There wasn’t much about this horse to distinguish itself from others. He was rather nondescript. An ordinary racehorse. Yet in 1973 this horse named Secretariat came out of obscurity to win three main races known as the Triple Crown. Setting new track records in winning these races, he became one of the greatest race horses of all time. At one of the races his performance was so awe inspiring that it stunned the world, and even today remains a notable feat. Phrases like “to watch him run was like a supernatural event” were common. The commentator at the time was reported to say “An amazing, unbelievable performance by this miracle horse.”
What no one knew though was that Secretariat had a secret. One that was only discovered after his death. An autopsy revealed that the horse’s heart was precisely 2 ½ times larger than the average horse of his weight. God had given this horse a supernatural heart. He had greater capacity than any other horse in recorded history. His large heart meant that he could sustain a fast pace for much longer than an ordinary horse. He had the heart of champion.
There are many of us that also have the heart of a champion, but for different reasons. Bill Johnson once wrote this – “the heart of a champion is formed in the Presence, but proven in the trial.” All around us are ordinary people with the heart of a champion. People that have faced battles over their health, their finances and relationships. People who have had to deal with terrible loss and heartache. People who as they have undergone challenges and trials in life have revealed hearts of champions. No matter what has happened they have remained strong in their faith. When they could have accused God or walked away from Him they have chosen to honour Him and to keep seeking His face.
They make a living sacrifice of their lives today. In other words, ordinary people living extraordinary lives for our God.
May we be found to have the heart of a champion.
My parents have always been ones to travel. I can still remember the excitement I had when I was a child when they would return home knowing that there would be gifts inside their suitcases. The anticipation of knowing that little treasures would have been tucked away in them ready to be given on their return. Souvenirs of the places that they visited, samples of the chocolates and sweets. I still have the Beatrix Potter china cat from England and the Weather Barometer from Switzerland. I remember the mini chocolates from Europe. The gifts were little tasters of countries that I was yet to visit. Samples of what life was like or what traditions were important to each country. Treasures indeed! Years on, I too have travelled and in my suitcases are also little gifts and souvenirs tucked away for my children.
When we receive a prophetic word, a healing, an answer to prayer, when we feel the tangible peace of God, we are touching another Kingdom. They are tastes, samples of life from the Kingdom of Heaven. But the heart of God is that we don’t just experience glimpses of the Kingdom of Heaven, but that we would reside in it. That our experience of the Kingdom of Heaven is part of our day to day lives. And not just a part – but the main reality of our lives. That we would live from Heaven towards Earth.
The life Jesus lived was of one brings Heaven’s reality to earth, of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. When there was lack, He brought provision. Where there was affliction, He brought freedom. When there was sickness, He brought healing. Where there was death, He brought life. Bill Johnson wrote this “What is free to operate in Heaven – Joy, peace, wisdom, health, wholeness, and all the other good promises we read about in the Bible – Should be free to operate here on this planet.”
“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, “Here it is” or “there it is”, because the Kingdom of God is within you. “ (Luke 17:20-21)
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)
My 3 sons are mini versions of my husband. Similar in appearance and stance, in walk even. Their expressions are often the same, the way they tilt their heads and often how they say things. And then there’s the passion for Thunderbirds and Star Wars. Ok so probably not genetic and somewhat nurtured, but still, the same. If you know my boys then you definitely know my husband! They’re peas in a pod!
In the same way as my boys give people glimpses of their earthly father, Jesus came to earth to reveal His Heavenly Father to us. He was God with skin on. In John 14:9 Jesus says “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father“. By doing only what He saw His Father in Heaven doing, Jesus imparted to us the revelation of who God is. By seeing Jesus we see the Father – we know the Father. “All His actions were earthly expressions of His Father in Heaven.” (Bill Johnson). Jesus pointed the way to the Father.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3)
The challenge for us today is to do the same, through the Holy Spirit. As sons and daughters of God, as co-heirs with Christ, we too need to be revealing God. Oh that people could say that by seeing us they have seen the Father! And not dimly but clearly! The World is waiting for us to reveal Him. In our attitudes, in our actions, in our character and indeed in our daily lives we should be aspiring to do just that.
Margaret Becker wrote this song that I believe sums it up.
Lord touch my heart and center my soul
Till all I do is for You alone
Look me in the eye tell me if you see
Traces of yourself growing here in me
Tell me if you find your heart in mine
When you look me in the eye
Will God find traces of Himself in me? Will others find traces of God in me?
The world is waiting for the Sons and Daughters of God.
From the early hours of this morning our household, like some other 85,000 homes, was without power. We ended up without power for only 12 or so hours, and as 1st World problems go it wasn’t bad (and given some households are still without power down the road, definitely not bad). News had been though that it would be 2 days before power was restored, so batteries were bought, torches prepared and the contents of our freezer distributed elsewhere.
Truth be told, I missed my morning coffee the most. But I also then missed my phone, my washing machine, lights, oven! It seems a lot of my daily tasks involve power! I wandered around my home contemplating our 21st Century dependency on electricity. The dependency had reduced my home, lovely that it is to essentially being, dare I say it, a glamourised version of camping?! Not that I have any experience of camping, but you know, the fact that you don’t have electricity and a lot of the amenities that I apparently have thus far taken for granted suggests camping to me. My house has a lot of capability and potential from providing hot water, washing clothes, to cooking food, watching TV, playing music, checking emails, answering the phone. But without electricity these capabilities were rendered useless.
If we are not careful, we can live our lives as Christians the same. We have access to the Kingdom of Heaven, but if we fail to access it, we risk living a life without the power and potential that God intended. Bill Johnson wrote “if we use the same tools as the nonbeliever and ignore the resources of Heaven that we are given, we are a practical atheist.”
