Inner Peace, Continued

In this post, I want to continue on the topic of inner peace and its fruit. Let’s look at Matthew 14 again.

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Matthew 14:25-31 NLT

Peter’s focus on Christ and faith in Him resulted in a miracle that was not possible if he had done the logical thing and stayed in the boat. The wind and waves that created the storm which was intended by the enemy to harm the disciples became the platform that Peter walked on. The very thing that wanted to take his life was forced to carry him to Jesus. Isn’t that beautiful?

As believers in Christ, I believe we are called to step out in faith in circumstances that would normally be perilous. The storms of life that come at us can and should be used to bring us closer to Jesus, not destroy us.

I had a vision a few months back in which I saw many interwoven golden lines. They connected people and events together and represented God’s intricate plan for everyone. I saw that it was all connected. Then I saw the enemy try to destroy God’s connections. However, each time he moved something out of place, God moved two or three new things into place to compensate, making it even better than before. So the enemy was wasting his time touching anything, and I saw that the more the enemy touched God’s plans, the better it became for believers.

This is confirmed in scripture; God will always use everything in our lives to draw us closer to him when we love Him and are walking in His will. (Romans 8:28)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 NLT

Yet sadly, we will not get to this place if we are cowering with fear “in the boat” with other people. God is calling you to greater things, and it’s up to you to step out in faith and fix your eyes on Him.

There seems to be a common thought that many people have, including Christians, which sounds something like: “I need to know what’s going on in the world to know how to deal with it”. However, respectfully I don’t see how this lines up with scripture. God didn’t tell the Israelites to think about how many ways they could die in the wilderness. He asked them to trust Him. As it turned out, it was their focus on the carnal (things of this world) that kept leading them astray. Time after time God performed miracles for His chosen people, but they kept forgetting the miracles past and started to complain about a new problem. Because of their lack of faith in God, they were refused His promised rest. Hebrews 3 and 4 put this very clearly.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. 10 So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

Hebrews 3:7-11 NLT

The Israelites tested God in the wilderness despite seeing miracles for forty years. They had a habit of seeing what was wrong – no water, no food, hostile nations, etc. instead of focusing on God who always provided a solution. This habit of testing God was attributed to unbelief. And it is written that without faith it is impossible to please God.

So it is clear that focusing on the troubles and worries of the world can lead to unbelief if left long enough. And if God became angry with His chosen people, will He not be angry with gentiles who do not listen to His voice? Therefore it is crucial we fix our eyes on Jesus and stop looking at the circumstances around us.

Where is Jesus calling you right now? What is he whispering to you in the secret place? Be obedient to Him, and watch Him perform miracles in your life. There is a promise from Jesus I want to leave with you.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

John 14:21 NLT

Jesus promises that those who obey His commandments will be loved by Him and will see Him!

Having Peace at all Times

Two years ago in March 2020, I was headed for Cambodia in the face of a new and alarming pandemic. It was my first overseas trip at one of the worst times to travel, yet I felt at peace. Around this time I got an impression in my spirit. “If you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, you will have peace. If you keep your focus on the world, you will have turmoil.” This impression has stayed with me ever since and has proven to be true. When people around me have been fearful, I have had God’s peace. I don’t say this to boast, because it is not a peace I have made. It comes from Jesus, so I will boast in Him!

Jesus said that we may have peace in him in John 16:33.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NLT

Jesus has already overcome the world! If He has overcome the world, there is nothing outside of his dominion and control. He is the author and finisher of our faith, so it’s not our place to worry about this world. The position we need to take is one of pure devotion to Him, fixing our eyes on Him.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Isaiah 26:3 NLT

With our eyes focused on Jesus, we aren’t looking at other things. This is a really important truth to exercise. Simon Peter, the apostle, learned about fixing his eyes on Jesus when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water.

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Matthew 14:25-31 NLT

We can see in this passage that when Peter looked to Jesus and stepped out in obedience, the result was a miracle. He was walking on water when no one else was doing it. As a result, he is the only recorded person in the Bible besides Jesus to have walked on water. (Other accounts of water miracles were different, such as the Israelites who walked on dry ground when fleeing Egypt). So, therefore, when you are obedient to Christ, being focused on him, you will do things not done before.

