Fit and ready for spiritual battle?

I hope this post is a help and perhaps a timely reminder for us all to be aware of some of Satan’s strategies against us as Christians. We tend as believers to have differing attitudes to the spiritual realm. At one end of the spectrum, some Christians are unaware that satan is working against them and do not think about the spiritual realm and so do not recognise and resist him, whereas at the other end, some blame satan when anything at all goes wrong and by doing so give too much credence and focus on him. This can mean that we do not take responsibility for our own actions (we just blame satan) and we do not discern rightly between good and evil. Our eyes should always be on God who is all powerful and Christ Jesus who is raised up and seated in the highest place of authority and power and be filled with His Holy Spirit. Beware of looking for the devil in everything as this takes our focus from God which is not a healthy place to be but also let us not be ignorant of satan so that he has influence in our lives.

1 Chronicles ch 7 v 11  “ All these the sons of Jediael, by the heads of their fathers, mighty men of valour, were seventeen thousand and two hundred soldiers, fit to go out for war and battle”.

These verses in the Old Testament talk about these soldiers of Israel who could be called upon at any time to go out to war. They kept themselves fit and prepared.

As Christians we don’t sometimes think we are soldiers in a spiritual battle but:

Consider these Questions:

Q. As a Christian do I recognise that I have a spiritual enemy?

Q. Am I bold (as a lion), fit (prepared) and ready to deal with any attacks against me?

Recognise the enemy

Who is working against me?

When you become a Christian and are redeemed, you have a restored relationship with Father God through Jesus. You move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. You have an inheritance in Christ, restored relationship and the promise of spending eternity with God. Satan hates you because of this. Satan and his demons actively work against the Saints of God looking for ways to deceive, hinder, confuse, silence and rob us. Satan’s strategy is to work under cover as much as possible in a hidden way so that he can do the most damage.   He doesn’t want to be discovered and will always try to work undetected. He certainly does not want his influence to be exposed.

A Christian who understands and applies the finished work of the Cross of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection victory and the position and authority that they have in Christ is a threat to Satan’s kingdom and plans.   When we start to live out our faith, pray, read the Bible, stand up for God’s truth, justice, righteousness, witness to others etc. then satan wants to hinder us as much as possible. When you actively start to move against his kingdom by praying against his strategies, pulling down strongholds, casting out demons etc. then he is going to fight back. That is when we need to know that we are like those OT soldiers and fit and ready for the battle and prepared in God. The battle always belongs to God and He teaches us when and how to engage. How to defend ourselves and the weapons of our warfare to enable us to do so.

Knowing satans strategy;

It’s important to understand some of satan’s main strategy against us. The Apostle Paul says:

 2 Corinthians 2: 11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his strategies.”

Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Wiles = Schemings. Satan is a schemer who is extremely devious and very subtle.

Ephesians 6:10 tells us to stand strong in the Lord relying on His might and power and resist satan. We put on (our responsibility) our spiritual armour of the belt of truth, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel of peace and sword of the Spirit (Scripture/Gods Word) are our protection against those attacks and schemes. We are to use our spiritual armour, pray and when we have done all, stand firm on the rock and foundation of our faith, Christ Jesus our hope and ever present help.

Traps

1 Timothy 3: 7 “lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

We must be careful to avoid any traps which satan would set for us. Traps can take various forms in our lives and our weaknesses are often open to being exploited. We all have them. It could be pride, desires of our flesh, unforgiveness, fear, strife, disunity and the lure of knowledge and power, these are just some of those traps to be avoided.

1 Peter 5:8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”

As we read and meditate on Scripture we gain an understanding of how satan works so that we will not be ignorant (uneducated) of his strategies.   Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to these things. God wants us to have understanding and be wise. The Bible is our sword and God expects us to know how to use it, to appropriate the finished work of the Cross of Jesus, His victory and His resurrection. There is a verse in Hosea which says “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.   Satan is a legalist. He is looking for a way into our lives and will manipulate anything to his advantage. He is a liar and deceiver.

The Bible exhorts us to give him no place in our lives. Ephesians 4: 27 “Neither give place to the devil.” If satan gets a foothold in our lives it can soon develop into a stronghold if we do not submit to God and resist satan. If we yield to his influence instead of resisting him and submitting to God then he will bring us into bondage in one form or another. Sometimes we become so immune to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the hardening of our hearts that we don’t realise what trouble we are in.

Some of Satan’s strategies:

IdentitySatan will attack our identity in Christ and introduce doubt about God’s word and promises to us who are His children who are loved by Him just as he did to Adam and Eve. My friend pointed out this to me recently. When Jesus was baptised, God said “This is My son in whom I am well pleased“. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he first tried to cast doubt on Jesus’ identity by saying “If you are the Son of God”. How subtle and crafty is that. Jesus knew He was God’s son but He avoided satan’s trap by not seeking to prove it by miraculous power and signs and being disobedient to God. Beware of attacks on your identity as a child of God. Know your identity in Christ. Your position in Christ and your authority in Christ.

