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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!

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.

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.

Man praying on a beach about God's will

Not My Will

There are times when we desire something different to what God wants.

Jesus was perfect and sinless, but He also had times of desiring something different to what His Father’s plan required of Him. At times, Jesus had a conflict of wills with His Father. Now this might sound wrong and terrible, but I need you to keep on leaning in with me.

By its very definition, a conflict of wills simply means ‘opposing desires’. Let’s look at this well-known verse: Luke 22:42 (NIV) “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus always wanted to please His Father, and spiritually He wanted to do His Father’s will, but He had moments where naturally He wanted to do something different.

Jesus wouldn’t have said, “Not My will” If His will was to do what His Father was asking Him to do. This is not something metaphoric; Jesus desired something different to His Father in this moment. What does this mean for us? Jesus had to submit His will to His Father’s will, which means, there were moments when His will was different to His Father’s will. We want a removal of an opposing desire, but as we see from Jesus’ example, it is about submitting an opposing desire and saying NO to it, and about saying “Yes” to our Father’s desire. Oh how this is so important to see clearly!

Too many times the enemy who is a thief throws accusations at us to do with opposing desires to God’s will. Our struggle is “How could I want that if I love my Father!” Jesus wanted something different (an easier, less painful way) to what His Father required. Sure, we put degrees on it and say, “Yeah, but that wasn’t a temptation to sin; a desire to do the wrong thing”.

No, in this case it wasn’t a desire to do something wrong…or was it? Isn’t sin ‘missing the mark’? And isn’t ‘missing the mark’ simply doing something different to Father’s perfect will? If so, Jesus was tempted to sin in this moment, just like you and I are tempted at times. It might look different, but at its core, it is an opposing desire to Father’s will; that is a temptation to sin.

And this was not the only time Jesus was tempted to sin.

Today I want to encourage you to not condemn yourself for being tempted with an opposing desire to God’s desire. It’s what you do with that desire that is the important thing.  Having an opposing desire to God’s plan is not the problem! This is what temptation is, and temptation is not wrong. Giving into the opposing desire is the problem!

Lucifer had an opposing desire to God’s plan, and he gave into it. Adam & Eve had an opposing desire to God’s plan, and they gave into it. King David had an opposing desire to God’s plan, and he gave into it. Peter has an opposing desire to God’s plan, and he gave into it. You and I have opposing desires to God’s plan, and sometimes we give into them.

Jesus had opposing desires to God’s plan, but He never gave into it! “Oh, but Steve, that was easier for Jesus because He was perfect and He was the Son of God.” Jesus wrestled so much that He sweated drops of blood; this is how anguished He was over His decision and what was required of Him!!!!

The truth is, you and I can always say YES to God and NO to temptation. Like you, I don’t “feel” like I can, but that’s not the truth of God’s Word. Not my will, but God’s will.

Read more about surrendering to God when we need to trust and let go in the seasons of life.

Woman reading her bible

Whatever We Do

Following the life and example of Jesus can be a hard act to follow. Or is it? Can we be so radically transformed by the goodness of God that whatever we do brings honour to the Father?

Colossians 3:17 says, And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In this verse, I see two filters that should be applied to everything that we say and do. These two filters can be summed up in two statements. Firstly, it says, ‘do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus’. If we can’t apply Jesus’ Name (His reputation) to what we are about to say or do, then we shouldn’t say it or do it.

So, here’s the first statement that I find myself meditating on more and more: “If Jesus wouldn’t say it or do it, then I won’t say it or do it.” This is easy to say, but it is much more difficult to apply. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us. The good news is that He longs to do just that.

The second filter can be summed up in this very challenging statement: “If I can’t give thanks to God for what I am about to say or do, then I won’t say it or do it.” Everything that we say or do should be something that we believe Jesus would say or do, and something that we can give thanks to God for. You might be thinking, “But Steve, that’s too high a standard, and more than just a little too fanatical!”

