The success of others can often be our greatest test. As David became popular and honoured by the people, Saul began to eye David with fear and jealousy.

“Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.  So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand” ( 1Samuel 18:6-10). 

An evil spirit came upon Saul from that day forth and the anointing of God began to lift.   We cannot give in to insecurity and expect the anointing to increase on our life.  Security means an inner strength inside your heart that acts as a fortress against the need to find popularity, position, recognition from men or women, or to have the things that the world says is important.

Insecure people don’t have that inner strength in their soul so they feel uncertain, vulnerable and defensive inside. And so they feel a need to be recognized and promoted.  They need the type of people around them that will help them feel good about themselves. Insecurity leads to codependence or independence; you either need people badly to make you feel good or you reject people out of your life, so you can continue to feel okay.  Insecure people don’t want anybody to correct critique them or speak into their life.

We see insecurity in the life of Saul. His insecurity shows up in fear of the people’s reactions.  His insecurity showed up in independence; he never asked for advice or listened to the words of those around him. He got used to having his own way and exercising power. He couldn’t admit he made a mistake and obviously was threatened by others who are popular or gifted.

Friend, all this ends up in jealousy, envy and some sort of assassination be it literal or character assassination. We cannot give in to insecurity and expect the anointing to increase on our life. Instead lets find our security in our calling and our relationship with our Father and rejoice in His plans for us and others.

Lost Dreams

What has happened to your dream? Has it been delayed, derailed or destroyed? Don’t write it off too quickly. God still plans for you to become your best you, the largest you and the most fulfilled you but it always takes time and stages. Israel camped 42 times and took 42 journeys before they entered into their promised land so maybe you are camping at one stage about to follow the cloud to your next position?

 Sometimes we're not ready for the next step because we don't want to let go of the past or the present. We can't access the dream because we're not ready for the change that every dream from God will requires. It is a fantasy to think that your future will be different and not change anything about your daily routine. Your destiny is locked up in your daily routine and your revelation.

Sometimes we are not ready for His future because He has yet to make us bigger. The person we need to be in future isn’t there yet. Could God be waiting for us to grow up before we can go up? We have to be big enough in character to survive the bigness of our future. And usually, that doesn’t happen quickly.

 But mostly our thinking is too limited and we find we cannot go beyond what our mind or heart can imagine. There were times when Israel couldn't go any further into their destiny because they're thinking was wrong. They couldn’t possess the Promised Land only because they were defeated in their own mind. So for most of us to go on the next stage on our journey, we only need to get a breakthrough from our current thinking.

Sometimes our dream gets lost in our difficulties. Our perspective gets distorted by our problems. Josephs dream seemed over as he languished in prison but God was arranging a setup, not a setback. When Daniel was put in the lion’s den, he was tricked by men but he is still on track with God. Even if your God dream seems dead, Our Father can bring it back to life. There are no hopeless circumstances only hopeless thinking.  Once God had said to Paul that he was going to Rome, nothing could stop him from getting there. The storm meant nothing - the shipwreck couldn't deter him and a snake couldn't destroy him.  Paul declared on the deck of the sinking ship “I believe God”.  He would not be put off. Nothing can stop you getting to Gods planned future for you but you!

Friend, if you think your dream has sunk or is sinking, don’t write your self off. Everything we go through is necessary for our future. But fatalism won't access promises that can only be gained by faith. There is still time to hear from Father, then rise and declare “I believe God” and follow the cloud of His purpose toward His dream.

Hidden Life

The old potter stands up from his wheel with a glimmer of a smile. He has made many vessels but this one he feels is something special. He lifts it onto the wooden shelf and closes the door of the drying cupboard. He knows he’ll have to wait a while now before he can use it but he also knows the shelf will protect it from damage while it hardens. Shutting it up in the dark cupboard will make sure it doesn’t dry out to too quickly.
Sometimes after we have felt the great Potters hands around us, we seem to be put aside on the shelf and left to dry out. Just when we feel ready for promotion in the kingdom, it seems we’re overlooked by those who should be looking over us.  But God is just drying you out, allowing you to harden up so you are able to take knocks without losing shape.
But there is a greater reason that God hides us away and we are feel hidden from sight. It enables us to realize where our life is really found. God’s word tells us that our life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:2 This refers to our true source of Life.
So while we are hidden, we are meant to find something else that is hidden too - our life that is in Christ! Our life is not found in ministry or a new position, or being popular or centre stage. It’s not in being a friend of the pastor, or being used each week, or feeling vitally integrated with everybody in the Church, but in Jesus.