Mark 1:13 “And he (Jesus) was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan

Temptation – Satan will try and tempt all of us. Jesus knew how to deal with satan’s temptation. He knew the truth, God’s Word and used the Word to rebuke Satan. Jesus did not give in to temptation. We recognise temptation and ask ourselves -Will giving in to this temptation be obedient to God or disobedient. Jesus who empathises with our weaknesses and was tempted just like us, but did not give in, intercedes for us before Gods throne and will help us overcome temptation.

Be aware that satan knows our weak areas. The bible shows us that temptation can come through the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes (we see it we want it) and being tempted to do things independently of God – Pride.

Satan knew King David’s weakness – women. David saw Bathsheba bathing (lust of the eyes), wanted her and gave into the lust of the flesh.   It didn’t stop there however – he manipulated the situation so that her husband was killed in battle.   A really wicked thing to do. However, after the prophet Nathan confronted him David confessed his sin and was forgiven. David could write Psalm 32 about the joy of forgiveness because he experienced the incredible mercy of God. God will always give us a way out of temptation and will strengthen us that we can resist.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

As the Bible shows us when temptation comes, which it surely will, find that escape route and get out of there quickly. Escape temptation whilst you can and have the opportunity. Avoid putting yourself in those tempting circumstances especially if you are still struggling with weakness in an area and will find it very difficult. If you have truly overcome the temptation then you may be to do it but still be wise.

Accusation – When we fall, which we inevitably do, satan is right there to accuse us and hit us when we are down.   Accusation is always from the enemy and never from the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin, not accusation. Satan will hit you with thoughts such as “Call yourself a Christian doing something like that” “How can you be effective for God after what you’ve done” or he’ll just bombard you with negative thoughts about yourself.   He is the master of discouragement.

Revelation 12: 10 “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

Don’t give in to those accusations. You will end up distancing yourself from others because of shame, will try and hide from God and will spiral downwards. Confess your sins, repent and be restored.

Deception – I think this is his greatest strategy against us. Right at the beginning, he deceived Adam & Eve. He distorted the truth and deceived them into disobeying God’s commands. Satan and his demons are liars and the root of deception and falseness. Jesus warns us against being deceived.

Jesus said of satan in John 8:44 “ He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”

 Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world”

 Satan will seek to deceive us into believing his lies. We need to be aware of the following:

 Self-deception. Neil Anderson who wrote “The Bondage Breaker “ uses the following examples from scripture.

We deceive ourselves when:

a) We hear the Word of God but don’t do it – James 1:22;

b) We say we have no sin – 1 John 1:8 – Keep short accounts with God, Confess our sins as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit;

c) We think we are something we’re not – Rom 12:3 – we are warned not to think too highly of ourselves, be humble;

d) We think we are wise in this age– 1 Cor 3, 18-19 – we need to always rely on God and not our own understanding;

e) We don’t bridle our tongues – James 1:26 – gossiping is a no-no. How often do we fall into that subtle trap!

f) We think that we won’t reap what we sow – Galatians 6:7. God is not mocked.

g) We think that we can continually keep in with the wrong company and not be corrupted- 1 Corinthians 15:33. Bad company corrupts.

 False Prophets and Teachers. Jesus warned us about false teaching and false prophets.   We should not just believe everything we read and hear – The Bible instructs us to weigh and test things.   There is teaching all around us now – We can listen to it on social media, TV, the radio, read it in books. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and plumbline by which we should be measuring.   Any teachings, words of prophecy, wisdom, knowledge etc are to be tested against God’s Word and come under the Word of God. They are to submit to God not the other way around.

Satan will counterfeit the things of God – false miracles, false tongues, false prophecies, false gifts etc. The Bible says:

 1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil”

 Mark 13:22 “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time”

2 Peter 2:1 “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 brought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute”

 Deceiving Spirits.

 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world”

 1Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

 As satan is such a master of deception it is not easy for us to recognise and discern his deceit. The gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit is invaluable in this respect. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment. Neil Anderson recommends the following type of prayer to guard against and expose deception:

 “Heavenly Father, I commit myself unreservedly to your will. If I have been deceived in any way, I pray that you will open my eyes to the deception.   I command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that all deceiving spirits depart from me and I renounce and reject all counterfeit gifts or tongues.   Lord, if it is from you, bless it and cause it to grow so that Your Body the Church may be blessed and edified through it. Amen”.

 These strategies of Satan often start with thoughts planted in our minds.

