08/05/2013

Turning His Face*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:49 am by The Water Bearer

woman-reaching-upward

Through these few weeks of suffering the condition I mentioned in a recent post, I have been more focused than ever on bringing more of God’s presence into my day-to-day life. Funny that!

We always stretch further for Him when we are suffering, don’t we?

Last week I completed a 2 week fast. No alcohol, No TV, and did not touch a blog site or any social media. My intention was to meditate, and work on my novel, as much as possible (although my plans are not always His and He had other things for me to deal with).

The foundation of a successful fast, is giving up anything that seeks to control us, anything we enjoy enough to get lost in, or find a pull towards during tough times. Easy distractions or addictions, habits and weaknesses. During a fast we make a 100% non-negotiable promise, to God, to go without which ever thing we are fasting for an achievable amount of time.

Each time the tempting thought arises we acknowledge God and our promise to Him, we reinforce that promise and we ask for His help when it gets tough. By doing this we are making some huge expressions of faith from our softened hearts. (God just loves it when we do this!)

These are some things that speak out of our hearts during a fast like this – God is real, He watches us, We revere Him enough to want to keep our promise. We need his help when we are weak. We are willing to give up the pleasures of the world to acknowledge Him and invite Him in to our situation.

It is the most powerful exercise I have found to overcome the world and my flesh, and witness His presence.

The first thing I noticed during this particular fast, was how much spare time I had to get other things done. I accomplished so much, and after feeling useless for a number of weeks, I felt a great sense of achievement as I ticked off many things on my never ending to-do list.

The second thing I noticed was how much easier it was to discover God’s guidance and to find things to praise Him for. The medication I am on for this condition has exacerbated my mood disorder significantly, I am more emotionally sensitive than ever. It can only take a millisecond for me to burst into tears, or flick on the rage switch, grit my teeth and loose any place of calm. Often, in times like this, I pray. Usually something desperate like “Oh Lord help me, take away my emotions, help so-and-so see how hard this is for me and not aggravate me! I don’t want to feel like this” etc. Then I wait…with angry tears….until He changes things.

However, during this fast I found praising Him was a much quicker way to flick off that unpleasant switch.

I recommend everyone tries this, it is not always easy, but it works every time!

Right in the midst of a full blown attack, when our Inner Enemies are hitting us from every angle, rather than fighting back in anger, we can end the battle then and there. By pushing aside that tidal wave of ammunition,  which fuels unpleasant emotions, just for a second, and find something, anything to be grateful for. Praise God for that, whatever it may be. It could be as simple as the ability to breathe, or the warm bed you are about to snuggle up in… It could be the legs that allow you to walk away from something aggravating. 😉

If there is  anything that will send our Inner Enemies high-tailing it into the distance, it is Praise! Worship! Gratitude! Forgiveness! A sure way to grab onto the face of God and turn it towards you!

praising 2

29/04/2013

The Ungodliest Version of Me*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:22 am by The Water Bearer

fragiile

Have you ever experienced an immense trial, and found you managed to bear through it? You knew that you had a good reason to loose the plot, however, you found a supernatural place of calm amidst the storm. Have you gone through some of the most troubling ordeals and not been shaken, in faith or character, by them? I believe I have, once or twice.

On the other hand, in the most unfathomable fashion, a tiny splinter of affliction can send us spinning into a cycle of destructive behaviour. Transforming us into the most ungodly version of ourselves. I have definitely been there too. When being a prisoner of our own flesh becomes unbearable. I have felt like this more times than I can count, especially during bouts of depression. I am sure many others have too.

*****

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I quite like being me. But sometimes, other times, I get sick of the sound of my own voice, sick of the thoughts piling up in my head, sick of the sight of my reflection. These times I just want to escape myself, because I know there is a much better version of myself out there somewhere. Somewhere elusive.

The tricky part is, I can’t MAKE myself be the better version. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop myself falling into the sin and nature that is part of my flesh. I say to myself to do one thing, and find myself doing another. Sometimes it is as if I can hear myself from a distant place in my mind, through miles of murky water, saying the very thing I ordered myself not to say. I am a wretched version of myself sometimes!

sad swirl

These times bring me to my knees, and in need of comfort. There are times we all need comforting. Who is the best comforter I know? The Lord. I open the pages of His word, I see Paul, a great man of God struggling with the very same inner enemies as me. The words comfort me…

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”

“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

(Romans 7:15 & 21-25)

Woa! Those words bring me such comfort, because they express my own battle so perfectly. Empathy is a wonderful consolation for shame and self-condemnation.

