Persecution..

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5 11-12

These bible verses are the verses for today on the Bible Gateway app. It was the first thing I read this morning. Persecution was something the Lord laid on my heart yesterday and I shared a post Persecuted….

Coincidence? I don’t believe so. It caught my attention. When I read these bible verses again today, I know the Holy Spirit is bringing this subject to my heart. Is the Lord preparing me personally or those I know or you dear reader to be ready for persecution because of faith in Christ Jesus.

These verses from the gospel of Matthew are Jesus’s words to his followers. Jesus knows that they will be persecuted because the world will hate their message but Jesus has prepared them for this time of persecution and has also prayed for them. Jesus does not leave them alone either when He returns to the Father but promises to always be with them and us to the end of time and also sends the Holy Spirit to empower, teach and comfort us.

Before Jesus died He prayed for His disciples but not only them, He said a prayer for us too. His disciples to come. That always amazes me that in a time of great suffering and knowing what lay ahead of Him, Jesus chose to pray for us. I know from Jesus’ teaching that His prayer will have been heard by God and answered. That gives me great comfort and hope. Not only that, but we know that even now Jesus intercedes for us before the Father’s throne.

Jesus prayed:

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
John.17.14-19

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
John.17.23-26

We are through faith in Christ at one with God. The love of God for us and in us. What or who can separate us from the love of God. Can persecution or suffering? No. The scriptures declare this truth.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:“For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom.8.35-39

Persecuted…

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
John 15:18-27

My friend Dean at Gospel Road 66 is writing a series about prayer for the persecuted church. It is a reminder to us all that persecution is happening amongst the body of believers with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ facing incredible levels of hardship and physical sufferings and death for the sake of their faith. You can find his first post here Praying for the Persecuted Church

The Apostle Paul says in many of his letters that he never ceased thanking God and praying for the saints. Today can I encourage you to take 5 to thank God for our brothers and sisters around the world and to pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith.

Then…

A repost today dear friends on the power of a very small word. Since last Thursday and the death of our Queen Elizabeth II, we as a nation under God are in a “Then” moment. We are in times of huge change that require prayer before God that His will for our nation and our new King Charles III come into alignment. Let us join our prayers brothers and sisters in Christ with our nation at this key time of transition and change.

Then is such a little word but it is can be so powerful. It’s a word which speaks of change. There is a before and THEN something happens which changes the story.

In Genesis, we read the story of Noah. The flood has come upon the earth and Noah, his family and the animals are in the ark. They obeyed God’s instructions and went into the Ark and then God shut the door.

“So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”
Genesis 7:16 NKJV

It was after obedience that the THEN came and God shut the door. Sometimes, we are waiting for God to act and the THEN to happen but we maybe haven’t done our part to enable the THEN. Something at our end needs to change.

Dear brother Alan posted the other day about prayer warriors still being required. You can read that post here which I recommend if you have not yet read it. https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/2022-prayer-warriors-still-required.

There is an often quoted portion of scripture which contains one of the most powerful THENs in the bible.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Prayer changes things and brings about the THEN. If we want to see change then let us seek God’s Will and act on it. Let us be Prayer Warriors for change.

Bless you my friends.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pick up your mat….

Last week, I had a word from the Lord which I shared in our church fellowship and it witnessed with some people and their situations. I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to share this same word with you today. Please weigh and test and if it speaks to your heart too then please pray about it.

The Lord spoke to me about the paralysed man who was lying by the pool Bethesda. When the waters were stirred for healing, he couldn’t get there in time. He kept missing out. He kept missing his opportunity and thought others were always beating him to it. Taking the only opportunity available.

I believe this word was about more than healing and was for other situations. The Lord impressed on me that there were brothers and sisters in Christ who felt they had missed or kept missing their opportunity. Each time they felt someone else was beating them to it and it was too late for them. You see your vision being accomplished by other people and wonder about the promises the Lord has given you. When will they come to pass for you.

The paralysed man had not initially recognised the time of opportunity which had come to him and that the Healer himself was right beside him until Jesus spoke those words to him. “Take up your mat and walk” so the Lord is saying that He is the one that opens doors and makes things happen and gives opportunity according to His Will. He will fulfil His promises within His times.

You have not missed out. The Lord will clearly open the door in His timing and you have to be obedient to His voice telling you to “pick up your mat and walk”. Walk through that door of opportunity. Your time will come. Don’t hesitate but look and listen for the Lord is right there beside you in all things.

