Facing giants

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1 Chronicles 14:10-17

The Bible highlights a history of conflict between the Philistines and Israelites, especially David. The Philistines are described as a large nation who served other gods. They taunted the Israelites and came against their borders on numerous occasions, this reading narrates one such occasion where the Philistines hear that their enemy David, has been anointed as King and they take up arms against him.

David had the loyalty and command of a mighty army and he had built up many alliances during his years of fleeing from Saul and living a nomadic life. In 1 Chronicles 12 there is a record of his alliance with 303 622 trained men and their commanders. I often flip through genealogies and numerical records, but this particular chapter (12) made me realise how YHWH provided and prepared David as a military man and leader of Israel. Although David is surrounded and supported by these trained men and commanders, he turns to YHWH for advice in facing the Philistine advance. In 1 Chron 14: 10 David directly inquires of YHWH. He askes two questions: Do I go against them? Will You give me victory over them?

These questions are contrary to the way I ask for help. When I am faced by difficulties or giants my go-to question is not a question but rather a panicked plea: Oh YHWH, help me please! There is a lesson to be learnt from the approach taken by David, a man after YHWH’s own heart. David admits dependency on YHWH, and his questions demonstrate a relationship of trust and fear for the Father. Remember this fear is not a knee knocking fear, but a respect for the greatness of YHWH. David acknowledges that YHWH is a living Elohim (1 Chron 13:12). He has an undivided heart and faith that YHWH will show him what to do. David does not panic and plead, he seeks guidance out of relationship and trust. It is important that we recognise David’s dependence and humility in seeking the will of YHWH. He is cognisant of the power and sovereignty of YHWH in all matters.

David not only seeks the will of the Father, but he enquires as to what the outcome will be. He asks, “Will You give me victory over them?” This question stopped me in my tracks and made me reflect on how often I expect a good outcome, how often I must act like a toddler who wants everything to go their way. David exposes that he will accept the will of the Father, victory or not. All too often I ask “what is Your will?” but neglect to seek the outcome – good or bad (as in not what I want). YHWH’s answer is immediate and concise, to the first question He answers – Go. The second, “I will give them into your hand.” There is no second guessing here. David actions the army and YHWH’s word is fulfilled.

BUT – these Philistines are not done yet. In verse 14 we read how David approaches YHWH again. He does not rely on his passed victory, he does not take it for granted that the outcome will be the same. This is a big lesson for me in seeking the will of the Father consistently to make sure that I stay in His will. This time the instructions vary. First of all David is told NOT to go AFTER the Philistines, but to go around and FACE them. Not to chase them but to confront them face on. I love the fact that YHWH tells David that the army must not attack until they hear the wind rustling in the Mulberry trees. No dramatic charging, just the wind rustling. YHWH tells David, “For YHWH shall GO BEFORE you.” David is obedient, this mighty leader and king does exactly what he is instructed. He does not consult with his commanders, make an auxiliary plan or add extra precautions. He does EXACTLY as he is told.

So, how do you fight battles in your life? How do you approach the enemy who is warring against you? How do we are the bride of Yeshua battle against the attacks on the Church? Are we offering panicked pleas without seeking explicit answers, do we make our own plans or even “reinforce” instructions from YHWH because in our minds these are too simple or scary? Do we ask for help but not seek His way, or listen to His instruction and end up disheartened and hopeless? In 1Chron 14 there were two attacks from the same enemy. Both times David trusted and was dependent on YHWH – regardless of the outcome. YHWH said that David was a man after His own heart, and when Samuel anointed David as a boy YHWH told the prophet that He looked upon the heart of man. This would signal that when we approach YHWH in time of battle we need to check our heart/motives and make sure that we seek the will of the Father, no matter what the outcome is.

David showed humility, he had a relationship with YHWH and loved Him with an undivided heart. Although David had great position in life, he recognised that he was a vessel in the hands of the Father. He was also very aware of his responsibility and the lives of his followers, his motives and heart were in line with the will of the Father. Perhaps the lesson here is that we should not chase our enemies, but rather face them in the knowledge that Yeshua Messiah has already overcome battles, He has already won the victory. YHWH has a plan for our lives, it is HIS plan – not ours – and to stay in that plan we need to enquire of Him. What and how? Then we need to listen and obey without amending the plan. Jeremiah 29: 14 -15 follows the famous verse about YHWH having a plan of good and not for evil. These verses are key to unlocking these good plans, and tell us to seek Him, and He shall be found. That we are to ask and we shall be heard.

Be in the now

I AM, therefore you are.

