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River Publishing & Media Ltd Barham Court Teston Maidstone Kent ME18 5BZ United Kingdom info@river-publishing.co.uk Copyright © Steve Uppal 2011 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Short extracts may be used for review purposes. Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica. NLT - Holy Bible. New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. MSG - Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson ISBN 978-1-908393-09-8 Printed in the United Kingdom

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Contents Introduction

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Chapter 1 - “One Life” Principles

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Chapter 2 - Living On Purpose

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Chapter 3 - Our Indisputable Purposes

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Chapter 4 - Our Spiritual Battle

67

Chapter 5 - Discovering Your Unique Purpose

81

Chapter 6 - Live Now, Live Bigger

95

Conclusion: Run!

107

About the Author

112

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Only one life, ‘twil soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ wil last. -C.T. Studd

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Introduction One Life There are billions of people on planet earth and billions who have lived before us. Each one represents one life. Some people’s lives have already been lived out and they are gone, but others, like you and me, are in the midst of our journey through life. Each individual only gets one life! There are no second chances. There can be no resetting of the board game of life in order to go back to the beginning and start again. We just have one life. So we must live it well, live it right and live it in the light of eternity. The average length of a human life right now in much of the western world is approximately 80 years. That’s 29,200 days or 4,160 weeks or 960 months. But none of us are guaranteed any amount of time. Walk through any cemetery and you will see people of all ages buried there, from the very young to the very old and everything in between. We may be fortunate enough to live for 80 years, but we may also have much less time – we simply don’t know. The issue is not how long we live, but how well we live. David Brainerd (1718–1747) a famous American missionary to the Native Indians only lived for 29 years. During his life on earth he only had a few converts, never travelled overseas, never married and was not famous or well known during his lifetime.

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In his journals he records his struggles, passions, victories and weaknesses. They are an honest account of a man choosing to live his life well. It is worth pointing out here that “living well” is not the same as “living perfect”. Brainerd made mistakes and perhaps unwise choices at times, but his heart, passion and priorities were in the right place and his “living well” left a legacy. His journals inspired the likes of Jonathan Edwards, Henry Martyn, William Carey, Jim Elliot, Adoniram Judson and many more pioneers of the Christian faith, who in turn impacted countless thousands if not millions of lives. Even the great John Wesley mentions and recommends the journals of Brainerd. Just 29 years lived on earth, but 29 years lived well and still living through his journals as they inspire successive generations of followers. John Wesley (1703–1791), on the other hand, lived for 87 years. He started life as a clergyman who did not, himself, know God. But his hunger and pursuit of the truth led him to encounter God in a small Moravian prayer meeting in London. He records that his heart was “strangely warmed”. The warmth in his heart soon turned into a fire as he went up and down England, travelling more than 250,000 miles on horseback and preaching in fields, taverns, churches and open spaces. He trained and released hundreds of preachers. He started the Methodist Church, which still continues across the nations of the world, more than 200 years after his death. It is hard to estimate the effect this one life has had upon England and the world. Some historians say that England was saved from a revolution because of the lives changed through the preaching of John and Charles Wesley. My point is this: it doesn’t matter whether your life is long or

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Introduction

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short. Lived well, your life can have a far reaching impact on the world that will last for generations.

Stop the merry-go-round Today we are surrounded by a chorus of beeps, buzzes and vibrations as the world seeks to get our attention, giving us a thousand ways in which we can spend our time and money or manage our relationships. It seems as though everyone wants to tell us what to do and advise us on how to live. Those voices are increasing both in number and volume. It is easy, in this kind of culture, to lose our bearings and our focus – to be really busy and yet still not really living life according to our God-given purpose. I see people every day walking around responding to the noise and demand of the world, but they are not truly living out their purpose. Instead, they are busy keeping up with other people’s expectations of them. Before they know it, the days will have turned into months, the months into years, and close to the end of their one life, they will be wondering exactly what it is they have been doing.

