The Birthplace of Your Miracle

Easter is all about a cross, a cave and a resurrection. Easter is all about the birthplace of a miracle.

When Jesus triumphantly emerged from the tomb that was a cave, He was the ultimate declaration of a Biblical principle that touches the life of us all. Jesus is the resurrection and the life! (John 11:25)

As the sun was darkened and the cruel reality of the cross seemed to annihilate His ministry and His call, it seemed like it was all over. And then came the darkness of the cave.

  • For Elijah, the cross was the persecution of a woman named Jezebel. It drove him into a cave. (Read the story in 1 Kings 19)
  • For David, the cross was the murderous pursuit of Saul. It drove him into a cave. (1 Samuel 22)
  • For Lazarus, the cross was a fatal illness. It drove him into a cave. (John 11)

But, my friends, it was not final! When you serve the God of resurrection, your cave becomes the birthplace of your miracle.

  • Elijah emerged from the cave as one who appointed kings.
  • David emerged from the cave as a man ready to rule as king.
  • Lazarus emerged from the cave as a man who had conquered death because of the command of the King.
  • Jesus emerged from the cave as the King of Kings!

Let me encourage you: the next time you find yourself in a dark place or a cave, look up with anticipation. It is the place where kings are forged! Why? Because it is not final!

As you respond to Father with a fully surrendered heart, the darkness of that cave becomes the birthplace of an infinitely greater season. For many of you reading this, this is resurrection morning. This is the birthplace of your miracle!

A New Destination

Father wants to put fresh, new spiritual destinations in your heart, along with a compelling purpose for pursuing them. God has a new destination for you – this is a time to be listening!

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’ (Isaiah 43:19)

The Hebrew word ‘wilderness’ means, ‘a vast open field where cattle are driven’, ‘uninhabited land’, or ‘large tracts of open land and pasture’.

The picture is of someone herding cattle like a drover and discovering uninhabited, vast plains of land that are virgin territory. However, the thought is not that of dryness. Quite the opposite! ‘A road in the wilderness’ speaks of a place where there is an abundance of food for cattle. Settlers can come and prosper in a new land. The ‘wilderness’ speaks of new territory. Expansive new territory – a new destination!

Father clearly spoke to me one morning a number of years ago and said: “I want the rest of your life as a blank sheet of paper.” I was amazed, as I sincerely considered that was the case already. However, over a period of a few weeks He showed me how subtle the nature of our desires can be. Indeed, our view of the future can be influenced by our knowledge of the past. I had to discover a place of complete surrender, with no qualifications attached. What an incredible sense of anticipation then flooded my heart!

So, if you feel as though you are facing a wilderness, take courage. The promise of God is that He will give you a ‘road’ that will cause that wilderness to become accessible and a place of great fruitfulness.

Can I encourage each one of you to take some time aside to present yourself afresh before the Lord to hear from Him.  Bring your own blank sheet of paper to see what exciting new things He would write upon it for your future. Of one thing I am certain: He has a remarkable and fruitful new era for each one of us, if we dare to embrace it.

Man looking out over a lake pondering his influence

Influence or Success

God is calling us to be people of greater influence. We are all called to be godly influencers, regardless of our calling or title. We cannot make disciples without influencing others! But we can easily lose our focus on influence and instead look towards success.

The world’s focus is on success, and this focus is on self.

Success means: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of popularity or profit, a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

One of the evidences of success is growth; you have more of something and its bigger and better. This was not Jesus’ focus nor His example to us. It says in John 6:66, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

Jesus had many disciples and when He began to share some challenging thoughts, many left Him. His many followers got whittled down to twelve. Of those twelve, one repeatedly cursed and denied knowing Him, another was characterised by doubt, others were known to argue with each other about their importance and who would get the best seat in heaven, one was stealing from the organisations finances and ended up betraying Jesus and committing suicide. At His point of greatest need, they all deserted Him. He was not, as man would define it, a person of great success!

However, God’s focus is on influence, and this focus is on others. Consider these scriptures:

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Matthew 20:28 “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Influence means: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself, the power to shape policy.

While success equals gain, influence equals change. Jesus came to influence people’s lives, not to be a successful person. Leadership and influence are about us adding to others by giving, while success is about us achieving for ourselves by getting.

