Joy and Thanksgiving

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

“Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Nehemiah was a cupbearer in Persia following the exile of the Jews after the destruction of Israel. He was instrumental in rebuilding the walls and helping the people to return from exile. After the people returned, they gathered in the square and Ezra the Priest read from the book of the law of Moses. After he had read, the people wept as they heard the words of the law. Nehemiah commanded them to go away and eat, drink and to supply to those in need. Nehemiah urged them to maintain their joy because from this they would gain strength. (Nehemiah 8:1-10)

The people were most likely sad because they recognised that their ancestors had disobeyed God which led to their captivity. But why weep in that moment when God has restored their fortunes? There is no point crying over mistakes from the past and wallowing in self pity. God has already forgiven us for our mistakes. So eat, drink, rejoice and sing your praises to God. Give him thanks for his many blessings and share your blessings with others who are less fortunate.

God does not dwell on our mistakes and he wants us to have joy and peace. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) Being happy is often a choice and is often based on our perspective. We can choose to be happy in each moment and count our daily blessings. The fact that we are alive is enough of a reason to give God thanks and make our hearts merry.


There is Nothing to Fear

Moses had been told by God that he would not enter the promised land with the Israelites. The people had become accustomed to following Moses’s lead and he wanted to encourage them that it was God who would guide them into the promise. Even with a change of leadership, it was God who would guide the people and not Moses. This would renew the people’s trust in the Lord, rather than to put their confidence in Moses.

God is a constant friend who is near to us. He has promised time and time again in his word to never leave us nor forsake us. His promise is to shelter and protect us and to direct our footsteps. When we trust, lean and depend on him, he directs our path. We have to learn how to rely on and trust in Jesus to help and defend us. There are some situations that we have to surrender totally to him and trust his leading. Then our steps will be ordered by the Lord: and he will delight in our ways (Psalm 37:23).

We cannot allow ourselves to be distressed by the trouble that surrounds us. It does not matter what happens in the world, when we know that God transcends this world. “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalms 46:1-3).

Let us continue to trust in the Lord and do not rely on your own understanding. We do not need to fear if the Lord goes before us to guide our footsteps. God knows what we need before we need it. He knows our thoughts and he understand what we are worried about. We need to pray about the things that cause us anxiety. Whenever I feel anxious about something, I generally pray until I feel at peace about it. The anxiety is often an indication that I haven’t surrendered that issue completely to God. Either that or it’s a stronghold that the devil is using to cause me distress. Either way, if it’s worth worrying about, then it is worth talking to God about. He will not abandon us so we have absolutely nothing to fear.

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you” (Psalms‬ ‭91:5-7‬).


Love Without Dissent

“Let love be without dissimulation (genuine); Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” (Romans 12:9)

The word love appears close to 600 times, in the King James Bible, with additional references in other translations. The word makes reference to God himself being love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7) Jesus also encourages his disciples, to love one another, which was a demonstration and evidence to the world, that they are his disciples. (John 13:35)

Jesus also referenced the greatest commandment being to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and the second greatest being; love your neighbour as you love yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39) Why then does God, make so many references to love and stresses, the importance of us loving others? God made such a huge sacrifice for us, in laying down his own life to save us from our sins. There is no extent to which God will not go, to demonstrate how much He loves us.

Contrastingly the Devil will spend a lot of time, trying to convince us that we are not loved by God. It is the condemnation strategy that he uses, to bring about fear and torment. But we know that fear is not from God, because fear has to do with punishment. But the perfect love of God drives away all fear. (1 John 4:18)

Someone who knows that they are loved by God, will find it easy to love others. When we accept the grace of God, then we can also extend this to others. If you are finding it difficult to love someone, pray for them. Pray that you will also accept the perfect love of God, to loose the grip of fear. We do not have to fear being accepted, because God accepts us. He loves every single imperfection, flaw and loves us in-spite of our weaknesses. So accept God’s perfect love, so that you can extend his love to others.


