Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ouch! That was uncomfortable!

For my brave sister in law Joanna who challenged me to speak the uncomfortable and has chosen to let God grow her in her discomfort.

Do you ever read parts in the Bible and it feels like for the rest of the day your heart is coming to terms with what you have read? For me the book of James is one of those books and when I read it I find myself saying “Ouch! That was uncomfortable!’ It is uncomfortable because it challenges me beyond my flesh and my flesh hates it! It feels uncomfortable but it will continue to feel uncomfortable until I change. God’s word will not bend to suit me; it does not shape itself around my ways, it is the complete opposite. I HAVE to change! I HAVE to do the work in order to feel comfortable again, even if it is only until I read something else that does the same. But this is a way of life for me. I must be made to feel uncomfortable to grow.

In the first chapter of James, the very opening of the book, in the NRSV we find this verse:

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind consider it nothing but joy because you know the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have it’s full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Trials are uncomfortable. Sometimes they hurt…a lot! So how can we consider it nothing but joy? That bit was uncomfortable! My flesh says, “Joy? It’s not joy! That was the worst day of my life, how dare you say consider it joy… you obviously don’t know what has happened to me!” But my spirit says, “Hang on. If I choose to consider this joy I will be complete and lack nothing. That’s what I want… to be complete, to feel whole again, to get back the joy that the enemy stole from me.” Which do I choose? I choose to work against my flesh. My flesh hates the fact that this verse reclaims joy in the sadness. My flesh wants to mope around. I am not saying that we don’t feel pain… we do and we suffer but we can choose to not let our joy be taken from us. My flesh says, “Testing my faith produces endurance! I don’t want endurance! I’d rather have an easier life where trials are few… or in fact I could just give up on God, He’s let me down one too many times this time and I am not sure it’s worth it!” But my spirit says, “ You need endurance if you want to fulfill all the promises over your life, the dreams and the goals. You need some shaping, you need to be more mature and you need endurance, so persevere. You cannot give up on the God of hope.”  

The battle of the flesh and the spirit is uncomfortable. We have to die to our flesh. When I say ‘flesh’ I mean the things of me, the ‘I want… I need… I deserve… I don’t like… I’m not doing that!’ I mean the part of us that thinks that the Bible should bend to suit us. We have to fight hard for the spirit inside us to win sometimes. We have to choose that. The spiritual man wins when we work against our flesh, but it is uncomfortable.

Here’s another one: Chapter 1 verses 5-8 say this:

‘If any of you is lacking is wisdom, ask God, who gives generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.’

Ouch!! ‘Must not expect to receive anything from the Lord!’ Wow! Have you ever doubted that God could do what you need? I confess I have. To doubt is to be ‘double-minded and unstable’. I don’t want to be that person. I want to know beyond any doubt that God is on my side and that His plans are to prosper me not to harm me, so I have to work against my flesh when it tells me that there’s a good chance God won’t do that thing that I need. If I let myself become that person this verse tells me that I must not expect to receive anything from the Lord! It is there… in this verse and it will not move just because I feel uncomfortable with it!

We are 8 verses in to the book of James and already, again, I am suitably challenged. In fact my heart is restless as I write because I am so aware of my failings. Nevertheless, sometimes we just have to get over ourselves and try harder.

I am going to jump now to chapter 2 and unpack some verses that continue to make me uncomfortable. I hope that you will feel the same and that together we can understand what this means for the future of the church.

James 2:1-5 says this,

‘My brothers and sisters do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also come in, and if you take notice of the one wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘stand there’, or ‘sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Has God not chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?’

These verses led me into some thoughts; if you shun someone who comes in to your church who doesn’t look right, or is dirty or who smells or has an alcohol problem or has mental health issues or is gay or who doesn’t fit your mould, you leave yourselves open to the question ‘Do you really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? I know I have taken this out of context but I am trying to put it bluntly into our world today. If we show ‘favouritism’ to anyone more than another we become ‘judges with evil thoughts’. I don’t believe this verse is just about poor clothes and rich clothes, I believe it is about people; people who we decide ‘don’t fit’, who deserve to fit and who belong to the family of God.

