Jesus set us right with God

In my lifegroup we are studying Romans. What a wonderful time we are having getting greater revelation of God’s grace, learning more about why and how Jesus set us right with God. Every week we are reminded that it’s all about God. Not us. It’s all about Who He is, and what He says about us.

Worship is not about us

What does worship mean to you? Recently I read this statement about worship. It reminded me that worship is not about us.

“Sometimes worship is difficult. We don’t want to praise God or hear God’s voice. Sometimes worship grabs us by the nape of the neck and shakes us up as we come face to face with an ineffable God. Sometimes worship is comforting as we bow down before a God who loves us and gave up everything for us. Sometimes worship is joyous as we praise God who does great things for our world. And sometimes worship is all those things at once. Worship should never be a passive experience, and it is never about us.” Postmodern Children’s Ministry – Ministry to children in the 21st Century, Ivy Beckwith, Page 151.

Let’s consider this phrase again …Worship should never be a passive experience, and it is never about us.

What did Jesus say?

When Jesus was being tested in the wilderness by the enemy Jesus reminded us of Who we are to focus our worship on.

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Luke 4:5-8 NKJV

Jesus’ words are very clear …

‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’

The Message Bible says it this way,

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” Luke 4:8 The Message

What is worship?

We can think about worship in many different ways. One of the ways we are probably most familiar with is the ‘singing time’ in church, which at the moment, due to COVID-19, has greatly dimished in the wake of social distancing rules.

I’m so grateful that our church has been able to meet again, in smaller numbers, and have a time of worship, albeit quite differently to what we are used to, but still a beautiful time of worshipping Jesus.

With the absence of the familiar corporate worship time during COVID, we have had to purposefully seek out and embrace alternatives to continue fellowshiping and drawing closer to God. So as with many aspects of our faith during this time of COVID, the small group gathering and our individual devotion time with Jesus has taken on a more central role.

Worship in the small group

For me, my early experiences of home-group / life-group involved a time of worship. While there was some singing during the worship, mostly it was a time of sitting in the presence of God, focusing on the words that declared truth about our Saviour. For example, Lord of All, Hillsong Worship

‘Lord I long to see you glorified
In everything I do
All my heartfelt dreams I put aside
To see your Spirit move with power in my life.

Jesus, Lord of all eternity
Your children rise in faith
All the earth displays your glory
And each word you speak brings life to all who hear.’

I’m grateful for those experiences and what I learned. They were one aspect of the equipping that enabled me to start a life-group in 2019, where we normally include a time of worship, sitting in the presence of God, with our heart and mind focused on Jesus, Lord of All.

God prepares the way

How perfect is that for today’s scenario of COVID-19 when singing has so many restrictions around it. I love how God goes before us, preparing us for what we need, before we know we need it.

And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV

Despite the social distancing restrictions, we can still listen to some anointed worship songs, lay down our concerns from the day and turn our hearts and minds towards God.

Here are a few of worship songs we play:

Find me at the feet of Jesus– Christy Nockels

What A Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship

Breathe/Rest (Spontaneous Worship) – Cory Ashbury

Goodness of God – Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson

You are for me – Kari Jobe

Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth

In these times though, when our experience of ‘church’ is a little different, I think it is important to pause and consider the wider definition of worship, and how we are living that out in our lives.

CompellingTruth.org has an interesting article, How can I worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth, refering to our response to John 4:23-24.

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 NLT

And here is the same scripture in The Passion Translation …

From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit*, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 TPT

A side note, or perhaps the key note when it comes to worshipping Jesus, … the footnote in The Passion Translation says,

*Or “God is breath,” or “God is wind.” Jesus refers to “Spirit” more than one hundred times in the four Gospels.

The transforming power of the Holy Spirit

The power of the Holy Spirit transforms us, over time, into more sincere worshippers of Jesus. His power transforms our lives so we become a reflection of God’s love – ie the fruit of the Spirit grows in us …

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Here is a more contemporary translation from The Message:

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22-23 The Message

Worship is not about us

So we have meandered from that original statement by Ivy Beckwith ….

Worship should never be a passive experience, and it is never about us.”

… to Jesus’ words in Luke 4:8 …

‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Luke 4:8 NKJV

… to Jesus’ words in John 4:24 …

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 NLT

… to Paul’s words about what happens in us when we allow the Holy Spirit transforms us …

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

We need to choose to engage in worship

So yes, worship is not about us, but we need to choose to engage in worship. We need to fully engage and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us through worship. Fully engaging means we continually choose to put Jesus first in our lives, acknowledging that He is Lord of All.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

Today, let’s choose to engage fully in worship, however that looks for us – singing, loving, serving, and through that worship allow the Holy Spirt to transform us to be more and more like Jesus in this place.

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

Listening to stories

During COVID-19 our business slowed down, so Ken and I took the opportunity to learn some new skills, specifically in relation to video recording. A week ago Ken told me about a one month challenge he was going to do with a group Live Streaming Pros, about telling stories and listening to stories.

The 31 Day Challenge

The challenge, 31 Days to being Youniquely you on camera, involves doing a live stream to a private Facebook group, speaking to a question/topic provided by Live Streaming Pros. For example, ‘What is holding you back?’

One of the important aspects of the group is the giving and receiving of encouragement to other group members, of which there is 543 globally. It is a fascinating environment with plenty of stories to listen to. There are lots of Christians in the group, learning how to tell their stories in a more effective way. Actually that’s why I decided to join Ken in this challenge, to improve my communication skills on video so I can more effectively share stories about Jesus.

However the other morning after I had completed a live stream, I was doing the dishes (because the mundane activities of life have to be done!) and was thinking about how interesting it was listening to people learning how to share their faith and their dreams etc in this group. And I felt God say to me, “I want you to listen to the other stories too and learn from them.”