God has called us to live an impossible life. I want to live that life! A Christian life that any non-Christian could live or just mimic isn’t good enough. It is like not using the washing machine, coffee machine even, when we could!
If we restrict our lives to what we can physically see, when our decisions are based on what we can reason, when that is the extent of our life then we restrict ourselves to not encountering the Kingdom of Heaven. As much as I used my appliances after the power was resumed, we have to look for the Kingdom of Heaven in our daily lives. Look for the opportunity to bring that which is hidden out into the open. It is God’s pleasure to give us the Kingdom – it is our choice to apprehend it!
That means when there is sickness in our families, problems at work, financial problems, we need to seek the Kingdom for that situation. We draw upon the reality of the Kingdom of God into that situation. We need to draw on the reality of Heaven into the situations we face.
The life Jesus lived was of one that brought Heaven’s reality to earth
- When there was lack, He brought provision
- Where there was affliction, He brought freedom
- When there was sickness, He brought healing
- Where there was death, He brought life
- When there was a storm, He brought peace
And so we rightly pray as Jesus taught us, ‘thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.”
Some people are born with a seemingly innate sense of direction. I am not one of them! They can easily tell which way is north, where the sun will rise and set. It’s a handy skill when you’re doing photography or house hunting and trying to work out which rooms will get the morning sun. I confess I have no idea of where north is, where the sun will set. I try to figure it out based on where I think landmarks are in relation to me but when you can’t see said landmarks you might as well have spun me around until I was dizzy and then had me point to north. In both cases I can assure you that I’m hazarding a guess and that is all.
Having diligently watched Bear Gryll’s survivor programmes, you’d think I’d have learnt how to use my watch to work it out. Well actually, I don’t wear a watch so the lesson is somewhat redundant. I don’t have any intention either of doing the stick thingy shadow thing that should also work. So my options in suburbia are rather limited to asking my husband. That is, until I recently when I discovered the “Sun Seeker Apps”. What an invention! These apps show you where the sun is relative to your location. So if you’re renovating and want to know where to place a window for maximium sunlight you just need to pull out the smart phone! And you suddenly appear smarter too!
It reminds me too of when I give to God. In the shambolic nature that finances can be – from unexpected bills, to cashflow shortfalls, to the rising cost of living and interest rates, I can become rather too focused on what my money won’t be able to get me, to how will we make it through to the next pay cycle. My focus can easily become on the logical, this world reality of my life. It seems black and white, set, decided. But when I stand before God with my tithe and offerings, I find myself having a mindshift. My eyes look up, they look Heavenward to Jesus. I am reminded that He is my provider. I feel His peace and assurance.
Bill Johnson said this “I try to live in such a way that nothing gets bigger than my awareness of God presence on my life.” When I worship through giving, I find it realigns my spirit – making sure I am centred and focused on God. I focus on Him – not on my lack, not my fear, not my earthly reality and numbers (or lack thereof) on my bank statement.
You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 MSG)
To catch the fly? That wiggled and jiggled…
My 7 year old does not like spiders and so with all seriousness he asked me why would God have made them. Surely it must be some mistake? I think my reply might have been along the lines of its purpose perhaps in dealing with the other creepy crawlies that are around… When that didn’t suffice, I opted for the very mature response – “Ask your father.”
My boys are at the age when a lot of their conversations begin with “why…” and to be honest I don’t have all the answers (even if my boys do believe I know everything!) It serves to often remind me of how faith exists within a reality of not knowing or understanding everything. In fact, how much faith is not knowing. It is important to reach a point when the tension between not being able to comprehend fully does not mean the rejection of our faith. When someone doesn’t get healed, I cannot reduce my comprehension of God to that He no longer heals. I cannot deconstruct God and reduce Him to the limitations of my understanding and revelation.
Bill Johnson wrote this “The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries we can’t explain. That’s why Christianity is called “the faith.” “ Living with mystery is part of the challenge and wonder of faith. Not understanding is ok. Having unanswered questions is ok.
“Faith does not come from our understanding. It comes from the heart. We do not believe because we understand; we understand because we believe.” (Bill Johnson)
So why did God create the ant?
Calibration – [noun] the act of checking or adjusting (by comparison with a standard) the accuracy of a measuring instrument;
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1
Our devotional times are opportunities of recalibration. As we spend time with God, in His Word, worshipping Him, praying and talking to Him about our life and His Kingdom and His plans and purposes we renew our minds. As we confess our sins and repent and are thankful – we are recalibrated and adjusted to the standard and measure of Christ. We are transformed more and more into sons and daughters of God.
…so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:12-13
Bill Johnson. Pastor of Bethel Church, Redding, says “Never gaze at something that does not belong in your future.” Recalibration keeps our gaze upon God and His Kingdom, not ourselves, the world, our circumstances or our flesh. Time with God enables us to bring our affections into line with His – to love the things He loves. It lets us align our purposes and plans with His and lay our lives down for that which He laid His life down first and foremost. Salvation. Peace with God. Redemption. Transformation. God’s glory. The Great Commission.
Our Devotional time recalibrates our hearts to continue loving God and His ways – it renews our mind, exposes weaknesses and vulnerabilities to sin, gives vision and wisdom. It reminds us how amazing, awesome, powerful, mighty, gracious, compassionate, loving, kind, and glorious God is.
Spending time with God and in His Word and prayer and worship unlocks something within us, it unlocks faith and trust within our spirits in Him and His Word that then outworks itself into our lives. We are changed from the inside out. The things of God may seem illogical to our minds – but when you really look at it and think about God – how awesome He is, how glorious and powerful, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth – they’re completely logical! The truth of His Word ignites faith within us.
We need to meditate upon God’s Word and let it rewrite the truths in our heart. Make time to read His Word. Let it renew us, let it challenge us, let it recalibrate in our spirit.