Category Archives: Insights

Assumptions

Today, I want to look at ‘assumptions’.

An assumption is defined as a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

Doing the Math

An assumption is almost the same as faith – being certain of something that you can’t see.  But as humans, we tend to like assumptions because they generally mean less work for us.  If I can just take x for granted, then it means I can get on and focus on y.  Rather than having to go to the effort of walking something out or doing effort in real life,  we do the math in our heads and decide ahead of time if we’ll win or lose.

Sometimes assumptions are really good and helpful, especially in situations where you just need to make a quick decision.  But other times – wrong assumptions can bring all kinds of evil into our world.  Not only that – but acting on wrong assumptions can lead us to do things that are not worthy of us, and put us in positions that we would never have wanted to find ourselves in.

This is what happened to Abraham in Genesis 20:

Genesis 20
1  Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
2  and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3  But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4  Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
5  Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7  Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die.”
8  Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.
9  Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done.”
10  And Abimelech asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11  Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

Is God Here?

Abraham made an assumption.  He looked at the situation and said:

‘God is not in this place… it’s clear to me’.

Interesting isn’t it – because his Abraham’s son, Isaac, was later to come to a certain place at night, when all was dark and he had a powerful encounter with the Lord – and then He said:

‘God is in this place – and I wasn’t even aware of it’

Both of them came to a place not expecting to find God, and yet in both situations they discovered that God was already at work.  How often do we make the ASSUMPTION that God is not there.  That there is NO FEAR OF GOD in this place?

For Abraham – that assumption had some dramatic consequences.

  • It caused him to act weird.
  • It caused him to end up lying.
  • He lost his credibility with Abimelech
  • He almost lost his wife

All because he walked into a situation and made an assumption that wasn’t true.

Assumptions Can Hold Us Captive

Sometimes the only thing that is holding us back from walking into all that God has promised us is the jailhouse of our mind.  God calls us to do something – and we say ‘I’ve done the math Lord… it won’t work’.  Sometimes your assumptions based on your experience is what’s holding you back.

This is what happened for the Israelites.  In the well known chapter of Numbers 13 – Moses sends spies out to look at the promised land.  They come back – and they say ‘yeah it’s all good.  all like God promised but the only problem is… walled cities, and giants!’.  Then they say ‘and we looked like grasshoppers in their eyes’.  How did they know that?  Did they have a conversation with the giants?  Did they ask them to fill out this quick 4 question survey?

They made an assumption.  They had no idea what was going on, on the other side of the fence.

But the Bible tells us.  The stories of what was happening to the nation of Israel in the desert:

  • what had happened in Egypt as they left
  • the parting of the red sea
  • water flowing out of rocks
  • divine provision in the desert
  • their clothes not wearing out
  • powerful encounters with a living God

All these accounts were all getting reported to the kings who were living in the land Israel was about to possess.  They were freaking out.  One of the kings Balak, hires a guy called Balaam to try to use witchcraft and cursing against the Israelites.  But everytime Balaam tries to curse Israel – only blessing came out!  You can be assured that story made it around the kings fraternal meeting.

We read in Joshua 5:
1  Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

The Israelites had wandered around in the desert for 40 years and part of the reason for that is that they were held captive by a wrong assumption.  They thought the giants were waiting for them to cross so that they could beat them to a pulp.  They had no idea that the giants spent those 40 years packing themselves about the day that Israel would finally wake up to the power they had!

The story is told of the master escape artist Harry Houdini.  On one of his European tours, he had himself handcuffed and shut in a Scottish town jail.  Once alone, Houdini quickly got out of the shackles, and started to work on the lock on the cell door.  He tried everything he knew but he couldn’t get the lock to turn.  Finally, completely, exhausted… he leaned against the door… and it swung open so unexpectedly he nearly fell headlong into the corridor.  The jailer hadn’t locked it.  Houdini made an assumption!

Like A Little Child

Jesus said – if you want to get into the kingdom of heaven, you’ve got to become like a little child.  Little kids trust implicitly.  They don’t do the math, because they don’t have the experience.  They TRY THINGS.

There’s sick people in our world that God wants to heal, but they’re surrounded by Christians doing the maths, rather than taking the action.

There’s doors of breakthrough that God has placed in your life today – but we too often don’t walk through them because you’re we’re the maths rather than taking the action.

There’s people who are waiting to get saved, but the Christians are doing the maths, instead of taking the action.

Abraham says ‘God is NOT in this place… it’s clear to me’.  But yet God was.  Isaac says ‘God was in this place – and I wasn’t even aware of it’.

Which one is it for you?

