Loving People equals Loving God

Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer.  This makes him a phoney, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.
1 John 4:20-21

Sometimes, in life, we can have people around us that really test our patience.   They aren’t the nicest of people, usually have a chip on their shoulder, and blame everyone around them for their issues in life.   Sometimes they  can bring out the worst in us.  Some people are really hard to like, let alone love.

I personally found this verse challenging, because  I have somebody in my life that I really struggle with.   I prefer to not be around them, this person is very abrupt, rude and impatient. She’s not nice to be around.

Funnily enough, sometimes, we ourselves are really hard to like, let alone love.   We don’t always respond well to situations, and we too  can be misunderstood and judged for our words and our actions.   We are not perfect.   The bible talks about our need to remove the log from our own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else’s.

Loving people we don’t necessary like all that much is difficult, but the pain that we ourselves go through with dealing with these difficult people is nothing compared to the pain and anguish Jesus felt and experienced the day he was taken captive and brutally beaten and whipped. He was forced to carry his own cross up to Calvary, where they nailed his hands and feet to the cross.   He hung from a cross naked, knowing that His Fathers will for His life was to die so that mankind could live on.

If Jesus can love me despite my sinful nature, I need to die to self  and show that same mercy and grace to the person in my life in whom I struggle with.    I have wrestled with 1 John 4:20-21  and I admit that I really struggle to ‘love’ this person, but Jesus died for me, as well as for her.   I decided to pray that God would help me love her, because I want to honour God with my obedience to His word and desire for my life.  Maybe I’ll have to fake it for a bit, but I know that God will help me as I try to respond to her better.

Goliath shall Fall

I love the David and Goliath story.

I have lots of favourite bible stories, but this one is in my top three.   It’s one of those stories that makes you decide every single time you come up against something if we are putting our faith in God or are we saying that our situation is bigger than God?

Goliath was BIG.  Relationship issues are BIG, Financial issues are BIG, infertility is a big deal, sickness is a big deal, the issues of the world in which we live – ARE A BIG DEAL!

The bible tells us that God is the God of the impossible!   Are our life Goliaths bigger than God,or do we believe that God works in the impossible?

The Philistines didn’t see how Goliath could lose.  They believed they were going to win this round of the war and the Israelites were going to be theirs.  They sent Goliath out every single day, twice a day, for 40 days before David arrived on the scene, to send fear through the Israelite camp.  Goliath tormented the Israelites to weaken their position.    Goliath was dressed from head to toe in his brass warrior, which included a brass helmet!  He held his spear around his neck, and a man stood before him, holding his shield.   The Israelites didn’t have a giant to fight a fair fight.   They were petrified.  Saul had NO idea who to send out to fight Goliath.

When David arrived, he wasn’t  there to fight, he was there on a mission from his father Jesse to go and deliver a care package to his brothers, and to bring back news from his brothers as to what was happening on the front line.

David did not come to irritate his brothers, nor did he come to fight the giant.  He just wanted to do what his father asked of him.  When he arrived to the camp,he witnessed Goliath for himself, and noticed that the Israelites were afraid and not sure what they should do, let alone who to send out to fight the giant!  They had no plan in place. David couldn’t understand why the Philistines were trying to mess with the armies of the living God – Who did they think they were?

David convinced Saul to let him fight the giant.  Saul tried to resist, but David insisted that he could do it.  He tried to dress David in warrior gear, but the warrior gear didn’t fit.  They were far too big.    God doesn’t want us to be somebody else, or fit somebody else’s gear, we were created to be ourselves, and to live our lives honouring Him, and believing that God will do what He said He will do.   God has a plan for each person individually!

One of the interesting things about Goliath, is that he wanted to fight one person from the Israelite camp.  He wanted to take one Israelite aside and fight him.  He knew he had an unfair advantage, a giant and a shield holder against a regular sized man.   Remember he was the size f two men standing on top of each other, and built like a tank.   He would have been training to be a warrior from the time he was a teenager.

