Browsing articles tagged with " circumstances"
May
23

Experiencing God in prison

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  1 Comment

‘I, Paul, [am] the prisoner of Christ Jesus …’ – Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

There are some prisons we get into that are the design of the enemy, and when we find ourselves there we ought to break the devil’s bars and we shall be free. But there are other prisons that the Lord himself allows us to go into. There are times when God allows circumstances and situations our way that would seem to imprison us. We pray, bind and loose but we can’t get out. The truth is that we cannot bind God.

The Apostle Paul was quite a man. He was locked up in prison by the decrees of the Roman government yet he said he was ‘the prisoner of Christ Jesus’. Imagine this zealous crusader unable to go to all the places that burned in his heart to go and preach. Yet it was in understanding how to experience God in prison that he turned this prison season into one of the most fruit seasons of his ministry. You see, most of his epistles were written in prison.

There are two things we must do when we feel imprisoned. Find out if it’s God’s place for you in this season. Ask God. If you are where you should be then don’t try to run away even if you can (sometimes we can). It might be that you find yourself under a leadership that seems not to give you enough space to strive. If God shows you that you are in his place for you in this season then please stay in that prison. Secondly, when you find yourself in prison, instead of grumbling and complaining, open yourself up to God’s grace.

Take the example of Joseph. He was put into prison because of the lie of Potiphar’s immoral wife, but it was part of God’s plan for him. It was the road to the throne that God had prepared for him. We must not try to fight God when he allows circumstances and situations to land us in prison. Instead let us learn to experience God even in prison.

The bible says, ‘the Lord was with him (Joseph in prison), he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (Gen 39:21 – NIV). In spite of the walls and chains of the prison Joseph continued to experience God.

The bible says, “the Lord was with him”. The truth is that even in prison God does not abandon us. God wants us to continue to experience his presence in our lives even in the wilderness seasons. He wants us to keep drinking of him and growing. A dear sister wrote me recently about the marital troubles she was facing. Her backslidden husband is now with another woman.  Then she added, ‘Nevertheless, God’s joy is still in my heart. I know he has a plan for me and for my family’.

There can be joy in spite of the prison as we begin to experience God’s presence. No matter what you face please determine to make “the Lord is with him” a reality in your life.

Joseph experienced the kindness of God in prison. Though God didn’t bring him out of prison immediately, he gave him a testimony of his kindness in that prison by doing a lot of things for him and touching lives through him. God wants you to experience his miracle working power in your prison. Often we are so focused on getting out of the prison that we are not open to God’s leading in any other area. But we need to remember that though we are in prison God is not in prison.

A bishop friend of mine was married for 14 years without any child though he desired, sought and prayed for it. But he was focused on God and on being all God wanted him to be. Because of that he and his wife were experiencing God’s kindness in many other areas of life, so much so that they were praying for barren couples who in turn were having children. They did not allow their prison to limit their usefulness. They adopted several children and some are pastors today. Their ministry grew so much that it became international. After 14 years God brought them out of that prison and gave them a baby boy of their own when the woman was very close to 50 years of age!

A time comes when God will bring us out of the prison, but in the meantime God wants us to experience his kindness in the prison in which he allows us to be. It will take trusting in his goodness enough to choose joy instead of grumbling and complaining; it will take choosing to feed on him daily staying focused on growing into his likeness. It will also take not allowing our outward prison to imprison our minds and so limit God and all that he wants to do through us while in prison.

May
8

A New Thing

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  No Comments

“See, I am doing a new thing!” – Isaiah 43:19a (NIV)

“God is doing a new thing!” is a very popular refrain among Charismatic believers. We are always looking for a new move of God. And indeed our God loves to make all things new. I believe that even now he is saying to those who have ears to hear;

‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland’ – Isaiah 43:19 (NIV).

