Last week was a very troubled week for our nation when, after just 45 days, we saw another Prime Minister resign. At the time of writing, it is expected that we will have a new Prime Minister within the next day or so!
In many respects, all of these changes remind me of the verse in Mark 3:25: ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’ This verse speaks very clearly that success can only come by having a spirit of unity (this is also expressed in Psalm 133.) It would be so easy for all of us as Christians to spend our time debating the big ‘HOW’. How did we get in this situation? But I believe it is better to unite in prayer for the following:
For calm in this chaotic situation.
For unity. Pray for the right person to bring unity in the party and the country — that they would have a real heart to serve the people of the nation rather than to fulfil their own personal ambitions.
For mobilisation. Pray for the church to rise up and mobilise herself to do what 1 Timothy 2:1 urges us to do: ‘I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.’
For wisdom. Pray for wisdom for our governments as they discuss and debate what happens next —that they choose responses which are inspired by God and not necessarily their own intuition.
For peace. Pray through scriptures such as Philippians 4:6: ‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
Let us always go to God’s Word for our answers. His Word (John 1:5) says that the darkness in the world will get darker, but that darkness will never extinguish light. In fact, it says that light (His light) will continue to shine brighter, and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. That is where we get our strength and hope.
So let’s intentionally pray with passion for our great nation. Pray that God’s in-extinguishable light will shine ever brighter in the middle of the darkness that we see and the chaotic season that we find ourselves in.
We all have been impacted by the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Although The Queen lived to a good age of 96 years, scripture tell us that life is very short compared with eternity. James 4:14 says, ‘Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapour that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.’
A vapour is a fine mist like fog. It quickly burns away when the sun comes up. It has no substance and leaves nothing behind. Comparing our lives to a vapour illustrates how brief our days are on this earth.
David said: ‘The days of our lives are seventy years, or even eighty if we have strength; yet their span is but toil and trouble. Our years are soon gone, and we fly away’ (Psalm 90:10).
Even if we manage to increase the span to 90 or 100 or beyond, the principle is the same. Our lives in this world are like a vapour. Appearing for a little while and then vanishing. So how can we make our life count?
Here are some principles to help us make sure that we reach our full potential:
1. Discover your purpose in God. Purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Success, for me, is purpose-fulfilled. Purpose is what gives meaning to life. Too many people in this world today live without purpose, but we are all created with a purpose and for a purpose. We are here not by mistake but by divine design and appointment. If we are to be truly successful, we must discover our purpose and fulfil it. An apple seed is not successful until it becomes a tree and has fruit on it. My advice is that everyone needs to find what they were born for.
2.Find the plan of God. A plan is defined as a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something – an intention or decision about what one is going to do. We don’t get to decide God’s purpose for us; instead, we discover it. However, He has a unique plan for each one of us – remember that God’s desire for all of us is to experience not just life but abundant life, and He wants us to get the plan. So let’s intentionally seek God’s plan by spending time in His presence and asking Him for His plan, and He will reveal it to us through His Word (where we’ll discover that His plan is already blessed.)
3.Execute the God-given plan. Once you discover His purpose for your life and know God’s plan, then you need to execute the plan. Some have discovered their purpose and have the plan, but they are not willing to execute it because they feel it does not fulfil their personal ambitions/aspirations. Never forget that our potential is only limited by what we believe we cannot do. However, God believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. He not only promises to be with us as we execute the plan but He also gives us the tools to fulfil it. Remember, we have access to the power of The Holy Spirit, the power of His Word, and the power of His Name. Also, we are protected by the power of His blood. So let’s reach our full potential by discovering our purpose in God, find out the blessed plan of God for our lives, and make sure that we execute the plan to the letter and experience the fullness of life.
Lastly, in reflecting on the life of the late Queen Elizabeth II, we can truly say that she not only discovered God’s purpose and plan for her life but executed it faithfully. Here is what she said at her 21st birthday speech to the nations: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’ Well, by God’s grace, she surely executed and fulfilled that promise right to the end. What an example to us all. May God give us all the grace to fulfil what we have individually been called to do in the most effective and faithful way!
In a time of war, the Lord is still the stronghold of our lives.