The thing that makes me so uncomfortable with these verses is that these acts of favouritism are still rife in our churches, whether we recognise it or not. We judge people because of how they appear. They may be vulnerable people who desperately need a family. It is not up to us to judge them. It is up to us to welcome them and treat them as people who God is especially fond of. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Something that challenges me is the use of the term ‘weirdo’. I know that we are all weirdos in our own little ways and usually this word is used in a harmless humorous way, but we have to be so careful with it too. If we look across our congregation and see someone and say of them ‘There’s that weirdo’ we have to check our attitude. Are we willing to give an available seat to someone who makes us feel uncomfortable? Please hear me right, if someone potentially presents a risk then, of course, proceed with caution and let these people shape our structures so that they can be cared for by those who are skilled in this area. But if someone makes you feel uncomfortable because of how they appear, challenge yourself, open up the seat. Firstly, because your flesh hates it, but also because they need it. They might need that seat more than we will ever know. They might need acceptance and love. In fact that seat might save a life, it might save yours too from showing favouritism and become ‘judges with evil thoughts’.
I believe that God is on the move. I believe that there is a world out there who need to hear the good news of Jesus to change their lives but I find myself uncomfortably asking the question “Will God trust us with more people?” If we want to see our churches grow, I believe we all need to understand that God will only bring more people to us in a supernatural way if He knows for sure that we can be trusted to welcome them in with open arms and love. Love does not label someone as ‘weirdo’. It keeps no record of wrongs.

Sir Francis Drake opens His prayer with these words ‘Disturb us Lord when we are too well pleased with ourselves’. We have not got it all together! Far from it! Work against your flesh for the sake of His Kingdom. I hope you feel uncomfortable. I do! I feel challenged to change my part in this and do better. I hope that very soon God will be able to trust us all with precious people. Not numbers to fill a building, people who will change the world in their own way, and with people who are willing to say “Ouch! That was uncomfortable! What can I do about it?” 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Looking for His Presence

Have you ever lost your keys? I lost mine one day in the supermarket. Members of staff were looking for them and I was running around like a headless chicken, crying and praying ‘God please help me find my keys!!!’ My elderly Grandma was outside waiting at the car (that we couldn’t get in to) and my 4 year old daughter was more than ready to leave behind her the boredom of shopping and was a little fractious shall we say. I was supposed to be somewhere and for 25 minutes I was in a state of panic!! (Just as an aside panic never solves anything, it just robs your peace.)  The staff were looking for my bunch of keys and so was I. Then a security guard came and said to me, “Did you leave your coat in the café?” And I thought, I didn’t even bring my coat in, but he said, “We have found some keys in the pocket.” I was praying God please show me where my keys are and in fact they were at the desk that I had been to many times, inside my coat pocket, that I have no recollection of taking in to the shop with me. The relief I felt was instant and then I felt very foolish having panicked so much! I said to the staff, “No one can tell me there isn’t a God. I have just prayed that God would find me my keys and there they are!!!” And then I left: lighter and wiser.

I got myself in to a bit of a state and was so blinded by my panic that I had completely forgotten even taking my coat into the store. I must have left it on the back of a chair after eating lunch in my rush to get the shopping done and be where I needed to be in a short space of time.

When life takes strange turns and we find ourselves in a state of panic it is very easy to charge headlong into a search for answers and solutions, without actually noticing what is right in front of you. I was looking for the wrong thing. I was looking for my keys but if I had been looking for my coat I would have been given it straight away and the answer (my keys) would’ve been found in the pocket. We look for reasons. We look for the thing that we want instead of looking to the God who holds all the answers in His pocket. We need to look for His presence. There is no panic in that, just peace.

In his book The Practice of the presence of God, Brother Lawrence writes:

“The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness and revulsion and even that of faithlessness and sin.” Pg 68, English Translation by E.M. Blaiklock 1981, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.

When we practice the presence of God we make it a habit of life. When we are at work we ‘practice’ what we have been trained to do, we may practice nursing or medicine or education or retail the list goes on. We have been trained to practice our profession. We have to see the presence of God as our ‘practice’ if that makes sense. It has to be a ‘habit of life’. We may want to go looking for the presence of God, and particularly in hard times we can find ourselves desperate for the presence of God and it is right to look for it, to look for God to open the windows of Heaven but it is absolutely essential that the practice of His presence becomes an every day habit. We must talk to Him always. We must love Him always and worship Him always. This is where joy is found. It is deeply rooted in our time spent in His presence.

