Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity
- Earl Nightingale
So as a follow on from my previous thoughts on Nehemiah chapter 2 is the action which follows the revelation. Nehemiah has just been overwhelmed by a need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and he has just cried out to God. To help him with this burden on his heart and the response comes soon after.
The response is not in a miracle or literal voice but simply an opportunity. Nehemiah appears sombre while at work and his boss (the king) asks him what bothers him… He responds and the King asks him what he would request? He answers shrewdly and is sent to start pursuing his dream.
I’ve had many coffees with friends in “transition” periods. What is this? It’s the period where you aren’t yet doing what you want but you also don’t know what you want… So you’ll travel or go partying as often as possible because apparently life’s solutions are made clearer from an alcohol induced state or when you leave reality and travel to another geographical location.
So often the queries are the same “why isn’t God answering?”.
Following Nehemiah’s prayer to change his world he goes back to work and continues with integrity in his responsibilities – he doesn’t “do nothing” or “travel” to seek clarity on his situation. He does life sensibly… God cannot move a parked car.
Secondly when an opportunity presents itself Nehemiah is prepared… he knows what he wants and how he wants it. He was prepared for the opportunity.
It seems that in today’s society there are 2 road blocks for young adults in making a difference… They don’t know what they want or they do but they don’t know how to get it.
I’ve been able to do some cool stuff with business and ministy not because i’m more talented or even more capable but simply because I knew what I wanted, and i continued in life with intention. Once i knew what i wanted i was prepared to do it so when opportunities came along i could be prepared to take it.
When you want to change the world it is impossible – when you need to change the world nothing is impossible – Paraphrased Pastor Craig Groeschel
Okay i recently returned from the business stream of Hillsong Conference Sydney Australia – to say the least it was incredibly inspiring, upon my return i’ve recently been reading the book of Nehemiah in the bible and finding it quite applicable to our current context.
In this book Nehemiah is an Israelite and the People of Israel are exiled from their homeland living in Babylon, they are desperate, depressed, hopeless and lost. To top this all off Nehemiah; a normal guy working as a cup bearer for the king hears about the fact that the walls of their capital and most holy city Jerusalem have just been destroyed.
Overwhelmed by this news Nehemiah began to mourn and he realised he had to do something about it.
In Today’s context innovators and entrepreneurs are not smarter, more talented, they are normal people. Normal people who see a problem and care enough to do something about it. When i say this it sounds light but in actual fact it’s the hardest thing in the world to care so much about something that you need to do something about it. Most people notice issues and problems, we walk past it every day, moments where we thing hmm that was annoying or that could be better, but we choose ot ignore it and forget about it. We are okay with wanting it fixed but we don’t need to be the ones to do it.
But every human being has to find that cause, that thing even if just for a season that thing that overwhelms you enough that you’ll do whatever it takes to do something about it.
Nehemiah shifts his thinking, he provides us (Christians) with a template by which we can endeavour on seemingly impossible tasks in the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah verse 5-11
- vs 5. – It starts with God – nehmiah reminds himself that there is a power greater then himself, God, not only that but reminds himself that this God we believe in is relational – he listens and is active in our lives – he can do anything and loves us and wants to work out our lives for our good and his glory. As Christians today this is often the hardest step – to believe that God wants to be involved in your issues and he does have your best interests at heart. The Apostle Paul tells us when we struggle with this to look to the cross, that God gave his only son to die the worst death to save you, there is therefore no other good thing he would with hold from you if he’s already given you his best.
- vs. 7-9 – We are nothing – we are sinners and can’t yet do the task we feel we need to do. Every person Christian or not does not start with the tools they need to do the task they have in their mind. If your vision can already be achieved then it’s far too small. An attitude of humility means an attitude of constant learning, for the Christian learning and complete dependence on God.
- vs 10. – To whom do we belong? If we are God’s people then he takes care of his own
- vs 11. God – Success is literal – you will achieve your task before “man” if it is by his “favor” and therefore for his Glory.
So let’s explore what we can learn from Nehemiah a normal guy trying to change his world and see what we can learn today for the Christian trying to change our world
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Where has the time gone? It’s mid year already hmm, hard to believe it’s coming around to a year since i started writing this blog. With a new year, comes a new face and a new look blog for the second half of 2011.