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?

7 Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” John 5 1-9

Being a team member (Part 1)

You may recall me mentioning recently that I learnt a lot from my time as a volunteer team member at the Commonwealth Games in The Final Whistle. In particular, it was these bible verses (repeated below from Corinthians 12) about being members of the body of Christ that really came alive to me and taught me much especially about how our natural person(s) or our flesh wants to strive for recognition – its a worldly mindset-and how easily we fall into the trap of categorising jobs and roles (the important/not important) and then likewise judge the people who do them.

I met some of the most beautiful people who were fun, hard working, generous, helpful and humble but I also met people who came over as being lazy, full of their own importance, know it alls, bossy and difficult to work with. Mmmmmmm….which one was I? I experienced good team leaders and those who were not so good. There was so much variety of human life demonstrated in that short period of time that it was almost overwhelming but what a blessing it was to me. Over the next few posts I’ll share the background to this journey, the stories (names will be changed) and what I learnt about myself and my role as a member of the Body of Christ and an ambassador for Jesus.

The Background – All the volunteers were called the “Commonwealth Collective” and there were many different teams with a variety of functions ranging from administration tasks, logistics, hospitality, welcome, medical, family services etc. Some were front of house roles which they called being on the “field of play” and highly visible to the public and some were behind the scenes roles – hidden but vital for the other roles to function e.g accreditation. I soon learnt that there were “serial volunteers” who really knew the inside track from having volunteered at many sporting events worldwide. Me, I was a complete novice at this.

We were all strangers from different parts of the UK and some people from overseas who were brought together with our different personalities and skills to carry out a specific function assigned to us. Those roles had been assigned based on our application forms and interviews. The application process had opened about 18 months prior to the start of the Games with interviews carried out over a period of months. There were about 24,000 interviews carried out for 13,000 roles. I was selected to be part of the interviewing panel which I really enjoyed. In my family, my husband, daughter and myself all volunteered and we were all given different roles in different places. Each of us had a very different games’ experience.

The key though was that whatever role we had been assigned and wherever we were deployed, as there were many locations and venues…we were all part of the Commonwealth Collective and identifiable to each other by the uniform we wore and our accreditation badge. There were about 13,000 volunteers who were all members of the Collective. I didn’t meet the vast majority of these people but for that time, I was a team member with them and they were also team members with me. It didn’t matter that we didn’t meet, know each other..we were still part of the same team with a common objective.

How I carried out my role and what I did or failed to do would impact on the other volunteers, some more so than others depending on our proximity and reliance on each other, and vice versa. I didn’t want to let them down. There was specific training given for our assigned roles so that we all knew what was required of us. We were expected to learn and engage with that process. If you didn’t turn up for the training then you couldn’t take part. Training was a compulsory requirement.

There was also a code of conduct for volunteers setting out the standards of behaviour expected of a volunteer. It set out what was expected and what behaviours would not be tolerated. The key requirement was to treat each other with respect. One of the elements that was stressed was to LISTEN. Good volunteers listened and so listening skills were emphasised.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

And so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

To be continued…..

To Know Him

The most beautiful moment of my life was accepting Jesus as my Saviour and surrendering my life to Him. Since then discipleship has been a journey of discovery to know Jesus better and more deeply. Jesus came to show us the Father and through faith in Jesus, to enable us to have a relationship with God. It is in that relationship that we become more Christ like as we live out our Christian faith through obedience to God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings.

Accepting Christ is the start of an amazing journey of faith and not the end in itself.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth has come and dwells in us, to lead us and help us in our discipleship journey. The Spirit convicts us of sin and leads in righteousness and truth, to glorify the Son.

We sometimes think as Christians our goal is to evangelise and once someone has made a commitment to Jesus, it’s job done. But that’s just the start.

Jesus asks us to make disciples and not just converts. We are His witnesses of a new life born again into God’s kingdom. Discipleship is to journey with people and requires love and commitment so that we become rooted and grounded in the truth of the gospel. It’s like bringing people into a family. You wouldn’t invite someone to be part of a family and then just ignore them and leave them to it. You show them how to live life as part of the family. What’s expected of each other. Sharing knowledge, wisdom, gifting, there through the highs and lows, joys, sorrows, successes and failures. Encouraging and supportive. Discipline and love. Forgiveness and grace.