Once again, our newspapers are filled with ‘wars and rumours of wars’, and if you are anything like me, you too might be feeling the strain of a new crisis, right on the heels of the last crisis! As believers, how should we respond when all around us is bad news, when our newspapers declare ‘the end is nigh’, or when, once again, we are surrounded by fear and anxiety. Well, I always go back to the ‘divine instruction manual’ – God’s Word – for that is where we’ll find comfort and strength. God’s Word is the only anchor in desperate times, and it is the one thing that we can ALWAYS rely on. God’s Word never changes, and it contains all we need for hope, comfort, healing, wisdom, and guidance.
Jesus told us in Matthew 24:6 that we will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but we should not be alarmed, for the end is not yet.
But also in Psalm 27, we are reminded that when darkness is all around us, ‘the Lord is MY light and MY salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will NOT fear, though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.’
And as we stand on the truth of God’s Word, how can we pray?
First let’s unite our prayers for the…
Safety and protection for those seeking shelter in Ukraine.
Provision for those fleeing.
Guidance, direction, and divine opportunities for church leaders and Christians in Ukraine.
Wisdom for the Ukrainian government and global leaders.
Peace and resolution quickly.
But also, let’s pray for Russia, for…
All those who are feeling anxious and afraid.
The many churches across Russia.
Russia’s leaders, for hearts to be turned back to God.
And here in the UK, let’s pray for unity not division, for peace not fear, and for heavenly wisdom.
Today, if you are fearful, grieving, or broken, let the truth of God’s Word sink into your heart, and be reminded that He is our source of light, He is our healer, He is our restorer, and He is the one who brings peace even in the middle of fear, panic, and uncertainty.
However you are feeling today, remember that God is STILL God. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and our hearts and prayers today are with everyone who is broken, lost, and feels as though their lives have been shattered. The cry of our hearts must be ‘Lord God, heal our world!’
As we have now crossed from 2021 to 2022, we’ve hit another wave in our raging storm with Covid: data running wild, people under further restrictions, the economy yet again impacted, and the list goes on. In Mark 4, Jesus said to His disciples ‘let’s go over to the other side’ (NASB), and what happened is that in their crossing over, they hit a storm. Let’s learn what this story can teach us as we face storms in our own lives:
It was unforeseen and unprecedented. Who could have foreseen this storm? But remember that in unprecedented times, there is an unprecedented God who is able to deal with any unprecedented situations that we may be facing.
They were right in God’s will. They were obeying what Jesus asked them to do, going over to the other side. Being in God’s will doesn’t immunise us from the storms of life – if anything, it can even activate them as the enemy’s strategy is only to steal, kill, and destroy.
It was not just a physical storm but an emotional storm. They were afraid. This pandemic is more than physical; it’s also a pandemic of fear that is paralysing many today. Let’s remember the declaration of God’s word: ‘Love casts out all fear’ (see 1 John 4:18). And if God lives within us, who can be against us? However, it does not mean that we can do what we want. Let’s make sure that we all continue to adhere to the ongoing updates to keep us safe.
As they panicked in their raging storm, facing tragic circumstances of possible drowning, Jesus Himself was asleep – why? Well, what is within you determines the outcome of any situation that you face. Not only did Jesus have peace within Him, but He is the Prince of Peace, able to release manifested peace in any chaotic situation. Therefore, let’s release the Prince of Peace through us to manifest Himself in our storms today.
They had forgotten the word that Jesus had given them: ‘Let’s go over to the other side.’ He never said ‘Let’s go UNDER!’ Let us make sure that when Jesus commands us to do something, we get hold of His Word to the letter and stand upon it, for unexpected storms could hit us at any time.
Jesus spoke to natural elements. Don’t you think that Jesus can do it again? Of course He can. Right now you can call upon Him in whatever situation you are facing.
Jesus said ‘Peace, be still’ (Mark 4:39 KJV). This suggests, in other words, that peace was on the move. Peace will always seek turbulence, for it is in turbulent times that peace has the most effect. As we face this raging pandemic storm, or whatever storms we may find ourselves in, let’s be reminded that the Prince of Peace can do ‘exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us’ (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).
The disciples were then terrified by the very one who brought peace in their chaos. Sometimes our fears are directed at the wrong things. Let’s put healthy fear in the right thing, in fact in the right person – our Lord Jesus Christ!!