It’s only fitting that we read such a parable as the topic of time has suddenly filled my mind. I was speaking with a patient… lovely old lady 80 years old at least. Her advice to me was some wise words… “time moves by quicker as you get older. No one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time” working.
I’m forced to confront these words. How do we spend our time? How do we spend our resources? My blog tonight is short and sweet. I am challenged by this parable of Jesus.
Jesus tells the people well you guys are like this rich fellow, who was so rich that he ended up buying houses for his riches, he lived to house his wealth and supply good shelter for his money. Then he died and his wealth was useless.
How true this analogy is of our post-modern generation. We are a generation of consumers. 85% of the world’s water is used by 10% of it’s people. 20% of the world uses 80% of it’s resources. The USA spent $109 billion on alcoholic beverages last year… and it would only cost $9 billion to provide clean drinking water for the entire world.
We are the rich man, i don’t care if you’re reading this blog from only a 3G iphone, or a macbook not a macbook pro… If you’re reading this then you are the rich man, I am the rich man. We horde our wealth into banks and investments, we live to accumulate wealth, our goals are defined in how we make wealth, are identity is sought after through our occupation, our life’s calling is to have more wealth to buy more wealthy things.
This really struck me the other day after church when our group of friends went out for lunch. We ordered what can only be described a copious amount of food. After of which we were still “hungry”. Then we assigned as a punishment that one of us would have to finish off the abundant left over food by a game of “black or white”. At which point we laughed as one of our friends gluttonously consumed too much food for his fill.
We live in a society of abundance, so abundant that “eating” is a punishment. We are consumers.
Now that being said it must be made clear that in no way does Jesus condemn wealth in this parable, but rather he condemns the idolatry of wealth. What’s the difference? Well when you earn wealth so that you can sacrifice wealth for more wealth and your life decisions are made on how much wealth you can earn and all your time is spent on making more wealth and all your thoughts ponder on the making of more wealth, and ways to horder your wealth… i think it’s safe to call that idolatry.
I think my greatest fear being in business is that it’s so easy to have your mind filled with making money and how to implement more ways to make my business more successful, so much so that when i die all i would have done is earn wealth. I hope and pray that every dollar and cent is prayerfully considered and the question is asked… how can this dollar bring God glory. How can this cent fill someones life with hope and love? How can this business be used by God to bring the hope and freedom of Jesus to people.
May we not be caught into the trap that is consumerism. May we prayerfully consider our wealth. May we use our wealth for generousity and eternal investment as well as being shrewed wise stewards, wise in business, full of generousity, led by the spirit, guided by God’s wisdom. For his kingdom, For his Glory, for all people.
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
Do you have that “friend” (i use inverted commas because sometimes this person might not be a friend per say) that just doesn’t let things go? The persistent individual will just keep pestering you until you’ll tell them what they want to know or give them what they want to hear. “Are you okay?” They’ll ask – when you tentatively respond “i’m okay”, “why only okay?” they’ll ask and you’ll respond with a purposeful “I don’t want to talk about it…” at which point the conversation is about nothing else until you give in and tell them what they want to hear. How irritating.
However i am ashamed to say that i am indeed one of these individuals… Perhaps i just care too much but something is built into me that i cannot let things go. Do not start telling me a story then stop, Do not tell me you’re only okay and not why, or even worse Do not start some gossip and not finish it, yes i have fallen into such sin in the past, but hopefully i am improving.
I am under the impression that in fact sometimes, now correct me if i’m wrong but when you tell me you’re only okay you deep down want to tell me why, isn’t this true? Because why bring it up in the first place? Needless to say yo give me what i want not because i’m you’re friend but just because i’m annoying and you want me to shut up.
Jesus uses this precise analogy when dealing with God. The message is simple. Be an annoying friend. Jesus paints a picture of a friend much more annoying then I. This fellow barges in on his friend in the late hours of the night just for some bread, not even bread for himself but for a guest at his house! He keeps knocking until he wakes his friend at which point receives the bread not because he was his friend but just because he was annoying, or in the words of Jesus our LORD “shameless audacity…”
Up to this point Jesus had referred to his disciples several times as friends so we know that he considers them friends, but he is saying to them friendship aside when talking to God you can get what it is that you ask for, but you’ve got to have shameless audacity. I don’t think this means that we can annoy God into giving us a million dollars, but two things it does shed light on.