Friend, it’s good to be useful and busy in ministry in the Church but if we don’t work out where our life is, we will get discouraged or disillusioned while serving. When believers don’t find their life in Christ, they burn out or drop out.  If they go to another church, they still don’t find what they are looking for, because they are looking for Life in all the wrong places. We must find our Life in Him.

Water Walking

It was midnight when the disciples got down to the edge of the lake. There was a cool breeze blowing and some were wondering if the sea was going to get rough.  Once in the boat, they had crossed most of the lake by three in the morning when the storm struck and this time Jesus was not in the boat with them.

They had been rowing with all their strength and were probably disappointed that Jesus seemingly had left them to cope alone and that they were making no progress towards the other side. But as usual Jesus was planning progress in their walk of faith. Their stationary boat represented their life; difficult, uncomfortable and seemingly pointless. They were rowing hard but getting nowhere, representing the best they could do with who they were at the time but Jesus planned to take them further by getting them out of the boat.

Sometimes when God is trying to shift us to something new, the things we used to be able to do, the status quo, just seems to get harder. We wonder why we struggle so much to do what we’re used to doing. We think it must be a phantom but it’s the wind of God and what seems to be the enemy opposing us, is actually Jesus assisting you to a new level of faith and walk in the spirit.

Jesus is always calling us to a new position, to a new perspective and a greater experience of His presence and power. But we can only to get to that new place by getting out of the boat. Maybe you feel that your boat is in a storm, that you are rowing as hard as you can but with seemingly little progress.  

Friend, Jesus is drawing near- listen to His voice above the storm and hear His invitation because I have found, that when Jesus wants you to go further than you ever thought possible, you will probably need to get out of the boat.

The Divine PurposeJIM Shaw

As the boat slipped effortlessly out into the harbour from the bustling docks at Joppa, Jonah sat down on a coil of rope. He felt pleased that his plan was working but he also felt some foreboding in his heart. Although Jonah was running from the Lord, thankfully God was preparing a great storm and a great fish to help Jonah succeed in his ministry. The storm was beyond his control, uninvited and unpleasant but completely within the control of God, and God used the storm to blow Jonah to his assignment.

Mostly we don’t volunteer to go to the places where growth and the stretching of our faith takes place but Gods faithfully blows us there in His storms. “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power.... The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm...” (Nahum 1:3)   In His storms, people that are against you, like the sailors who threw Jonah overboard, are unwittingly part of Gods plan to help us stay on course. Our difficult circumstances are all conspiring for our success.  Most of all, God wants to reveal Himself to us in a way that He never could without the storm. Jonah learned how sovereign and faithful God is and found out how much God loves sinners.

Friends, right now in the midst of your storm, whether people or circumstances,  hold on to Him and look to Him, because Father wants to reveal to you something of Himself, that you can only see by going through the storm and He is preparing your “fish” to help you succeed.

Moving House

As the famine began to grip the land of  Israel,  Abraham took his 60-year-old wife and travelled south to Egypt.  Abram was not wrong for being concerned about feeding his family, but Abram was wrong in thinking God would not provide for his needs in the place where God called him to live. After all, God called Abram to Canaan, not to Egypt. We can be in the centre of the will of God and still have troubles and testing. The walk of faith is about learning to give the Word of God authority in our lives; more authority than what we see or feel.  James 1:2-4

In Egypt, Pharaoh noticed her and took her into his house. Jewish legend says that in comparison to Sarai, all other women looked like monkeys; she was even more beautiful than Eve.  As people get older they are attracted to people of a similar age, so perhaps Pharaoh was quite old.  Either way, Sarah was beautiful. Abraham asked Sarai to lie to protect his own life a number of times on this trip and his wife ended up in the harem of a foreign ruler.  By offering his “sister” he was able to receive favour and riches.