The disciples made it through to the other side, just as Jesus said. So will we, and let’s use this challenging time to strengthen ourselves in the Lord, ready for what He has in store for us in 2022.
In conclusion, the disciples were totally surprised to meet this unprecedented storm as they were crossing over to the other side. Let’s remind ourselves that Jesus wasn’t surprised at all by the storm that they were facing. He was totally aware and in control of the situation. Therefore, let’s put our trust in Him in this chaotic world that we are facing. As we have now crossed into 2022, let us expect the Prince of Peace to manifest Himself in whatever raging storms we may be facing right now or in months to come, and let’s believe that 2022 will be a victorious year in every way. Have a blessed 2022!
THE THREE CROSSES OF CALVARY BUT ONLY ONE WAY TO SALVATION!
Over 2000 years ago, there were three crosses standing on a hill called Calvary. These three crosses had a loud and clear message then, and they still speak to us today:
1. REBELLION – the state of mankind
2. REPENTANCE – the need of men
3. REDEMPTION – the solution for all
As we approach Easter, let’s look at each of them.
1)The first cross represents the Cross of REBELLION
Luke 23:39 tells us that ‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ [Messiah], save Yourself and us.”‘ The sad truth is that from the very beginning of time, men and women everywhere have rejected God, preferring to follow their own desires and to run things their own way – that is a way without God. This rebellious, self-sufficient attitude is what the Bible calls ‘sin’, and guess what? We ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). But it is also important to remind ourselves that God has created us with a free will, and whatever choices we make today will certainly affect our tomorrow. This man hanging on the cross next to Jesus bluntly demonstrated his rebellion against God, and rather than choosing forgiveness and eternal life, he deliberately chose to blaspheme and turn his back on the Son of God – and consequently he rejected eternal life. The Bible makes it clear that we are all rebellious by nature: ‘none of us is righteous, no not one!’ But praise God that He revealed to each and every one of us the message of life, leading us to experience a free salvation so great that we in turn, through our personal life, can proclaim God’s goodness not just at Easter time but every single day.
2) The second cross represents the Cross of REPENTANCE
But as the first one hurled insults at Jesus, the other one rebuked him and said ‘Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ It is important to remind ourselves that Jesus was suffering in a way that we cannot begin to grasp or even partially understand, but so was this criminal. And in the middle of this agonising torture of the cross, a dialogue took place, and what Jesus did next was a wonderful example of understanding, acceptance, love, and compassion all wrapped up in one conclusive act. It is the very essence of the life of Jesus’ strength through adversity, for without hesitation, Jesus responded to his cry for mercy. Here is what Luke 23:43 tells us: ‘Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”‘ Here is the lesson that we can learn from the second cross, the CROSS OF REPENTANCE: it is never too late to repent and ask the Lord to accept us. Jesus freed this man from his sins, received him graciously, justified him unconditionally, and led him to experience the gift of eternal life. What a beautiful message of hope that must be proclaimed: ‘IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT’.
3)The third cross represents the Cross of REDEMPTION
The cross in the middle of Calvary was the one that holds the hope and future for ALL willing to embrace it. Yes, the third cross is THE CROSS OF REDEMPTION. Lifted up right in the middle of two criminals, Jesus hung from a cross – the very Son of God, demonstrating the very words of the Heavenly Father found in this well-know scripture of John 3:16 (TPT): ‘For here is the way God loved the world – he gave his only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.’ Yes, right in the middle of Calvary for all to see was the Cross of REDEMPTION that holds HOPE and the FUTURE of humanity. Let’s never forget that when Jesus died on the cross of Redemption and then rose again from the grips of death, His grace of salvation could be released! He paid a price that none of us could pay. Thank God for that! Even as the Son of God hung on that middle cross, mercy flowed. And it was demonstrated in the criminals hanging on either side of Jesus, because they both had the same choice: while one took his bitterness and rage to the grave, the other pleaded with this cry: ‘Remember me!’ How good to know that Jesus doesn’t hold our past against us, for He took our shame, our guilt, our hurts, and our iniquities so that we could experience freedom from their grip! That does not mean that we will never experience trials. No, we will face difficulties as we live in this fallen world, but with God’s Spirit living within us, we can experience the fullness of life that God has promised for all who have and will accept Him as their saviour.
