Feed My lambs, Feed My Sheep

These were the instructions which Jesus gave to his disciple Simon Peter, when he met him again in Galilee after His death and resurrection.

This was the same Simon Peter who had denied knowing Jesus in his time of trial. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him but Peter had protested that he was ready to go to prison and even death for Jesus. It wasn’t to be the case, but Jesus knew that.

It must have been really difficult for Simon Peter to face Jesus again after letting him down so badly, to believe that Jesus would still want him, Peter, to be involved in His ministry and to trust him to look after His flock. What a responsibility. What a calling.

Jesus did trust him though. Even when Jesus knew that Simon Peter would deny him, He comforted Peter by telling him that even after his denial Peter would return and be restored to relationship with Him.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
Luke 22:31-32

Jesus had a task for Peter to do..to strengthen his brothers. The other disciples would need Peter’s support, faith, encouragement and example of humility. I can imagine it was a different Peter who met with his brothers again after his experiences.

I was reminded today of a picture which was shared by a dear brother in Christ at one of our Sunday morning services many years ago. He saw in his vision a long banqueting table. On the table were bowls of soup ready to eat.

The guests at the banquet (members of the church) took their seats facing each other ready to eat. However, when they picked up the spoons they were far too long. It was impossible to get the spoon into the bowl and into their mouths.

Somebody then realised that their spoon could reach the bowl of the person seated opposite them. They started to feed the person opposite them. The others watched their example and started to do the same. Everyone worked together to feed each other.

Jesus has appointed different ministry roles within His church and has equipped His body of believers with every good gift so that His followers can be discipled and fed. Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists. We have the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God. The Holy Spirit has also come to us. We have the gifts and fruit of the Spirit to help us and to help others.

It’s love for Jesus that is to be the motivation and reason for our service to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Loving obedience to Him our Lord and Master. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him when He gave him these instructions. Peter replied that Jesus knew that he did love him. Jesus then replied “Feed My Lambs and Feed My Sheep”.

It was Peter’s love for Jesus that was to be the motivation for service. Jesus restored Peter in love and forgiveness so that Peter did not have a wrong understanding and reason to do what Jesus asked. Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to serve him out of duty or penance in mistakenly thinking he had to make it up to Jesus for denying him. A pure love for Jesus will lead to a pure love for the brethren and pure motives for service.

I believe that there are those within the body of Christ who have not taken up their ministry roles or have laid down their roles and gifts for many different reasons. There will be so many different reasons but Jesus knows them all. Jesus wants to restore us just as He restored Peter. There is a way back to Jesus and there is a way forward to serve Jesus in love as He has called us to do.

As Satan wanted to hinder Peter and to sift him like wheat, so satan does not want any of us to take up our God given callings within the body of Christ. Don’t let Satan deceive us or rob us and the body of Christ of our service to each other.

Jesus – He who protects and sustains us

The Lord has impressed upon me recently that He is the one who we can put our trust in 100%. He is able to keep us and help us in all circumstances of life especially those unexpected changes and difficulties. What is unexpected to us is not to Him who knows all things. He has already gone before us and prepared the way. He is preparing us, his body of believers, for more difficult and challenging times ahead so that we can persevere in faith and be overcomers in Him. Holding fast to the confession of our faith in Jesus.

As I was praying I wrote the following which the Lord spoke to my heart about His church, the bride. His unfailing love for us.

My beloveds, I am calling My bride to Me. It is time. I have come to search her out and gather her to me as a hen would gather her chicks. I am come to cover her and protect her in the times ahead. I put my arms around her and hide her under My wings – My arms of protection are all around her.

I will keep her safe and I will protect her. Come to Me in these times ahead which will be very distressing and troubling. There will be great upheaval. There will be a mighty shaking. I will support, protect and look after My bride in these days. She is my beloved. The apple of My eye. My father has entrusted her into My hands and I will present her radiant before My father’s throne.

Hold fast My bride to the confession of your faith. Keep rooted in Me. Keep your eyes fixed on Me. You can rest assured that I will sustain you in the times ahead for all things are in the power of My hand to give to My beloved. Ask of Me and I will provide for you. I will sustain you and protect you. Keep close to Me and I will not let you down. You can trust in My unfailing love for you. A love which will sustain you through all things. Blessed are My children. Blessed are those who put their hope in Me for I will not disappoint them.

I am looking after My children in the times ahead. I will keep them and preserve them from the evil one, for I alone hold the keys of death and hell. They are mine now and I will keep them forever. No-one who belongs to Me will see the second death for I have written their names into the Lamb’s book of life and they are safe in My hands. Whatever may lie ahead of you My beloveds, take heart for I have already walked the path and I will sustain you as you go. Be still and know that I am God. Be at peace in Me. Amen.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12

Jesus is our rock and sure foundation. We shall not be moved.

Remembering..

