What do you have?

 

dsc_0155

 (The western wall, the only remaining part of the Temple in Jerusalem.)

 

In Acts chapter 3, we read about the healing of the lame beggar.

Picture the scene with me.  It was three o’clock in the afternoon and there were crowds of people arriving at the temple for one of three regular times of Jewish prayer.  In they came, through ornate gates, congregating with purpose, greeting friends and family.  The temple area also attracted beggars, each one living in hope that religious piety would produce charity.

And so we meet our ‘certain man’, a man lame from birth, who had been brought here early and deposited near the entrance to the temple.  Over the years, he had become a fixture at the Temple, part of the furniture, all but invisible to the regulars.

Until today.

Today he catches someone’s eye.  When the lame man sees that Peter the Apostle has noticed him, he extends his hands in anticipation of coins.  How disappointing it must have been to hear Peter’s words, ‘I have no silver or gold’.  Empty pockets mean a wasted trip and a hungry night ahead.

But the Apostle isn’t finished.

‘What I do have, I give to you.’

And in a God-ordained moment, he takes the man’s hand and lifts him to his miracle.  Joints and ligaments that had never borne weight are immediately strengthened as trepidatious steps became joyful and abandoned.

Suddenly, this insignificant, invisible life becomes a display of the miraculous, a living testimony that Jesus the Son of God is alive and His Spirit is working.

And all because Peter and John gave what they have.

All because they had something to give.

Let’s not forget that there were a lot of people at the Temple that day.  Many, I am sure, were well-meaning, sincere worshippers.  Perhaps they dropped a coin or two into needy hands on the way to their religious appointment. Perhaps they quietly prayed for these poor souls and wished them well in their hearts.

Or maybe they had their own personal problems on their minds as they approached this hour of supplication.  And who can blame them?  We all know how relationship difficulties, financial worries or health problems can preoccupy us, even at church.

But not Peter and John.

Fresh from Pentecost’s power, they are filled up and sold out.  God had done something new in their lives, something dynamic and extraordinary.  It was fresh and real and recent. In that upper room, God had shown up in power and glory, fulfilling ancient promises with the precious gift of His Holy Spirit.  They had witnessed the miraculous and experienced the life-changing presence of God.

And so Peter and John had what this man really needed.

Don’t get me wrong, good advice can be very helpful.  Compassion and empathy are beautiful and essential qualities.  Taking time to listen is vitally important. But when someone is hurting, broken, sick or lost what really matters is who I believe Jesus to be and what I know He can do.

Today, even in the middle of our mundane, ordinary lives, God wants to do something new.  He wants to fulfil promises and answer prayers.  He wants to meet us in our waiting and surprise us with His goodness.  He wants to do more than we have thought or imagined.  He wants to give us an ever-increasing revelation of how good and able and willing He is.

Otherwise, what do we have to give?

Sure, we can dust off stale stories of things God did decades ago in our lives. We can hand out our hollow theories or opinions or ‘something really good I read in a book’.  We can post platitudes with hipster fonts or some celebrity preacher’s Sunday soundbite.

Or we can meet the need around us with an introduction to the living, powerful God we know.

We can have testimonies to share that are hot off the press and daily bread that is fresh out of the oven.   We can offer real faith in a real God.  We can give out to others from the overflow of our own personal walk with God and all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in our lives.

And He wants to start today.

He wants to do something new.  He wants to surprise you.  He wants to give you a fresh experience of His love and goodness and transforming power.

So, wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, thank God for every good thing He has done in the past.  But covet a new testimony of His goodness as well.  Don’t be content with old testimonies.  Ask God for a new touch, a Rhema word from the Bible, a miracle of healing or deliverance or provision.   Then, in every situation, you can share with others what they really need.

His name is Jesus.  And, you know Him.

He is alive and He is powerful and He is working on this planet to change lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daily slice

DSC_0741Bread gets some bad press.

A growing awareness of food intolerances means that sandwiches are definitely out of style as working professionals choose trendier lunches.  Although the UK is a bit behind the US, gluten-free options are now available everywhere and sales of sliced bread are down 12% as compared to a few years ago.

But in the Bible, bread is a wonderful thing.    It is used many times in God’s Word as a picture of important truths.

Bread is very often used as a picture of provision.  In Exodus, the heavenly bread called manna was God’s provision for His people in the desert.  In the gospels, Jesus blessed, broke and multiplied loaves of bread to feed the hungry crowds who followed Him.

In Matthew 15.26 Jesus used bread to describe spiritual blessings, particularly supernatural physical healing.

And of course, bread is a picture of God’s ultimate provision for us, Christ, who describes Himself as the bread of life in John 6.35.  Every time we take communion we are reminded that our Bread of Life was broken for us to provide salvation.

And then in the most well-known words of the Bible in Matthew 6 we see the template for prayer. Verse 11 says, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’

DSC_0736

The word used here for daily is a very intriguing one.  ‘Epiousios’, was not a word that was used in ordinary speech and in fact,  it is only found in this prayer and not used anywhere else in the Bible or in any other Greek writings.  It may have even been coined by the writers of the gospels themselves which makes it arguably the most difficult word in the New Testament to translate.

