Don Goulding - Blog

Unseen

C27 1On that same occasion Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.” Luke 10:21 (NETFull)

Our daughter, Ashley, had a growth in her ear canal that caused minor discomfort for two years before she had it examined. The doctor feared it was a tumor and referred her to a specialist. Ashley decided to go to her own specialist first—to Jesus. After an anointing prayer by her church, she went to the recommended doctor. He found nothing and the pain was gone. It was a miracle of God’s response to prayer.

When I relayed the event to an American Christian, he typified our worldview by saying, “She probably had a plant seed that fell out between examinations.” 

Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples with authority to heal, cast out demons, and preach. They returned jumping with excitement over God’s power. Jesus said the miracles they experienced were hidden from the wise and learned. Only those with childlike faith can see what God is actually doing.

The problem is not the rarity of God’s interventions but the jadedness of our faith. I wait for physical manifestations of spiritual realities, which is like waiting for a bird to fly past before I’ll accept that there must be air around me. Back when I was a child, I used to know that our tangible life is only a byproduct of God’s spiritual realm.

If I want to rejoice as Jesus did, I have to go back to innocent trust. Cold, mute cynicism will never get me there. I have to ask, then reach up for God’s touch like a three-year-old. No doubt or fear, just eager expectation that I’ll see all that made Jesus celebrate in the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Father, give me childlike eyes for the unseen.

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Knowing Him

c3e08cf3191544d3e193cc943247e971If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him. John 14:7 (NETFull)

I wondered if a guy I knew in Bible college would have any interest in our friendship after thirty years. Oceans of life had pushed our continents apart. He was a pastor at a mega-church, I was a struggling missionary. Did we even know each other anymore? 

Over the phone, I heard the same cheerful voice I knew in college. Of course I know this guy—this is my old friend, Dave. We’d both changed but within seconds I recognized the one-of-a-kind heart in my old friend.

In Luke thirteen, Jesus compares heaven to a house and makes it clear that entrance is conditional on knowing the master. He said some will knock and the owner will reply, “I don't know you or where you come from.”

His words ignited a question for me. Do I know Jesus? I’ve never seen him or audibly heard his voice as some have. I certainly believe in him and think I feel his Spirit from time to time, but do I know him?

As a new Christian I imagined maturity meant I would see and hear God like Moses and Paul. Now I realize that, instead of mere sensory experience, the Lord draws me into something more profound.

To know Jesus I must press my inmost being into union with him. I must subordinate my will to his and exchange my pettiness for his love. I should hunger to be righteous as he is, enjoy his people with him, and lament by his side over the brokenness of the world. I need to relish his words and try to assimilate them into my life regardless of temptation and failure.

It is in reaching for Jesus that I come to realize he is my truest friend. My fingertips may never make contact but his love is so solid it changes everything. 

As quickly as I connected with my old friend, Dave, I also recognize the blessed heart of Jesus. And by knowing his heart, according to his own words, I know the Father, too. And knowing them is everything.

Prayer: Awesome Spirit of Jesus, thank you that we know each other.

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My Gorilla

Monkey on your back 208x300Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me - so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NETFull)

I have a monkey on my back. No, it’s much heavier than that, it must be a gorilla. I can never turn far enough to see it but I stagger under its weight and I hear primal grunts from behind. People give strange looks, they must be shocked at the size of my gorilla.

My ape is noisy and rude. He is all that is vile and ugly and hateful. Everywhere I go, he interrupts with inappropriate habits and offensive banter. He is the cause for the temptations raging in my life, for my ailing body, and for all my soured relationships.

The most frustrating tactic of my gorilla is that he mimics my voice. He whispers dark thoughts and fools me into thinking I came up with them. Depression, anger, apathy—he has a long repertoire of wicked ideas to plant. And when he runs out, he listens to demons who give him even more ways to trick me.

Try what I may, I can’t get free of this exhausting weight crushing my shoulders. I slap at my back and jab sticks but my gorilla only laughs and digs in for a tighter hold. 

I asked Jesus to get rid of the beast, to lift it from my back and set me free. He said, no, because when there’s no gorilla I don’t hold his hand as tight. He would do anything to make sure I never let go of his hand, including allowing the unwelcome monkey to stay on my back.

If Jesus said this is the way it is, then that’s how it will stay. I have to keep the gorilla until I die. So I’ll cling to the hand of Jesus and ask him to counteract each whisper from my gorilla. There is going to be a lot of asking and much hand squeezing.

Prayer: Be close, Jesus, and help me with the weight of my sin nature.

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