divine appointments, God Speaks, Uncategorized

Day 19: “Dream State”

Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection—don’t let evil hurt me.” God gave him what he asked.

1 Chronicles 4:10 (MSG)

Billie Eilish recently became the youngest artist at age 18 to win four of the top Grammy awards including Best New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the year, and Song of the Year. She also took home a 5th on the same night winning Best Pop Vocal Album. In interviews with her, she interestingly explained how much of her songwriting came out of various dream states: Night terrors, lucid dreams, nightmares, and sleep paralysis. Isn’t it fascinating  that the world is giving so much credit to a young girl who wrote an entire album flowing with ideas coming out of her sleep?! Her music has an eerie alternative vibe and if you watch one of her videos you’ll believe it came out of some sort of dream because outside of a hallucination they make little sense.

You have embraced 2020 as a “Year of Possibilities” and God has done a work in your spirit over these past few weeks. You’ve spent time meditating, praying, thinking, and hopefully dreaming about your own future, allowing God to speak to you. Even if you don’t have a 54.6 million Instagram followers and a stack of awards for your talent at putting your fantasies on paper, setting them to music and then uploading them to a YouTube channel, you can tune yourself into your dreams and use your sleep time as a time to allow God to speak to you. Billie might not give credit to her Creator for her experiences in the night, but you can!

You dream during your REM sleep even if you wake up with no memory of it. Tonight, ask God to speak to you after hours; have a journal next to you so you can write down anything you remember when you wake up. A lucid dream is where you become aware that you are dreaming while you’re still partially asleep. You can have an idea or experience so amazing in this state that you have the impression it’s real. If this happens to you, imagine yourself alongside Jesus and let him encourage you for your future.

Like Jabez, ask God to enlarge your territory. Envision your family and your work flourishing. See yourself flying high in your calling and gliding through your days with ease like a duck on water. You can transform yourself by renewing your own mind, even while you sleep. With the Holy Spirit’s help and a bit of concentration and awareness, greatness might just flow out of you too!

*Read Romans 12:1-2 and meditate on it for five minutes. What part of your mind needs to be renewed? Aligned with God? How can you transform your thinking today? Are you willing to focus your attention, even when you’re drifting off to sleep, on Jesus and what he wants to say to you? Be willing to put aside your worries, fears, and insecurities; let the Holy Spirit flow freely through you as you seek him at all times during the day.

divine appointments, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Now You Know…”

Your mercy and your truth have married each other.

Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth.

Righteousness shines down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord keeps raining down blessing after blessing,

and prosperity will drench the land with a bountiful harvest.

For deliverance and peace are his forerunners,

preparing a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13 (TPT)

The status quo blinds you. Mundane routines are like blinkers on a horse, keeping your eyes straight ahead, only focussing on the immediate day to day finish lines. Work, chores, kids, laundry, meals, bills. You begin to expect what you’re used to but all that is changing.

Have you ever learnt something new and suddenly you started seeing it everywhere? This is called the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion.” Has your awareness increased or is there a sudden uptick in the frequency of the information? Chances are, when it comes to your spirituality, what you now know was always there.

As a Christian who is intentionally seeking God in a deeper way through prayer and fasting, you’re taking off your blinders and changing up your daily routine. Everything has a brighter hue. Life is louder, more exciting.

What is right in front of you that you didn’t see before? A scripture you read or a sermon you heard brings forth a cognitive bias where you are now seeing Christ in all things. You are amazed at the beauty of a garden, the fresh smells and intricacy of the leaves on the plants. You’re reminded of God’s hand in all things because you’re recently aware of the detail he brings to your own life. 

You studied a passage of scripture about a widow with jars of oil (see yesterday’s post) and now you see oil on sale at Woolworth’s and overhear a conversation at school about cooking with coconut oil. You’re reminded of your own increased capacity even though grocery stores and recipes have nothing to do with it. God is using everything around you to speak to you!

You know the power of positive thinking and someone tells you about Dr Caroline Leaf. You scroll through Instagram and someone quotes a line from her book. You now notice it because you’ve had a recent revelation about positive mindsets.

You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon with new concepts in unexpected places. Lean into them. Don’t chalk them up as coincidences. Rather, see God in all things. Realise he speaks to you through nature, other people, signs while you’re driving, anywhere.

God’s blessings are all around you.

* Be on the lookout today for one of the concepts you’ve read or thought about over the last week to come up again. This reinforcement of God’s word is like a healing balm over your life. You are experiencing a bountiful harvest of revelation and blessing from God. He wants to speak to you. Pay attention and journal anything you see that relates to what you’ve been learning.

Contentment, Fasting, God Speaks, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 19: “Pray in the Spirit.”