Early Bible translators used context and similar Greek words to attempt to derive meaning.  They settled on ‘daily‘.  They believed the word had a sense of ‘just enough’ or ‘what is sufficient for today’ so that we should ask God for the basics we need to live each day, which of course we should.

However more recently, a closer look at the prefix used here gives a fuller meaning.  Rather than just enough for today, the way the word has been constructed has a sense of provision that is above and beyond, bountiful, more than enough for the future.

 Make no mistake, this is supernatural bread and the portions are generous.

Like the loaves that Jesus multiplied, there are always baskets of leftovers.

Each time we pray for our needs we can pray believing that the answer will be full and rich.  God’s answers overflow into our tomorrow.  They are abundant, not just adequate.

It is like there is exponential power in our daily prayer time with God.  It builds.  I am reminded of Deuteronomy 28.2 where God promises His children that the blessings of obedience will overtake them, like an avalanche of answers that they can’t outrun.

There are answers for you today.  There is healing and deliverance and supply.  But you can expect that these blessings will also overflow into tomorrow.  There are words of direction that will propel you towards callings and ministries in the future.  There are solutions to problems you don’t even know about yet.  There are words of comfort that you are going to need.  There is bread from the Bread of Life Himself.  You will be filled up and you will receive enough to share with others.

The God we pray to is a giver.  He is a good father.  He gives generously out of an endless supply and He always gives enough for tomorrow.

Philippians 4.19 promises us that God supplies our needs out of the riches of Christ.

Matthew 7.11 promises His gifts are good.

Romans 8.32 says God graciously gives us all things.

Psalm 34 promises those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing.

God knows what is around the corner.  He knows the challenges and struggles and disappointments and loss we may face.  He knows exactly what we need today to be ready for tomorrow and we receive it when we make time to be with Him daily.

Trusting, believing hearts can choose daily bread over worry.  We can be filled with every word that God speaks and never be hungry again.  We can laugh at the future because even in the deepest darkest valleys, there is a table already prepared for us,  and our cups and our breadbaskets are overflowing.

 

‘How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear You.  You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.’  Psalm  31.19  NLT

 

DSC_0755

 

 

 

 

 

 

More

 

DSC_0794

There is a lake near my home and it is my favourite place to walk.  I have walked around it dozens and dozens of times, in hot sunshine and in rain.  I have been around it so many times that I know the path like the back of my hand.

But sometimes I like to take my camera and try and find views and scenes that I have never noticed before.  I like to explore the smaller paths that wind between the rhododendrons and camellias and look for something new to photograph.

It is the same lake, of course, but there is always a fresh angle or a new perspective waiting to be discovered.  And, the more I discover, the more I love it.

 

DSC_0799

I think knowing God is like that.

If I am going to live carefully and wisely, as described in Ephesians 5.15-17, if I am going to understand and grasp God’s will, I have to always remember that I don’t know everything.  There is always more.

God is bigger than my particular political persuasion or my preferred church denomination.  He is bigger than my own personal view of the world.

That is one of the reasons that we need each other.

In Romans chapter 12, we see that we are all gifted in different ways and in verse 5 it says, ‘we being many are one in Christ and individually members of one another.’  The New Living Translation says, ‘we are all different but we depend on each other.’

One of the ways in which Christians depend on each other is for the different perspectives we each bring. 

DSC_0897

It is so easy to read things we already know and to only spend time with people who are just like us. When we do that, we are missing out because we often learn the most from those who are different from us.

This doesn’t come naturally though.  It can feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.  It involves listening more and never being so set in our ways that we can’t learn something new about God from someone else.

If you are a bit of a bookworm like me, someone who is always reading and writing and thinking, it might be time to hang out with a Christian who serves the needy in more practical ways.  Watch and learn as they get their hands dirty and love others with actions, not just words.

If your natural inclination is towards serving other Christians in church, you could dare to spend the day with an evangelist.  Their love for the lost will infuse you and challenge you and change you.

If prayer isn’t your thing, find a friend who is a committed intercessor.  Listen to the passion they have for prayer and let them lift your faith with their tales of God’s supernatural answers.

If you have been a Christian for a long time, nothing will refresh and revive you like the energy of a new believer.  It is so sincere and pure and totally contagious.  If you are newer to the faith, find a mature Christian and just watch them.  See how they live life, make decisions and raise a family.  Ask them anything you don’t understand.  Follow them as they follow Christ.

Don’t read the same authors or go to the same conferences all the time.  Try something a little different.  As long as it is Biblical, learn from someone with a new perspective. It really is life-changing.

Don’t spend your life just re-enforcing what you already know and believe.  Look to learn every day.  This is how we grow.

DSC_0790

 

We must always remind ourselves that there are things about God we do not know or understand yet, however long we have been Christians.  God has so much truth to reveal to you and so much new beauty for you to enjoy.  There is treasure you haven’t found in the Bible yet and ways of praying you have never thought of.

This Creator God we call Father is indescribable and uncontainable and it takes a lifetime to scratch the surface of His goodness and love. 

There is so much to seek, to chase and to discover in God.

And God promises that whenever we seek more of Him, we find more of Him.  

 

DSC_0931