Jealousy Follows Favor

Jealousy Follows Favor

No matter what God has called you to be it in ministry, business, government, education etc., you will notice that jealousy inevitably follows after favor. It doesn’t just follow but it hunts and runs after it because others see something in you they either want, need or used to have. Many people who have been called and anointed by God have faced this challenge and those who successfully pass this test are allowed to take the next step in their callings. While those who fail typically become the next generation of the jealous who go about hunting those called by God to achieve something in this world.

When God begins to move in your life people start paying attention to you wherever you go. At times this can be good attention like the kind which helps you find those that can aid you in your journey, or you find others needed help as well. This is the place of favor where God begins to connect you with others so that your callings and dreams can manifest in this world. Even David had these people in his life with the likes of Samuel, Jonathan, this mighty men, Joab and others.

However, there’s a second category of attention that you will receive. People who are anointed typically encounter where those who either hate, resent or covet what God has placed upon their life. As you progress in you calling and relationship with God these people will emerge and try to either silence you, cripple you or convert you into one of them.

People who are anointed typically encounter where those who either hate, resent or covet what God has placed upon their life.

How you deal with these people will determine how you progress along the path of the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. No matter what you’re called to become you’ll encounter this resistance in some way, shape or form. This resistance can come in the form of a person, group, organization, friend, family member or online stranger. It feels as if there is a natural attraction that the darkness has when it sees the light of God in someone. Not that they want to encounter the light of God but rather they are attracted to it because they want to snuff it out, so their darkness isn’t disturbed.

Thousands vs. Ten Thousands

Once God began to bring close supporters into David’s life then it was only a matter of time that the crowds at large began to recognize what was happening in his life. Between the defeat of Goliath and David’ blossoming military career he was being moved closer into the national spotlight right next to Saul. With each task placed before him David was found to be faithful and wise and victories against Israel’s primary enemy the Philistines were happening at a pace not seen since Joshua’s invasion.

What happened here is that God provided David an opportunity to enter into his season of apprenticeship in his anointing and David took that opportunity and did something with it. He didn’t talk about it, or dream of what he could do with those opportunities, no he went to work, and out worked those around him. We don’t just get David boasting about himself about all of this, rather we witness the praises of the people who were beginning to see David as the new great warrior of Israel. A title that used to be Saul’s up until he was abandoned by God and he no longer fought as he used to, we see with his unwillingness to answer Goliath’s challenge and by him remaining often in his capital of Gibeah while David went out and fought.


1 Samuel 18:6-7 “Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”


While this was good news for David it was interpreted in a completely different way by Saul, who took these words as being the manifestation of his greatest fear. Since he was rejected as king by God (1 Samuel 15:26-28) Saul has been on the lookout for the “neighbor of yours, who is better than you” who would take the kingdom away from him. God had already taken the kingdom away from Saul spiritually but the day was not yet for it to be taken away in the natural realm.

This reaction from Saul is common in those who have lost their anointing, calling, hope or living relationship with God. They can’t stand seeing someone else enjoying the benefits they used to have but lost for some reason or another. Some lost them through sin, others from a lack of faith, greed, the pressures of the world and still others because they were “re-educated” into thinking what they had or had been called to was wrong, evil, undesirable or “not God’s will.”

This reaction from Saul is common in those who have lost their anointing, calling, hope or living relationship with God. They can’t stand seeing someone else enjoying the benefits they used to have but lost for some reason or another.

Saul failed because of his sin, but there are others such as Samson who gave into his wife’s pressure or Jeroboam’s descent into idolatry following the division of the kingdom and Gideon who later built a false ephod (a counterfeit to the true tabernacle) in his home town (Judges 8:27-29). Everyone in these examples began strong and accomplished great things for God but life, circumstances and even their own hearts broke them down and they ended up in darkness, despite the great things God had done for them.

Jeroboam went from heeding a prophets words to trying to kill them, Gideon fought against God’s enemies but later created his own priesthood and lead Israel away from God and the ark, Sampson despite his great power squandered his giftings and only acted out his calling when he was mad or inconvenienced. The same pattern exists today as being called and anointed by God is not a guarantee that you’ll never encounter troubles or that you’ll never fly off of the rails and end up in a ditch or in a disaster.

A Broken Crown Is Twice As Sharp

With Saul his paranoia drove him over the edge as he continually heard the people’s praises about David, and he began to fear that a coup could be soon underway. Often those with a call on their lives will encounter their own version of a Saul in their life, be it a person, group or so on. These are the people who see everyone else that has a touch of God’s favor and presence upon their lives as a threat to their position, purpose and livelihood.


1 Samuel 18:8 “And Saul was very angry, for the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?” (AMPC)

1 Samuel 18:15 “When Saul saw how capable and successful David was, he stood in awe of him.” (AMPC)


For those who are like Saul in this situation they are not interested int building up the next generation of the church (or in what ever arena you are called to) but are only focused on keeping their backsides in their own chairs and not allowing anything to change. They resist anything that causes growth that wasn’t their own idea and often they are more focused on managing everything than on causing it to grow and develop. Because growth requires more hands to help in administrating and each one of those new hands is a threat to their coveted seat.

