Friday 30 September 2011

Paul knew what he was saying.....

...... When he wrote to the Thessalonians
"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. " 1 Thess 5v18, (NKJV).

This is not a random statement that Paul made, hoping that the Thessalonians and eventually, all who read his letter, would read and think that it's a nice concept.

Giving thanks is what is at the core of our relationships with God. If we want to experience what it's like to have a deep, intimate relationship with God, we have to learn to give thanks. We have to learn to thank Him in every aspect of our lives.
Giving thanks to God is the most basic form of worship. We don't even have to sing to give thanks, we only have to say the words.

It's a difficult verse to fulfil as often, we don't want to give thanks. There are many times when we have a desire to thank God, yet there are times when it's the last thing we want to do. This is when giving thanks is the most important thing we can do. Why? because God is glorified whenever we give thanks to Him.

Psalm 22v3,(NKJV) says :

"But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel."

When we give thanks, we release praise to God. God dwells in our praise of Him, so when we praise God, it releases activity in the heavenly realms that allows Him to come into our situation. God becomes more glorified as we praise Him. His light grows stronger, His glory becomes more intense and the darkness flees.

There are circumstances that may make us think things are so bleak that there is nothing to thank God for. When times are tough, we delve into our testimony, we give thanks to God for what He has done before. We give thanks that He is providing every breath we breathe. We give thanks to Him because He is God. He is I Am. We give thanks to Him because He is God. We don't need a reason, it should become quite easy too.

We were created in God's image so therefore, the very nature of God exists in us. We were made to worship Him, so giving thanks to Him is something we are good at.

Have you ever stopped to think that you are better at giving thanks, at praising and worshipping God than you are at sinning?

Being made to Worship God is what we were made for.
Imagine you are a carpenter's saw. You are made with a purpose, cutting wood cleanly and accurately. If you are then used to bang nails into the same piece of wood, you aren't going to be very good at it.

Thanking God is what we were made for. Being in a close, intimate relationship with God is where it's at. That's fulfilling the purpose God set out for us. It's what God's will was when He created Adam all those years ago. Adam lived, for a time, in perfect relationship with the Father, that was what God intended for mankind. It's the relationship Jesus modelled when He walked the earth, absolute, perfect deep intimate relationship with the Father. It's the relationship that God desires to have with each of us.

God is abundantly glorified when we fulfil our potential in Him. Doing this on it's own is giving glory to God. Jesus set the example of giving thanks when He prayed over the 5 loaves and 2 fish (you can read it here). He gave thanks and the blessing occurred.
He gave thanks and God was glorified. He gave thanks and God's will was released into the situation. He gave thanks and the miracle happened. He gave thanks, because He loved His Father and wanted Him to be the one who got the glory, the honour and the majesty.

So try to give thanks to God. Then when you've tried, try harder. Then keep doing it and you will find that you are suddenly giving thanks to God and your perception of your circumstances changes. Your worries, your concerns and your qualms will all seem to matter a bit less. Your experience of God will become more and you will realise that there is nothing, that God cannot change, there is no situation that He can't turn around and be glorified in. You will realise that you are actually praising Him, despite your circumstances.

You are giving thanks in all circumstances.

Roger C.

Saturday 17 September 2011

When Giants Are Standing In Front Of You

Last month, I posted a blog about the A Heart like David and the Heart of God, and it's been on my heart to write another blog about David.

David is a character that I've long admired because of the heart he had for his God. When David was still a young lad, only in his teens, he was holding down two jobs. One of these was holding the responsibility of looking after the flock of sheep that his father owned, the other was holding the responsibility of looking after the wellbeing of the king of Israel, ministering to the heart of Saul 1 Sam 16v14ff (NIV).

So for such a young man, there was a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. David had to juggle both of these tasks while not letting either of his masters down, he also knew at this stage that he was going to be the next king of Israel, even if nobody outside his family knew this yet.

You can read about it in 1 Sam 17. His 3 eldest brothers- Eliab (The tall one who looked kingly), Abinadab and Shammah had all joined the Israelite army, to fight for Saul and David had been given the job of bringing their food out to them, while they sat on the frontline, facing the Philistines.

David's dad, Jesse, called him in one day and gave him a bag of grain, 10 loaves of bread and 10 cheeses to take to the battlefield. The grain and bread was for his brothers, the cheese was for the commander of the unit. I'm not sure why Jesse wanted David to bring food to the commander, but I suspect it had something to do with the commander 'looking after' Jesse's eldest sons.

When David arrived at the battleground, he saw that there was no fighting, yet this man (if that's what you could call him!) stood, taunting the Israelites morning and evening. Goliath was massive. The head of his spear weighed the same as 7 bags of sugar. His armour weighed more than most men. He stood almost 10 feet tall. He was big, he was mean and he was taunting the army of Israel, morning and evening. When they prayed to their God.