Also note that when Peter looked at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. The wind and the waves can be thought of as a metaphor for the cares and troubles of the world. When we focus on what’s going wrong around us, we begin to sink and lose faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.

What we can do to combat this attack on faith is to focus on Jesus. Talk to him and lay everything in his care; Pray to him and let him carry your burdens.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Philippians 4:6 NLT

So I want to encourage you to make it a habit to focus on Jesus. Whenever you find yourself focused on other things, refocus your gaze again. When this habit becomes a lifestyle, your inner peace can never be robbed. I pray you can see that this peace is not dependent on external circumstances, but only dependent on your inner focus on Jesus.

Revival From Within

Going to many youth conferences and large church events when I was young influenced the way I thought God moves. I have heard many times about revival and how God will pour out his spirit and tangible presence on multitudes of people to bring thousands to the kingdom… But I subconsciously always believed it would be an event that happened outside of my influence and I would simply join in to what was happening. However, my heavenly Father has completely changed my understanding in this! I have come to realise that revival is not an external event, but rather, an internal process.

It was a beautiful spring day that I was working from home. I had so much work to do, and not enough time to get it all done. There was a little outreach event happening in the city that day and I was invited to go. I hesitated several times and nearly didn’t go. Finally, I decided to go and arrived in the city with my mind on a dozen things.

After some time passed with the usual events happening, I saw a homeless man stop and watch the event about five meters away from where I was standing. I went up to him and started talking. After the speaker finished, I talked more with him and asked to pray with him. As I prayed, the tangible presence of our heavenly Father came so strongly I started to get emotional. I looked at the man I was praying with, and he was already crying, tears flowing down his weather-worn cheeks.

After prayer, I talked to the man about the Father and his love for a while, then asked if he wanted to surrender his life to Jesus. He wanted to, so we prayed through a prayer of repentance and surrender! It was incredible how the Father took care of everything. It was so easy; The man wanted to be saved.

This all happened only days after a discussion with friends about how God works in us, then through us, then around us. I know the Father’s love and his presence, so I wanted to move on to the next part, God working through me! I expressed this desire in the conversation, and only three days later was able to lead a man to Christ!

I realised that God wanted to use me to bring about a revival. It wasn’t an external event that “just happened”. No, it’s a process that goes on inside of me, (healing and transforming me) until I am ready to step out in faith and advance the kingdom of God!

Psalm 51 points to this reality of looking at the heart first, and being revived there first.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

Psalm 51:10, 12-13 NLT

The progression here is firstly being right before God, then from that place teaching his ways to the ungodly and bringing them to salvation. This makes sense because how can we save someone if we ourselves are not saved? Jesus said it this way in Matthew:

So ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.

Matthew 15:14 NLT

If a teacher is teaching something he does not know, how will the person hearing be helped? There is another verse that talks about the heart:

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

There is certainly a pattern here of working on the heart first, then from that seeing God at work around us. Are you willing to start the process of revival from within you? Will you open your heart to the Father for him to work in it?

The Holy Spirit as a Helper

There was a time this year when I was at the end of myself. I had cried until I had nothing left to cry. I felt hopeless and weak, wishing I could disappear from all my problems. It was late at night and I was in my bed, laying there helplessly. I prayed for strength and fell asleep. In the morning, I woke with a spring in my step! I felt the presence of God inside of me and I had a strength and determination about me! It was like chalk and cheese comparing the morning to the night before.

I realised that day that God deeply cares for me and sees me in my weakness, helping me when I cannot help myself. The Holy Spirit taught me to trust in him, even when everything seems unlikely, even impossible. The Bible explains some of the Holy Spirit’s characteristics in John 14 and Romans 8:

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:26 NLT

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Romans 8:26 NLT

The Holy Spirit will often remind us of truths we already know of, but don’t understand in our heart. I have found that when I read something, it doesn’t stick with me until it lands in my heart. Getting something from my head to my heart is hard by myself, but with the “helper”, the Holy Spirit, I am reminded of the truths in God’s word at crucial times when I need it most.

