Hey Jude – it’s good advice

Jude – it’s that small book in the bible just before Revelation – very easy to miss.    It might be small but it certainly packs a punch and it’s probably not the subject of a sermon that we hear much in church these days.   It’s key messages are as relevant for today’s church as they were when Jude wrote them.

Jude warns us to:

  1.  Watch out for people who are just pretending to be holy but abuse the grace of God & sacrifice of Jesus and keep right on sinning, then repent & sin again – especially sexual sin.  There is no intention of true repentance.  Don’t follow their example or be led astray by their behaviour.
  2. Watch out for people who despise authority -they are not submissive but proud and will not listen.  They cause division and stir up trouble.
  3. Watch out for those who speak disdainfully & disrespectfully about things they do not understand – especially things of the spirit realm.
  4. Such people are selfish & motivated by greed and a desire for recognition.   They are takers not givers.
  5. These are people who will change their opinions and allegiances – they are easily swayed.   They will agree with whatever view is popular.   They have no firm faith.
  6. These people are grumblers & faultfinders – always moaning and complaining.  Nothing is ever good enough.   They are dissatisfied & disappointed.
  7. They are boastful and living for their own pleasures – people who will flatter & manipulate for their own benefit.
  8. These people follow the flesh and not the Spirit.

We need to be aware of any such behaviour so that we do not agree with it, align ourselves with it or fall victim to it.   Jude’s advice is:

  1.  Build our faith up in Jesus,  keep praying in the Holy Spirit and rest in God’s love & mercy;
  2.  Discern those who are doubting or weak in faith – help to disciple such people and build their faith;
  3.  Show mercy and reach out to help those that are weak – treat them with compassion.      We can all stumble and fall and need a helping hand from each other.     There is a difference between those who are wilfully being disobedient to God and doing ungodly things and treating the sacrifice and blood of Jesus as an excuse to sin.
  4. Warn about the consequences of such ungodly behaviour (in a Godly & truthful way).

Take hold of today – Make it count

This is the 3rd word that God has impressed upon me for this season which is linked to the words “Awake, Awake” & “The Heavenly Steed”.    This is about taking hold of each day we are given for God to give glory to Him and to do His good works.

“Arise My Beloved & seek after Me.  For this is the day – Take hold of today for you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  Live each day for Me – from when you rise up until you go to bed.   For I will give you sufficient grace & provision for each day.

At the end of the day you will have discovered something new in Me.  You will have grown in Me, developed in Me, produced fruit for Me & My Kingdom.  If you have not produced fruit for that day, then you have wasted the precious gift I have given you.

One day you will stand before My throne and give an account for each precious day of your life.  A day of opportunity to serve your Master and bring glory to My name.  A day to grow more in love with Me; a day to show My love through you to others.   What have you done with the days I have given to you?   What have you done with the days gifted to you?   Each one is precious.   Each one is valuable.  Each one is a gift from Me.

I do not judge by how the world judges.  I am not impressed by worldly riches or goods for who can have more riches than I?  All of creation is mine.   Do not be led astray & try to gather riches for yourself – for each person’s works will be tested by fire.   Whatever remains after the fire will be rewarded.   Do not build according to the pattern of this world but build My kingdom.   Let My kingdom come & My will be done.

What do I require of you each day but to walk humbly with your God.  Submit each day to Me.   Begin with thanks & praise and end with thanks & praise.   For the time is drawing near for all men’s works to be tested.  Let the fruit be good that grows in your heart so that when you are tested you will come forth as gold – pure gold.

I am looking for a harvest in your lives My children & I do not accept any excuses – for within you there is My power – wrought in Jesus Christ so there is nothing to stop or hinder you which you cannot overcome through faith & submission to Him.

What have you done today for My kingdom?  What have you done today in praise & worship to Me?  Any act of obedience to My will is pure worship before My throne.  I will not be mocked.   What a man sows that he will reap.  Do not sow to your flesh but sow to the Spirit.   Let all be done to My honour & glory & let My glory cover the earth as the waters cover the land.

All hail the Lamb who sits on high.  He comes & brings His rewards with Him.   To those who overcome there will be much reward in heaven.  Amen.”

Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me; to give to everyone according to His work”.

Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you – these things I command you that you love one another”.

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This is the way – Walk in it.

This word came to me again last week whilst worshipping in the church service.   I heard the Lord say:

“You will hear a voice behind you saying – This is the way walk in it.  I have already gone before you and prepared the way.   I have lit the path.    I have opened up the double- barred gates & doors with bars of Iron and they will not be shut.  They will remain open.   You are fully equipped in Jesus to walk the path that I have laid out for you.   You have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Holy Spirit & can walk in the Power & Authority of Christ Jesus.    Walk clothed in the armour of Christ and your feet must be shod with the gospel of peace.   You must walk in those shoes.   Do not to be fearful or anxious.     Do not stay where you are but move forward on the Pathway of My Presence at My command.    I have prepared the way ahead.   Do not fear.    You will hear My voice behind you and you will hear God say – This is the way Walk in it.    The path will be one that you have not walked before but I have already gone ahead and prepared the way.”