Jesus saw the problem in people’s lives, and He added the solution!

Jesus saw death so He came to add life. Jesus saw worthlessness so He came to add value. Jesus saw fear so He came to add love. Jesus saw worry so He came to add peace. Jesus saw hopelessness so He came to add hope.

Jesus literally changed environments, cultures and people’s lives by influencing them – by adding to them by giving.

The woman caught in adultery was feeling condemned. Jesus saw this and added acceptance, and by doing so, removed condemnation. The Samaritan woman at the well was feeling unworthy to be loved because five men had left her. Jesus saw this and added love and honour, and by doing so, subtracted unworthiness. After denying Jesus three times, Peter felt disqualified and unworthy. Jesus saw this and added acceptance and a fresh commissioning.

Like Jesus, we are always adding to or removing things from people’s lives. So, what are you adding to people’s lives and what are you subtracting? There were times in difficult conversations with others that I added frustration, anger and careless words, and by doing so, subtracted honour, respect and value. The reason I did this was because I felt I was right; therefore I focused on achieving for myself by getting the upper hand. I wanted to be successful in this argument.

But there have also been times when I added gentleness, honour, patience and respect. When my focus was on adding to others and selfless giving, I removed anger, frustration and hurt. I wanted to be influential in this conversation; to love them like Jesus does.

God is calling us all to be people of greater influence. So, in your everyday life, when you see a lack in people’s lives, add the opposite. When you see criticism, add some encouragement. If you recognise hopelessness, add some hope. Look to be influential, rather than successful. When you go up – that’s success. But when you help others go up – that’s influence.

God's light breaking over the horizon

God of Light

God is a God of light, not a God of darkness. In a world where so much darkness abounds, this is a much-needed truth that we need a revelation of. We need to get our theology from God’s Word.

1 John 1:5-7 says, This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

God is a God of absolutes. This scripture says that ‘in Him, there is no darkness at all’. There is far too much dilution, pollution and contamination when it comes to our view of darkness and light. It is not politically correct to talk in absolutes, but it is biblically imperative and theologically accurate. It’s not about being dogmatic – it is about truth.

God is a God of light, not a God of darkness. It says that if we walk with God, then we will not continue to walk in darkness. This is not talking about people who made a decision once or prayed a prayer once. It is describing people who actually walk in fellowship and friendship with God. It is not talking about having moments of making wrong choices. It is talking about people who continually walk in darkness.

Jesus is the Light of the World, and if we are truly walking with Him, we will walk in the light.

1 John 1:8-10 states, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.

This scripture is a good reminder that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). To claim to not sin is pride and this displeases God. Acknowledging our sins ‘as sins’ is imperative to walking in freedom. Ignoring them or watering them down is always to our detriment.

Our freedom comes, not from perfection, but from Christ. And that freedom is released through taking responsibility for our sins and asking Jesus to forgive us. Yes, we have all sinned. This is a reality. But we also all have a Saviour who wants to forgive us, cleanse us and give us life to the full!

Praise God that He is the God of Light and that we can walk with Him in the light.

Woman with two hands full of fruit

One Handful or Two

I have found myself at times chasing many things. And they may have been good things – related to family, ministry, or church life. But as a bit of an over-achiever, I can easily find myself with too much on my plate. I say yes out of enthusiasm to help others, which can result in feeling worn out or depleted.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says, “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

God asked me one day, “What do you have in your hand?” And when I answered the question honestly, I realised that it was not just one handful that I was carrying, but actually I had both hands full. And my hands were full to overflowing. I was so busy doing things for God that I had been distracted from chasing after God himself.

When I was younger, my Dad used to have a bit of fun when offering us certain foods – such as a slice of cake or slice of cheese. He would ask whether we wanted a one-handed slice or a two-handed slice. Of course, if my friends were around, they would always ask for a two-handed slice – it sounded like it was going to be so much bigger and so much better! But in fact, a two-handed slice was so thin and fragile that it needed to be held with both hands. It would crumble at a moment’s notice. The one-handed slice was the one you really wanted – it was thick and stable and easily held in one hand.