Listen to the other stories

By ‘Other stories’ I knew God was referring to the people in the group who were obviously from other cultures and religions – remember this group has 543 people from all over the world who want to tell their stories more effectively, mostly with the goal of helping others.

This instruction from God about listening to the stories and learning from them, reminded me of recent messages I had heard at church in relation to The Stolen Generation (Donna Meehan) and Gender-related issues. How easy is it to only listen to the things that make us feel comfortable, rather than the stories that challenge our thinking and hopefully our actions.

So my response to God was, “Okay God, I will listen to the other stories too. Give me insight to hear what is being said and understand more about people. Please help me to listen with my heart.

Of course this ‘listening’ doesn’t only apply to the videos in the lifestreaming group, it applies to all areas of our lives.

Listening to my children

As a mum I haven’t always been a good listener, either because I have been too busy to listen, or I have already made assumptions about what I would hear from the mouth of my child, or about the scenario that has played out.

Over the years though I have learned that when I hear the words, ‘Mum’ it is best to stop and completely shift my attention to the person. Even if sometimes only to say, ‘I will just finish this job and then I can speak with you.’ Of course I am not perfect at this and sometimes its a couple of hours until I ‘finish the job!’ But most times I do try to respond with that initial acknowledgement.

Stopping making assumptions has been a little bit more challenging for me, especially as the children grow and change. Sometimes after my ‘assumption response’ they have had had to say to me, ‘Mum, I’m not like that anymore. I don’t do that now.’ And I’ve had to say sorry, and make a mental note to myself that they have changed. We can all be better listeners, especially with those closest to us.

But who is going to listen to me?

On the flipside, have you ever felt like, ‘Who is listening to me? I am listening to my husband, my children, etc, but who is taking time to listen to me?’

There is One who is always available to listen to us, and doesn’t make assumptions about what we are going to say. Yes, He knows us completely, but He listens graciously and loves us unconditionally.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
And you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

Psalm 139:1-4 TPT

How wonderful is it to know that. Before I go to sleep I can chat with Him, leave my concerns with Him …

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 TPT

When I wake up I can ask Him for direction for the day …

Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV

And then the onus is on me again – to listen to God’s teaching and instructions.

God, please help us to listen well

I wonder how much have we missed about life and people because we haven’t listened properly? At home? At school? At work? At church? In social settings? Are we listening to stories people want or need to tell us?

Let’s ask God today to help us to listen well, listen with our heart (bypassing all the assumptions), and listen for the actions God wants us to take in response to what we hear.

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

Being Content

In these interesting days, how are you going with ‘being content’ when things keep changing? Restrictions tighten and restrictions ease. We are unsure what tomorrow will look like.

Memories and grief surfacing

When the Coronavirus started impacting on Australia there was a few days where I struggled as grief surfaced from our daughter’s cancer journey. The continual hand santising was the trigger, a familiar practice during her 15 months of receiving chemotherapy.

And now when we are again on ‘high alert’ and restrictions are tightening, I am reminded of when we as a family were on ‘high alert’ or hypervigilant in relation to Victoria getting a high temperature (over 38 degrees) and having to go to hospital for at least three days. These emergency hospital visits happened many times and caused much anxiety and turmoil for each member of our family.

Warning: unashamed promo – if you want to read more about this part of our story, and God’s faithfulness throughout it, my book is available at wendyrobinson.com.au

What does it take to be content?

The current situation and memories of the past had me thinking about contentedness. How does one get to that state of contentedness regardless of what is going on in their lives or around them?

The Apostle Paul seemed to have found that place, as he explains to the Philippians…

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 NKJV

There is so much to meditate on in this passage of scripture. Let’s not forget where Paul was when he wrote this letter – prison, with the exact location unknown. He himself was undergoing hardship, however he was still able to maintain his focus on Christ and on others.

Keep focussed on the goal

Paul was focussed on a goal, regardless of his circumstances. He explains this to Philippians earlier in his letter.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 NLT

Remember, Paul is in prison when he wrote this letter. Plenty of restrictions and unknowns in his life at that time! But he keeps his focus on Christ and his mission.

John Maxwell says,

This letter proves that even while the apostle Paul sat in a foul Roman prison, he never lost his passion, his sense of mission, his sense of direction, or his command of the situation. While Paul remained an inmate of Rome, he couldn’t plant new churches as he felt called to do. Instead, he sat in chains, attached to a Praetorian guard, awaiting a trial that he thought could end his life (1:21). Yet even in the midst of all of this, he never abandoned his role of leadership. NKJV Maxwell Leadership Bible Page 1470)

Rejoice in the Lord

Not only is Paul focussed on the mission despite the apparent hindrances, he is encouraging others to maintain their joy.

Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 GW

A supernatural joy that only comes from knowing the Lord and trusting that He is in control. Remember the scripture, Nehemiah 8:10

The joy of the Lord will be your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Why was Paul content?

So how is it that Paul could experience that joy and continue to exhort others, in the midst of this trial?

Perhaps it had something to do with his first meeting with Jesus, which we read about in Acts 9.

During those days, Saul, full of angry threats and rage, wanted to murder the disciples of the Lord Jesus. So he went to ask the high priest and requested a letter of authorization he could take to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, requesting their cooperation in finding and arresting any who were followers of the Way. Saul wanted to capture all of the believers he found, both men and women, and drag them as prisoners back to Jerusalem. So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus.

Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one.

Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting. Now, get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you are to do.”

Saul stood to his feet, and even though his eyes were open he could see nothing—he was blind. So the men had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. For three days he didn’t eat or drink and couldn’t see a thing. Acts 9:1-9 TPT

Well Jesus certainly got Saul’s attention. One moment Saul was on a mission to persecute the followers of Jesus. Then suddenly he has an interaction with Jesus and finds himself completely blind and having to be led by the men with him. Saul was in a very vulnerable position, and yet that encounter with Jesus was so powerful, he did exactly what Jesus told him to do.

