Tuesday, 3 June 2014

God is at work, even in our darkest hours! ... 1 Samuel 28-30.

Saul was about to die.  David was in a really difficult position because he was required to go to battle against his own people.  He was there because he didn't trust in God's protection and stay in the Land God had promised.  And, we are meant to see that David could not have known that Saul was about to die ... it was revealed to Saul, far away at night.

Despite David's foolishness in being in this position, God arranged it that the other Philistine commanders should cause David to be sent away so he didn't have to fight against God's people.  Wow! ... God was at work protecting David and keeping him from the disastrous consequences of a foolish decision.  With what praise must David have been travelling back to Ziklag, where he was living amongst the Philistines!

But, just as they arrived back at Ziklag he found disaster ... the Amalekites had taken Ziklag and burnt it, taking all David and his men's possessions, their wives and children - everything.  It looked like total disaster!  They wept until they were exhausted with weeping.

David did the right thing - he enquired of the Lord.  And God told him to pursue after the Amalekites.

Well a lot of things happened, including finding a slave who the Amalekites just happened (!!) to leave behind who could tell them where they had gone.  So, David and his men came upon the Amalekites and not only took back their wives and children and all the things that had been taken from them, but also destroyed the Amalekites and took all the other plunder that the Amalekites had taken from many places.

Now, disaster turned into triumph.  But it was a triumph far, far greater than they even then could understand.

You see, David didn't know, but in 1 Sam 28 Saul had been told that he had failed by not destroying the Amalekites ... but David unwittingly did all that Saul hadn't done during this attack - the Amalekites were destroyed!

David didn't know that Saul had fallen in battle, but in defeating the Amalekites David was able to take the plunder the Amalekites had taken from Judah back to the people of Judah.  Now, as it happened, they were just about to start looking for the next King!  David didn't know it, but God was paving the way for David to find even greater favour in their eyes and be made King.

And David didn't know it, but God wanted him and his men to move from Ziklag back to God's promised land so he could become King ... and in the Philistine attack their homes in Ziklag had been destroyed, but God had now given them riches enough to re-establish back in Israel!

So, in the apparent disaster upon disaster that came from decisions that David shouldn't have made, God did far, far more than David could imagine or even see in the circumstances he was in.

David still had many tough years before he became King of Israel and defeated all the enemies.  But, in all the disaster of Ziklag, God was mightily at work and was preparing for the fulfilment of His promises to David and His Kingdom purposes for Israel and for our Salvation!

We need to know this in our disasters - God has far, far greater plans for us than we can possibly imagine!  Our present disasters are only a part of His greater triumphs, and He is still working things out, even in the disasters, in much greater ways than we could ever work out for ourselves.

How we need to see His greatness, trust in His sovereignty, rest in His purposes - even [particularly!] in the darkest times of our life.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

We have an Intercessor - Job 16:19-21

JOB 16:19-21 NIV

"Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.   My intercessor is my friend  as my eyes pour out tears to God;   on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend."

These are incredible words!

The preceding chapters have made it clear that it was God who permitted all that happened to Job, and though the actions were all Satan's doing (Job 1:12), God Himself says that He did it (Job 2:3) - God does not divorce His permission to Satan from His own sovereign rule. So, when Job, with spiritual wisdom, starts his discourse in Job 16, he rightly acknowledges that it was God who was over the terrible destruction and less that knew.

But, Job knows God as his Saviour.  And so this is not a complaint!  He can't understand why, he can't see why, but He is not daunted by or turned from God because of the terrors he has endured. Rather, because we knows deeply that his God is also his Saviour, He rests in God and His love.

Looking to Jesus, he recalls that he has an advocate! Beautifully he proclaims loudly 'my intercessor is my friend!'; he recalls that, though all earthly helpers have let him down, his Saviour pleads for him!

How we need to have our eyes set on Jesus like Job did! Jesus told us clearly that 'in this world you will have trouble'. But we are not left alone! He goes on to tell us 'but I have overcome the world'. And in our trouble and difficulty our overcomer is also our intercessor! I am never 'on my own'. He is continually speaking on my behalf to His Father who loves me with the same love. If only my eyes would see this and know the security that is mine in God my Father, Jesus my Saviour and His Spirit who is His presence, power and guarantee within! Then my heart would also cry out 'My intercessor is my friend!'

Friday, 24 January 2014

When I think 'I know best' - Gen 17:15-19

GEN 17:15-19 NIVUK
God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’   Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’   Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
In some areas of life I am sure that I know my limitations. For example, I know that I can have a go at fixing minor things in my car, but if the garage tell me that the gear box is failing, I know that it's a job for them, not me. In fact, truth be told, even the minor jobs on the car are better left to the experts!
Isn't it strange, then, that I'm so foolish with how I react to what God says? God shows me clearly in His word what is wrong in my life, and He clearly tells me not only how He has already dealt with it in Jesus, but also how to live for Him in His strength as I go on. Yet, what do I do? I start working on my own way ahead, my own self-improvement programmes, my own ways of sorting things out. The reality is that like Abraham, I'm looking at God's way, telling myself it's impossible, and then telling God how He should do it!
It's really foolish if I stopped to think. Abraham thought that there was no way that Sarah could have a child, yet he had forgotten that it was our Creator who was promising him a child through Sarah. Abraham thought that a man's feeble mind could think through the problem and come up with the best solution, but he forgot that we are so finite and yet God who shows us the way to go is infinite in His wisdom. 
And what trouble Abraham's way has brought to many people through history. The consequences of his lack of trust in God continue to be felt today.
Yet God is so gracious... Even those other nations were used by Him to train His people in the way they should go. Our foolishness and sin never defeats His sovereignty! 
But we need to heed the warning... How I need to learn never to tell God what His way should be. Rather I need to bow my knees before Him, no matter how difficult or impossible His way may seem, and simply say 'Your will be done' and then get up to walk in His way by His strength.