We can journey with many different people as believers in Christ. Some journeys are for different seasons. I’ve been discipled by some incredible people and even now the Lord brings people alongside me who help me grow in faith and develop – sometimes in challenging ways. We have to learn sometimes to let some relationships and people go and move on so they can also grow and develop as the Lord leads. Sometimes we have to move on ourselves. We are a body of believers, members of one another. United in Christ.

I love these bible verses:

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23

Amen 🙏

Replenish (2)

Recently, the Lord prompted this word “Replenish” to me. I wrote a post about it which you can access here Replenish. At the time, I thought there was more in this word that the Lord wanted me to understand and I have been thinking about it on and off ever since.

As I have prayed, I have been led firstly to these bible verses in Ephesians 1 which talk about Jesus. As with anything, we must always start with Jesus, our cornerstone. I have included the words in brackets as the verses are at the end of chapter 1 to be clear who the Apostle Paul is talking about. I encourage you to read the whole chapter but these are the verses the Lord drew me to.

And He (God) put all things under His (Jesus’) feet, and gave Him (Jesus) to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him (Jesus) who fills all in all.
Ephesians 1:22-23

Paul is setting out in these verses the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ and His authority and His position now. Not just in the future but in our very present.

Firstly, God has put all things under Jesus’ feet. Not some things but all things, not just in the natural physical realm that we live in currently, but also in the heavenly realm. There is not one thing that is not beneath Jesus’ feet. Jesus is supreme over all things and has all things at His command.

God has appointed Jesus and given Jesus to be the Head over His church. Jesus is the one who is and should be the Head of us who are His body. Jesus is not detached from us. He is the Head of us. What a gift to us. Jesus who has supreme authority and power is the one who leads, guides, protects, nourishes, feeds and provides for us.

As we read on it says that we as the body of Christ are intended to be the fullness of Jesus. Paul has explained who Jesus is, His position, authority, power and we, His body, are to be the fullness of Him.

I want to meditate on that thought again. As the body of Christ, we are connected to Jesus who is the fullness of all things. Jesus is not remote from us, disconnected or disinterested. Jesus is our source of all goodness, righteousness, love, Godly wisdom, kindness, hope, joy, long suffering, patience, humility, strength, power. Jesus is connected to us as the Head of us and He fills us.

We are called to be filled with Jesus. This is made possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit who is given freely to us. The Spirit of God is now in us. We are exhorted to be filled with the Holy Spirit as believers and disciples of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit is to be abundant in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22

Jesus fills all..that is what the Apostle Paul is teaching us. Jesus fills each one of us who is part of His body. Each one of us can be Replenished…filled up to the level that Jesus intends for us, His body. We are to be filled for His glory and His purposes. The intention is for all who are part of Jesus’ body to be filled with Him.

We are intended to be the fullness of Jesus as His body.

What needs replenishing in us today..let us go to the source Jesus and ask Him to replenish us with His fulness.

My prayer today;

Lord, come by your Holy Spirit and fill each one of us who together are your body. May we, your body, be united under you, our Head. Let us be at one in you so that we may be at one with each other. Knit us together Lord in your love. We want to be the fullness of you, who have given us so freely the gift of the Holy Spirit. Fill us again we ask Lord. Fill your body. Replenish us Lord. Let us be the fullness of you in these days for the glory of your Kingdom. Reign in us Lord Jesus. Unite us and breathe upon us breath of God. Amen.

Bless you today.

Look the Part…Play your Part

These are the words that greeted me yesterday on a very large boxed package that arrived with my name on it.

It was very exciting to receive such a large parcel through the post and then to unwrap it and read those words..I had been expecting the delivery in the post although the day and time of its arrival was not known.

I sort of knew what was in the box because I had heard from others who had already received theirs, but this was now my experience of receiving my parcel. Delivered just for me.

The packaging was also a surprise. No-one had mentioned the packaging itself. That really surprised me because the packaging itself was more impactful, thoughtful and challenging to me than the contents of the box. Those words on the outside speaking to me…

Look the Part

Play your Part….

Sometimes people are so keen to get to the gift or what’s in the parcel that they don’t notice the packaging.

That’s a challenge isn’t it….do we take time to notice the packaging?

