On the Subject of Following God

On the subject of following God there are many things that can be said. Jesus said “follow me and I will make you disciples of men..” to his disciples. continuously the theme in the bible is that we are to forsake our own ways and follow God’s word that He has spoken over us. In Ephesians Paul tells us that we have good works that have been prepared for us in advance. Following God is fulfilling purpose and embarking on a journey with God to fulfill the plan that He has already laid down for our lives. These plans are not to work us to the bone and make us miserable but  these plans are to prosper us and give us a good future (Jeremiah 29:11).

One of the many illustrations in the bible regarding God’s plans for our lives is found in Judges 4. The story of Deborah, one of Israels judges. In her time Israel was under the captivity of Jabin the Canaanite King. God had allowed this due to the nations disobedience to Him. Jabin’s commander was a man named Sisera who had a great army and was feared by all. It was in this time that God gave Deborah a word for Barak who was of the tribe of Naphtali. Deborah called for Barak and told him that God had commanded him to gather 10 000 men from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali and to march to Mount Tabor. There God would give Sisera into his hand.

Just like Barak ( and Gideon, Abraham, Jacob etc), God will place a call on our lives to do something. What we do with that call is very important. The story of Barak showed me one of the scenarios that can take place, depending on our response to this call.

Barak’s response was simple. He was willing to go and do what God said, but just to make sure that God really came through he wanted to take Deborah along too as a guarantee. Already most of us are probably thinking.. “Clearly he has no faith!”  Which is just a bit hypocritical of us to because more often than not we give similar responses to Barak, but because we have an extensive understanding of language, we word our response in a whole lot of words that we think will fool God into believing that we trust Him. I am not Barak but I can relate to what he  have possibly been going through in his mind.

It would be easier if you could take your pastor your home group leader and every other spiritual leader in your life with you when you go out to war with the enemy (wherever this war may be fought) i.e. new city, new job, country, school etc.). That’s simply because they will encourage you when it seems like things are not working the way that you perceived they would be, and to be honest some of us may feel that they can be a guarantee that the word will come to pass (“after all they are closer to God”). Barak thought he knew what God was asking him to do. In his mind, he was of the tribe of Naphtali and he has been told to gather men from the tribes of Naphtali and  Zebulun who were not the greatest warriors of the tribes of Israel. The bible says of these two tribes…  “(Gen 49:13) Zebulun shall live at the sea-shore. And he shall be a haven for ships, and his border beside Sidon”, and of Naphtali … “(Gen 49:21) Naphtali is a deer let loose. He gives goodly words”. These two tribes were probably not first choice when it came to chosing men to go fight. What he did not realise was that is just like God, to choose the foolish things to shame the wise.

So Barak was possibly overwhelmed by the mission , but then he still believed. He was willing to go and fight but was not willing to do it alone.When Barak refused to go without Deborah God did not take the mission away from him. He would still fight Sisera’s army and win, but then there was a consequence. The honour of defeating Sisera was taken from him and given to someone else, even weaker than he perceived himself to be. God wanted Barak to be the greatest and to receive the greatest honour but Barak second guessed himself. SO instead of being the greatest he became the great! It doesn’t seem like a long way to fall but we need to realize that God’s intentions for us are not mediochre, His intentions for us are always at the highest level. It is really only in our best interests to have full faith in him.

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Down The Valley Up The Mountain, Jerusalem is Home

When I was young and in primary school we used to sing a song that went ‘Down the Valley Up the mountain, Jerusalem is my home’. I don’t think I truly understood what that song meant or what it could possibly mean. I was reminded of this song just now. especially with challenges that I am currently facing in my life right now. Challenges are an everyday part of life. We cannot run away from problems. This is common knowledge. It’s all about how we persevere through the challenges that we face in our lives, because at the end of the day we should be able to say/sing, ‘down the valley up the mountain Jerusalem is my home’. At least that is what we are supposed to sing. Sometimes we end singing… ‘ Down the valley…. after this Lord I am changing my place of residence, Jerusalem just isn’t working for me!’

I have been reminded of two scriptures, James 1v2 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face many trials of many kinds …’ Every christian probably knows this scripture and probably doesn’t know what to do with it when trials come, because basically it is hard to count it PURE  joy when the world is crashing around you, (“SERIOUSLY JAMES!”). But if you commit or make the decision that no matter what you are not changing, Jerusalem is going to be your home. That you will still serve God and that you will continue to worship Him then you can be encouraged by, Genesis 46v4a I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up [again]. God will walk allow you to come to a valley but will not leave you there. He will go down into Egypt with you and will bring you back again.

I had a revelation in my life as I was asking God … why? He said that He would lead me beside still waters and that He will take care of my every need. He did not lie about that. It is possible to go through really tough situations but He will not let me be overcome. It will be hard but I will not be overcome. It will seem like I will be overcome but He will not let that happen. There is no better way to strengthen my faith than to test it and since I passed the last test, naturally the next one is going to be harder. It seems to my natural mind that this is unfair but then I realised that often we are travelling through the valley so that we can get to the next mountain (high place) forgetting the most important thing. God is not taking us on a journey of mountains, He is taking us on a journey to Jerusalem, the city of our God. That is the most important destination in our lives.

This revelation caused me to look more closely to some of the men in the bible. Their journeys were all different. Some like Joseph, made it to a place of prosperity and some like Paul and the other disciples came to their end in what we would classify as valleys. They suffered many trials, worse than most of us will ever encounter but it cannot be right to say that they were not prosperous men. So we need to as christians change our minds and start to want to think the way God thinks because after all, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2v16). I encouraged us to spend more time with God during our trials so that we can truly accept them as pure joy and know that He is with us through them all.

Be Blessed!