The essence of your salvation

Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
you’ve been unwilling to do.

This scripture gives us an outline of what our salvation requires.

Repentance, which is turning from our sin, doing a 180 and coming to the Lord is the first step.

In this case it states: ‘turning back to Me’, which signifies that they had turned away from God, (the Israelites had), and God is coercing them back.

The second condition and by no means less important is the act of rest.

Rest is a simple dependence upon God. The Israelites struggled with this and wanted to do things their way.

This is a common problem in this era with the temptation to live independently of God and consequently resisting the patience that the Holy Spirit gives.

How many do you know who have fallen into this trap and are no longer following our Lord?

Your salvation depends on your ability to rest on God, to leave things to Him, to literally place your situation in His hands.

He is the most trustworthy and He is far more able than you are, so trust Him today.

Be the one to put your hand up and bring some giants to the ground!

1 Samuel 17:45-50 (MSG)

David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes.

The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David!

David knew the Lords will on this, like the back of his hand. He also had the guts and courage to put it into practice and see it come to pass.

But the most amazing thing is that David makes it very clear before he has even won, just Who is winning this battle for him.

You might think that you are fighting a battle on your own right now and maybe you are. Maybe you haven’t surrendered the fight over to Him.

But if you have allowed Him, then God really is fighting for you, no matter what it looks like.

Your giant is defeated.

Will YOU be the one to put your hand up when no one else will to bring some giants to the ground?

Remember the battle belongs to God and He is handing this giant to you on a platter!

Empty jars

2 Kings 4:2-7 (MSG)

“Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.” “Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbours. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.” He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped. She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”

Are you feeling like an empty vessel right now? Completely zapped of strength, holding nothing of value, nothing God could possibly use?

Well I have great news for you! That’s a perfect formula for God to do His best work!

When you feel you contain nothing of worth, your ‘self’ or your ‘flesh’ has been removed and a miracle is awaiting you.

This woman had lost her husband, was just about to lose her two sons and had a huge debt to pay (v.1).

Can you get more empty than that? God wants to fill you up with His healing power. He wants to pour it out until it overflows into others’ lives as well.

Don’t restrict the flow of His oil. Bring your empty vessel to Him and await your refilling.

Call the midwife

Isaiah 66:8 (KJV)

“Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”

Are you groaning with the twangs of labour pains? Do you think you have gone through all you can bear?

If so, hold tight because you are about to birth a miracle! When you have come to a point of explosion, like an erupting volcano, it’s time!

The minute those intense pains hit, you will bring forth your children.

Exodus 1:19 says: “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time for your prayer to be answered but it will come forth speedily, in an instant, like a thief in the night.

Somebody quickly call the midwife because this baby is on the way!

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21 (NIV)

From slave to ruler

Psalm 105:16-22 (NLT)

‘He called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfil his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers.”

Have you been experiencing famine in your life and what seems like long hard years of slavery?

There will come a time when God fulfils your dreams as He did Joseph’s but until the fulfilment it was this very dream that God used to test His faith, patience and character.

Imagine holding onto the hope of the stars, the sun and the moon bowing down to you and all the while your feet are being bruised with fetters; you’re stuck in an iron collar and thrown into prison!

In these moments it would have seemed as if God was using the dream to mock Joseph rather than having his best interests at heart. But this is where God proved Joseph faithful.

He did not give in to bitterness and offence toward God but chose to continually trust in His loving-kindness and faithfulness to His Word. This paid off and gee whiz, was he rewarded when he came out of the test with flying colours!

God’s ultimate desire is to see you set free from your captivity. If your character is being tested right now you are on the way to being free.

Once your character is refined like gold, God will pour out His blessing in abundance. All you have to do is pass this test like Joseph and you will be launched into everything God has promised you.

Notice the Scripture says ‘until the time came to fulfil his dreams he was tested’. That ‘time’ is drawing closer by the day so hold onto your hat because the Ruler of all nations is about to open your prison door and set this captive free!