When both our hands are so full of stuff in our lives, it is like that two-handed slice. Life seems like it will be so much better when we have two hands full – but in fact, too much and our lives feel thin and as if things would easily crumble. We end up chasing after the wrong things, and it takes all of our energy to ensure that things don’t fall apart. But we don’t want to drop the ball or let people down, so we keep straining to juggle our many responsibilities. As a result, our life feels unstable and uncertain.

When I chase after many things that are not in God’s plan, I lose my tranquillity. I forfeit that inner state of being calm and settled. I end up toiling and working so hard I lose my joy. And if we are honest, amidst the many good things in our lives, we can end up a slave to what seem to be good things. But too many seemingly good things are not always right if they are not in God’s plan.

Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus teaches us not to worry about tomorrow, and to seek Him first. God’s ways are always higher than our ways. If we stick to one handful of the things in life, we have the other hand free – to hold God’s hand. To allow Him to lead and guide us. To ensure that we have the margin and space in our day to hear His voice and be led by His Spirit. With one hand full, our lives are stable and secure in Him. And with just one hand full, we also have the other hand free to help others along the way as He directs.

So, allow Father to speak into what you have in your hands. Don’t get caught up in meaningless toil – live your life with one handful, not two.

Philippians 1:6 (The Living Bible) “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

The cross of Calvary

The Anointed One

Jesus Christ is the anointed one. He is the Messiah, our deliverer, our Saviour, and our King.

Matthew 1:1 in the NKJV states, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” When we look at the name Christ, it mainly points to two words and they are ‘Messiah’ and ‘anointed’ (Strong’s g5547).

In the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘Messiah’ is defined as ‘the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible’. It goes further than this and names Jesus; ‘Jesus regarded by Christians as the Messiah of the Hebrew prophecies and the Saviour of humankind’.

This is true – Jesus is the Deliverer and the Saviour – but this is not predominantly what the word ‘Messiah’ means in the Bible.

The word ‘Messiah’ only appears twice in scripture (Daniel 9:25-26), and it means ‘anointed’ (Strong’s h4899). The word ‘anointed’ appears many times in scripture, and it is the primary meaning of the name ‘Christ’. Why is this so important?

The following verses are what Jesus said about Himself when He quoted Isaiah 61:1-2:

Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV) “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

The word ‘anoint’ here, when referring to Jesus, means ‘through the idea of contact; to smear or rub with oil, i.e. by implication, to consecrate to an office or religious service’ (Strong’s g5548). This is powerful!

It also means ‘consecrating Jesus to the Messianic office, and furnishing Him with the necessary powers for its administration’ (Strong’s g5548). Wow! Jesus was sent from His Father to be the ‘Messiah’ (everything contained in the name ‘Jesus’) He was empowered to do everything He did because He was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38).

Jesus is anointed with power and authority. He is The Anointed One!

Sun rising over the promised land

We Shall Reign

Although entering the Promised land was a wonderful, long-awaited day for Israel, there was one snag; the giants were still there! Why?

Was there a reason God did not destroy these giants after seeing His people wandering in the desert for forty years? Why risk yet another generation being turned back by their intimidation and size? Surely God knew of the battles that would have to be fought, the constant challenges to faith that His people would be presented with. The sword and the spear seemed to be such a contrast to a “land flowing with milk and honey” as promised.

This is where we must understand God’s objective, for it is the same today with all of us. From the very beginning of time, God has always had the power to destroy the devil and his hordes. There has never been a time when the Lord and His angels could not have hurled every demon into the lake of fire and left them there. Our God is sovereign, and His authority is absolute.

Why then has He tolerated this sin-infested world and the demons that so ravage it?

The answer is found in knowing God’s ultimate intention for those of humanity that have chosen to serve Him as undisputed Lord. If we are ever to be the overcomers that we all desire to be, that will not be because the Lord has removed the potential of conflict from our path. It is quite the opposite. It is the very process of being confronted and having to decide to exercise our God-given authority in prayer that develops that spiritual dominion within us.

Consider the clear declaration of these scriptures:

Revelations 5:10  “And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
Revelations 20:6  “…and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
2 Timothy 2:12  “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him”.

