P2536 Giving, whether it is money —- or help …

… giving transforms our hearts. I’ve found that opening up my wallet, sharing my time, plus helping people opens up my heart like nothing else does. “We will show mercy to the poor and not miss an opportunity to do acts of kindness for others, for these are the true sacrifices that delight God’s heart. Hebrews 13:16 TPT. Did ya get that? Giving delights God’s heart—if you want to make Him happy, then act like He does! We are true sons and daughters when we act like He does.

Hubby and I have found we can give our way out of difficulties, simply because any sort of giving has His favour on it.  God loved us so HE GAVE... We have been blessed ... to be a blessing!  Hubby and I have noticed that when someone tells us that they are not coping, that is our cue to go to the Lord and ask Him what He would like us to do to help them. Praying for people is great. Do it. But caring enough to engage with them to help them is greater.

The problem, as I see it, is that we all have busy lives that can be fraught with financial difficulties. So let’s just settle in our hearts that giving any sort of help, financial, spiritual, emotional, and physical - means sacrifice. Time, money, energy, emotional input….we will need to give it all. It will absolutely be inconvenient! And all of that means we probably won’t feel like it - most of the time. 

Personally I’d rather go without stuff, than miss an opportunity to give - that’s how much I value the blessing of giving. I  want to esteem Him with everything I have. There can be no price put on His forgiveness - because none of us deserve it! Yet we can easily, in this day and age of self-satisfaction, rationalise ourselves out of one of the greatest blessings God has for us, by not passing on His loving provision to others. Hubby and I love to give, every time the cost of living goes up, we give more! You literally cannot out-give God. Obviously, we pray over it but that's what we do.

Christians fervently tell Him that they want to know Him, but then we go on to ignore His very nature. A shared experience is a way to discover and know someone else. Giving is plainly written down in His book for everyone to see, so it is not like you have to take some huge retreat to an obscure place on the earth to find Him! We can find Him when we start looking and reading in the bible about how He speaks, and what He did, and why He did it. It is in God’s nature to give. He gave the garden to Adam, then Eve to Adam, and children to bless them! He gave us ... even before we had a clue Who He is and what He could literally demand from us (!!) ... a Saviour. And because of what Jesus did, now we live by another kingdom’s rules.

Our God loves things that are freely given because that is Who He is! I think we need to be the giving-est people on earth! Because even though we may be materially poor, we know we are already rich because we belong to Him. Now, we can help someone else, Christian or NOT, to feel loved, noticed and cared for. Plus we will share our giving experience with our Heavenly Father, and discover a teeny bit of how He feels as He constantly gives to us. 

People need encouragement - FYI, encouragement is just another way to GIVE. I once wrote to a famous author to tell him that his work was soooo good, it made me laugh over and over again. That man was absolutely delighted. He told me that the only feedback he gets is negative. I guess that people obviously feel free to express their negative emotions, but don’t feel free to share encouragement?!! What kind of world are we living in? Don’t answer that, I won't even go there.

Giving should be like breathing to us. It is an outward sign of an inward change in our hearts. You cannot follow Jesus Christ and not give. Giving is the essence of WHO HE IS and because of what He freely gave us (Himself!) - it is now part of who we are. That’s what being changed to be like Him is! It means at the other end of this life we will have laid down our lives for other people, just like Christ did. 

Just because His Heavenly Father asked the Lord to die, that didn’t mean Jesus had to do it. He had a choice ... and it cost Him to make that choice. Giving is a choice. Giving in any form, transforms our hearts, our lives! My very best advice is this … don’t just think about it, and spend an hour checking your budget. You may never be able to afford more giving on paper - DO IT anyway. God is wa-ay outside this world's monetary system! 👋

P2535 We need to learn to lift our shields.

Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that He has lavished on us! He has called us and made us His very own beloved children. The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize Him.” 1 John 3:1 TPT

When I read that scripture today, my first thought was: ‘What if I started to pray for the people around me, to recognise Him?’ Come to think of it, what if I prayed for ME to recognise Him in the things that go on around me? We sing and pray: “I want to know You, I want to see You,” Then waddle about as blind as a bat - well, you may not waddle but I sure do! 🤪 After those thoughts I asked myself yet again: “What is there in my life, right now, that would distract me from my God-given ability to see and reflect His love and His Presence to others?” I don’t want to be a muddy mirror! I want to progressively see Him more clearly and reflect Him better too.

