Category Archives: Guidance

Getting The God-Solution

Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” – 1 Kings 18:5 (NIV)

King Ahab is in the middle of a natural famine that has a spiritual cause.  Israel has turned away from following the Lord, and some guy has started rebuilding Jericho – and in the middle of it all, Elijah the prophet turns up from nowhere and says ‘there will be no rain in Israel except by my word’.

Thus Israel has now endured 3 1/2 years of hard drought.  Ahab sends Obadiah out to look through the land to see if he can find some springs or brooks or even some grass to try to keep the animals alive.  It’s a practical move, but at the same time he’s ignoring the spiritual reality of what’s going on.

You can’t solve spiritual problems with practical solutions.  You have to solve spiritual problems with spiritual solutions.  The land is in drought not because of water-cycles or overpopulation or anything – it’s dry because the people have turned away from God.  Interestingly, the moment that the nation falls on it’s face and cries out ‘The Lord He is God’ – Elijah hears the sound of heaven rain!

Sometimes the things that are going on for us aren’t just ‘life’.  Sometimes they have spiritual origins.  In the gospels Jesus often first dealt with demonic powers before healing started to flow.  You have to ‘bind the strongman before you can plunder his house’.

Yes, there are definitely times when you just need to do a few practical things.  But if you find that your life is in famine, and it just keeps going despite all practical solutions being done… maybe it’s time to get down and look to see what might be spiritually going on.

The great thing is that God is so willing to show us if we will just look.  It’s not a coincidence that Obadiah, a righteous man who’d been hiding God’s prophets, was the one who stumbled on Elijah while out looking for water.  God brought Obadiah right to the one who could help him.  He does the same thing for us today!

The Call Of A Prophet

In 1 Kings 13 there’s this strange little story about a prophet who goes to Bethel to speak against the altar that Jeroboam had set up there.  On the surface it seems like a bit of a weird account – but there’s some insights in it as to how we follow the call of God, and how we treat those who have made mistakes in their ministry.

1 Kings 13:1-32 (NIV)
1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering.
2 He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: “O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.'”
3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back.
5 Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

There is no doubt this man is a prophet – he has spoken out against the idols and altars that Jeroboam has set up, and his word immediately comes to pass.  This would have been a very clear sign to the king that God wasn’t into what he was doing.

7 The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.”
8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here.
9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.'”
10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.

This prophet not only had a message from God, but he had a METHOD that God had given Him concerning that message.  He was not to eat or drink in the land, and he was to return by a different route.  When it comes to us walking in our ministries – it’s not just our message that’s important, but it’s also those things that we feel like God has told us to do or not to do as we bring that message.  There are things that God drops into our hearts and consciences – and these things are of vital importance as we will see.

11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king.
12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken.
13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it
14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am,” he replied.
15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”
16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.
17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.'”
18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'” (But he was lying to him.)

19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

So the prophet  again tells this other prophet about his call.  But this is interesting – the old prophet says an angel has told me something different.  And based on this he manages to turn the young prophet away from his call.  The key here is that the word from a visible angel should never be greater than the word of our invisible God.  Paul said to the Galatians to hold fast to what they had originally received from God ‘even if an angel should bring you a message that is different to what we have brought you’.  In God’s word alone is the protection for us as we walk out the ministry he has called us to.

So the young prophet goes home with the old prophet, and eats and drinks – and then the old prophet declares that the young prophet will be judged from turning away from God’s word.  I think it’s important at this point to move around questions such as ‘would God really send a prophet to try to take down another prophet?’ – and look at what happens next.

24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.

The young prophet ends up being killed by a lion – but the lion doesn’t eat his body, nor does it attack the donkey with him.  It simply stands next to the body, which is highly unusual for a lion.  It’s a sign to everyone around that something is happening here which is from the hand of God.

The point which I want to make out of this part is that if the young prophet had ignored the lying voice of the old prophet, and stayed true to what God had originally sent him to do – he wouldn’t have been killed by the lion.  In the same way there are those who are called by God into particular ministries, and this needs to be a sharp reminder to us all that we have to take God’s METHODS that He’s given us seriously.  They may just save our lives and ministries!

26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him.”
27 The prophet said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they did so.
28 Then he went out and found the body thrown down on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey.
29 So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him.
30 Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Oh, my brother!”
31 After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.
32 For the message he declared by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.”

This final part of the story gives us some insights on how to deal with those who have ‘fallen’ in ministry.  I’ve been aware over the years of people burning the books and resources of those who have made mistakes in their ministry with God – as if because of one mistake they’d made, suddenly all the good things they’d done were tainted.