Saul feared that this nobody shepherd from the backwoods of Judah who had killed the giant he should’ve fought was now garnering the praised of the people who used to adore him. Saul stood head and shoulders above everyone’s else (1 Samuel 9:2) but that wasn’t enough any longer to inspire the people. Deep down within Saul the idea that there was no one was bigger, better or more anointed than him in Israel began to crumble, and in his already fractured state that realization drove him over the edge.

David had what he used to possess, even if he didn’t know about David and Samuel’s encounter, Saul must have recognized the moving of God’s spirit on David. Saul recognized what David had because it’s what he used to possess and he knew what was possible when that power and anointing was upon a person. Saul knew this and that’s why he was jealous of David and that is why he began to fear him. He wanted back what he had lost and since he could never get it back he decided that no one else should be able to have God’s anointing upon them either.


Proverbs 28:16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days. (NKJV0

Job 5:2 For wrath kills a foolish man, And envy slays a simple one. (NKJV)


At its core jealousy is just a pathway that leads to a crossroads, inevitably you’ll have to make a decision when you reach this juncture. You can either repent and turn around or you have one of two choices you can either turn one way down the path of lust and covetousness or you can turn down the other path which leads to destruction. One path will make you devote your life to acquiring something you don’t have (or used to have) no matter the cost. The other path will make you devote your life to destroying what another person has because if you can’t have it then no one can.

What Can You Do

Next week I’ll talk about how Saul’s jealousy transformed into fear and hatred but for now I want you to be aware that these types of situations still happened not just in the world but also in the church. It can happen between pastors and staff, between members and volunteers, between strangers and the pastor and so on. So it should be no surprise that behaviors and risks like this happen but what should you do to model your life after what David did?

What we need to first realize is that our own lives are not about proving those jealous people wrong it’s about witnessing God being right about what he has cultivated in your heart and life while witnessing the fruits of that manifest in the world around you. The first and best thing you can do is to remain faithful and committed to what God is leading you to/through. As we’ll see in the coming weeks David had literal spears thrown at him but he still refused to murder Saul, or to take a shortcut in this journey to becoming king.

What we need to first realize is that our own lives are not about proving those jealous people wrong it’s about witnessing God being right about what he has cultivated in your heart and life.

Before I continue I feel that I must make this statement: David’s example with Saul doesn’t mean that you cannot “turn over” a fallen leader who has engaged in criminal or unethical activities. Saul received his judgment before David was anointed and David didn’t invent stories to try and take down Saul. However, you must not feel obligated to insulate or protect a fallen leader when they have committed a crime, had a breach of ethics or have engaged in improper sexual activities.

You are not in the wrong to turn that leader over to the authorities, just as long as the accusations are more than just gossip and hearsay that weren’t fabricated. I feel many people take this interchange between David and Saul and use it as justification to allow a leader to continue in their sins and issues, or this story is used to intimidate victims or witnesses from coming forward. That is not the situation that happened here with David and Saul and I feel it this needs to be mentioned here.

If you want a biblical example of how this should take place look at the example of Nathan confronting David about Bathsheba, or Paul confronting Peter about his treatment of the Gentile believers. Those examples provide a healthy biblical example of how to deal with a person in leadership who has failed in their duties and ethics.

Back on track now. Really your best course of action when you encounter these people is to let them “yell at the clouds” so to say and for you to continue being faithful in what God is leading you through. That’s what David did, he was found more wise and successful than the other military commanders (1 Samuel 18:30). It’s also how someone like Paul was able to go from the great persecutor to the great Apostle, he was humble, faithful and determined to do all he could for God that picked him up from his mess and made him a herald of the great King.

If God sees it necessary he may even will remove those people eventually from your life or he could also will use them to drive you into the next phase of your calling. Either way those proverbial Saul’s aren’t always to be seen as mighty adversaries but rather as either speedbumps or detour signs along the road between where God called you from and where God is calling you to.

First understanding that there are people out there that won’t appreciate God’s calling and purpose on your life is the first step in learning how to best navigate those situations. Yet at the same time you need to be open and humble enough to recognize when a person is jealous or envious of you and when they are actually hearing from God and are trying to correct and refine you. You can’t respond to every word or person that doesn’t tickle your ear by calling them a Saul, you need to be sensitive to the spirit so that you can also recognize those who come to you like Nathan to keep you on the path God has placed you on.

You’re job is to serve, love and follow God and to do it in a Christlike manner so that the majority of people recognize what God is doing, just like the crowds did with David. So don’t fear the Saul’s of your life, don’t allow those who are broken and jealous to convert you into one of them. Just seek God and continue to be faithful with what God has given to you so that you can discover your true purpose, so you can build the kingdom and then support the next generation of anointed sons and daughters.

