Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Is This Really Going To Work Lord?

FOCUS SCRIPTURE: 2 Kings 5:9-15.

This week I've been reading through the book of 2 Kings and I remembered when God spoke to me through the story of Naaman. It was February 2013, I knew God was calling me to go to Fiji to do missions work but I was VERY apprehensive about going; I had never taken such a huge step of faith and was fearful about stepping into the unknown. I didn’t know how I was going to raise the £3,000 I needed for the flights, accommodation, food etc., so one evening after work, I decided to go and sit inside McDonald’s and spend some quiet time with God to get clarity and direction. As I was looking through my Bible, Holy Spirit directed me to the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5.

Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Syria, and a man of valor but he was a leper and was told that if he went to the prophet in Samaria, he would heal him of his leprosy. So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!  2 Kings 5:9-11 NLT.

Eishhh! Naaman was not pleased, he went to Elisa with preconceived ideas about how his healing would come; 1) He expected Elisa to come out to him. 2) He expected Elisa to wave his hand over his leprosy, call on the name of the Lord his God and be healed. But instead Elisa redirects him by giving him different instructions and this angered Naaman. He was required to take a different approach, walk by faith and believe that he would be healed as Elisa had said. Let’s be honest, how would we respond if a prophet told us to go and dip 7 times in our local river, would we have faith and obey?

Naaman then goes on to suggest that other rivers would be better in order for him to be healed. He said, “Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!” 2 Kings 5:12-14 NLT. 

Naaman had contempt for God’s solution and plan; to him it was foolish, notice human reasoning when he suggests washing in other “better” rivers.  This reminds me of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 NKJV that says “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not to bring to nothing the things that are”. The world’s standards and ideas of salvation seem so much more logical in comparison to God’s, which seems foolish and so simplistic.

If the officer had not intervened, Naaman would have walked away from his breakthrough because the method required did not match up with his expectations, it looked too simple for him. Also, Naaman’s pride and opinion was getting in the way of him being healed. To go and dip in the Jordan River was a very simple thing to do, he was unwilling to humble himself and obey a very simple command. The officer challenged Naaman by asking him if he was required to do something difficult would he not do it?  Do we have faith to believe and obey God when He tells us to do things that are simple even when it does not make sense to us?

My goodness! God was speaking to me through this story. He told me to set up a Facebook page and He said that by doing that I would get the money I needed for the trip. When He said that I didn't believe it. I didn’t believe that a simple step of obedience would lead to me receiving what I needed for my trip. I was struggling with unbelief. I’ll be honest; I was expecting God to tell me that the money would miraculously and instantly appear in my account, or that it would slip through my letterbox! My thoughts lol! But God had other plans and He was teaching me a few things along the way. I was learning to take Him at His word, walk by faith and obey His instructions.

Naaman’s brashness and pride was surfaced, but his obedience and submission opened the way for his healing. 1 Peter 5:5-7 Amplified Version says, “for God is opposed to the proud [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. The word presumed stood out to me when I read this. I presumed that I knew better than Almighty God, the One who is all-wise. I didn’t take God at His word; instead I tried to apply human reasoning.

Like Naaman, I too had to put aside my pride and humble myself by choosing to submit to God’s instructions and ask people for help. I had to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone and be bold. So I did it, I took a step of faith. I felt fear as I thought to myself what would people think but then I realise that I needed to be courageous and just do it! By following God's ways, people did donate and I had the money I needed. God was right!!! His ways worked and it changed me in the process. After Naaman was healed, he went back to find the man of God, Elisa and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” 2 Kings 5:15 NLT. This is my testimony too; I can say that there is no God like Yahweh, I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in all the earth. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of my adventure of living by faith and knowing God.

What is Jesus leading you to do? Are you trying to work things out in the flesh like I did? Let us be open to the various different ways that God may want to answer our prayers and perform miracles in our lives. Us having our own preconceived ideas can limit us and cause us to miss out if we are not willing to try something different and new irrespective of how unconventional, unorthodox, radical and unusual it may appear. God’s ways are truly higher and better than our ways, the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I pray that God will help us to lean on Him more, trust Him with our whole heart and walk by faith as without faith, it is impossible to please Him, in Jesus name, amen.

Love Josie

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

My Testimony: My Chains Are Gone, I've Been Set Free!

Hello Hello Hello :)  It has been a while since I last blogged, well 2 years and 3 months to be exact. The last time I blogged I had recently returned from Fiji. I was there for a year doing missionary work. I adjusted to a different life; I discovered a lot about myself and grew as a person. Fiji was a life changing experience for me, seriously life-changing! I experienced different facets of God. Readjusting back to life in London was HARD!!! A lot has happened since I've returned from Fiji. I feel like I've been experiencing battle after battle but in spite of it all I am good, I’m continuously learning to give thanks and praise God regardless of what is going on around me. Our circumstances do not define who God is.