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

v 18 “For the Lord is a God of Justice: Blessed are those who wait for Him”

God is giving direction in this season as we pray and wait for Him to guide and lead us.  It may seem foolish to the world but God’s wisdom will prevail and following it will lead to life and not death.

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Healing & Wholeness

The other week during worship in the Sunday Morning, I was reminded of the story of the lepers who Jesus healed.

As I was thinking of the story, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and reminded me that one of the lepers returned to Jesus and thanked him for healing him.    Jesus then told him to go -“your faith has made you whole”.

I believe the Holy Spirit was emphasising that there is a difference between healing and wholeness.    Even though you may have experienced healing, you can still bear the scars from your experience.   Physical or emotional.    The illness may have been healed but its effects are still apparent.

In the case of the lepers – leprosy devastated your skin.   You only had to look at someone to know that they had leprosy – it was not a hidden disease.    I believe the man who was sent away whole was not only healed from his disease but his skin was also completely restored with no evidence of the leprosy.   The effects of his illness was no longer evident.

Some of us still have the scars of our illnesses or experiences.   They are still evident in the way that we behave.    We have been effected on deep levels and the physical and emotional scars still affect us.

This is the day that Jesus can make you whole again.  He wants you to be whole.   Totally restored in Him.   Jesus is in the business of restoration.

Ask Jesus to make you whole.    Thank him for healing you but ask him for full and total restoration of every part of your life so that you are whole physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Blessed by His name.    May His face shine upon you today.

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Time to break up the fallow ground

The Lord has been speaking recently to our fellowship about it being the time to break up our fallow ground.     There has been a sense in my spirit that this is a time to take action, not to delay in our response but to act.    This may be a word just for our fellowship but I am sharing it as it may be an inspiration or challenge to others.

Fallow ground is ground that has been left unplanted for a time so that it can regenerate.     If we apply this principle to our Christian lives, we can recognise there are times when we need a period of regeneration/refreshing, but if we are not careful we can slide into apathy or fear can take hold and before we know it, we are not growing in Christ and Christlikeness or doing anything productive for God’s kingdom.    It can be easier to do nothing at all and let things lie, particularly the difficult areas in our lives which we don’t want to tackle and have a “do not disturb” sign.     The fallow ground becomes hard through lack of ploughing and weeds sprout up.   What was once fallow ground is now more like waste ground.   It’s become a veritable wilderness.

Fallow ground is also ground that has not been planted before but has the potential for producing a crop.    These may be new areas that God is calling us to prepare for planting .   Ground that previously would have been unproductive may now have the capacity to produce.    The land needs breaking up though so that it is ready for sowing.  Stones and weeds need to be removed – in the spiritual sense this is a necessary time of preparation through prayer and believing and praying God’s word to break up the ground ready to receive the spiritual seed.

The words of Hosea 10:12 say “Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you”.

Sowing righteousness and godliness into our own lives and the lives of those around us is completely contrary to current culture.    May God show us by the power of His Holy Spirit what ground is lying fallow and requires breaking up ready for sowing.    If the soil of our own hearts is hard or has become hardened, then I pray the Holy Spirit will soften our hearts and reveal the reason for the hardness.   Unbelief & disappointment will cause our hearts to grow hard and weeds of bitterness & unforgiveness will choke any seed.  May we have ears to hear God and obey His calling and that the word of God will be like a plough turning over the soil of our hearts.

If our gifts and talents in God are not being used or we have let ministries drift, then let this be the season to ask God for new opportunities to serve Him and to breathe new life into hopes, dreams and visions.    Now is not the time to hold back but to get active for God’s kingdom.

The bible teaches us that there is a time for everything.    If we plant good seed in good soil as God shows us then we will receive a harvest.    I pray that we will produce a good harvest so that when we stand before Jesus to give an account we will hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

2 Corinthians 9:10 “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness”.

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The Horse Gate

This gate speaks of battles and as Christians we are in a spiritual battle.     We have an enemy, Satan,  who doesn’t want us to mature spiritually and discover the fullness of who we are in Christ.     The enemy will try and discourage you, hinder you and stop you.     He will do what he can to put thoughts into your mind and build strongholds there to frustrate your Christian walk.     He will try and deceive you, tempt you, cause you to be fearful,  to give up because you are weary, frustrated, anxious and being a Christian just seems too difficult.

Let us not give up but let us fight the good fight.    Ephesians 6 says “Finally, my bretheren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.

Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

God has equipped us through the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the word and Christ with the ability to stand against and overcome our enemy.   The bible says that when we submit to God, resist the enemy then the promise of God is that “he will flee”.      Jesus said that he overcame the world and so we can too.