********

I think, the reason I, and others, have found that calm place amidst the biggest storms, is because we knew we couldn’t manage it all. Somewhere in our subconscious, we knew the trial was too big for us on our own, our hearts were fragile and we accepted that. Our ego got turned off, our pride took a step aside. Our broken and contrite hearts were exposed, and God will not ignore a heart like that.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

(Psalm 51:17)

The greatest peace I have found while trapped in this body, is when I see the Lord take over. When I have reached my wits end. When I stop kidding myself into thinking I have enough self-control to be better, and beg God to take the reigns. I repent of all my misgivings, my efforts to depend on myself and not on Him. I repent of my easily led flesh that encourages me to wander toward the distractions of the world and away from God.

palms out

When you reach your wits end, that’s when God begins. I hope you enjoy the words of this wonderful poem.

Wit’s End Corner
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Friend with troubled brow
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
A mountain of tasks unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember–at “Wit’s End Corner”
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.

Poem by Antoinette Wilson

15/02/2013

You want me to drink that?*

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:52 pm by The Water Bearer

jug

I often go back and read my previous posts, I reflect on how I was feeling at the time I wrote them. I am reminded of little gems of inspiration that I may need to apply again and had forgotten. I sometimes think, “Man that’s quite an over-share! Why did I let those deep feelings slip out for all the world to see?”. I could get critical and think my more “needy” posts may appear like a slick of oil in my water jug, unappealing and in need of a rinse out (Not very refreshing Water Bearer!).

I realise my down times mar my usually positive nature. I am well practiced in trying to hide my imperfections behind a big smile and a bouncing dance-step. It certainly seems clear that some, who hope to interact with me closely, would rather the strong, faithful and fun Water Bearer, than the broken shell that’s left when my weakness is exposed (I know which one I like better!).

I have lost count of the times I got served a dish of criticism when I exposed my wounds to those who couldn’t handle the sight of me cowering in tears, or when I’ve been highly sensitive and reactive after an extended visit to, what felt like, the valley of the shadow of death. I see it in myself too, when I instinctively want to control and implode my children’s sadness. Wipe away the tears and sort them out, then and there.

My intention for my writing has always been to encourage, inspire and quench the thirst of doubt, however I believe honesty is more refreshing than constant optimism, and especially more so than denial. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with others what this life is teaching me. Sure, it would be less confronting without all the fear and desperation, lets be honest, but our Inner Angels are at war with our Inner Enemies, and that after all is the title of this blog.

Each and every one of us has thoughts we wish we didn’t have, not all are for sharing with every person we come across (a little appropriate timing and tact was a lesson I had to learn via the extended edition…with bonus tracks), yet many of us learn young that we shouldn’t think like this or that, and decide it is better to just pretend we didn’t.

Our truth is that, ours. If we hide our truth down deep and pretend it’s not there, never happened, not affecting us, we push it into a place where Inner Enemies have free reign. They fester in the dark, poisoning us from within.

However, when we have a place to share our truths, when we find the courage to let our weaknesses bathe in the light of honesty, we can remove the poison and begin to heal. The light is where our Inner Angels can work on our truths, our weakness, our fear.

So to all of you who have continued to drink from this here well, oil and all, I thank you. Your encouragement and prayers, your empathy and acceptance, are allowing my grin and groove to continue in my daily life outside the blogosphere. You are such a blessing to me!

08/02/2013

Spiritual Surgery*

Posted in Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:34 pm by The Water Bearer

scalpel

There are times when I get so frustrated at myself for my sins, when I drop to my knees and scream “I want to change more!”. The Lord has protected me, and been faithful to me, He suffered for me and forgives me. He has led me to grow through my life and I have changed in so many ways, but still I scream….

I am a Type A, Sanguine personality, we are naturally quite fiery and feisty, not placid and calm very often, being quiet is extremely hard for this personality type. Over the years the Lord has been working on me and we have made some progress in this area. However, I can still get going at times and once I am in full flight it can be nearly impossible to stop myself. In the worst episodes I can be cocky and arrogant, I can be condescending and self-righteous. I mentioned in a previous post that I was praying for the Lord to help me develop quiet confidence and this post seems to be an extension of that.