Be Ready For Unexpected Challenges

Be Prepared For Unexpected Challenges

Those who have been given a call and purpose from God will inevitable find themselves facing a great decisive and unexpected challenges which will determine if they will continue down the path God has laid out. However, this challenge is not always expected and more often than not we find ourselves stumbling upon it going about our daily lives.

Not every battle is laid out before us in advance and many times we will find ourselves stepping into the unexpected and then we discover why God led us to that place. We don’t always get pulled aside by someone and given a tactical briefing about something special or unusual that is going to happen that day which has the potential to reshape our lives. But that’s what happened with David he went about the mundane dealings of life and suddenly found himself standing face to face with Goliath.

This is the third part in my look into the life of David to help you discover how we to live you life after being called, commissioned or given a life’s purpose by God. Already we’ve seen how David’s heart handled the anointing by Samuel (Pt.1 HERE) and how David had the humility to serve Saul as his royal minstrel (Pt. 2 HERE) while still maintaining his family responsibilities (1 Samuel 17:15). Now we move on to the defining moment that launched David out of his season of Anointing and into his time of Apprenticeship.

God Combines Anointing With Opportunity Pt. 2

Not long after David became the royal minstrel Saul and the Philistines went to war, to fight over control of territory in western Judah (1 Samuel 17:2). Israel was trying to retain the land taken by the likes of Joshua, Caleb and Othniel while the Philistines were looking to push inward. However, this time was different it wasn’t just two waves crashing together in battle this time there were theatrics at play. The Philistines had their super-weapon and they were looking to coax someone from the Israelite army to agree to a champions battle (1 Samuel 17:8-9). In this battle the Philistines had Goliath, a giant (Anakim), and a descendant (or even a distant relative) of a tribe of giants disposed by Joshua’s conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 11:21-22).

Now a champions battle which Goliath was trying to bait Israel into is when a conflict is decided by a single warrior or small group of representatives from each army engaging in combat to determine an overall victor. This isn’t that crazy as it does prevent unnecessary loss of life in a conflict, although it appears to be more popular in stories than in actual battle, however there are real examples of this from history outside of the Biblical account.

This is the part of the account where David comes into play. After several weeks of the Philistine’s taunting Israel David’s father Jesse got the idea to send some supplies to the front lines of the pending battle (1 Samuel 17:17-18). David’s three oldest brothers were there so Jesse (fun fact: the son of Boaz and Ruth) asked David of all people to bring some food for them along with some cheese for their commander/regiment, then return home with a report.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers. David and Jesse probably had no idea about what was going on at the front line with Goliath taunting and challenging the Israelite army. David was just being obedient to his father, even though he was king Saul’s personal minstrel and the next anointed king of Israel.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers.

The Face Of The Giant

Once David arrived at the front lines days later the reason God led him there became apparent. As David was passing through the camp after delivering his supplies he overheard the commotion coming from the Philistine side of the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:23). After hearing the words of Goliath David demanded to know what would happened to the person that takes out this giant. David even goes as far to say “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” in verse 26.

It becomes apparent here that David’s trust and relationship with God gave him the faith to speak these words and to do the things he did later that day. By calling Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” he was declaring that Goliath was outside of God’s covenant and represented no real threat to those who serve and follow God. This is why David called Israel’s army the “armies of the living God,” as opposed to the Philistines who only served idols and demons.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them. It’s the same with us today there will come times in your life where circumstances, opponents or even yourself will appear to be like this mighty giant that is taunting you to walk into what appears in the natural to be an unwinnable battle.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them.

How many thousands of Israelite soldiers where there from all twelve tribes yet none of them had the faith (Numbers 13:33, Deuteronomy 1:28) to stand up against this giant (aka Rephaim, Emim, Anakim, sons of Anak) in the same manner that their faithful ancestors did (Joshua 11:21, 13:12, 14:12-15, 15:13).

Giants are not immortal or unbeatable but they are difficult to destroy if we go out in our own strength and without God’s assistance. David realized this He knew that God was more powerful than any living or breathing being outside of the covenant. To David this battle was not impossible and perhaps he was even reminded of the story of Caleb and Othniel fellow members of the tribe of Judah who killed several giants 300 or so years previously (Joshua 15, Judges 1).

This giant wasn’t there specifically to challenge David, Goliath was there challenging every person who followed the God of Israel. It was an open challenge to each and every soldier who claimed to follow the God who brought them out of slavery and into this Promised Land. Often this is how many “giants” in our lives operate they are not always looking not attack us directly but are looking to attack or embarrassed anyone and everyone who serves God. They do this to discredit God in the eyes of the people and to lure people into thinking that the giant’s gods/demons are the ones with real power and must be served.