What do you do when you don’t know what to pray? When this journey is over and there are no devotions landing in your inbox nor any clear direction?

Some of you enjoy the structure of having a thought to pray around; you you can easily find a devotion online or on the YouVersion Bible app.

Others write down your prayers like a Santa Claus wish list – all those wants and needs pouring out of you in desperate yearning like a child highlighting items in the Target ad circular.

You might pray “HELP!” when a desperate need arises. Or, you may have the same prayer you keep bringing before God day in and day out; it’s caught in your headspace like a bad pop song you heard yesterday that just won’t go away.

Prayer is as much about talking to God and sending up your heavenly airmail as it is about listening to what your God has to say to you regarding your situation. Oftentimes, the answers you seek are right before you as you calmly wait on God to intervene on your behalf. But, you are so busy shopping around for what YOU can do, striving to make stuff happen. You are box ticking and stretching yourself beyond your human capacity to work out the angles and to try and solve your problems, all the while crying out to God, “come along with my plans… bless them. Guide me as I jump off this next cliff. Save me as I step out to do more, more, more, more!”

What if you relax into his loving arms and do nothing today except pray in the spirit and wait? The most troubling situations you’re facing might resolve themselves without your angling and posturing. The answer you seek might be found in the secret place alongside your Saviour. He is intervening on your behalf. He goes before you. He is behind you.

Wait on him and give him a chance to come through for you.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27
Contentment, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 3: “His Mercies are New.”

mercies-are-newSo often, your personal struggles are what hold you back from pursuing all that God has for you. Guilt over poor choices dismantles your ability to see yourself as God sees you. Bad relationships bring you down and discourage you. Other people’s problems encroach on your peace. Work or financial issues cause you to feel overwhelmed.

Although these are everyday realities for you, you must not let them overshadow your walk with God. Today, reflect upon God’s goodness and mercy towards you even though you live in a fallen world and a sinful body.

The author of Lamentations wrote while mourning the impending exile of the Jews in the midst of great sin and disarray in Jerusalem. The Message version of Lamentations Chapter 3 implores you to “keep a grip on hope” because God’s mercies are new each day; “the worst is never the worst.” If life doesn’t look quite like you wanted as you woke up today, stay the course. Stop beating yourself up because of your failures. Say something nice to yourself. Apologise for hurts you’ve caused and move on.

It’s a new day. God is on your side and “his stockpiles of loyal love are immense.” He is still on the throne and no matter your circumstances, he can be found in the midst. Turn your full attention to him today. Relinquish the desire to be perfect or to wallow in guilt or shame. Embrace God’s mercy in giving you another day, a do-over, if you will.

Contentment, Devotion, Fasting, God Speaks, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day FOURTEEN

Read Isaiah 41:13, Psalm 23:4-6, and Isaiah 43:2

(Today’s thought is submitted by Paul O’Rourke.)

These are just a few of the dozens of verses promising God’s strength, peace and protection in the midst of trouble. Being a Christian does not make us immune from various painful and sometimes prolonged challenges.

We live in an increasingly violent world where terrorists purposely seek to strike fear into the hearts of the innocent. The random and barbaric nature of their frequent attacks means it is difficult to avoid danger as those in Martin Place, Sydney and France found as they went about their daily lives.

The frequency and severity of natural disasters can cause us to be fearful. We may fear sickness, pain and death, the loss of our jobs, being abandoned by those we love, financial ruin, violence. These are serious and often legitimate concerns.

However, we have an ever-present and reliable friend and protector who promises to be with us in our time of need. 

God promises never to leave us or reject us; we won’t be faced with temptation or trials that are beyond our ability in Him, to withstand. Repeatedly we are reminded, “Do not be afraid.’’ God is with us, for us, ahead of us, behind us.

Our problems threaten to overwhelm us when we attempt to overcome them in our own strength, or when we see them as bigger and stronger than God’s promises. We must stay grounded in the Word. God is trustworthy and we must renew our minds daily to strengthen ourselves. We must fill ourselves with eternal truth rather than the world’s negativity; that’s what we are doing during our fast, hopefully forming a habit that will continue beyond 21 days.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the extraordinary peace that guards my heart and mind when I focus on you and your promises. I bring to you my real concerns but I lay them at your feet and refuse to let them dominate my mind or control my behaviour. Thank you for your provision and protection. Give me wisdom to lay aside anything that is out of my control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faith, God Speaks, Lift Church, Newcastle, Pictures, Uncategorized

Slowing Down Makes Me Notice

map of 20km run

What I love about training for my first marathon is that the “busy-ness” of the 100km/hr life I lead building Lift Church and raising three kids slows down to 10km/hr as I pound the pavement in training runs 5 days a week. Recently on a 20km run from my house in Belmont down to Caves Beach, I observed many things I have never really seen before. I’ve driven and I’ve sat passenger in a car down the Pacific Highway many times. The magnificent views of the ocean and Lake Macquarie pass by in an instant.

