See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
The right packaging...
I would like to continue a bit with the post from last week entitled, “Did you miss it?” Just to recap briefly, the prophet Samuel had gone to Bethlehem to choose a king from among one of Jesse’s sons. Although David was not present initially at the ceremony, he did not miss his God-assigned opportunity and he was eventually anointed the new king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
What catches my attention with this story is the whole process of choosing the right candidate. As soon as Eliab, the eldest, came before Samuel, he was quick to think that this must be the one. Possibly Eliab’s physical stature reminded him of king Saul and he was therefore quick to assume that the new king would resemble the old one. But, here God was quick to correct him. God’s choice for a king was different to man’s choice. God was looking at the heart not the outward appearance. When David finally came forward, he was described as “ruddy, with bright eyes and good-looking” (v.12). He probably didn’t look like a king as much as his brother did but God had chosen him.
It strikes me that sometimes our blessing, even our answer to prayer may not be packaged the way we would expect. We know that God will answer but His answer doesn’t always turn out the way we had hoped or expected. I am reminded of a story I read a few years ago about a young man who was hoping to receive a particular car that he desperately wanted as a graduation gift from his father. When the day of the graduation came he received a beautifully-wrapped gift box inside of which lay a Bible with his name on it. Angry because of not getting what he wanted he stormed out of the house and did not return until years later for his father’s funeral. As he sifted through his father’s things, he saw the Bible. When he opened it a car key fell out from the back of the Bible. There was a tag on it with the name of the car dealer who had the car he had wanted as well as the graduation date and the words: “Paid in full.”
He had gotten what he wanted but because it did not look like what he expected, he rejected it. If Samuel had had his way, he would have chosen Eliab who by the way was a soldier in king Saul’s army. He looked the part and even seemed to have man’s qualifications to back it up. David, on the other hand, was a red-faced, good-looking shepherd who probably didn’t seem to match up to the criteria. But he did. He was a man after God’s own heart. He loved his God and served Him with his whole heart and that’s exactly what God was looking for. Nobody saw all of these qualities, but God did. When David was hidden, and alone in the fields tending his father’s sheep, no one saw his communion with his God, but God Himself. And that was enough.
No one may be seeing your intimacy and love for your God, your desire to live your life His way instead of following the world’s standards but God sees it. He sees your heart but He also knows His purpose for your life. Man’s criteria could not stop God’s purpose for David’s life ... neither will it stop God’s purpose for yours.
As I look at my own life, I see time and again when I was placed in positions to do things I did not feel qualified for. I remember belonging to the junior band of musicians at my church. We played for the youth choir and various events outside of our local church. We may not have been the most skilled but we were willing and available. When the senior band members gradually left the church or stopped playing for one reason or another we automatically took up the mantle. We may not have been as skilled as the senior band, but we practiced each week and we were willing to do it. I used to look up to the musicians playing on the pulpit never expecting to be there one day myself. But as I mentioned last week, I was spending quality, intimate time with God and when He was ready He simply started putting me to do things I never dreamed of doing. Even now, many years later as a Pastor’s wife, I never dreamed I would be in this position either. I’m sure I didn’t look the part but when you put God first He will always send opportunities your way that sometimes seem so much bigger than yourself.
Maybe that’s how David felt to be anointed for such a big task but like me, God enabled Him, God equipped him to handle what He sent His way and He will do the same for you. God has chosen you not based on man’s criteria but based on His purpose for your life and when you choose to live your life His way rest assured you will find yourself being blessed in ways that you would never have dreamed or imagined.
If you are living a life that you know is less than what it could be, I encourage you to invite Jesus to be a part of it. Allow Him to come and take all that you are now and equip you and anoint you to be all that you can be in Him.
Did you miss it...?
I’m going back again to the story of David (1 Samuel 16:1-13). I feel like there is so much about his life that can truly encourage and inspire us. Picture it. King Saul has just lost the kingdom because of disobedience. The prophet Samuel now has to go and anoint another king and he is of course fearful that Saul would find out. But God sets it up so that he can go to Bethlehem and there he has a ceremony to which he invites Jesse and his sons. The interesting thing is that he sanctifies them first then invites them to the ceremony ... but all of Jesse’s sons are not there! He goes through son after son eagerly trying to determine which one God has chosen to be king. All this time, David is out with the sheep doing his job. He is totally clueless as to what is happening. It seems as if he has missed his opportunity, or has he? (vv1-5)
Life happens... We may be minding our business, doing what we have to do and while doing this, situations, events are taking place that could greatly affect our destiny... We are totally unaware and therefore are robbed of the opportunity to have a say. But, guess what? Even when we don’t know, God knows and sometimes even when life seems to be setting us up to miss out on great opportunities, God has a way of ensuring that we don’t miss a thing.