Isn’t it funny how the devil likes pull us away from our churche, or our community to make us think we are powerless?   He reminds us of our weaknesses?   He wants us to forget who’s we are, He wants us to forget that we are part of God’s army.   Our strength is in our numbers, in our relationship with God, and in our community of like believers.   The plan was to take down the entire army of Israelites by taking out one person.    One individual.

Who does the devil think he is., trying to mess with us, the children of the living God!!??  We need to remind the devil of his future every time he pokes his pointy misshapen nose into our lives.   David seemed to understand this.  He understood who he was in God, and he knew how powerful God is.  David was a worshipper and he just knew in his heart that God loved him and loved the Israelites.   Somebody had to go fight Goliath.  David knew that God would help whoever fought Goliath, but nobody was stepping up from the Israelie army, so David bravely said he would do it.

David collected 5 stones from the brook.  He prepared himself to go into battle with Goliath.   He probably spent time in prayer, asking God to go before Him to protect him, to have the glory when the giant was dead.  David would have taken the giant off guard.  A young kid dressed without battle gear, without swords, fronted up from the Israelite camp.   Goliath probably thought he was a joke, but David got himself ready and waited for the perfect moment to strike.   The stone had to hit Goliath at the right time, in the right place.   David was a shepherd, and had killed lions and bears to protect his sheep.  He knew what he needed to do.   David used one stone.  He had more, but he only needed one.   He would have had other opportunities to take down Goliath if he needed them, but he didn’t.  It took one stone to drop Goliath to the ground.   David then ran and cut off his head before the giant could get up again.

‘Can you imagine how freaked out the Philistines would have been at the moment Goliath fell to the floor?   Can you imagine how excited the Israelites would have been when they realised that David had taken down the giant?   Can you imagine how proud Jesse would have been when he heard his youngest son was the kid who killed the giant?

The glory went to God, because it was through David’s obedience, confidence and bravery, that God worked a miracle in the lives of those people that day.     Just imagine how they would have celebrated!

The story of David and Goliath is in 1 Samuel 17: 1-58.

“Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. They were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah. They set up their tents between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and set up their tents in the valley of Elah. They came up dressed for battle to fight against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. 4 Then a strong fighter came out from the armies of the Philistines. His name was Goliath, from Gath. He was almost twice as tall as most men. He had a head covering of brass, and wore brass battle-clothes that weighed as much as 5,000 silver pieces. He wore brass leg-coverings, and had a brass spear on his shoulders. The long part of his spear was like a cross-piece used on a cloth-maker. The iron head of his spear weighed as much as 600 pieces of silver. A man walked before him to carry his shield. Goliath stood and called out to the army of Israel, saying, “Why have you come out dressed for battle? Am I not the Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I fight him and kill him, then you must become our servants and work for us.” 10 Again the Philistine said, “I stand against the army of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were troubled and very afraid.

12 Now David was the son of Jesse, an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and was old in the days of Saul. He had lived many years. 13 Jesse’s three older sons had followed Saul to the battle. Their names were Eliab the first-born, next Abinadab, and third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest sons followed Saul. 15 But David went to and from Saul, to take care of his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine came out and showed himself morning and evening for forty days.

17 Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers a basket of this baked grain and these ten loaves. Hurry and carry them to your brothers among the army. 18 And take these ten pieces of cheese to the leader of the thousand man group who is with them. See how your brothers are doing, and bring me news of them. 19 Saul and your brothers and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”