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Reading Psalm 98

YHWH desires a new song, a freshness in our worship that comes from the renewing of our minds. He provides a new day, a fresh start and we need to walk forward. I often find myself going around in circles, making decisions based on past experiences and I think that in doing this I miss new blessings. Recently, I have learnt that you can’t change the past, no matter how often you replay it in your mind. There has to be a focus switch on what YHWH desires of us for the present, the NOW. The past has gone, it is over. When YHWH spoke to Moses, He said, I AM (Exodus 4:14). This teaches us that we serve a Living God, a Father that walks with us NOW – He IS. Lot’s family were warned not to look back. Not to linger in the past, but to move forward into the blessings and the plan that had been set-aside for them. We serve a Father that knows the big picture, everything has already been prepared. He IS, and never changes. YHWH is holy and righteous, the King of all things seen and unseen.

A price has been paid for your salvation and redemption. You have been chosen and set-apart by the blood that Yeshua shed, you are redeemed. Sometimes we get stuck in the past and dwell on what was, or what we did. BUT, we need to accept that salvation is done. You now have access to the Father, Yeshua said that He IS the way, the truth and the life. We can enter into worship and come into His presence, and sit at His feet. There is no need to bring an animal to sacrifice for the atonement of sin, IT IS DONE.

If you have experienced a miracle in your life, a healing or a mountain that was moved it is a victory. Victory in our lives should change us and strengthen us, making us strong funnels for His esteem and purpose. We are equipped to move forward in Him, through Christ we can do ALL things. We need a new perspective. If you drive and keep looking in the rear view mirror you are going to get yourself and others in a heap of trouble. We focus on the road ahead and use our review mirrors to check only. We can use our past experiences and victories to remind us of His mercy and love for us, but not to fixate on them and never look ahead. We need to be seeking what it IS that God has in store for us, what we need to step into that has already been done.

Ask the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth to give us a new perspective, a now perspective. Nature is God’s creation and it speaks to us of His creative nature. If you water a dying tree it will grow new shoots, it brings about new life. After a little pruning and feeding it can even bear fruit. We are the same, we need to show new growth, we need to allow the Spirit to prune us and we need to feed from the Word and drink from the Streams of Living Water. Then we will produce fruit of the Spirit. We can’t harp on what were, what we have achieved. We live in the NOW and if we proclaim that we are filled with Yeshua (John 14:23) then we can’t live in the past because HE IS.

We need to become relevant and fruitful, we are redeemed and forgiven. Don’t hold on to what you have done in the past – don’t let satan lie to you and call you unworthy because of what you did. Jesus IS alive and it IS done – walk in faith. Let things go, move on. Release old grudges – you may still be holding onto. It is most likely that the other person or persons have forgotten about the incident. MOVE ON, if you find it difficult remember what Jesus did so that you can walk with Him and be with Him. Thankfully He does not hold grudges!!!

I AM reigns in you, not I was. You ARE His chosen one, not a has-been. I recall one morning as I worshipped Him, I clearly heard within my spirit, “I AM, therefore you are.” Present tense, now – His chosen ARE loved, ARE forgiven, ARE created for a purpose. We are called to serve, to worship and love. BUT my favourite is you ARE loved by a very present Father – therefore you are. I would encourage you to renew your mind daily, seek Him, know He loves you and is lovingly-committed to you. You ARE His child, the bride of Yeshua Messiah. Walk in victory, walk in His will and step forward into all He has for you. Be a funnel in His hands, obedient and serving Him with an undivided heart. Look to the future where our hope IS in Him.

YHWH IS, this very minute He IS and we need to in His present presence. You have a choice to say “I am here Father, at Your feet, in Your presence.” Where are you really? What are you dwelling on? What is hindering you from moving forward? Nature brings glory to YHWH every day. New seeds are germinating and sprouting, bringing new life as the rain nourishes and the sun shines. Are you growing more and more in love with Abba Father? Do you depend more and more on Him as you lay yourself aside? God is now. Don’t sit around waiting for something that may never happen? Don’t worry about what has happened, or hold onto grudges and unforgiveness (yourself and others)? Be in the now.

Anything is possible with belief

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Read: Mark 9: 14-29

Verse 22: “But if at all possible, for You, have compassion on us and help us. Do something if You can.” Verse 23: “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Yeshua asked. “Anything is possible IF a person believes.” Verse 24: The father replied instantly, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt.”

Mark 10: 27: And looking at them intently Jesus said, “Humanly speaking it is impossible. But not with God. EVERYTHING is possible with YHWH.”