Samuel finally reaches to the last son present. God had never even told him beforehand which son to anoint. Now all the sons have been presented but none of them are the one. At this point, Samuel could have given up and stopped. But he didn’t. He knew God too well. If God had sent him to Jesse, then there must be another son.
I love the way God has our back. He looks out for us even when we are not there to defend ourselves or to say a word. It’s as if He speaks up for us when we are not there to speak for ourselves. So, Samuel asked the all-important question: “Are all the young men here?” (v11)
Let me just plug this in here. Sometimes we stop at what we see. All we see is the obstruction, the hindrance, what looks like the end of our story. But God may be saying no, it’s not the end. He can see around the corners we can’t see around. He can see through the wall that our eyes cannot see through and unless our God says “stop! give up! it’s over!” then it’s not over. It takes faith and trust in the God who is able to take us further - through the wall and around the corner! After all you don’t want to miss God’s best for you and it may be just behind that wall or around that corner!
So, just like that, with one question, David enters the scene. I’m not sure if he even got the chance to be sanctified for the ceremony like his father and brothers had but it didn’t matter. He was the chosen one. God had chosen him even before Samuel got there. God had probably chosen him before He chose Saul. But he was not ready then. God instead had been preparing him, allowing him to be different from his brothers, tending sheep while they were doing other maybe more important things. He wasn’t looking like “king” material either. After all Samuel had been quick to choose his eldest brother, Eliab as king. But the Lord told him not to look at the outward appearance but at the heart (v 6-7).
In my own life I can recall various times when I was in the background minding my business and just growing in God. I had no idea what God had in store for me. I had re-dedicated my life to God, got filled with His Holy Spirit and was just enjoying intimacy with Him like I had never experienced before. In a short space of time I found myself a youth leader, a musician, a Sunday School teacher and suddenly involved in ministry in ways that I did not even expect. I was not in the forefront but in the background spending my time with God and enjoying every minute of it. When God pulled me forward, it was all Him. I did not have a conversation with anyone. I did not know what was on anyone’s mind for me. I was just minding my own business. But God saw me and was preparing me and I did not even know it. I was not even thinking of “opportunities” but clearly God had them all lined up and I did not even know.
What God has for you is for you. Even when you are not there to “campaign” on your own behalf; even when others are chosen instead of you, God’s plan for “you” is still intact. It does not change. How wonderful to know that when you take care of God’s business He will take care of yours!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior please take the opportunity to do so now. God has such beautiful plans for your life, far better than anything you could dream up yourself. Give Him a chance today and allow Him to wow you and surprise you!
Bumps in the road...
I was settled comfortably in my seat anticipating the very short flight ahead of me when I noticed the clouds outside. For me this was my signal to panic. My body became tense and my heartbeat probably increased; I couldn’t tell I was too busy waiting for it... Last week, I recounted my daughter’s fear of the plane taking off and the fact that she would grip my arm tightly until the ordeal was over. For me my fear begins at the sight of clouds especially if we have to actually fly through them. It’s usually an indication of a little or a lot of dipping and shaking and the more intense the dipping and shaking the more tense I become.
But I have learned one way of coping over the years. I would literally picture in my mind God’s very large hand holding that plane as it dips and shakes. It’s my way, and God’s I believe, of reminding myself that He is in control, that He would not allow anything bad to happen and if He does He will get me through it. Let’s face it, whether you are travelling on land or by air, there will be “bumps” along the way. We can’t always get away from them. Sometimes the flight or the ride on the road will be nice and smooth but at other times it will not. We know what our final destination will be but what we can’t always predict is how the ride will be. Sometimes it will go the way we expect, other times something unexpected may happen that can throw a damper on the entire trip.
Life is exactly like that. We will have good days as well as some bad ones. When we give our hearts to the Lord we look forward to an improved life. But then reality hits us ... sometimes very hard. Suddenly we are faced with bumps, potholes and ditches that seem to appear out of nowhere. Sometimes we are even blindsided by situations that prompt us to say, “I did not see that coming!” We battle with discouragement, despair and sometimes wonder how we are ever going to make it through this one.
