpt in you and I the character of an impenetrable warrior!

Not one to whom love, hope and faith can no longer penetrate, but instead, one whose love, faith, and eternal hope can never be stolen from ever again!

It’s this mighty combination in Christ that we all need to not only have victory day to day in this life, but to also get us home safely to our eternal dwelling place.

————–

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Faith ~ Hope ~ Love

————–

So whatever your harsh treatments or discouragements may look like for you in this particular season of your life, I write this to encourage your hearts today. There is victory and a victorious King who is actively in battle behind the scenes working things together to deliver and triumph you over every adversity that He has allowed to come your way.

His name will be glorified even through the worst of it all, if you welcome Him in and trust that He has remembered you, will bring you out, will free you, redeem you, take you as His own, will be your God, will bring you to a better place, and will give it all to you as your inheritance!

And together we shall reign forevermore!

————

Jesus said:

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Because of the same resurrection power that lives in us who believe, I implore you:

Trust ♔ Jesus!

The Power Of God’s Abiding Presence Through Us

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When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country.

People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Matthew 14:34-36

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Imagine the scene.

Jesus was so well known at this particular point of his ministry; his feeding of thousands with five loaves and two fish; his uncontested teaching; his manifest healing power; not to mention that he just arrived from a brisk walk across the water! – so much so – that in general, people no longer desired to even come talk with him or to ask him any questions to confirm his identity.

They had learned that if you simply ‘touched’ the ‘edge‘ of His garments, you could experience the fullness of His healing power from sickness.

So they lined up in droves to do just that! And sure enough, person after person after person after person after person after person who came to touch the hem of his garment received healing from sickness!

Can you really imagine this scene?

He wasnt even doing anything!

No ‘authoritative deliverance’ (like he did with demons)

No ‘rebuking the wind’ (like he did to the storm)

No ‘giving thanks to the Father’ (like he did before breaking bread)

No ‘powerful exhortation’ (like he did in the company of many – many times)

He just stood there. Present. With the people – who needed him.

And they were healed of their sickness.

And no doubt the needs of the people were never the same…

One probably had physical pain…

The other, emotional…

Another, mental…

One might’ve been in his feet…

Another, her head…

Another, mental anguish…

Another, maybe, mental illness…

And yet another, and another and another…

And as they came – Healed

The next one – Healed

The one after that – Healed

The tenth one – Healed

The forty seventh one – Healed

All that day… as long as he stood there… As long as they came… As long as they reached out and touched him… Healed

And now the most important part of today’s Devotional…

THAT SAME HOLY SPIRIT THAT LIVES IN JESUS NOW LIVES IN US WHO BELIEVE!!!!!

What does that mean? What does that look like? What then is possible?

Well, one thing that it _should_ mean is that just our mere presence in the places where God directs and has placed us should be filled with the testimonies of people around us getting healed!

Not by our powerful prayers. Not by our well worded teaching. Not by our authoritative rebuke.

Simply by our Spirit-filled presence!

But now for the qualifier…

The word used for ‘sick’ and ‘healed’ are: kakōs and diasózó (in Greek) which mean:

————–

Kakōs – sore-misery related to experiencing grievous harm (affliction)

This word is translated throughout Scripture to mean: cruelly, evil, ill, badly (physically or morally) sick, very wretched, wrong motives, wrongly.

————–

Diasózó – to bring safely through (a danger), to save thoroughly.

Properly, save all the way through, i.e. completely deliver from danger and into safety. Literally, “to save all the way across” which brings someone through danger and into a safe condition (“thoroughly rescued”.)

————–

By this definition, this should mean:

Our presence should reconcile hearts of those with wrong motives.

Our presence should comfort those treated cruelly.

Our presence should stand up for people who suffer evil.

Our presence should be a healing balm to the ill.

Our presence should restore people through sickness.

Which unfortunately, is not always what people have in mind when they think about ‘healing ministry.’

But can you imagine the immeasurable power of the presence of someone who walks beside you who loves you with every fibre of their being?

Our God, who _is_ love, felt compassion for his people. (verse 14) He cared about their temporal needs, their emotional needs, their mental needs, _and_ their spiritual needs.

And as we walk in this same all encompassing love for others in the world around us – starting with the very places where we currently are standing, are working, and are living – our communities should never look the same again!

As we learn to navigate the highs and lows of our new life in Christ, may we never lose sight of the powerful effects of a

– simple,
– abiding,
loving,

presence!

————–

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

Trust ♔ Jesus!

The Faces of The Kingdom of God

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After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Matthew 11:1-6

 


 

You’ve probably heard at least one sermon before that addresses the context above.

Here is John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, the one who declared that the people ought to repent and be baptised in preparation of the coming Messiah, who then affirms and baptises Jesus as the one who was to come.

Now, some time – at least a year, maybe closer to two – has passed and although the kingdom has been steadily advancing towards the climax of the cross, John, imprisoned, begins to doubt that Jesus could in fact be who he thought him at first to be.

So while confined in his prison cell, John begins to undergo the greatest battle that each believer must learn to confront in order to claim a complete victory in this lifetime… The battle against self!

At first, I imagine that his mind began to turn on itself, wondering whether his sufferings are even worth it, or if his labours for righteousness that landed him in prison were in vain. He considers if these convictions that led his steps all these years have truly accomplished anything of meaning at all.