I’m not talking about going on a witch-hunt to look for stuff, I am talking about discovering the things that are easily tolerated to the point that they become like background noise in our lives — instead of the subject of fervent prayer for deliverance. Those things we put up with because that mountain of change seems too high! Instead, like His book says: we simply must “… be (continually) looking at Jesus Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.” Jesus Christ started up our faith in Him, and the bible clearly says He can finish it! We simply need to hold fast to our faith in His ability to do the job. His track record is already astonishing!!

At the same time we cannot afford to tolerate any rotten attitudes toward other people. Things like: … ‘We can’t help it! Look at how mean they are!’ And start speaking “His life” into their lives instead. Every single human being has potential in Christ. I believe we need to look hard at the people that we have chosen to avoid like the plague, simply because they challenge our nicey nice feelings about ourselves! How about we choose to use every opportunity to show these difficult people His Grace in action — in the fervent hope that we may win some of them!

Like Jesus said to the disciples when they were being tossed about in a huge storm in Luke 8:25 “Where is YOUR FAITH?”…”  From day to day, and minute by minute, what happens to OUR faith that He can and will help us overcome difficult people and circumstances? Speaking for myself, some days my faith in other people’s sins and failure seems to be greater than my faith that He can get me through anything! 

We don’t have to make excuses for other people’s sins either, or debate whether He will help them or not - we simply let them go free on the grounds that HE let us go free. That’s a full stop right there! Our faith needs to be used to overcome our sin, their sin against us, as well as the temptation to avoid the painful people. We are all tempted by stuff, but we must learn to hide behind our faith shield that says: “In Christ I can do all things because HE gives me strength.” What we do with temptation is an important key. If we have doubts, then we need to talk to the Lord about them, and trust Him to help us to walk through them, and/or overcome them.

At the same time there is definitely plenty of opportunities to monitor our own personal attitudes to others. My very best advice is, don’t just put up with people - faith demands that we press on until we love them! Prayer doesn’t just change things - it changes ME!  The thing to remember about our faith shield is that it only works because of what Christ did! You and I have the power residing within us to change this world for the better. Let’s not waste it, or our limited energies by hiding behind our weaknesses, or complaining or seeking sympathy from others. Let’s serve our King with all we have, and serve others with the same sort of passion He had for us.

We need to learn to use our shield against the barrage of attacks that come at us, through our own circumstances, personal media, from the news, and from media favourites. The reason we can get crushed and disappointed regarding other people, is because sometimes we expect everything from them … and very little from ourselves. 

Dream yourself bigger. Start to think of your faith as so big, it can move any mountain that comes up in front of you. Use your shield to deflect the thoughts, and evil arrows that pierce your mind and heart, trying to lead you into despair. Life will not always be like this - one day we will stand in front of our King. The battle scars we have down here, will be badges of honour to His goodness, glory and grace up there. Amen. 👋🏻

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us?Romans 8:31 TPT 

P2534 Not just saved from, we are saved… FOR!

But you are God’s chosen treasure —priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience His marvellous light, and now He claims you as His very own. He did this so that you would broadcast His glorious wonders throughout the world. For at one time you were not God’s people, but now you are. At one time you knew nothing of God’s mercy, because you hadn’t received it yet, but now you are drenched with it!1 Peter 2:9-10 TPT.

Drenched! What a word that is. It means - 'wet thoroughly; soaked.' I think that this word illustrates that we have been totally saturated in His Love … forever. When I think about what Jesus did for us, in spite of all of our wilful ways, it still blows my mind. I’ve done some stuff I’m not proud of in my life, and now it is under His blood, thank you Lord!  Thank God He is so much wiser than I will ever be, He saw our sins and dealt with them over 2000 years ago.  🙌

However He did not simply save us from all our sinful appetites and proclivities, He saved you and I for His purposes. There is a world of difference right there — between from and for. It is one thing to be rescued, but it is entirely another thing to be rescued ... for a purpose, and in this case, you and I were rescued for His higher purpose!  We've been given a calling, identity and purpose. Feel free to cheer!!

I cannot begin to imagine how God would want to take ordinary people and call us kings and priests. However, I think that someone like King David is a great illustration of that fact. It worked in his life like this. David was no-one. In the pecking order of society in those days - he was way down the bottom. Yet he was chosen, by God, to be king. We need to remember that this young man had no birthright to that throne. But he was still chosen to lead Israel. 

Now, if we take my illustration over into life in the 21st century ... sometimes our hearts aren't in the best order, maybe not always on the up and up? … So Almighty God sent His Son to change our hearts forever. The power for us to change the way we think and act toward Him, and others, was released on that cross. And the proof that Jesus Christ Himself had the power to do that for us - is seen in the resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The best thing we can do, is to let Him do what He wants with our lives. After all, now we know that the bible lays that change out like a map! 