I’m thinking of Joseph. Although his brothers were jealous of him, he was blessed with his father’s love and favor. God even gave him a dream that seemed to show that he would rule over his family one day. Unfortunately, however, his world was about to turn upside down. In a fit of jealous rage his brothers sold him to some Midianite traders who sold him to an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt. Life seemed to be going fairly well and he found favor with his master until the man’s wife made advances on him. When he rejected her she accused him of attempted rape and he was thrown into jail. But even in jail he once again found favor because the Lord was with him and he was put in charge of the prisoners in the prison. After correctly interpreting the dreams of two prisoners, the one destined to be restored to his position as the king’s cupbearer forgot to put in a good word for him so that he could be released from prison. His hope for release was dashed. However, when some time later Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph. He not only rightly interpreted the dream, but he was released from prison and became Pharaoh’s right-hand man (Genesis 37, 39-41). Joseph faced bump after bump after bump on his journey to greatness. He probably battled despair and discouragement many times but everything he went through was a part of God’s plan for him. God was in control all along and I’m sure teaching him some valuable lessons along the way.
My own life has been riddled with its share of bumps and turbulence, but I know I’m not the only one. Through each one God has downloaded some valuable lessons into my life and I have been able to look back at various situations and see that if that challenge had not come I never would have experienced some of the blessings that came about as a result. We don’t like when bad things come our way, but I believe we need them to help teach us lessons and to birth some awesome things in our lives. If we are honest with ourselves, some of the things that brought pain, suffering, even shame, also brought opportunities, promotions, breakthroughs that we didn’t see coming!
So, cheer up! God’s big capable hand is holding you as you go through. You can’t avoid the bumps, potholes or turbulence on your journey, but you can’t stop God’s very capable hands from holding you and taking you safely to your destination either. As His child, He will take all of it, both good and bad, and ultimately work them together for your good (Romans 8:28).
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so now. He is eagerly waiting to help you through every difficulty and challenge you will face on your life’s journey. Don’t miss the opportunity to let Him wrap you in His arms and take you safely to His destination for you.
Hold on tight...
The roar of the engine signaled what my youngest daughter feared most ... the plane was about to take off. As the plane taxied down the runway gathering the speed it needed to lift into the air, she held on tightly to my arm as if for dear life. It was not her favorite part of flying. For some reason the plane lifting into the air brought a sense of dread and the only way to deal with this frightening wave of emotion was to hold on tightly to mummy’s arm. However, after we were airborne, the fear left and she let go of my arm and even started enjoying the trip.
I am reminded of life in general. When things are tough and the challenges seem overwhelming, we may find ourselves running to any number of sources of strength, sources that provide hope and encouragement. It may be a family member or a friend and sometimes we may realise that the only source we can run to is God Himself when no one else seems capable of providing the answer or relief we need. It is in these times that we see those we can really count on and we also see how great and powerful our God really is.
I think of the story of king Jehoshaphat. A combined army from various nations decided to come together against Judah. When he heard of this united effort against him and his people, he became greatly afraid “and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3). I like the fact that when he became afraid he immediately turned to the Lord with his people. For him, the Lord was the only true source of help for them. I see him holding on “tightly” to his God, trusting no other nation to come to their aid. Either God would do it or He wouldn’t. He was honest with God about their inability to fight against this great army but humble in his choice to trust Him explicitly. “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do but our eyes are upon You” (v.12b).
I’m pretty sure that God has no problem with us holding on tightly to His arm when we are afraid. Yes, it speaks of our weakness and inability, but it also shows our choice to trust in the strength and ability of the One who can handle anything. That’s what king Jehoshaphat was saying when he said “our eyes are upon You.” He was choosing to focus only on His God, trusting Him to deliver them in this impossible situation. He acknowledged that they couldn’t do it, the army was too large in number for them but by choosing to put his eyes on His God he was saying “God only You have the answer, only You can and will get this done.”
But let’s think about that for a moment. The devil always sends situations that are bigger than us, stronger than us, in short impossible for us to handle ... and that’s his job. Our job, on the other hand, isn’t to try to fight on our own strength, but to turn to the One who can handle it.