I don’t notice the slight undulations of the road or the bumps and uneven bits in the grass. I take no note of the smells with my windows rolled up; nor do I contemplate the old houses and rusty mailboxes, wondering how long its been since they have opened for communication. Nope. When I’m riding in a car, these are merely background images racing past my subconscious mind, rarely ever making me glance twice.

Yet, when I’m afoot, looking down to keep my stride through the parts with no path, I notice them all. The RunKeeper updates in my ear saying another five minutes have passed give me pause to remember exactly where I am on the road…

I can feel the gaps between the wooden planks on the bridge. The aroma of meat pies from the Bakers Cottage in Belmont South contrasts the stinky fish being caught as I cross Swansea Bridge. I resent the exhaust from passing cars and relish the fresh outdoor fragrance of trees and flowers on Fernleigh Track.

I’m reminded like never before that God is alongside me. He is Omni-present. He is Omniscient and Omnipotent. He sees above and below, to where I’m facing and from where I’ve come. I think I’m in control, metaphorically marking out my steady path so I avoid disappointment and pain; but he already knows the potholes and wrong turns I’ll make. He is never disillusioned or disappointed in me.

He numbers the hair on my head and died for me before I ever lived. He knows the fluctuations of my moods and the uneven ways of my motives. Every step I have taken and every one I’ve yet to take are ordered by him and I don’t even notice most of the time. I’m passing through this life, all 37 years, with speed and persistence as if I have somewhere important to go. All the while, he’s alongside me, patiently holding his hand out for me to slow down and consider his ways.

I think I’ve noticed a slight rise in elevation as I approach Swansea Heads, clever in my mind at how strong I’ve become and how long I have run. I am surprised at the beauty; how did I never notice it before? swansea headsMy Father, in his glory, gently reminds me that he created those waves with the work of his mighty hands and the revelation is all mine. Nothing has ever occurred to the One is WAS, who IS and who IS TO COME.

I run and I wonder the story of the broken down shack, all tagged with graffiti and disregarded as refuse. broken down shackI think of my own life and the damaged places and wounded bits and rest in knowing my God still finds me useful and worthy of his love, despite the scars.

No matter what rocky path might come my way or what heartache or tragedy takes my breath away, my God steadies me and secures my steps and my faith. For it’s not in the ground itself that I place my security. My assurance lies not in the width of my path.

swanseaIt’s in knowing the One whose

Faithfulness

Equals

Fidelity.

He maps my course and gives me comfort when the path seems too narrow and enmity enters in. He can calm a raging sea inside of me when I waver. He lifts me from the clay when I’m bogged down heavy and sets me on a rock, firm and surefooted again. His wing shelters me and his promises shift me toward everything I need and everywhere I should go. I only have to slow down to notice.

If you don’t know the God I’m talking about or have questions about your own faith journey, I’d love to introduce you to your Heavenly Father and come alongside you in your walk. Please contact me here.
Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Seven

(Post submitted by Pastor Greg)

John 10:1-18

Within each of us lies a desire to be known, understood, and valued. God made us this way. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, emphatically states that he KNOWS US. The eternal God acquaints himself with every part of us from the inside out. He knows our very thoughts, fears, dreams and desires.

The fact that the creator of the universe knows us this intimately brings great joy, peace and security. It gives us the ability to approach today and everyday with a boldness and confidence knowing God is aware of our weaknesses, faults, and fears. It’s in spite of them that he laid down his life for us. He did it so that we could have “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Jesus also reminds us that we know HIS voice.  In order to discern the voice of God, we must spend time in his presence through prayer and reading his word.  With so many distractions shouting for our attention, screaming at our inadequacies, and roaring at our faults, we have to listen carefully to hear our shepherd’s voice. It takes discipline to push them out and if we aren’t careful, those negative murmurs can define who we are, too easily drowning out his voice. We can find ourselves wandering aimlessly through life lacking purpose.

God has great plans and purposes for us all, however! And, like a “good shepherd” He leads us to pastures of fruitfulness, peace, and blessing. Concentrating on our shepherd’s voice during this time of fasting reminds us of our worth and how much he cares and loves us all.

Dear God, I am so humbled and grateful for your voice in my life. You are truly a good shepherd. Help me to hear your voice more clearly as I continue to fast and seek your face. Show me your plans for me. Drown out the negative self-talk and other distracting voices that seek to pull me away from you. I only want to be guided by YOU. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.