The capacity to reign, the spiritual authority to rule, is not a gift; it is a developed spiritual muscle. It is only as we exercise it that it matures. If we see this clearly, we realise why it was so necessary for those giants to be left alive, awaiting God’s people. Let me declare it simply and plainly: Our adversaries exist to be conquered by you and I! They are our fuel for growth.

It also tells us why Jesus did not remove all evil from the Earth at the time of His triumph at Calvary. There is no dispute that Our King utterly annihilated Satan’s legal rights to rule and express evil on the Earth.

It says in Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (the cross). Matthew 28:18 tells us, And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

It is in the next statement in Matthew 28:19 that says it all: “Go ye therefore”! In other words, Jesus is saying, “I paid the price to purchase all dominion and rule, but you must now enforce that and see it acknowledged on a daily basis by the enemies of the kingdom.” The legal document that guarantees us our potential victory over the flesh and the devil is the declared Word of God. It alone is the truth.

Our past failures and the accusations of the enemy can be highly persuasive, and they are often very convincing lies. But the tragedy is that everything that is human in us reaches out to accept their logic and the apparent reasonableness of their suggestions.

At times it can be a major challenge to believe in God’s integrity and that of His Word, turn your back on all that persuasive human reasoning, and declare: “we are more than conquerors through Christ!”  (Romans 8:37) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens [empowers] me.”  (Philippians 4:12-14)

Does it take faith? Absolutely. But He has already placed that faith within you. It is by your decision that you must draw upon that faith and determine to live by it. It is as you cry out to Him in prayer and claim the power of His Word that faith is released. Such an overcoming life is not for a few elite superstars but for everyday followers of Jesus like you and me.

Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”

woman humbly sitting on a rock

Humility and Righteousness

What is the connection between our humility and our righteousness? Let’s look at the life of Jesus.

Matthew 3:13-15 says, Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptised by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

The Eternal Word and Son of God came to his natural cousin to be baptised. What a picture of humility!  John understandably kicked back against this because he knew that Jesus was far greater than who he was. John had received a revelation that his cousin was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. But Jesus knew that this was His Father’s will; that this needed to be done to fulfil all righteousness.

For each of us, humility declares “I am not good enough in and of myself. I need God.” For all of us, humility is an essential doorway to walk through and lifestyle to live if we are going to truly walk with God.

For Jesus, humility was a little different because He was good enough; He was sinless, and therefore, He was perfect. For Jesus, humility was putting aside His will, His desires and His rights for the sake of His Father’s will to be done. For us, this is also an essential element to humility; a submission of our will to our Father’s will. But how is humility connected to righteousness?

The word ‘righteousness’ means ‘a condition acceptable to God, the state of being as we ought to be’ (Strong’s g1343). Jesus knew that being baptised by His cousin John was His Father’s will. Therefore, submitting to His will and doing what His Father said was an expression of His righteousness.

Now let’s lean back into the fact that Jesus was baptised by His natural cousin, and combine it with the following statement by Jesus in Mark 6:4: But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

Jesus knew that people often miss God speaking and moving due to over-familiarity with the vessel through whom God is speaking and ministering. This happened continually with Jesus. And this is why it is so powerful that Jesus was baptised by His natural cousin John. Jesus saw John as His Father saw John, not just how His natural childhood experiences saw him. John also saw Jesus as He was, not just as His cousin. This shows the humility of John too.

Is there someone in your family or in your close friends that is Father’s intended vessel to speak to you and minister to you? Are you missing out on Father’s will because you see “them” as “just them”?

Humility is needed for all righteousness to be fulfilled in our lives. It was true of Jesus. It was true of John. It is true for all of us.

Just Three Words From Jesus

God is speaking all the time. He speaks in parables and stories, in statements and prophecies, in mysteries great and unsearchable. But Father also speaks with clarity and precision. And just three words that God speaks can be the very declaration that we need to hear right now.

We are all called to live a prophetic life. And the description of living a prophetic life is to hear God clearly and communicate Him accurately. But when we consider the prophetic, are we missing what God is saying because we are overlooking what God is placing right before us? Are we looking for a great and mighty prophecy and missing His voice because we mistakenly believe that the lengthier something is, the more impacting it will be?

