The Power of Prayer: A Testimony

Following on from my last post where I wrote about the power of God working through prayer, I want to share a testimony.

I felt God lead me to a remote church to help them while they started up. This church was less than six weeks old when I first visited, and at the time of this story, I had attended a handful of times. One Sunday night, after a regular service, I started talking to a young woman who was there with her partner. I found out that they used to attend church, but it was very dry and didn’t operate in the power of God. As a result, they left God and were very sceptical about connecting back into a church.

While I was talking with this young lady, my spirit inside of me felt like it would jump out of my body with excitement! I felt such a joy and connection to her. I have never felt this way before, and not since. One of my friends had organised to catch up with them after the service at a cafe, so we left the church and went to the cafe.

At the cafe, there were three friends and I talking to this young couple. As we talked about God with them, I again felt a strong connection to them. As I shared my testimony with the young man, he said he had gone through very similar life circumstances. He could easily relate to me and the struggles I went through. By this point, my spirit was just about to jump out of my body with joy and excitement for what God was doing in me! Wow! It was truly amazing.

After some time of discussion, the cafe was closing due to it getting late. We all went outside and kept talking in the freezing cold. After ten minutes or so, one of my friend asked to pray for them. After he prayed for them, he suggested I also pray. Well, safe to say no one expected God to move so powerfully!

As soon as I opened my mouth and started praying, the power of God hit everyone forcefully! One of my friends yelled out from the shock and staggered around, while I started weeping uncontrollably! I kept praying through the tears, desperately asking God to reveal himself to this couple that they might be saved. I heard myself prophesying over them, speaking of their faith-filled future.

After the prayer, I felt so alive; I truly felt used by God in the best way possible. Speaking to the couple, they also felt something, and they were very grateful for the prayers. Although they didn’t choose to accept God as their saviour right there and then, I know without a doubt that God is working in their lives.

This story is just one where God moved in me through prayer. I have seen him move through me more since I shifted my focus to what he wanted me to be doing: praying! I know I have a call to pray with and for other people, and as I walk in that, God uses me powerfully. The best part about this is that I didn’t do anything extra special. It was all God! He worked through me and did everything. There was no special prayer beforehand, and I wasn’t fasting. God simply used me as I walked in his purpose for my life.

There are some verses I want to highlight that show how God uses us when we are willing vessels:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 NLT

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:16

As you can see from these verses, God works through us, not requiring us to produce the good works. For God planned long ago what we would do. How incredible!

Knowing these verses, do you know the call God has for your life? Are you walking in it? If you are, I would love to hear your stories of God’s power working through you. If you don’t know if you are walking in God’s call for you, I encourage you to read my last post and ensure you are in God’s will. From that place, there is no striving, no trying to make things happen. It just automatically works.

Have a blessed week, and may God be with you.

Operate Through Your Calling

A couple of weeks ago, God put a message on my heart. It spoke to me directly because it’s something I’ve been working through myself. The title says it all: Operate Through Your Calling. However, this isn’t always straightforward! I have often wondered what my calling is. Or, how am I supposed to walk in it in a complex world?

Let’s go.

A few years ago, I felt God put on my heart to share the gospel with others. I wanted to learn to preach and speak to believers to answer the call I felt from God. However, try as I might, I couldn’t get many speaking engagements, even after directly speaking to pastors and offering to share my testimony. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I felt that I must have misheard God. Did he really want me to preach? Why was nothing working?

Throughout this time of questioning, I led three different bible studies, all of which only lasted some months before numbers dwindled so low it was only leaders attending. Although I hid it, this had a significant impact on the view I had on myself. Was I even capable of ministry? I was not a magnet that attracted; I felt like a magnet facing the wrong way. Everyone left!

I don’t know if you’ve felt that nothing you did (ministry-wise) succeeded, but if you have, I get it! The good news is that God has a way out! He showed it to me when I eventually started praying about this issue. He showed me that there are three things needed to find my calling and walk in it.