Naturally speaking (and that is an important clarification), I agree. But we are not created and called to live by what we naturally think or what the world tells us is right and wrong! Let me put this thought and question to us all today: “If we think that comparing ourselves to Jesus is too high a standard, who do we compare ourselves to in order to get our standard validated?” Other people’s standards must never be the measure of my standards.

Jesus’ standards (evidenced by the life He lived) are to be the measure of my standards. And to do this, we need to care more about Father’s thoughts than people’s thoughts. If we are going to live like Jesus did, then we need to move past the fear of man. I am realising more and more, that the fear of man is not based on a guaranteed outcome. Many times, the fear that we have of other people’s opinions are not what they actually think. Therefore, the fear of man that is based on other people’s opinions is actually based on other people’s possible opinion.

And as I meditate on this, here’s what I felt prompted to write: “Other people’s possible opinions about me are nowhere near as important as Father’s stated thoughts about me!” Please read that again.

My friends, I want to see the grip of fear of what others may think be completely broken this year in all of our lives! May our confidence and security come from what Father has said about us! I want to leave you to meditate on these two statements and seek to apply them to all that you say and do:

“If Jesus wouldn’t say it or do it, then I won’t say it or do it.”

“If I can’t give thanks to God for what I am about to say or do, then I won’t say it or do it.”

May our lives, in whatever we do, bring glory to the Father.

A dove representing the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit Power

We live in a time when too many Christians accept such a small part of what God intends for our new life in Christ. We also live in a time when so many (myself included far too often) try hard to be good, rather than be filled to overflowing with the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:11-12 says, I (John the Baptist) indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

This scripture can be a little confusing, yet because it is one of the first mentions of what Jesus will do, I feel it is important to look to see what God is saying. As I pause and listen, I see two things: Firstly, all that God wants to accomplish in our lives is through the power of the Holy Spirit, not through our best efforts. Secondly, God wants to do a thorough and truly transforming work in us, not just a slight improvement.

The work of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit is a thorough clean out work. We need a deeper revelation of this in our lives. But we also need a deeper revelation of why Jesus wants to thoroughly clean out the chaff of our lives.

Freedom is the reason Jesus is an all-or-nothing Saviour. He has no desire to simply improve our present reality and our spiritual condition. Sure, we might measure our lives compared to some other people and think we are not too bad. But compared to a holy, righteous and perfect God, well, we all miss the mark terribly.

And this is why Jesus came! He came to remove restrictions, to remove barriers and to remove obstacles! He came to pay the price, tear down the veil, disarm the devil and usher us boldly into God’s throne of grace! He came to live as a man, sinless, reliant on the Holy Spirit, in communion with His Father and as a tangible example of this new life He was purchasing for us!

All of this is done by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Present Possession

We all want to walk with freedom in our lives. But do we really understand our present possession in Christ?

Jesus is our present possession as true Christians. Sometimes as Christians, we live too much in a future anticipation for what Jesus has legally provided for us now. If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then we have received salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

Our spiritual address has shifted from death to life (Romans 6:11). Our spiritual identity has changed from slave to son (Romans 8:15, Galatians 5:25, John 15:15). This has happened! It is done! It is finished! It is ours now!

Yes, there is a work of sanctification and renewing that continues to take place, but the legal requirement has been met in Jesus, and salvation is our present possession in Him! Jesus is our present possession.

Jesus is also our future salvation: One day, Jesus will bring freedom from the penalty, power, presence and pleasure of sin. What Jesus accomplished on the cross was not incomplete or insufficient, but we still live in a world where the enemy is at work and his influence is seen and felt by many.

But one day, this will change! The enemy’s time is short! He is a defeated foe, and one day he will also be banished!

Then, our present possession will take on an even deeper level of completeness as evil ceases to be present in our reality and where there will be no obstructions or obstacles in any form!

Revelation 21:4 says, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (NKJV)

Glory, majesty, awe, wonder, and the deepest, purest form of worship and intimacy will be our eternal joy and pleasure!!! Oh what a glorious day! Praise God for our present possession of salvation! Praise God for our future salvation!

I encourage you to take a few minutes to thank God for what He has done for you.