20 So David got up early in the morning and left the flock in the care of a shepherd. He took the food and went, as Jesse had told him. And he came to the tents as the army was going out dressed for battle, calling out the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines came near each other dressed for battle, army against army. 22 David left the things with the man to take care of them. He ran to the army, and went to meet with his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, Goliath the Philistine from Gath came out of the army of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they ran away from him and were very much afraid. 25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen the man who has come out? He has come out to stand against Israel. The king will make the man who kills him rich. And he will give him his daughter, and make his father’s family free from paying taxes in Israel.” 26 Then David said to the men standing by him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away Israel’s shame? For who is this Philistine who has not gone through the religious act of the Jews? Who is he, that he should make fun of the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 His oldest brother Eliab heard what he said to the men. He became very angry with David and said, “Why have you come here? With whom have you left those few sheep in the desert? I know of your pride and the sin of your heart. You have come to see the battle.” 29 But David said, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?” 30 Then David turned away from him to another and asked the same question. And the people gave him the same answer.

31 When David’s words were heard, they were told to Saul, and Saul sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart become weak because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go and fight against this Philistine. You are only a young man, while he has been a man of war since he was young.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was taking care of his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and fought him and saved it from his mouth. When he came against me, I took hold of him by the hair of his head and hit him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear. And this Philistine who has not gone through our religious act will be like one of them. For he has made fun of the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord Who saved me from the foot of the lion and from the foot of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” 38 Then Saul dressed David with his clothes. He put a brass head covering on his head, and dressed him with heavy battle-clothes. 39 David put on his sword over his heavy battle-clothes and tried to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I am not used to them.” And David took them off. 40 He took his stick in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the river. He put them in his shepherd’s bag. His sling was in his hand, and he went to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came near to David, with the man carrying his shield in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he thought nothing of him. For he was only a young man, with good color in his skin, and good-looking. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine spoke against David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me. I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the animals of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of All, the God of the armies of Israel, Whom you have stood against. 46 This day the Lord will give you into my hands. I will knock you down and cut off your head. This day I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the earth. Then all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All these people gathered here may know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” 48 Then the Philistine rose up and came to meet David. And David rushed to the center of the valley to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand into his bag, took out a stone and threw it, and hit the Philistine on his forehead. The stone went into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David won the fight against the Philistine with a sling and a stone. He hit the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine. He took his sword out of its holder and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their strong soldier was dead, they ran away. 52 The men of Israel and Judah rose up and called out and went after the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The dead Philistines lay on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelites returned from following the Philistines and took what had belonged to them among their tents. 54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem. But he put his battle-clothes in his tent.

55 When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the head of his army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “Find out whose son the young man is.” 57 So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

 

I hear the Lord saying

I hear the Lord saying, 
“I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.  I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.  So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before.  Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.  Just come with me!”   
Psalm 32:8-9 TPT

Do you like adventures?

This is one of my favourite bible verses of all time.   It’s a promise – from God to me.  Actually, a promise from God to all of us.   All we are asked to do is hold on and go.

To know that God wants to walk with me and direct my feet is so loving and kind.  I want to follow His lead and find out where he is directing  me.

I love love love how God says in this verse, ‘Don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before.  Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.  Just come along!”  It is an invitation to an amazing adventure.   An adventure where you are trusting God.  Living life the way he wants us to live.

Remember in Him, our burden is light, when we hold on and walk with Him.

 

Love like Jesus loves

“For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.””
‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭TPT‬‬

It’s not always easy loving people.  Some are easy to love, but as we know, there are some people in our lives where it is incredibly difficult to love.   Whenever I come across one of these prickly people, I find myself asking Jesus to help me love the person in question.  Challenge accepted!!

Sometimes I need all the help in the world to love some people.

Loving people is an important part of our Christian walk.  If we want to bring Jesus into the world of the people around us – we must show ourselves to be loving and kind.   This doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be treated badly.  It means that we become like Jesus.   How would Jesus love these people?

There will always be people who reject us, but we need to let offence slip off us like the water on a ducks back.    Keep moving forward.  Don’t get caught up in the nonsense or the politics of the day.   Be smart, keep it simple and just love people for where they are at.

Keep in mind, we are the only bible some of these people we come in contact with might ever read.   Jesus first.  Me second.

