Category Archives: Faith

An Acceptable Offering

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” – Genesis 4:3-5

I’m pretty passionate about worship! But in more recent years I’ve seen an increasing emphasis across the church seeing worship as something that ‘does it for me’.

Certainly, taking time to worship God has a positive effect on our lives – but it’s not the primary reason we worship, nor should it be our primary motivation. Worship isn’t about God pleasing our hearts – it’s about us pleasing His!

What I think is interesting about this verse is that God did not look on Cain’s offering with favour. It’s easy for us to think that God will accept an offering of worship from us, simply because we’ve taken the time to do it. Cain sure took the time to do it, and not only that but it was probably much harder work for him to dig up some vegetables and clean them up to bring to God, rather than for Abel to select a lamb and sacrifice it. Yet God was pleased with Abel’s offering, and not with Cain’s. He didn’t just take it because it was brought – he was looking for something in particular.

So just because we bring an offering – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to please God’s heart. We have to look past just what we like, or what does it for us, and ask the same question that Abel did… what does God want? What does it for Him? For Cain, that would have meant getting outside his own comfort zone, and doing something that didn’t come as naturally to him.

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The Power To Remain

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” – Isaiah 7:9

External actions come from internal decisions and faith is the invisible motivator inwardly that brings about visible actions outwardly.

Our ability to remain constant and committed to a course of action depends not on our willpower or physical strength, it is the natural byproduct of having ‘SEEN’ something by faith that we just can’t let go.

When you have truly perceived something by faith, you end up standing firm not to prove a point or win an argument, but because it’s the only logical response. Others may be surprised or wonder at the level of confidence but to the person of authentic faith, there is literally no other choice!

Where Earth Ends…

Preparing for a church leaders meeting yesterday I had this verse going around in my head:

“Do you not know, have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” – Isaiah 40:28

And I found myself stuck on that insight that God is the creator of the ends of the earth.

Now we all know that the earth is round and doesn’t have a physical ‘end’ but there’s lots of places where the land runs out and the oceans begin.  Those places are like the ‘ends of the earth’.

We can reach those places in life too – where it’s like we’ve used up all our energy and strength, and we’ve reached the very end of all that we can do ourselves.  We come to the end of our earth.

Often, in those moments, we blame ourselves for perhaps taking a wrong turn, or not hearing the voice of God right.  But has it ever occurred to us that God Himself is the ‘Creator of the ends of the earth’?

In a way, it means that there are times in our lives where God ordains the land to run out.  Where we come to the end of what is naturally possible and we can’t go any further in our own strength or wisdom.  But He hasn’t created the ‘ends’ to frustrate us or to box us in – but rather, to give us the moment to shift into another gear.

Chapter 40 of Isaiah ends with these words…

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles [….]

God ordains places where the land runs out in our lives… because it’s time to fly!

Maybe you’re at earth’s end today – you’re tired and weary, and ready to give up.  But you don’t have to stop.  You don’t have to retrace your steps.  You just have to get into that place where you wait on the Lord.  He will give you strength and help you make the transition.  Nothing can stop you when you’re powered with His strength

Anyone

Some of the most powerful words in the Bible are the shortest words.  Words like allwill, nothing, and everything.  In the increasingly muddled, grey world that we live in today, where there is exception upon exception, and always a reason as to why ‘this doesn’t apply to me’ or ‘I’m different’ – the promises of the Bible stand resolute and firm.

I came across another pearler this morning in a book that I was reading… quoting from John 14:12:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” – John 14:12 (Emphasis mine)

Anyone means… anyone.  For me, this one verse alone puts the nail in the coffin of cessationist thinking, and it breaks forever the clergy/laity paradigm.

Biblically, the only qualification you need to walk in the same power that Jesus walked in – is faith.  You don’t have to have a position, a title, a certificate, worldly influence, charisma, money or connections.  You can be popular or an outcast.  When Jesus says this power is open to anyone – He means it!

But not only does this verse hold for us great promise, it also holds us accountable.  It means there’s also no good reason for me not to be doing what Jesus did.  I can’t blame my history, my circumstances or my church leaders or oversight.  If my life is not seeing the same fruit that Jesus did, then my faith in Him needs examination – because Jesus’ words and promise don’t allow me any other excuse.

Everyone wants to be a ‘someone’.  But based on this… I’d rather be an ‘anyone’!

Hanging On For The Win

Life is often about making tough sacrifices today because we’re looking forward to a better tomorrow.

Whether it’s holding back on eating that chocolate cake because you’re going for a weight goal, putting those night hours into a course to get you out of a dead-end job, or even putting up with less-than-perfect conditions in a group or team because you’re wanting the final win more than your temporary comfort.  We’ll never see greatness tomorrow without some kind of sacrifice today.

But I have to say, one of the most tragic things I see is people who pay great prices, and then pull out too soon – before they get the breakthrough.  They go through a season of pain for nothing.

I was struck by this thought this morning when I read this verse:

“Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai” – Numbers 26:64

Through Joshua, God parcelled out parts of the Promised Land to the Israelites.  They’ve made it.   This is reward day.  They’re now receiving the reward of their faith.  Yet with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, an entire generation – thousands upon thousands of people – missed that moment.  They’d been through seasons with no water, with no food, they’d been attacked and set upon… they’d endured hardships and pain… and for NOTHING.  They didn’t get what was promised because they gave up.

The thought of that makes me seriously want to stick in the journey through hardship!  I mean, if you’re going to go through the pain and suffering in life, if you’re going to make sacrifices and live a fasted life… then at least make sure you stick it out to the end to get the reward!

Paul gives us this encouragement:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9

God is preparing your life for wins.  He’s got a Promised Land ready to carve up for you, and He wants you to be there on the day He hands it out!  Don’t let difficulties, doubt or discouragement rob you of the reward you’ve already given so much for.  Hold in there and don’t give up… the prize is totally worth it!

The Key To Becoming Prophetic

“Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”  – Genesis 18:17

 

There was nothing seemingly special about Abraham.  His claim to fame was that he simply believed God.  When God spoke, Abraham listened and obeyed.

This simple obedience proved to be the key for Abraham increasing in his ability to know what God was going to do next.  A person with faith is a God-magnet, and so supernatural activities began to occur around Abraham’s life.

But the key is a very simple one – have faith in, and obey what God has already shown you.  Many people want to grow in prophetic power to know what God is saying about the future, or to have supernatural experiences with Him.  But God won’t necessarily bring greater words to those who haven’t listened or responded to his smaller words.

Training in the prophetic starts with obeying the small promptings of the Holy Spirit.  To believe God for something impossible, to turn away from a particular sin, to share a seemingly insignificant word with someone.  Abraham had become so good at believing God, so reliable at walking out what God wanted… that God said to Himself… “can I really hide from Abraham what I’m going to do next?”.

As we learn to be faithful with the little things… this same question will grow in God’s heart towards us too.

Stir It Up

Thinking today about the cripple sitting by the pool of Bethesda in John 5. The Bible says he was waiting for the pool to be stirred. Then thinking about 2 Tim 1:6 which encourages us to ‘stir up the gift of God’.

The man was healed that day not because the pool was stirred, but because Jesus had stirred His gift!!

It’s the same when it comes to walking in the power of the Spirit. Some can only move when the ‘pool is stirred’ – when they’re in an environment where things are already happening. But we’re called to ‘stir the gift’ – to get the environment set in the first place!

How do we do this? I find that to walk in the Spirits power requires an act of faith on my part. It might be summoning the courage to pray for someone. Or in my prayer times, deciding to laugh before the Spirits joy comes on me!! As we STIR the gifts God has given us – His power starts to flow.