The thing is, we must actively choose to come out of the darkness all around us and stand there in His marvellous light - daily. That clear holy light can be very daunting - nothing can hide there, trust me! But because Jesus gave mankind HIS standing as a free gift, we have been given His power to overcome and His purity. His exchange changed everything. Now, Almighty God’s calls us His very own. And that’s worthy of praise! 

So it is easy to think we are sort of, kind of, OK - but that is because in this life, we are not standing next to absolute purity and total dedication to God's ways and will. If Jesus Christ walked into our space and time in all His glory and splendour - we’d be on our faces in a split second! In our world today, there are people I know that are incredibly genuine in their love for Christ, but they don't particularly see themselves in a good light. As a matter of fact, they hardly see themselves at all! They are way too busy gazing at Him and enjoying the view! It seems to me that gazing at Him is the best place to be. 

Our God honours mankind because of Christ. He now calls us His treasure. How could any of us be worthy of that? In order to appreciate what God did for us, we must lift our eyes upfrom the one who is being blessed — us to the One Who is doing the blessingthe Lord! Grace bent down and lifted you and I up into a place we will never deserve. In order to stand in that place we need to focus on HIM, not just our little lives. Focussing on ourselves just sets us up for a fall. Focussing on Jesus sets us up for adoration.

We must stop giving any room to our sins. And instead look at the One Who delivered us. Because of Jesus we’ve been saved FROM that person we used to be. Not because of what we do, or who we are - but because of His incredible generosity. Love Himself looked down on mankind from that cross. Today, we need to remember that we’ve been saved FOR a higher purpose - we’ve been given the privilege of reflecting His love into our world. Let's not be a muddy MIRROR. 👋

P2533 Hold fast to what is good and right.

1 Samuel 22:6-8 “Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

It is a good thing to listen to the way that these guys in the Old Testament, talk. Did you notice that King Saul has gone right around God Himself being in charge, and is acting like this is a competition between him and David? The Lord is left right out of this picture. Saul is exhibiting one of satan’s nastiest prods: 'Troops, you’ve let me down! Remember, I have all the power to make or break your lives and David doesn’t!.'  Guilt is a terrible evil motivator  -- a poor freedom fighter - it isn't from GOD.

Do you know the saying… there is nothing new under the sun? Right there in 1st Samuel, satan is using his power to persuade Saul that power, results and might are right. In other words it’s OK to manipulate men for a good cause. But the actual good cause is really Saul’s cause!  That’s a great clue to help us figure out just who is talking to us when we are desperate for answers... who will ultimately benefit?  What this king is saying is a twisted highly manipulative truth - Saul's power was limited by God's WILL.  Almighty God was WITH David, He WAS NOT with Saul!

Manipulation, judgment or the 'end justifies the means' - those thoughts should not exist in the His church. Have you ever heard someone say this - 'that church has 4,000 people and this one only has 30?' The implication is the second church is doing something wrong! Like numbers or popularity are a sign of success in the Lord! God's ways are not our ways. He used 300 men to defeat without number when He chose Gideon as a leader. And the Lord's fruit does not always show up with numbers! Jesus Christ was everlastingly fruitful with 11 men!

At the same time, any kind of spiritual gift manifesting itself does not mean we have immediately toddle off and start using it. This is why an anointing or a gift need to be submitted to the pastor. Proverbs 4:5-7 teaches us - "Get wisdom, get understanding: Forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: Love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee:"  There is a good way, and a right way of doing things. Let other people you trust supervise you. 

The bible is a WHOLE BOOK - we dare not cherry-pick our motivation or our answers. We should not even think about prophesying all over people’s lives without wisdom. Recognising a gift is not activating it. No matter how well intentioned we are, quite often we do not even know the state of our own hearts and that will affect what we say and do towards others.The body of Christ needs spiritually gifted people, but we need WISDOM just as much. The Holy Spirit is the source of our wisdom.

He likes to lead us through difficult circumstances to the other side, because as we follow Him we gain wisdom along the way! So many people have stumbled over the temptation to rush rush, hurry hurry ahead of God. He lives in eternity - He doesn't have to hurry! He doesn't care about popularity either!! Gifted people can go into ministry because it has been recognised that they have a wonderful gift from God, and that gift blesses others and has great results! But only God Himself knows what’s inside us that can shoot us in the foot down the road. Ask yourself regularly in any form of ministry - where is the fruit? What does the fruit of this tree look like?