Firstly – God wants us to be persistent in our prayer. He wants us to ask him for the same things over and over. He appreciates our persistence.
Secondly – He is our friend and will respond. Jesus uses an almost sarcastic remark. “of course you’ll get the bread if you’re persistent!”.
So what is your bread? For me i guess my prayers have been repetitive the past 4 months regarding my business that it belongs wholly to God, will glorify God and be used as a positive impact in the lives of people wherever community of which it is situated. Also regarding bible college that i pass and become well equipped to edify disciples of Christ in the future. Thirdly regarding my own life, my own heart. That God would take it and make it more effective and efficient as an agent for his good works and as an agent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever i do.
I guess the catch 22 is that a true friend of Jesus only asks what pleases him (John 15)… hmm interesting.
But our encouragement is that whatever bread it is we need, we should keep asking and we will get an answer. We should be shameless and audacious in our asking. Meaning to not stop, to be annoying, to be persistent but mainly not to give up, there is an answer and it is coming, even if it isn’t necessarily what we want, it is what we need, trust God on that.
I love and trust in you God, my patient friend in the night, may you give me the strength to never stop asking, never stop believing always trusting.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you
Working as a physiotherapist you often get to see people in their highest points to their lowest lows. Today i observed a patient whom i now consider to be somewhat of a friend, normally so filled with joy come in completely at a low point of his life. He informed me that due to personal reasons he could no longer come in for treatment of his condition. As we shook hands and said our good-byes, with a quiver in his voice he told me that I had been very good to him and he appreciated what we had done for him, and that he would be back to visit.
I felt incredibly moved in my spirit, i had been praying on a weekly basis that this patient would accept Christ, and although he left unsaved, the last words i spoke to him were that i could definitely be praying for him in current predicament. To which he replyed with a humble gesture of thanks.
Tonight i come home after that moving experience, open my bible and this passage of scripture jumps out at me. I am reminded that as Christians no matter what it is that we are going through if we place ourselves humbly under the guidance and provision of God’s mighty hand than it’ll be ok. We need not fear or be anxious, because in his time he will exalt us.
As of late i’ve been struggling with many life changing decisions, of which if i pick wrongly can have potentially detrimental effects fiscally and relationally on my life and those around me. In such times tonight i am reminded that all we can do is the same advice i gave my patient. I’ll pray…
I’ll come to God, conceding that my own wisdom and abilities cannot lead me to a wise conclusion, i’ll declare that i need him, i’ll lower myself beneath his mighty hand of provision, i’ll trust that he will lift me up when he sees fit, and lastly i’ll cast my anxiety on him. Notice that peter does not say you won’t be anxious, in fact he insinuates by the statement that there is an assumption that you are anxious already. He says cast your anxiety (as if you’ll definitely have anxiety) on him. This gives me encouragement as i realise that having anxiety is not wrong, God understands this, so he provides a solution… Lay it on his loving shoulders, why? – The passage ends with an astounding statement… because he cares for you.
May we come to God in our times of need… May we humble ourselves as we concede that we need him… May we trust that he will lift us in the right time… May we lay our anxiety on him… May we realise that does care about all our problems.
Thank God that we have an omniscient God who is does care about we who are so fragile and weak. All Glory to him who is so abounding with grace and mercy.
1 Samuel 1:12-15
12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
“Speechless” – Have you ever experienced a point in time whereby you were literally speechless. Often it’s because something is so utterly horrible, or because something is so indescribably fantastic that we cannot find a literary means by which we can convey how it is we feel at the time. So much so is this unique phenomena in human nature that the lingo and vernacular of modern day english has incorporated the actual speechlessness as an adjective in today’s language i.e. “i’m speechless” or “i don’t know what to say”.
There have been many instances in my life where i’ve been speechless, but on a personal level lately i find myself often quite speechless when it comes to my personal prayer time with God. It’s as though i’m just overwhelmed, there are simply too many decisions, too many people i love who need prayer for, too many decisions in life that need God’s wisdom and attention, so many that even as i open my mouth i feel overwhelmed before i even begin to rattle them off to my father and friend.
I’m overwhelmed, I know that his word says in all my ways i should acknowledge him and he will straighten thy path, in our 21st century urban life-style is it actually possible to verbally communicate everything we’re going through with God?
