What lens are you looking through?

Recently a friend sent me a prophetic picture that she’d had whilst praying for me. It was of a pie and like when we’re served dessert we often get asked, “How much would you like?” she saw me replying, “Yes, that’s the right size for me. In the picture, she saw the Father serving the pie and he kept increasing the size of the slice, saying to me, “No, there is more, try more, expect more” and as I got used to the size he offered me, he kept increasing it again. This picture excited me because God has been speaking about expecting the unexpected and seeing him change things, I haven’t seen him change before.

It was also a provocation because when I’m feeling discouraged or disappointed, I know I can take my eyes off who God is and expect too little; maybe you can relate. When we think like an orphan, we only expect a small portion, even crumbs or scraps; we’re just thankful for anything. When we think like a son or daughter, we wait with expectation because we know the Father always has more. He is a Father who delights to give us more than we can ask or imagine. He doesn’t just give us crumbs. His resources are unlimited.

In the desert, God provided food every day for his people instructing them not to keep any back but to trust that he would supply all that they needed. When Jesus fed the multitudes, he took their humble offering; the boy’s lunch, and multiplied it so that everyone was fed and satisfied. So satisfied that there were twelve baskets left over! Jesus wanted them to see that nothing is impossible with him and that in his Kingdom his supply is unlimited not only in terms of food and provision but in every way because He IS the Bread of Life!

I love this story from my friend Dan who is a paediatrician. Dan knows he’s a son and that he carries the Kingdom and partnering with the Holy Spirit he regularly steps out in his surgery to share the gospel.

Recently, a mother came in with her 3-month-old baby and he felt prompted to ask her how she was. Unsure at first if he meant her or her baby, she went ahead and told him how she was suffering from depression and that she wouldn’t be able to see a psychiatrist for another two months. After taking care of the baby’s medical needs, Dan said to her I would love for you to encounter God’s help, and stepping out he offered to pray for her and she said, “Yes please!” As he prayed, he told her how precious she was in God’s eyes, and at the end, he introduced her to the Bible and Jesus’ words in John 10:10 about how the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy but Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness. I’m looking forward to hearing what happens next in this mother’s life. I think everyday stories like these of sharing the good news of Jesus and his Kingdom are meant to be normal for us as believers when we live with an expectation of his goodness.

I wonder if like me, you have to regularly adjust the lens you look at God through. It might be when trusting him for financial provision or a breakthrough in an area you are facing, or it might be to do with promises he has spoken over you of how he wants to move through you.

Bill Johnson writes in his book, ‘When Heaven invades Earth,’ “It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.’ Jesus taught his disciples to pray God-sized prayers. He said, ‘When you pray, pray like this, your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth… as it is in heaven’ Introducing people to Jesus and praying bold prayers for impossible situations comes from us knowing and believing how good God is. Let’s encourage one another to keep looking at God through eyes of faith expecting to see the impossible because He is the God of the impossible!

Paul prays in Ephesians 3:20-21, ‘Now to him, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Photo by Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus held my hand

Yesterday I went into my local coffee shop and as I stepped through the door I noticed a woman had a splint on her wrist. Earlier I had been praying that God might lead me to someone I could show his love to and share about Jesus with. As I smiled at her and asked her what she’d done, she told me she had brittle bones and that her dog had pulled her over and now her wrist was sprained. It seemed she had had a rough few weeks and this was the latest thing to have happened. I asked if I could pray for her and she said thank you. As I gently laid my hand on her wrist I told the pain to leave and for her wrist to be made well and then asked her how it was. She said, “It will get better”. I wanted to pray again and get her to test it out but conversations like these don’t always go in straight lines. Instead, she wanted to tell me something. She said, “I don’t expect you to believe this but I once had an experience.” She was nervous but I could see she wanted to talk about it and so I said, “How about I get a coffee and come and sit with you and you can tell me all about it.” As I sat down and we talked she said, “Jesus once held my hand and I don’t even know how to begin to describe it to you.” At a time in her life when she had felt she couldn’t go on, Jesus had reached out his hand to her and she said, at that moment she knew somehow that all would be well. As she said those words I was reminded of the story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4. Her only son had just died and she had said those very same words in faith, ‘that all would be well’ And that is what happened. Elisha prayed for her son to be raised from the dead and he was! Like the Shunammite woman who carried hope in her heart of something better this lady through an encounter with Jesus now carries hope. She’s experienced something of the greatest worth; the love of God for her. As she went on to share some of the headlines of her life story I could see she has suffered much whilst at the same time she has also survived so much. I asked her if she had ever asked Jesus fully into her life. From her answer, I wasn’t sure and so I asked if she had heard about why Jesus died on the cross and why he came and she said yes it’s in the book of John…Well, we are going to meet again and I believe God has a wonderful plan and that he had prepared for me to meet this lovely lady, called Julie.