 If evil spirits can put a tempting thought in our minds, put a negative thought in our minds, deceive us into thinking something is right or harmless and

 WE DO NOT TAKE THAT THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO CHRIST THEN

 THE THOUGHT CAN BECOME AN IMAGINATION i.e WE DWELL ON IT

THEN THE IMAGINATION CAN IF WE DWELL ON IT TOO LONG BECOME A STRONGOLD AND SATAN IS EXERCISING SOME CONTROL OVER OUR THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOUR

Half the battle is actually recognising where these thoughts are coming from. Most of the time we think these thoughts are coming from us when they’re not.   We can win this battle in and through God when we;

 2 Corinthians 10: 5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

 I think Deception is the most difficult area for us because we generally know when we’re being tempted or accused but we do not immediately recognise or come to recognise when we are being deceived. This is why the belt of truth is vital in our armour as it is the truth of God which exposes the lie.

Satan is always looking for a way in.   He is a legalist – He is looking for that gap in the hedge of protection around us which we can open up when we go astray from God’s Word and His paths of righteousness. Let us encourage each other to keep ourselves rooted in Christ, submitted to God, recognise the works of the enemy and rebuke him. The bible tells us that satan will then flee from us.

Blessings to you in Jesus name.

547 days..God’s perfect timing

I am so encouraged today and I want to encourage you too with something I discovered this morning.

Last night I was reading my journal and something I had written from a church prayer meeting on 3 July 2019 got my attention. I had written 547 days.

This morning I decided to find out when 547 days was and so did a google search. I searched backwards from today.

The result blew me away. It was the exact same date of the prayer meeting 3/7/2019 and so God really got my attention this morning. What was the Lord saying on that night in 2019 and what is so significant about today that He was pointing us towards it back then.

Well today is significant being 31 December 2020, New Years Eve. We are on the threshold of a New Year. It has been a year of great shaking, turbulence and new things which have impacted all nations. It is also another major milestone in U.K history as we leave the European Union at midnight tonight. We enter into a new era. New days and New things are ahead.

On that night of 3 July 2019 there was a call to preparation. God said that He was calling the lost and were we ready to receive them. I believe God is asking us the same question today. Are we ready to receive the lost?

If there is an incredible revival of people coming to Christ then we need to be ready to teach, shepherd, disciple, heal and restore the lost. To establish sound doctrine and teaching on the firm foundation of Christ as the cornerstone of our faith and the whole gospel. Sound biblical teaching. To see people baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit. See them set free from the effects of their pasts to discover true freedom in Christ Jesus.

In 2008 I had a vision of the small cloud and God reminded me of Elijah at Mount Carmel after the defeat of the false prophets of Baal. After the fire, Elijah prayed for rain and sent his servant back to check for any signs of rain coming as he had already heard the sound of rain in the spirit. There had been a drought for 3 years as a result of Elijah’s prayers and the drought was about to break. On the 7th time of looking the cloud was seen and Elijah knew the rain was on its way so he hitched up his garments and ran. He ran so fast that he overtook the kings chariot. There was a deluge of rain.

God is encouraging us to look and listen and discern what is coming and what He is doing so that we are not unprepared but are like the virgins with our oil ready and more in reserve. I pray that the Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers appointed for these days will rise up for the days ahead to prepare the body of Christ for maturity and to be ready and prepared for all that God is calling us to do in these days. That each one of us will discover our purpose in God, the gifts He has for us and be bold for Him. That our family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues know that we are followers of Christ and where to come in times of need. When they need answers which only God can provide.

When I told my friend about the 547 days she reminded me that numbers are significant in scripture. 5 speaks of GRACE/SALVATION and 7 speaks of perfection/completeness. 4 speaks of creation. It can also refer to seasons and in Strong’s concordance that literally translates as appointed times” i.e divine appointments. I believe today is a divine appointment with God and I pray that we do not miss meeting with Him today. I am eager to spend time with Him to discover what He is saying TODAY. I hope that you will also be encouraged to do the same and share what God is speaking. Amen.

Bless you all in Jesus name.

Condemnation

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like the word Condemnation.

Judges use it when passing sentences on an accused who has been found guilty and sentenced to a punishment which can include death. It must be a terrible thing to be condemned especially to death.

The bible tells us that the wages of sin is death but that through faith and salvation in Jesus Christ there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus has paid the price of our sins, all of them, and justified us completely.

It is sad that many of us are still struggling under the lie of condemnation and guilt.

The Holy Spirit convicts us as believers when we do wrong but does not bring condemnation.

If you still feel condemned and that you deserve everything that happens in your life. That it’s a just punishment for what you’ve done then God wants to remind you that He is a gracious and merciful God. Forgiveness means forgiveness. Please do not get trapped in condemnation. God blots out our sins from His remembrance and remembers them no more. It is by grace that we are saved.