Is God not in this place because of what you’ve seen and experienced?  Or is God in this place – and you weren’t even aware of it?

Is God not in your workplace because of what you’ve seen and experienced thus far?  They don’t fear God, they don’t care about Him.  Or is God already at work in your workplace… and you haven’t even been aware of it?

Is God not in your family… because they rail against your faith and mock you for what you believe?  Or is God already at work in your family – and you weren’t even aware of it?

In His Image

“When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God….. When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image…”- Genesis 3:1-3

When Adam and Eve were first created, they were made in the likeness of God – formed in His image.  Perfect and powerful, every part of them – body, soul and spirit – replicated the glory of their Creator.

But sin entered the human race, and like a disease it infected not only Adam and Eve, but their offspring as well.  So it’s noted here that the sons of Adam were born ‘in [Adam’s] likeness’, not in the likeness of God.  Sin had contaminated mankind, and every generation of people since that time has lived with the consequences of Adam & Eve’s decision .

There’s a couple of things I take from this:

1) We must be born again.  Perhaps you’ve seen a photocopy of a photocopy?  With each generation the quality decreases.  It’s a lot like that with the human race.  In order to walk in the fullness of who we’ve been made to be, we must be born again – a Photoshop touch up is not enough – we need a complete regeneration.  This is what Paul talks about when he describes us as ‘a new creation in Christ’.  The moment we confess our sins to God, and hand the keys of our lives over to Him, we are born again by the Spirit of God.  It’s a whole new page, a clean sheet to start from.

2) As leaders, we must be committed to forming people into Christ’s image, not ours.  Even the best, most inspirational leader is still only a reflection of who God is.  Every person has been uniquely made, and our responsibility as leaders is not to make people like us, but to make them like Jesus.  Paul said “I am in labour until Christ is formed in you”.  He wasn’t looking to make a bunch of Paul-clones, but rather like a great father – he was seeking wisdom from above as to how to encourage and form his ‘children’ into the shape that God had called them to be.

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.

Strength Through Softness

Romans 15:1 – Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Sometimes it doesn’t massively please us to have to put up with other people’s weaknesses!  We’d rather they just sort it out, or we don’t have to deal with them. 

But I prove myself as a mature believer, and display the strength that I claim to have, by loving others and helping them in their weakness. Not by cutting and running, but by helping and building.  While it may be easier to do what pleases me – it’s not helpful for the building up of the body. 

So if we claim to be strong, mature believers – this will be tested and evidenced by how we deal with the weaknesses of other people.  It takes huge commitment and strength to continue to show mercy and love when it’s taking a toll on us. 

But this is what Jesus demonstrated and continues to demonstrate to us!

The Call Of A Minister

“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” – 2 Chronicles 29:11

Been really struck recently about how EVERY Christian is called to be a leader, a minister – ‘Senior Pastor’ of their world.  It’s a mindset change that is necessary for the people of God to get out of child mode and into maturity mode!

A few notes out of this verse:

* Ministers stand before God. They hang around him and are ready to do His bidding at a moments notice.  They live as servants firstly of God.  They belong to Him.

* Ministers minister to God.  Not for Him but TO Him.  His pleasure and delight is the focus of their ministry.  They give their devotion and affection to the Lord.

* Ministers minister with a sense of God’s closeness.  They minister ‘before Him’ – although their ministry may be to people, their eyes are firmly fixed on God.  They live for the applause of One.

* Ministers burn incense continually.  Incense speaks of prayer.  They live with a continual connection with God.  There is always a sweet fragrance coming off their lives.

Justified

Acts 13:39 – and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

There’s a few words that the Bible uses that aren’t usually a part of our everyday language – words like sanctified, justified, redeemed etc.  But when we understand what these words mean it can really help us grasp what God has done for us.

In this verse we read that by Christ, everyone who believes is JUSTIFIED from all things, and that we could not be JUSTIFIED by the law of Moses.  What does it mean to be justified?

imageMost word processing programs like Microsoft Word have a series of buttons that let you align the text.  You can centre it, or push it left or right.  But there’s one button which is called ‘justified’.  When you click, it pushes out the edges of your text to the margins, giving a nice even flow down the page. 

It’s not a bad illustration of what it’s like when God justifies us.  The page margins are like perfection, and the words we type are like our thoughts and deeds.  They don’t measure up to perfection, often falling short.  But when God justifies us, it’s like He makes up the missing difference to make us perfect. 

The law of Moses can only point out our sin, showing us where we fall short.  It has no power to make us righteous or to clean us up.  But through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ now JUSTIFIES us – and even if we fall short – by His grace and mercy HE makes up for it and presents us before God the Father as perfect.