Walk with me Jesus

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30. (MSG)

I think I have inherited my mums worry wart tendencies.   I hate being a worrier, but late at night when the house is still and everyone is fast asleep, I find that I am wide awake worrying about all the things in life that I personally have no control over .   I drive myself crazy.   Literally!

We aren’t supposed to live our lives worrying though.   Jesus wants to walk by our side and take care of us.   He already did the most amazing thing for us.  We are already redeemed through His blood, but we have to learn what it is to live in the understanding of what HE has already done for us.

Every single one of us want to live freely and lightly.   Not one of us want to live under a shadow of anxiety, or live our lives through a filter of anxiety.   We need to hand our burdens over to Jesus who has already paid the price for us, and remember what that actually means.  Remember that within the three days of Jesus dying for us – He went down to Hell and took the power away from the devil.   The devil has no power over us UNLESS we give him the power.   He will try every trick in the book, but we have to keep reminding him of his future.

Funnily enough, it doesn’t take long to fall asleep when I kick the devil out of my room in Jesus name.   The worry subsides and I fall asleep.

The Eye of the Storm

Matthew 14 is the famous loaves and fishes story, but have you ever read the story from verse 1 of chapter 14?

It is here that we find out that John the Baptist had been imprisoned. Herod wanted to kill him, but he thought there would be an uprise in the people if he had John killed because the people believed that John was a Prophet.  Then Herrod was put in a position where he had promised the daughter of Herrodis, that he would give her anything she wanted after she danced for him at his party.

Her request was that the King give her John the Baptists head on a platter!  And so, to save face in front of his guests, he obliged and had John the Baptist killed as the girl requested.

The disciples took care of John’s body and then went and told Jesus.

In Verse 13, it says, “When Jesus heard this, He went away from there privately by boat to an isolated place. But when the crowds heard, they followed Him on foot from their towns. As Jesus came ashore, He saw a large crowd and felt compassion for them and healed the sick.”

Jesus purposely left the crowds to have some time on his own.  I imagine he would have felt as though he was in the eye of the storm.  John was his cousin, they grew up together, John was his friend and confidant, probably the one person who Jesus felt closest too, and now John was dead.  The eye of the storm is the most difficult place to be.   It’s the place where our emotions rage in the middle of our situation.

The passage goes on to say that the crowds followed Him.  They wanted to hear more of Jesus’ stories, and so they sought him out and followed Him.  Jesus obviously wanted time out to grieve his friend,  BUT the people needed him, and He knew what His purpose was.  He loved John, but He was here to do something really big.  Jesus had to put his sadness into perspective.  Yes, He was sad about John’s death, but He knew he was sent to earth for a period of time to do something amazing for the people.  For Jesus – it was always about the people!

So, Jesus spent His time with the people, and then he realised that it was getting late.  He cared for the people, and considered they might be hungry.  He speaks to the disciples about his concern for the people, and then a young boy comes forward with his bread and two fish.  There was more than 5000 people.

We all have something going on in our lives, but we are called to a greater cause. Like Jesus, we are called to a cause that promotes the kingdom of God, we are to be the salt in a world that is falling apart.    No one is perfect, no one has perfect situations, but God will use us where we are when we listen to Him and see His love for the people in our lives and around us.

This chapter shows us that even when we are in the eye of the storm, we need to pray and continue to what we can for others around us.  God is our helper and our provider.  He will walk us through the storm, but our eyes need to be be on Him.

Matthew 14:22-26.

A Grateful Heart

“Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭1 THESSALONIANS‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The Will of God for our lives is that we are required to be ‘thankful’ in EVERY situation we find ourselves, and to continue to give thanks no matter our circumstances.

Do you ever read the bible and say, ‘Far Out! My situation is so big and so ugly right now, I don’t know how to be thankful at this moment?’ 