Many of us grew up answering back and yelling our way through, believing we have to prove we are right against anyone who questions or challenges us. This is usually directed at, but not limited to, other family members, who also yell to prove how right they are. I can say honestly that this can been an extremely hard habit to break, and I am still not completely there yet.

It seems absurd to me though, I am a child of God and desperately want to represent all the good He can bring about in a person who submits to Him. And yet, while trying to be seen as right, my actions can be so very wrong.

How can we be a good example of God’s grace if we are so busy being right, that we forget to be kind?

What is the point of convincing the whole world we are right about something, if we have lost the respect of those we love along the way? None at all!

In this way and others, my fear of mistakes has been showing it’s ugly head in more and more ways since my recent breakthrough. I pray this is the Lord purging it from my nature so I can finally treat others with the respect and kindness I would like to, without this subconscious fear poisoning my reactions. I have had some ridiculous fears in my lifetime, and as I have come to recognise each one in turn I have handed them over into God’s hands. I am so grateful that I can now recognise and confess this deep fear, because He has never let me down, He is faithful to destroy all fear!

I am looking at this fear as a giant boil that has been festering away, growing and infecting me for too long, and now that we have found it Christ can bring it to the surface and remove it from me, just as He has done with all the fears that came before this one.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
 

Developing faith into every area of life is a gradual process. At the start of our walk with Him we may see many changes quite quickly, however over time I have noticed that it takes a fair bit of digging to get right down to those conditions we didn’t even know have been there all along, generational curses, soul ties, deeply buried pain, and other enemies we may have been exposed to during childhood.

I may have found and confessed my fear, I may be frustrated that it is still coming out of me in ways I don’t find very flattering. However I understand that Christ is the surgeon, if we put our lives and fears in His hands, we can watch as His precise scalpel removes each and every inner enemy, and there are always many of His amazing blessings to reap after recovering from the surgery! Amen!

Praise His Name, I am so grateful to know the love of the Lord!

fear nothing

10/12/2012

The Journey of Gaining Help from Above

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 am by The Water Bearer

journey

I’m not going to lie to you, It has been a tough couple of weeks. It took a lot of pouring out my faith to write (and publish) the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Draining my faith like that often leaves me vulnerable, I want to withdraw, to protect my exposed soul. If I engage too deeply with another I am often touchy and defensive. My guard shoots back up, because I don’t like the feeling of being exposed, even though I accept that it is worthwhile in order to obey and reach the next phase in my faith walk towards being useful for my Father in Heaven.

I want to set aside this vulnerability and regain some clarity and security in the familiar, the routine, my comfort zone. Yet I still feel pulled to finish off this series with a neat bow, and get back to writing one-off posts, the ones that I am “more comfortable” with, (I know, I am so soft! 😉 ).

While writing this series I found myself wanting to repeat words I have written before, and memories of each stage in my faith walk came flooding back to light. I have become overwhelmed by how long it will take me to finish sharing.  There is so much to the task of gaining help from above, more and more insights kept filling my heart as I tried to reach the light at the end of this series. Then I realised that gaining help from above is not a one series wonder, it is a daily walk, not a one time deal. It takes commitment, it takes discipline, it takes a heart willing to soften each day. It takes a daily prayer, asking The Lord to make a home for Himself in our hearts.

So to wrap up this series I am going to set my readers up with a few links to help them keep on trekking toward their goal of a ‘God inspired’ existence. These are some resources to help those of you who are interested in expanding your insights, to make further steps onto a path of research. There are some of my own previous posts which cover areas I believe are crucial to the authenticity of a relationship with God, and also some links to the Bible teachers who have inspired and filled my soul more times than I can count.

I hope you receive much filling of your own soul from these links and I wish you all the best of feeling God’s love and strength as you continue forward on a journey to righteousness and peace. It goes without saying that I will continue to share more of my stories and perceptions here at Inner Angels and Enemies, so I hope you stick around for those.

God…Really? – Sometimes it is hard to tell whether we are being directed by God, another ‘human’, the enemy, or our merely our own thoughts. This post shines a light on these issues, and the falsehood often found in religiosity.