David was there that day to honor his fathers request to bring supplies to the front lines, he didn’t go to fight or to impress the crowds he simply did as his father requested and once he arrive an opportunity was there waiting for him.

What’s Your Motivation To Face Unexpected Challenges

After seeing this display from Goliath David asked what if any was Saul promising to give the one who silenced this giant. A soldier responded to David by saying that the reward would be riches, Saul’s daughter, and tax exemption for his (and father’s) family (1 Samuel 17:25). On the one hand this sounds like everything you would want if you were anointed to be the next king. Riches to solidify your position among the people, a marriage to bring you into the royal family and the added benefit of you and your father’s house getting tax exemption status.

Many people would jump at the opportunity to receive this reward alone, except in this case they didn’t. There was something all of the other soldiers were missing, they were missing God in this equation. To David these rewards were not the reason for him wanting to challenge Goliath, David’s motivation came from wanting to stand up for God, the rewards were just a bonus for his faithfulness.

If one of the other soldiers had taken up Saul’s offer and lost then the army would have had to stand down and serve the Philistines as slaves, conscripts and Saul would become a vassal or be executed. The risk was too high just to receive riches alone, which is why things changed when David arrived.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered. They want the riches and recognition now and their hearts are in the wrong place. Often they only realize this after they have been defeated, but many times that defeat has lasting consequences on them and on those around them. Just as if an unanointed soldier had challenged Goliath and died the nation would have suffered the consequences I feel that often the same thing happens with the church at large.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered.

Far too often we seek out money, fame, influence and lose sight of why we are doing the things we are in ministry. It becomes more about advancement and position and less about pleasing God and doing what’s right in His eyes. David stood up against Goliath because of the things Goliath was saying not because he was looking for a wife or gold.

Courage To Face A Challenge Invites Judgement

David’s inquiries into the possible reward for killing Goliath didn’t go unnoticed, David’s oldest brother Eliab overhead his little brother and snapped at him. Eliab said in 1 Samuel 17:28 “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

This is an astounding response from David’s brother because he knew who David was called to be, he was there when Samuel anointed him. Eliab knew full well that God had appointed David to be King of Israel yet he still responded in this manner. He took David’s questioning about Goliath and declared it as being prideful or just wanting to watch the battle and perhaps “play the role of a king,” or thought that David was hoping for to Saul be killed.

Eliab wasn’t alone as others mocked David as well, but this type of response always goes hand in hand whenever anyone has faith for God to do mighty things. Even Jesus received this type of mockery by the people of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). Others such as the prophet Jeremiah faced the same criticism from the people of his own home town Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21). There is always this repeating resistance to anyone who tries to actually take God, his promises and His words at face value and try to do something to fight back against these so-called giants and unexpected challenges.

It’s no different for us today, if we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives we have to be prepared to face several things. We have to be ready for unexpected giants to cross our paths and we need to be emotionally ready for the complaining and push back we receive from others when we try to do something about those giants. It’s always easier to sit back and complain about the challenges in front of us and its comforting to ridicule others for trying to deal with problems we have no desire or faith to overcome ourselves. It’s that notion of settling for mediocrity and making sure no one else tries to rise above that level, because if they do then our excuses of why we never did anything about those challenges evaporate and we are left in shame.

This is where David found himself, he saw the giant and heard his accusations against God and his people, he had enough faith to ask what would come about for the one who wiped out this accuser and he was faced with ridicule. Were the people so far removed from the victories of Joshua that they no longer had any faith in God’s intervention, and what did they expect would happen if no on answered Goliath’s challenge. I’m sure eventually Goliath and the Philistines would have run out of patience and overrun the Israelite camp, leaving scores dead and the people in slavery once again.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away. That’ll never happen, the only solution is to partner with God and stand against them. That’s what was in David’s heart He saw the giant, heard His words but unlike the other Israelite soldiers he had a firm grasp on who God is, what was available to him through the covenant, and how little a threat Goliath was in God’s eyes.

Taking A Stand

We can move out in the same faith today to see these unexpected challenges through the lens of our New Covenant and the power of God. We need to do this because if we don’t succeed in these challenges we will find ourselves in bondage to them and our anointing, calling and purpose will either become imprisoned or we will be forced to take the long way to our ultimate destination.

These times of unexpected challenges are the times when God proves to us that what He promised is real, they are times where our own strength cannot prevail and through these victories the next stages of our walk with God begin to open up.

Next week we will see how David faced this unexpected challenge head on and how it took him into the next phase of his calling. As he progressed from the place of Anointing to the place of Apprenticeship, because someone overhead David talking and rather than ridiculing him went to the king to tell him the news that someone was ready to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31)

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseBe Ready For Unexpected  Challenges Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

08 – 2019 The Year of New Beginnings

Conway Christian Resources Podcast

A new year is upon us, 2019 is officially here so happy birthday Earth?!? Now rather than me giving you a Christian horoscope about the coming year I want to talk about how we can embrace change and new beginnings in our lives so we can better serve and follow after God.

