The Sheep Gate

Here are some questions for us?  How and What are we building in our lives?   First the How?     I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Ch 3 in the Old Testament.   The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit inspires us to build in our lives.    Jesus said that he would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt.    This is the most important in our lives.   We have to come to God through the Sheep gate. The bible teaches us that it is only those who enter in by Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God.   Have we come through the Cross – and really understood the power of the Cross in our lives? That the power of sin and death  is broken.  If we try and build on anything apart from the true revelation of Christ and the Cross we will be in difficulty. Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.   We need to come in through the Sheep gate.

Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate – not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing – and false shepherds.  John 10 -7 – Jesus says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep – To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus went on to explain: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.   The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”     Please beware of any teaching about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus and weigh and test it against scripture.    We need to come to Christ through a true revelation of the Cross and  build on Him as the cornerstone of our faith.

I understand that the Sheep gate was the only gate that didn’t have locks and bars.    To me this symbolises that the way to God is open through Jesus and it is open to everyone.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done.  Nothing can disqualify you from receiving grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of the Cross.   If you have never come through the Sheep Gate then I encourage you to confess your sins and take that step by faith today.    Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Friendliness for Lent

The message bible translation of Zechariah 3 v 10 is “At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence; friendly visits on one another’s porches.”   What a lovely picture of peacefulness.

We all long, I am sure, for a day when peace reigns in our neighbourhoods and cities. When people can rub along together despite “fences ” -the differences that separate them.   The Bible talks here of just such a day when this can happen.    I want that in my neighbourhood and I am sure you do too.

A day when knife crime and violence is not the words we see and read about in our newspapers and TV but instead there is genuine friendship and love for one another.   Love your neighbour as yourself is one of the commandments in the bible and Jesus emphasised it in His teaching.  As we come into this season of Lent what is it that we can do for our neighbours as a friendly gesture that will show God’s love for them through us.   

What could it be?  A friendly greeting, a smile, a bunch of flowers, a catch up with a cup of tea, an invitation for a meal?   Showing friendship to those who are alone and lonely.  I am sure that God will show us and open up the door of opportunity to us in this season of Lent.

God – He is on our side

Psalm 46 verse 1 says that “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in times of trouble”.    If you are in the middle of difficult times and struggling to hang on and feel that everything is conspiring against you then I encourage you to take hold of these verses.    God is with you and will not let you sink.  His everlasting arms are around you to support you.

In verse 10 it says “Be still and know that I am God”.   I always thought that this meant that I was to be still and know Him in such times but the footnotes in my Bible say that this is God telling the wicked- “Be Still and know that I am God”.  In other words God is telling the enemy who is rising against us and conspiring against us “Back off -enough is enough- you don’t have a chance of winning in this situation because I am God”.   

I love that.   Thank you Father that you are on our side.  God puts the enemy well and truly in his place.  He reminds the enemy that God alone will be exalted among the nations.      God may allow us to go through certain trials and struggles to strengthen our faith and so that we can grow in spiritual maturity – things that sometimes we do not understand- but ultimately God always has the last say over the enemy and his strategies because God is God.   God is sovereign and everything in heaven and earth is subject to Him.

This was evident when Jesus spoke to the storm that was raging all around the boat carrying the disciples and Jesus over the sea of Galilee and He commanded the winds and the waves to “Be still” and they were.    Does God need to speak into a few storms in your life or do you need to remind the storms that God is saying to them “Be Still”.

Breakthrough

A visiting speaker encouraged us recently to be a bit of kindling and allow the Lord to set fire to us.   A little fire can be all it takes – it can spread like wildfire as nature has shown us with the wildfires which took hold last year in various places. At this time we are to press in and not be discouraged.  Don’t settle where you are but press on in faith.     The breakthrough or miracle you have been waiting for or seeing in faith could be just around the corner.

We may face opposition just before we see the promise and answer come to pass.    When Jesus was on the way to heal the sick daughter of the leader, Jairus, people came to tell him not to bother because the girl was already dead.     Jesus refused to accept that and told them that she was not dead only sleeping.   The people ridiculed him but Jesus silenced them, pressed ahead and the girl was raised up. People may ridicule you or try to stop you pressing in to what God has for you and the vision He has shown you.