God has the best gifts for YOU!

Genesis 3:1-6 (MSG)

“The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?” The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'”

The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.”

Why is it that we often want what we can’t have? God has made available to you every other blessing in the garden, every tree you lay eyes on.

But will you throw it all away to have that one thing that God has said “no” to? Is it pornography? gossip? overeating? or that seductive TV show? Or has He simply said “not yet”, but you want it now?

Is it a relationship? marriage? or a lavish car? You know eating of this would be disobedience. “But it looks so good”, we ponder in our heart.

“If I could just get a bit closer and get a good look, a touch, or even a sniff.” And then before we know it we have been lured into partaking of the very thing God warned us not to touch.

‘The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.’ Psalm 84:11b NLT

You might think God is withholding something from you but if God withholds no GOOD thing, what you think is a good thing is either not good for you at all or not good for you at this time. God knows it is not good so He is withholding it.

God delights in giving good gifts to His children. We need to stop looking at the one tree we can’t have and start thanking God for all the fruit trees we do have!

Silence the enemy

2 Kings 19:10-12 (NLT)

“This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other nations rescued them?”

What voices are you listening to? Is it the voice of the enemy that spoke to Hezekiah saying that Jerusalem would be conquered?

Is it a voice saying your promises are a deception and God won’t really come through? Does that voice question your salvation?

The voice of the enemy can be very overpowering at times so what should we do? What did Hezekiah do?

Firstly, Hezekiah began by praising God. Nothing gets God’s attention better than a heart cry of praise.

Secondly, he spoke out the truth. He repeated God’s promise back to Him that the victory was won…finished…done.

Lastly, he requested that God bring it to pass. He gives God the ability to unleash His hand and bring deliverance.

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Philippians 4:6

Purification through the Father’s discipline

Hebrews 12:5-11 (MSG)

‘My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?

We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.’

Sometimes we feel God’s Hand of discipline stronger over our lives than at other times. Our trials are God’s training ground for our future.

It’s easy to get discouraged while we are in the midst of difficult circumstances but if we look towards God’s overall plan, we can rejoice knowing that it’s producing maturity of character.

Who can ever resist God’s workmanship? He will mould us one way or another even if it takes forty years.

If you are going through trials, look at your spiritual growth and see clearly how God is shaping and moulding the ‘new man’.

The sooner you submit to this discipline and walk in obedience, the quicker “you will become perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:4

Allow God’s purification process to take place and you will come out as pure as gold.

Obedience pays off!

1 Samuel 15:22-25 (MSG)

Then Samuel said,
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—
empty rituals just for show?
He wants you to listen to him!
Plain listening is the thing,
not staging a lavish religious production.
Not doing what God tells you
is far worse than fooling around in the occult.
Getting self-important around God
is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors.
Because you said No to God’s command,
he says No to your kingship.

Saul gave in and confessed, “I’ve sinned. I’ve trampled roughshod over God’s Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people. I let them tell me what to do. Oh, absolve me of my sin! Take my hand and lead me to the altar so I can worship God!”

But Samuel refused: “No, I can’t come alongside you in this. You rejected God’s command. Now God has rejected you as king over Israel.”

Don’t you just feel gutted for Saul here? His blatant disobedience has cost him his place as king.

What a lesson for us all. We can be so caught up in how we are perceived, what people think of us and it is all a form of pride.

Pride is one of our greatest enemies, one that can even take out a king. God has called you to be a king, a leader and a ruler in your area of influence but as easily as he called you, he can just as easily get someone else to fulfil your dreams if you do not obey.

Samuel’s words propel the reader to listen to God, do what He tells us and to keep this as our focus. Failing to do this, he says is worse than witchcraft or communing with the dead. A harsh reality, right?

Although Saul is repentant, it’s too late. His people-pleasing and pride leads to his downfall. Don’t let that be your fate. Follow God’s promptings.