The Hunt For Living Water

The Hunt For Living Water

You need water to live. Each day your body required high quality H2O to continue its existence in this world. Yet that cool and refreshing living water can only do so much to bring life and restoration to the core of our being. I can flavor that water with anything I want, tea, coffee, kool-aid, tang, those weird little squares with syrup in them but no matter how I flavor that water it is still water. It can support my natural existence but it has no effect on my spiritual condition or my existence in eternity.

That is where we need something greater than H20, we need life, not just a glimmer of life but its very source, Jesus. Throughout the Bible we see this picture of “living water” appear in both the New and Old Testaments but it isn’t until the Gospel of John that we realize what God was talking about to the prophets. In John 4 Jesus in His conversation with the Samaritan woman comments on how the living water He possesses was far superior to the one beneath the well He was sitting beside. Let’s take a look at what He says:


John 4:10-14 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”


It becomes obvious to us that Jesus is talking about something far greater than the water that was sitting at the bottom of that well. He is speaking about a source of life which can lead not to more natural life but can lead us to eternal life. Not a cup of water which flows out of us a few hours later, but the very power of God’s life and power in us which brings about a change that lasts far longer than a few hours.  This is just one of the many instances where Jesus equates His life, purpose and reason for being on Earth is that those created in God’s image can once again receive life rather than the punishment of death through/by sin. Not long after the encounter in Samaria Jesus speaks of being the bread of life (living manna) which is once again available for God’s people.


John 6:47-51 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes [j]in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”


This is the core purpose for why Jesus came into our world, to bring an end to the domination of sin, to break the power of Satan and to restore covenant relationship between the Creator and the created. Jesus came to bring redemption for our sins, to bring adopting for us into His family and to provide a means by which the futility of creation and life can be turned back into its original purpose.

Digging Beneath the Ice For Living Water

To me it feels at times that God has frozen His living water that is available to us in our modern world. As if a great winter has come upon us and the living water of Jesus is trapped beneath several feet of ice. We can walk and skate on that ice, build igloo’s and snow forts but we are unable to access the waters beneath with our bear hands. The water continues to flow beneath the ice, and those who are determined are still able partake of it will forcefully breaking through the ice, wither with a shovel, a drill, an augur or even with fire.

These people feel to be in the minority while most others will simply pass over it and wonder what it would be like to partake of that living water that supposedly flowed in the land long ago. So to can we take for granted what Jesus has not only done in the past but what He is offering to us right now. Have we learned to be accustomed to the winter and its snow, forts, ice and covering that we forgot what the land used to look like, full of greenery and life?
Do enough of us in the church today want to learn to dig through the ice so God can provide His living water to not only them but all of the people who are searching for fresh living water? No matter how much we sing or confess that we want the living water of Christ I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

In this proverbial winter we have to learn how to seek after Jesus and watch for the places where He walks upon the ice and creates pools and openings for the people to receive once again His living water. I’m not trying to be super-spiritual here I am talking about following His words, following His presence and following where He is moving in our culture and world. To take in the living water of Christ we first have to be aware of where He is and what He is offering to us.

At the same time when we do find Him we have to remain closely behind Him because after He passes by those proverbial pools and openings they will gradually begin to freeze back over. Leaving only a memory of what was, this is not nonsense it is actually the picture of the cycle of revival in action. The hearts of the people were cold, so Jesus came and brought His presence and thawed their hardness. The people came and partook of His offer of eternal life, then Jesus moved on from that outpouring to somewhere else. When that happened the people had two choices either continue to follow after Jesus or remain where they were before and be left with nothing else but a memory of the time God came to town.

That is why we must continually follow Him as He goes about opening up new pools (opportunities for ministry, revival, miracles and so on), or else you could find yourself left without His water yourself. Those who are over taken by the winter of this world, those who saw life but became frozen once again.

The 5 R’s of the Living Water of Christ

Now for those who are searching for the living waters that Jesus has come to give us I want you to pay attention to what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him.” Look closely at what Jesus is saying here, He is stating that “if only she knew who I was, she would ask the right question. That is the beginning of our journey, it is the beginning to understanding God’s living water and it is the beginning to a life in eternity.

There are five things we can learn from Jesus as to what we must do to not only find the living water of Christ in our lives but also how to live out that new life: Revelation, Repentance, Relationship, Restoration and Revival.

Revelation

Begin by seeing Jesus as He really is then and only then can we accept what He is offering to us. If Jesus is the Son of God who was crucified for our sins, raised from the dead and is now on the throne in Heaven then it would be foolish not to receive what He is offering to us. We need a revelation of the identity of Christ in our lives if we are ever to truly live, because any hope of life in our own lives is rooted and grounded in the eternal life which Jesus is comprised of.