David, as we know, had a very special relationship with God. He loved Him dearly, he wrote many songs of worship and praise to his God. He had spent many days and nights in God's Presence, writing, singing and worshipping Him. So when he found out that Goliath had been taunting the Israelites for 40 days,  morning and evening, David was angry.
When I say angry, I mean that David had a righteous anger burning inside of him. Goliath was interrupting the time that was sacred to the Israelites. They prayed morning and evening to God and this man was disturbing the time they had set aside to be with God.
Goliath was interrupting the time that David loved.
Goliath was proposing that Israel send a champion out to fight for them, to prevent any further bloodshed. Israel needed a champion and it's champion wasn't coming out into the open. Why?

Israel had a champion who was terrified of men. He was very tall and very handsome. He was the king of Israel, he was Saul. If you go back to 1 Samuel 9 (NIV), you will see that even though Saul was a very tall and kingly looking man, he was hiding from the people when Samuel tried to find him.
When Goliath challenged Israel, Saul was afraid and didn't stand up for his people. Of course, this could have been because he was the king and didn't want to fight as that was his prerogative. But when it came down to it, the biggest man in Israel was afraid to fight the biggest man in Philistine. So there was a stand off for 40 days.

David immediately volunteered to do the job. He had found out that Saul's daughter would be given in marriage to the man who killed Goliath and the thought may have crossed his mind that this was his way into his anointing, but the reward didn't affect David's decision. He didn't like what he saw and he was going to do something about it.

Just think for a minute. The well being of the nation of Israel rested on the result of this battle and Saul decided to send a teenager out to represent him.
Maybe this was his madness kicking in, maybe it was the 40 days of taunting. Maybe God was stepping in after 40 days, something He does all through the bible. Whatever the reason, God arrived on the battlefield when David turned up and the odds were suddenly overturned drastically in Israel's favour.

There are a number of significant things about how David fought Goliath.

Firstly, David wasn't afraid. He had fought and killed bears and lions while he tended his flock, so a tall man (who didn't have claws or sharp teeth) wouldn't be any challenge. He was building on the testimony that he had. God had given him the ability to slay beasts before, so David knew He would be with him as he fought this next beast.
David stood on the word of his testimony.

Secondly, David fought Goliath on his terms. Saul offered his own weapons and armour but David decided he wasn't going to use them. David wasn't going to try and defeat Goliath by fighting him with the weapons he was given by another man.
David was going to fight Goliath by fighting him with the weapons God gave him. He was going into a fight on his terms and he knew he would win.

Thirdly, David didn't take any of the usual weapons of war with him. He took his sling and his staff and went to the stream, where he picked up 5 smooth stones. The stones were around the size of a baseball, and someone like David, would have been able to aim accurately at a target with his sling and hit it with a stone, traveling at around 100mph. (Imagine if you were standing on the baseline at Wimbledon with Rafael Nadal serving stones at you, they wouldn't be as fast as what David could do).
David didn't take 5 stones because he thought he was going to miss, he knew that God would be with him, and God never misses! Apparently Goliath had 4 brothers, so I'm assuming that this is where the 4 stones were readied for.
A notable thing is that he took his staff. The one thing that a shepherd carried when he was tending his flock was his staff, and as David stood in front of the Philistines, defending his flock, he was doing so as one who knew what it was like to face a fierce enemy, who was willing to stand up to one who wanted to harm his flock. He wasn't going to let him hurt even one.

Finally, David told Goliath in no uncertain terms that Goliath was not fighting a boy, but he was going to be defeated because God was on his side. Despite his size and apparent military advantage over David, David knew that when God is on your side, you are automatically stronger than anything the enemy throws at you.
David knew that Goliath was outnumbered because when God is on your side, it's the biggest advantage of all.

David ran into battle. His brothers (specifically Eliab, the one whose heart was not right before God- coincidence? No!)tried to put him off fighting Goliath. Saul tried to tell him how to fight Goliath. His God enabled him to fight Goliath. His God enabled him to defeat Goliath. His God was glorified because David stood on the testimony he had, the love he had for his God and the love he had for his flock.

There are times in life when we come up against a monster, something that seems way beyond what we can cope with. Circumstances look too big to deal with and the outcome seems to be set out in front of us. These are the times when we step into where God wants us to be. These are the times where we move into the anointing that God has given us. These are opportunities for us to say "I've been in a similar situation before. I know God can help me now too".

These are the times to step into our inheritance, to be the anointed royalty that God has made us. To defeat the enemy that stands in front of us, taunting us that he's too big, trying to come between us and our relationship with our God. These are the times that prepare us to be warriors.

Stand on the Word of God. Believe Him and trust Him to come through for you when there's a giant in front of you. God + you outnumbers and is greater than anything the enemy can throw against you. Use the gifts He's given you. Stand on the word of your testimony and go into the battle, knowing you are victorious.

Roger C.