The best part of all is how the Holy Spirit is given to us permanently, and lives inside of us. I often hear him speak like a still small voice of wisdom. He always lifts me up when I am down, and always encourages me when I am weak. In the morning after my night of despair, I felt the presence of God so powerfully! The Holy Spirit truly lives inside of us as 1 Corinthians 6 says:

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,

1 Corinthians 6:19

I want to encourage you to listen to him when you are feeling low. He truly cares about you and will help in times of trouble. The Bible promises this, and when God says something, he will be sure to fulfill his word.

Have a great week!

Growing In Relationship with God

It was in 2017 that I had a dream I felt was significant, and a direct revelation from God. In the dream, I was driving my car down a road. The road disappeared and turned into rough ground. As I kept driving, I could see a large desert up ahead with a lot of rough terrain. As I got closer to the rocks, cactus and other obstacles, the car I was driving lifted up several hundred feet into the air!

In the air I was able to see very far ahead of me, and I saw many other cars that were still driving on the ground. Some were very expensive exotic cars, and one in particular was a Ford Mustang. It looked brand new and was speeding along at easily over 280 km/hr (174 miles/hr). Because of the speed, it couldn’t slow down when it entered the desert. The vehicle smashed into a large rock and instantly burst into flames. I knew that the driver (and potentially passengers) had died. The dream continued with other events, but I won’t go into detail here.

At the time of the dream, I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but I wrote it down and mostly forgot about it. It was only this year that I remembered it and reflected on my relationship with God. I realised that at the time of the dream, my relationship with God was like a car driving on the ground. I was moving forward in what he wanted me to do at a steady and sustainable pace, but I couldn’t see what was happening around me. It was in 2020 when I desperately sought God that I was raised up and shown many things around me. God started talking to me daily about what he was doing in my life, my friend’s lives, and the world at large.

So I realised that the dream had come true. I was in my own world, going at my comfortable pace, when I was lifted up and shown what was happening all around me. A Bible verse that confirms this transformation is Isaiah 40:31.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
   They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 NLT

It is when we wait upon the Lord (being still in his presence for extended periods of time) that we will rise up. I simply love how this verse is so close to the dream I had!

I also love the following verses from the books of Revelation and Jeremiah because they reveal God’s heart for us.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Revelation 3:20 NLT

Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking. It is up to you to let him in. It is in that place of friendship that he will communicate to you as a friend. When you eat a meal with him, (metaphorically), he will share with you. That simply blows me away!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Jeremiah shows more of God’s heart by revealing that he already has a plan and purpose for you. He wants to give you a future and a hope, but it’s up to you to let him do that by waiting on him and letting Jesus into your heart.

The remarkable thing I find in all of this is that I was a Christian the whole time in the dream I had. It wasn’t as if I was unsaved while I was driving, and when I accepted Christ I was taken up and my vision expanded. No, I was already saved. However, I wasn’t being intentional enough with my time with God to allow him to take me where I needed to go.

If you are “driving” and not seeing what God is doing, (as shown in Revelation 3:20 when Jesus shares a meal with you), I want to encourage you to spend as much time with God as you possibly can in the coming weeks. If possible, set aside large portions of time, up to four hours at a time, or more, to really go deep into his presence with praise, worship and prayer. If you do this, I promise you your life will start to transform!

Be blessed!

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.

Cambodia

Days before the coronavirus influenced border closures around the world, I went on my first overseas trip to Cambodia. I couldn’t have picked a worse time to go overseas, yet I don’t regret it for a second.

Although the trip was a short one-week arrangement I learned a lot about the culture, people, religion and area. When I stepped outside the airport, a very strong and unpleasant smell greeted me and didn’t leave until I flew out again. I was shocked to see my “taxi” driver blindly walk across four lanes of traffic (which in Cambodia translates to about 12 lanes. I’m not kidding.) and somehow make it out alive! I was surprised to see enormous amounts of trash, rubbish, food scraps and goodness knows what else thrown on the side of the roads. everywhere. My heart broke to hear the stories of the people who were oppressed by an evil government who killed close to 3 million of their innocent only 45 years ago.

The whole trip I soaked in the culture, doing my best to learn how they work, eat, travel and live. I learned that a lot of Khmer (Cambodians) make less than $1 per day. I saw young children playing in rubbish. Most children work when not in school. Yet somehow those children were happy. They were content to play in trash, and they didn’t mind the smell.