“When Will We Feel Good Enough Already?”… This post outlines a perspective of how to identify our feelings of a lack of worth, our toxic ‘good intentions’, and our pride, to understand how these distances us from God, and how our humility brings us closer to Him. God blessed me with a word the day I wrote this post, and I hope it will continue to bless others as much as writing it did for me.

The Two Voices of Guilt – Even after we receive forgiveness and salvation through faith we can still battle against guilty feelings. I touch on this issue in this post.

Confessions – Read along as I list my confessions and accept The Lord’s blessing of forgiveness from them. I am certain many will be able to relate.

Dr Michael Youssef – Leading the Way My Dad put me onto this guy and he has a way of simplifying and reinforcing the principles of God. He makes me laugh and grow every time I watch him…This is not milk for babies, he speaks the meat of the word, it will fill all.

Beth Moore – Life Today  The first time I heard Beth Moore speak I cried like a baby in the Lord’s arms. Her passions for The Lord inspires me, her humility moves me, her wisdom convicts me and her love for all is a true blessing.

bow

Thank you to all who encouraged me throughout this series, I truly appreciate it. I pray for all of us to find the love inside that God has for us and for us to finally be fulfilled and at peace in His presence. Blessings to All!

09/12/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Worship*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:48 pm by The Water Bearer

praise

Some thoughts to ponder as we venture towards the end of this current series…..

I wonder what marvels God would bring into our lives, if we ceased taking credit for our accomplishments or talents, if we stopped overlooking God’s input in an opportunity or a blessing, if we stopped giving His glory to all other things? Or if we refused to doubt God during times of struggle.

Our talents, creativity, skills, fortitude, patience, capacity for knowledge or love, perseverance, logic, wisdom, beauty or success…are they simply a by-product of human supremacy?

Can we truly take ownership of these things?  Can we tribute genetics or luck?

For those of us in pursuit of God’s help, some serious recognition needs to be given to Him in appreciation. When we lift up God’s name and give Him credit for ALL blessings and achievements, we give Him more and more opportunities to intervene in our lives, bringing not only blessings, but miracles!

I am not a writer, I have no experience, no degree. I didn’t even read much in adolescence through to my early adult years. Writing was not something I even knew I was passionate about until recently. God called me to write for Him over a decade ago, and at times I have thought either He’s cracked or I am! I won’t take any credit for anything I write because I know it was not from any ability or desire within me. Glory be to God!

I am still surprised if I succeed at a difficult shot in billiards, even though I have been playing reasonably well since I was a teenager. I am not consistent enough, I have not gotten much ‘better’ through training and practice. “You have a good eye” they say. Did I do something to achieve a good eye? He is the potter, I am the clay!

There are countless other examples, and I can’t take the credit, it is not mine to take.

God alone deserves praise for all things, too many more to name. Am I suggesting we have a spirit of low self-esteem? Absolutely not! We see our worth when we see ourselves through God’s eyes, with love and respect for the creation that we are, His creation.

However, lifting up ourselves and our name only gives us vanity and a false sense of security. It makes God smaller, it takes away His influence in our daily walk. Lifting up the name of anyone other than God breeds pride, idolatry and jealousy. God is the only one worthy of all our praise.

The enemy was thrown out of heaven for demanding to be worshiped for the power and beauty that was given to him by GOD! Do we want to be included with those who take His glory away and give it to another? Yet in our human mindset, we do it so often.

How about all the things we take for granted everyday, oxygen to breath, water to drink, healthy food, comfy dry beds, friends & family, health, the ability to laugh…

We need to become more aware of the words that come from our lips, for the power of life and death is in the tongue. We can use our mouths to whine and whinge, to gossip or flatter, to curse or slander. Or we can use our tongues to speak of faith and the truth of salvation, to be grateful and encourage others, to praise the Lord and worship. This is a daily struggle for many of us, myself included…

Let’s make it up to Him as much as we can. Let us praise HIS MIGHTY NAME! LORD LORD! Grab some CD’s with lyrics of praise and sing as if He is the only one listening. Lift up our arms to the sky in gratitude. Tell those in our company how awesome He is, for if we testify His name to others, so will He testify our name in Heaven. Thank Him daily for all His blessings. Be in awe of His omnipotence and let that awe seep deep within our hearts!