But there is a mistake we often make. When God says ‘See, I am doing a new thing’ our first reaction usually is to look for our circumstances to begin to change. And indeed they would – eventually. But I want you to understand that whenever God talks of doing a new thing for a person (or people), the first place he starts is inside that person. God always works from the inside out. To change our circumstances, he needs to change us. In some cases once we have changed, we are positioned to become his partners in changing our circumstances. And in other cases, once a new thing happens to us, it no longer matters if our circumstances don’t change, because we now engage them with new eyes.

Consider Gideon in Judges 6. A man who had longed for ‘new things’ for his ravaged country, Israel. Yet when the angel of the Lord appeared to him to announce that God was going to do a new thing, the first place God begins is not in changing the nation, but rather in changing Gideon.

God had to deal with Gideon’s fear of his family, as well as with the idolatry in his family, before he could work through this man in dealing with the disorder in Israel. God works from the inside out.

Today I believe God is speaking over many of you reading this, the words in
Isaiah 43:17-19 (NIV);

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland”

God wants to do a new thing around you but he will start by doing a new thing in you. Yield yourself to him and don’t hold back any part. Don’t dwell on your past or on your circumstances. But rather pay attention to the things he is pointing out in your life. And respond to him.

Feb
15

In The Hands of God (Part 2)

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  No Comments

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” 2 Samuel 24:14 (NIV)

It doesn’t matter how we got into the situation we are in. As long as our lives are committed to him, we can be sure of this: we are in the hands of God and not at the mercy of our circumstances. And God wants to glorify himself in that situation. This was what we began to see last week from the story of Daniel in the lion’s den in Daniel chapter 6. Now let’s go on from where we stopped.

The bible says all that night when Daniel was sealed inside the den, the king could not sleep. But the king had to wait until dawn before going back to the den. ‘At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den.’ (vs. 19) The king waited until dawn when the situation must have played out its course. Herein lies a lesson for you and me when we find ourselves in the hands of God. Wait for the dawn. Don’t conclude while it is yet night that God’s deliverance is not ever going to come. Wait for the dawn. Listen: ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ (Ps. 30:5 – NKJV)  God is never late, but he also never comes before the time. He comes in the nick of time.

I hear God saying to someone, “Wait for the DAWN. Don’t throw in the towel now. Wait for the dawn. Don’t cast off hope and conclude God is unfaithful. Wait for the dawn. Don’t get discouraged and compromise your faith and convictions. Wait for the dawn.” Let us not draw conclusions about God’s power to save or not by our fixed unchanging situation in the night. Wait for the dawn and you will see. Yes it may look like a foregone conclusion that the lions will devour you. They might even now be closing in and there is no one to save. But please remember that you are in the hands of God so wait till it is the dawn of God’s intervention. The bible says that it is good to wait patiently for God.

Daniel waited patiently for God and he delivered him. ‘Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (v. 21-22 – NIV)

Notice that God did not shut the lion’s den (to prevent Daniel from being thrown in) but he shut the lions’ mouths. Let us not decide how God will save us. In the hands of God we must be flexible and let God choose how he wants to work out our deliverance. It is no longer us we who are calling the shots. We are in the hands of God. Let him do it his way now.

For example God may choose not to give you an instantaneous healing but might choose to give you a gradual progressive healing until you are completely healed. He knows best, let’s trust him. God may choose to meet your needs by providing day-to-day or need-to-need instead of sending you bulk provision all at once. God might not give you a biological child but he might choose to give you a wonderful adopted child. (But if he has promised you not just a child but that you will give birth to one then hold onto that). What we must hold onto is what God has promised us and not try to work out how he is going to go about it.

Sometimes we have our own good idea of how best God must intervene in our situation if he is to be glorified. And we think, ‘If God doesn’t do it this way, then it cannot be glorious.’ Who told you? We are in the hands of the Almighty so let us be quiet and let God work it out his own way. Then that which may look like a mediocre intervention may actually be a mighty miracle in the making. Please learn to say to yourself ‘Keep silent! God is at work. I am in God’s hands.’