God the Mastermind

Around this same time Jesus was preparing the way for Saul, to become one of his ‘chosen vessels’. This preparation involved a disciple, Ananais. For completeness, and because it is a wonderful example of how God brings restoration, purpose (and perhaps contentment?) into our lives, we will read Acts 9:10-19.

Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Acts 9:10-19 NKJV

Knowing Christ

We know from the Bible that Saul, now Paul, went on to spread the Gospel throughout the known world at that time, experiencing many hardships including prison and shipwreck, but always staying focussed on the goal.

Paul had met Jesus and experienced the power of forgiveness. He had been transformed by Jesus and knew His power and authority. Paul had been filled with the Holy Spirit and he knew what his mission was. These Christ centred experiences enabled Paul to be content, no matter what. He knew Jesus intimately and trusted Him completely.

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:12-13 The Message

So how about us? Are we content?

Is our relationship with Jesus so intimate that we are content regardless of what is happening around us? This is a challenging question. And the answer probably involves a journey, some movement from where we are today, to a closer relationship with Jesus.

How to do we do that?

There are many ways, but perhaps the first step is talking to Jesus, asking Him to show you what your next step is. So why not ask Him now.

Drawing closer to God

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts, podcasts and Youtube channel, Drawing Closer to God.

Are you a praying person?

Are you a praying person? If not, perhaps today is a great day to start. Keep reading and hopefully, if I’ve communicated well, you will learn a little about prayer.

If yes, then I really want to encourage you that prayer matters. But remember, the ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘where’ of prayer doesn’t matter. Any-way, any-where and any-time is suitable for praying. Even the ‘why’ doesn’t really matter, as God sees our heart. He knows our motives and will respond accordingly. God is gracious. But the ‘who’ does matter. Who are you praying to? John 14:6 tells us that we are to connect with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, his Son.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV

Hence we pray, ‘In Jesus Name.’

So a few thoughts on prayer …

Praying for our nation

Now is the time to pray for our country, if you haven’t been already. There is so much need, and so many hurting people, what do we pray for? Protection? Provision? Forgiveness?

Yes, all of those things, and perhaps a prayer for everyone in this nation to have greater revelation of God’s great love for them, because remember the Bible says,

Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. 1 John 4:19 TPT

Imagine what our country would be like if we all loved each other as God loves us.

To help me pray for our nation, I have set up a music playlist ‘City and Country’. It includes

God of this city (Chris Tomlin)
Good Grace (Hillsong United)
Revival’s in the air (Bethel Music & Melissa Helser)
Here is as in Heaven (Elevation Worship)
The Blessing Australia (Churches UNITE to sing the blessing over Australia)

Pray for our Governments

A little story… since March 2020 when COVID-19 started to impact more and more on our life in Australia, I began my day with praying for our Prime Minister. Praying for things like wisdom, protection and rest. Then one morning God said to me, ‘Why aren’t you praying like that for your husband?’ So now, I pray those things for Ken, and then our Prime Minister and State Premiers.

But back to God’s word and what it says about praying for our governments…

1 Timothy 2:1, in the NIV says,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1 NIV

The following verse then tells us that it is pleasing to God when we pray for people in authority. Here is The Passion Translation …

Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. It is pleasing to our Saviour-God to pray for them. He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 TPT

Yes, God wants hearts to return to Him and His truth.

Praying for our Christian brothers and sisters

We can also be praying for our Christian brothers and sisters. The Apostle Paul is a great example of praying regularly for those who love Jesus. We know this by what he writes in his letters. Here are a couple of examples.

God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son. Romans 1:9 NLT

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. Ephesians 1:15-19 NLT

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! If the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray for someone and you don’t know where to begin, perhaps Paul’s prayer is a good starting place!

With some churches still unable to practically meet for ‘normal’ Sunday services due to COVID-19, it is important that we pray for each other, encourage each other and keep finding ways to stay connected, just as Ephesians 6:18 reminds us.

In the same way, prayer is essential in the ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Ephesians 6:18 The Message

Another little story … when our lifegroup (homegroup) meetings had to transition to online due to the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the Holy Spirit prompted me to invite a friend from church, who wasn’t currently in a lifegroup, to join us. She doesn’t live close to us, and it was too far for her to come to our home each fortnight for the meeting. However, the establishment of the online lifegroup provided an opportunity for her to join and connect regularly with other women from church. Now as the social distancing restrictions have eased we are using a hybird approach with both face to face and zoom meetings (as I am sure many other groups are too) so she, and others who are unable to physically attend, can be at the meeting. That’s our God – always working things out for good.

So let’s be asking God to show us ways to keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out, especially in these interesting times!

Praying for yourself

There comes a time in life when we realise we can’t do this life well alone. We need help, someone bigger than ourselves and our world. I recently watched the movies of the true story of Louis Zamperini in Unbroken and Unbroken – the path to redemption. They were a great reminder of this truth.

I remember the day when I had that revelation, almost 24 years ago. And most days since, probably at least once a day, these words have come from my lips, ‘God I need your help’ for many different reasons, including relationships, finances, health and peace.

We need to be honest in our prayers and ask God for His help. Because of Jesus, we have direct access to God, our Heavenly Father. Hebrews 4:16 says,

Let us therefore come boldy to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in the time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NKVJ

The Psalms are full of examples of David telling God how he feels, oscilating between fear and faith, and acknowledging where his help comes from. Here is one of my favourites, Psalm 121:1-2

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength come from GOD, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. Psalm 121:1-2 The Message.

So if you are wondering if God really understands how you are feeling, I suggest that you take some quiet time to read through the Psalms. There will be at least one Psalm that will reasonates with you. If you are wondering where to start, here is a helpful resource from Jennifer Rothschild, Four Psalms to pray when you need God’s help.

And remember, Jesus is praying for you!