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 (ESV)

You are sure to enjoy this fabulous track …Come let us sing by Sons of Korah

worship

I hope you are enjoying the series and gaining some ground in your relationship with our Lord. Just writing it is reinforcing my own walk, so thank you for letting me share it here. Here is the link to the final post in this series. Blessing to all!

04/12/2012

Gaining Help from above – Sacrifice**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:03 pm by The Water Bearer

Warning: Contains Graphic Image

One of the main reasons we miss out on experiencing the presence of God in our lives is because our thoughts are too consumed by the physical world. We focus on our material comforts, our desires, our careers, our families, our looks, our fun or our reputation. These are the ‘beautiful things’ placed before the throne of God by the enemy, to distract us from pursuing righteousness. They are responsible for hardening our hearts, and building pride, which prevents God from being able to intimately connect with us.

We protect our own worldly desires and our reputations so much, yet we may be inspired by a vital piece of the puzzle when understanding the lessons constructed within the sacrifice of Christ.

Consider for a moment that the King of Kings, glorified by angels, the highest authority in all the universe, lost His reputation and respect, gave up His position and His worldly desires, endured the lowest form of humiliation and abasement, by undertaking a criminals torture and death. Offering His blood to flow as the cleansing waterfall, for us to be able to connect with God, becoming blameless through Him! He gave up His comfort and reputation FOR US!

I need a moment to let that sit on my heart and let the tears clear from my eyes….

How can we expect to be intimate with God  if we give up nothing for Him in return for His sacrifice for us, or even fail to acknowledge it?

If we have a ‘God-sized’ hole in our hearts, there is nothing of this world that will fill it. The only way to feel whole, is to fill ourselves with the love of Christ first, before anything from the physical realm. This includes relationships, good times, wealth, knowledge etc. By giving back to God the things of the world we have held onto in our hearts, we move into a new phase of a supple mindset and heart.

Once we accept that the ‘world’ is not meeting our expectations or filling that void inside us, and instead move God into that space, by making Him come first. Then we can begin, bit by bit, to let go of our grip on the comforts of the world and the hold they have over us. This is required if we are to have an experiential awareness of God. We can begin to understand and accept that there are purposes behind enduring suffering throughout our time here.

“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man’s advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?'” Luke 9:23-25 (KJV)

Taking up our cross daily is the equivalent of an unselfish willingness to suffer, to pray for strength of faith instead praying for more comfort. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. Giving up our lives doesn’t necessarily mean bringing about our death. God certainly means us no harm, and this is proven especially if we recognise that Christ came to free us from death and give us life. Giving up our lives means being willing to let God use our life for His cause, to cling to Him through our suffering. It means, no matter what suffering we endure, our faithfulness allows God’s strength to be perfected in our weakness.

We must expect to face some persecution for our faith, for we become different to those of the world. Singer songwriter Amy Grant sang the lyrics..”When the world begins to see you change, don’t expect them to applaud.” Fear not, for in due time the Lord will vindicate those who are His children.

We may also endure physical ailments, which act as our own experience of the “thorn in the flesh”, a condition to keep us humble, for the miracles we can achieve with God in charge of our lives can very quickly puff us up with pride.

My car accident, for example, left me with injuries that weakened me, yet at that time God used me for some miraculous experiences through my faithful obedience. More experiences than I can remember, it was a time of daily miracles. I would have claimed the glory for myself had I not been exposed to the weakness that my physical body was restricted by. I knew I was not capable of being strong faithfully because at a time I was so bottomed out by psychological and physical damage.

Through our willingness to suffer as Christ did, in a metaphorical sense, we grow in intimacy and unity with God, our hunger and need for Him causes us to step into the miracles He can perform through us.

A way to help us tolerate the suffering, comes when we accept that this world is only temporary, much better awaits those who have been called into salvation and eternity. Is it easy? Absolutely not! I can tell you however, that it is WORTH IT!

Everything you sacrifice unto the Lord, He will return 100 fold!

