The Jacuzzi Blessing

I was praying this morning for a Jacuzzi. Not a real one, but as representative of something valuable from God.
Let me explain.

Some years ago a Pastor friend in New Zealand told me how blessed he was by one purchase in his life that he really did not intend to make.
His father was moving house and offered to the son, my friend, a Jacuzzi hot pool. My friend had never thought of installing such a pool in his home. He had two sons just coming into their teenage years, so, since he had the offer to buy the pool cheaply, he decided to buy the pool and install it on his back deck.

By the time my friend relayed this story to me the two sons were young adults. Through those teenage years the pool proved to be invaluable to the family, especially in relation to the boys. Instead of the boys being off with their friends all the time, away from their parents’ observation, all the friends wanted to come around and soak in the pool. My friend  often soaked in the pool with his sons and their friends, and so he and his wife became good friends with all their sons’ friends and maintained strong relationship with their boys through those crucial years.

Another wonderful benefit for my pastor friend was in the form of ministry. He shared with me that many times through the years, often late at night, one or other of their sons’ friends would open up, and share about personal issues they needed help with. He smiled remembering how often he found himself giving serious counsel and solving difficult problems while soaking in the Jacuzzi.

I love that testimony, and realise that often we don’t know what is best for us. We have our own likes and dislikes and our own plans, but God sees the whole picture and knows what is best. So, rather than always telling God what I want and what I want Him to do for me, I often ask God to take charge and give me what He knows is best.

So, this morning I prayed once again for a Jacuzzi.
Not a hot tub, but a blessing that God knows is best for me, even if I don’t recognise it at first glance.

God tells us His ways are far above ours.
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9

Yesterday afternoon I sat relaxing in my yard, enjoying the trees and birds and breeze. I tried once again to get my thoughts together for things that will open up this year. I know there will be change and it could be quite dramatic, so I want to get my thinking primed for what is to come. Yet each time I sit and muse about such things I get nowhere.

Yesterday the Lord nudged me with a thought that saved me my fruitless endeavour. It struck me that when the time came God was going to give me all the leading I need and all the explanation I need, when it is due. So I can give up trying to get myself ready, and simply continue to walk with Him, relying on Him to be my constant source no matter how things turn out in the future.

So, in my abandonment, I am trying not to plan much at all, just respond to what God puts in front of me, confident in Him, and aware that some things He presents me with are outside what I was expecting but may just be the Jacuzzi blessing He knows is best.

Why not stop right now and ask God for a Jacuzzi blessing in your life? Maybe in years to come you can look back and see how wonderful it was that God prompted you to something you weren’t planning, but which met needs you didn’t even know you had.

Stop Chiselling

One of the challenges of our Christian walk is to stop relying on ourselves and doing things our own way.

An allegory of this is found in the building Solomon’s Temple. The site of the Temple was holy. So all preparation of materials had to be done off-site. There was not to be the sound of chiselling of stone on the Temple location. The stonemasons had to know what they needed, shape the stone at the quarry and bring it to location ready to fit in place.

“And the house, under construction, was built of stone made ready before it was brought to site: so there was neither hammer, axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was being built.” 1Kings 6:7

Chiselling the stone can speak of our own efforts to make things right. In God’s holy temple there is not to be human effort to make things right.

You, as a believer in Christ are the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1Corinthians 6:19) so there is not to be human effort in your walk with God.

Another allegory is the comparison between Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian slave girl, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and thus Ishmael, Abraham’s first born son to the slave girl, and Isaac, Abraham’s son born to his wife according to God’s promise.

The Apostle Paul links Hagar to human effort and Sarah to God’s blessing in the fulfilment of God’s promises. 

“His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh (human effort), but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.” Galatians 4:23

Abraham tried to fulfil God’s promise by a human idea, having a child born to Sarah’s slave girl. This represents the times when we try to bring God’s blessings by our own ideas and energies. All we do is create a problem, as Ishmael was to Abraham and Isaac.

You might at times hear a Christian turn down a suggestion of doing something to help God out, by saying “I don’t want to birth an Ishmael!”

Another reflection of this is Ezekiel’s vision of Jewish priests who were not to wear garments of wool, so they would not sweat.

“They are to wear linen headwear and have linen undergarments around their waist; they will not wear anything that causes sweat.” Ezekiel 44:18

There was not to be sweat in God’s presence. That is to say, we are not to work up a sweat trying to make things happen, but to walk with God, relying on Him. 

Sadly many Christians fill their lives with chiselling, birthing Ishmael’s and working up a sweat. Then they wonder why their lives are so full of problems and complications.

A Christian man came to me many years ago trying to offload a property he had developed. He had tried to pass it off to many others before he came to me. He had a vision of something he thought was a good idea but it turned out to be of no value or interest to anyone. He created an Ishmael that was a problem to him and of no value to anyone else. Maybe you have a few of those in your life too?

God is your source and there is no better source than God, Himself. 

God is your protection and there is not better protection than God, Himself. 

God is your guide and hope and there is no better guide or hope than God, Himself.

Yet is that a chisel I see in your hand? Is there an Ishmael running around your camp? Is that sweat I smell?

Put down that chisel and ask God to forgive you for trying to make things happen without simply relying on Him. 

Ishmael was cast out, since he had no part in God’s blessings. You may have to shut down something you have started that is not of God. If you keep and protect it you will simply be making trouble for yourself.

And stop sweating about things. If God has everything under control what in the world are you fretting about? Trust Him! Renounce your fear and insecurity. Commit your way to Him. Cast your cares onto Him. Let God be God in your situation.