Abram showed little character at this stage in his life and like us found it hard not to let the world affect his faith in God’s word.  God moved to get both Abram’s wife back home and Abram’s life back on track.  God brought Abram back to the land he should never have left and continued the story, apparently before Abram ever repented.  He plagued the house of Pharaoh and brought Abram back to the house of God. There Abram did what he should have done at the start; called upon the name of the Lord.

Friends, even Abrams big failings were not too great for God to work around. Thank God it’s not three strikes and you’re out. Our forgiving Father is helping us learn faith and He is not put off by our weakness or failure.  Move out and move back.

JIM Shaw
Coming Home

The Pharisees mumbled in their beards and complained that Jesus had been sitting with sinners and tax-gatherers. He instructed via a parable because Jewish people always looked to place themselves in the parables they heard. The Pharisees would never identify with the younger son, leaving only the older son.  “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His Father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. (Luke 15:17-32). 

There are two prodigals in this story but only one ends up in the right relationship with the father.  Both sons were disrespectful and rebellious but only one repents.  The younger begged the father to be allowed to come home while the older brother had to be begged by the father to come inside. The young prodigal said he was not worthy to be a son, while the older brother thought his father was not worthy to be treated as a father.  The younger was happy to join the unrelated servants, while the older prodigal was unhappy to join his own brother.  The younger said that he deserved nothing, thereby relying upon grace, while the older thought his faithful “slaving” deserved a reward.  The prodigal son only wanted the father’s presence but for the older son, the father was not enough.

Gospel basics are still the pathway to enjoy our Fathers presence.

Repentance and Faith means we value what He has done for us, more than anything we think we can do for Him. It means believing He is more interested in restoring us to son-ship than He is in our perfect performance.

Grace is the only way to find acceptance with God; no one ever qualifies! We aren’t slaving to find favour or trading our service for blessing. It is a privilege to serve but Father all by Himself, is reward enough.

Receive your Fathers love now. The older prodigal was looking for a better day ahead to enjoy the Fathers blessing. We are not waiting for a better day!

Love who the Father loves.  The older son said “This son of yours!” not “this brother of mine.” Love your brothers and sisters because they are important to Him too.

Friend, come inside.  It does not matter whether we are coming from the pigsty or a busy field near Father’s house, if we are not inside the house with our Father and feeling Him celebrate over us,  we either haven’t understood His heart or heard His voice yet.

JIM Shaw
In Search of Greatness

This week a house in our town had all the windows broken by thugs and when our pastor heard of it, he took the opportunity to send some of our young people around to clean up the mess. The woman was blessed and thankful.

The apostle Paul also could see great opportunities hidden in the midst of great opposition and difficulties. “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1Corintians 16:9) We are tempted to think that if something is a God opportunity it will be easy.  Great people see a great opportunity, not because it will be plain sailing but because they have a plain word from God.  Caleb who was old but not withered said “Yes, there are giants in the land but we are not grasshoppers and God is bigger than any giant-sized adversary.  Paul could see trouble on both sides of the door but what we saw even clearer were opportunities to serve people and to serve God.  Before Paul was a great apostle, he had become a great servant.  Jesus modelled for us serving our way to greatness.  Mark 10:43   All human beings are wired for greatness. Most of us know inside us that our life was never meant to be ordinary.  Greatness is found in serving God and people. Kingdom people think about how they can serve, where they can serve and when they can serve. The greatness of serving is that it is the best way to enter doors of opportunity.  It is not always easy to serve your neighbours but when we did, our neighbours got saved.   Years ago I worked for the city council, I shared my hope in Jesus with one of the people there with no effect. One day I took the door of opportunity that opened for me to help them with a practical problem at their house, the next Sunday they were at church.

Friend, if you wondering where your next great door of opportunity is, look for some people to serve and do it even if is difficult. Great people find great opportunities and by the way, you will be great!

JIM Shaw