Also, having a gift does not mean you are ready to use it, or the world around you is ready to receive it! Our God is way more interested in our character than we’ve understood so far. He wants to repair and inhabit our lives. Just because other people have responded to His gift in your life don't be fooled… always, always remember that gift you have is still His! It is a GIFT— not a REWARD FOR GOOD BEHAVIOUR! He gave it to you to build up His church, not just build your own ministry. 

God’s power can be so awe-inspiring, when others see it operating through a person they start to elevate the person. Plus spiritually gifted people sometimes do the right things for the wrong reasons! They are deceived by satan into believing acting like this is for the greater good… “People are getting saved Lord!” Hallelujah! - but we always want Jesus to shine like the SUN -- not just some here again, gone again shooting star! King Saul had no love for God or his men - he was too busy trying to get David out of the picture. Our Lord is a master-craftsman - He forms His swords … His servants — in the fire of adversity or the heat of His personal gaze. As His servants we need to learn to be resilient and tough.

A really good blacksmith can take three strands of metal and twist, weave, beat and forge those three strands into ONE SWORD. This kind of sword can take knocks, and rebound without shattering. Our precious Heavenly Father doesn’t want any of us to break in the battles of this life, He wants us to defeat our foes. Father God wants us to have and live under, the three-fold, tightly woven cord of Himself, His Son and the Holy Spirit. Otherwise like King Saul, we could easily mistake having POWER, for BEING RIGHT and the Lord's badge of approval.

The Trinity long to become so woven into our thinking, doing and being, that people like King Saul will taste bad to us. However, in order to resist temptation, we must first be able to identify it. Only by God's Grace and wisdom, we’ll be able to avoid deception, because what the Trinity wants is everything we want!  The Lord's army won’t have any ambition, good or bad. Their only aim will be to please Him, and hold fast to what is good and right. Fame and power can spoil people. It goes to their head. Look what it did to Saul, it made him into a megalomaniac and liar - among other things!  Gaining wisdom is incredibly important - it means we have learnt to walk with the Spirit of God. 🙌

P2532 There is reading the bible …

OR ... letting the bible READ YOU. 

Psalm 19:10 “God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds.You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.”  Now there's an interesting statement!

One of the best things we can do as the Lord’s disciples is to let His book read us. His Word is like our mirror. Hmmm… First of all, I gotta say that I don’t much like normal, live-in-your-house mirrors, anymore! This old lady that I-don’t-know keeps sticking her head in front of mine and ruining my perfect view of the thirty year old I-used-to-be!! I dunno how she does it, but there she is, liver spots and all, staring back at me! Like I said — not fond of mirrors! I have a strange feeling other people feel like me regarding God's Word. We don't like what we see.

As Christians, I think we need to continually remind ourselves that our plans are not His plans. THAT’S WHY WE READ THE BOOK - to find out HIS plan. I read the bible with the Holy Spirit, He’s the One Who knows what I am meant to find out about myself every day! Please take my advice, the mirror of God’s Word is our friend, no matter how old we are. Don’t let the view in it - spoil your reading. Remember, our debt was paid. Confess your faults, repair, restore ... and move on … 

The secret of real lasting growth, as well as gaining the ability to hear His voice, is to read what He has said, and then go and live it out - every single day. There are no shortcuts. I read until I find something I don’t know, or haven’t done - then stop and ask myself why not? ‘Why am I not obeying this verse? Am I letting myself off the hook by telling myself that this verse was for back then, not now?We need to look for God’s story in His book. His way of doing things is in what we read ... "His word brings us light."

One of the easiest prayers, like E-V-E-R … to get answered is to ask the Lord … "do I do this?"  OR  "how would you like me to obey this one Jesus?" Here’s another brilliant one, for free - "who am I mad at Lord?"  Do take a pencil, you will probably need it. Arguing or making excuses about what we read prevents growth. Just repent etc. Repentance never killed anyone. Obedience to God's Word is one of the primary requirements Christians are missing today. BTW, this is a CO-operative process! Telling God you agree without finding out the solution and applying it - is a rort.

In other words, when we read the word of God we can't just leave it with Him without engaging with Him in behavioural change. I guess there are times when we read the bible and think: ”Gee, my auntie, cousin, sister, father, friend-at-church ought to read this, it would do them good.That’s called distraction! The minute we have that thought we need to ask Him: “what's in this verse for me, Lord?” We must stop pretending that we have arrived, and enter willingly and gladly into His processes, because they will bring us closer to Him. Despite popular opinion, we will not explode if we find out we are doing something wrong. It is simply an opportunity for change.