Therefore, let’s never forget that there’s no more beautiful Message to pass on than the Message of the Cross of Repentance, whereby anyone who is willing to repent will experience the Cross of Redemption! Let’s make sure that this Easter, we tell the world that Jesus is truly alive, FOR HE IS RISEN!!!! Yes for sure there was THREE CROSSES ON CALVARY, BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO SALVATION. AND THAT WAY IS OUR RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST!
Over the past few weeks, I have been deeply shocked and saddened to read the reports about the late apologist Ravi Zacharias. As a broadcasting ministry (both here in the UK and with many of our affiliates across the world), we aired teaching from Ravi Zacharias for some years. In the UK, we stopped broadcasting these teaching programmes in 2015 (due to a change in focus for our radio stations) but when Ravi Zacharias died in 2020, we paid tribute to his life (as we knew it) on UCB Radio and on Social Media.
Today, as more about his life and unconscionable actions are revealed, our hearts ache for the devastation and pain this has caused both to the victims and to the many people who will also feel hurt and confusion to read of these terrible events. We continue to pray that God will bring the kind of restoration and healing that only He can bring.
These events have reminded me personally of how much we need God’s grace and wisdom in our lives as leaders. The enemy’s strategy has always been focused on three main areas: to steal, kill and destroy. This is why Paul reminds us of the importance of putting on the full armour of God – ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’
However, although we do wage war against an unseen enemy, this in no way belittles sin. Sin is sin, and whether we like it or not, all sin has consequences. I am reminded of the story of David and Bathsheba. David not only committed adultery with another man’s wife, he sought to cover up his sin by murdering Bathsheba’s husband. Although it is very clear in Psalm 51 that David was repentant, he still had to pay the consequences for his actions.
So as believers (and leaders), how should we respond when we hear reports like these?
1. Firstly, I believe that those who are confused and hurting should be our priority. If we do not know them personally, we can pray for them (God knows their names) and we can ask God to bring transformation, healing, and restoration.
2. We can use reports like these as a ‘check up’ for our own ministries. Are we as accountable as we should be? Do we have proper structures in place to prevent misuse of power and misdeeds? If not, if you are a leader, can I encourage you today to put these structures into place. A crucial (practical) part of putting on our armour is to ensure that there are processes in place to hold ourselves accountable
3. If we have sinned, we have a duty to confess this and put the matter right. We may even have to pay the consequences through loss of a job or status or in some cases, even the loss of family (as King David did) but we must also know that when we are truly repentant, God’s grace has capacity to forgive us. Our lives may never be the same again, but we can know that in the sight of God, we have been forgiven.
In conclusion, let me encourage you as leaders to be very aware of what God has entrusted us with. He has entrusted us with the power to influence for good, and to do that well, we must understand the full weight of this responsibility and make ourselves accountable, first to God but also to some good and trusted people.
And if you are on the other side of the coin and have been the victim of someone else’s terrible actions and have been hurt or damaged, I want to remind you that God is a healer not just of our physical needs but our emotional and spiritual wounds too. He has not changed and is still in the business today of restoring broken lives. With the right support from good and trusted friends, prayer and counselling, God can once again restore ‘fullness of life’ to you, so that one day you too will be able to be a positive influence in the lives of others.
If you have been hurt by this or other actions, can I encourage you to share this hurt with someone. You could reach out to UCB’s Prayerline, and the team there will pray for you and can point you to organisations which can offer help. You can contact them through our website at www.ucb.co.uk/pray
After all we have been through in 2020, I think it is impossible to still be the same! I don’t know about you, but I want to take as much as I can from all that happened last year and allow God to use it for good.
Just before Christmas, I was reading Matthew 2:11, which tells the story of the birth of Jesus. We are told that the wise men ‘departed into their own country another way’. In other words, their plans changed and they went home a different route to the one they had planned.
The wise men travelled miles to see Jesus the King of the Jews, and when they found Him, they responded with joy, sincere worship, and abundant gifts. To be honest, it was quite different from the way many people approach God today! Many people tend to expect God to come looking for them, prove Himself to them, and give them gifts. However, we are told that after the wise men found Jesus and worshipped Him, they went home another way. What does that mean to us today?