Some of the most powerful moments in Jesus’ life were summed up in just three words. At the start of His ministry, Jesus finds Simon Peter and Andrew fishing, and with just three words His command changed the direction of their lives: “Come, follow me.” While being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus rebukes the enemy with just three words, “It is written” and uses the power of the Word to overcome temptation. When a man with leprosy comes to Jesus to ask if He will make him clean, Jesus says just three words, “I am willing” and then heals him. While the disciples are freaked out by the wild weather which has blown up on the lake, Jesus calms the storm with just three words, “Quiet! Be still.”

Upon the cross of Calvary, Jesus, who was giving up his perfect, sinless life for the salvation of humanity, says just three words, “It is finished.” Peter, wonderful impulsive Peter, who loved Jesus so much and yet who also disowned Him before He was crucified, was given his calling and purpose for life in just three words, “Feed my sheep.” And many of the simplest, yet most profound commands we hear from Jesus are summed up in three words: “Love one another”, “Remain in Me”, “Do not judge”, “Watch and pray,” “Do not worry”.

Focusing on just three words is not a principle to be followed or a rule to measure whether God is speaking or not. Jesus spoke for three chapters non-stop in Matthew when delivering the Sermon on the Mount. The entire Bible, all 66 books which are inspired by the Holy Spirit, is God speaking to us. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” The length of how many words God says to you in a particular moment is not the point. The point is that God is always speaking – through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through other believers, through creation.

When it comes to hearing God’s voice, He will speak to us with exactly what we need. Never underestimate the power of what God is saying because of the length of the words or the vessel that it is delivered through. In fact, the simplicity of just three words can burn in your heart and come back to your mind time and time again when you need encouragement in your faith.

Whether it is three words, a paragraph, or a chapter – Father is always speaking. So, when the Holy Spirit whispers something to your heart, don’t discount it just because it appears simple. When a phrase is highlighted to you from the Bible, meditate and press in to hear His voice. When you receive a word of encouragement or a scripture from a friend, listen to what God is saying. Bigger is not always better. Longer is not always loftier. God knows best – let’s allow His Words to change our lives.

Alarm clock that is set to just before noon

Never Too Late

There are times when we feel like God is too late. Our challenges have become overwhelming, and that answer to prayer still hasn’t come. There is a depth of experiencing God in pain and travail that transcends anything we know in times of rejoicing.  These are the ‘wells in the desert’; the ‘treasures discovered in darkness’. These are the moments in which all pretence and all insincerity are stripped away; and in a state of spiritual and emotional nakedness, we stand before God unashamed and desperate for His love.

The intimacy possible in such times does not depend upon emotional highs nor sensations of well-being; it is a deep inner awareness of being loved by our Father, of being held in His embrace of unconditional acceptance and care.

When no argument is convincing, when no evidence is apparent, there comes the assurance of an unreasonable faith: ‘My Father loves me!’ The beauty and depth of character forged in such times will remain with us forever and will become a well of life for others to drink from, others who are questioning their time of difficulty or transition.

Friends, all of life is made up of seasons, and seasons demand a transition from one to the other, that insert of scary vulnerability.  Perhaps some of you can identify an area in which you are undergoing such a transition right now: vocation, marriage, ministry, finance, relationships, or even in who and what God wants you to be. For all of you, I have a word of encouragement from the Lord; and I want you to keep it before you.

It is never too late! You are birthing a new day of promise! God has not forgotten you, and you are going from bearing fruit to bearing extravagant fruit. Your promise is on its way and it is God’s intention that it will come right on time.

Jeremiah 33:1-3 says, ‘Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying, “Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Now, for some of you that feel your difficult season has gone on for a little too long and the devil has suggested it is too late now for you. In John 11, we read about Mary and Martha’s grief at the loss of their brother Lazarus. They thought it was too late!

John 11:21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” It appeared that this was one transition that had gone on too long.  The subject had died! Martha is saying, “If you had only intervened earlier, we would not have gone through this death experience.” But Jesus declares that it is NEVER too late! Mary and Martha were about to witness a resurrection!

The Lord allowed this delay because Lazarus had not only a message to deliver but a message to become.  Jesus knew that when he came out of that tomb, he will be the message!  A message no one will be able to refute nor deny.

Friends, God always has a purpose.  We must learn to trust Him. It is never too late.