I think God knows this, and this story of Hannah is an absolute inspiration when it comes to my own personal prayer life. Hannah found herself overwhelmed, overwhelmed with grief, worry and sorry about her inability to conceive a child. So she came to the foot steps of God humbly and began to pray… No words came out, she simply moved her mouth. I speculate that perhaps she found herself in a similar position to myself overwhelmed yet needing God so desperately.
Despite the fact that no words were uttered the scripture tells us that the LORD “remembered” her (vs. 19). He heard her prayers uttered from the heart, he knew exactly what she needed and he answered. What is even more hopeful for us is now we have the Holy Spirit within our hearts, and through the perfect mediation of our priest Jesus Christ we can be 100% certain that God hears every prayer, and will answer every single prayer we need in his perfect wisdom.
It is not how eloquently you present yourself as an orator in prayer that persuades God to hear, but it is that you are humble, desperate and come to him in full need of his assistance. So if you like me need God’s help in everything be confident that he hears all and answers all for the good (Romans 8:28).
That if any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God and he will hear and answer (James 1:5).
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Have you ever seen a really bad movie? Tonight i saw one. It was called the expendables, probably one of the worst movies i have ever seen and i regret spending 2 hours of my life and $20 of my God given dollars on such a poor excuse for supposed “entertainment”. This movie was potently bad, to the point that yes it felt like torture having to sit through it. Very few movies make you want to leave, i wanted to leave…
The movie reminded me though of the importance of God’s call in our life to always remain positive. James writes that whether you’re in trouble, you’re happy, or sick the solution is always Glorifying God either through a prayer of desperation for his help (like tonight during the worst movie of my life), or whether it’s because everything in your life is going right and you want to praise his name for his grace and provision in your life.
I was reminded tonight of the very important call that we are indeed purposed to glorify the son through the spirit. That no matter what happens to us or what is going on in our life we can always find a reason to pray. James leaves no room to wiggle, you might be sick, you might be rich, you might be in trouble it doesn’t matter because you can always pray.
This illustrates the relationship of sonship that God indeed calls us to have with our father.
Today when i was treating a young 13 year old patient, with his father i was telling him how good he was doing that he had been diligent with his exercises… Immediately he tells his father (even though his dad did hear me), he looks to share his excitement with his Dad. Later during our session he became clammy and dizzy and felt as though he was going to throw up… Immediately he clutched his father’s hand and asked him to help protect him.
A son can truly come to his father no matter his circumstances, whether it is simply to praise something good, or for protection from something bad.
May we pray like James knows we should, “continually” and on every occasion that we might live a life in relationship with our Father glorifying him no matter our circumstances.
- Don’t Stop the praying
Okay so unfortunately i am unable to finish our series on ephesians i am pleased to say that in 10 or so blogs we only managed to get through one chapter, this alone should speak of how amazing said book is and if you have the time definitely give it a read.
So anyways our first assignment in bible college is working through the book of acts, of which i must finish reading in 2 weeks so i think i’ll begin my blog by reading the book and maybe posting a bit on things i learn along the way.
Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Now from now on i’ll be using the TNIV not NIV because according to Trinity Theological Seminary this is the most modern, accurate and non gender biased, lol do not argue with me because i don’t make the rules but yeah so if you’re reading along and it’s a bit different that’s why.
Have you ever felt uncertain about a decision in your life? I mean we want to do God’s will in everything but sometimes God doesn’t rock up incarnated to provide a clear cut answer.
Tonight me and Linda went to dine at Jacksons in Mount Lawley, supposedly one of the best restaurants in Perth, and i must say it was absolutely amazing. Services was impeccable and food was fantastic.
As we made our way to our seats i noticed something very interesting though about fine dining. They seem to ask a lot of questions whereby whether you answer yes or no it doesn’t matter because either is good. For example, when we came in, the question was… “Can i take your coat?”, to me the answer was no and Linda was Yes, either way didn’t affect our dining experience, but the very act of asking made the dining experience better… Also “Tape water or Sparkling Water?” To me the answer is either, but the very fact that they asked us what type of water we preferred to drink made the dining experience far better. Then comes the menu description, whereby the waiter/ waitress will deliciously describe with mouth-watering detail every dish available on the menu, at this point my answer was… well i want them all, and either way i went i knew i would be satisfied.