He is a God who abundantly pardons us.

If we still have a definite intention to continue to sin and disobey God then that is not walking in the spirit but in the flesh. As followers of Christ we are new creations in Him and the old sinful self has been crucified with Christ.

We are called to be holy just as Jesus was holy so that we can proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9

We do mess up though and make mistakes and it is the mercy and forgiveness of God that we need in such times. That is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He keeps us on that narrow path

Believing condemnation traps us and keeps us from moving forward and growing. Jesus wants to set us free from condemnation so that we can run the race He has for us.

The bible tells us that sin entangles us and ensnares us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3

Jesus intercedes for us before Gods throne of grace. He is our compassionate High Priest. He has overcome the world and persevered and He knows that we too can overcome sin through His strength and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

He believes in us.

Don’t give up even if you mess up.

Jesus doesn’t condemn us so let’s not condemn ourselves or allow others to condemn us.

We are called to help each other when we get it wrong. Speaking the truth in love to each other. We can’t ignore bad behaviour or turn a blind eye or sweep it under the carpet because that does not help anyone and the body of Christ becomes sick. Hypocrisy is not the way.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.’
Luke 11:34-36

In helping others let us not fall into the trap of criticism, condemnation and judging each other which can be wounding and lead to hurts that fester and cause bitterness.

Blessings to you today in Jesus 🙏

Faith for the race

Our pastor at church encouraged us a year ago to run the race of faith set before us with these words:

You can run a lap of faith;

One Step at a time – Mark 1

Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17-18

One Command at a time – Deuteronomy 11

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Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Deuteronomy 11:1,8

One Day at a time- Colossians 1

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:6

One Seed at a time – Matthew 13

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:18-23

One Test at a time -James 1

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Whatever lap of your race you are on. Keep going..you will cross the finishing line and win the prize.

Have a blessed day 😀🙏

Jesus the Lamb of God

The shouts of heaven still continue to declare:

All Hail the Lamb; All Hail the Lamb;

He is the darling of heaven;

He is crowned with many crowns;

At His name every knee will bow;

He is all majesty and power;

His eyes are like a flaming torch;

He is TRUTH and LOVE;

On His thigh is written a name only He knows;

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE;

He is HEALER, He Is CLEANSER;

He is Deliverer;

He is the Refining Fire;

Open your eyes today to see Him;

It is time to anoint our eyes with salve so that we can truly see Him;

If you are blinded to the truth then you will not see Jesus for who He truly is;

He is more than a prophet, He is more than a man;

He is the Son of the living God;

He is God;

He is alive;

We live in times when there are many blind leaders of the blind;

Many follow those who are blind along the wrong ways;

Are you blinded to the truth;

Have we become blinded to the truth;

I pray the Holy Spirit will open eyes to the truth today so that we can see Jesus more clearly;

Without Jesus as our saviour we are in sin but He can cleanse us from all sin.

I pray today that you will see and know Jesus in all His glory. Take hold of Him today and His redeeming Love for you in faith.

Amen

Mountains..

I was having a look back in my journal today and noticed that earlier this year I had made a few scribbled notes about mountains. As I read my notes again, I realised that this year I have certainly and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, encountered some “mountains” in my life. Mountains I didn’t even know existed especially pre COVID 19!

I’ve realised that sometimes these mountains just have to be conquered. It would be much easier to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist, to try and find another easier way around them (my preference usually if I’m honest) but if we are to make progress in life then I have learnt that they have to be tackled.

These mountains, and they certainly come in all different shapes and sizes and may be different for each of us, have to be climbed and overcome. These are the experiences that God uses to teach us. We persevere and as we do so we encounter the love and faithfulness of God who walks with us each step of the way. He strengthens us and equips us.

The satisfaction we get when we eventually stand on the top, that sense of achievement knowing that we can do it ….when we see life from a different perspective is awesome. We see things we couldn’t see on the way up…hidden things become revealed. We get new perspective.

It can be done. Nothing is impossible with God

Some mountains of opposition are intended to be crushed under our feet. Strongholds that need to be brought down and demolished through the authority of Christ Jesus and the Word of God. We crucify our flesh and walk in the Spirit. We take captive thoughts and imaginations and submit them to Christ.

“ Who are you , oh great mountain, before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain “. Ezekiel 4:7

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. 2 Cor 10:4

Strongholds can be demolished

Some mountains are to be moved in faith…Jesus said to them. “If you have faith as a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible” Some mountains in our lives which are blocking us need to be be moved out of the way by faith. Mountains of insecurity, doubt, anxiety, inferiority…choosing instead to believe what the bible says and not what I think or what others say about me.