The bible says that when they brought Daniel out and examined him, ‘No wound was found on him’.  In spite of all Daniel went through God kept him from all harm. While he was going through it one might have wondered if he would ever come out in one piece even if he survived. But he was not in the hand of chance. He was in the hands of God.

God is not joking when he promises us that:

‘He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; … The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life’ (Ps 121:3 and 7 – NIV)

God watches over you when you are in his hands. He watches out for your interests even when you go through the fire, to keep you from all harm. In 2007 when we were getting ready to relocate to South Africa we encountered a situation. The SA embassy became difficult and would not issue permits to my family even though I had a valid residence permit. We thought everything would be sorted out in a few days, but the situation became desperate when things remained unchanged and dragged on for weeks and beyond our departure date and well into the next month. I began to wonder if when the permits eventually were issued, whether we would not have suffered some loss especially in relation to our children’s admission to schools, which needed to be sorted out quickly. But God told me, ‘The Lord will keep you from all harm’, and he did!

God’s intent is to display his glory in our lives as we stand firm in total commitment to him. God is looking for men and women who will shun compromise like Daniel no matter how tough things may become. God is looking for men and women who will walk in purity and integrity in spite of the pressures around; men and women like Daniel, determined to live or die for Christ. This is what it means to put oneself into the hands of God – to yield to him and live for him. Not everyone is in the hands of God. It is only those who have surrendered themselves to him that he can hold. And it is only through such people that God can be glorified.

God was magnified through Daniel before king Darius and all his peoples: ‘Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples (and) nations… “… the God of Daniel… is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”’ (vs. 25-27 – NIV)

God rescues and he saves. And he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. It doesn’t matter what your location or situation is, his power reaches even there. He delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. He will deliver you too.

Feb
6

In The Hands of God (Part 1)

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  1 Comment

‘Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into human hands.”‘ 2 Samuel 24:14

I am very excited about what I am about to share with you this week and the next. I believe it is a word for some people. It certainly was for me. In some way it is like a continuation of what we began to say last week about God having the last say in our lives, or, being in the hands of God. What does it mean to be in the hands of God? What do we do in the hands of God? What does God do when we are in his hands?

In Daniel chapter 6 we read of the conspiracy of Daniel’s colleagues because of their jealousy at his progress. These men had tricked the king (who was fond of Daniel) into signing an irrevocable decree that was aimed at destroying Daniel. This bible says that when the king realised it was Daniel who was to be thrown to the lions ‘he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.’ (vs. 14 – NIV). But king Darius couldn’t help Daniel.

Now listen to me: A time comes when no man can help us. We find ourselves in a situation and there is no way out. Even men with the best intentions seem unable or unavailable to help us. Even the king with all his willingness and all his power couldn’t help Daniel. What was happening here? Because Daniel was committed to God, God was committed to him. So God had tied the king’s hands so that nobody else but God himself could help Daniel. This is what it means to be in the hands of God.

It doesn’t matter how we got into the situation we are in. It may be like in Daniel’s case through men’s wickedness, or through men’s mistakes. It may be through the negligence of men as in Joseph’s case: Remember how after helping the king’s butler interpret his dream, Joseph had asked him to help plead his case with the king so he could be released from prison. But the king’s butler forgot and Joseph was stuck in prison for another two years! I believe God allowed that man to forget about Joseph so that Joseph might come to a place where no man could help him. Joseph was in the hands of God.

Perhaps God has brought you to a point where men cannot or will not help you, and there is no help in sight. Then know this, you are in a good place – you are in the hands of God. And it is for a reason – so that he may do for you what no man can do for you, so that he may glorify himself in your life. I know that what I am saying is a specific word for some people right now. If you have committed your life to the Lord, what you are going through is not by the devil. You are in the hands of God, and he has allowed this in order to display his power in your life.

The bible says “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” (v. 17)  Daniel was brought to a place where his fate seemed sealed. That is exactly what some of us are facing – we find ourselves pushed into a corner, into a seemingly unchanging increasingly difficult situation. It is as if our fate is sealed. You have prayed and tried everything and nothing seems to budge. Listen: You are in the hands of God!