Always remember, just as we are praying for others, there are people who are praying for us! And that includes Jesus. Romans 8:34 tells us,

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34 ESV

Yes, Jesus is interceding for you and me. The Passion Translation says it this way,

“Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave his life for us, and even more than that, he has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could he possibly condemn us since he is continually praying for our triumph? Romans 8:34 TPT

What a glorious thought, Jesus is praying for our triumph!

The Holy Spirit is also praying for us, as The Passion Translation’s footnote for Romans 8:34 reminds us …

Not only does the Holy Spirit pray for us, so does Jesus Christ. Two divine intercessors are praying for you each day. Two-thirds of the Trinity are actively engaged in intercession for us. This is typified by the incident of Moses interceding on the mountain for Israel’s victory with one hand held high by Aaron (the high priest, a type of Jesus, our High Priest) and Hur (or “light,” a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, who prays with divine illumination for our good). See Ex. 17:9-13Heb. 7:259:24.

Are you feeling encouraged? I sure am.

Are you a praying person?

So I’ll ask again, ‘Are you a praying person?’

If not, perhaps today is a great day to start. Begin by saying hello to Jesus and telling Him how you are feeling, and asking for His help.

If yes, you know that there is no shortage of situations and people to pray for, so let’s continue to pray feverently and be expectant that our God will answer.

Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 The Voice

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

I am not alone

Have you experienced a time when you thought to yourself, “I wish Jesus was here with me.” I remember a friend, who was having radiation treatment for cancer, saying to me, “Before I go into the treatment room, I stand at the door and say, ‘Okay Jesus, in we go together.'” She was declaring that Jesus was going with her into that room, acknowledging that she was not going alone. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that “I am not alone.”

Jesus walks with me

That story reminds me of a song, “He walks with me” from Merle Haggard. The lyrics are simple but beautiful …

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

You know that feeling you have after spending time with someone who loves you. You feel heard, encouraged, safe and secure. Well that is how we can feel after spending time with Jesus.

But first we have to recognise that He is with us and acknowledge Him.

Recognising Jesus

Let’s take a look at a couple of stories where Jesus wasn’t immediately recognised.

At the empty tomb

Firstly, at the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection …

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

“They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognise him.

Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!” John 20:11-16 The Message

But she didn’t recognise Him

In regards to Mary not recognising Jesus, let’s look at the way other translations say verse 14,

The Passion Translation – Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realise that it was him!

The New King James Version – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

Recognise, realise and know

According to the NIV Study Bible, we don’t know why Mary didn’t recognise Jesus,

“He may have looked different or he may intentionally have prevented recognition.” NIV Study Bible, Luke 20:14 Commentary, page 1633.

What about us?

I wonder how many times things have happened in our lives and Jesus has been there and we haven’t recognised, realised or known.

Or why we sometimes don’t recognise Jesus, or realise what He is doing in our lives? Perhaps this is the moment to ask Him.

Jesus calls us by name

An aside, or maybe one of the main points … notice that it is when Jesus calls Mary by her name that she recognises him. In the TV series about Jesus, The Chosen (available at the App Store or Google Play), there is a beautiful scene in Episode 1, when Jesus calls Mary by her name and she is redeemed.

The road to Emmaus

Let’s have a look at another interaction on that same day, when Jesus was not recognised. He is walking with two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking about all these things that had occurred. And while they were conversing and discussing this together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognise Him. Luke 24:13-16 AMPC

In this story it is clear that the disciples did not recognise Jesus because of divine intervention. The Passion Translation says it this way …

They were unaware that it was Jesus walking alongside them, for God prevented them from recognising him. Luke 24:16 TPT

Jesus is recognised when He broke the bread

In fact, the disciples didn’t recognise Jesus until that evening at supper…

Joining them at the table for supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it, then gave it to them. All at once their eyes were opened and they realised it was Jesus! Then suddenly, in a flash, Jesus vanished before from their eyes! Luke 24:30-31 TPT

Oh my, there certainly was a lot of mysterious things going on at the time, and I don’t pretend to understand any of them. But it is good to ask God what He wants to show us through these stories.

Current events – what’s going on?

An interesting aside about the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were discussing the current events of the day …

And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened in there in these days?

And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…….

….Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ have suffered these things to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:17-27 NKJV

Jesus explains the bigger picture

In our world today, there are certainly many interesting current events to discuss. But notice what happens in this conversation on the road to Emmaus, who brings the wisdom and explains what is going on? Jesus.

John Maxwell comments on this conversation,

“As two grieving men conversed about Jesus’ crucifixion, they struggled to understand what it all meant. Jesus saw their confusion and could tell they needed someone to guide them. So He joined them and began to explain His resurrection in light of Scripture (Luke 24:27,45). By the end of their time together, it all made sense.” John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Page 1299.

Listen to how The Passion Translation explains the disciples’ response when they realised they had been walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus,

Stunned, they looked at each other and said, “Why didn’t we recognise it was him? Didn’t our hearts burn with the flames of holy passion while we walked beside him? He unveiled for us such profound revelation from the Scriptures!” Luke 24:32 TPT

What is God showing us?

So what profound revelation does God want to give us today through these stories from Scriptures?

Possibly some of these things, and probably a whole lot more!

  1. Jesus will reveal himself when He chooses.
  2. When Jesus asks us questions, we need to search our heart and give an honest answer.
  3. If we spend time with Jesus and learn to know His voice as Mary did, we will recognise Him when He speaks to us.
  4. Jesus knows when we are struggling and will walk alongside us and help us, if we let Him.
  5. Sometimes Jesus will do the unexpected, like vanishing at the supper. We won’t always understand what He does and that’s okay. We have to trust that His plan is good.
  6. Only Jesus has the complete picture, understanding how each part of the puzzle fits together, so we need to listen when He speaks.

Jesus walks and talks with us today

To finish today, let’s just revisit the words of that song again, knowing that Jesus is with us and we are not alone.