The Fountain & Water Gates

The Fountain Gate –   Nehemiah repaired the Fountain Gate.   This gate reminds me of Jesus – who is the fountain of living water- and also the daily power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.    There is a living well of spiritual water for us to draw from daily.    It is an inexhaustible supply that will never run dry.      Jesus said we never need to thirst again when we come to Him because He is the living water.   He can satisfy our thirst in all areas and bring refreshing to us.    When we are tired, weary or discouraged then we can come to the Fountain Gate and be refreshed.    We can drink deeply of Jesus and be restored.      If we forsake the living water then we will be dry and empty with nothing to give.  Our source of spiritual life is Jesus.

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The Water Gate –    This gate speaks to me of the power of the word of God which is at work in our lives.    The bible teaches us that we are washed by the word of God.      The word of God is powerful and true – a test of our thoughts and intentions.   When we read, meditate and act on the Word of God then we see the fruit if its out-working in our lives and it keeps us on the right path.

The Water Gate was the only gate which didn’t need repair.    The word of God endures for ever.     God’s word doesn’t need to be improved,  added to or altered – it is complete just as it is.   It is the best manual for a successful and fulfilling life.

The Valley Gate

Nehemiah re-built The Valley Gate.       This is a difficult gate and one that we don’t generally want to go through- the valley experiences which no-one likes.    We would all (myself included) much rather stay on the mountain top and enjoy those experiences with God but I don’t believe that we can stay there forever if we are to grow, mature and move on.

The valley gate can be a necessary part of following our path to achieve what God is preparing us for.   It develops our faith and trust in God and we learn from the experience that God is faithful.    I believe that Jesus had to go through the valley gate when he went from Mt Olives through the Kidron Gate into Garden of Gethsemane and then to the Cross.   He was in agony in the garden but He yielded to God’s will to be done.   Generally, in life we will all go through valley experiences but the encouragement is that we are never alone at those times and we can get through them.   Jesus promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will lead us through the valley – even the valley of death.   The words of Psalm 23 encourages that God is with us and will not forsake us and will comfort us in time of difficulty and pain. 

If you are in a valley situation right now – keep going, don’t give up and ask for God’s help.  Sometimes the valley situations teach us far more than the mountain top experiences and our faith in God grows. God will show you the way through to the other side.  Humility and the valley gate in my experience can sometimes go together hand in hand.   I have had to humble myself under God’s mighty hand before I realise that I can’t handle situations on my own or with my own wisdom or little understanding.    If I submit and surrender to God and acknowledge my dependence on Him then I have felt His peace even in the most difficult of situations.

 

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The Rubbish Gate

Just as the name suggests this gate which Nehemiah rebuilt was the one used to get rid of the rubbish and dung.      I don’t know about you but even after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am still a work in progress and I still sin (even when I don’t want to or intend to) and get things wrong.       However, I don’t write myself off.   Even though I still sin, I know that the power of sin over me has been broken because of the work of Christ at the Cross.    I repent when I know I have done wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts me and I am cleansed by the power of the blood of Christ.    The rubbish is swept out of the door.   When the accuser comes to me I just point to the blood of Jesus and he has nothing on me.   The slate is wiped clean.    I don’t use the grace of Christ as a licence to sin but I rely on the grace of God in my life to convict me of sin.

If there is still rubbish in your life or you are carrying it around then I encourage you to get rid of it.   It is only choking the word of God and the fruit of the Spirit maturing in you.   If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives then He will convict us of sin. Keeping our hearts soft and not hardened by disobedience.   What rubbish needs to be out of our lives today?  Let’s be ruthless with it and get rid of it – once and for all.  

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The Fish Gate

The fish Gate was another gate which Nehemiah rebuilt.  As followers of Christ we are called like the disciples of Jesus to be fishers of men.   We have been given the great commission to go out and make disciples. It is the mandate from Christ to His church.     If however we just put all of our efforts into catching the fish and seeing converts, but don’t disciple them properly afterwards, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see any growth or maturity.

Discipleship requires service, commitment, love and sacrifice.    In order to walk alongside people,  especially people who are hurting, we can need grace, patience and love in great abundance.   The Holy Spirit can help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit in discipleship and teach us how to disciple others.     We need to know the truth of the gospel ourselves in order that we can help others to mature in Christ and follow Him.    The Christian life can be one of suffering, hardship and persecution because of our faith in Jesus and preparing people for that is a key part of discipleship. 

Are the nets ready for the catch?    If there is to be a great harvest of souls then we need to get ready to disciple them.    If you are a follower of Christ then I encourage you to share your testimony and life with others who are new to the faith and disciple them.   Help them and strengthen them to grow and mature in Christ and share your experiences with them.    We all have something to offer in service to Jesus.   Is there someone that you can take under your wing today or give a supporting hand?

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