“And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” Matt 19:29 (ASV)

This is the 6th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Check out the previous posts Connection, Accepting an Encounter, Security, Control & Nourishment, if you haven’t already, and here is the link to the next post in this series…

30/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Nourishment*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:33 pm by The Water Bearer

Nourishment is defined as – “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”

This is probably the most obvious post, which many of you knew was coming in this series. The word of God is immeasurable nourishment for achieving a healthy heart and building a relationship with the Almighty. Unfortunately it has been known to fall into the wrong hands, it has been misused as a tool to condemn, judge, and control way too many people over the years. I have come to realise one very important thing about the Bible, and that is that it is a personal book, not a public one. Sure, we share scriptures to back up our theories and we use them to encourage or even reprove others, but all in all what God inspires in each word changes for each person, according to where they are at in their walk with Him. This is why there are references to the ‘secrets’ of God’s word.

“And he said, To you is given knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to the others, they are given in stories, so that seeing, they may not see, and though they give hearing, the sense will not be clear to them.” Luke 8:10 (BBE)

Secrets are defined as – Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. Something that is not properly understood; a mystery.

There are only two, who can know for sure what God is saying to you through His word. One is you, with your heart after Him, and the other is God! That’s it! Others can guess, they can speculate, they can advise, they can theorize, however God and God alone is the only one who’s guidance we must take, any advice must be checked back with Him and await confirmation, before anything can be known for certain. Read here for more on confirmation and deception.

“Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be confirmed”. 2 Cor 13:1 (MNT)

Abraham, the father and patriarch of the Hebrew nation, had no scriptures, he had a relationship with God. God poured promises deep into Abraham’s soul. Angels were sent to bring more fortuitous assurances. God spoke directly and the willing heart of Abraham believed and obeyed. In today’s scope of interactions with God, many of our imaginings about the ‘Words from God’ have become contaminated by false prophets and counterfeit deities. So we must have discernment and not swallow anything whole. We must chew it over with prayer and nourishment, we must give God the chance to confirm what it is that He is trying to tell us.

When we begin to build a relationship with someone, we spend time getting to know them. Reading the scriptures is a way of getting to know God and what His principles are. The stories and history recorded were written by those who had a deep relationship with God, and while there may be much confusion and debate over interpretation, there is much opportunity for growth for those who are willing to pursue it.

“Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11 (ASV)

The first thing I can hear you saying, based on what I said at the beginning of my own adult walk is, “But it’s hard and boring, and I don’t feel like reading the Bible”.

Something extremely important to recognise before we begin to read God’s word, is that the enemy is real and is out to destroy any hope we have of reaching the potential that God has in store for us. He has access to our flesh and uses it to pull us away from God and the disciplines we must apply in order to overcome it.

This is just like any other discipline, take for example physical exercise, we all know it is good for us, we all know that it will help us improve many areas of our lives, yet our flesh resists it. Even once we get going, we begin to feel the weight and pressure of keeping it up and we want to quit. Prayer is the same, try praying to God for 10 minutes. We can talk on the phone with our friends easily for 10 minutes, but test and see how hard it is to talk to God for that long. Our flesh distracts us, it feels like we simply cannot do it!

Reading the word of God also brings out this resistance, especially at first. Even when we pick it up and open somewhere and begin to read, it is like the words all overlap on the page, we find ourselves reading the same line over and over and not taking anything in. Or we open up at a genetic listing, a whole chapter dedicated to someone who ‘begat’ someone else, to the next generation and so on and so on. My advice is to press on, turn a few pages, pray for help to be able to read and understand. The Bible may be many things, however, “boring’ is not one of them, this is another trick from the enemy. We need to open up our hearts and let God in through His word. We need to acknowledge the enemy in our flesh and find the willingness to overcome it.

We can’t treat the Bible like any other book, reading from the front page through to the last. Each Book of the Bible is a whole book in itself, both filling and worth meditation. Before I open it up just anywhere, I pray and ask God to guide my eyes to find the words He wants me to read. If nothing makes sense after a little while, then start at the beginning of that chapter, if it still doesn’t connect then start at the beginning of that book. Another good idea is to make a note of the section you opened to and go back and check to see if it makes sense in a few days time. That can be mind-blowing!

Just like we need to eat healthy nutritious food to keep our bodies in top condition, we also need to read God’s word to keep our hearts in top condition.

‘Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.'” Matthew 4:4

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:2-3

‘Nourishment’ is  the 5th post within the series, ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Previous posts include, Connection, Accepting and Encounter, Security, and Control. Keep an eye out for more posts to come, Blessings to you!