As I am learning to follow the Holy Spirit he often points me to people sometimes when I am shopping, out walking, having my hair cut, or sitting in a coffee shop. Jesus said we are the light of the world and for us to shine in every place. I wonder what shining brightly and being Jesus to the people around you looks like for you? Perhaps it’s in your workplace, amongst your neighbours or family. As you go about your day I encourage you to be prayerful and then be looking and listening, expectant for opportune conversations that the Father will lead you into. Prophetic evangelism is the example Jesus gave us. He lived only doing what the Father showed him. It was how he taught his disciples and now it’s our turn!

Today, why don’t you pray and ask God who he has prepared for you to meet. I’d love to hear your stories plus any ways that I can encourage you on your journey of learning to live this way. 

Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

  ReplyForward

 

Being a fisher of men

 

 

“Wherever you are…be Jesus”

That’s what I heard the Holy Spirit say to me as I stepped into the town and felt immediately drawn to a lady who was begging on the street. She spoke very little English but told me her name was Maria. As I knelt, I felt the Father’s love for her and, asking if I could get her some food and pray for her, she nodded; she seemed to understand. A woman passing by who had seen me pray, said, “I think we all need that…I need that!” I wanted to talk to her too and offer to pray for her, but smiling, she shook her head and walked on. She wasn’t ready.

When Jesus called the disciples, he said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” and leaving everything, they followed him. As they listened to him teach, as they saw him pray and spend time with his Father, and as they watched him powerfully demonstrating the Kingdom with signs and wonders, he was showing them how to do the same; Jesus was teaching them how to fish! I love reading how they came back to Jesus, reporting excitedly, that demons had submitted to their authority and how they had seen signs and wonders in his name. They had stepped out in obedience and with childlike faith and wonder, they discovered this was what they were born to do!

Whenever I read the book of Acts, I am provoked by the wholehearted, joy-filled commitment of the disciples and the early church to simply follow Jesus and obey his words. This week I was reading about Paul and Silas in Thessalonica preaching the gospel. Some believed and followed, whilst others rejected their message but despite the persecution, they often experienced they continued to make Jesus known. As Phil Wilthew says in his book, Multiplying Disciples, ‘When Jesus sent his disciples to bring good news, they discovered that it is one of the most joy-filled and life-giving privileges on planet earth’ They were ‘all in’…I wonder, are we?

Jesus has sent us to shine and be a light in every place we go. The Kingdom is not meant to stay within the four walls of the church, it’s meant to reach and influence every area of society. Jesus said, ‘Freely you’ve received, freely give’’ and like the disciples, this is what we are born to do! 

At least once a week I go and sit in a coffee shop in our town and pray and then wait to see who the Father sends. As I go out for a walk too, I ask who he wants me to meet along the way. Like Jesus who appointed and sent the seventy-two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go, he now sends us. It’s a partnership where he leads and we follow and get to join in with what he is already doing. Only God can draw someone to Jesus and open their heart to him, but he has sent us on ahead to point people to him. Mostly as we go we are scattering gospel seeds, but let’s always be looking for the one who Jesus is calling to himself. Jesus said to look for people of peace; those who welcome you, listen to you and lean in wanting to know more. Why not practice asking the Father, whenever you’re out somewhere who you can share his heart with and show his love to and then be noticing how he gets your attention and who he leads you to. 

A Park Story…

Just recently when I was out walking, I saw a lady sitting on a bench with two crutches next to her, and feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me, I stopped to speak to her. Holy Spirit nudges for me are usually a sudden thought followed by a few seconds of crazy courage. Pointing to her crutches, I asked how she was doing and what she’d done. Tanya told me she had just had a hip operation and was out exercising it and noticing she was happy to chat I sat down with her. While we were sitting talking, a rather exuberant puppy bounded over to me quickly followed by its owner who stopped to apologize and stayed to chat. Now there were three of us! 