When we step out in faith we are His vessels.  It is the oil of His Presence and the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to do His good works which He prepared beforehand for us to do.    The people who know their God will be strong and do mighty things.   You may have people telling you opposite things to the promises of God and what God has revealed to you by His Holy Spirit.   Do not listen to them and refuse to believe them.  Stand on the Word of God.    You may have to be bold and silence them.   Fix your eyes on Christ.  Lift up your head and see the King of Glory

In scripture John the Baptist said that Jesus was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.     Tongues of fire appeared on the heads of those who first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit but I want to be on fire for Jesus.   I believe this fire is purifying and empowering to enable the Holy Spirit to flow through us in power in signs and wonders to give a powerful witness to the gospel message of Christ.     The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and glorifies Jesus Christ. People are saved and those who are suffering to healed and restored. Hold on to your promise and vision today and believe in faith. It will happen in His appointed time.

The Bride – Restoration

As I was praying last week and in worship at Church I had a picture of a bride.     I first saw a picture of a lion and knew that this was Jesus – the lion of Judah.     The Lion was looking at something and when I followed his gaze, I saw that He was looking at a bride.

The picture shocked me.   Although the bride was dressed in a beautiful white dress and veil -the dress was truly beautiful – spotless and pure bright white, the bride herself looked grey and gaunt, withered and frail.    Her beauty had faded and she had no vitality or joy.    Her skin was stretched tautly over her bones and was grey and papery.    She looked weary as if she had no strength in her from lack of food.   She reminded me of a living corpse.     It was a terrible sight.     The bride was not old which accounted for her appearance.   She was young.

I thought is this a picture of the church at the moment- the body of Christ as a whole in the world?   Is this what Jesus sees when He looks at us?    That the body has lost its vitality, its beauty and is famished and without strength.      I was encouraged that the bride’s dress was pure and white.   Jesus’ blood truly cleanses us from all sin and purifies us.    It reminded me that Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride, but I believe He also wants to come back for a radiant, beautiful and strong bride who is full of His life, joy, power and strength and who radiates His glory and goodness in the world.

I pray that if this picture is correct that the Holy Spirit will reveal it and show us our true condition.   That our hearts will be convicted of our lack of His life working in and through us.    That we will acknowledge and repent over our condition and turn again to the living hope which is in Christ Jesus by the power of His Holy Spirit to be restored and refreshed.    We will realise our desperation and need of Jesus and that without Him there is no power for living.   He alone is the bread of life and the living water.   John 7 v37 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, he who believes in me as the scriptures say out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”.   John 6: 48 Jesus said “I am the bread of life”.     Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and His words are life to us.   The bible is food for our soul.  

Jesus is in the business of restoration.      The Lord reminded me of the picture of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 later in the same day and God’s question to Ezekiel – can these dry bones live?    In my picture – Can the bride’s strength, joy, life, beauty and power be restored?  In faith I believe that the answer is Yes and I say Yes to God.   As Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones – we say to the Church – hear the word of the Lord.   “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live” V5  “I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live” v13. 

Isaiah 40 v 29 says “He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might, He increases strength”.  V31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.  They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”.   I believe God wants to restore our strength for these days ahead so that we will not grow weary in doing good but will have the strength to continue in the face of adversity and persecution and persevere.   We are called to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.   May our vitality be restored.  May we be filled with the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.

Healing Testimony

My Granddad, David was a Christian and man of faith.   I never met him as unfortunately, he died before I was born but I still have his anointing bottle which has been passed on to me and which I still use today.   It came from the Smith Wigglesworth ministries.    David had a stroke in 1943 and wrote out the testimony of his healing.  I have it today written in his own hand.   It always encourages me when I read it and it reminds me that Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever and He still heals.  I thought it would be encouraging to share David’s testimony on my blog.  The language is old fashioned but the meaning is the same.  I hope you find it uplifting as I do.

“I was a strong healthy man all my days having experienced little trouble up to sixty years of age.   One morning on the 15th September 1943, I rose to go to my work as usual.  Arriving there, I fell very sick.  I tried to work on but the sickness made me give up and start for home.  I arrived home, my wife meeting me at the door.  I was telling her of my feeling when I fell into her arms and the power immediately left the whole of my left side.

After I was taken in bed my first thoughts were of Jesus and of His healing power and I remembered that verse in the 11th Chapter of Mark’s gospel.  “Therefore I say until you, whatever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them”. Instead of a sadness and depression following, a perfect peace and calm came to my heart, a peace that could only come from Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour.

The next day the Doctor called and said I had taken a shock (Hemiplegia), paralysis of one side of the body and blood pressure.   I was to be kept very quiet as it would be a long time before I would be able to go around again.  In fact, I would not be able to work again.  Many friends were praying that God in His great mercy and loving kindness would lay His healing hand upon me.