The first necessary action to take is to spend time seeking God in private. Take this opportunity to get close and intimate with God. Cultivate your relationship with him. You won’t get anywhere on your own.

The second action is to ask him for your calling. By directly asking God to show you his calling for your life, he will reveal it to you in a personal way. You will know his plans for yourself. You won’t have to rely on a pastor or prophet to show you the way to take.

The third step is to operate out of your calling. This action is the last step to ensure success in what you do. It is crucial to work in your calling and not someone else’s.

Now, to continue my story.
After seeking God and following his lead, I realised that although he has called me to preach, the timing is not right yet. What he has called me to now is a prayer ministry. God showed me that I needed to open my home to other believers and create a space to pray. When I did this, wow! The power of God MOVED!!
Every week, there would be people weeping as God healed their hearts! Many words of knowledge and prophesy were given to encourage one another. And most of all, the presence of God was so strong and tangible every time we met!

One time, I was disappointed because only one friend came to the meeting. But even then, God showed up powerfully, and as I was praying, I saw in a vision a place that looked like heaven! Colours were moving around in the air that were too beautiful to describe. I cannot explain how they moved because they were so bright and full of life, unlike colours in this world. I am not colour-blind, but when I came back and looked around, even the brightest colours on earth looked grey compared to the colours I saw in the vision. The amazing thing about these colours was that they moved and had a life of their own. They were living, moving, and a pure delight to watch!

Heavenly colours aren’t everything, though. It’s incredible to see, but the power of God changing lives is more important. And that’s exactly what’s been happening every single week for me. It seems normal now to have at least one powerful testimony of God showing up when praying, turning another life around.
Praise God! He is working through me finally, and I feel alive when I pray!
I will share more testimonies in the coming weeks because I feel it on God’s heart to share them as an encouragement.
Have a blessed week, and may you operate out of your calling!

Who Is The Stronger Man?

I was resting when a scene played in my mind. I saw a very strong and muscular man protecting his house. Next, I saw another stronger man overpower the first and take ownership of the house and all that was in it.

After seeing this I was disturbed – why would someone take what isn’t his? Why did one man overpower the first?

I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what this meant. Later the same morning as I was reading through my Bible devotion for the day, I came across this passage:

 For when a strong man is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe—  until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.
 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

Luke 11:21-23 NLT

The strong man Jesus talked about here sounded exactly like the picture I saw. I looked up what it meant to understand more of what this meant. It seems that Jesus is saying he is the stronger man who is overpowering Satan and taking back what was stolen. This makes more sense as to why the second man would attack – he was taking back what was stolen and rightfully his!

So, what does this mean? I think it’s a pretty cool reminder that no matter how muscular Satan looks, Jesus is stronger and has already defeated him! We can trust in Jesus and his strength.

Generosity Revisited

I want to talk about generosity again, now that my perspective has changed since I last wrote about it. There are a few points I want to address:

  1. Your heart attitude is more important than the way you give
  2. Percentage matters more than the dollar amount
  3. Our Father wants your heart, not your money
  4. Real giving has no strings attached

Your heart attitude is more important than the way you give. A few weeks ago, Jesus appeared to me in a dream. He told me a few things, but there is one that I need to share with you. He told me that my heart motives are more important than my actions. What does this mean in the context of generosity? The gift you give is not scrutinised by God the same way your heart is. Here are some questions to ask yourself before giving. Are you reluctantly or resentfully giving the gift? Do you feel forced to give because of tithing expectations? Do you hold unforgiveness in your heart toward a brother or sister? If you or I answer yes to any of these questions, we must examine our heart to ensure we have pure motives. Pray on each issue that arises and ask Jesus to change your heart.

Percentage matters more than the dollar amount. Whenever I think about generosity, I am reminded of a particular Bible story (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus is with his disciples in the temple, watching various people give offerings. Many rich people gave large sums, but when a widow put in two small copper coins, Jesus declared that she had given more than the rich before her. The poor widow had given all she had to live! There was a direct pain in giving those coins because, for that week, there was no money for food, accommodation, or other expenses. In the same way as that story, God knows your financial state, so larger dollar amounts do not always equal a more generous gift. If you desire to give more, do so based on your money percentage rather than thinking in dollar amounts.