After seeing these things, I realised just how important my attitude is. I choose to be happy or upset. I can have fun playing in rubbish, or I can live in Australia with luxuries most Khmer only dream about and think of 101 things I don’t have. Getting back to Australia, I realised just how wealthy I am. I had a different appreciation for things that I didn’t before. I’m aware that I can still be a sour grape at times 😉 but I am trying to be more thankful for what I have.

I have realised the vanity and yes, even stupidity that lies in wanting more things and not being content. A discontent man will never be happy, but Godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Desiring money seems good at first, but it always leads to harmful desires. I think I need a reality check every so-often because the whole Australian culture revolves around where you work and what you do on weekends. Do you work for a big company? Do you have a university degree? How much money do you make? How nice is your car? These questions don’t ask a more important question: who are you? For real, who are you deep down? If you had no job, education, money, or possessions, who would you be? Would anyone want to be around you?

While I was away I had a lot of time to think about these kinds of questions. Almost all tourist sites were shut down due to the virus, so there was plenty of time for deep thinking. I started to realise how selfish I am. I want a good education, job, and above all I really want to be seen as “successful”. I think my perspective is starting to change. I don’t need any of those things to be happy. I realised that when you don’t have possessions, the only reason people stay around you is because the love you for who you are. That is worth more than any amount of money or success. However, even more important than relationship with people, is my relationship with God. Am I close to our Father in heaven? Am I actively listening to the Holy Spirit?

Now that I’ve seen another side of life, I want to go back there and help. Unfortunately, many Khmer pursue greed and desire to be rich like westerners. They don’t realise the trap it leads to and that they can have everything they need without money. All they need is Jesus. All I need is Jesus. With him I have everything, and without him I have nothing. To me this is clearer than ever, and I pray that by reading my story you see this just a little clearer too.

The Secret Place

Relationship with God is just. so. important. Every day is an opportunity to grow. Are we actively taking that opportunity or squandering it?

I want to share a testimony. As I have said previously, I got addicted to porn at a young age and last year stopped watching it. Completely. It was amazing because low-level depression along with most other symptoms of porn left 🙂 Yes! It was amazing! However, although I was set free from watching it, I was still tormented in some capacity by thoughts of going back. Scenes would replay in my head and it was horrible. I prayed throughout the whole year for my Father to set me free from it. But nothing seemed to happennnnnn 😦

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. (This is very close to a year since I started praying.) Holy Spirit led me to a certain kind of prayer that:

  1. Acknowledged the sin by name (e.g. watching porn, lusting, etc.)
  2. Repented of the sin and asked forgiveness
  3. Told the sin and evil spirit to leave in Jesus’ name

Wow!

I felt so freeeeee

All those thoughts just. stopped. It felt like I almost had an “empty” mind or something. It was kinda weird, but amazing!

The reason I tell this story is to make this point. I would never have been set free if I didn’t have a relationship with God. I had to pray and really listen to the Holy Spirit leading me. He was so patient with me and not in a hurry. When I was ready, he gave me the words, exact words to pray to break those evil spirits. The thing is, as good as all other christians and churches and podcasts and sermons are, they never knew my heart and set me free. Only God could see what I was dealing with and knew exactly what to do. 🙂

I have found that the most impacting moments in my life were all when I was alone and praying, worshipping or reading the Word of God. Our Father is in heaven, yet he is so close to us and understands us better than any other person. Because of this, I have changed my view on church and my spiritual growth. Rather than seeking that growth from my church, I have changed my focus to expect my growth to come directly from God.

This means that the only stopping capacity is how far I am willing to go. I am no longer capped by anything except myself. How many hours will I pray before stopping? How long will I ask God for freedom before being set free? Am I willing to give up gaming to spend more time praying? These are the kind of decisions that determine my level of relationship with God.

Here is a list of some positive side affects of doubling – tripling the amount of time I spend with God:

  1. Far less fear
  2. Freedom from lustful/unclean thoughts
  3. No more nightmares
  4. Peace. So much peace.
  5. Being shown things by God
  6. Ridiculous favour at work
  7. Very deep relationships with people I previously had little to none
  8. More wisdom
  9. Increased awareness of others

Each of these points came either directly from praying for them, or just general prayer and listening to God. Some I asked for specifically, others just came.