God may not solve things the way you want Him to. He may not give you what you want. But He will only do you good. Even if He rebukes you, it is for your good. So trust Him and abandon yourself on Him. Give Him your problems and challenges and allow Him to tell you what to do. And, if He takes His time, trust Him in the waiting. Don’t birth an Ishmael, thinking God isn’t going to give you an Isaac.

Your other risk is that you will achieve things, thinking you have advanced your cause, but there will be no blessing in what you gain. What have you truly achieved if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul? (Mark 8:36)

For everyone’s sake, I urge you, Stop Chiselling!

An Unknown Tomorrow

Many years ago (late 1970’s) I found myself in a place of uncertainty about the future. I was finishing a short term Bible College course and wanted to move into ministry. As I struggled with my impatience and questions I recognised my need to simply trust God and let Him be in control.

Once I settled on that direction I remembered a simple song I made up a few years earlier, when wondering what the future held for me.
“I don’t know what tomorrow may bring,
but I do know the One I’m trusting in.
I’ll go with Him where ever that be,
and I’ll love Him with all of my heart.”

The theme of my song has echoes of a song I heard in my youth, written by Ira Stamphill in 1950.
“Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow And I know He holds my hand.”

For each of us ‘tomorrow’ has a lot of unknowns. We don’t know “what’s around the corner”. Our own experience, what we see in others and what we see in scripture reveal that life is rarely a straight line course, but a series of unexpected events which direct us or which we have to navigate.

The idea of nailing down tomorrow so we can have some certainty is tempting, but it’s somewhat vain as an expectation. If you need security you can’t be sure to find it in your careful planning or strong management skills. 

The only way to have true security in your future is to trust yourself to God and to trust God in your situations. God does have everything under control. Nothing is impossible with God. God’s plans for you are good. God is ready to lead you and to protect you.

Your own ways are probably unwise to pursue, since the ways that seem right to a man lead to death. If you are one of those control-freaks who has to ensure you own security, then you are likely making wrong choices and going the wrong way, unless God is central in your planning.
And if you are operating out of fear or operating by the idea you can take charge of your life you are voiding your reliance on God, because reliance on God involves living by faith, not by fear or self-reliance.

The best way to face tomorrow is to walk into it confident God is with you, you are in God’s will, God has good things planned for you, all things will work together for your good and God will lead you and bless you.
Add to that your life-long commitment to live for God and to seek God’s Kingdom first of all, so all the other things you need are supplied to you.

If tomorrow fills you with fear then dig into those Bible verses declaring God’s love and care for you and His ability to keep and protect you. Stop doing things that would keep you from God’s best, humbly abandoning yourself on God and trusting Him, even if the winds and waves seem to be driving you in the wrong direction.

I loved the way our journey was described in Hannah Hurnard’s book Hinds’ Feet on High Places. The path that was supposed to lead to the high places turned away and into dark places. One could have thought they were on the wrong track. But those difficult ways did lead to the top of the mountain, and there were important lessons to learn along the way.

Remember Joseph being hated by his brothers, sold into slavery then falsely accused and imprisoned. That certainly didn’t look like the path to fulfilling Joseph’s dreams of being a ruler. Yet they were exactly the landmarks God had set in his journey to being second-in-command of Egypt.

You don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but you can be confident in the God. Go with Him where ever He leads you, and love Him with all of your heart. And let God lead you confidently and fruitfully through your Unknown Tomorrow.

There Is A River

God’s mercies are flowing for you right now. God’s river is a very present reality. 

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” Psalm 46:4

You can dive into and swim in God’s grace. 

“Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen, deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed.” Ezekiel 47:5

You can draw water from God’s well of salvation. 

“Therefore with joy will you draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

You can call on the name of the Lord.

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

You can drink from God’s streams in the desert.

“I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Many times we find ourselves in situations where we instinctively rely on our own capacities, doing what comes naturally to us and expecting things to work out. When there’s a hitch we are likely to try a little harder, switch strategy, react or get upset.

In those situations, as well as the rest of life, we are to remember that God is our source and God has streams of blessing for us to access. We are not supposed to ‘go it alone’ and do our own thing. We are not supposed to prove ourselves by our ability to solve the problems on our own.

We are meant to ‘live by faith’, as in employing faith on a continuing moment by moment basis, 24/7 (all day, every day). 

“The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

So when you find yourself struggling with something, remind yourself that there is river. There are wells of salvation. There are streams in your desert. The name of the Lord is your strong tower. What you need to do is to drink, and to swim and to call.

Remember to commit your way to God and to look to Him, not to your own capacities.

I recall a teenage school girl who became a Christian through her friends and turned up at a church where I was pastoring. She was told by her friends to start each day by committing it to God and letting Him be in control, solving problems before they even happened. She began to do that, with lovely results. She told me that she had forgotten to pray that prayer one day and was surprised how many challenges she faced. She went back to committing her days to God consistently.

Make a point of committing your day, your situation, your relationships, your finances, your heath, your friendships, your workload, and everything else to God each day. And when issues come along be quick to dive into God’s streams of blessing, hiding in Him and calling on His name.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to dig your own way out of trouble, when the Lord is there to look after things so much better than you ever can.

God has made a way for you, so don’t forget that There Is A River.

New Videos for Christians

I have started making videos of my Blog Posts to make it easy for people to access the things I share.

The videos run for approximately 8 minutes each and are ideal for use in Home Groups, as features in Church Services, to help disciple people or for personal devotions.

I have made the presentation simple and the text is on the screen too, plus you can copy the text from the notes section as well.

These videos would also work well for those wanting to improve their English, such as foreign students.

Click the link below and see the few videos already uploaded, and visit regularly, or subscribe, since I will keep adding more videos each week.