In the book of Exodus we find the account of Moses going up Mount Sinai and entering the cloud of the glory of God. God gives Moses instructions regarding the Ark of the Covenant. He describes very specifically how it should be made, what it should look like and goes on to describe the table that should dwell in the tabernacle. In Chapter 25 and verse 30, having given measurements and clear instructions regarding how to set the table, we find this ‘And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.’

Is this just a loaf of bread? Perhaps it was to be set there as a symbol of ‘food for their souls’ or perhaps it is much deeper than that. The Hebrew word here is לחם פנים lechem panim literally meaning bread of faces. It is thought that this name may be eluding to the bread being placed before the face of God in the sanctuary. There is intimacy in the connection. The bread is set before the face of God and so embodies His presence. This verse acknowledges our great need for His presence in the tabernacle.

After Moses had been talking with God, Exodus 34:29 tells us that His face shone. In fact later in verses 33-35 the Bible tells us that the Israelites saw the ‘skin on his face was shining’. That is what happened to Moses when He spent time directly in God’s presence, face to face. If the bread is set before the face of God it is the bread of His presence. It may not have done, but if you imagine that the bread on the table shone too with the presence of God it is a powerful image. It may not have been as visible as Moses’ face but metaphorically speaking, it was set before the face of God.

We need ‘bread’ (food) to survive. Our bodies cannot survive naturally without food, so everyday we must consider our spiritual food too. It must be filled with the presence of God.

It occurred to me also that in the New Testament bread was placed on the Passover table. In Matthew 26:26 Jesus tore the bread and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat; this is my body”. This verse acknowledges the need for His presence in our everyday lives. Jesus was in the presence of his disciples. He was there with them but he knew he would be going soon. They ate the bread of his body in his presence. I wonder if they understood the significance fully. I wonder if they knew they were in the presence of the High King. Were they aware that as he passed them the wine too that he was making an eternal covenant with the whole of mankind?

The bread in the tabernacle, the bread of the Presence carried with it the body of Jesus though the people did not know. When we take communion this is what we experience: We remember again who Jesus is and what He did and we eat the bread of His presence. Perhaps the bread is not shining or glowing like the face of Moses, but it is filled with the same presence if we believe it to be.  

The bread of His body is eaten during communion and the bread of the Presence is eaten during communion with him. We must hunger after it as though it were necessary to our survival because it is. Communion with Him is intimate communication.

So when we look for his presence we are saying ‘I want to spend more time with you Jesus. I want to talk intimately with you and love you and worship you.’ We don’t need to look hard for His presence. We don’t need to panic that we need more of it or we can’t feel it. We don’t need to make elaborate gestures to find it. Someone who runs around panicking, like I did looking for my keys, is not someone who understands the confidence that practicing His presence brings. We just stop. We make room and we get hungry.

Imagine what it would feel like to not have food to eat for days. Imagine the pangs of hunger. Some may know what they feel like. It is a pain that only food will satisfy. We need to be people who are so hungry for the presence of God that it hurts, that we will pray with perseverance and longing for God to show us His glory. I want my skin to shine with the presence of God because I have constant intimate communion with Jesus. Constant, not just every time I need something or when I remember, every single minute of every single day. The more time we spend in His presence the more we know how vital it is. We see mundane things of this life differently, in fact our whole view changes. If I go back to my story at the beginning, I would’ve found the key to my car instantly if I had looked for the coat that was holding it. Looking for the car key wasn’t the answer: looking for the thing that held all the keys was. I am learning to look first, every day, to the holder of the keys: to Jesus who holds all the answers, to His presence that brings joy and wholeness.

A good friend pointed me in the direction of a preach by Bill Johnson called ‘The Resting place’. I encourage you to find it on You tube and let it shape you. He talks about understanding that the kingdom of God is within us. We carry the presence of God within us but we have to learn to host it and let it rest on us. He says,

“Make sure you host this presence because you have been positioned to release him into the atmosphere that He might find places to rest. He’s always looking for a resting place.”

We have to understand what it means to ‘host’ the presence of God. We can change atmospheres if the presence of God rests on us. We can change someone’s life if our words become His spirit ministering to that person. Do all you can to keep hold of that presence so that you will impart that presence wherever you go.