The more I spend time with the Father, the more I feel his heart for me, and others. He is so loving, so gentle, so patient, so kind, and so humble. He is so humble! The love in his eyes is so pure, it changes you. You cannot be the same after; I’m quite sure it’s impossible.

There are things you can’t experience unless you spend several hours just praying. There are experiences you will never experience until you get on your knees for extended periods of time. I will pray that you open your heart to this idea and pray for a desire to be drawn to prayer.

If you want to be closer to God than most people even know is possible, pray for it. Ask God to draw you into the secret place. Don’t let anyone put a limit on you for what is acceptable. I used to believe that an hour each day is enough time with God, simply because a pastor told me. That is a very good amount of time with God if you want to stay a bit above average. However, if you’re anything like me and want to push the boundaries, I dare you to spend 5 hours each night praying for a week in a row.

If your world isn’t absolutely blown apart by God, send me a message and I will personally video chat with you and pray with you. I double-dare you to do it. Pray for 7 hours a day. Pray for 9. Don’t stop there, see what happens for even more. Try 12 hours in a single session.

This change absolutely shook my world and turned it upside-down. I believe it will do the same to your world too. Please let me know what happens. I want to hear your testimonies!

From Knowledge to Relationship

I was at home preparing for a bible study that met on a weekly basis when I realised I didn’t remember anything spoken at church on Sunday. I wanted to pass it off as being busy and having a lot of different things in my life leading to forgetfulness. However, there was a deeper underlying problem. A hint was that this happened regularly, almost every week. Was I not spiritual enough? Did I not care about God’s word? Why was I not focused at church? These kinds of questions floated around in my mind.

Here’s what I didn’t realise: I had more knowledge of God than a relationship with him. A hint of this was how I thought about him – I thought of him as God. I didn’t talk to my Father, Jesus or Holy Spirit. They were a distant God in my mind. If you asked me, I would have told you that of course God was close to me, but in reality he was not. Did I pray throughout the day? Did I talk with the Father? Did I listen carefully? Did I ask him questions? No. I did not.

I knew what God liked and disliked, but not because he was telling me directly. I knew everything I knew because of the Bible or church preaching. The Bible is incredibly powerful, but reading it without a relationship with the Father held back its power. When I read it, I assumed I was always in the right and every promise belonged to me. In the same way, every curse or rebuke was for ‘bad’ people… or something…

How wrong I was!

I was blind to the sin and idols in my heart because I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Knowledge of him doesn’t give room for him to touch my heart and bring up the things I need to deal with. If only I had talked with him, asking him to reveal sin to be dealt with, I would have saved myself so much pain!

So, when did the change from knowledge to relationship happen? Well, it’s hard to give a date or time because it was more of a journey, but I can say for certain the process accelerated during a recent part of my life. (More details here) When I was at the end of myself I forced, yes, forced myself into prayer like never before. I changed from praying 5 minutes per day (on a good day) to hours each day – I’m talking many hours praying, crying, pleading, crying… Yeah, it wasn’t glamorous 😉

BUT…

Through my prayer times, my Father in heaven showed me many things about my heart and the mess that was inside. He also gently showed me what other people were feeling because of my actions. Wow. That wrecked me. I had no idea of just how much pain I had caused, especially to those closest to me. It still hits me as I write this, months later!

Some things you cannot explain. Other things you can. Only the explainable things are talked about at church, which is understandable to some degree. However, there is so much more to God than you can ever understand through teaching. The ONLY WAY, please read carefully, THE ONLY WAY to truly understand God is to have a close relationship with him.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but now the only people I can truly relate to in a spiritual setting are those who also have an intimate relationship with the Father. They talk act differently. Things get under their skin that just don’t bother most people. They understand another side of God and his heart, so they will not stand for things that break his heart. Sure, they still mess up plenty! But they’re different.

When was the last time someone, christian or not, told you “you’re different”? Do you stand out, especially to those who don’t know Jesus? If not, it might be time to lock your door and get on your knees for a few hours a day until that changes.

Passion For God

Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.

This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.

The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.

Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?