Related Posts

Share This

Change Me, Not the Circumstances! part 2

Wow I wrote this article awhile ago but forgot to actually post it, and considering the changes being forced upon me at the moment it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks!

I saw two t-shirts which I like this week. The first said ‘sarcasm is one of the services offered here’. The second was ‘quick look busy the boss is coming’. I think another slight variation might work ‘look busy Jesus is coming’. I think that shirt would work for many church going people because it is exactly how it is! So often I find myself running around doing ‘important stuff’. But after a few years of running around doing the ‘important stuff’ I noticed the ‘important stuff’ is and wasn’t the important. I wonder now was all of the ‘important stuff’ of any use?

I can’t help but think of that story in the Old Testatment regarding Elisha and Elijah and the building of a new building. You know the story of the floating axe head? Everyone involved is doing the ‘important stuff’… But it wasn’t until I realised that the student the younger prophet in the story who lost the axe head could have kept it all secret. He could have kept it a secret… not told anyone that he had lost the axe. He could have kept swinging away, no one would be any the wiser. Perhaps, come smoko time he could have picked up someone elses? Who would have known how the story would have turned out?

Look around your church and I bet you will find people doing exactely what the young prophet could have done. Not only looking busy doing the important stuff, but actually busy doing the ‘important stuff’. But, and it is a big but! These poor people are swinging away with all their might, swinging the axe head until they have nothing left in the tank, but the cutting tool, the iron head has flown off!

Perhaps you are that person, and honestly there is nothing to be ashamed off, you aren’t alone, you aren’t special in that regard. We all have done it. We keep on going because really what else can we do? We all have been that foolish before, we continue swinging away doing the same old things which aren’t working. Like a fool we are busy returning to the things which we did years ago!

Matthew 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, “Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Here in this passage we have a grave warning, a warning aimed directly at foolish people! People just like you and me, people who are busy doing the ‘important stuff’. The time is coming when His bride, us His people will have a face to face conversation with Him. And there is going to have to be some very important issues that you and I have better addressed and dealt with!

We will all need to have oil in the lamp. In other words it won’t be good enough going out there holding the lamp… being where the action is… and not have it provide any effectual light. It is like swinging away and the axe head is gone, the effectual cutting tool is missing. It is a warning to those of us in ministry, who are just doing the same old things over and over again… even if the results are not present. Perhaps, right now you are just plain tired and a little disullusioned with how things have gone. Please I don’t want to discourage you, perhaps this is just one of those seasons, when you are cultivating and it isn’t a time of harvesting? To you my friends I say please keep it up. We need more people who are willing to put in the majority of the work, the back breaking work of cultivatoring. But if what you are experiencing is something different. If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, even though it appears the power for those things, when His presence through the Holy Spirit is urging you to do something new. When the oil is elsewhere! Then you are facing a tricky situation. You must decide is this warning speaking to me?

You have the choice, you can return to your old ways, and probably continue swinging away without the axe head, swinging away and looking as though you are busy, continue on trying to convince yourself and others that you doing the work of the Lord, when all you are doing is faking it! Or you can take a risk and at least try something new, and test and see at least if the Lord is in it. Test and see if the oil as it were is burning!

The mark of the fool is returning to make the same mistake over and over again.

I am certain that you want to see His kingdom grow, I am certain it is your priority to reach the world, and I like to think that it is your number one purpose in life! But the truth is when you look back at your life you will see that is not always the case. I am certain of it because all of us have the same problem. All of us seem to have a default position which is contrary to it. It would seem that sometimes even our best efforts are what condemn us. It is like the in the story of the prodigal son, with the damnable good work of the son who stayed home to do his father’s business.

I was shocked when I saw for the first time in the story of the prodigal son that it was actually the older brother who missed out on the blessings provided by the Father. At the end of the story we find that it is the older brother who does not come in for the party. Why?