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

The blindness

Have you had the experience of crying out to God for many years, and then as the busy-ness of life takes over, the cry is still there, but not so loud? Then one day you have this moment, where the Holy Spirit nudges you and says, ‘Look.’ You look and see that God is answering that prayer. A smile comes over your face, and your heart feels full. The blindness of busy-ness is lifted.

The blindness of busy-ness

When this recently happened to me, I started thinking about how we often get so focused on other things, that we miss what God is doing. Proverbs 29:18 in The Message Bible says …

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Proverbs 29:18 The Message

When I obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and looked and saw what God was doing, I did indeed feel and know that I was most blessed.

The Amplified Bible says Proverbs 29:18 this way,

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

Ummm … No revelation of God and His wordthe people are unrestrained

The blindness in our thinking

Let’s look at this scripture for a moment in the context of our thought-life. That is, when our thoughts are not focused on God’s truth they can wander wherever they desire. This happens when we are not actively taking our thoughts captive, as God says to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

This is another blindness, not towards what God is doing, but in relation to what we are thinking!

Negative thoughts causing blindness

I experienced this type of blindness recently when I let negative thoughts overwhelm me. They caused me to lose sight of God’s word. I couldn’t see the good. I couldn’t see a positive path forward.

The story

Over the past month our daughter has had nine medical appointments in relation to her left leg, and there are two more this coming week. Attending all these appointments brought back the memories of the multiple hospital visits from her time of having chemotherapy treatment. Late last week, both my daughter and I were at the point of sighing, crying and thinking, ‘No, not another appointment,’ and ‘Will it always be like this?’ So strong is the emotional pull of old memories and feelings of despair – grief.

For our daughter during recent years the negative experiences around these ongoing appointments have been offset by the joy and excitement of swimming training and competing at sporting events. But due to COVID-19 restrictions and other factors beyond our control, those activities are currently not happening. So, the question she now often asks is, ‘What is there to look forward to?’

What is there to look forward to?

What is there to look forward to? Yes, blindness can stop us looking forward and it can stop us looking to Jesus.

The blind beggar

These thoughts about blindness led me to reading the story of Jesus healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus, recounted in Mark 10 and Luke 18.

Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, a son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]! And many severely censured and reproved him, telling him to keep still, but he kept on shouting out all the more, You Son of David, have pity and mercy on me [now]!”

And Jesus stopped and said, Call him. And they called the blind man, telling him, Take courage! Get up! He is calling you.

And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, What do you want Me to do for you? And the blind man said to Him, Master, let me receive my sight.

And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has healed you. And at once he receive his sight and accompanied Jesus on the road.
Mark 10:46-52 AMPC

What did God speak to you about as we read that story? For me, there were four things which I share below. But first, lets give thanks for the revelation God brings to us through His word. Remember Proverbs 29:18 that we read earlier,

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

Keep asking. Don’t give up

Firstly, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus not once, but twice. He didn’t give up. Interestingly when this story is recounted in Luke, earlier in Chapter 18, Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer, saying,

Don’t you know that God, the true judge, will grant justice to all of his chosen ones who cry out to him night and day? He will pour out his Spirit upon them. He will not delay to answer you and give you what you ask for. God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up. So be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge. Luke 18:7-8a TPT

Jesus finishes this teaching about prayer with this question, a challenge to me and you …

Yet when the Son of Man comes back, will he find this kind of persistent faithfulness in his people? Luke 18:8b TPT

Revelation (or reminder)

Keep calling out to Jesus. Let’s be people of persistent faith.

Courage to respond

Secondly, when Jesus responded to the blind beggar’s call, it appears from the disciple’s words that Bartimaeus was a little hesitant to go to Jesus.

So they went to the blind man and said, “Have courage! Get up! Jesus is calling for you!” Mark 10:49 TPT

As we know Bartimaeus did muster the courage, get up and go to Jesus. Imagine if he hadn’t. He would have missed that opportunity to receive healing.

The Message Bible says,

They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Mark 10:49 The Message

His lucky day indeed!

Revelation (or reminder)

Sometimes it takes courage to respond to what Jesus asks us to do, but that is part of the faith adventure.

Note: there is a great song that reminds me to take courage: Take Courage by Kristine DiMarco.

Throw off the old cloak

Thirdly, look what Bartimeaus did when he responded to Jesus …

And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and came to Jesus. Luke 10:50 AMPC

It seems like, that to get up, Bartimeaus had to throw off something – his outer garment. The Passion Translation says,

So he threw off his beggars’ cloak, jumped up, and made his way to Jesus. Luke 10:50 TPT

He had to throw off the cloak that represented his old life, before he could receive the new life Jesus had for him.

Revelation (or reminder)

This was one of the main points of the story God wanted me to understand. I had to throw off the old memories of years of medical appointments. I had to take those thoughts captive and remind myself that we are in a new season now. This is not the past. God is doing a new thing. Some serious talk to self, declaring God’s truth and promises was required. For both me, but for our daughter.

Confidence in Jesus’ power

Finally, Bartimaeus had confidence that Jesus could make him well.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith [and confident trust in My power] has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Jesus on the road. Mark 10:52 AMP

So a question for us, “Who or what are we putting our confidence in today?”

Revelation (or reminder)

There is only one answer -> Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6 NKJV

The Blindness and Jesus

So just remember to keep a look out for blindness in your life. The blindness of busy-ness can cause us to miss seeing what God is doing in our lives. The blindness of negative thinking can stop us looking to Jesus, the One we need to have our confidence in.

The importance of confidence in Jesus

Three final thoughts on the importance of confidence in Jesus, and accompanying scripture, because remember what the Amplified Bible says in Proverbs 29:18.

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. Proverbs 29:18 AMP

1. We need to have confidence that with Jesus we can do all things.

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfil His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13 AMP

2. We need to have confidence that with Jesus we can more than overcome.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NKJV

3. And when we can’t find that confidence, we need to remember.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 NIV

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

Obedience will bring blessing

What has God put on your heart to do today? Is it something you regularly do, or is it a little ‘out-of-the-box’? This is a story about having the courage to do what God says, no matter how ‘weird’ it seems, and then witnessing how God blesses others through that obedience. I pray this simple story encourages you to follow through on promptings from the Holy Spirit, trusting that your obedience will bring blessing to yourself and others.