When we are hungry a piece of bread is sufficient. How much more then is the bread of the Presence sufficient to our souls? Eat it every day as if your life depended on it and then carry it with you wherever you go. The glory of the Lord is found in the Presence and when you ‘eat’ it is also found in you. Swallow His presence for nourishment, consume it, take it in so that you can take it out into your workplace, your streets, your towns and that the glory of God may shine from your face and make Him famous. If you are wondering where you belong; the answer is in His presence. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Open the Windows of Heaven!

“Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” Malachi 3:10.

I am desperate for God to open the windows of heaven. When God says, ‘Put me to the test’ he is talking about tithing. The first part of this verse says “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house”. In effect God is saying, “Give me your whole tithe and wait and see!! I will open the windows of heaven and put out immeasurable blessings!”

Money is not an easy subject to talk about and in fact tithing is an even harder one! I am not sure we fully understand the significance of tithing so I have done a little Biblical studying into the topic in the hope that together we can come to our own understanding of it and work out whether we need to act.  

The word ‘tithe’ means ‘a tenth’ or ‘the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.’ In other words it means to give 10% of our income or produce. Jewish law says that 10% of seed and grain, fruit, wine, animals belong to the Lord. Basically 10% of your earnings and income and what you owned or produced belonged to the Lord.

There are many people who would say that they give their tithe to the work of the Lord by giving it to a charity, others believe that they should give their tithes solely to the church. There are so many teachings surrounding this and in my study I came across this verse in Nehemiah 10:39 which brings a little clarity to me:

‘For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the storerooms where the vessels of the sanctuary are, and where the priests that minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers are. We will not neglect the house of our God.’

I know that you could argue that this account is a picture of the time, but the key for me here is ‘We will not neglect the house of our God’. I believe we should be giving generously to the amazing projects and organisations out there that are building the Kingdom of God, but I believe that the church is the ‘house of our God’ and so too is the ‘storehouse’ of Malachi 3. I believe that ‘Church’ should be supporting these amazing organisations so in fact when we bring our tithe into the ‘storehouse’ we provide resources to go way beyond the walls of the church. Our offerings can go into these brilliant organisations but I think our tithe belongs to the church and church leaders have a heavy responsibility, to the church, to the city and to God, to ensure that our resources are used well. I take comfort in this matter from these verses in Haggai 2:7-9;

‘…and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.’

God says ‘the silver is mine, the gold is mine’. It belongs to Him and He can step in at any time to steer financial decisions towards the building of His kingdom if things seem to be going astray. My comfort is found in the fact that our resources ultimately belong to Him. He is in charge.

So if we look back again at the verse in Malachi, we find that God says ‘Bring the full tithe into the storehouse … put me to the test… see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.’ The Message translation puts it like this: ‘Bring your full tithe into the temple treasury…test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.’ Wow! What if we get this right and God opens the windows of heaven? In fact He has said we can put Him to the test in this and He has promised blessings.

When I read this I feel like if getting our tithes sorted will ‘open the windows of heaven’ then we have to act. We all have to act. I have heard people say, “we can’t afford it at the minute” “I’ll sort it when we get a bit more money in”. In my mind if I had £1 left in the world 10p of that belongs to God and then I’d probably give some more to a project that I believed in. That 10p is not mine to keep. It belongs to God, in fact if we look at the two verses that precede Malachi 3:10 we find a challenge that has to shape your heart and your mind with it’s strong and blunt delivery:

‘Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “how are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me- the whole nation of you!’

The Message puts in like this:

“Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day. You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’ The tithe and the offering-that’s how! And now you’re under a curse- the whole lot of you- because you’re robbing me.”

Is anyone feeling a pull in their spirit? These are strong words. It is easy to make excuses as to why we don’t give 10% of our income. Yes there are questions surrounding what this all means and yes we have to steward our finances well but I believe the place to start is with your tithe. These verses bring challenge and conviction but also encouragement and promise. Imagine what would happen if we put God ‘to the test’ as He asks us to. What would it look like if God opened the windows of Heaven and poured down blessings beyond our wildest dreams?