One of the things God has been teaching me is to do is to put my trust completely in Him. I’ve reached the point where I acknowledge with all humility that God is the only one who is truly able to help me. Yes, I may turn to others for support and encouragement, but at the end of the day, I happily and willingly acknowledge that it’s God and God alone who is capable of helping me through any and every impossible situation. I actually like this feeling of trust because it gives me a sense of peace and comfort. God never failed me in the past when I needed Him and He’s not going to start doing so now or in the future.
I’m happy to say that of course God came through for king Jehoshaphat and his people. He came through in such a mighty way that they didn’t even have to lift a finger to fight this battle. God and God alone chose to do it because they put their trust in Him.
I don’t know what situation you are facing today. No, it’s not easy, and it may seem and feel downright hopeless. You may have been going through for weeks or months or even years. You may be on the verge of giving up or maybe you have already given up yet God may be saying, no, you have to go through. Yet, during those tough times when it seems as if the end will never come, hold on tightly to your God just like my daughter held tightly to me. Ask Him to renew your strength as you wait for your storm to end and keep your eyes fixed steadfastly on Him as you trust Him to do what no one else can do for you.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, I beg you to do so now. We can’t avoid the storms of life but we can hold on tightly to the God who will strengthen us and keep us during the storm. It’s good to know that He will never abandon us or neglect us, that He will be there offering the support and help we need.
Against all odds...
I watched intently as water rushed quickly and forcefully downstream. I strained my eyes on the waters, looking, searching keenly for any movement of life in those waters. Suddenly, I saw what I was looking for. A fish, a salmon to be exact, began moving upstream with determination and resolve against the mighty rush of the waters!
It was truly an amazing sight to see this lone fish pushing its way against the strong current as it made its way upstream to do what all salmon characteristically do - find their way back to their birthing ground to lay their eggs. And suddenly, before my eyes, fish after fish was making its way upstream, against the current, to do their duty during the spawning season. Even when the current seemed to be pushing one or the other back downstream, that fish would determinedly push until it had won the battle against the forces of nature that seemed to be saying to it, “You will never make it for I’m stronger and bigger than you.”
After doing a little research, I was reminded of two out of many stories in the Bible where the situation seemed impossible. One was of course the story of Abraham and Sarah. In Romans 4:18 it says that Abraham “who, contrary to hope in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken” (NKJV). God had given him a promise that he would be the father of many nations but his wife, Sarah, was barren so that promise seemed impossible. Yet, he believed God and God himself, not Abraham and his wife, brought His own Word to pass. When it’s impossible ONLY GOD can do it!
In another story, the Philistines came to fight against Israel and they were much larger in number. The Israelites became so afraid that they began hiding “in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes and in pits” (I Samuel 13:6). Furthermore, the army had no weapons with which to fight. It was indeed a desperate and hopeless affair. Yet, Jonathan, King Saul’s son, along with his armorbearer, secretly decided to go to the Philistines’ camp. They presented themselves to the Philistines and when invited to come to them, they knew that the Lord had delivered them into their hands. Confusion and fear covered the camp and the Philistines began fighting with one another. When the rest of the Israelites found out what was happening, they did not have much to do. God had indeed defeated their enemy (1Samuel 14:1-23). GOD DID IT!
I don’t know what odds you’re facing today. I have faced many thus far in my life. Situations that seemed impossible, I watched God make a way where there seemed to be no way. Like the salmon in the story, I had to learn to push my way against difficult circumstances. I have had to learn to believe God when it didn’t make sense to believe, when the facts seemed greater than His truth. But at the end of the day, I’m also learning that my God has the final say. It’s not man’s opinion, or even expectation, it’s about God’s Word. Once He says it that settles it. So, if the devil tells you to give up and that it’s hopeless, don’t believe it for one minute!
Sometimes it’s about pushing against the odds because you know what God has promised. The odds, the difficulties, the negatives will always push against the truth of God’s Word. Use the Word of God to push back. Remind the devil and yourself about what God says about your situation. I have had to learn to stand firmly on God’s Word, reminding myself constantly of what God says about me and what He is saying to me in every situation that I face. It’s interesting, but every challenge I have faced has pushed me to trust more and more in God’s Word. What I see with my natural eyes, never has the final say over the Word of God. And when God speaks, He will bring His Word to pass. You don’t have to do anything sometimes but simply believe and trust that He will bring to pass His best for you . At the end of the day, God has the final say and HE will do it!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. We all need support when we go through life’s trials and that’s what God is there for. He is the kind of support that beats out all other human support systems. He never fails, He is always there and He will it work it out for you!
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.