Walking and praying

One of my weekly activities is twice a week walking and praying around the school grounds, normally with a couple of other mothers from school. Most of the time we have no idea how God uses our prayers. We just walk and pray in faith that He is at work in the supernatural. We may never know the outcomes of those prayers, but we trust that in this season it is what God has asked us to do.

Plans change

The presence of COVID-19 put a stop to the walking around the school grounds. But it did not stop us praying together, as we like many others around the world quickly worked out how to pray together online.

No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper. Isaiah 54:17 NKJV

And, again, as I’m sure many people found during this time, the stretching and having to do things a little differently, actually became a blessing.

In our school prayer example, praying online enabled more mums to pray than could usually be present at school, which led to more conversation and deeper relationships.

It’s a bit like, the enemy had a plan, and God used it for good, sound familiar …

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

More changes

Now as the restrictions from COVID-19 are slowly reducing, we can walk and pray at school again, albeit in a specified area, the school oval, and with a maximum of three prayers. We are just so grateful to be allowed to pray on school grounds again.

Normally we commence our prayer walk by going around the boundary of the school. Our starting place is the oval. For the past couple of years we have done this on Friday afternoons when sport is on, so the children and teachers were used to seeing us walking and praying.

Last Friday was my first time returning to pray at school, and I was by myself. When I completed my first lap of the oval I thought, “How silly is this going to look, when I walk around the oval again?” As I couldn’t go on our normal route around the school due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s not about me!

But then, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I remembered that it wasn’t about me! But rather it was about what God wanted to do in that moment. And I had no idea what that was, so I asked Him, “God, why is it that we are allowed only here, on the oval? I know from a COVID-19 safety perspective why we are here, but why have You got us only here? What is it that You want me to do?”

Pause for a moment and picture this – a sports oval filled 7 classes of children and their teachers, and one woman walking around the perimeter of the oval praying. What do you think God wanted me to do?

We have all been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways, especially teachers who had to completely re-think the way they deliver education very quickly, and implement new strategies effectively and efficiently.

Pray for the teachers

So God’s answer to me was simply, “Pray for the teachers on the oval.

So I started on my second prayer lap of the oval. As I walked past each teacher, God gave me a word of encouragement, very specific, which I madly scribbled on a piece of paper. As much as I wanted to, I knew it wasn’t appropriate to walk up to them in the middle of their sports activities and say, ‘Hi, I felt God wanted to say to you …. ‘

Previously I had received specific words of encouragement for teachers, normally one or two, but never seven during one prayer walk. This was a little unusual. What was God doing?

What next God?

As I drove home from school I asked God about those words of encouragement, and how specific they were, and what to with them. Do I email each teacher individually, or send a group email including everyone’s word of encouragement?

You may think, what does it matter how you deliver the words of encouragement? But more and more I am learning that God is interested in the details. It mattered to Him how they were delivered, because, as He was about to tell me, He had another message to deliver to these teachers.

God’s response to my question about the specificity was something like, “This is My body – each one with a role to play and a gift to bring.

The diversity of the body of Christ

I got it! God was wanting to not only deliver a word of encouragement to each teacher, but He wanted to send a message about the wonderful diversity of His body.

It is the same Holy Spirit who continues to distribute many different varieties of gifts.

The Lord Yahweh is one, and he is the one who apportions to believers different varieties of ministries.

The same God distributes different kinds of miracles that accomplish different results through each believer’s gift and ministry as he energises and activates them.

Each believer is given continuous revelation by the Holy Spirit to benefit not just himself but all. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 TPT

God’s response to the ‘How’ question was ‘send as a group email‘ to illustrate the diversity of the body.

Later in the afternoon I sent that group email with the words of encouragement and supporting scriptures. The responses I received confirmed that God’s message had been delivered and understood. All glory to God, He knows what we need and when we need it.

The ‘takeaways’ from this story

So there are plenty of ‘takeaways’ from this simple story. I’ve listed them below with the supporting example.

  1. Make space in your life for God to speak to you (e.g. purposefully set aside time to pray and listen to God)
  2. Trust that God is at work in the unseen (e.g. praying for people, students and families, that we don’t know)
  3. When seemingly barriers arise, be expectant that God will use it for God (e.g. temporary move to praying online)
  4. Take your eyes off yourself and put them on Jesus (e.g. worrying about what others will think about repeatedly walking around the oval).
  5. When plans change, ask God what He wants to bring from the change (e.g. What were God’s plans for us praying only on the oval?)
  6. Be ready for God to do things differently (e.g. God’s words of encouragement for each of the seven teachers on the oval)
  7. Keep asking God for the next step (e.g. how to deliver the words of encouragement to the teachers)
  8. God has a bigger plan (e.g. this was about more than words of encouragement, it was about giving a picture of Christ’s body – unity through diversity)
  9. Obeying leads to blessing others (e.g. obeying God’s call to take time to pray lead to His word of encouragement for others).

Obedience will bring blessing

This is a very simple story of how when we obey what God asks us to do, we can be a blessing to others. Just as God wanted to encourage these teachers that they all have gifts and are part of one body, it is the same for us. We all have gifts, gifts to bless others with, however sometimes we just need a little bit of encouragement to get out there and use them!

So I pray that this story encourages you to do what God has put on your heart, and know that He has gifted you for a purpose, far greater than you could have imagined. And whatsmore, you may never know how far the blessing ripples will travel from your step of obedience.

But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be any body at all! So now we see that there are many differing parts and functions, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 TPT

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

Dreams and messages

Do you remember your most recent dream? What was it about? What did it mean? I only remember a few of my dreams, mainly because they were delivering very clear messages from God. Messages that helped me to re-focus rather quickly! Dreams and messages – don’t ignore them.