Our Father wants your heart, not your money. God is infinitely rich because he created all things, so he has no need for you to give. However, he wants you to give because by giving your money, he gets your heart. Jesus stated that where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matthew 6:21). He warned against storing up treasures on earth because they do not last. When you give to God, you get treasure in heaven, and when you have treasure in heaven, your heart is in heaven. Therefore, following this progression, when you give God money, you are giving him your heart.

Real giving has no strings attached. A genuine gift must be given in whole with no expectation of return; otherwise, it is a transaction. Imagine the following story as an example. You are close with your best friend, and he gives you a gift every birthday and Christmas. One day when you are both walking together along a road, a car swerves toward your friend, but you see it fast enough to push him out of the way. Tragically, you are killed instead. At your funeral, your friend is giving a speech. At the speech, he complains that he wasted a lot of money on gifts for you, because you didn’t give enough back.

This story has likely never happened between two best friends, but is it possible to happen between God and us? God gave his life so you and I can live in freedom with him, so why should we give with a motive behind the gift that expects some kind of ‘return on investment’? God is the investment! God has already given more than you or I could ever possibly hope to repay!

May you have a blessed week.

It’s all about Jesus

Following on from my previous post about Cambodia, I want to dive deeper into the need for Jesus.

The culture I live in loves job promotions, high status, being famous, good looks, and absolutely idolises having loads of money. The thought of being able to retire at 30 and travel the world eating endless amounts of delicious food is just too good to be true for most people. I’ve often heard it said that I should “be happy” and do things I want to. Being selfish is wisdom in this culture!

However, I have come to realise that a lot of pain and suffering comes from the selfishness in me! Every idol I have put in my life has been from selfishness, and it’s those idols that hurt the most. For example, by putting my career as an idol, any time something went wrong with my job, I got extremely distressed. I was always fearful of losing my job and the social status that came along with it. The fear was crippling and draining my life.

If I had genuine unselfishness and had put my focus on Jesus and what he wanted for me, this suffering would have never happened. I am so thankful for the trip to Cambodia, which taught me a lot more about what is most important in this world. My job is just that – a job. It’s not my identity, and if I lose it, I’m sure my Father will lead me to another one to pay the bills. 🙂

I challenge you to put your trust and hope in Jesus. Don’t put more weight on things of this world than you should. After all, we are called to be “in the world but not of the world.”

Consistency

Consistency is hard. That’s because it requires character, not just feelings or a big moment. It’s easy for me to write about praying daily; it’s another thing to live it. I pray that I live it! It is not something that can be done in a human’s strength but only comes from the power of God himself. I pray for more character. I pray for more prayer.

Consistency changes you over time. You would prefer that every problem be solved immediately if possible. However, that’s not how character is built. Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that caused him considerable trouble, yet God was quite okay with letting it stay. Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Perhaps it isn’t all bad. It could be more of an opportunity to grow in character rather than a punishment. You may well have done nothing to deserve it. Don’t worry; keep praying. God wants to change you from the inside out and wants those changes to remain. He isn’t interested in quick results, but “fruit that will last.”

Stay consistent and run to win. Run and don’t stop. Stopping is losing, running is winning. Even if you tire, don’t stop; keep moving, no matter how slow. If you get tired of praying for hours, that’s okay, just keep praying a little. Whatever you do, don’t stop altogether. Your Father can still help you if you stop, but that isn’t a close relationship anymore. Do everything you can to stay in a healthy relationship with him.

Trusting in God (like your life depends on it)

It was just a few days into the new year that I received the phone call. Unsuspecting, I picked up my phone and answered. From the other end I heard a weak voice say “aunty (blank) has passed this afternoon”. I didn’t know how to respond. She had a severe cancer so I was expecting the news, yet hoping against it somehow. I was unsure of how to feel.