God is looking for one life 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT) In the days of King Asa when these words were written, God was looking, searching across the earth for committed followers. He still searches the earth today. He is looking for one life, fully

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surrendered to Him, that He can use to make a difference – one life that can be used to change history. God uses people – people of all ages, backgrounds and race. He uses men and women, educated and uneducated, to bring about His purposes. As His eyes range across the earth right now, I want to attract His attention. I want Him to see and use me, so that my one life might be lived well and carry significance. Look at this list of people who got God’s attention and whose one life was subsequently used by Him in meaningful and significant ways: • When the Israelites needed deliverance from slavery, God raised up Moses • When the Israelites needed a deliverer, God raised up Samson • When the Israelites were being misled by compromised leadership, God raised up a leader after his own heart – David • When Jerusalem was in ruins and its walls and gates burned down, God raised up Nehemiah • When the Jews were going to be exterminated, God raised up Esther • When a city was in desperate sin and wickedness, God raised up Jonah • When Jesus ascended He left leaders to lead His Church, like Peter • When God wanted to reach the Gentiles with the good news of the gospel, God raised up a leader, Paul • When the Church needed reforming, God raised up Martin

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Luther • When the Church had lost its way theologically, God raised up John Calvin • When Britain needed to be saved from a revolution, God raised up John Wesley My desire in this book is not so much to tell you what to do or how to live, but to remind us of some overriding principles that will help guide us through our one journey on earth. This is not a map, but a travel guide, pointing out the essential landmarks. A map would be detailed and perhaps easier to follow, but a guide points us in the right direction and then leaves us to discover an unfolding journey that is unique to us. Each of us will live our one life differently. I hope you find this guide to living it well beneficial. I believe that if you follow its principles well, you will discover new doors opening onto new paths in your life that you may otherwise have never seen. I am aware that these are guidelines and there is probably much more that could be said. But if you live out these principles, with God’s help your life will take on greater meaning and significance. I hope that as you turn each page, it will bring you closer to living well, living strong and living true.

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The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. -Benjamin Disraeli Opportunities multiply as they are seized. -Sun Tzu One Life final.indd 13

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Chapter 1 “One Life” Principles

Seasons in the Spirit Just as there are times and seasons in the natural world, so there are times and seasons in the Spirit. Down the centuries and through many great revivals of the Church, at various times God has moved powerfully by His Spirit. As His people have cooperated with His purposes, amazing things have been accomplished for His kingdom. Commentators have observed that there are certain “windows of opportunity” presented to the people of God; times when He urges His people to engage and press forward; times when we are to seize the opportunity to take ground from the enemy. I believe we live in such times. In order to grasp such opportunities, however, we need to be a Church that is made up of people who are sensitive to the movement of God’s Spirit. We need to be those who can read the signs of the times, understand the seasons of the Spirit and

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know when it is time to wait and pray and when it is time to push forward. I believe we are in a new season of pressing forward. God is doing something new in our time. It is our privilege to walk and work with Him to see His purposes come to pass in our generation. Now, more than ever, we need to be aware of our place and purpose in the economy of God. We have but one life to live, so we need to see clearly and quickly what God is doing and how we fit into His plans. We need to discover a new sense of excitement about what God wants to do in and through our lives, along with a new sense of determination to pursue that with all our energy and passion.

The Kairos moment In the New Testament, the Bible uses two main Greek words when speaking about “time”. The first is chronos, from which we get the word chronological, referring to “the passage of time”. This is time that we can measure. The second word is kairos, meaning time in the sense of a right time for something to happen, an “opportunity” or a “favourable occasion”. A kairos moment, in spiritual terms, is a window of opportunity, an appointed time in the purposes of God. It is a time when the conditions are exactly right for the accomplishment of critical action. The famous Latin motto Carpe Diem or “Seize the day”, captures the essence of kairos. Kairos moments are times when we need to make the most of a God-given opportunity and seize it with both hands. Kairos moments are unlike any other moment, as the unmerited favour of God opens doors for us that were

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previously closed. The birth of Christ was a kairos moment in history. Around 600 prophecies had been spoken predicting His birth, many centuries before His arrival. When the conditions were just perfect, God acted and Jesus stepped into human history by arriving on our planet. The timing of His birth was arranged by God so that Jesus broke into history at the opportune moment. It didn’t happen by chance, but on a specific day and at a specific time. God had chosen that moment to intervene in His world. By the time Jesus concluded His short but amazingly effective ministry and returned to Heaven, global trade routes were well on their way to being established. Connections between the great nations of the earth were ever more widespread and sophisticated; the Roman Empire had conquered much of the known world and had built an extensive network of roads; a travel system was emerging that would aid the rapid spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. God had waited for the most opportune moment and acted when that time came. Just as God has intervened in history at various points like this, He works in our lives as individuals in exactly the same way. God intervenes in our life and gives us kairos moments – key opportunities for us to accomplish something for Him. All we need is the courage to reach out and take hold of them. People who understand we have one life are kairos people. If we don’t seize a moment of opportunity when it is presented to us, then that opportunity is effectively lost. As I reflect on my own life, I can identify, as you probably can, numbers of “missed opportunities”. Looking back I can see that these were kairos moments, initiated by God which, if I had grasped them at the