But the old prophet HONOURS the young prophet.  He says that his words will certainly come to pass.  He asks for his body to be buried with him.  In the same way, there will be times that there are messengers from God who bring a prophesy or a revelation back to the body of Christ – and then make a major mistake that costs them their ministry.  While we don’t condone the sin that has taken place – it’s also important that we remember and honour what God did through them when they DID obey what He was calling them to.

The Process Of Refining

For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined.  You brought us into prison. You laid a burden on our backs.  You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us to the place of abundance. – Psalms 66:10-12

When you’re walking with God, the destination is ALWAYS worth whatever hardship you have to walk through to get there.  What I’ve discovered though, is that in order for me to receive ALL that God wants to give me, He has to expand me, mold me, and strengthen me.  Otherwise I don’t have the capacity to take what He wants to pour out on my life. 

The process by which God works in us so that He can give us more is called REFINING.  Precious metals are refined in the fire, so that the impurities are separated from them.  Then they emerge sparkling! 

In this passage we see the process of testing and refining that God does in us in order to bring us ‘to the place of abundance’. 

You brought us into prison – one of the ways that we’re tested is that we’re kept in a place or situation that we find really hard to stay in.  In this place we have to make a choice to either be overcome or to overcome.  Just like Joseph – he could have wallowed in bitterness in the prison that he found himself in.  But instead he got his gift active, and he made the most of the situation.  He overcame – and he passed his time of testing.  The prison prepared him for the palace. 

You laid a burden on our backs – recently I finished reading Bear Grylls’ book ‘Mud, Sweat And Tears’.  He gives an account of the SAS training he went through – where they were regularly tested with carrying immensely heavy loads while running across desolate country and having to reach a destination in a certain time.  The loads we carry can be responsibilities and roles, they can be health issues or financial crises, they can be relationships and people connections.  But a burden is not just an everyday load – it’s when it’s really loaded up.  Again, God allows this so that we can TAKE MORE.  I’ve watched over years as those that God is preparing for leadership have been given what seemed like impossible burdens to carry – and yet not only have they carried them, but they’ve prospered while carrying them.  They’ve kept great faith and attitude. 

You allowed men to ride over our heads – another way that God expands and grows us is to put is the place where we are mistreated by those around us.  Sometimes there’s genuine reasons – we may be a bit arrogant or don’t know how to say no.  But sometimes, we find ourselves persecuted without reason.  How we respond in these situations is also part of a test. 

We went through fire and water – situations that burnt us, and places where we literally thought we were going to drown. 

All of these are preparation.  None of us enjoy them – but they get us ready for the place of abundance.  One of the things that will keep you going through a time of trial is to know that it is actually all for a reason.  The things we walk through can seem at times unbelievably harsh and incredibly unfair, but if we can rise up above them – then we find the way through to the place of abundance.  And what we discover in that place is that we now possess the ability to hold on and remain in the place of abundance, because we have been expanded and grown in the place of testing. 

One Thing After Another

Matthew 8:28 – When he came to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, two people possessed with demons met him there, coming forth out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no man could pass by that way.   

Consider this from the disciples point of view.  They’ve only just finished facing death out on the water – and now they land and there’s two demon-possessed guys waiting for them!  It sounds like a script from a video game!

So much of what we deal with in life is about perspective.  One perspective would be ‘We’ve only just escaped from the sea with our lives intact – and now we’re facing demon-possessed people’!  Another would be ‘God just showed His power over the winds and the waves!  I wonder what He’s going to do with this situation’!

We have to understand that as followers of Jesus, He will ABSOLUTELY lead us into impossible situations – because He wants us to display His power in them.  Our part is to learn not to fear, but to trust and believe – no matter what we’re staring down.

How can you change your perspective today to see the obstacles in front of you not as roadblocks but as opportunities for God to show His power?

A Heart After God!

Proverbs 3:1 – My son, don`t forget my teaching; But let your heart keep my commandments:

It takes time for God’s commandments to make their way from our head down to our heart. The way that we get our heart to keep God’s commandments is to not let our head forget God’s teachings!  When we continually remind ourselves of God’s word and turn it over in our heads, it will eventually reach our hearts, and we will find that we are changed from the inside out. 

Leaving Our Position

Joshua 3:3 (NIV)
3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.

When the Lord starts to move, the people were to leave their positions and follow Him. 

It can be easy to start to find our identity in our position rather than as a follower of Christ.  But when God starts to move, we have to leave behind the familiarity of the position we have known and grown accustomed to so that we can keep pace with him.  It’s not ultimately about our position, it’s about being a follower.