Other mountains we can leap on and over like a deer as the Lord fills us with His joy. It is amazing that we can experience the joy of the Lord despite the realities of our current difficulties and circumstances. We don’t deny those difficulties but we can rise above them as we praise Him and as we dance with the knowledge of the joy of our salvation. We can jump with joy on the mountains.

“The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deers feet ..and He will make me walk on the high hills”. Habakkuk 3:19.

James 1:2. “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience but let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.”

God is there on the mountains. God met Moses on the mountain. He meets us in our circumstances too. God came down but Moses also had to choose to go up. It was a fearful sight to behold and the mountain trembled, there was smoke and fire. It required boldness and faith to approach the mountain of God.

“Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire…..Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.”

Moses did not let fear hold him back. He overcame any fear of approaching the mountain of God’s presence. Do not let fear hold you back either. The Lord says do not fear because the truth is as the bible says that we have not come to the mountain that cannot be touched. In Christ we can have confidence that we can boldly approach God’s throne of grace for help in times of need. Jesus has made the way and prepared the way for us.

There is good news we can still receive in every mountain of our life. For every difficult situation we have the word of God to comfort us, guide us, encourage us, lift us and remind us of the hope we have in Jesus our Saviour.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him who bring good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings, who proclaims salvation,”. Isaiah 52:7

What is the mountain you are facing today? Be encouraged it will not defeat you.

“Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth. You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small and make hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away and the whirlwind shall scatter them, you shall rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel”

Blessings to you in Jesus.

A course correction – the right direction

The Lord has been speaking these same words “a course correction” to me over the last month or so. It has certainly got my attention and through various scriptures and pictures, I keep coming back to this theme of a “course correction”. As I have been reading and praying, I believe that the Lord is emphasising that whether it is on a personal level or even governmental and national – there is need of a “course correction”.

I have this sense that some may have gone “off course” in terms of following God, or in doing what God wants us to do in our lives or doing what is pleasing to Him. The degree of “course correction” required is going to vary depending on how far we have wandered from the right path or direction that God wants to take us. It could be just a small correction or adjustment to get us back on track or if we are going in the wrong direction entirely then it will mean a complete “U” turn – whether that is in terms of mindsets and/or behaviors to get back on track.

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For some I believe it means they will find the right way in God through Jesus for the first time. It will be a complete revelation of truth to them. They will hear the good news and receive the gospel and believe. There could be opposition, trouble and persecution to this new direction in life and for some people it will mean going in the opposite direction to those around you – people you may have journeyed through life with for a long time. There will be challenging times ahead but Jesus will journey with you and take you through.

You might be led to take a different path and for some there may be a literal parting of ways with certain people – this even happened with the Apostle Paul when he parted ways with Barnabas and they went in different directions in their missionary journey. I see this happening in certain ministries – people are going to part company but God will show the timing of this and trust Him to give you peace about the decision. It may mean for those who do not discern God’s hand and direction that there could be hurts along the way and difficulties to overcome, so I pray for God’s grace in these situations and a covering of protection of hearts & minds. That no root of bitterness will spring up or jealousy among fellow believers leading to disunity and trouble.

At the start of Covid 19 we certainly seemed to be having a time of “reset” and people took the opportunity of an enforced lockdown to review lots of aspects of their lives. Even Churches were not immune and had to review their practices and make changes to the way that they functioned in terms of meeting together, teaching & helping each other and their local communities. Lots of changes were made, there was innovation & new practices undertaken – but recently people seem to be wanting to get back to “normal”.

People are saying more and more that they can’t wait until things return to normal. I can understand this because there has been a lot of confusion and changes of rules/regulations and this has unsettled us -there are restrictions on our every day lives and we are longing for a return to normality, but I don’t think God wants us to return to the old “normal”. I believe God really wants us to embrace a course correction. God does not want us to return to old habits and ways of doing things especially if they were wrong. There is something better that God has for us.

The Lord first got my attention on a “course correction” with a reading in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament and in Chapter 2 he says “I will stand my watch and set myself on the ramparts and watch to see what He (God) will say to me and what I will answer when I am corrected“.

Habakkuk actively sought correction from God – he prepared himself to listen and receive it but in my experience (this may just be me) -we usually try and avoid correction or disciplining. I don’t think I have met anyone yet who really likes being disciplined and told they are wrong but it is good for us and its necessary. We can make wrong choices or we move and act impulsively or at the wrong time. God loves us and correcting us is a sign of His love for us – If we are children of God then it is a given that He will correct us. As a loving Father, God wants to correct us and show us when we are “off course”. God wants the best for us. He showed Habakkuk plainly – God said “write the vision and make it plain i.e. clear so that he may run who reads it” – in other words God speaks clearly to us through His word and shows us what is required for Godly living.