So this weekend I am in Somerset, visiting my old home and it’s such a beautiful place that I wanted to share some photos with you. I was fortunate to grow up here. We visited Old Cleeve, where my ancestors on my Mum’s side lived in the 1700s. There is a beautiful church here, St Andrew’s, which has an ancient churchyard with views over the sea.

The Church is having some repairs carried out

The church itself dates from the 15th century and there has been a church on this site since at least 1066. There is a tomb in the church that dates back to 1420 of a knight who was believed to be in service to Richard 11. That’s a lot of history. The church is a reminder to me of my past but also that we are blessed to have such a longstanding Christian heritage in this nation of ours.

The font where babies were baptised dates back to the 15th century. My great great great grandad William Langdon born in 1787 was baptised in that font. I stood in that same church today where my ancestors stood and baptised him as a baby. How awesome is that.

The interior of St Andrew’s

This post may seem at odds with my last post on church but buildings themselves should not be the focus of or define our worship or faith in God. They were built for the glory of God and point us to Him but we in our humanity can make idols of them so easily. The church, the monument, can become our focus rather than the source. The community this church served has changed dramatically since it was founded. Over time families, mine included, moved away to the larger towns and cities looking for work and the village populations decreased dramatically. Times changed. It’s good and right to remember our history as the Bible encourages us to do but we must not get stuck in the past. God wants us to advance His Kingdom in this generation and those to come.

The view from the church over the coast

We do need to be reminded though of God’s faithfulness, His ways and the wonderful things He has done for us so that we can tell our children and the generations that follow us. We can so easily forget otherwise. Just as I have retraced my ancestors today to the place they worshipped. Psalm 37 includes this exhortation:

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
Psalm 78:4-8

Each generation is to set its hope anew on God. I pray that will be the case. Let hope arise in the hearts of the younger generation in these days that they will discover a hope that will never let them down in Jesus Christ, God’s own son who died that we may live.

It’s so quintessentially English around here in this part of Somerset. If you had to picture a typical English village then this village of East Quantoxhead would be it. Thatched cottages, cream teas and there is even a village duck pond with its own house for the ducks.

The floating duck house
Thatched cottages

This lovely village also has a beautiful ancient church with views over the adjoining fields.

Ancient memorial stone

It is good for the soul to get out into the countryside again after Lockdown restrictions and enjoy nature and these lovely ancient places which put us in remembrance of our great and glorious God who has created all things. He is the ancient of days. Blessed be His glorious name forever and ever.

The coast at Kilve

I do like to take a rest from walking too though…..

he’s thinking “come on get up, I’m raring to go”

Have a blessed day my friends and I hope that we remember the good that God has done for us.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”
Psalm 103:1-5

Radical change

I wrote recently about Transmogrification – which means the process of a radically different change taking place so that something is completely changed from its original shape and form. Its a completely radical and transformational change which means the original is unrecognisable – see post Transmogration !

At the time that I wrote that original post, I also received the following which is a word about what many of our current Christian church structures look and function like. I am submitting this word to pray, weigh and test in the Holy Spirit of truth.

“My dearly beloveds. How I love your desire to follow Me but I have this to say to you. Your flesh and the habits of your flesh and your soul are limiting My Holy Spirit from moving amongst and in and through you. In your eagerness not to make mistakes or get things wrong you have created “safe structures” but have not realised that those structures are limiting me from moving. Your buildings and structures have become your limitations.

You are limited because a building cannot move. It is time to remove your thinking from being “building based” to open up your horizon to see the community, nation and nations on your doorstep which are all now within your reach. I do not want you to go back to the old ways, the old shape, the old format. It is time for My “church” to look radically different.

It should look like it is designed to look – a body. My church is a living body. If people look at church as a building then they are blind to the truth of a shepherd leading His flock and the Head of the body who is Christ. I am intended to be a living part of you. You are My body. You need to have a radical change of shape. Not rigid but fluid. Transformed into the shape I created you to be, a body.

Do you have every part of the body represented amongst you? Is every ministry gift which I have given for the equipping of the Saints in evidence. If not, then ask Me to create in you a new vision and eyes to see the shape that I want you to be. A fully functioning and equipped body with all the parts fully developed and fully operational and fully formed.

I am the Head – so amongst you there needs to be those who see with My eyes, hear with My ears, speak with My mouth, act with My hands, and walk where I lead with My feet. Look at your shape and identify what is missing amongst you. Ask of Me and I will provide it to you. The little parts all make up the whole in Me. You are one in Me as I am in you.

Do not contain or restrict me My children for I came to seek and save the lost. I am the One who goes out into the whole world to seek and save that which is lost. I have come so that they can have life in all its fulness. I am the doorway to my Father and I seek those who are lost and need Me. Take me to the people for that is why I came – to show those in darkness that the light has come and My glory is here for them. Arise and shine for your light has come and My glory is rising now upon My body. Wake from your sleep and go out into the highways and the byways and seek those who are lost. “