One of my dreams that I remember most clearly came soon after Ken and I were married. One night we had an argument. Ken went for a walk. I was emotionally exhausted so went to bed, and promptly fell asleep. I had a very vivid dream, with one lasting image – our bed, Ken lying on one side, me on the other side, and a huge snake lying in between us.

On seeing this image I woke up, phoned Ken asking him to come back immediately. He did. We apologised to each other, forgave each other and prayed.

I believe that dream was from God, a warning that there needed to be unity in our marriage as the enemy was already planning on how to cause division, after only a few weeks of marriage.

Yes, God can speak to us through dreams. And He wants us to listen.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

A friend recently shared a link to one of Ravi Zacharias’ last sermons. In the sermon he illustrated the importance of seeking God’s wisdom by recounting a story from the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar’s request for the Chaldeans to make known to him his dream and its interpretation. It’s a great story of how God delivers messages through dreams.

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams by which his spirit was troubled and agitated and his sleep went from him.

Then the king commanded to call the magicians, the enchanters or soothsayers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans [diviners], to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.

And the king said to them, I had a dream and my spirit is troubled to know the dream. Daniel 2:1-3 AMPC

However, the Chaldeans wanted the king to tell them the dream first, and then they would respond with the interpretation.

Then said the Chaldeans [diviners] to the king in Aramaic [the Syrian language], O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. Daniel 2:4 AMPC

No man on earth can do that

But Nebuchadnezzar insisted – both the dream and the interpretation. And the Chaldeans continued to resist. They knew they had no way of knowing what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was because, as they expressed, they had felt only the gods could reveal that to the king.

The Chaldeans [diviners] answered before the king and said, There is not a man on earth who can show the king this matter, for no king, lord, or ruler has [ever] asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean.

A rare and weighty thing indeed the king requires! None except the gods can reveal it to the king, and their dwelling is not with [human] flesh. Daniel 2:10-11 AMPC

The Chaldeans did not have a relationship with the one true God, the living God. They didn’t have access to His wisdom. The Message Bible says it like this,

The fortunetellers said, “Nobody anywhere can do what you ask. And no king, great or small, has ever demanded anything like this from any magician, enchanter or fortuneteller. What you’re asking is impossible unless some god or goddess should reveal it – and they don’t hang around with people like us. Daniel 2:10-11 The Message

Nebuchadnezzar wants answers

Nebuchadnezzar obviously wasn’t very happy with the response from the Chaldeans. He wanted answers!

That set the king off. He lost his temper and ordered the whole company of Babylonian wise men killed. When the death warrant was issued, Daniel and his companions were included. They also were marked for execution. Daniel 2:12-13 The Message

Daniel did have a relationship with the living God, and he had confidence that God would give him wisdom to respond correctly to the king’s request – providing both the dream and the interpretation. So Daniel asked the king for a little extra time to provide an answer to his request.

The mystery is solved

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel that night in a vision So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel 2: 17-19 NKJV

Daniel then went back to Nebuchadnezzar and gave him the answer. He prefaced his response with acknowledgement of where the wisdom came from.

Daniel answered the king, “No mere human can solve the king’s mystery, I don’t care who it is – no wise man, enchanter, magician, diviner. But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one. He is letting King Nebuchadnezzar in on what is going to happen in the days ahead. This is the dream you had when you were lying on your bed, the vision that filled your mind. Daniel 2:27-28 The Message

Godly wisdom

This story makes me think about James 1:5, a scripture I have posted on the wall near my desk,

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 NLT

God speaks to us through dreams

So dreams and messages … God uses dreams to tell us about our future, just as He did with King Nebuchadnezzar. And God can give us wisdom regarding the interpretation of our dreams, just like He did for Daniel. We just need to ask Him for His wisdom.

Sometimes God uses dreams to give us information about situations, to give us greater understanding and essentially encouraging us to trust that He has got the situation sorted. God did that for Joseph when he found out Mary was pregnant.

Her fiance, Joseph, was a righteous man, full of integrity and he didn’t want to disgrace her, but when he learned of her pregnancy he secretly planned to break the engagement. While he was still debating with himself about what to do, he fell asleep and had a supernatural dream. An angel from the Lord appeared to him in clear light and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t hesitate to take Mary into your home as your wife, because the power of the Holy Spirit has conceived a child in her womb. She will give birth to a son and you are to name him ‘Saviour,’ for he is destined to give his life to save his people from their sins.”

… When Joseph awoke from his dream, he did all that the angel of the Lord instructed him to do. Matthew 1:19-21, 24 TPT

God warns us through dreams

Sometimes God uses dreams to give us warnings. Again He spoke to Joseph via a dream, warning him about Herod’s plans to kill Jesus.

Now when they had departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:13-14 NKJV

Note, the ‘they’ who had departed, were they wise men, who had also received a warning from God in a dream.

Afterward they returned to their own country by another route because God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. Matthew 2:12 TPT

Note 2: What is it with these Kings who get angry, albiet for different reasons, frustration and fear, and then respond with killing – Nebuchadnezzar and all the wise men of Babylon; Herod kills every baby boy two years old and younger in Bethlehem. This is the fallen world we live in.

God uses dreams to give us directions

In Egypt God speaks to Joseph again in a dream, this time, to give Joseph clear direction on where to go next.

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead. Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. Matthew 3:19-21 NKJV

But then Joseph is concerned because Herod’s son is now in control in Judea, so in another dream God gives Joseph further instructions.

But when he heard that Archelaus, Herod’s son, had succeeded him as ruler over all the territory of Judah, he was afraid to go back. Then he had another dream from God, warning him to avoid that region and instructing him instead to go to the province of Galilee. So he settled his family in the village of Nazareth, fulfilling the prophecy that he would be known as the “Branch.” Matthew 2:22-23 TPT

God’s instructions and our obedience

How obedient is Joseph? After each of these dreams where he received the information, warnings and instructions from God, Joseph did what God asked of him. Furthermore, some of those actions fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament.

