Numbers 24:12-13 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak’?
In Israel’s journey through the wilderness, Balaam the prophet was asked to prophesy a curse against Israel by Balak, the king of Moab because the king feared God’s people. The king believed that Balaam’s prophetic declarations had power to change natural circumstances and if Balaam would prophesy destruction against Israel, it would come to pass. The king offered riches to Balaam to prophesy a curse and the context of the story suggests Balaam wrestled with the request in his heart. However, for Balaam, silver and gold wasn’t as important as obeying and honouring God’s will both for his own life and for Israel. Everyone of us will face moments in our lives where we will have to decide between following our will or God’s will. Temptations will come to compromise on the conviction of God’s will in our own hearts. There is something greater than silver and gold and more important than satisfying the desires of our own will and that is living in the centre of God’s will for our lives. I want to encourage you, no matter what the temptation, the next time you wrestle between obeying God’s will or following your own will, stay true to what God is calling you to do and let God take care of your rewards. Selah!
Acts 13:12 “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”In Acts 13, Barnabas and Saul are on Cyprus ministering but Elymas the magician, demonically inspired, is opposing their ministry and leading the proconsul away from hearing the gospel. Paul, filled with righteous indignation curses Elymas with blindness for a season and immediately darkness falls upon him. The proconsul witnessed first hand the miraculous power of the spirit and the demonstration of authority through the apostle Paul. Not only was he astonished in his teaching but he believed that Jesus was the Christ. No one wants resistance in life but opposition is often the catalyst for supernatural intervention. Many of us pray for miracles but miracles are needed because of the contradictions and paradoxes we encounter in life. Growth in the supernatural is often birthed out of an encounter with opposition that drives us closer to God in faith and prayer. See resistance from Gods perspective and watch God move mightily on your behalf as you boldly step out in faith. Explosive Insights!
Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyard. I ran from Sydney to Melbourne and raised $160k for my local church in 2008. It was a monumental challenge and was not helped by my little toe on my left foot turning black and getting pancaked for 1,172km. It didn’t matter how fit I was, the tiniest thing became my biggest issue. The same principle applies in life. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference and if you don’t pay attention to them, they will take you out. The challenge is many of us think we can take shortcuts with the little things and get away with it, however, you ignore them at your own peril. What are the little foxes in your world stealing the fruitfulness from your vineyard of life, work and health? Identify them and catch them before they spoil your vineyard.
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with them two. (Matthew 5:41)
Too easily we look at the problems in the world and throw our arms in the air, exclaiming, ‘What difference can I make?’ Its the 2nd mile that makes the biggest difference. Whats the 2nd mile? In Jesus day the Romans legislated a practice they borrowed off the Persians to subjugate the people they had conquered. If a Roman soldier saw a Jewish person, he could command them to carry their burden for up to a mile. Most Jews wouldn’t carry a Romans burden 1 inch further than the law required. Jesus said, ‘Go the 2nd mile’. Do more than what is expected of you. Give people more than they expect to receive and God will bless you with more than you expect to receive. The 1st mile is the legalism mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the love mile. The 1st mile is duty mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the devotion mile. The 1st mile is the service mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the intimacy mile. The 1st mile is the convenience mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the sacrifice mile. The 1st mile is the performance mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the worship mile. The 1st mile is the mundane mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the miraculous mile. Jesus went the 2nd mile on the cross and called us to go the 2nd mile for others.
Galatians 6:9 ‘Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due season you’ll reap, if you don’t lose heart.’
I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse in recent days. The reason is I’m training to compete in the Melbourne Ironman Triathlon in 2014. It’s a gruelling multi-sport, one day event that is filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth as competitors complete a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km marathon run just to finish you off.
Each day that I train for this event, as well as several half-Ironman races leading up to the big kahuna, I constantly have to keep coming back to this verse and remind myself to never give up. Every time I swim, bike, run, lift weights, eat healthy and focus on recovery, I have to keep the big picture in mind and remember that although I may endure pain and suffering for a moment, the end result of crossing that finish line is well worth it.
The Psalmist said it like this, ‘Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.’