John 7:37-38 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Repentance

When we experience the revelation of who Jesus is we are left with two choices we can either accept His identity and offer and receive forgiveness or we can harden our heart like ice and continue on living our life without Him. For those who choose the life Jesus is offering us we now need to come into alignment with Jesus’s commands, expectations and desires for our lives. We take our revelation of who He is and allow Him to redeem and forgive us. But that redemption comes at a price we are to transform our lives so we no longer do the things or think in the same ways that we did before our great revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us. That is what true repentance is, its not just saying your sorry then doing it again a week later. Repentance is when you make a fundamental change to your life, it is when you go the exact opposite direction than you were before. So you don’t end up in a destination of destruction, but your course has been altered to a destination of life.

Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (see also Jeremiah 17:13)

Relationship

After repentance comes our inclusion into the New Covenant, we have been made a child of God and a joint-heir with Jesus. Our new life begins and we are able to pray and have a real two-way fellowship with God our Creator. It is a relationship that is grounded in word and spirit, that is to say it is grounded in the Scriptures and in our everyday conversations and experiences with God. When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were. Just like a river where as long as the water is moving down stream it can support life, but if fresh water is cut off or if there is no were to empty itself it becomes stagnant and the life within slowly dies (Luke 4:4). The same can be said about our spiritual life with God because without faith, prayer, experience and conversation with God all of our Bible knowledge becomes hollow and lifeless.

Hebrews 10:19-22 “19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Restoration

Now that we are followers of Jesus, we have been redeemed with evidence of repentance and our relationship is alive with God the process of restoration begins within us. Now God works to undo the damage done by Adam, Eve and Satan by restoring the original image God placed of Himself in us. Here at this juncture we become like Christ, we begin to love, think and act like He did, not as some sort of clone or zombie but we see the world through His eyes and begin to walk our or lives wearing His shoes.

It is the process of sanctification spoken of by Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), where we go through the process of daily refinement whereby we have the rust and barnacles of this world removed and we are polished and restored with the nature and conscience of God. This is the time where we begin to look beyond ourselves to see how we can serve God and be a blessing to others. It is the time when our priorities are challenged, our desires are refined and the truth of God’s opinion of us comes to light.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Revelation 7:16-17 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revival

Here we are awakened and released to go and tell others about Jesus. The great commission and the call to discipleship begins to materialize in our lives as we look to tell others of the original revelation we had about Jesus and how that has changed our own lives. We go from the place of spiritual and scriptural milk and move on to the meat, the things which not just sustain but cause us to help others as well.

Zechariah 14:8, Ezekiel 47:7-12 and Revelation 22:1-5 speak of the river of living water which brings life back to the land and how the trees grow from it to bring forth fruit each month for healing of people (fish of the sea) and the nations. It is our duty through the Great Commission and the call to Discipleship to spread the revelation of Jesus where ever we are so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of those prophetic trees, that they receive the endless life of Christ.

I am talking about more than the type of revival I mentioned earlier where we go from bareness to God’s presence appearing to awakening to monument building to slumber to bareness once again. I am talking about us coming to life, it is the passing from death to life that we experience when we partake of the living water Jesus offers all people from all tribes and nations. It is the life that comes through the power of the cross and resurrection, that life which transforms us and brings us to the point where we can walk around this world in the love, power and authority of Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Come To The Waters

Jesus represents the living water which brings us life, before we had a revelation or access to Jesus we were all like lone pools scattered throughout a field. Each one of us contained water but because there was no fresh water coming in we either became stagnant or there was so little water that it all sunk into the ground leaving nothing but an impression in the soil. When Jesus comes it is like He is digging a trench to connect all of these pools into the great river of His love and presence. Not that we are emptied because of this but rather we are ensured continually water to keep us alive and able to support life.
Compared to Jesus our life is a stagnant substance, one that needs revitalization, cleansing and renewal. Hope is not lost because Jesus longs to come into our lives and bring forgiveness, healing, love, friendship and purpose (Job 33:4) to us.

Jesus brings a purpose which transcends our jobs or occupation and rather has to do with our reason for being on this planet in the first place. Not everyone is called to full-time ministry, not everyone is called to the arts, or office work, or trade work, or IT or what ever else you can come up with. Our purpose is rooted in our relationship with God and how we bring about more of Him, in this world. Life is about so much more than preaching, our daily lives are the greatest witnesses of the gospel there is. We need living and active believers who understand their purpose in every walk of life, in every social and economic bracket and in every type of work. So there are no excuses why anyone and everyone cannot have the opportunity to experience the great revelation of who Jesus is.


Isaiah 12:2-5 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” 3 Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say: “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth.


Do you want “the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” present in your life? If you do want that then you have to ask the question “who is it who says to you” these things? When you know that answer then you can ask Him for some of that water, the water of eternal life, the water of change, restoration, transformation and adoption.


