The Opposer

Satan is the opposer and adversary of God’s Kingdom and all things that are good and Godly. In the story of Job we read that he (Satan) had been walking about the earth -no doubt looking for things to disrupt and destroy. There are evil spirits – Satan’s princes and principalities who are opposed to the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Job did not know that Satan was the cause of his trouble but Satan will do what he can to disrupt and attack the work of God in our lives.

That is why as Christians we must take up the whole armour of God and stand firm and be in opposition to Satan. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives is every good gift which is in opposition to every sinful and perverted act of Satan who is the hater of all mankind but God is love. Satan is full of jealousy, resentment, pride and bitterness but the life of faith is one of selflessness, humility, love, grace and forgiveness. Satan is a liar and has always been a liar but God is and has always been truth. Jesus is truth and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.

Watch out for the enemy is truly on the prowl looking for who he can devour. Let us not take our eyes from our Protector (Jesus) – the one who laid down His life for us. The Lord has His hand upon us and will be with us. Satan thought he could take Job’s life but he could not because it was not in his power to do so. God would not permit it.

If you are really struggling with life at the moment, you feel that you are of no value and may even have been having suicidal thoughts. Please I beg of you resist them. Satan will try and convince you to take your own life, waste it, end it as if it is of no worth or value but that is a lie – you have value. You are extremely valuable and precious to God. You are worth so much to God. God has made a way through Jesus for you to come into eternal life with him and He has given himself for you.

God has thwarted Satan’s plans and schemes and the offer of free everlasting life out of Satan’s grasp is freely available to all. It matters not that you once were part of Satan’s kingdom because the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to set free all – even if you think you are the worst of sinners included. There is not one person who is too deep in sin to be saved. The enemy will lie and scheme to keep you in his kingdom but there is a way of escape through faith in Jesus the Son of God who can set every prisoner free from a life of sin and death.

Do not waste any opportunity to take the offer of free everlasting life which is on offer. Why give the most precious thing you have every owned – your own life- into the hands of Satan. What has he ever offered or given that can be more precious than a life with God the Father and Creator of all things. The All Mighty, All Powerful God who will one day cast that evil liar into everlasting torment and damnation.

God’s grace is freely available to all. There is no-one who is beyond His redemptive power. There is no-one who, whilst there is breath in their body, who is beyond the power of Salvation. The blood of the Lamb (Jesus) can cleanse and redeem and blot out all transgression. God is love.

Satan is a liar, a deceiver of all mankind and he only wants to destroy and oppose everything that God has for believers. Resist him and let us not give in to his lies or false accusations. Satan can be overcome by the blood of Jesus, the word of our testimony and those who do not love their life unto death. Satan cannot take your soul as a believer because you are sealed in Christ for the day of redemption. He can try and kill the body but he cannot take your soul once that is in the hands of your everlasting Father in Heaven who holds you unto him. God is sovereign. God is on the Throne – not satan. Amen.

The right approach..

I read a really good post recently by Andy at http://www.BerryBunch.family about approaching God with respect. It was called God, You and Me S3 E19- I recommend a read of the transcript or you can watch the episode. It reminded me of when I was discovering the “Fear of the Lord”.

A few years ago I posted a few thoughts about rediscovering the fear of the Lord which I’ve reproduced with a few updates below:

The early church prospered and walked in the fear of the Lord.

In Acts 9:31 it says “and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit they were multiplied“.

As Christians we long to see people coming to know Christ, finding salvation and having a relationship with Father God through faith in Jesus.

The Holy Spirit spoke to us a few years ago during a time of prayer and intercession about the fear of the Lord being restored within the body of Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I had never heard a sermon about the fear of the Lord and didn’t really understand what it meant.

I did understand that fear in this context is not about being afraid of the Lord – I’ll stress that again:

IT DOES NOT MEAN BEING AFRAID OF GOD

but I didn’t really grasp that it is:

an attitude of complete reverence in response to the revelation of God.