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time, could have resulted in something spiritually fruitful being produced. But kairos is just a moment in time, a limited window. If we don’t capitalise on the moment, then the opportunity passes. An opportunity missed is lost forever. We may be fortunate to receive another opportunity to do something, but the original is gone for good! I believe the Church of God is living in such a kairos moment right now, but we need to wake up and realise it! More than that, we need to seize it and use the opportunities God is presenting to us right now. Many believers are not closely enough aligned to the heart of God or in tune with His thoughts and desires to see the opportunity. They are not seeing what others are seeing in the Spirit. Instead, they are meandering through life without a clearly defined purpose. But if our lives are like ships on the sea, we cannot allow its tides and currents to take us just anywhere. God has determined a course for us to follow and we have to put our hand to the tiller and steer in the direction He has ordained. In our nation there are many things happening right now that the people of God need to give a definitive response to. If we don’t, then in five to ten years our nation will look very different. There are laws being passed and issues being discussed in Government that the Church needs to engage with and give its voice to. The people of God need to act in this kairos moment by engaging in prayer, writing letters and speaking out. If we don’t, then other people who are passionate about their beliefs and their way of life will continue to push until they get what they want. God has ordained a kairos moment during which things could change, but we must seize it. We must not be so introspective and absorbed

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in our own lives that we miss the opportunity. Slowly but surely, the enemy is encroaching on our territory and the Church needs to do something about it. Let me cite a couple of contemporary examples: I heard of a man who was dismissed from his job as a volunteer presenter on a community radio station in Glasgow. He was fired for mentioning his Christian faith on air. A Muslim phoned into the show and began to ask questions about the Christian faith. Because the presenter was a Christian, he responded to the questions. The whole conversation was amicable, with no arguing or even any real debate. At the end of the programme, however, because the man had clearly presented the case for the Gospel, he was relieved of his duties and asked to leave the radio station. Before he left, his superiors demanded that he go on air to publicly apologise to all the listeners for speaking about Christianity. They also asked him to go to the local mosque and apologise to its leaders. The man decided to take a stand and his case has since been taken up by a Christian lawyer, because what the radio station did was a breach of his human rights and freedom of religion. Another man, with a 25-year career in nursing, was recently fired from his job. During a role-play exercise on a staff training day, he commented to another member of staff, “Maybe you should try prayer.” This man was not speaking to a patient or trying to force his views on anyone else, he was merely showing compassion to a colleague who had said they were depressed. Shortly afterwards he was reprimanded and then dismissed for “professional misconduct”. Even if one considered this an inappropriate or insensitive thing

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to say – which I don’t believe it is – surely, in the context of a training day, a person could be corrected at most. But dismissed? One can only reach the conclusion that he was being persecuted for his faith. Such incidents are indications of the fact that there is a very real onslaught against Christianity taking place in our nation. If a person professes their faith in Christ, it is amazing what can be unleashed against them. But many believers in the West remain unaware of what is going on around them in society. Ungodly programmes and initiatives relating to bioethics, biology, research and experimentation are being driven forward daily. Recently there have been parliamentary debates regarding what can be shown on TV in relation to sexual acts. The Church needs to be aware of and actively involved in such debates in order to uphold godly principles. As has been said before, all it takes for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing. Now is the time for the Church to speak. If we don’t become the radical frontline God is calling us to be now, then we will miss the opportunity He has laid before us.

Run to the battle Tactically, In a war, there are times when it is right to withdraw and times when it is right to press in and attack. In his famous book The Art of War, the legendary Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote, “Speed is the essence of war … travel by unexpected routes and strike [the enemy] where he has taken no precautions.” In spiritual terms, we are in such a time. It is time for every believer to run to the battle, not to retreat. Many believers

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have suffered attacks from the enemy like the examples stated above. Now is time to tackle the enemy head on and deal with those attacks. It’s time to press through to claim the victory that is rightfully ours. I no longer want to be intimidated by the “Goliaths” in our society. It’s time for Goliath to fall in Jesus’ name! Psalm 18 paints a vivid picture of the warrior spirit that we need, intent on driving out the enemies of God. The Psalmist writes, “I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.” (Psalm 18:37-40) Here we see a radical, militant spirit pursuing and destroying the enemies of God, literally wiping them out. It doesn’t sound very Christian does it? But our enemies are not people. We are not talking about waging war on flesh and blood. The enemies of God, our enemies, are not people from other faiths or those who have attacked or marginalised us. We need to wage war on the evil that influences our society and causes people to do sinful and wicked things. It is the tide of evil that needs to be swept back. The author of that evil influence is the devil, who constantly devises schemes to bring an onslaught against the

