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See The Present

There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to his disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.” 32 They slipped away and left by sailboat for a deserted spot. 33 But many of the people saw them leaving and realized where they were headed, so they took off running along the shore. Then people from the surrounding towns joined them in the chase, and a large crowd got there ahead of them.

34 By the time Jesus came ashore, a massive crowd was waiting. At the sight of them, his heart was filled with compassion,[o] because they seemed like wandering sheep who had no shepherd.[p] So he taught them many things.

35 Late that afternoon, his disciples said, “It’s getting really late and we’re here in this remote place with nothing to eat. 36 You should send the crowds away so they can go into the surrounding villages and buy food for themselves.”

37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.”

“Are you sure?” they replied. “You really want us to go buy them supper? It would cost a small fortune[q] to feed all these thousands of hungry people.”

38 “How many loaves of bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” After they had looked around, they came back and said, “Five—plus a couple of fish.”

39 Then he instructed them to organize the crowd and have them sit down in groups on the grass. 40 So they had them sit down in groups[r] of hundreds and fifties. 41 Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, gazed into heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the bread and the two fish and distributed them to his disciples to serve the people—and the food was multiplied in front of their eyes42 Everyone had plenty to eat and was fully satisfied. 43 Then the twelve disciples picked up what remained, and each of them ended up with a basket full of leftovers! 44 Altogether, five thousand families[s] were fed that day! // Mark 6

When you look at your life and your today, your present circumstances, what do you see?

The disciples saw the need, the problem and saw their lack.  They forgot to have supernatural vision despite having just been out on amazing mission adventures, despise seeing Jesus again and again change the world with His mighty power.

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

I believe that God is good all the time.

He is not the author of suffering and pain.

But life involves life and pain and problems and stretching.

This is normal, natural.

We live in a fallen world and are targets to a ruthless enemy.

But in that, even in that, God is good and is always at work to restore and bring goodness out of the difficult seasons.

He has a solution for every problem (but, how many times do we not like His suggested solutions!)

He does not abandon us to the darkness but walks with us, in every moment.

What the enemy means for our destruction, God uses for our growth.

If you are walking through a difficult season here are 3 things to encourage you:

1. Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

This is good news for us.  When we walk through trial, God is with us.  When we walk through darkness, God is with us.  When we walk through pain, God is with us.  When we walk through flood, God is with us.  When we walk through fire, God is with us.

His presence protects us so we are not overwhelmed or scorched.

But yes, we have to walk through those waters and the fire.

2.  Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This is good news and good truth.  This is real truth.  Often when in the dark spaces of our life we can think that some of the Word of God is just nice cliche or lovely platitudes, but it is real truth.  You can stake your life on it.  You can count on it.

 

3.  Psalm 121 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Sometimes in the dark seasons we have to CHOOSE to look up and see the stars.  We have to CHOOSE to have faith.  We have to CHOOSE to trust God and believe His promises.

 

I can tell you from experience that I isnt easy.  But worth it.

 

How do you see the stars in the dark times?

 

 

 

 

 

There is something incredibly powerful that happens when we lift our eyes from our today and our trials to look to God.

Where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.   Psalm 121

When we stare into the holiness and strength of who God is we can declare with trust and confidence that IT IS WELL.

It is well despite the storm.  It is well despite the fire.  It is well.

God’s love for us is so fierce and strong, true and real.  He is for you.  For you.  For you.  Let that soak in today.  He is for you.

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Jericho is a real make or break moments for Joshua. This is his opportunity to make his mark on the future of his people, to demonstrate his leadership prowess. And we see that one of the keys to Joshua’s breakthrough was that he had to follow God.

Joshua worshipped and heard. And what he heard must have made him go what the heck! God had a very non traditional battle plan.

The instructions were to walk around the city, once a day for 6 days. In silence. With the priests carrying the ark and trumpets. Which they don’t use.

Until the 7th day and then they have to go round 7 times and then shout when God tells Joshua.

Now Joshua is probably really glad that he lived a time with no facebook or twitter. Imagine how the feeds would have blown up!

#stillmarching This is one way to get my 10,000 steps in

So hard trying to keep my kids quiet on this long march. the boys just want to yell! #takethecity

March around a city? Heck, we can do that! We marched around that blasted desert for 40 years.  #justdoit

Just keep marching. Just keep marching. Marching marching marching. #srsly

Trumpets? What? That blows!

Seven times around the city? No problem, thanks to #ArkoftheCovenantFit!

If I wanted to travel in circles I would join NASCAR.

Joshua has lost his ever-loving mind. #blesshisheart

God is straight up crazy.

(thanks Dreamers and Builders for your creativity and wit for those!)

When we’re facing our own Jericho it’s important to know that God is with us. As Saviour and Lord. It’s important to know our help comes from the Lord and to get on His page.

We see Joshua doing this also in verse 15. “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

Joshua obeyed. In the small and the big. In the battle and in the bare feet.

To see the walls come down in Jericho Joshua had to obey. In our own lives to see victory in our relationships, in our finances, in our health, in our well being, we need to listen and obey to the strategies God gives us. Sometimes this isn’t easy. Sometimes God will seem straight up crazy.

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“What does my Lord say to His servant?”

We are created to listen. You are hard wired designed to be in connection with God. To hear God speak. He is not a far away God but a God who is near.