So how important is it that we consider our dreams, asking God if He is giving us a message in them. And how important is it, to do whatever He asks us to do.

God has the big picture

Remember God has the big picture. He has the plan and He will reveal our next step, maybe via a dream, at the right time.

To finish, let’s meditate on what Daniel said when God revealed the mystery of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to him …

That night the answer to the mystery was given to Daniel in a vision. Daniel blessed the God of heaven, saying,

Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever.
He knows all, does all:

He changes the seasons and guides history,
He raises up kings and also brings them down,
he provides both intelligence and discernment,
He opens up the depths, tells secrets,
Sees in the dark – light spills out of him!
God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!
You made me wise and strong.
And now you’ve shown us what we asked for.
You’ve solved the king’s mystery.”

Daniel 2:19-23 The Message

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson

The patience journey

When do you get impatient? I remember years ago someone saying that you know when you are in a hurry when you put a frozen meal in the microwave, turn it on, and then get impatient because it takes 4 minutes to defrost and cook a meal. When I heard that I gained some insight into myself!!!! Yes, it seems like I’m continually on the patience journey.

I wonder if we did a little stock-take of our patience levels for one week what the results would show. For me I’m sure there would be some impatient moments related to technology, my husband and our children. Although by the grace of God, thankfully not as many as there used to be! If we let Him, God will continually transform us.

But the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.

We can draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 TPT

The Holy Spirit

The New King James Version says it this way,

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in to the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

On this patience journey, there has been one scripture that the Holy Spirit often leads me to when I can feel myself getting frustrated and feeling like I want to step in and take control …

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 NKJV

This scripture always stops in me my tracks.

And I am reminded of a situation a few years ago with an organisation I am connected with, where there was a lot of might and power happening, it was very ugly. After months the situation was resolved, not by the might and power, but by the Spirit.

And I am reminded of situations in our family, where using my own resources and wisdom (my might and power) I have tried and tried and tried to resolve issues. But then one day, by the Spirit, change comes and the issue is resolved.

Developing patience

In this season with three teenagers and one pre-teen, patience is certainly a virtue, and one I am relying on the Holy Spirit to develop more within me.

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. Galatians 5:22-23 TPT

Mary, the mother of Jesus

As a parent, I want patience that endures. I was thinking of a couple of parents we read about in the Scriptures, such as Mary the mother of Jesus. She knew before she became pregnant that the child she was carrying was the Son of God.

But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear; Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift. You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as King on his ancestor David’s throne. He will reign as King of Israel forever, and his reign will have no limit.” Luke 1:30-33 TPT

How patient would Mary have been, knowing that her son had this future ahead of Him, but having to wait on God’s perfect timing. I’m sure I would have had many moments of impatience and frustration thinking, “Why don’t you just get on with it and do your job now!”

God’s timing

We know from John 2, that eventually Mary does ask Jesus to do a public miracle when the wine runs out at the wedding in Cana.

And when Mary realised it, she came to him and asked, “They have no wine, can’t you do something about it?’ John 2:3 TPT

The footnote from The Passion Translation says, “This is a dilemma that Mary is hoping Jesus will solve by performing a miracle. Mary has no doubt about the power and anointing of her Son.

The story goes on …

Jesus replied, “My dear one, don’t you understand that if I do this, it won’t change anything for you, but it will change everything for me! My hour of unveiling my power has not yet come.” John 2:4 TPT

Again, lets read the footnote from The Passion Translation, “For Mary, it will change her very little, but for Jesus, this will be his first public miracle and will dramatically change his ministry from this moment on as the crowds see the power he possesses. Jesus knows his miracle ministry will “come out of hiding” by performing a miracle. Yet with Mary’s encouragement, Jesus proceeds to do just that.”

God knows all the implications

There is so much for us to learn from that story. In relation to patience it shows how important it is that we gain understanding that God’s timing is perfect. He has the full picture, and knows all the implications for everyone involved.

For me as a mum I am always learning that God is at work in our children’s lives, even when I can’t see the physical outworking. Not by my might or my power, but by His Spirit, the transformation is happening. My role is to love and encourage – often with no words, just actions, and sometimes no actions either, but just interceding for them in prayer.

The father of the Prodigal Son

Another story in Scripture that came to mind is the parable Jesus told about the prodigal son. I wonder how long the son was away from home, and how often the father thought to himself, “Come on son, why don’t you just come home!”

But the father knew the son had to make his own decision to return home. It was another ‘not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit’ time.

I found this commentary from Oosterzee, regarding the father …
“The father has, however, been indirectly working for his recovery, by allowing him to bear all the consequences of his transgressions; he has, besides, been waiting patiently, and keeping both his heart and his house open to him.”

Theological and Homiletical Commentary on the Gospel of St Luke, Volume 2. Johannes Jacobus van Oosterzee, edited by Johann Peter Lange and translated by Sophia Taylor. Edinburgh, 1867.

The father in the parable is just like our Father in Heaven, who keeps His heart and house open to us. He allows us to make our own decision to return to Him, first through salvation, and then each day as we continually yield to Him in different areas of our lives. God is love, and love is patient.

Love is …

I’m sure you know this scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, often read at weddings (how interesting that Jesus did His first public miracle at a wedding, an event celebrating love) …

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, it never gives up. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 TPT

When I read this scripture and think about God, these are all the qualities I picture in Him. And these are the qualities He wants to develop in us, including patience, not by our might, not by our power, but by His Spirit.

And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognised as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 The Message

The patience journey, only made truly possible when walking in His Spirit. Let’s walk that way today.

Looking for more encouragement?

If you are looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.

If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.

Choosing to trust God By Wendy Robinson