On November 30th, having been 11 weeks in bed and still praying for God’s healing touch; I continually kept repeating to myself these words -” God help me.  Thou has said Lord in thy precious word 11th Chapter of Mark.  All things whatsoever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye received them and ye shall have them”.  On this day the Pastor of the Pentecostal Assembly, Hope Street, Leith, with his wife called to see me.  He had been asked by a friend of mine to call.  After a little talk on the deep things of Christ and if I believed that Christ could heal today as when He was upon earth, I said yes, he laid his hands on me and prayed earnestly for my deliverance, calling on me in the Name of the Lord to rise and walk.   This I did for about 6 yards into the kitchen and sat down on a chair.  I felt that the Lord had touched me, for from that moment, I began to mend, praising God with a joy unspeakable.

I sat on the chair for over an hour and a half.  As I rose to go back to bed it seemed as if the evil one was determined to crush me down on the floor, as I felt so weak and helpless, but I called on God to deliver me and take me back to bed the way He took me out and this He did.   Ever since then, I have went on gaining strength every day, the power coming gradually back to me.  I have had no special treatment any further than up in the morning at nine o’clock attempting to improve my walking. 

A month later the Doctor called.  With astonishment he looked at me and said “you are up”.  “Yes”, I said, “this is the work of the Lord”.   “Well, I will tell you” said the Doctor “you are a marvel, really it is wonderful, your prayers have been heard and answered.  I was delighted to hear Doctor say that my prayers had been answered.  I do thank God for His wonderful touch to my body and enabling me to walk when the power was completely out of my leg, no life also in my arm and fingers.  To God be all the glory.  

Dear friends, people of faith are not moved by anything they see or hear, not puffed up, they live in meekness and grow in grace.   The people of faith, said a great preacher, do not live in time, they are begun in eternity, they do not count on the things that are but rely on the things that are not.  Faith is a restful realisation of the gracious and almighty presence of an eternal God.  Divine power is laid hold of through believing prayers and by its means men are fundamentally changed, circumstances modified and miracles of grace wrought to the glory of God.   May we ever follow the spiritual way, for spiritual results can only be obtained by spiritual methods.

Yes friends, the life of faith here below is a life of trial from first to last and that is no more or less with every believer.  The promise had been given to Abraham that he would have a son, and it was many years before that promise was fulfilled, and yet it is said of him that against hope he believed in hope that he might become the father of many nations, and staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith giving glory to God.  Now this faith was afterwards crowned, the promise was fulfilled and Isaac was born.  He waited long, but he learned in a peculiar manner, the faithfulness of God to His promises. 

Perhaps we may have to live some years to wait on the Lord, for some good which he intends to confer upon us.  It does not matter how long we may have to wait, don’t grow weary in well doing, for you can rest assured that when it does come it was worth waiting for.  God never lets you down, no matter how long you may be tried.  If we could only remember that, at these burning moments of test and seek the face of Christ, we would hear Him say “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou are mine.”   The severe trials which God sometimes sends are seldom of long duration, they are not only sent in wisdom and love but held in the same grip of love and wisdom.  Life itself is short, and when on some emergency the Lord calls his child to suffer, we see with what tenderness the Lord comes to his relief.   He never asks his child to stand more then he is able.  Whatever portion of suffering may be allotted to us here, may we be enabled to say continually, not my will but thine be done O’ Lord, thus glorifying Him forever.”    The end.

 

This is the way walk in it..

Isaiah 30: 21 says “Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying “This is the way walk in it”. Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left”.

road nature trees branches

If you are looking for direction in your life and seeking the path that God wants you to take or a new door is opening up to you then take encouragement from the promise in these verses.   God will direct your way.

This is a season for stepping into the new things of God.  It may be paths that you or no-one else has travelled before, areas which you have never ventured into, things you or nobody else has ever done but take comfort that God will make it clear that you are on the right path.    God will direct you to move forward into new things.    Don’t look back at the old or try to do things in the same way but with boldness step into the new.    This is a season for God to show you how to do things in a different way.    Don’t worry or be anxious that you don’t know what’s up ahead – trust God.    If you are walking where God wants you to walk then you are going in the right direction.

You may face discouragement – people may think you are crazy even to attempt something new but God will give you the vision and you will hear His still small voice saying “This is the way walk in it”.    You will know it is God speaking to you.    I encourage you to be bold in faith today as you hear Him speak to you.   Take hold of the opportunity which God is bringing your way.

I sense this may be a season for some that God will completely turn things on their head.  God will flip things upside down but you will emerge unscathed.    Allow God to be in the driving seat.

I pray God will increase your vision in these days.  To stir in you a new vision, a bigger vision and to break new ground for Him.   To see new things and create new opportunities for the gospel to be preached and people to be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.