I would like to return to a picture of the ‘storehouse’ for a moment. A storehouse is a building in which things are stored. describes it as ‘a source of abundant supplies’. I picture the church of the future as a storehouse. If we neglect it, if we don’t bring God’s resources in to the house, we are not only robbing God, we are leaving His storehouse without supplies. Imagine if we lived in a time when, if we needed food, we could go to the storehouse and gather what we needed to live on. Imagine if we walked for days only to find the storehouse empty because someone, or lots of someone’s, didn’t give there 10% and as a result we arrive at the house of God in desperate need but the priests do not have the resources to give use what we need. In fact this is how many people live today but it is not so much about the ‘grain in the barn’ but about whether or not the house of God has the resources for whatever their need is. Do we have the resources to feed and clothe the homeless? Do we have the resources to pay for a counselor to spend time with the man or woman who has so little hope that suicide seems the only option? Do we have the resources to send someone on that counseling course that could save a life?

I know that there are so many things that we need in the storehouse and we need to pay staff and pay for the upkeep of our buildings as well, but if we see it all as a resource for our communities what difference can we make?

Now once the resources are coming in to the storehouse, we need to make sure that we have the people to make sure that these things can be given out accordingly. We could consider offering our time as well as our money to help steward these resources well. God wants to use us. We know that God can do anything but in the natural we need to resources to do His work. Sometimes this is just about giving our time but most of the time the resources to do his work are essential.  

So what can you and I do to see God open the windows of heaven? I believe that He will show us different things as individuals if we are willing open our eyes to what He wants to show us. If we let Him reveal himself through these verses we may well encounter Him in a tangible way that stirs us into action. I would say if you need to get your tithes sorted out, then do it. On a practical level, you can do it by standing order so you can give God the first fruits of your labour before you even see it. To me there is something so important about giving to God first, not after you’ve checked that you’ve got enough. You will see that if you give Him the first fruits you will always have what you need.

I am desperate for God to overwhelm us with His power and presence. I long to see heaven come to earth. If I can do any thing that means that God would ‘open the windows of heaven’ I want to do it. I challenge you to put God to the test on this, just as He said, and see what happens when you ‘bring the full tithe into the storehouse’.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Miracles do happen!

As a little girl I had such a simple understanding of what having faith in Jesus meant. It was very clear to me that Jesus could do anything and when I asked, I asked simply, believing that He would sort whatever it was that was troubling me. I lived carefree because I was young but I also understood that He was in charge. When I went to University I had my first real experience of anxiety and in that time I lost a little bit of who I understood Him to be, I lost sight of the simplicity because I took my eyes off Him and it has never been quite the same since.

It appears we live in a world where wisdom seems to come with age, but I am finding that actually I know less now in some ways than I did as a child. I think I understood more then about how big God is. I know He’s big but with age and so called ‘wisdom and understanding’ have come limits because I think I’ve got things sussed and actually, I don’t know anything much! The God that I talked to as a girl is exactly the same. He is a God of miracles. Why then do I forget to pray prayers and simply leave them with Him to sort out?

Smith Wigglesworth is one of my biggest inspirations. I love to read stories of what God did when He prayed. He was also, at one time, in need of a life saving miracle. Have a read of the account in his own words:

At one time I was so bound that no human power could help me. My wife was looking for me to pass away. There was no help. At that time I had just had a faint glimpse of Jesus as the Healer. For six months I had been suffering from appendicitis, occasionally getting temporary relief. I went to the mission, of which I was pastor, but I was brought to the floor in awful agony, and they brought me home to bed. All night I was praying, pleading for deliverance, but none came. My wife was sure it was my home call, and sent for a physician. He said that there was no possible chance for me- my body was too weak. Having had the appendicitis for six months, my whole system was drained and because of that, he thought it was too late for an operation. He left my wife in a state of broken heartedness.
After he left there came to our door a young man and an old lady. I knew she was a woman of real prayer. They came upstairs to my room. This young man jumped on the bed and commanded the evil spirit to come out of me. He shouted “Come out you devil; I command you to come out in the name of Jesus!” there was no chance for an argument, or for me to tell him that I would never believe that there was a devil inside of me. The thing had to go in the name of Jesus, and it went, and I was instantly healed.
I arose and dressed and went downstairs. I was still in the plumbing business, and I asked my wife, “Is there any work in? I am all right now, and I am going to work”. I found that there was a certain job to be done and I picked up my tools and went off to do it. Just after I left the doctor came in, put his plug hat down in the hall, and walked up to the bedroom. But the invalid was not there. “Where is Mr Wigglesworth?” he asked. “Oh doctor, he’s gone out to work,” said my wife. “You’ll never see him alive again,” said the doctor; ‘they’ll bring him back a corpse.”
Well, I’m the corpse.
Since that time the Lord his given me the privilege of praying for people with appendicitis in many parts of the world; and I have seen a great many people up and dressed within a quarter of an hour from the time I prayed for them. We have a living Christ who is willing to meet people on every line.
                                                Smith Wiggleworth: The Complete Collection of His Life teachings, pg 351-352