This packaging had a clear message on it and reminded me of the Christian gospel message of accepting Jesus as our saviour, ongoing discipleship and walking with Jesus all our lives.

Look the part……Are we washed clean from our sins, dressed in our garments of salvation and royal robes of righteousness. Clothed with love, humility and grace from above?

Play your Part…Are we living our lives out daily as Christians in love and service to God and others. Keeping right accounts with God and each other. Growing in the knowledge of God, Jesus our Lord and Saviour and filled with the Holy Spirit who guides us and teaches us.

Wow all of that from a box. So can you guess what the box was and it’s contents?

There’s a clue in the corner

You guessed it…..I’m a volunteer for the Commonwealth Games 2022 which will see athletes from all over the commonwealth nations coming to my home city of Birmingham. In a months’ time I’ll be part of a sporting event and helping to welcome and support visitors to our city. A face of the games.

It wasn’t just the message on the outside of the box that challenged and inspired me. There was more on the inside. Read on and see what you think. Whoever wrote these words is passionate about the message they had to impart.

“When we come together, we form something even more powerful.” Power in unity…that’s the body of Christ

Wow. As the body of Christ we have a message of salvation, joy and hope for non-believers. Jesus is alive…Praise God. I want to shout it from the roof tops…are you hungry? are you thirsty? Do you want life in all its fullness? Forgiveness for your sins? Are you weary, anxious, at your lowest point? Come to Jesus.

Game on…

Someone has put a lot of thought into every element…God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Created in His image.

Have a blessed day today my friends and you never know what will pop into your day unexpectedly to inspire you. Blessings in Jesus

UK Christian Bloggers

It’s been such a blessing and encouragement to me to connect up with other Christian bloggers. I’ve learnt so much and been inspired by chats on various topics. Andy Brown has summed it up excellently in his post which you can read below. Have a blessed day.

Hi! My name is Andy Brown, you may remember me from such blogs as andy-brown.org…! It has indeed been some time since my last proper post, although I…

UK Christian Bloggers

The trap of deceit

I was inspired to repost this today when I read this post from Alan Kearns of Devotional Treasure yesterday which you can read here https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/06/08/traps-on-your-wayside/

Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful.” Jeremiah 5:26-27

Among My people – That is a sobering thought. I believe God is warning His people again now to beware of the wicked one’s trap of deceit. If we fall into that trap, we will be in great trouble. If our minds are deceived then our eyes become blind to the truth and our ears do not hear correctly. The communications we receive are tainted. We see through a distorted lens of deceit and hear through a filter which corrupts us.

The messages we receive become mixed and we are in danger that wrong things are heard and not discerned.

The trap of deceit sucks us further and further into it. The door of the gilded cage is shut and we cannot fly and soar in truth as free as we should be. We are ensnared and our wings are clipped by deceit. Yet we do not see it or hear it.

Let us avoid these traps by keeping to God’s Word revealed in Scripture as our plumb line of truth, stay close to Jesus, follow His paths. We encourage each other to weigh, test and discern the truth. It is Jesus, who is The Truth, who sets us free from deceit. The bible teaches us that –Who the son sets free is free indeed. Lies and deceit are a snare to God’s people and the father of lies, satan loves it so. Let us rather submit to God and resist Satan’s lies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and Jesus teaches us that He, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.

Peter in his second letter to the early churches reminds them that there were false prophets throughout history and that there would also be false prophets amongst them and the same is true for us as believers today. There are false teachers and false prophets at work still.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
2 Peter 2:1-3

Peter warns us that such people will deny truthful aspects of Jesus, are greedy, exploitive and goes on to say that such people despise authority, are bold and arrogant, boastful, appeal to the flesh, entice people with promises of freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity. If we follow them the consequences are dire, and as people who once knew truth we are worse off than before we knew Christ. What a terrible thing.
2 Peter 2:10,17-20

I pray that we will pay attention to these warnings and not be like the people who Jeremiah spoke of:

“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests rule by their own power and My people love to have it so.”

I pray that we as followers of Jesus are not be deceived by flattery or words that “tickle our ears” and appeal to our flesh. The Word of God is like a fire 🔥 which refines and purifies us to be more like Christ.

Behold I will make your words like fire and this people like wood and it will devour them” Jeremiah 5 v14

Please Lord keep us from the trap of deceit and reveal to us if we have been entrapped in any way.

Blessings to you in Jesus name.