I think we wouldn’t be human if we found being thankful easy.  Life isn’t easy at times, BUT when we have faith and put our trust in God, we know that our God is going to help us get through our situation.  He walks beside us!  He is going to turn our situation into a testimony for good – even when we don’t understand how this might happen.   All we need is a little faith that God will walk through our situations with us.

The verse says we are to rejoice always AND delight in our faith.  Never stop praying –  Persist even when we feel like our situation is too big for us.   Never underestimate God’s love for us.     Having faith in God, reminds us that He is bigger than us, and He is the one who is going to work it all out for us.

 

Be Still and Know that I am God

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
‭‭PSALM‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

One of my most favourite things to do in my life is to go down to the beach and sit by the waters edge and look out towards the horizon.  I love to watch and listen to the waves build and crash onto the shore line.   It brings peace to my soul.  There is something incredibly calming about being at the beach.

Maybe watching the surf do its thing reminds me that there is an amazing creator of this picturesque universe  –  there is someone bigger than ourselves.  I love the beach for so many reasons, but most of all, because it reminds me every single time I go there that God is the creator of the universe, and BOY He did an amazing job.

The beach is a fantastic place to go to, to be still and acknowledge Gods amazing work, but to also praise and worship Him for who He is.

 

 

Jumping out of the Boat

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:25-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am the kind of person who struggles with a bit of anxiety, when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone.  It takes me time to contemplate, mull over, and talk myself into doing things that frighten me.

I really admire Peter.  He seemed to have this Aussie ‘give it a go’ kind of attitude.    I imagine him to be a go-getter.  Someone with what we like to call gumption or guts to do things that most people struggle with. Peter completely trusted Jesus.

The first step is always the hardest step.   Matthew says that ‘Peter got down out of the boat’.  I picture him bravely stepping out of the boat and heading over to where Jesus was standing.  If it was me, I would have had to summon up the courage to get out of the boat, and then literally chucked myself over the edge before I chickened out of it.

I will say though that once I have taken the first step, it seems like the pieces of the puzzle come together and then off I go.  I might start with wobbly courage, but as I go along, the confidence grows and I learn to trust that it will all work out.

I get the impression that Peter confidently got out of the boat, he was probably excited, his adrenalin was running, and so once he was at the water he simply stepped out.  His eyes locked in on Jesus.   There was no sign of  wobbly courage, but when the wind blew, he realised he was walking on water, and through fear, he became unsteady, and his faith wobbled.

We are like Peter in so many ways.   How often does fear knock us off our faith perch?   I’m not sure how strong that wind was that day, but it was enough for Peter to notice it, and instead of keeping his eyes locked in on Jesus, he allowed the distraction to take his gaze off Jesus, and of course he began to sink.

I like the concept of wobbly courage because it means I am actively looking at God for direction.  My faith might wobble at times, but when I look back into the eyes of love and acceptance, I am  sure everything is going to be okay again.

 

Strength and Dignity

Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; And she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].”
‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭31:25‬ ‭AMP‬‬

I am surrounded by strong, kind and honourable women.   Women who I really admire and look up too.    I value these women in my life.   For many of these women, their smile hides their troubles – They stand tall despite their circumstances.   What I love most is that their trust is in God, and their joy is in Him.    They walk to the beat of God’s drum, and choose to look UP rather than at their circumstances.

It is through friendship that I know their circumstances.

‘Strength and dignity are her clothing…’

The thing with clothing is that we put on our clothing.   We choose our clothing, and we dress ourselves with our choices.   What do we clothe ourselves with?   Words can build us up, or they can break us down.    The choice is ours really. Our identity needs to be in Who God says we are.

It is through strength and dignity that we are strong and secure.    This brings us joy, because we don’t question our worth, our identity, or whose we are.     It is easy to smile at the future when our complete trust is in God, Our Father in Heaven.

So as we get dressed for our day, what words are we going to dress ourselves with?  What words are we going to speak over our lives?    Today I give my day to God, and I choose to believe His words over my life.  It’s going to be a great day.   Let’s go!!