The younger brother doesn’t do the work, he takes what he can, he blows everything chasing after things which will never bring an authentic life. He lives the life of a complete fool. But yet it is he who is blessed at the end. And it is simple really, because the young brother, it is he who comes to understand that he has nothing. It is he who recognises his debt to the father.

While on the other hand the old brother, stays home does the work, he goes out everyday and swings away. But why does he do that? Perhaps it is because he was swinging away in the hope that the father would be indebted to him. ‘Look at all I have done for you!’ was the cry of the older brother. And there it is… there is the cry of my heart far to often. I can vividly in a moment of crisis praying that pray to God, ‘God I do so much for you, can’t you please do this…’

The older brother did not recognise his debt to the father.

He did everything so the father would be indebt to him.

Perhaps we are so busy swinging away, even when it would appear obvious to everyone else that the cutting edge, the effectual light, has long since flown off, or ran out. Perhaps we are thinking that God owes us something.

The only way we are going to enjoy His presence again is only after we recognise out debt to Him.

We all face overwhelming pressures at times, both visible and invisible, and you will feel it pushing against you.

You maybe one of the lucky few who actually gets to see a glimpse of your debt to him. You may be one of the very few who are able to see the situation for what it is. But that glimpse is not enough. It is like me as a 14 year old kid who got to see how messed up I was but didn’t know what to do about it. Because try as you might it is all so easy to full back into our default position. That is making God our debtor. Try as you like all to often we are like the dog who returns to his vomit!

It isn’t until see stop asking God to change the situation, to fix the problem, but actually ask God to change us and give us the courage to do something ourselves that we will achieve anything for His kingdom.

Stop asking God to make his work more effective, stop asking God to give you more and start asking him to change you. To you use and mould you into the person He wants.

I have become so sick and tired of asking God to build His church in which I am pastoring. God please just do this, do that… if only we had this… if only I had that…

After years of asking the same thing, of swinging away like a fool, did I understand I was asking for the wrong thing… ‘God if you aren’t going to change the situation, change me so that I can do nothing but what you want me to do, change me to see the debt I owe you, not what I can do for you, so that you will owe me one!’

I once heard the story of a man who asked mother Teresa to pray for him.

She said, ‘sure, what is it would you like me to pray for in particular?’

He replied, ‘clarity’.

Mother Teresa paused for a moment, and then replied, ‘no, I won’t pray that for you’.

The man was very embarrassed and taken back he blurted out, ‘why not, I want what you have. All of your life you seem to know exactly what to do… you seem to know with clarity what he wants you to do!’

She said, ‘I have never had clarity, what I have had is trust. I will pray that for you.’

I would love for you to overcome whatever it is in your past which causes you to look back. Back I don’t want you to ask for God to change your circumstances, or change things. Because we are always asking God to change things, rather than change us! Whenever we have decisions to make we pray God why don’t you close all of the doors and just leave one open – rather than God please make me wise so I make good decisions. when trails come, we say God why don’t you change the situation why don’t you fix it, take away all of the pain rather than say ‘God grow perseverance in me’. When temptation come, rather than ask God to take them away, ask ‘God to give you self control’.

God wants you to be more than conquers! and yes they are times when God wants to change circumstances, but yes it is more so God wants to change you and me!

And so what I am going to do is give you a moment or two to look back and see what it is in your life that you keep returning too. And then I am going to get you to write a sentence not what that circumstances of that thing is… but the actual root problem. For example, I am overweight is something I keep going back to like a dog to his vomit, it isn’t because I eat too much food, it is because I lack self control. So I would write ‘Lord change me, please take control of me and give me the strength, give me faith, because I am weak and lack control’.

I would then like you to put that letter somewhere safe so that in 12 months time you can reopen that letter, but I want you to pray whatever prayer you wrote down on the letter once everyday, or more if you want, and then after 12 months open the letter again, and repeat the process with a different prayer.

I would love to hear the the changes which He brings, so please feel free to drop me a line here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email