Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional

2017 – the year of ‘the SUDDENLY’!

First, let me wish you a Happy New Year!  For many, 2016 will be remembered as the year of surprises!  We had Brexit, a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, a new President elected, Donald Trump and we also saw many acts of terror and a growing refugee crisis.   For UCB, it was a year of distractions on many fronts, but I sense that as we enter 2017, it will be a year of God’s ‘suddenly moments’.

The verses which keep coming to me are:

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”  Psalm 65:11

“I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3

However, as we each begin this new year, I believe we need to be expectant and ask ourselves, what are we hoping for?  What are we waiting for?

Much of life is waiting for something to happen. Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into months and months into years.  Sometimes it feels as though the clock on our lives is standing still, and we are waiting for whatever will come next.  If you are in that place at the moment, waiting to see a word fulfilled or for God to move in your circumstances, you are not alone.   It can feel as though things will never change, but the Word of God is full of people who had ‘suddenly’ experiences.   Here are just a few examples:

  • Abraham was a very old man when he was ‘suddenly’ told that he would be given a much-longed-for son
  • Joseph went from being in jail to standing before Pharaoh. One minute, no one would listen to him. The next minute, the most powerful man in the country was asking his opinion.
  • Moses had raised a family and was content to stay hidden in the desert when God ‘suddenly ‘called him to the greatest of adventures.
  • Elizabeth and Zacharias! The Bible says they were well advanced in years and she was barren, when ‘suddenly’ an angel appeared and announced that they would have a son – John the Baptist.

God has been in the ‘suddenly business’ for years.

So, you might be asking, what about my ‘suddenly moment’?

Maybe you know and believe that God can do anything, anytime, anywhere and that there are no limitations to God’s ability, but you’re frustrated as to why it’s not happening now? We may become frustrated in the waiting, but God’s timing is perfect.  He is never too late and certainly never too early, but it surely comes! And I know that His timing and will are much better than mine!

How to pray as we wait.

Be specific

I really believe God wants us to be specific as we pray.  Sometimes we can feel as though we don’t need to tell Him the detail, but in any relationship, you share the detail, your thoughts, your hopes.  It is the same with God – when we pray, let’s be specific about what we see and about what we are asking God to do.

Dream big!

We need to be specific when we pray, but we also need to be open to God doing something different.   It can be easy to use our prayer to ‘shape’ what we want God to do, rather than be open to whatever it is He wants to give us.

The shape, size, colour and features of our destination may not be in the package that we have been describing to God… or to ourselves!   I often wonder if we have spent so much time focused on ‘telling God what to do’, that we might have missed a suddenly moment, or something unusual He wanted to bless us with?  God’s answers don’t always come in the way we expect and it can be easy to overlook His blessings, because the answer, he, she or it did not fit into our formula? It is something to ponder on!

Trust His timing

Allow God to set the timeline.  And instead of clock-watching,  let’s count every sorrow, every joy, every longing, every heartache as a precious gift that God is allowing to come our way to prepare us for the joy He passionately wants to share with us.   Be confident that He does have a ‘suddenly’ for you too!  The question is whether or not you will be ready to see and experience it.

For UCB, I believe our ‘suddenly’ moment is rooted in a Word I felt God gave us last year, which I wrote about in a blog post, Look to the future – what do you see? 

I continue to wait, believe and pray expectantly for a great move of God which will change the landscape of the world!

Therefore as we launch into this new year, let’s not forget the words of Jesus to His disciples (John 4:35), “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

Time is of the essence – can you join me in believing that 2017 will be the year of ‘the suddenly?’

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional

When you’re in God’s waiting room

It was so good to have our friend Tommy Tenney with us at UCB last week.  Tommy has spent over 40 years in itinerant ministry and is the author of The God Chasers.  He spoke to a group of leaders for the filming of UCB’s Foundation event on Wednesday and shared on the subject of waiting.  It is an experience we are all familiar with!

I sat down and asked Tommy about his experiences of waiting and what God has taught him.

How should we respond when we are waiting for God to fulfill a promise?  

The first thing to say is that God doesn’t mind adding the ingredient of time, to the recipe of our lives.  I have often watched my wife make a cake and sometimes she will take the cake out of the oven and test it with a toothpick. The ingredients of the cake are right, the temperature of the oven is right, but all the cake needs is time.

It’s the same with soup or any other recipe.  You can add all the right vegetables and all the right seasoning, but sometimes it needs to simmer, it needs time before it tastes just right.   So, God really doesn’t mind adding the ingredient of time to our lives.  Maybe he sometimes puts a divine toothpick in our lives and says, ‘All this needs is time’?

Secondly, I think we need to change the picture in our minds of what waiting is all about. We think of ‘waiting’ as the experience of sitting in a Doctor’s waiting room, waiting to be seen.  I believe this is the wrong picture.   We should instead look at waiting, as being like a waiter or waitress serving in a restaurant.  It is a very active process, there is an activity involved, they are serving, helping to make others comfortable.  They may even be waiting for their own dreams to come true, but while they are waiting, they are serving.   You can learn some of life’s biggest lessons when you serve someone else’s dreams.  I have learned that when you serve and make someone else’s dreams come true, God makes your dreams come true.   Waiting doesn’t have to be an experience where you sit there and twiddle your thumbs – it should be an active experience, while you are waiting for God to move in your own life.

It can be very frustrating though?  

Waiting isn’t easy, but we can also learn a great deal in the process. If you look at the story of Abraham and Sarah, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but time was against them.  They thought, ‘if we don’t do this now, it won’t ever happen’.   And so they rushed ahead of God’s timing and brought Hagar in and Ishmael was born.  What Abraham and Sarah had not realised, was that by rushing ahead of God, they were actually creating future conflict for themselves and generations to come.  We still live with the effects of that conflict today.

Have you ever experienced being in ‘God’s waiting room’?

Yes, there have been many occasions.  Next year is the 20th anniversary of the publication of The God Chasers.  Before that, I had been in ministry for 20 years.  If it had been up to me, I would have written the book many years before.  But God said, ‘No, now is not the right time, wait until you’re ready’, so I continued to serve in ministry and being faithful as a preacher.

On another occasion, after I had written a novel about the life of Esther, I received a prophetic word, that the book was to be turned into a movie.  I shared the vision with those who could help me pray and process this word and we very quickly got a cash investment but we needed a great deal more.  But then not one penny came in for the whole of the next year.  We started to debate, should we just refund the original investment to the guys and tell them the movie was not going to happen?  That Christmas, I was by myself one day and received a phone call from one of the people we were talking to. He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’  He said he had just got $12 million dollars funding for the film.   We had one full year with no sign of any funding and then this!

I believe that waiting for God’s promises can be a time of worship.  We don’t like waiting, but it is in God’s waiting room, that we often learn life’s biggest lessons.

An episode of Foundation with Tommy Tenney will be on UCB TV  soon.  You can sign up for updates from UCB, with radio and TV information here.

 

 

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