Ever been crab fishing? It’s quite simple, you attach a bit of bacon to a line, dangle it in the sea and wait for a crab to grab the bacon. Crabs aren’t very clever, and they keep holding on to the bacon – they don’t necessarily eat it, they just hold on. That makes them easier to catch.
Christians can be the same.
Smith Wigglesworth said a lot of interesting things. One of those things is: ‘Never look back if you want the power of God in your life. You will find out that in the measure you have allowed yourself to look back you have missed that which God had for you.’ He also said: ‘There is a difference between a movement and a monument. A movement is something that is always active. A monument is something that is fixed at a corner and neither speaks nor moves, but there is a tremendous lot of humbug and nonsense to get it there. It is silent and does nothing. A movement is where God has come into the very being of a person, where he becomes active for God. He is God’s property, God’s mouthpiece, God’s eyes, God’s hands.’
I think sometimes we can harp on about what God has already done with us that we miss the next thing he has planned.
That’s why it’s a good idea to let go of that floppy bacon and watch out for something juicy coming along that God has you in mind for.
‘If anyone asks me, ‘What is the best safeguard against false doctrine?’ I answer in one word: ‘The Bible – the Bible regularly read, regularly prayed over, regularly studied.’ We must go back to the old prescription of our Master: ‘Search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39 AV). If we want a weapon to wield against the devious schemes of Satan, there is nothing like ‘the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God’. But to wield it successfully, we must read it habitually, diligently, intelligently and prayerfully. This is a point on which, I fear, many fail. In an age of hurry and frenzied activity, few read their Bibles as much as they should. More books perhaps are read than ever, but less of the one book which makes man wise to salvation. Roman Catholicism and liberal theology could never have made such havoc in the church if there had not been a most superficial knowledge of the Scriptures throughout the land. A Bible-reading congregation is the strength of a church.’
The Red Arrows just did a display as part of the Portishead carnival; the same weekend as the English football team played in their usual underwhelming manner in Poland in the group phase of the Euros. The difference is incredible.
On the one hand, the Red Arrows don’t sniff at what is a very minor provincial carnival; they turn up precisely on time, perform impressively with the execution of some frankly dangerous manoeuvres, they have excellent teamwork, cooperation and communication, their display is exhilarating, astounding and exciting, and what’s more they are a symbol of Britishness that can’t help but make you proud. But it seems it’s a kind of old-fashioned Britishness, you know, when we had a work ethic, when we were honourable and considerate, faithful and dedicated to the right values.
On the other hand, there’s the English football team. They get paid so much they don’t care about the game at all, it’s all about winning (or in England’s case, not losing). They get paid silly money for what doesn’t constitute a job because playing football isn’t technically work, it’s playing a game. They come out with rubbish like ‘I’m not enjoying my football so much,’ – which is a bit annoying to those of us who do have proper jobs and can’t even dream of earning in 5 years what they earn in a week. This has bugged me for a while (can you tell?!) but the stark contrast was obvious this weekend. And watching England’s lethargy and lack of dedication on the pitch made me try to imagine what it would be like if footballers weren’t ‘professionals’ and if we could go back to the old system where people played football for the pure love of it. The England team would be made up of plumbers, brickies, barmen, maybe a dentist (then again, maybe not) – wouldn’t that be fantastic? After all the fans’ dedication to the game and to their country has stayed the same; wouldn’t it be good if each nation’s citizens could get behind a team that they felt at one with, and keen to support, instead of a group of overpaid hirelings who would probably be better people if they knew what hard work and a proper job was?
Rant over. Feel better now. Normal service resumes.
It’s like this; you can try to live the perfect life and something somewhere eventually will trip you up. Not only that, it gets worse – you try to have an absolutely rocking relationship with God, you’re going to turn it around, you’ve thought about it, had a chat with God about it, you commit to it, and then all of a sudden, you end up doing all those things you decided you weren’t going to do any more – and then, you can’t hear what God’s saying – his lips are moving, but all you’re getting is white noise.