28/11/2012

Gaining Help From Above – Control*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:47 am by The Water Bearer

When I was a young single Mum, before I began deepening my relationship with God, I found myself bouncing from one relationship to another. I was hunting desperately for that one man who would fulfill my dreams of a united family, and a stable home for me and my daughter, a nice yard with a fence where she could play, and maybe a dog. You know the ‘typical’ family life, a life I had been dreaming of since my parents split up when I was a young girl.

I was in a relationship with a man, we did not live together, and after 2 years I was frustrated. I had pinned so many hopes on him, hoping he would want the same things as me. No matter how much I forced discussions about our future he always seemed to change the subject, or speak in vague riddles. Eventually, after long talks with my Dad about life, love, faith and dreams, I began to accept the truth. In reality this man and I were looking for different things, and I was so hell-bent on controlling my life and those in it, that I had given God no room to  take the wheel and steer my life in a better direction.

Dad’s talks gave me a new perspective. I needed to let go of my rigid dreams and allow God to bring His dreams into my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11 (ESV)

I ended my 2 year relationship and took some time to sit quietly with God, I promised to truly give up my pursuit of that one dream I had been in search of. I committed my life into God’s hands, and rather than the physical ways I had been intimate before, I began to develop intimacy with my Heavenly Father instead.

Within a few months everything changed. A good friend invited my Dad, myself and my Daughter, to rent his house, it had a nice yard and even a dog. I now had my Dad as a stable influence in our life and a dear friend who completed the household. I found myself rushing home from work to spend time at home, something I had no recollection of doing for as long as I could remember. Then one day, in an miraculous way, my heart changed. I saw my friend with ‘new eyes’, and an attraction developed. God gave me a number of confirming signs that this was the man He had chosen for me, and I began to expand on the love I had for my friend. The reality of our life together has had higher highs and joy than I had ever envisioned in my previous ‘controlling’ dreams. Of course we have been through some rough times, but I have confidence in God’s dream much more than I ever had in my own, no matter what the future holds God is trustworthy. In all areas of my life I can trust in His loving provision, believing He will have more in store for me than my limited imagination can conceive.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Prov 19:21 (ESV)

Control is an illusion anyway! If we have faith, we know that God already knows what we are going to do, and what we are going to choose in our daily walk, and He knows what He is going to bring our way in relation to our choices. His Will, will be done after all. If control is in fact an illusion, why not work with God by submitting to His influence over our lives? We have been given free choice, and it is a free choice to choose His way over our own.

Letting go of our own dreams allows Him to bring us a new dream, His Dream.

By using both hands to hold tightly to the steering wheel of my own dream, I had no free hand to accept all that God had in store for me. If we rest this life on an open palm, we allow God to take and to give, then we can experience His blessings for us. I promise that He loves us so very much, and if we give Him the chance, He is faithful to blow our minds with a miraculous reality that only He can create.

‘Control’ is the 4th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’, which I am writing for a friend, who reached out to me in her hour of need. Here are the links to the previous posts in order from the beginning – ‘Connection, ‘Accepting an Encounter’, and ‘Security’Here is the link to the next post. Blessings to you all!

23/11/2012

Gaining Help from Above – Accepting an Encounter*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 am by The Water Bearer

This is the second post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’, please check out the introduction post if you haven’t already.

Accepting an encounter with God, changes not only our level of faith and our perspective in many areas of life. It is the first element in the foundation of our relationship with Him. This is vital if our faith is going to stand against the many trials it is sure to endure, right up until we reach the potential that God has in store for us.

From the age of 6, I spent a couple of years attending a Baptist Church with my family. I could recite scriptures and knew exactly what to say to my Dad and our Pastor or other members of the church when asked about Jesus, sin, or stories from the Bible. Yet I can’t recall any encounters with God from that time. Honestly my first steps on the floor of faith were not experienced within the walls of church.

When I was a young girl, I was notorious for hiding the mess in my room. If my parents weren’t paying close attention they may think I wasn’t this messy child. Yet if they opened a cupboard, a drawer, or looked under my bed they would be appalled by the jumbled clutter they’d find.