Then, no doubt he hears the local news reports. Jesus is doing some seemingly odd things that both an ascetic and a Jew would not be caught dead doing. He’s hanging out with sinners. He’s eating and drinking freely in the homes of tax collectors. He’s touched those society deems unclean. Jesus even spoke to a Samaritan!

No doubt that John’s expectations of what the Messiah should look like are not met in the way that he thought they maybe should’ve been, and so the Baptist begins to doubt.

But the testimony of Jesus workings is going forth to the ends of the then-known world already.

The blind are receiving sight. The lame are walking again. The deaf are hearing, and the lepers have been cleansed.

But this man who is doing these things, this Jesus, is very different than I imagined him to be; very different than *we* imagine Him to be.

Wasn’t he supposed to be: ________________

And wasn’t he supposed to do: ________________

John is incredulous. And most of the time, so are we.

But this doesn’t even slightly take away from the unchanging truth that Jesus was, is, and will always be – exactly who He declared Himself to be:

—————

The high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I AM,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 14:61-62

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There will come a moment in every believers faith journey when God’s advancing kingdom will take shape in ways that do not always conform to our ideas of ministry; our expectations of His saving grace; our vision or view of a blessing, and in these moments, the Holy Spirit, gentleman that He is, will gently remind you of the truth; will be your friend and comfort your heart as you work through it; and will readily receive you with opened arms should you decide to take that leap. He knows you and I better than we know ourselves. He also better knows the things we truly need despite them not always being the priority of what we maybe want.

And in His great love for us, as it usually turns out, He has never given us less than the absolute best!

So our job is to take the time to consider it. To not allow the offence of first sight of how something looks to cause us to stumble past it, but to recognize that God has sometimes placed it in our paths with great design like a city planner who places a speed bump in a residential area to get your attention off speedily rushing to your destination to mindfully be present and acknowledge your surroundings.

This reminds us that not all bumps in the road are intended to cause us to stumble. Some are placed with great purpose.

So how do we know which are from Him and which are not?

A good place to start would be by simply asking the question in prayer. Seeking godly counsel is also important. And to think and rethink everything will help to bring about deeper revelation, so invest in the time necessary to do so.

I pray God’s blessing over whatever you may be working through, as I continue to implore you:

Trust ♔ Jesus!

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

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A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS

 

Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him
Acts 9:22-23

 

One of the consistent themes present in ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth seen in the Scripture, is that soon after God does something, Satan also makes his move.

When you read verse 22 and learn that the Apostle Paul was literally proving that Jesus is the Messiah (or ‘Christ’ in Greek) , you hardly would expect that the next verse you read would be, ‘and so they plotted to kill him.’

But as you carefully read through Scripture, you begin to see that this sort of retaliatory effect to the Kingdom of God being established on earth is consistent all throughout the Word of God.

 

Kingdom of Light: Jesus heals a crippled man.

Kingdom of darkness: The Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus.

 

Kingdom of Light: Joseph receives a prophetic dream from God regarding His future provision for Israel.

Kingdom of darkness: His brothers want to kill him; throw him in a hole, and sell him to a caravan.

 

Kingdom of Light: God uses Jeremiah to tell the kings of Judah of God’s impending judgment and to surrender to the Babylonians.

Kingdom of darkness: King Jehoiakim and Zedekiah painfully persecute Jeremiah for his prophecies.

 

And there are far too many more instances to count!

But the interesting difference about the verse from the book of Acts that I’ve highlighted today that makes it stand apart from the examples in the Old Testament including the Gospels, is that Paul is proving the truth with ALL of the information now revealed!

Not only do we have the Torah and the Tanakh (the Old Testament) as a foundation, but we also have the very fulfillment of the prophecies in these writings about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus completed and accomplished!

So you’d think to yourself, ‘well maybe they’d change their minds about it all now, because after all, we don’t just have to simply live hoping that these future promises will be fulfilled, but the actual promise has now come!’

But no, instead we see that the kingdom of darkness – as it is rightly called – still continues to darken the minds of the unbelieving to a now substantiated, established, and proven historical act that fulfills these prophecies… The crucifixion!

Just like a man who has a male anatomy from birth can somehow be convinced of the lie that he is instead a woman, men and women also convince themselves that the truth of Jesus can be a myth, or an allegory, or a legend.

And I didn’t choose that example to bash on people with issues concerning sexual identity, I merely intended to use it to show us how partial we are with truth, dogmatically affirming what is clearly apparent in one case, but not as zealous to apply that logic consistently to all things.

But this only affirms to us that just as history reveals, the kingdom of darkness is still at work even after the cross and resurrection.

Although Satan is disarmed and in all truthfulness is powerless to reign, he can still manifest his murderous lies to eternally separate men and women from God wherever ignorance of history and unfounded reasoning for unbelief are still idolized.

 

When I looked up the word used in Acts 9:22 for ‘Proving’ that Paul used, it was the Word: Sumbibazó (Greek). And this was it’s meaning:

to grasp a truth by intertwining ideas needed to “get on board,” i.e. come to the necessary judgment (conclusion.); to prove; reason; conclude.

 

Similar to the days of Noah, there’s a new Ark that has been constructed, and the facts all point to the man Jesus Christ!

He has bore our sins, taken away our shame, released us from the burden of our guilt, and welcomes us freely into relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 

Proven – Established – Truth

 

Get on board…

 

 

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!