1. When you encounter Jesus in your life, you can never be the same again
Having an encounter with Jesus means our life has to take a different direction, and just as the wise men (after being in the presence of the Living God) were changed, so must we be changed too. After the unprecedented experience of the last twelve months, I do not believe that we can move into 2021 the same way that we entered 2020.
As I look through God’s Word, I am amazed to read story after story of people who experienced an encounter with the Almighty God and could not ‘return home’ the same way. Their lives were turned upside down and their direction changed.
Let’s look at a few examples of people ‘going home another way’.
Mark 5:1-20 — The demon possessed man
No man could bind or tame him; he had a legion of demons and was running wildly in a totally possessed state. And then after meeting Jesus, he was totally set free, clothed and in his right mind to the point that he begged Jesus to be able to travel with him. Jesus said: ‘Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord’s done.’
Let me tell you: he definitely went home ‘another way’ – joyful, dancing, praising God, and telling many what Jesus had done for him.
John 8:3-11 -The woman caught in the act of adultery
By law she shouldn’t have gone home at all (never mind another way). She should have been stoned to death. But as she encountered Jesus, He said to her: ‘Go and sin no more.’ And she went home another way!
Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus
Jesus stood still, lifted his eyes, and called Zacchaeus down from the tree: ‘Zacchaeus, quickly come down; for this very day I must stay in your house.’ Jesus knew the mess that Zacchaeus‘ house was in! And Scripture tells us that ‘Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, “behold Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”‘ Jesus said: ‘This day salvation comes to this house.’ He went home not only by another way but with Jesus. How awesome is that!
All those who met with Jesus, all went home different than they came: the woman with the issue of blood, Blind Bartimaeus, the man at the gate called ‘Beautiful’, the crowds on the day of Pentecost. I tell you that even those in the upper room – they all went home different than the way they came: full of the Holy Ghost and totally transformed.
I believe we will discover in this new year that many are entering 2021 totally transformed because of what they have experienced in 2020. But at the same time, we also have to be aware of the enemy’s strategy to ‘steal, kill and destroy’ if we do not take heed of God’s instructions.
Matthew 2 tells us: ‘So the wise men decided not to go back to Herod as he’d commanded them, but to go home by another way…’ Herod’s intention was to find Jesus – he certainly didn’t plan to worship Jesus as king but rather to kill him and destroy all what he stood for. In this there are warnings for all of us:
1. Not everyone is going to embrace your visions and dreams, hence it is wise sometimes to keep them to yourself to prevent the enemy from killing what God has given you.
2. Remember that the enemy hates your experience of transformation and will tempt you in every way for you to return home ‘the same way’ and deny what God has done for you.
3. Be sensitive to the voice of the Divine Shepherd, for His instruction is for your good: to protect you from the wiles of the enemy.
Don’t ever forget that just as God dealt with Herod – who set out to destroy Jesus and everything that He stood for over 2 thousand years ago – God dealt with Satan, who then too tried to kill him. Praise God that Jesus arose on the third day triumphant and glorious that you and I might be victorious too!
And because of this victory and this transformation experience, we can enter this New Year full of joy, full of worship, ready to fulfil the assignment that we have been given for His glory. Therefore today make sure that ‘YOU GO HOME ANOTHER WAY!’
Today, I saw this headline: ‘This is the third terrorist attack France has suffered in just over a month.’ My heart sank, and as always in the face of such terror, I wondered ‘How should I pray about this?’
As many of you will have read, France (my home country) has been hit by 3 attacks recently, and as Christians, in the face of such suffering and evil, it can be difficult to know exactly how to pray.
Today I am again reminded of the words of Psalm 37:
‘Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.’
So, in the light of Psalm 37, how can we pray?
Firstly, let’s consider people. Let’s pray for those who are fighting for their lives. Let’s pray for the families and those who have lost someone they loved. Let’s also pray for those who witnessed the attack and for the local residents who have to come to terms with this enormous tragedy. Let’s pray also for the medical centres who are working with the injured.
Secondly, we need to pray for wisdom for national governments as they discuss and debate what happens next, that they choose ways and responses which are inspired by God and not necessarily their own intuition.