John 11:25-26 “25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 

Creative Commons LicenseThe Hunt For Living Water Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were

The Greatest Christmas Gift

the greatest Christmas gift

Podcast Of This Message

Listen to an expanded version of this message here

Good news everyone, it’s Christmas time! The time of year for presents, lights, music, decorations, fests, stress, shopping, fellowship and presents. Each year many people either loath or get excited for the magical Christmas season. A time of year full of white-haired fat guys, floating deer, The List Of Jericho… I mean Santa’s list, elves deported from Middle Earth, snow that covers all, egg flavored milk (or Bailey’s flavored depending on the day), department store Hunger Games, omnipresent glitter, Red Ryder Air Rifles, the conquest of pumpkin spice by the forces of peppermint, and finally Red Green, no wait a minute I mean the colors red and green.

Each year for a few short weeks (I’m talking to you shopping malls that put out their decorations in October!) the world around us changes from the dull and ordinary to a world full of cheer, colorful lights, and a little extra sparkle in the hearts of people. It’s the time when people happily skip through the malls looking for the latest unexplainably hot toy of the season, like Tickle Me (only after proof of consent) Elmo, Turbo Man, Johnny Switchblade, or even Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Hey Look A Squirrel Action Play Set.

For some this is a season of magic, others a blatant form of consumer driven religious sacrilege, and some see this time a year as just a slightly more chaotic and crowded version of normal life. No matter which category you find yourself in I hope that deep down you understand that there is something far more powerful and important that this season represents. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the birth of Santa Clause, or the commencement of Festivus, it is the celebration of the day when God came to town and changed the world as we knew it.

It’s More Than Just A Season

I’m sorry to say that Jesus was probably not born on December 25, I’m afraid Christmas is cancelled sorry again everyone. I kid but what this time of year and the day the early church chose has to do with setting aside one day a year to commemorate the day of our Savior’s birth (won’t get into the debate of them superseding an existing pagan festival here today). I’m not saying we need to change the day we celebrate on but rather I’m pointing out the importance for us to recognize the event which are we celebrate.

Personally, I lean towards Jesus being born in September or October, possible during the Feast of Tabernacles. I believe this because it lines up with what we know from the scriptures, and it explains the reason all of the inns were full and why the shepherds were outside in their pastures at the time. The Feast itself (Leviticus 23:23-24, Deuteronomy 16:13-16, Nehemiah 8:13-18, Zechariah 14:16-19) represents when all of Israel was supposed to come to Jerusalem and live outside its gates for several days in tents (temporary shelters) made out of animal skins until the Day of Atonement when the nations sins were whipped away.

Jesus came into the world wearing the skin (and its legalities) of human kind to be the once and for-all sacrifice which permanently wipes and erases all of our sins away. This also follows the pattern of the three major Jewish Feasts lining up with the life and calling of Jesus. Jesus was born on Tabernacles, killed on Passover along with the sacrificial lamb, and Pentecost which is the feast celebrating the first fruits of the field was when the church was born and filled with the Spirit.

The Christmas Gift of God’s Presence

At this moment I want to focus on the birth of Jesus, which is the most important and mind boggling miracle in all of the Bible. In Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20 we are presented with the circumstances of Jesus’s entry into the world. Here we see angels announcing the coming of God Himself into the world not in power and chariots of fire but through a baby entering the world.

You see what we need to focus on this time of year is not the gifts under our tree but we are to focus on the appearance of God’s presence in this Earth. That is His great Christmas gift to us and not only that it is also our God given solution to deal with the roots of all the problems faced by the world. Jesus didn’t come to bring a heavenly band-aid to cover our surface problems but rather He came to expose and repair the broken foundations of our nature and heart so we can experience an eternal solution for sin, death, rebellion, pride, fear, hatred and injustice.

We are to celebrate this season in commemoration of the day God entered our world. I’m not just talking about God’s presence like when He filled Solomon’s Temple but how His nature and heart entered into the world of mankind. On that day God entered the world through His creation and cried among us. Later He ate among us and as He grew he crawled among us, and then He finally walked among us so we could one day be picked up by Him who ruled from high above us.

Think about it, God didn’t force us to build a great tower to reach Him, He came down to us in a body just like ours so He could relate to us, redeem us, die for us, suffer for us, and be resurrected so He could reign over us as one of us and not an outsider or a distant God. God Himself closed the gap between the fallen and stained created and the Holy Creator. An action taken out of love, goodness and justice in order that our relationship with God would be restored, like embers that had grown cold that suddenly had fuel thrown on them.

Christmas is the time when we celebrate God coming down to us, we celebrate God’s goodness, grace and mercy for providing a way for us to reconnect with Him. He could have sent judgment, or fire or calamity to force our allegiance but that is not His nature. He came in love, power, mercy, holiness and justice to lead us back to Him. Christmas gives us an opportunity to show our gratitude and gratefulness for that mercy. The day the light of the world came and lived among us shining ever so brightly. This is not just good news it is “the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere!” (Luke 2:10 TPT).