It seems as though the answers weren’t actually just what was important, but rather the actual asking of the questions.
Don’t you find Life with Jesus a somewhat similar experience? In Jesus we have a fine dining experience of life. We might be uncertain, we might be lost, but we can trust that according to Romans 8:28, all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. If we love him we should ask and in fact this asking is what build relationship and love with God, it’s called prayer… The answer is also important, but ultimately we can trust that either way it will eventually work together for the overall good. The disciples found themselves in a somewhat similar situation here in Acts 1. They weren’t sure who to pick to replace Judas, so they simply prayed first (asking) casted lots (basically rolled a dice) and whatever the outcome they went with it.
May you begin to trust that you’re life in his hands is like fine dining… The outcome will be good regardless of the question, but the questions must be asked.
- Then Trust that it will be Good
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every
Incomparably great power for us who believe… Wow what a statement, after our text yesterday we realised that through prayer we can open up our spiritual eyes to see… Verse 19 addresses another amazing thing that we in fact are able to see. What is it? Why it’s our starting statement, we can see power. In verse 19 he (Paul) mentions power but not just any power, rather the power of mighty strength which he exerted in CHRIST.
Wow, this has massive implications, Paul implys here that through our spiritual eyes we can realise our true potential is beyond the human realm, but in fact in Christ we possess the ultimate power which God himself exerted in Christ. We have this power through the workings of the holy spirit within us.
The other day i put on a pair of Jeans that i hadn’t worn in a while and as i began to walk out the door i was thinking hmm i need some cash. Immediately i reached into my pocket and pulled out $20. I began to wonder how long i was walking around with $20 in my pocket without even knowing how many times i had unnecessarily walked to the ATM when i ha the cash there all along.
Like this situation many Christians live without realising the power and potential inherited to them in their sonship after salvation. We walk around with all the riches and power we could ever want, all of it to Glorify God and achieve his perfect sovereign good will in our lives and yet we walk to the ATM. We go elsewhere for answers when everything we need is right within us. Most of us probably because we are ignorant, we don’t know the $20 is there, or some us know and are too lazy to reach into our pockets and grab it.
Maybe if we begun to realise the amazing power given to us we would see a profound benefit to our lives, we would find answers, direction, hope, perseverance, we would find what we need because what we need is actually inside us, if we would only access it through prayer and time with the God who put it there.
May we be inspired by the power within us.
- Start using the Power!
PS – I will most likely write a few blogs just on this scripture passage since it’s so mind-blowing!
Jeremiah 6:16 – 16 This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
This week has been interesting, and a lot has changed. The purpose of this blog has been to see what changes i would experience in my life by committing to spending 365 days with Jesus (although i have missed a few due to camps etc). Lately however one topic has plagued me, start up my business which i believe God has opened many doors, or… embrace my ultimate call into full-time ministry now by going to bible college.
There have been a number of updates in my situation, firstly this week the business took a good turn with signs looking very optimistic that it will in fact go ahead. Secondly i had a dream on sunday night/ monday morning seemingly directing me toward bible college. Again on Friday i also met with a very close dear mentor of mine who also felt the need to direct me toward bible college.
So on Friday i found myself in trinity college booking a meeting with the registrar to inquire about my options, the meeting is Tuesday (yes that does mean i sacrifice my weekly golf game).
So here in lies the dilemma, is God directing me to both? Which way is the right way? Can one do both? At this point i remain unsure, but i am pushing ahead with both.
Jeremiah speaks of what to do when you face such a cross roads in life.
- Stand – Stop moving at your cross road
- Look – On Jesus whilst you’ve stopped, look at both paths which one looks right?
- Ask – Jesus which one is the right way
- Walk – Then walk whatever direction you deem right
- Find rest – then have peace that you’ve done all that you can
I have stopped, both paths look right, i’m asking Jesus and this tuesday i will receive a sign, i am walking with whatever is in my hand. May i find peace with the decisions i make in Christ
Right now perhaps i lean more toward doing one unit and working on the business? – Seems the most logical, although i am open and obedient to wherever the Lord leads, this coming week will indeed be interesting.
Lord guide my situation, give me discernment, wisdom, strength and obedience to walk in your way.
Readers do pray for me, and find out the outcome this Tuesday.