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.

A Season of Alignment

Morning, I hope you are well. I believe that God is calling us into a season of alignment with Him. God wants us to be aligned with His plans, His purposes, His teachings, His leading and His Spirit. I am reminded of a similar word to this in October 2020 on a course correction which I will try and link to this post or will re-post. (Hopefully worked below) 🙂

God is calling us to align ourselves ready for the days ahead. We are being encouraged to check our alignment. Where are our hearts, thoughts, plans, actions aligned.

Choosing who and what we are aligned with is going to be key for the season and days ahead. Divine alignment will lead to Divine Appointments and Divine Experiences.

Let us align ourselves with all that is true, all that is Godly, all that is righteous and all that is just. Let us not align ourselves with the things of the flesh, the world, false doctrine, false teachings or false prophecy. God is warning us not to yoke ourselves to the ungodly things of this world. Let us take on the yoke of Christ and then we will be aligned correctly.

Align ourselves with the word of God, the living word and saviour of the world, Jesus. Let us walk where He walks, talk as He talks. Aligned in every aspect of our lives. Let there be nothing that affects our alignment or which causes us to stumble.

Let us align ourselves with the divine power of God. Let the God of the whole world who is worthy of all praise, honour and glory be the centre of our very being. The power of God in dwelling us as our divine compass aligning us with the very mind of Christ. Let us keep in true alignment with God at this time and in the coming days whatever they may bring to us.

May you be blessed in Jesus x I am reminded of the following words of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 12:5-17

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

A course correction – the right direction

Let us shine like stars..

Jesus has a lot to say about service through His teachings, His parables and also His exhortations to the 7 churches in Revelation. We know the foundation of our faith in Christ that we are saved by grace not works, but we must not neglect our service to the King of Kings and are called to let our light, His light in us, shine before the world. These are the days that the Lord is exhorting His church to rise and shine.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world and as a light on a lamp stand gives light to the whole house so should our light be visible to all so that men will see our good works and give glory to God. Matthew 5:14-16. I am also reminded of John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation as He walked amongst the 7 churches who were shown as 7 lamp stands, the reminder that each church is a lamp stand for His light to shine. Representatives of Jesus. To each church, Jesus said “I know your works”. He is saying the same to us today. I know your works.

As Jesus encouraged and called those churches to account so we too can learn lessons from His words. His exhortation to the church of Ephesus is not to forget our first love, Jesus. We can so easily get caught up with works of themselves and become so busy that we can neglect our relationship with Jesus. If it is not our love for Him and His love in us that motivates us then Jesus says we are to repent and return to our first love. To remember the fervent love we had for Jesus when we first encountered Him and His love for us. To be zealous for Him and not lukewarm and indifferent as the church in Laodicea.

The church at Sardis had a reputation for being alive but Jesus said this was not actually the case. Jesus had tested their works and found them not perfect before God. This was a wake up call. To recognise things as they really were so that the church could repent and then take what was still alive and nurture it so that it could grow. As Jesus said to the church at Thyatira, who had corrupted themselves by allowing false prophecy, false teaching and sexual immorality, that He is the one who searches each mind and heart and will give to each one according to their works. Jesus warns against following false teachings and false doctrines. They will distort the light and corrupt our works. Jesus wants us to wake up and recognise false and corrupt things which influence us. To anoint our eyes with His eye salve so we can see clearly.

Jesus is calling us to examine ourselves, prepare ourselves so that we can shine. As disciples of Christ we have much to offer the world, not just in being good citizens and doing good things but also in terms of Godly wisdom and knowledge, insight and understanding. In the bible we are told that the sons of Issachar had the ability to understand the times and seasons that they lived in which enabled them to give the right advice to the people of Israel so that they knew what to do. 1 Chroncles 12:32. We so need that Godly ability in the body of Christ today for the days we live in. Understanding the times and seasons and recognising what God is calling us to do and hearing His voice so that we can advise others whether in our families, work lives, businesses or other positions of influence.

I believe that the Lord is reminding us in this season, where such great needs and injustices are evident in every part of society and in the midst of this global pandemic, to take every opportunity to trust God, obey God and do good because when Jesus comes again, which He will, then He will test our works in this life and reward us accordingly. The question is what we have done in obedience to His calling and according to the measure of gifting and opportunity that have been given to us. What has motivated us in our minds and hearts.

Many years ago, I had a vision of Jesus which impacted me greatly. I saw him stood in front of me and as He held His hands out to me I heard him say very clearly “well done my good and faithful servant”. He then gestured for me to look behind him and I saw this incredible amount of amazing things. I couldn’t describe them in detail to you but I knew they were items of incredible value and beauty and I couldn’t believe how much there was. I remember being completely overwhelmed and asked the Lord what they were for as I couldn’t imagine they were for me. I had done nothing exceptional with my life to deserve such a rich reward. Jesus simply said “ For you, for your faithfulness”. Then He gestured again, and I saw another amazing amount of things and He said “but all this could have been yours as well”. I knew that Jesus wasn’t disappointed in me but He was saddened that He could not give me all that was mine to obtain. I had missed opportunities for service either through disobedience, fear or countless other things which had stopped me. The little foxes which I had allowed to ruin my vineyard.