This man was a plumber! A husband! The doctor said he would not make it but he did, and then he spent his life believing God for miracles and he saw them in abundance. It is simple, he was dying and Jesus brought him back to life because someone understood the power in the name of Jesus. Someone saw the evil spirit and forced it to bow to the highest name.

I believe that we need the gift of discernment in this area and I believe too that God will give you that gift if you ask for it. I hate giving the devil too much credit but we have to acknowledge that he is working with his spirits to destroy and disable us. He will not win. We need to be people who are able to discern evil spirits and cast them out in the name of Jesus. Sickness will leave people if an evil spirit is at the root of it and we will see the power of God in our everyday lives if we understand this.

The other gift that we can ask for is the gift of faith. Romans 12:3 tells us that there is a degree of faith apportioned to all of us and Matthew 17:20 tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. A mustard seed is very small but if used well it can move a mountain. The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts but imagine what would happen if you were given the gift of faith. I need more faith but also if faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, and I dare say anyone who believes was given that, perhaps we all need less doubt. Doubt tells us it can’t be done; faith tells us anything is possible. So we actively need to combat doubt. We need to work against it as though it were something that was working against us.

When we read stories of God’s miraculous works it builds our faith and pushes doubt out of the picture. When I read Smith Wigglesworth’s stories I find myself longing for an opportunity where God will show me what He can do. Actually these opportunities are all around me and I miss them because I don’t want to look silly, or I arrogantly assume there will be another opportunity to pray or I just don’t see them! I want to pray that God will show me these opportunities. I love to read old stories but I believe we can read stories from yesterday and today and tomorrow, and I know that around the world these things are happening but I am desperate to see these things before my eyes.

The God of Smith Wigglesworth is the God of Jacob, of Abraham, of Joseph. He is the same God who told Noah to build an ark; who parted the red sea for Moses; who gave Hannah a baby; who shut the mouths of lions for Daniel. He has not changed. He is the God of our ancestors and the God of the generations to come. He is your God. He is my God and He has not changed. His power is available to us today.

I believe in miracles. Miracles happen everyday, look for them and look for opportunities to pray for them. Be thankful for seemingly small miracles because they prove God’s faithfulness and they are evidence that He is working, but pray with faith that we will see things beyond our wildest imaginations. Can you make yourself wholly available to Jesus and dedicate yourself to Him? Can you work on His behalf? It is simple, we want to do what Jesus did and He performed miracles. The disciples saw it. In Mark 6:6-13 Jesus sends out the twelve disciples and the account says in verse 13:

‘They drove out demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.’

All this is possible for those who believe. It is as simple as that.

Going back again to when I was little, if I hurt myself or had tummy ache, my Mum would very often pray at bedtime that Jesus would make it better. I went to sleep with great confidence; there was no doubt in my mind that God had done what we asked Him to; that I would wake up with no concerns. In fact I expected Him to so much that I believe often I received healing straight away, I didn’t think of it like that though, in fact I didn’t even give it another thought most of the time. I do not remember any point where God did not answer our prayers, there might’ve been some, but I don’t remember them. I know that life is so much more complicated now but the simplicity of my understanding then is still somewhere inside me. ‘Jesus can make this better’ still stands simply and powerfully on top of any sickness, or problem, or trouble. I don’t get why sometimes He doesn’t do what we hope for but I do believe our time would be well spent trying to do the things that Jesus did, instead of opening a door to doubt. Pray prayers of faith and believe that miracles do happen!