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people of God. Our job is to mount a military offensive that will take forward the kingdom and push the evil back. As I look around at the churches of our nation, I can’t help feeling that many Christians don’t want this. Many want to be “Sunday Christians” who attend comfortable churches, where they can all enjoy their time together. But there is more to our faith than smiling, blessing one another, then going home and getting on with the rest of our lives. I’m not suggesting God doesn’t want to bless us – of course He does! But God is not so much concerned with blessing us as He is with helping us to become everything we need to be in this day and generation. Much popular teaching today suggests that God is primarily interested in blessing us. He’s not! He is primarily concerned that we become all He wants us to become, so that we can be and do what we need to live one life and achieve His purposes on earth.

Dealing with our giants David was a simple shepherd boy and the youngest in his family. He had no credentials to speak of, whilst his brothers were soldiers in the army. But despite this, he had a very clear understanding of his purpose and calling. When David confronted Goliath, it wasn’t as a trembling little boy who was out of his depth. The Bible says, “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.” (1 Samuel 17: 48-49)

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Let’s remind ourselves of the odds of David winning this encounter. The Philistine, Goliath, was an 11ft giant, fully clad in armour and was well armed. He was a champion who had defeated every opponent who had come against him. He stood defiant, hurling abuse at the Israelites and showed utter contempt for David as he approached. David was a young boy, somewhere between 14 and 17 years old, wearing no protective gear and was armed only with a primitive slingshot. Yet, as the Philistine moved forward to attack him, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” We all know the outcome of that encounter. David took the initiative and moved forward. He did not draw confidence from his own abilities, but depended upon the ability and power of His God, coupled with a willing servant heart. In his heart David had decided that this giant had intimidated his people for long enough. It was time to bring him down. David might have said, “We’ve heard your threats; we’ve been harassed for long enough. Now it is time to act in God’s power!” Goliath had threatened Israel every morning and evening for forty days. He had created fear in the people. But a young boy comes along and says, “No more – someone has to do something about this.” It is time for God’s people to run to the battle, both corporately and individually. Many of us are living with giants in our personal lives that need to be dealt with, yet we allow them to remain in place, intimidating and harassing us on a daily basis. Maybe we think that our giant is too big to bring down? Maybe we think that our “problem” is something we just have to live with?

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That’s not true. In fact, it is a lie of the enemy. The power of the cross and Jesus’ blood still works today. God can and will set us free from anything that has us bound. Because of the cross we have a gospel of power – not a nice sounding theory or a passive philosophy. The apostle Paul wrote, “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) There is power in the gospel to achieve change and to boldly advance God’s kingdom today. The Church, however, has become accustomed to a gospel without power. We have grown comfortable with a form of living that accepts and tolerates Goliaths. We’ve become used to petting them, feeding them and embracing them as “our” problem. We are used to telling everyone about our issues and what we have to live with. Someone once said, “You will have to live with what you put up with.” We need to come to the place where we, like David, are no longer prepared to put up with the things that have plagued us for a long time. We need to come to the place where we acknowledge what needs to change and say to God, “Father, no longer will this remain in my life.” Acknowledging our need

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and showing our determination to change brings us into the place where God can actually intervene. There He can help us to receive the victory He has for us. There are amazing kairos moments, windows of opportunity for each of us to grasp right now, and God is calling us to act. There is a call in the Spirit, the trumpet is sounding and God is calling His Church to attention. The devil will do anything and everything he can to keep us from fulfilling God’s plan – as a Church and as individuals. If he can get us caught up with work, he’ll do that. If he can get us preoccupied with unforgiveness due to some offence, he’ll do that. If he can trap us in fear, he’ll do that. But we must rise up against the Goliaths that are in our way and, with God’s help, run to the battle and bring them down.

Listening to the Holy Spirit If the first reason why many Christians are not taking the battle to the enemy is that there are Goliaths in their lives that are holding them back, the second reason is that many are simply unsure of their place in God’s purposes. They perhaps think that what they are doing is inconsequential and not contributing anything to the battle. This is a common misconception. It is tempting to look at those in full-time ministry in the Church and draw the conclusion that, compared to them, what we are doing is not that important, or what we have to offer is insignificant by comparison. This is a myth! In these days God wants to remind us that we are all “full-time” ministers of the gospel, no matter what we do when we get out of bed in the morning. We are all