The dictionary explains reverence as a deep and profound respect, worship of or being in complete awe of someone. An outward expression of that deep respect would be to bow or prostrate yourself before them. In worship times we sometimes kneel, bow or prostrate ourselves before God.

It’s like Isaiah’s response in Isaiah 6 when he sees God’s throne. Isaiah realises how sinful he is and holy God is. He feels completely undone. It’s like John’s response when on the island of Patmos whilst worshipping in the Spirit he sees King Jesus in all His glory and falls to his feet as though dead.

When we have a revelation of our awesome Holy God as revealed in His Word, we respond by living in humility towards God and in loving obedience to Him.

It makes me consider again how absolutely incredible it is that as the Apostle Paul teaches us in Hebrews 4:16 we can now “boldly” approach God’s throne of grace because of Jesus. Not arrogantly through anything I’ve ever done or by treating Jesus’ sacrifice for me in disdain, but confidently because my sins are completely cleansed in Jesus, I’m forgiven and righteous in Christ alone. God sees me as redeemed in Christ.

So I guess the challenge to keep before me and to regularly consider is. What is my attitude when I approach God. Do I have an attitude of deep love, respect, reverence, humility and thankfulness. Understanding again the power of the blood of Jesus that has cleansed me and made it possible to even be able to approach God.

The Bible has much to teach us about the fear of the Lord and the promises attached to it when we live in that attitude.

Psalm 111:10 It is foundational to wisdom as this verse teaches us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

Job 28:28 “Behold the fear of the Lord that is wisdom”.

Psalm 25:12 “Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses“.

v 14 “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him: and He will show them His covenant“.

Proverbs 10:27 “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”

Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence.”

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life; And He who has it will abide in satisfaction, He will not be visited with evil

These verses from Proverbs help us discover the fear of the Lord:

Proverbs 2 1-5 “My son if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding, yes, if you cry out for discernment and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God“.

Jesus who is our example delighted in the fear of the Lord.

In Isaiah 11 verses 2-3 it says about Jesus- “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Spirit of Counsel and Power, the Spirit of Knowledge and the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord…. I had not considered it that way before. It’s a delightful thing. I too want to delight in it and learn to walk in it.

At the time we prayed this simple prayer from the teaching materials on this subject. If you feel led then please pray it too:

“Oh God my Father, I come to you through Jesus Christ my saviour. You have put in my heart a desire for the fear of the Lord. I am asking you from now on to lead me, to teach me and to impart to me this wonderful treasure of yours – the fear of the Lord. In Jesus name. Amen”.

#Freedom Day

Well today 19th July has been labelled “Freedom Day” here at home in England now that more Covid lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Given current circumstances though it’s not really a “Freedom Day” -we’re not all truly free as there are still restrictions in place and also a lot of people who can’t enjoy the full benefits for various reasons. Its not full freedom by any means.

I find it significant and interesting that our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak can’t participate fully in #Freedom Day as they have to follow the rules and self isolate having come into close contact with the Health Secretary who has Covid – although they did try some creative thinking or was it rule bending 🤔 to try and get the rule dis-applied to them. Thankfully they wisely did a U-turn and agreed to comply with current rules like responsible citizens.

You can’t write about #Freedom Day without thinking of true freedom and what that means. It will mean different things to different people dependent on their experiences and circumstances. As Christians we can truly celebrate a #Freedom Day that is available to everyone to participate in through simple faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the one who has set us free from the effects of sin and death so that we can live in true freedom and have ever lasting life. He took our punishment through His sacrifice and death on the cross. He was punished for us and we have obtained freedom through God’s grace and mercy.

My own personal #Freedom Day was 26th June 1976 when I asked God to forgive me for the wrong things in my life and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I gave my life to Him and went on to be baptised in water as a sign of repentance and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Praise God that I’m truly free and I hope dear reader that you also have your own #Freedom Day to celebrate or if not, that you discover Jesus and become truly free.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8

Although we may live under permanent or temporary physical restrictions, in Jesus we are truly free spiritually. Amen and thanks to our Father in heaven, Christ Jesus and Holy Spirit.