To give some backstory, I moved to the city of Adelaide, Australia back in early 2018. I felt God lead me to move, but before I had made plans for a place to live, I was at a Christmas family gathering just weeks before I needed to move. Out of no where, an aunt of mine approached me and asked what I was doing early next year. She then explained that she and her husband, (my uncle), were going overseas for a month and needed someone to look after the house. The timing was perfect from me needing to move to Adelaide matching when they were leaving.

Wait, what???

Oh yeah… she wanted to PAY ME to stay there too.

Needless to say I promptly accepted the generous offer. I ended up staying on after this lovely couple returned from their trip. Altogether I was there for around 18 months. We got a lot closer and became good friends.

Now all of that was gone. She was gone.

In the midst of this happening, I felt misunderstood by some friends and experienced a breakup.

My emotions were in utter turmoil. Most days became a blur of strong sad emotions. I didn’t know how to handle so much loss at the same time, so I started praying like my life depended on it.

Through prayer, I was drawn into God’s presence in a way I have NEVER experienced before! In this terrible mess of a season in my life, God was with me. He brought deep comfort to me.

I am reminded of Psalm 23 which says

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. – NLT

Verse 4 stands out to me the most – Even when I walk through the darkest valley … you comfort me.

I know this to be true; when I trusted God and let him be my shepherd, these things followed. It’s all good and well to speak these verses into your life and believe for them, but I really believe that it is when you actively put your trust in God and allow him to lead you that these verses become a part of your life.

I had to trust that God loved me and still had a plan for my life.

I’m going to be honest. It was FRIGGIN’ HARD! (Mind the Christian swear word) Yet God was there the whole time. I had to trust him above my feelings.

To really trust God and let him lead me, I had to put aside every plan I made and give it to him in prayer. I recognized some goals I had in life that probably (definitely) weren’t aligned with God’s.

Sad face.

I had to let go of them. MANNN that was hard. It’s one thing to let go of an idea that just popped into your head, it’s a whole different thing letting go of hopes and dreams that you have poured blood, sweat and tears into.

As I gave each hope, dream, and plan for my future to God, he started showing me his hopes, dreams, and plans for my life. Now that was cool! I found out that God had called me to so many different things I never saw when I was too busy pursuing my own selfish plans! The shock to me was that God’s plans were actually bigger than I dared dream myself!

This part blew my mind. God trusted me more than I trusted myself!

What do I mean? God’s plans for my life are beyond what I consider myself capable of. He puts more faith in me than I put in myself. I do not mean that my human ability is able to do this, but that with God, I can do more than I dared even think possible. It turns out that trusting in God unlocks a whole other world!

I really believe that because I started learning to trust in God, my relationship with him grew more in the last two months than the last two years. I do not say this lightly. One month truly trusting in God saw more growth than a year of being a good Christian guy.

What are your experiences of trusting in God? How did you trust in God? How did God respond to you?

The Deal with Pride

Today I was reading from Jeremiah 50. After reading the chapter, (a prophesy of judgement for the nation of Babylon), I noticed a few things.

Firstly, Babylon had been used by God to bring His judgement to nations that disobeyed Him. Babylon didn’t deserve God’s blessing or attention, yet He chose to use them to fulfill His purpose. By carrying out His work, the nation became very wealthy. (Lots of plunder from sacking many a city)

Secondly, Babylon didn’t acknowledge God and His blessing, but instead put themselves as the reason for success and praised their idols. They were so prideful that they couldn’t see past themselves and their own abilities. They put their full trust in themselves. Further to this, they decided that some man-made idols should be praised and worshipped. (uh-oh… I can take a guess where this is headed)

Thirdly, God didn’t take kindly to their pride. (Surprised? Me neither) God saw their arrogance and commanded a judgement on them that was, (get this), worse than every other judgement the other nations suffered. The worst part? There was no chance for repentance. The judgement on Babylon was to be final, and no one would ever live there again. Never ever is a very long time, so you know God was serious. In fact, God says “desert creatures and hyenas will live there” (v29), meaning God basically made the land haunted. All because some people trusted their own strength rather than the all powerful God of heaven. God doesn’t mess around, and I believe He wanted to make a point about pride and humility for people living after (aka you and me!). Those who call out to God will be saved, while those who trust in themselves will be brought low. James 4:6 says it well:

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

All throughout the old testament you can read of God bringing judgement on Israel for disobeying Him, yet they always turn and repent. God loves a humble heart, and gives grace when He sees it. Therefore, the lesson for you and I is simply this: Pride is a big no-no. You and I can start practicing more humility. And if you already are? Great! Keep going.

Rethinking my Obedience to God

For the past few weeks I have been reading a book written by Pastor John Bevere, called Killing Kryptonite. The book focuses on a common sin many Christians in Australia deal with; idolatry – which is generally putting anything above God or before God. The deadliest part about this sin is how it goes unnoticed by anyone committing it. The result of this sin is a church and body of Christ without power and authority.

I could talk about many different lessons learned, but one that stood out to me was my attitude when reading the bible. For a couple of years I have been fairly consistent in reading devotions, attending church, and thinking I’m a good Christian, but after reading this book, I realised I had lost humility and always assumed I was doing the right thing.

Let me give an example. Matthew 7 verses 1-3“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?’

When reading this passage, I have always assumed I follow this commandment by Jesus. However, after driving for about 2.7 seconds in Adelaide traffic, I get cut off and immediately feel anger and judgement toward the person. ARGHHH I HATE TRAFFIC! Never mind that I just cut someone off myself! I have been judging people A LOT without realising how much I do it.

I’m especially good at judging people and being a hypocrite on a day I do a double-devotion.

Yup. That’s bad. And very true.

Here’s the thing… I never realised my sin until I started reading the Bible honestly. Instead of assuming I’m already doing it right, I have adopted the attitude of assuming I’m doing it wrong, then examining my actions over the past couple of days/weeks to honestly assess how I am doing.

Okay, that’s a nice lesson Caleb, but what does it have to do with idolatry? Well, after reading this book I realised the biggest idol in my life was…. drum roll..

me.

Now I don’t know who you are or where you’re at or what you’ve done, yada yada yada… But I do know that I thought I was a healthy Christian while frequently sinning. And I ONLY realised I was in trouble when I stopped idolising myself and thinking so highly of myself. If you think you’re pretty well on track with your relationship with God, I suggest you stop right now and have a good, long think about that. No judgement here from me! You may be perfectly in God’s will, …buuuuuuut chances are that if you believe you’re not sinning, you are.

All the best.

Sharing the Faith

I am currently reading through 1 Peter, and I love the following verses from chapter 3. 1 Peter 3:15-17 ‘Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

The way to preach the gospel is not always from a pulpit, but rather by showing others a holy and pure life. This shifts the responsibility of sharing Christianity with unbelievers from the pastor to every Christian. I love that we are all meant to be a part of God’s plan. There is no one too small or insignificant to participate.

We are called to live a life that cannot be mocked or criticized, even by non-Christians. To live this way, I know I need God’s help. I can’t live this life on my own. I think this is God’s intention. No one can live this kind of life on their own, so there must be something or someone helping them. (God) 🙂 I have heard a few testimonies of Christians who came to the faith because they were challenged by Christians who didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs and who were always happy. They were challenged by the way Christians lived, and found God because of it. When my time on earth is over, I want to meet people who were challenged by the life I lived. Do you want to challenge others too?

We know that we are called to live a life that cannot be mocked or criticized, but what are some practical things to do that show this kind of life? 1 Peter 4:7-11 sheds some light on this. ‘The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

By praying earnestly, showing deep love, cheerfully sharing and using our gifts, we are living for God. The lifestyle God wants you and me to live doesn’t sound complicated; The difficulty is living faithfully day after day. If you are already living in this way, keep going! If you aren’t, don’t worry; start now. It’s important to remember that life isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon. Consistency is how we win.