When the king saw he couldn’t help Daniel, ‘The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”’ (v. 16)  The king was in effect saying, ‘You are committed to God so now you are in God’s hands. Let God rescue you. Let him make a way. Man cannot help you. It is beyond us’. And that was when God took over. This word for some of us is, ‘Do you serve God continually?’ You have walked with the Lord with all your heart and now does it seem he has abandoned you? No, you are in the hands of God. What you are facing is not by accident. God has allowed it so that only he can help you.

Let us learn from Daniel. First we notice that he was silent throughout all these struggles. He didn’t strive with the men. Please, I plead with you, stop striving with men. You are in the hands of God, not in the hands of men. Yes your trouble might have come through men, but God allowed it. You are in God’s hand. I don’t see Daniel trying to win the king’s favour or beg him. He was trusting in God and not in man. Cease from every bit of looking to men. The most men can do for you now is to pray for you like the king did for Daniel. If there is one help you can ask of men it is to pray for you, but keep your eyes on God and your ears open to his leading.

Daniel said no word as they took him and threw him into the den. Sometimes there is no need to talk when the pressure is on. Be still. Say to yourself ‘Keep silent! God is at work. I am in the hands of God,’ Hallelujah!

I will continue from here next week. If you sense God speaking to you please pray this prayer with me:

‘Lord, I accept this as a word for me. I thank you because I am not at the mercy of my circumstances. I am in your hands, and you are good and have a plan. I thank you because you want to display your glory and power in my situation. I thank you because your help is coming. Lord, help me to be like Daniel – to stay committed to you, and not to strive with men or to look to men. I choose now to forgive all men and to cease from striving. I will look to you and you will lead me into your plans for me. Thank you, because I will see your mighty intervention in Jesus’ Name, Amen!’

Nov
2

What Has Happened To All Your Joy?

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  2 Comments

“What has happened to all your joy?” Galatians 4:15a (NIV)

If the devil cannot steal your joy, he cannot deprive you of anything that is yours. The target of the enemy’s fiery darts is not our material possessions but rather to rob us of that joyful confidence in the faithfulness of our Father. He hates our joy because he knows it is the source of our strength, the strength that will always ground him. The devil cannot stand the force of joy. Yet for many of us, our joy is what we often allow the enemy to steal so easily.

This is why Paul asked the Galatians here “What has happened to all  your joy?” The way I read this, it is as if they didn’t notice when their joy slipped away, and you know, that is often what happens to us. We come out of our quiet time of devotion with the Lord in the morning bubbling with joy and feeling as if we can jump over any mountain. Then as we go into the day, we allow our negative reactions to the little irritations and bigger problems that life throws at us, to erode our joy. That person who wasted our time, the other who spoke to us unkindly, and someone else who carelessly broke our equipment, the car that refused to start, and the sudden bad news we received, all crowd in to rob us of our joyful confidence in the Lord. And before we realise it we lack strength, because the joy of the Lord is gone. We need to learn the discipline of constantly casting our cares upon the Lord if we want to keep our joy.

Joy is a very important barometer for measuring where we are in our communion with the Lord. Has my joy level gone down? What happened to it? Joy should be a constant and growing experience in the life of a believer. Yet in reality it is not so for many of us. We look back to those early days of our walk with the Lord and we know things are different now. We have allowed our response to the troubles of life to erect a wall between our Heavenly Father and ourselves. We lack that joyful confidence in Him that we used to have.

If we would listen, we would hear the Lord calling us back, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28). We can recover joy if we choose to trust him. Our ‘joy’ should not depend on our circumstances. The joy of the Lord does not depend upon our feelings but on our will. We can choose JOY. That is what Habakkuk did when he said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” Habakkuk 3:17 & 18 (NIV)

Habakkuk was saying, “I choose joy, I am not going to let my trouble get me down. Because I know the Lord is faithful, no matter what life might serve me, I choose joy!” You can too!

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