While the dog owner was talking I felt prompted to ask about a rugby logo on his top and whether he played. He told me he’d been part of the Saracens Academy, which I knew to be a prestigious rugby training school, but he was no longer able to play because of some injuries to his ankle. He said if he played again, he’d probably end up in a wheelchair. I could see his disappointment and sensed he was carrying some fear. It always takes courage to step out and offer to pray but I know that whenever I see the opposite of God’s goodness it’s an invitation for us to pray and release God’s Kingdom. I told him I was a Christian, that I knew God was a Father who had a good plan for his life and I asked if anyone had offered to pray for his ankle. He said no one had and I was about to offer to pray for him when two people stopped by to talk to him and his dog and the moment quickly passed. Even though I didn’t get to pray with the man I was able to speak words of hope over him and what was amazing was how it then drew the attention of the lady who was still sitting next to me. 

After the man walked on Tanya shyly asked whether perhaps I would pray for her. She began telling me she was an orthodox believer and how every morning she lit a candle, sat in front of an icon, and prayed to God. As I listened to her, I wanted her to know there was more and I shared my story with her of encountering Jesus and about God’s love and his invitation for us to know him personally. When I spoke about knowing Jesus, she was visibly moved and wanted to tell me a story from her childhood. Growing up under the Communist regime in Ukraine had been hard but her mum had been a spiritual influence in her life that she had never forgotten.  Even though Tanya didn’t seem ready to want to take that next step, it was such a privilege to be able to share the gospel with her and tell her there was more!

Every day Jesus is sending us as a message of his love to people who are far from him. and it’s not about methods or our performance but about  ‘being Jesus wherever we go’, He wants to shine through you and me and it’s not hard because being a fisher of men is what we are born to be.

If you want to read more stories like these and be encouraged, I have written a book called, Go: Everyday Stories of Stopping to Love’ which you can find on Amazon

Called to be fruitful

In John 15:7-8, we read Jesus saying to the disciples, ‘If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”.

Over the last twelve years, God has taken me on the most exciting and unexpected journey. In 2007 when I was fifty-two, and starting to think about slowing down, (I know, fifty-two really isn’t that old!) God began to speak about a new season in my life that I was about to step into. How in this season I would know a new sense of authority and power in the Spirit, an increase in a gift of evangelism and healing, and how as I simply asked God for things and prayed simple prayers for the sick, I would see people healed and set free! When I received these prophetic words I couldn’t even imagine them coming to pass. My view of God was big, or so I thought, but my view of how God wanted to move through me was very small, something I have since needed to repent of.

I am so thankful for God speaking through prophets and for prophetic words, aren’t you? Like trumpets that awaken us, they call out what will be, even when we’re sleeping. In fact, part of the prophetic word was that God was unlocking in me a sense of being in a cave, and of being hidden and he was pulling me out. It reminds me of the story of Gideon who was hiding in the wine press fearing his enemies and seeing himself as inadequate and insignificant. Then God speaks!! Calling him out of his cave, he says to him, ‘Gideon O mighty man of valor!’ I imagine Gideon saying, Who me?… and we know how the story continues.

When God looks at us he sees who we truly are. Remember when Andrew introduced Simon to Jesus? Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas, meaning Peter.” Jesus knew where Simon had come from; he was John’s son, but he also knew who he was called to be. Wrapped up in his new name were his identity and destiny and it’s the same for us too. We’ve all come from somewhere but what we’re born for and who God says we are is a far greater reality.

It is now 2020 and is certainly proving to be a fruitful time in my life. As with all fruit-bearing seasons though there has to first be a period of pruning. As I headed off in 2011 to spend nine months at a ministry training school, a young leader in the church said to me, “Claire you are fruitful but God wants to make you even more fruitful.” In John 15:2, Jesus says these very words, ‘every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit’.

Since that time of training and equipping God has been doing a deeper work in my heart, showing me more of his incredible love and setting me free from things that were holding me back; lies mostly about my identity. When God is at work in us even though he reveals stuff it is always with destiny and purpose in mind. Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith is pulling us forward. It’s like he is saying, ‘look, don’t be slowed down by these things, they will stop you from running the race I’ve called you to run with me.’

The wonderful thing is I’m seeing that many of the promises I received back then are now starting to come to pass. Through God’s grace, I am growing in authority, stepping into new levels of faith, and taking others on the journey with me. I have seen miracles of healing and freedom as I’ve prayed simple prayers for the sick and I’ve even written a book! As someone who most of my life has battled with feelings of shame and of not being enough, this truly is a miracle!