When I was thinking about this scripture from Habakkuk the Lord showed me a picture of a sail boat. It was just a small simple boat with a sail and a person sitting at the helm with his hand on the tiller. The tiller is the “course corrector” – without the tiller the boat would just go with the currents, the winds & tides which would dictate its course. However, the sailor constantly adjusts the pressure on the tiller to keep the boat going in the right direction. God is the tiller in our lives. There is always going to be a “wind” or a “current” in our lives which tries to influence us and take us in a certain direction. It’s identifying which is prevailing and influencing the direction of my life – is it culture, relationships, work, fears, lies, anxieties, my desires, my assumptions etc. there are so many things – or am I allowing the word of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right way – with my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s challenging to take time and ask God to identify what is truly influencing our decisions and the direction we are travelling.

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The good news is that Jesus comes to set us back on track if we are going the wrong way. Jesus set two of His followers back on the right course. In Luke 24 starting at verse 13, we read the story of two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas, who were travelling from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus. Both had been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and were discussing everything that had happened with Jesus’ death and also the story that the women had told them that morning of Jesus’ tomb being empty. They were confused, sad and didn’t know what to believe. They had now left Jerusalem & the other believers – we are not told why- and were travelling to Emmaus – 7 miles away – going in the wrong direction. Jesus took the time to go and meet them on the road and explain the truth to them – he took them through the scriptures and explained the truth about the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament. These men both knew Jesus but they didn’t immediately recognise Jesus on the road but something compelled them not to let this “stranger” go on but to hear more from Him. The story ends with them doing a “U” turn and heading back to Jerusalem.

I love this story – Jesus shows His love and compassion as the good shepherd for these two followers. He actively seeks them out because they are headed in the wrong direction but they don’t realise it. They need to be in Jerusalem. They need to go back to where they headed out from. Jesus eventually reveals himself to them when they all sit down to eat & break bread together (this speaks to me of a time of intimacy and fellowship) and then immediately once they recognise Jesus it all makes sense – they get up and head back to Jerusalem – even though it is late at night to tell the rest of the disciples the good news – Jesus is alive – He has been resurrected.

This story made me think – What would have happened if those two followers had not returned to Jerusalem. Not only did they encourage and immediately witness about Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples when they returned which must have had an impact especially when their story was verified when Jesus appeared again to all of them there, but I also think they could have missed out on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised His followers. It is not recorded in scripture, but I do believe those two men were part of those 120 who were recorded as gathered in the upper room in the Acts of the Apostles and received the infilling and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not want them to miss out on the fullness of what He had promised and it’s the same for you and I today. Jesus does not want us to miss out on the fullness of what He died and rose from death to give us – life in all its abundance.

I think Jesus wants to cause an intervention in some lives to get us back on track. We hear of “interventions” being made in secular terms – someone might be in a desperate situation and there has to be an “intervention” by friends or authorities to get them to stop and change – to get them to realise truth. Jesus does the same and the New Testament is full of stories of Jesus intervening in people’s lives and totally changing them and their circumstances. The apostle Paul is another example who comes to mind- Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus and totally changes the direction of his life – instead of persecuting and killing Christians as Saul – he becomes Paul – a believer and follower of Christ who becomes a witness of Jesus – an apostle and missionary.

Isaiah 55 v 7 says “Let the wicked forsake his way, …….Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God for He will abundantly pardon”. The good news of Jesus is that salvation -believing in Jesus and accepting Him into our lives – the biggest course corrector to lead us back into fellowship with God – is available to everyone. Repenting means doing a “U” turn – a “turn around” – turning away from our former sinful and self-centered lives – and following Jesus as a disciple. It is not too late to make that decision to get off the wide path that Jesus says leads to destruction and instead choose to take the narrow path which Jesus guides us to and puts our feet on – the path of salvation and to eternal life with God. Restoration in all its fullness.

And what of those of us who are followers of Christ already- where could we possible need a course correction. Jesus speaks to the churches in Revelation and showed them some course corrections needed -Firstly – the church who had forgotten their first love. I was really convicted of this recently – My love for Jesus – it needed rekindling. My passion for Him as I had at first as a young believer – when I first came to know Him and love Him. Those verses in Revelation 2:4 spoke right into my heart “I have this against you – that you have left your first love”. Remember from where you have fallen – repent – a course corrector – it’s always first and foremost about Jesus. It’s about our relationship with Him. It’s not what we do but why we do it – Jesus is the reason – our love for Him.

It’s not just losing our first love, Jesus also points out in these early chapters of Revelation the churches who are tolerating immorality, idolatry, false teachings, tolerating false prophets, the indifferent church – neither hot nor cold and the dead church – having a name for being alive but actually dead. Jesus has words of correction to all these churches but also words of encouragement to keep the churches on the right paths of His presence and teachings. To help them get back on track and overcome all trials and temptations just as Jesus did – with His guidance and the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us. We, who are the Church – the body of Christ – a living, breathing body with Christ as our head need to take these words of Jesus on board – They are relevant to these times that we are living in. What is Jesus saying to His church today – what words of correction is He bringing to us.