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in full-time work for God. No matter where He has placed us, we are capable of seeing Him do miraculous things through us, if we will cooperate with Him. For this reason it is crucial that we are constantly listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice and receiving His instructions. God has things that He wants to do through us in our workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods. We need to be expectant of Him moving. When the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we need to obey quickly. There is a sense of urgency that comes with every kairos moment. In these days God may suddenly commission us to do something for Him that we don’t expect, whether we happen to be working for the church, on a building site or in a firm of accountants. I believe God is going to continually surprise us. In this current season He is busy mobilizing His troops to engage in the battle on every front. We also need to listen carefully as God speaks to us individually about our destiny and purpose in Christ. We must live with an expectation that God is going to speak into every part of our life, because He intends to work in each area to bring about His purposes. Maybe you have been labouring away at your work for a long time, wondering how God can bring about His purposes in your life? Maybe it appears to you that nothing is happening, that God is not doing anything special with you – though you have been faithfully working at your job, paying your bills and living your life. I encourage you to keep on working faithfully. Surrender your all to God. Give your dreams over to Him and He will bring about

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His purposes at the right time. God sees what you are doing and He is pleased with your faithfulness. He says, “Good – now watch and wait and see what I will do.” The Bible promises us: to the faithful He shows Himself faithful (Psalm 18:25). Whatever you do, don’t give up hope. One thing I have learned in this season of God’s kingdom is that despite the evil we see permeating every level of society, we must never lose hope. We must never doubt the call of God on our lives. God has ordained that you and I are an integral part of His purposes. One of the greatest ploys of the enemy is to cause believers to doubt what God has said. Don’t doubt! Believe what God says in His Word, because we have been called by Him. Paul writes, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light ... clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:11-14) As we commit ourselves to be alert and prepared, like good soldiers, God will make a way for us to become effective in His kingdom. The dreams and desires of our hearts will come to pass because He is faithful. Our job is never to give up. We are to move out into that which God has for us. We are to … “Be very careful … how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

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(Ephesians 5:15-16) Each day is full of opportunities. We can’t afford to miss them any more. We need to step into them by the power of the Holy Spirit, who will help us to achieve everything God has for us. David Watson once said that if the Holy Spirit was removed from the early Church, 95% of what they were doing would have stopped immediately. Whereas, if the Holy Spirit was taken from the Church today, 95% of the things we do would carry on as normal. We’ve become used to doing things in our own strength. Now, more than ever, we need to learn utter and total reliance on the Holy Spirit. We simply cannot attempt to obey God and carry out His will on our own. God is calling us to a new level of spontaneity in the Spirit where we can respond to each kairos moment He sends our way. He wants us to be a people who will respond to Him immediately and be flexible enough to drop what we are doing to obey the call of the Spirit. This may mean stopping what we are doing and offering to pray with someone in distress. It might mean we need to go out of our way to do something for someone who is not expecting it. Whatever God asks us to do, we need to live with an expectation of divine appointments every day of our lives. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us every day. It is this unpredictability and spontaneity that makes the Christian life so exciting. Sometimes living like this can be a real challenge and take us well out of our comfort zones, but we need to cultivate such a lifestyle in order to see God’s kingdom moving forward. One life people are flexible and spontaneous.

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Thinking it through: • Amazing things can be accomplished when people who are sensitive to God’s Spirit read the signs of the times and know how and when to act, but we have a limited window of opportunity. • Such opportunities are kairos moments – appointed times in the purposes of God for the accomplishment of critical action; times when the unmerited favour of God opens doors for us that were previously shut. The Church is living through such a kairos moment right now, but we need to realise it and act with urgency to fulfil God’s purposes. • In any war there are times when it is strategically expedient to withdraw and times when we must press in and claim the victory. In the Spirit we are in a time of “pressing in”. Now is the time to tackle the enemy head on. The Church has been intimidated by its “Goliaths” for far too long. • David, at the time a simple shepherd boy with no military experience, moved to defeat the giant that threatened his nation and succeeded. His confidence was not misplaced – he was not relying on his own skill and daring, but had absolute trust in the ability of His God. The power of God, coupled with a willing servant heart, is an unstoppable force. • Like David, we need to come to the place in our lives where we are no longer prepared to put up with the things that have plagued our progress – our personal Goliaths – and bring ourselves to the place where God can intervene and help us. To a large extent the Church has become used to

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having a gospel without power, but it’s time to bring down our giants and move forward. • It is crucial that we listen continually for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow His instructions as we move forward in this hour, and that we don’t lose hope but continue to persevere, never doubting God’s call on our lives.

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One Life  

LIFE! Life is a gift we have all been given. Each of us only gets one shot at it – one chance to make the most of it and to make a differenc...

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