The Miracle of Supply

“He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.” (John 21:6)

Simon and the other disciples went out one night to fish and caught nothing. So in the morning when someone called out to them on the shore, encouraging them to cast their net on the right side, it took some faith to obey that request. They didn’t initially recognise that it was Jesus, but when the nets were full and almost breaking from the haul, they knew it was Him. It was the miracle of supply which made them recognise Jesus, because he had taught them how faith could meet their needs.

Peter and some of the other disciples were fishermen before they became disciples. It was Peter and his brother Andrew who Jesus met by the sea of Galilee. “And he saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

This call was to leave their trade as Fishermen to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Understandably, Peter and the other disciples were discouraged after Jesus’s crucifixion so he turned to something familiar. No wonder they caught nothing all night because, were they doing what God had called them to do? Nevertheless, Jesus was reminding Peter that he was able to supply more than enough fish to meet his needs.

Once the disciples were fed and nourished from the fish and bread which Jesus prepared, Jesus reminded Peter of the mission that was assigned to him. “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”” (John 21:16) God is able to make all grace abound to you and supply what you need to accomplish your God given assignment.


Supernatural Provision

We worry so much about money and financial provision. Although God has met every need that we had yesterday, the day before, last year, last week or last month. We still worry about how He is going to provide tomorrow.

Jesus taught us to consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet even King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as well as they were (Matthew 6:28-29). He taught us not to be anxious about our lives what we will eat or drink or what clothes we will wear.
David said I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread (Psalm 37:25). You will not have to beg for bread when you trust in God, serve him and place your confidence in him. God is able to provide supernaturally resources that go beyond the scope of your income and possession. He fed the Israelites with food that fell from the sky and sent a bird to feed Elijah.

One of the stories in the bible that stands out for me during Jesus’s ministry was when He sent a disciple to collect a gold coin from a fish to pay taxes. “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours” (Matthew 17:27).

How did Jesus know that there was gold in the mouth of the fish? And what faith it must have taken for the disciple who was carrying out the act of catching the fish and retrieving the gold coin. Jesus used this illustration to show us that God has already provided ahead of time for whatever we need. And when we ask God, He will show us areas where He has laid for us supernatural provision. We have to trust God with our finances. So we give and rest assured that God will give to us.

I have to stay in the word to maintain my own confidence in the Lord and to not lean on my own understanding. God is providing; God has already provided and God will continue to provide. Continue to trust and believe.


Rest in Him

We are believing God in this season for restoration of the things lost or stolen from us. Notice the word rest-oration is derived from rest. In order for restoration to take place we have to find rest in God and in his promises. Rest is an elusive concept in our twenty first century when the drive is to try to do more and constantly earn more in order to make progress. Someone may say how do I rest when I have work, school, a family and other demands?

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). I never quite understood how taking on a yoke would give me rest when it sounded like carrying an additional burden. I had to research this scripture for the meaning and I found out that a yoke is what is placed on two oxen for them to carry a load together. As such Jesus wants to be yoked with us in order to walk with us and to help us carry our burdens. What an assurance of our help and a constant companion to share in our struggles.

God cares for us and he does not want us to be weary, stressed out, burnt out, sick and tired. ‘Jesus has borne our grief and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4). “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

We find peace and rest when we take our worries and cares to Jesus in prayer and surrender it all to him. We surrender in knowing that he hears us and he cares and that he is walking with us, yoked with us and helps us to carry our burdens. We are never alone and there is joy and peace in surrender.


Speak to Fear

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Fear is a spirit and it does not come from God who gives us all good things. Fear then originates from the kingdom of darkness and comes to stop us from fulfilling our purpose and destiny. God speaks against fear so many times in the bible and every time an angel appeared to someone with a word, the first caution was; do not fear.

Fear is behind so many challenges and produces anxiety, insomnia, depression, suicide and broken relationships, to name a few issues. David spoke many times about fear and encourages us in this; “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalms 46:2).

David set one of the greatest examples of overcoming fear in the bible. While he was a small boy, he faced a lion and bear and defeated the giant Goliath. While a trained army cowered in fear from the taints of Goliath, David was so full of the anointing and presence of God. He ran towards Goliath declaring, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel‬ ‭17:45‬).