 

I am the Shepherd and my sheep know my voice. John 10

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

 

God spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3), Habakkuk knew the sound of God speaking to him (Habakkuk 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12 ). However, I have found that usually, God’s voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.

Cultivating an ability to hear God speak takes time and effort. It’s something we do deliberately, not something we can cultivate on the run.

To cultivate an ability to hear God you’ll need to make intentional deliberate opportunities to listen. Sometimes that may happen here at church, or at home as you’re reading The Word and having some worship time. Sometimes it happens as you’re out driving. There is a particular corner and road that all I have to do is drive down there thinking about a problem and boom, God speaks. I’ve learned to keep a pen and paper in the car!

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And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Joshua 5:14 v14

Joshua bowed down and worshipped Jesus.

Worship is more than singing. It’s about expressing surrender, its about wrapping language about how we feel, its about changing our perception and seeing things from God’s vantage point. The quickest way I know how to knock something down is to worship God. When faced with obstacles, make a choice to get your eyes open and on Jesus and to worship Him.

 

Worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. Rick Warren

 

It reminds us that yes, God is with us.

It reminds us of His greatness and power.

It lifts our eyes beyond our circumstances to believe the unfailing promises of God.

We see it time and time again in the psalms of david.

David is doing what I call compraying. It’s a combination of complaining and praying.

David is being real with God. Calling a spade a spade.

But then instead of staying in that place of woe is me, David flips it around and fixes his eyes upon God, and begins to worship.

There are so many instances in the bible where worship preceded victory.

We have got to be a people who carve out time to encounter God. I know I say it every time I get up here, and all the time at housegroup but it is so vital.

 

There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher

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At the very moment that Joshua needed God, God was there. Joshua was surveying the territory he was going to advance into. Having another look over the city he was going to lead an attack against. Imagine the doubts, the fears, the insecurities. The pressure.

At that moment, Joshua had a very real desperate need to hear from God.

And there God is. His personal presence was with Joshua as a mighty declaration and assurance of God’s power and provision.

Theophanies : A Theophany is a manifestation of the preincarnate Christ, who, as the Logos, is the one who reveals God. If only a man or an angel, he would certainly have repelled Joshua’s worshipful response (vs. 14). Other examples of Christology is in Daniel 3 and when Abraham had 3 visitors, one of them a preincarnate Jesus, in Genesis 18.

 

How do we overcome the Jericho in our life?

We lift our eyes and see that Jesus is with us. We fix our eyes upon the One who can help us. We encounter His presence. Read the rest of this entry »

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And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

In this passage Joshua is facing one of the tipping point moments, not only in his life, but in the history of the nation of Israel.

We find him by Jericho, perhaps observing the city, planning his strategy, scoping the joint.

I can only imagine how he felt. The walls of Jericho were no ordinary walls but massive fortifications with a series of outer walls and inner walls and ditches between them. In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault – using cool ancient siege weapons or surrounded and the people starved into waving the white flag. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunnelling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking army usually suffered heavy losses. It was not pretty.

And then lifts his eyes… which makes me so think of Psalm 121, I look to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from God, the creator of the heavens and earth.

Of course that was written AFTER Joshua but it so fits.

Joshua lifts his eyes and with eyes open sees a man, sword drawn. Now put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. He’s spying on enemy territory and then a man appears with a drawn sword. I would be freaking out! Is this some Jericho ninja, some champion of the city, the toughest kid on the block, ready to take the commander of the Israel out before the battle even begun?

I have to give Joshua some credit here. He uses courage begins a conversation with the man, assessing perhaps emergency exits or an Achilles heel.

What happens next shows us how we should have our eyes open when facing impossible odds, seeing God in the midst of the battle and moving on into victory.

 

 

*** part one of my preaching notes from Sunday 16th Feb – stay tuned for :::
Eyes Open – To Surrender
Eyes Open – To See
Eyes Open – To Worship
Eyes Open – To Hear
Eyes Open – To Follow
Eyes Open – To Victory

i’m a big believer that if we FIX our eyes upon Jesus, as we LOOK UP, that we see things from HIS vantage point and find peace and hope.

 

i will look up, there is none above you

i will bow down, tell you that i need you

Jesus, Lord of All

 

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you –
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.

Psalm 121

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i haven’t done one of these for a while… so here goes!

 

from where i sit i can see a messy lived in desk, kids artwork, school certificates, photos of the ones i love

i can see my chunky rings, identity definers

my ipod, charging for whatever my night brings

sunscreen and leave in conditioner – the essentials for summer and swimming

i see my life, in micro

things and things that represent doing and purpose, dreaming and potential, destiny and promise

 

i see grace and gratitude, God’s hand at work in and through my life, His great tapestry and master craftsmanship

 

there are times when i don’t see, where i feel distracted and discouraged

when the clutter and the things choke creativity and confidence

it takes refocus and refixing my eyes upon God

(and sometimes a desk tidy!)

 

Psalm 121:1  I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

i will see the unseen.  i will see and trust.

i will look past the today’s into tomorrow.

i will see the testimony of my past and the promise for the future.

i will see God, my loving heavenly Father, creator of heaven and earth.

i will see hope.  grace.

 

from where i sit i can see i am not alone.  Jesus is near.

 

 

 

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