If you are living with prophetic words why not remind yourself of them today. In this season where it can feel like everything is on pause thank God for where he has brought you from and ask Him to give you faith for where he is taking you and for what is yet to come. He has called you to be very fruitful.

 

 

 

Jesus is near to the broken hearted

I heard God say even in this time of restrictions know that I am unrestricted…I’m sure you’d agree we’re living in a time where many people are feeling vulnerable and are looking for hope and for answers.

As an NHS phone responder almost daily I get the opportunity to call someone who is vulnerable or having to isolate during this time. Recently I’ve been struck by the number of people who say that they pray at night before they go to sleep or occasionally read the Bible and others who remember as a child going to church or to Sunday school. As people have opened up about their fears and lack of hope I’ve had opportunities to talk about Jesus and to pray with them.

Just last week I spoke on the phone to a lady who was in pain and had been for many years as a result of a car accident but who stoically said that she would just have to grin and bear it. I shared with her about Jesus and how I had seen him heal people’s backs and asked if she would like me to pray for hers and she was very thankful. I love seeing what Jesus will do because I know He is always eager to show people who he is. After praying a couple of times for Elsie she told me that she felt a warmth on her back and that it now felt so much easier. When Jesus touches people it is such a tangible display of his kindness and compassion just like we see in the gospels; everyone who came to Him he healed and many followed him. Jesus both proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom.

There is no script or formula for any of this but instead a beautiful invitation every day for us to partner with the Holy Spirit. I often ask Him to point people out to me when I’m out on a walk. It takes courage to approach someone we don’t know and usually, I have to push through some lies and fear before I step out to speak to them but I know this is why Jesus has sent me. As we share the gospel, heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom we are demonstrating his love.

Let me tell you another story; it’s been quite an exciting week! The other day I went for a walk in my local park and on the way, I asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to anyone he wanted me to meet. Shortly after I saw a lady with a stick who was struggling to walk and who stopped to rest. Feeling drawn to this lady, I said hi, and asked how she was doing and if she was in any pain. The lady nodded, we exchanged names, and Sophia, who spoke very little English, showed me that she had a painful foot. It was quite difficult to hold much of a conversation but we managed to use some sign language and I offered to pray for it. Sophia thanked me and was about to move on, thinking I’d pray for her later but I indicated I meant now, and seeing her smiling and nodding in agreement I bent down and prayed a short prayer asking Jesus to come as I commanded all the pain to leave her foot. What happened next was so amazing! As I stood up, Sophia was beaming and saying better, better! Really, I said …No pain? She said, no pain!! She was so happy and excited that without thinking she threw her arms around me. What was beautiful was in her heart Sophia was so thankful she just had to express it.

This week I’ve heard of other stories like these and I’ve been so moved by God’s kindness, how he cares for us and sees us when we are in pain and how very near he is. His kindness is all around us and He is near to the broken-hearted.

So whether it’s over the phone, on Zoom or FaceTime, or just out on a walk, I’d love to encourage you this week to ask the Holy Spirit who he has for you to meet and share the love of Jesus with. And if someone has a physical need then take a step of courage and offer to pray for them. As carriers of hope and the good news of Jesus, we can all expect to see the impossible when we pray because we are partnering with the God of the impossible. This is the life he has called us to where He leads and we follow and it’s such a fun adventure!

God’s love always looks like something

As an NHS phone responder, I regularly get to speak to people over the phone. The other day I called a lady and it turned out to be very timely as she said she had been feeling particularly lonely.

Whilst chatting to Janet (not her real name) she bravely told me how she’d had a serious problem with hoarding for several years. Even though it was mostly now in the past after receiving help through a TV programme, I could see how she had been searching for comfort after experiencing grief and loss and how that had led to her addiction.

Hearing Janet say how out of loneliness she would go to the shops everyday to buy something just to have someone talk to, made me want to cry. It also provoked me to keep speaking to people I meet because we never know the difference we could make to someone’s day

I went on to talk to Janet about Jesus and how I had come to know Him as the only one who can meet the longing we all have in our hearts. She listened and then asked me, “Why did people kill Jesus?” Her question was like an open door and I shared the gospel with her telling her why Jesus came for us and his words of forgiveness to us as he was dying on the cross.