That my friends is the antidote of fear. It is moving forward in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and speaking to fear and letting it know that you will not be bound, limited or paralysed by it. We speak to fear and we let it know that we will no longer be a slave to its thoughts and ideas and the recurrent mind control, torment and manipulation. We declare that we are strong in the Lord and in the power of his might and since fear does not come from God, we go forward with power, love and a sound mind.


Stand Out

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

As believers, we are called to be different and to be set apart from the world. God made us in his own image and likeness and describes us as his workmanship. Created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). We live in this world but we are not of the world as Jesus was not of this world.

As human beings, we have a need for acceptance and rejection can be heartbreaking. There are times and circumstances when we are not meant to fit in. There are people who God does not want us to be close to or to be associated with. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”(2 Corinthians 6:17).

There are many situations when we can look back in retrospect and see what God was protecting us from. How many closed doors did we cry behind when they were shut? How many relationships did we grieve when people walked away? How many times have we reflected on the past and thanked God for sparing us from some people and perceived opportunities?

Many missed opportunities is God’s hand of protection. Many relationships ended because God intervened. Many people rejected us because God did not want them in our personal space. Some people aren’t rejecting us but are rejecting the God that we represent. At times our relationship with God may serve as a source of conviction for some people. Do not worry about rejection as this is often God’s way of redirecting us. No longer cry about closed doors or missed opportunities as we cannot miss what God has in store for us. No one can take the relationship or opportunity that God ordained for you. If it belongs to you and God knows that it is good for you, then you cannot miss it.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14)?


Treading Water

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬).

Wisdom will help us to discern when to push forward and when to tread water (effort that maintains current status but no progress). It takes faith and trust in God to believe that God has us exactly where he wants us to be. When our will is surrendered to him, when our trust is in him and he directs our going, then we know that our plans will succeed. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬).

Discontent, zeal, drive and passion will make us want to do better than we did yesterday. It is absolutely necessary to be ambitious and to keep reaching forward. There are seasons when it is ok to be still and wait before we pushing ahead. There are also times when we have to weigh the cost to ourselves, our health, our peace of mind, our family and our relationships. We have to remember that it is God who gives us the ability to gain wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). God will enable us to make progress no matter the obstacles or circumstances that we face. We have to trust that he will keep his promise to bless us and wait for his leading.

We surrender to God, to his will, his purpose, his plan and wait for his perfect timing. Timing is important and a great thing done in the wrong season can do more harm than good. Harvesters know the danger and futility of reaping a crop too early. With the best of intentions, we can force a situation to happen prematurely. Babies do best when they are carried to full term and a child born premature needs additional support.

Stay connected to God and you will sense his leading and he will give you clear instructions for the next season. Seek the Lord and trust him while you listen for his instructions.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah‬ ‭30:21).


From Adversity to a Greater Destiny

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” ‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:18‬)

When Herod learnt about the birth of a new King in Bethlehem, he was threatened and wanted to find Jesus in order to kill him. Herod killed every child in Bethlehem to try to destroy the promise of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 2)

Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him because of the destiny that God had placed in him. They changed their minds about killing him, put him in a pit and then sold him into slavery. (Genesis 35)

The King of Egypt was threatened by the birth of the sons of the Israelites and demanded that all the male children should be killed. God had a great purpose for Moses and hid him in the King’s palace right in plain sight. (Exodus 2-3)

David was anointed King and his first battles started with wild animals and then Goliath. His victory over the enemies and his skill in battle later caused envy in Saul who tried to kill him. (1 Samuel 19)

We know the history of these great men in the bible and understand that they could not die until they had accomplished the destiny and purpose that God had placed in them. Herod could not kill Jesus and he lived to establish the message of salvation and died to redeem us back to God. (Matthew 27)

Joseph could not die because He would become Prime Minister in Egypt. He saved the country and his family from a great famine and made a way for them to live in a new country. (Genesis 46)

Moses lived to lead Israel out of captivity in Egypt and Saul could not kill David because of God’s promise that he would become. King. (2 Samuel 5)

No one can destroy the destiny and purpose that God has for you and remember that great trials will come to those who have a great destiny. This trial is sent to prepare you for where you are going and if you can endure it, God will bring to pass what has been spoken concerning you.