This gift is not for a select few but it is available for anyone and anywhere to receive, there is no naughty and nice list which determines who gets to receive this gift. In reality everyone is on the naughty list and it is the great gift of God which moves us to the “nice” list.

The Great Gift of Salvation

This Christmas gift didn’t comprise of just God’s presence among us, that was only the introduction, the greatest gift came in the form of Jesus’s purpose to bring salvation and redemption of sin to us. This was the plan, this was always the plan going all the way back to Eden the plan was for God to come down so He could stomp on the serpent and undo the damage done that day.

We see this call through the name given to the Son of God through the angel, in Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31-33 both Mary and Joseph receive the divine call to call this promised child Jesus. I must remind everyone that this is the English form of the name and the angels spoke a different one. We see that Luke records the name given being the Greek name Iesous, while Matthew records Joseph receiving the name Yeshua (or Y’hoshua).


Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son and you are to name him ‘Savior,’ for he is destined to give his life to save his people from their sins.” TPT

Luke 1:31-33 31 You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as King on his ancestor David’s throne. 33 He will reign as King of Israel forever, and his reign will have no limit.” TPT


I cover this topic of what Jesus’s original Hebrew name really means in The Secret Name of Jesus Christ, but to make a long story short the name given to Jesus literally means “savior,” or the LORD delivers/is salvation/is my savior. A name to ancient Jews was seen as a window into a person’s life, and especially so when God or an angel provided the name. From the beginning we see that the name we know as Jesus isn’t just a title but the name has a deep and glorious meaning. When we say Jesus is coming in our minds we think “a man named Jesus is coming this way.” While to those in the first century it wasn’t “Jesus is coming” but YHWH our savior and deliverer is coming.” We associate names with letters, but those ancient Hebrews associated names with meanings.

From the beginning then we see that Jesus’s purpose was set, He was Immanuel “God among us” and He was Yeshua “YHWH is salvation,” God’s presence and God’s salvation are fully seen through Jesus. On what we know today as Christmas that salvation and presence came into our world, that revelation alone justifies all of the celebrations we can come up with for this time of year.

What This Season Means To Us Today

Christmas time can be a contentious time even among Christians who disagree about what should and what should not be associated with this season. Some want Santa excommunicated, others want to ban tree decorating, others want all of the spotlight shone on a blond haired blue eyed baby in a store bought crib and others just want to make it to January without going bankrupt.

We need to come to the conclusion that our culture and everything we do to commemorate and celebrate this season only represents the decorations on the tree, while Jesus along with His purpose, nature and entry into this world is the actual tree which everything hangs upon.

I’m not against decorating a tree or giving presents but we have to understand the dividing line between the meaning of Christmas and how we as a culture choose to celebrate that truth. Christians in different cultures have various ways to celebrate Christmas but that does not make them more or less Christian. I have a tree and there’s nothing wrong with that (if I bow down to it that’s a different story) and I also exchange gifts. However, I see those matters as being part of a larger celebration, a fragment of something much larger. When your Christmas season only consists of decorations, presents and food then you are missing out on the larger picture.

Christmas is a time when we remember the miracle that happened and how it forever changed our world. So some will decorate a tree with lights and trinkets, others will put up lights outside of their house, others will have no decorations or cultural expressions at all. Some celebrate the event on December 24 at midnight, or even early January, with the rest celebrating on December 25.

How we celebrate at times is less important than what we are celebrating. I think at times that all of the pomp and circumstance which happens this time of year is a good thing, because it separates this season from all of the others. It is a time of year when for a few weeks everything changes, the music, the lighting, the activities and if done right it is a good thing.

We don’t want the celebration of Jesus’s entry into the world to go unnoticed like the August Civic Holiday in Canada or Presidents Day in the United States. The fact that so much changes this time of year points towards the centrality of Jesus in our world. Even though many people do not worship them they feel the effect of His grand entry into the world for a few weeks every year.

For us as Christians we then have to learn how to balance the event of Christ’s birth with the activities we engage in during this time of year. Because what does this season actually mean, is it about a serial home intruder leaving stolen toys from China under our tree’s, or is it about the greatest gift of all coming into our lives? Again, I’m not saying to abandon gift giving but we must understand that not matter what we give or receive it will never top what God gave us 2,000 years ago. These gifts we give and receive should remind us that no matter what is beneath that wrapping paper it will never compare to what we have already received.

The purpose of Christmas is to remind ourselves of the day everything changed, the day which marked God coming down not to judge us but to give us an opportunity to repent, receive forgiveness and become part of His family once again. Now then when you turn on a light remember the one who is the light of the world, when you open a gift remember the one who gave you the greatest gift, when you meet with family remember the family you have been adopted into and when you burst a button gorging on food remember the one who broke His body like bread to bring you salvation, redemption and life.


Luke 2:10-11 “10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” NKJV


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

Creative Commons LicenseThe Greatest Christmas Gift Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.