I pray that this blog will be an encouragement, challenge and help to you. It may resonate with you and may you be blessed in Jesus’ precious name.

Truth will always out

Matthew 5 v 8. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. 

There is a very dramatic scene in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” when Lady Macbeth is observed at night sleep walking and “washing” her hands over and over in an attempt to clean them from the “blood” which only she can see on her hands.      She keeps repeating over and over “out damned spot out” but no matter how often she cleans her hands it has no effect.    The “blood” is still there and she knows it. 

Those watching her think she has gone mad because they cannot see any blood on her hands.     As far as they know she hasn’t murdered anyone or spilled blood– her hands are to all intents and purposes clean.     

Her unconscious actions whilst asleep however betray the truth.  

Lady Macbeth was to all intents and purposes a murderer. She had persuaded her husband to murder the King and now she was suffering from guilt and revealing through her actions what had previously been hidden in her heart.      Her heart was certainly not pure as it was full of murderous thoughts, jealousy and scheming ambition.   Consequently, her apparently clean hands were not really clean at all. 

She was the ultimate hypocrite whose heart betrayed her.  

The story of Lady Macbeth is rather an extreme example but I hope it might makes us stop and think and consider our own hearts and what motivates us.   We can all put on a good show (myself included) but impurity in our thoughts and character will eventually come out no matter how much we might try to hide or pretend it’s not there.  

Jesus taught his disciples that it wasn’t enough to just observe the religious rituals of the day because it was the evil thoughts which came out of their hearts which actually defiled them and shaped their actions. 

Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy and wasn’t shy to challenge the religious people of the day.  

I believe Jesus issues the same challenges to us, His followers today.   

Jesus didn’t mince His words.   He called the Pharisees “whitewashed” tombs and accused them of being too concerned with appearing holy to others but actually inside they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.     

The religious leaders of the day were so meticulous in enforcing, and on the face of it obeying all the laws and traditions, but in practice they were not living out a pure life but were full of “extortion and self-indulgence”.   The outside of the cup may have been clean but not the inside.

Matthew 5 v 8. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. 

These words of Jesus show us that it must be possible to become pure in heart otherwise Jesus would be lying.  I believe that Jesus is truth so this statement would on that principle be true.    

The bible teaches us that we cannot be pure through our own efforts – it is impossible.  

The Old Testament points us to the need for a Saviour.    I believe that Jesus is that Saviour who makes this possible. Jesus is the only one who can make us clean from sin by His sacrifice on the Cross and His blood shed for us to cleanse us from sin. 

The apostle Paul teaches us that “Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the Word in order to present her as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish” i.e. pure.    

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross ensures that we can daily come and take hold of His blood to cleanse and purify us.   However, we must not treat his sacrifice with contempt and pay lip service when we are convicted of sin.      True repentance means turning away from sin. Changing our behavior. Replacing the old wrong behaviors and thoughts with the right and Godly ones.

I believe in the biblical promise that one day when we die in faith we will then be with and see God.    To be absent from the body as Paul put it and present with the Lord.    However, I think that Jesus’ promise that we will see God can be evidenced in our behavior in our everyday lives.  

When we are hypocritical and our actions do not mirror what we say we believe or what God requires of us in his Word then we do not “see” God at work in our lives or in the lives of others around us.  

However, when we submit ourselves to God and allow Him to work in us and to change us by the power of the Holy Spirit, then I believe we “see” God at work in the changes we experience in our character and motives.     We become more Christ like in our attitudes and so we see God’s character reflected in us and our actions to others.   

I know for myself and I am sure that others can testify to the changes that have taken place in them since becoming Christians.   Some of the immediate changes in my behavior were more obvious and noticeable (my lifestyle changed dramatically when I came back to the Lord) and I think it can be the same for a lot of people.   The lifestyle changes are usually the first to be seen. 

However, some changes in character and behavior are a deeper work of the Holy Spirit especially if we are “blind” or don’t want to acknowledge those character flaws within us.    This is when the Word of God and applying the Word is so important as we can use the Word to hold ourselves to account.   1 Peter 2 says “Lay aside all hypocrisy –desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby” and   Romans 12:  “Let love be without hypocrisy”.  

True Christian love in our hearts will show itself through our actions.   These are certainly the days for action.

We are because of Covid 19 in a new day of opportunity in how we live out our Christian faith daily- the old pattern & structure of church attendance is not the same any more. We are not pew fillers and were never just meant to be “Sunday believers”. I believe we are now less “building focused” and more “body of Christ” focused.