One day, my family was heading out somewhere special, I was always adamantly fussy about my clothes and insisted on wearing only things I really liked. I had a favourite pair of shoes at the time and had arranged my outfit to match with them perfectly. Only problem was everyone was getting into the car and I had only been able to locate the right shoe.

For the past half an hour I had been flinging crumpled clothes, toys, sneakers and books over my shoulders as I dived into my wardrobe and under my bed, searching urgently for the matching shoe. I could hear my mothers voice changing tone, calling to me from the front door as she grew frustrated with my tardiness. My chest tightened as I hunted harder, faster, knowing her patience wasn’t going to hold much longer. I knew she would soon stomp in here, find any pair of matching shoes, amongst the disaster zone that I now called my room, and she would make me wear them even if they didn’t match my clothes. That thought made me spin with desperation.

Suddenly I sensed a deep inner place and I remembered that I knew of this guy called Jesus and His Dad, God. So I called out in faith, “Please, pretty please, if you are really there, help me find my other shoe Lord. I promise I will try to keep my room tidier, just please help me. If you are real then you know where it is, please show me where.”

I went around the other side of my bed and reached underneath, I lifted a shirt with a horses face on the front, and underneath it was my shoe!

As I look back on that prayer it seems such a silly thing to pray about, however, I realised at that moment that God was real, that He was just like a loving parent who answers even the silly requests of His children. I had child-like faith. I have never doubted God’s existence since, even when I struggled through life and didn’t always understand His reasons, even when I strayed away from Him, I still knew deep down that He was waiting for my next heartfelt prayer.

Let me be clear here, God may not always answer every prayer as simply and immediately as this one. He knows what is BEST for us, and if our prayers line up with His will for us He will always answer them. If our prayers are outside of His will for us, He would be doing us an injustice to use His might and power to act like a ‘Genie in a bottle’, granting our every wish. For example, if we pray, asking God to help us win the Lotto, God knows that those riches will distract us and taint our faith in Him, because we will put our trust in our money and not in Him. Then that would go against everything He stands for.

You may be asking at this point, why it was in God’s will to find my left shoe? So may I draw your attention to a couple of things in my childish prayer, that I think are important?

Firstly, it was the first time I questioned in my heart if God and Jesus were “really there”. I imagine a Father looking down on His daughter with intense love, wanting desperately to have a genuine connection with her and hearing her ask, “Are you really there? Really?” The answer any loving Father would give is “YES! YES! I am really here!”.

Secondly, I made an agreement, a contract, a covenant with God. I promised I would try my best to keep my room tidier. To show Him I was willing to do some hard work in return for His faithful answer to my desperate prayer. God is all for discipline, He knows that self-discipline with His help, is the only way to overcome our flesh. The very flesh which leads us to follow the ways of the world and not God’s ways.

“The proverbs of Solomon, David’s son who was king of Israel, {given} to grasp wisdom and discipline, to understand deep thoughts, to acquire the discipline of wise behavior” Prov 1:1-3 (GW)

Thirdly, in my childish way, I demonstrated a level of faith that I didn’t even realise I had. When I said “If you are real then you know where it is”, it showed that I was willing to accept how broad and wide His power reaches. It showed God that I did not limit Him, and I gave Him a chance to show me that the tiny insignificant details of my life, including the state of my room, were important to Him.

My faith moves me to understand that He knew that I was at a crux which was vital to the foundation of my faith. It was tremendously important to Him that I believed He existed and was powerful enough to show me where my shoe was, and that He cared a lot about the details of my life.

If I had not been desperately open-hearted and actually reaching out to Him with my heart, then He would have known it was not in my best interests to answer my prayer. He knew my heart was open at that moment.

“But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jer 17:10 (NLT)

I have taught my girls to pray with one important clause always to be acknowledged, and applying it shows a mature relationship with God, based on trust.

“Dear Lord, I would really appreciate you answering my prayer, but if it is not within your will, I will trust that you have your reasons.”

Accepting an encounter with God can be a life changing experience. If you allow your heart to open up to it and value it, it will be the first of many even more miraculous encounters in a life time of faith.

Obviously there is much width and depth to the subject of gaining help from above, which is why I need a series of posts to write about it, and why many people spend a lifetime devoted to gaining a better understanding of God and building an intimate relationship with Him. These steps I am mentioning throughout this series, are some of the basic foundations from which to build faith from, and here is the link to the next post....

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