During the conversation Janet also mentioned she had a painful hip and let me pray for her. After praying it seemed the pain had all gone but when I called back today she said it was still there and so I prayed again for her and talked more with her about God’s love.

Even though Janet is not yet wanting to pursue a relationship with God or to read the Bible I saw today how impacted she’d been by me ringing her back. She said how unusual it was and kept thanking me and said how it had made her feel different

I came away thinking about how we often hope to see immediate results when we share the gospel with someone…I know I do. I long to see people healed and to give their life to Jesus; simply because I know how good He is! but today, I was reminded again that when we show people unconditional love, this IS the gospel.

However we do good to someone, we are demonstrating His Kingdom. As we give generously, show acceptance without judgement and display kindness and mercy we show people who the Father is and what he is like. God’s love always looks like something.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

 

Audacious trust in Jesus

I’m currently reading the book ‘Light through the cracks’ by Joanna Watson which recounts ten true stories of miracles where God broke in and turned things around. A man who survived a 100mph head-on collision and a bleed on the brain wakes up for the first time and the author writes…’ It’s as if the plug has been pulled over the past month. All the intense uncertainty, the unspoken fears, the endless waiting, the unceasing prayer cover, the audacious trust in Jesus. All of it’s been released’

It was the phrase ‘audacious trust in Jesus’ that jumped out at me. Audacious means bold, daring, or fearless which isn’t always how we feel when we are faced with impossible situations. Instead, we feel a whole range of emotions and fears. Yet that is how Jesus wants us to approach him. In the face of the impossible or ‘not yet’ he invites us to pray with audacity because we know who God is and how good he is. The enemy will do everything to discourage us on the journey the reason being that he too knows who God is and how good he is!

If you are waiting for a miracle either for yourself or someone else, I want to encourage you today to pray and not give up however long it has been. Pray his promises audaciously and pray with others too. I have a group of faith-filled prayer warriors who I know will join me when I ask them. Last September our grandson had a trampoline accident and broke two bones in his neck. He had to wear an uncomfortable brace for many months and go through two surgeries, but I know the prayers I and my friends and many others prayed made a difference. One of the surgeries ended up being a lot shorter and less invasive than expected and as my son and daughter-in-law returned to the hospital room they looked out of the window and saw a rainbow! Also, where at first our grandson had been told, he would never return to gymnastics that now seems to have been reversed.

Reading this book of stories has refueled in me an intent to keep praying as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5, ‘to pray without ceasing’ Let’s pray with an audacious trust in Jesus because whatever the outcome we know the end of the story!

Photo by Elisabeth Wales on Unsplash

Remembering the goodness of God

A friend of mine recently attended a prayer conference held in Turkey. As part of the conference, there was a programme running for the children where they were learning how to pray. My friend told me, on day one the children practiced praying for each other, on day two they practiced praying for the team, and on day three they invited any adults to come from the conference who wanted to be prayed for. My friend who has had a wheat allergy for many years was prayed for by two children; a 6 & 7yr old, and now no longer has an allergy to wheat!

A few days later she visited her sister and told her the story. At the time her sister wasn’t feeling well: she had a headache and sore throat and so my friend offered to pray for her. She prayed a couple of times but the headache and sore throat didn’t leave. Later her sister remembered the story she had told her about the children praying and thought she’d ask her 8yr old daughter to pray. As her daughter prayed a simple prayer, the headache left, and very soon after she began to feel better!

Remembering what God has done before produces faith for breakthrough

Yesterday morning I was meditating on Psalm 77 where the psalmist is crying out to God in the midst of trouble. Unable to sleep and feeling too burdened to even pray (and we’ve probably all experienced times like those) he is crying out, “Where are you, God? He says “Let me remember the songs I used to sing to you.”…and then he starts to remember the songs of worship he used to sing in the night. He starts to remember the miracles he has seen God do and he starts to praise him. Remembering the goodness of God when we are feeling abandoned is a powerful choice but when we choose to go there it leads us to thanksgiving and praise and lifts us above our circumstances and to see where God really is.

If you are in a hard place right now start remembering times when you knew God’s closeness. Start remembering all the times he has rescued you and all he’s done for you and begin to thank him and praise him. Even whilst things may seem to remain the same I believe you will experience a shift in your heart towards God and in your circumstances. Let’s keep remembering how good he is because he is the God who makes a way where there is no way! He is the God of miracles!!

Photo credit to Ben White