How often do we pray for answers or help with events in life? We say with our mouths that we believe that Elohim gives all things and can do all things, but what do our hearts believe? This question is not if it is possible for God to do something, but do we really believe what we believe.

Let’s pause for a minute and ponder the awesomeness of our Creator Father. Stop and listen to nature, watch a storm forming, and consider all the reactions and actions taking place at that moment in time. There is life within life. Take a plant for example, there are thousands of cells each with its own function. The cells form walls that give the plant its shape. Birds have their own songs, pitches, and tones, with which they communicate. Insects do little things that are integral to the bigger cycle of life. All of this life has life within it and we are all made up of thousands of cells required to maintain life. This came to be by the Word of God, He spoke, and it was. How can we think that anything is impossible for our Father?

God loves us and He holds us in His hand. In Isaiah 49:16 we read that our name is inscribed upon the Lord’s hand. YHWH created you flesh and spirit. Not only are we alive as humans (physically), but we are spiritually alive in Christ Jesus our Saviour. That is something to get excited about. How full of life are you though? Are you living as one with an extra portion? Being alive in a world that is full of life is energizing.

In Mark 9 we read of a father that brings his son to the disciples for healing. They try to heal him but are unsuccessful, Yeshua was not present. There is a little gem right here, when you pray for healing Yeshua must be present – healing is for HIS glory and esteem. Yeshua tells the disciples that this healing (casting out of demons), can only be done by prayer and fasting (v: 28-29). This father is desperate and maybe after witnessing the disciples praying and laying hands on his son, he may have had doubt that there was ever a cure for his boy. He approaches Yeshua and asks Him if He could possibly heal the boy. Yeshua puts the responsibility back on the boy’s father. Yeshua tells him that it is possible, but that belief is needed – that is the responsibility. Yeshua knows that He can cure this boy, He is able to do all things (with God ALL things are possible). It comes back to us – if YOU are able to believe. The man’s reply is priceless, “I do believe, help me not to doubt.”

This father was desperate, he was in a hopeless situation. He heard about the Messiah and this gave him hope. He knew through word-of-mouth that Yeshua had healed and cured others, the father was filled with hope. This hope was dashed by the disciples’ inability to heal; however, he did not give up and he approached Yeshua personally. The boy’s father asked for compassion and then healing. In doing this he was recognised Yeshua’s ability, despite his own inability. He desperately wanted to believe that his son could be healed, he showed humility in asking that Yeshua would strengthen him so that he would not doubt. The man was afraid that he would not have enough belief. This is so precious, and I know an area I fall short in. Yeshua himself told the disciples (and us) that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains. How many times have you given up because you think that you don’t have enough belief? I have a very dear friend and she always tells me that, ‘It is done, you just have to walk into it in belief.’

What a victorious way of living! If you had witnessed the miracle of this young boy would it change the way you believe? Would it change the way you think about the ability of the Father, and your own belief in the Father’s love for you? If you had been in the crowd would your jaw drop and would you exclaim, “Unbelievable!” Here is a truth for you, you were in the crowd. The Word of God is living, and you read it, so in reality you were there, you experienced it. How does this make you feel? Maybe there is a little gem in the way we proclaim something that is miraculous as unbelievable. Think about that. Whenever something good, or supernatural, happens many people will give the believable a negative – unbelievable. Have we man-washed ourselves into thinking that the believable is too good to believe? I speak a second language and even in that language believable has a negative.

Still not sure about possibilities? Take a walk outside and feel the breeze or wind – nobody knows where it comes from or where it goes. Watch the sea and wonder about the beauty that lies beneath the ocean – why is it there? Because YHWH is almighty, and majesty, and He created it. Look at a tree with each leaf full of cells that produce oxygen as a by-product for us to breathe . Everything that lives has breathe, and that breathe was breathed by YHWH!! How can you not become excited about impossibilities? Do you believe? Do you desire to be in a place where you see the unbelievable? Then go to the feet of the King of Kings, clamber into the arms of the Father. YHWH desires to do good for His children, He wants to bless those who seek His will.

In Luke 22: 42, we read that Yeshua prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Yeshua, Son of YHWH Most High, understood that nothing was impossible for Father. Yeshua teaches us that when we seek the will of the Father there is peace, mercy and grace. The next verse is encouragement, and reassurance that even when faced by a trials, YHWY gives us strength to face it. Luke 22:43, “Now an angel from Heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.” Yeshua was NOT removed from the hour, because there was a glorious end! But He was strengthened so that He could face the cross, defeat death, and be found glorious, and worthy to open the scroll (Revelations 5:4-7).