I hate that.
Unfortunately it happens to me quite often. I’m very much a ‘head’ Christian, I decide to do it, and I go all out for it. Yes I pray about stuff, and get divine approval, but it’s very much a case of ‘If you want something done, do it yourself…’ I’ll crack on with it, I won’t wait for fluffy feelings or any of that stuff. And actually, that’s where it all falls apart.
You see, we’re all equipped with a Velcro suit.
Just like this:
And on this suit are millions of little hooky things – they’re sin hooks, and when you do anything you shouldn’t, or don’t do something you should, then little bits of sin get stuck on the hooks, and then you end up being covered in the stuff. Not only do you then look like a complete idiot, but also, you have a right job on squeezing through that itty-bitty tunnel that gets you directly into God’s presence, and when you don’t get into God’s company easily, well you know how it is, it all goes wrong from there.
So I hope that’s that cleared up. You’re wearing a suit with hooks on. More than likely there’s stuff clogging up the hooks. If you want to be an intercessor and therefore be in and out of God’s abode at all times of the day and night, then you need to keep an eye on things. It’s all about the suit.
I’ve always been rather foxed about prayer. After all, God’s so big, we’re so little, and I don’t know about you, but my prayers are really wimpy. However, I flattered myself that if I could just understand a little tiny bit about how it works, then maybe I’d do more of it, and perhaps get a little bit good at it.
I’ve recently discovered, it’s a lot like frying ants.
In a book called ‘Upwardly Mobile‘, David Westlake uses the event of Jesus feeding the 5,000 as a way of explaining about how what we do makes a difference. He says: ‘…Jesus turns to his disciples – the Church – and says, “You feed them”… Not surprisingly the disciples’ response was similar to ours when we feel the sting of poverty around us; they went for the old “the need is so great and we have so little” line. How many times have we opted for the same? How often have our lips produced the words “it’s just a drop in the ocean… what good will my fiver/time/smile do when there’s so much more that needs to be done?” It’s true, in terms of pure physics, the little we have doesn’t look like it will go far enough. But we miss the point. Jesus wasn’t interested in how much they had, just whether he had access to all of it. He didn’t need them to have enough to answer the whole problem, he just needed everything they had. Once he had it all in his own hands, it was enough to solve the whole problem.’
I can absolutely understand where he’s coming from with regard to the little things we do to improve our tiny corner of the world, but that also helps to explain a bit about the question of prayer. What I mean is, if the tiny wimpy little prayer that we offer somehow gets mingled with the immense power of God, then we can do anything!
Thinking about this a little further, I was reading a book by Jack Kelley called ‘Children’s Stories of the Bible: the Adult Version‘ (It’s probably not what you think). Mr Kelley was explaining about David and Goliath and wrote that not only is this a historical event, but it also serves as a parable. Goliath and the Philistines are Satan, Saul and his army are natural (fleshly) man, and David is spiritual man (one who has a relationship with God). Natural man is completely disabled by the devil, not up to the challenge and fails miserably. Spiritual man is not able to overcome the devil purely by human means (using Saul’s armour), but is able to withstand and conquer the devil through the use of heavenly weapons such as those found in Ephesians 6. As the spiritual man belongs wholly and completely to God, he cannot fail, and this knowledge combined with the divine arsenal amd armoury mean that the believer will always triumph, and the devil will always ultimately lose.
So what’s that got to do with prayer? Those wimpy prayers are tiny, but as Mr Westlake mentions, God takes what we offer and he magnifies it hugely, making it a powerful force. And that’s why prayer is important; God is powerful anyway, he doesn’t need us, but he likes us to be involved, so he adds his immense power to our puny prayers and something amazing happens – we make a difference. On its own, the sun is not potent enough to cook ants, but add a magnifying glass, the heat is intensified, and the ants are well and truly fried. (I’m not endorsing entomological cruelty, it’s an illustration, people).