I am feeling a bit nervous about sharing what I am about to say but I feel it's time. It’s time for me to share my testimony, I pray that someone is encouraged :) 

When I was around 9 years old I was sexually abused. I can’t recall how many times it happened. I used to believe that my life was ruined; I felt like there was a black mark against my life and used to feel like I would never succeed in life because of what had happened. I used to feel like my life was destined for destruction. For a long time I allowed my negative thoughts and the lies of the enemy to depress and discourage me and I realise that it was because I had not allowed God’s word’s to become truth in my life. I did not believe it could apply to me and my situation. Proverbs 4:23 GNT says “be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts”. Proverbs 23:7 NKJV says “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. What do you think and believe about yourself?

My mind, oh my mind, my thinking, the way I saw myself and viewed life was distorted. Oh the devil is a liar!!! When we go to God, He exposes the lies we believe. He challenged my thoughts and showed me that some of the things I believed about myself were not true. I used to believe the words of the devil more than God's. I struggled with unbelief (to be honest I still battle with unbelief at times). I heard a preacher say that “when we do not believe God we make Him a liar”. When we fail to believe and accept what God is saying as truth, we make Him a liar! Eishhh, what a sobering thought!

I never used to think about marriage, having a family etc, such thoughts were robbed from me. My focus was on finding ways to stop my past from eating me up. I would suppress it. The second thoughts or flash backs would come to my head I would block it out instantly, I didn’t want to deal with the emotions that came with it.  I felt that they were too frightening and too painful to deal with. Looking back I realise that it is better to deal with past issues rather than fighting to stop it creeping up.

Sexual feelings were awoken before its time. The man who abused me told me to not tell anyone and that’s exactly what I did. At around 9 years old I was keeping a big secret. The first person I told was a friend in secondary school I think I was around 12/13 years old at the time. I did not know I was sexually abused until I found out what it was. I came to realised that what I encountered was not normal or right at all! What happened to me was immoral. It's crazy how we can grow up in situations, unhealthy situations and environments and think that they are ‘normal’ when they are not. How many of us have grown up thinking something was right just because it was the norm. We can think something is normal only to one day realise its far from normal…its abnormal. We can think something is normal and become blinded and desensitised to things but the truth remains, it is not right. Normal does not mean right. Just because something is considered to be the norm that does not mean it is right or the truth.

A few weeks before I left to go to Fiji my past kept coming to the surface, I was experiencing flash backs but I kept shoving it to the back of my mind. It was really bugging me especially because it was not something I was ready to or wanted to deal with. I had decided that my family would never know about this, I had planned to die with this secret. I told my former work manager about it and she said when I get back from Fiji she would see to it that I got counselling. I didn’t realise that it was God who was bringing it to the surface or that He would do a work in me when I was in Fiji.

I remember the night it first happened I felt shocked and perplexed. I had been robbed of my innocence and childhood. It affected me emotionally. I also battled with trust issues, shame, bitterness, rejection, confusion and numbness. I remember when I was in Fiji God spoke to me through a coconut. He showed me that the coconut represented me and He wanted to break my heart of stone. God revealed to me that my past experiences have led to me building walls around my heart. When we build walls around our heart because of past hurt and offences, we not only push others away but we also push God away too.  

I went to Fiji believing that God would use me to bless others. He did that. But first He took me through the process of being open and sharing my story. I once read somewhere that “unhealed wounds keep us in bondage”. My past kept me in bondage, I felt bound and caged. When I started opening up and being vulnerable with people I met in Fiji I realised deep down that I longed to be free from my past. I desired to be made whole. It was so PAINFUL to go back to my past. There was a day I opened up to friends at the base about being abused and boy the tears rolling down my face was unbelievable. I had held back my feelings for a loooooong time. It was at that moment the healing process began, Jesus gently started unpicking the wounds that I so terribly tried to cover up. 

When I was in Fiji I became FREE. Chains were broken, my secret was out and I experienced healing and freedom. God changed me, I became a different person…and then I returned to London. Gloomy London. I returned home and met my past face to face again. I felt bound again as my parents and siblings did not know.  Last year I told my family about what happened and we have been working through it. Now I no longer cry about it when I think about what happened, I feel at peace. God has healed and restored me and I have forgiven the man who abused me. I know now that I am not defined by my past. 

What have you buried away? What are you battling with? What do you need to take to Jesus so He can heal and deliver you? Jesus said "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NLT). Do not let your past torment you and keep you bound. Whether you've been hurt or you have hurt others go to God, His arms are open wide. Psalm 86:5 NLT declares “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help”. I was sick and in need of healing and Jesus the Great Physician came to heal me, He loves you and wants to heal you too. 

Love Josie