The Apostle Paul in several of his letters used athletic imagery to point to spiritual principles relevant to all of us in the race of faith. Perhaps the most famous words Paul used in this context is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In summary Paul calls us to run the race of faith to win… Don’t run merely to finish but finish well. To do so requires focus and discipline, no matter what discouragement or temptation comes our way.
Running the race of faith requires us to get over our petty excuses and focus ourselves on seeing the race God has called us to right through to the very end. Everyone at some point thinks and feels like quitting and sadly some of us do and spend years living with the pain of regret. Don’t give into your flesh but stay the course. It will be worth it in the end, even if you’ve got to grit your teeth and push yourself through the discomfort.
God’s watching and perhaps your refusal to never give up could lead to your finest hour.
1 Kings 19: 3 ‘Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.’
Elijah is one the great men of God in history and one of the greatest prophets that ever walked the planet. He operated in such a high level anointing and saw many mighty miracles unfold in his generation. He was a man who had angels appear to him. He called down fire from heaven. He prayed and the rain stopped for 3 years. He prayed again and the rain started. His anointing enabled him to outrun a chariot. His cloak parted the waters and a heavenly chariot of horses swept him up and transported him to heaven. The dude had some serious game and he walked a higher path, and yet…
Elijah still struggled with fear and fatigue. In fact his fatigue post Mt Carmel caused him to behave in the most uncanny and uncharacteristic way. He made a mockery of the false gods of Baal. He slaughtered Baal’s false prophets. He challenged the people of Israel to stop vacillating between 2 opinions and take ownership of their faith in God. And yet…
When Queen Jezebel heard the report from her intimidated husband, Ahab, she sent Elijah a death threat and he ran for his life. Why? Cause even the great ones struggle.
Elijah ran off into the wilderness, left his servant behind, slept under a broom tree and pleaded with God to kill him. Fatigue in life and ministry will make you do weird and wacky things. When you are tired, you respond out of character to whom God has called and anointed you to be.
Elijah perceived that he was the only one standing for God and yet his own gross over-estimation of himself blinded him to those whom God had established as a remnant amongst his people. His moment of weakness caused him to see his own pride and comparison to his forefathers. The real issue was he was tired and his weariness caused him to run away in fear.
Someone reading this wants to run away from the frontline of what God has called you to. You are weary and fatigued and you are considering a course of action that will prove catastrophic to God’s purposes in your life. Don’t run away from the battle. Seek rest and refreshment in the presence of God but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. God’s bigger than the threats coming against you and can help you see through the obstacles that stand in your way. Recognize your state for what it is and don’t fall prey to the lies and deception of the enemy. God is with you and just like Elijah experienced, He will sustain you miraculously.
The word SHIFT means to change from one position to another or to move from where you are to where you need to be. Life and leadership requires shifts of all kinds at various moments in our journey if we are going to continue to grow and influence others toward a preferable future. One of the shifts I have personally had to embrace that I want to pass onto you is:
A PRESSURE shift from the comfortable to the chaotic
When I wasn’t leading people in the context of local church ministry, my life was less chaotic and more comfortable and yet when I answered the call of God to lead and preach, the pressure increased radically. It’s in response to the possibility of stress that people often back away from the call of God but keep in mind the only place where there is no stress in life is the cemetery. Life, let alone ministry is full of chaotic activity, especially, when you are seeking to live in the centre of God’s purpose for you.
The first thing that signals a transition into growing pains is an increase of pressure applied to your life. Life Pressure is the amount of force applied to such things as your schedule, relationships, work and finances. When going through a pressure shift, you will feel overwhelmed by what is being expected of you and as a result you will have a tendency to go to emotional extremes. When you feel like your spiritual insides are going to explode you will generally respond in 1 of 2 ways:
- Push harder, or
- Sideline yourself
Either option isn’t going to help you grow. I encourage you to go contrary to what you think should do and work a little less but spend more time with God to receive the spiritual energy you need to sustain the output required of you in your current capacity. Leadership, be it in the family or work context demands an increasing of capacity to keep growing.