The Holy Spirit is always with us. He wants us to win. The more we overcome those sins that we think we can’t help doing - the stronger our faith in His ability to move ... in our hearts, on our lives, and through us ... becomes. Please do not misunderstand me, we don’t have to be perfect to be used by God to further His kingdom here on earth. But just like getting excess WAX taken out of our earthly ears helps us to hear — getting rid of the things that are holding our faith back from real growth, helps to equip us to do what He sent us here to do!

Too many wonderful Christians have been shot in the foot by unresolved issues! There are things in our lives that we do, that Jesus would not do, and they need to be confronted and submitted to Him. Those things distract us from our primary purpose. To love and serve Him, and others. We can use our energy to avoid change, or we can use our energy to facilitate that change. That choice is always ours.

At the same time we need to remember, sometimes even in our own households, we are the catalyst for change in others. We all have influence. We have been given influence because we belong to Him. Almighty God has brought many people into our lives for the purpose of using our faith to stimulate theirs, and that includes our children. My best advice is to learn to let the bible read you … the results will draw us all closer to Him. Isaiah 59:2 There's nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that He doesn't hear.” MSG. 👋

P2531 Our place in God’s plans.

1 Samuel 22:20-23: “But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

To put you in the picture - King Saul is on one of his “let’s kill David … … plus anyone else who helps him!”… moods. Saul had heaps of ‘destroy that guy’ sprees. Below is my condensed version of one of those stories.. David goes to Nob and asks the high priest Ahimelek to help him, he and his men need food. Ahimelek gives David and his men yesterdays’ shew bread plus Goliath’s sword to help him. It is good to remember, King Saul hates David without any Godly cause. Some people do that you know - it isn’t always your fault.

Meanwhile, I think King Saul is deeply envious, and jealous of David and his popularity and his good heart. To start with Saul’s own son Jonathan loves him and this young man is constantly helping his friend. Back to the story — Saul hears about Ahimelek helping David out and he becomes furious — which actually seems to be the king’s emotional default position (!!)  And he sends for Ahimelek, and all the other priests. There were 85 of these men, and King Saul tells his men to kill all of them. 

But the king’s men are unwilling to strike down priests, so Saul gets Doeg the Edomite to kill them, as well as everyone else who lived in the town of Nob. Apparently Saul also believes in guilt by association. This is where the verses above pick up the narrative. We find out that through the text, that David did not trust Doeg at all. It seems that David's internal spiritual radar was spot on! 

The reason I want to feature this story today is to highlight David’s attitude. Attitudes are easy to miss when you are just reading things as a story! One of Ahimelek’s sons escapes and runs to David, telling him what Saul has done and David picks up responsibility for what has happened … even though he was not the perpetrator! He literally becomes this man’s city of refuge, taking the man and his whole family in under his protection. I love that! When I read it recently, I started praying the Lord would make me a place of refuge like that for others, so they can come to know Him and His love, better.

It is good to look hard at what happened to Ahimelek. We need to note that none of the people who were assassinated did anything wrong - but they were all destroyed to satisfy the king’s desire for revenge. It can be way too easy to start hunting around for the ‘Sauls’ in our own lives … those people who hate us ... when we read stuff like this... Nobody loves everybody all the time! By the way, if you find some people like that in your life - remember to forgive them! 

However, today my aim is to talk about having a heart just like David had toward others. He became the protector of the weak and vulnerable - despite the fact that he was being actively pursued by a jealous, vengeful king. He is innocent of any wrong doing. Under pressure, David is still a righteous man! As Christians, we need to be the sort of people that care enough about other people to protect them prayerfully etc., as well as practically and we need to learn, from the Lord, how to prevail under pressure. You get it that the pressure comes first - eh? Then we get to do the prevailing stuff!

This world has so much injustice today it is easy to be swept up in anger and frustration, and then get overwrought, and start acting, and reacting from our pain. Because of that pain, we can easily switch our focus over toward getting rid of the problem. In this story, and in most of ours, the problem is a person. Yet David had enough wisdom to leave Saul and his machinations to GOD - he just kept actively evading him. This was WHO David was!

IF we take matters like this into our own hands we will miss our calling. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation - not God’s revenge on two feet! Our enemy can successfully distract us from the main thing and … the main thing is to find OUR PLACE in His ANSWER. One of our biggest temptations is to rush in where angels fear to tread and act without wisdom. My advice is wait for our King, Jesus. Our place in God’s plan is to be a minister of reconciliation. There is no greater calling.👋