I am not perfect by any means and some days the thoughts and motives of my heart are anything but pure.  I would be lying if I said otherwise, but I love the fact that God’s grace is at work in my life.  I take confidence from the fact that “He who has begun a good work in me will complete it” Phil 1:6.

It is difficult to acknowledge that our hearts might not be right before God and to humble ourselves. 

There is an encouraging prayer in the Psalms – Psalm 51 –A prayer of repentance which can help us. 

David acknowledged that he needed to be cleansed from his sins and that God “desires truth in the inward parts”.  David certainly knew what he was talking about – the sinful desires of his heart had also led him to contrive a murder (rather like our fictional Lady Macbeth) which he then tried to cover up but God revealed the truth through his prophet, Nathan.   David was truly repentant and experienced God’s redeeming love.     

Can I encourage us all that our prayer to God this week is “Create in me a clean heart O’ God”.

Shepherds – after Gods own heart

“Then I will give you Shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding”. Jeremiah 3:15

We live in times when good shepherds are certainly needed in the body of Christ. In Hosea, we are warned that Gods people perish or are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Ignorance is certainly not bliss and especially at these times when there is so much false news and deception out there. There are false teachings and practices which try to lead us astray.

All wisdom & knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus. Godly shepherds will lead you in the true gospel of Jesus Christ so that we are not deceived by false doctrines or as Paul said to the Colossians “fine sounding arguments”. Their teaching will be centred on Christ Jesus and the gospel so that we are rooted in Jesus and have a solid foundation of faith to build on. We need such shepherds.

If you are blessed to have a good shepherd or shepherds in your life then value them and respect them. They are a covering for you and watch over you. They will lead you in the right direction and help you make wise decisions. If you are without such a shepherd then I pray that you will find one and God will provide such a shepherd or shepherds for you. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we need shepherds according to His heart.

Perhaps you could be such a shepherd? Is God calling you to be a shepherd and help shepherd His people.

The bible has a lot to teach us about the value of knowledge and understanding. I believe that we are living in days when God will accelerate knowledge and understanding for Christians. This will help not only us but also others, so that we can bring words of knowledge and wisdom into all sorts of situations where it is needed. Not just in Christian circles but to guide and lead in the world. To be influencers for good. To be the Daniels and Josephs for these days.

God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning to Daniel and his friends. They used this knowledge to help the King make wise decisions. God gave Joseph a strategy to prepare for a famine. He helped the Egyptians prepare for this time and saved many people in the process.

Ignorance is dangerous and wilful ignorance even more so. Burying our heads in the sand helps no one. It is our responsibility to seek out knowledge. A wise person said that foolishness is doing the same thing time and again and expecting a different result. Let’s not fall into that trap.

Confusion can lead to an inability to see clearly what needs to be done. We stagnate and can’t move forward. Fear can also result in paralysis so decisions are not made and things wither and die. If you find yourself in this position then I pray God will show you the way ahead and give you shepherds with His heart to help you along the journey.

Created for a life with God

Morning all – what another beautiful day it has been.

Creation – In the beginning God spoke.   There is always as starting point for creativity.  Your Father in Heaven is a Creator but satan is a counterfeit.

A counterfeit is a copy of the original & the unique creation.  It is merely a copy.  It looks appealing.  It looks as though it will do the job, but it can never bring that true sense of satisfaction because it will never be as good as the original.

The original has a purpose unique to it.   You are unique.  You are a created being – You were made to give glory to your Father in Heaven.  You are truly unique.   There has and never will be a good enough copy of you.   You are the original – God looked at you and said – It is GOOD.   If God can say that about you – then  please don’t say anything else about the beautiful human being that He has created you to be.

Stop living a counterfeit fake life, full of sin & deceit and start living the life which God created you to live.   A life of freedom, holiness, joy, love – A life of grace, mercy & kindness.  It is possible to throw off that old life & embrace a new life in Jesus Christ.  He was the son who knew no sin – human yet divine.   He is unique and there is none like Him.  There is only one Jesus Christ the true son of God.   Any other Jesus is just a counterfeit & a fake.

Don’t be fooled.  There is no-one else who can make a way back to Father God in Heaven – Only the true son of God – Jesus Christ.   He alone is the one true God.  He alone is the one true path of righteousness & salvation.  Believe in Him.  The true King of Kings & Lord of Lords & do not be deceived by the counterfeits.   They lead to death but Jesus leads to life and life in all its fullness.

God created you for a purpose.  He loves you and cherishes you and longs to be reunited to you.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him will be saved.

John 3 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

May your faith be genuine.  My your love be true and may your heart not deceive you.

Believe in Jesus and be saved.   Believe & be saved.

Alleluia to the Lamb of God – forever & ever.  For He was slain but now He lives.

Amen, Amen & Amen.

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