Thirdly, let us always go to God’s Word for our answers. His Word (John 1:5) says that the darkness in the world will get darker, but that darkness will never extinguish light. In fact, it says that light (His light) will continue to shine brighter and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. That is where I get my strength and hope.
Let’s pray with passion for our world and all those who are suffering and grieving today.
And may God’s light, His in-extinguishable light, shine ever brighter in the middle of the darkness we see.
In an earlier blog, I shared some thoughts about lessons I have been learning from the story of Moses in Exodus 15.
Moses had led the people of Israel out of Egypt, but their journey wasn’t smooth and had many, many difficulties. The people had recently seen God do a great miracle by turning the bitter water of Marah into water they could drink, and now they were about to receive an even greater blessing.
In Exodus 15 verse 27, it says: ‘Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.’
I love how these verses point to a God who is ‘more than enough.’ He had already supplied drinking water for them, but now He led them to an oasis which was an extra, unexpected blessing. It was waiting around the corner, just for them!
As we find ourselves in this continuing, unprecedented, bitter storm which is affecting not just us but the whole world, this verse comes back to mind: ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.’
Did you know that palm trees are designed to withstand severe tropical storms? When the storm comes, they don’t break, but instead they bend with the wind and heavy rain. It looks as though they are breaking, but they are actually just adapting to the wind. When the storm passes, the area where the palm tree has almost been torn in two is actually stronger than it was before the storm.
During this prolonged difficult time that we are all going through, I feel God reminding us that we are like a palm tree in the storm of life. When this is over, we are going to fall right back into shape, but we will also be stronger and able to flourish more than ever before.
As believers, let us never forget that the Prince of Peace lives within us. We can look at our bitter storm and easily forget that He who is in us is greater than the circumstances that we are in.
As we are facing this raging bitter storm at the moment, I want to encourage you to trust in God’s Word. He promises to be with us always, and He is our Rock, even in the middle of the fiercest trials.
Above all, Jesus said: ‘And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!’ (John 16:33 TPT).
And then in Isaiah, we are reminded: ‘When you pass through the deep, stormy sea, you can count on me to be there with you. When you pass through raging rivers, You will not drown…’ (Isaiah 43:2 TPT).
Let us hang on to the truths and wisdom found in God’s Word – He will never fail us.
As I have been continuing to look at Exodus 15, I have been reminded that in the middle of a crisis, our response to what is happening is very important. As Moses faced the people, who were angry and irritable because of the lack of water, I love his response. He could have sought to justify himself, but instead he did not reply. In verse 25, it says that his first response was to go to the Lord to intercede on behalf of the people. And guess what: it says ‘The Lord showed him a tree’. And as Moses threw a branch into the water ‘the waters were made sweet.’
As I studied these verses, several things came to mind.
A tree does not grow overnight
Any gardener knows just how long trees take to grow – many, many years. God used a tree to bring help to the people of Israel, which means that God created an answer long before there was even a problem. And I believe He has done that for us too. Whatever bitter waters we find ourselves in today, God has already gone ahead of us, making sure that the answer is there and ready just when we face our most bitter crisis.
The answer was right there
In this particular situation, the answer was right there in front of their eyes, but they could not see it! In my experience, I have learned that often God’s answers are so close, and yet we can fail to see them. This is just like the widow with the small jug of oil in 2 Kings 6: the answer to her problem was there in her own house already, but she needed the prophet Elisha to reveal it to her. Can I encourage you that if you know the Lord as your personal saviour, then the answer to your situation is hidden within you, just as the same spirit that rose Christ from the dead also lives in you.
A miracle tree
In this story, God used a tree to make bitter waters sweet, but that tree also reminds me of the tree that Jesus died on over 2000 years ago. God threw his beloved son on to a tree to take the bitter sin of humanity so that anyone who believes in him would be able to discover the sweetness of life. You see, through Jesus we can not only have life, but we can experience abundant life.
Whatever situation you find yourself in today, whether it is the stress caused by the global situation or you are facing your own private ‘bitter waters’, I would like to encourage you that the answer to your problems lies in Jesus Christ, who also lives in you. You might say ‘David, I don’t know what to do or where to turn.’ Well, my advice is to at least call on his name. He promises us this in Psalm 50: ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.’
He who never changes is able to bring peace to your bitter storm. Try it and see what happens.