Father God, how awesome is Your creation, nature cries of Your majesty and witnesses of Your authority, and many possibilities. I would ask that my faith and belief in You would not hinder the plans that You have already put in place for me. Oh, Father that You would help me not to doubt, but to seek Your will, and no matter what to trust in Your will. Please strengthen my belief, help my unbelief when it seems impossible, remind me that belief as small as a mustard seed is all I needed. Amen.

Branching out

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

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Ezekiel 15 and John 15

Ezekiel brought a prophesy against the nation of Israel for being dead in their relationship with God. The nation was not bearing fruit because they were not worshipping YHWH, they had stopped producing spiritual fruit. Ezekiel’s prophesy was at a time when false prophets tickled the ears of the nation. Tickling ears refers to saying things that did not offend. False prophesy is when you pronounce things that you were not given to say by Elohim. This was indicative of a lack of fear for YHWH. Instead, these false prophets were filled with a great deal of self-importance, which lead to idolatry by men and women.

In the prophesy Israel is compared to a fruitless vine, the branches are deemed useless as they do not bear fruit, the wood can’t be fashioned into tools or implements and is also useless. The branches are not even thought of as fire wood as they burn too quickly, therefore they are discarded and burnt as waste. In John 15: 1-8, Yeshua talks of branches that are useless being piled up and burnt. Yeshua tells us that YHWH will cut off dead and useless branches and throw them into the fire, Ezekiel prophesied the same, he even said that those that escaped the fire would be burnt for sure. This was a dismal prophesy for the nation.

Let us for a moment consider what the nation had done that caused the branches to die. In Ezekiel 3:7 we read that the people had become hard-hearted and stubborn. They had stopped listening to YHWH, stopped obeying Him and therefore no longer followed Him. A song comes to mind, “I’m doing it my way”. The nation had taken to following their own gods, listening to ear tickling prophesy – things that they wanted to hear because it suited them. They had built alters and shrines to worship idols. In Ezekiel 7: 10 we pick up on words such as wickedness, violence, pride. Ezekiel 7:14 – ‘no one listens’. Ezekiel 7:19-20 – mentions of wealth being used to create idols. Yeshua did warn that man can’t serve two masters, it is either mammon or YHWH. There are further references made in Ezekiel 12: 2 & 24 to rebelliousness and listening to prophets that told of false visions and made false predictions. Ezekiel 13:2 & 17 refers to false prophets bringing words of their own, not from YHWH and deceiving the nation. There is mention of women as false prophets with their magic charms.

Even when Ezekiel physically demonstrated the impact of these ways on the nation, they still did not turn from their ways. The prophecy that Ezekiel brought was not an ear tickler and the hearts of the nation were hard. We may very well stand back and judge this nation, but that is dangerous to do because if we examine our own life we may find some of these attitudes, and actions, in our own hearts. I may be harbouring stubbornness, not wanting to let something go, or not wanting to forgive and forget. Holding on to the past and allowing it to fester, and eat, away at the sap in my branch. This is likely to make me unbearable to be around and I am definitely not bearing fruit of the Spirit. There may be a sense of self-importance, and pride, in what we have achieved giving no recognition to YHWH for the provision of the opportunities and talents. I did it my way, it is my way or the highway? This is a spirit of stubbornness and rebellion.

We don’t drive past houses and see big shrines in the garden depicting the family idols, but there are idols in our lives. They could be jobs, family, cars, possessions….the list goes on. An idol is anything that you devote more time to than YHWH. It keeps you from prioritising Him, from serving and obeying His call. Should we not have possessions and take care of them? Is our family not our responsibility? Yes, and the Father gives us many things, but when you loose focus, when these things become your reason for living, and stop you from spending undistracted time with Him, then it is time to check where our priorities lie. Chasing a dream can become an obsession and quickly turn into an idol, where you devote all your time in trying to make it happen. Instead let YHWH guide you, and show you what His dream is for you. When you achieve something, and know that you did not do it alone, praising Him will guard your heart and mind against pride and self-importance.