True freedom
Photo from 2015 trip to Robben Island. Freedom cannot be manacled

Stubborn as a mule

“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way.” Acts 19:8-9

In these bible verses we discover another barrier or stumbling block to being open minded. It’s an attitude called “stubbornness”. Ouch.

Paul had travelled to Ephesus and was preaching in the synagogue about Jesus. He persevered for 3 months until the stubbornness of some in the Synagogue caused him to leave and continue his preaching elsewhere in the city.

What does it really mean to be stubborn? I’m sure that we have all encountered people who we would describe as stubborn but do we really recognise what it is and how dangerous a characteristic it is. Have you ever been called Stubborn? I know I have.

One of the dictionary definitions is:

having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

In other words there is compelling evidence for you to change your position and it’s for your benefit, but you refuse to do so.

Other similar expressions to describe people who are stubborn are – “headstrong, obstinate, wilful”. It’s definitely not a characteristic which is mentioned as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

My father in law tells the story of his daughter and his Dad (who were both stubborn people) getting into a deadlock over taking her medicine. She knew it would make her better but she refused to take it. Both sat either side of a table with the medicine in the middle refusing to move until one of them backed down. It lasted hours. In that situation one was determined and one was being stubborn.

If someone calls me stubborn then I have learnt to carefully consider the context in which they are saying it. Is it justified? The word “stubborn” can get bandied about as an accusation (wrongly) when someone just wants you to do what they say or want. If you refuse you are labelled stubborn.

The question to perhaps consider is this. Is there a good and valid reason and solid argument for me to change my mind? Is the evidence being presented credible and weighty. If it is and I’m not changing my position then why is that? Am I just being stubborn? If so, I need to do something about that attitude.

If on the other hand, there isn’t a good reason or argument to change and I am not convinced by the reasoning or evidence then I will stand firm, remain steadfast and not change or compromise. Being steadfast in my beliefs is not the same as being stubborn. Steadfast or stubborn…there is a difference.

Pride and stubbornness are often linked together and in my last post I considered being a A Know it all? Pride and thinking we know it all can make us stubborn. Does pride lead to stubbornness or stubbornness to pride.

So what did Paul go on to say to the Ephesians in his letter to them. He encouraged them to be humble.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future”. Ephesians 4:2-4

He also encouraged them to resist the enemy, his accusations and lies and to be steadfast in their faith.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness “ Ephesians 6:13-14

Stubborn..me?? Really??

Curve Balls..

Life has curve balls. For me, For you. For our families. For our friends. Even for Christians. Things happen, shocking news comes that we weren’t expecting to receive. Times of pain, hurt, disappointment, unsettling times of trouble. It shakes us, throws us off track and then we remember that we serve a God who knows all things, is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever present help in times of need.

In such times, the Lord draws us to Him with love and reminds us of His faithfulness and goodness. That He is a good, good God and we can trust in Him.

Recently, the Lord gave these promises from His Word to sustain us in the difficult and painful times ahead. I hope that if you are experiencing such times yourself that you will also find hope and comfort in these verses. I have meditated and spoken them aloud especially at the start of the day. They have uplifted my soul.

Psalm 91:2. “ I will say of the Lord:He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in Him I will trust”

Nahum 1:7. “ The Lord is good; A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

Psalm 25:5. “ Lead me in your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation on you I wait all the day.”

Psalm 96 1-3. “ Oh sing to the Lord a new song, Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name, Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.”

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Lamentations 3: 22-23. “Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning:Great is your faithfulness”.

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever He is the rock eternal

My friend also gave this wise advice.

I believe the Lord wants us to stop fretting and to rest in his love and goodness for this season and also to look and see His beauty in nature all around us.

Have a blessed day.

One of my favourite places in Wales
La belle France
The amazing rock formations in southern France