In John 15, Yeshua tells us how to be branches that bear fruit. This passage is the Good News, it is not a prophecy of doom, but an encouragement to living a fruitful and blessed life. Yeshua is the vine, He is the root of our lives. Yeshua refers to YHWH as the gardener that tends the branches on the vine by pruning them. Some branches are pruned back so that they will grow strong and produce more fruit, others are cut off from the vine because they are useless and dead, as in Ezekiel 15. We have a passion fruit vine that I regularly prune and retrain so that the vine produces a good crop. Retraining the branches allows me to direct the branches in the direction I wish them to grow in. This is how the Father prunes us, He chops off the bits that are getting a bit wild, and He puts branches that are straying off on their own back on the right track. The branches that remain on the vine feed off the sap of the vine, we that are in the vine are fed by the Word of God, and guided by the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth. This is life-giving and the fruit we produce is found in Galatians 5:22 – love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Yeshua tells us that people will know we belong to Him by the fruit that we bear. Remember in Ezekiel 15, the nation no longer bore fruit because the branches were dead.

Yeshua urges us to remain in Him, to obey Him, and to produce fruit that will last. In John 15:16 there is a promise that if we act in, and out, of the knowledge that we have been chosen and appointed by Yeshua, the Father will give you whatever you ask in Yeshua’s name. If you are joined to the vine you will love others, serve the Lord, and want the best for those around you. You will want to honour, esteem, and bring glory to the Lamb above all. You will acknowledge His goodness and mercy, and know that the plans of the Father are to give you an expectancy and future, that they are good. When you pray from this foundational knowledge, your prayers will not be self-seeking or full of pride, they are prayers for others, prayers in love, and in line, with the will of the Father for the glorification of the Son.

There is no room for idolatry because we know that all we have comes from Him. All we have and are is because of Him. We boast in Christ alone. Remaining in Him means living with Him, praying, and reading the Word, walking like a child in wonderment, and awe, at all He has planned and set apart for us, in the now and in the Everlasting. It is not always rosy and plain sailing but we have the hope, and assurance, that He, YHWH, is omnipresent, omnipotent and loving-committed to those He calls friends and children.

Oh Father, search my heart and reveal to me those areas that I am stubborn about. Remove the hard-heartedness in my spirit, and break down the shrines I have built around me that hinder me from being all I can be for You. Please do not severe me from the Vine, but prune and retrain me, filling me with Your Set-Apart-Spirit of Truth that I may bear fruit and bring glory to the Son.

Amen

A Father’s love

We can’t earn the favour of YHWH. His thoughts are far above our thoughts and His plans we don’t always understand. There is nothing we can do to earn His love, He loved us first, He created us and chose us, paying the ultimate price so that we can be one with Him. You need to accept your redemption and walk as one who is redeemed. Our prayers should reflect our love for YHWH, we should desire His presence and as the bride of Christ have an overwhelming desire to be close to Him.

A man and woman get married because they love each other, and make a commitment to be together exclusively. There are different levels of intimacy in the relationship, and there is never any doubt of that commitment that was made or in the love that they have for each other. Our Father is lovingly-committed to you. He showed this by sending His Son, Yeshua to be the sacrifice and to take redeem a broken world so that all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour and proclaim Him to be the Son of the Most High, will not perish but receive everlasting life. We can’t imagine the love that the Father has for us, it is so great that man cannot fathom it. This is because we live in a broken world and try to compare the Father’s perfect and pure love to what we know and see.

Think of a parent watching a child trying to do something and wanting to intervene but the child pushing the help aside, and struggling. The parent watches patiently until the child turns and asks for help. The parent is quick to respond and help. This child grows into a young adult and insists that they know what they are doing, they have a ‘bullet-proof’ attitude. Their parent knows full well that what they are doing is not going to end well, and stays back and watches. When the young adult seeks help, the consequences may be greater, and while the young adult has to accept consequences, the parent will be there to love, encourage, support and guide. You see parents have hope and desires to see their children prosper and succeed. Yeshua reminds us that if we who are evil know how to do good for our children, then our Heavenly Father will do exceedingly more for His children (Matthew 7:11). Why do some of us think that YHWH does not care?

The Bible tells us that Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11) BUT the following verses hold the key to accessing this good plan. These keys are that those who call out to Him will be heard and those who seek Him will find Him. Too often we quote verse 11 and stop reading. The Father does not run after you, you need to call and seek His will for your life, His advice, His guidance. Seek first the Kingdom of YHWH and all these things will be added (Matthew 6:33). In the analogy the parent could see that the child needed help and when the child asked for help the parent lovingly helps.

Take time to ponder, are you pushing Him away? Are you seeking His will, crying out to Him for guidance? His plan is good, but you need to take time to sit in His presence, learn to listen and be guided by His Spirit so that you walk in the right direction. Place your plans, desires and dreams in His hands and seek His will and purpose for your life. He WILL make them known, they may just not be what you had envisage or what you want but they are good!

Photo by Liane Metzler