It would be a trap for me to use that vision to do lots of works for works sake. It wasn’t the message that the Lord had for me. He was encouraging me to remain faithful to Him and His call on my life. To persevere and not give up until My race is run. Jesus reminds me that He is My first love and My heart belongs to Him. I pray that when He calls I will answer and be bold to do all that He calls me to do in service of Him. One day when I do stand before Him I trust I will hear those words “well done good and faithful servant”.

I just want to finish with the following words of encouragement to us.

I heard the Lord say the following in the Spirit. It is time for My church to examine itself. To look carefully at what it is doing. The example it is setting. I am coming and I come first to My church. May they be found ready when I come to test their works with fire. Let him who is doing good continue to do so but examine the heart. For out of the heart comes every selfish thing and motivation. Let My Spirit guide and lead you. Let My Spirit be the one that breathes life into everything you do for Me as then you will reap a harvest, not just in this life but in the life to come. Let your good works be seen by others so they may glorify your father in heaven. It is time to rise and shine like the stars in the sky. This is the day for the church of My people to be the source of nutrition and goodness for others. To give freely out of an abundant storehouse, for I am the bread of life and the pure living water. I will never run dry and I will never run out of provision for My people. To those who are called and chosen by Me and whose name is written in My book of life and My name is written on their foreheads for all to see. Arise and shine for your light has come and the glory of God my Father has risen upon you.

Blessings to you in Jesus name. Amen 🙏

Shine like stars

Always check the power supply…

These were the words of the electrician as he left our house last week. Wise words indeed on more than one level.

The problem had started on the Tuesday evening. I went into the kitchen to find my oven’s digital display was blank. Nothing. I turned the controls and nothing came on. Mmmm

I called my husband and showed him. He looked blank too…

We went into the garage and checked the fuse box. Nothing had tripped out but we shut off the power and out it back on. Nothing, still blank… we decided to call in an expert but they couldn’t come until Saturday. We told them the problem over the phone and they gave us the worst possible scenarios. I was starting to think there would be no roast turkey this year.

I was in the middle of preparing my preach for the Sunday service and the text was from the gospel of Mark chapter 6: the Miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. I was thinking Lord this is ironic. My oven isn’t working and I’m preaching about feeding people.

The Lord had already laid the verses “you give them something to eat” as the focus for my teaching. The Lord is speaking those same words to us, His disciples, today. Jesus wants us, his body, to meet the needs around us through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. That good works have already been prepared in advance by God for each one of us to discover and one day we will give an account to Him.

As I had been preparing, the Lord had been saying to me “more of my Spirit” so my teaching was centring around the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit and being led by the Spirit.

Well, getting back to my oven. As I said we had checked the fuse boxes in the garage and my husband had also checked the cupboard above the oven, as I remembered there was a switch there too. The cupboard has lots of pans etc. but my husband looked and confirmed the switch was on.

On the Saturday morning the electrician arrived. He went in the garage, he looked in the over head cupboard, he flicked on a switch and bam, the oven came to life. He left with the helpful words “always check the power supply “!

You see next to the switch in the cupboard was also another switch which had been hidden from my husband’s view. There were actually two switches and both needed to be on. One was not enough.

The Lord is always teaching us something, especially through the every day bits of life. You see we can all do “work” in our own strength (I’ve been there) but to be fully effective for the work God calls us to do I believe we need the Holy Spirit flowing in and through us. A conduit of His gifts, His fruit, His power. We need to check our power supply and be connected to the One True Source of all love, grace, mercy, power, knowledge, wisdom….the list goes on. If we are, then in faith there is the potential for God’s miraculous provision to be revealed.

May God bless you richly today and may the eyes of your heart be opened to the hope of your calling in Him, Jesus Christ the Lord of all. May you discover that you are God’s workmanship created in Him for good works that He has ready for you to do, being filled with the Holy Spirit and overflowing as He leads you today amen 🙏

My oven 😄 a reminder to check the power supply

Fruit of the Spirit

My friend Deb had a picture recently when praying of an orchard with lots of ripe fruit on the trees. She then separately had a picture of an old fashioned juice press which presses the fruit.

I used to mistakenly think that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life was mainly for my benefit. I thought I was about becoming a better person for my own good. That was the goal.

I came to realise that the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, long suffering, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, self control is also for the benefit of others.

When we are obedient to God’s Word and follow the leading of the Spirit. When we discover the good works that God created each one of us for and prepared ready for us to do, then that is when the fruit is pressed in us. It is then poured out for the benefit of others.

This goodness of God in us brings goodness, refreshment and nourishment to others. Let us not let the fruit go to waste. Don’t let it spoil. It is fresh and there is more than enough. I believe the more we give out the more will be produced in us.

Let us abide in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit in us and then let it be pressed by being obedient to Gods word and His will.

Blessings to you in Jesus name. 🙏

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
John 15:1-8

His Righteousness alone


Colossians 2 v 6 “As you have received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him”

My friend Caroline sent me these encouraging words to share with you today. She said;

This verse of scripture stood out to me the other day, as I began meditating on it and studying it some thoughts began to crystallise.


I thought back to when I first believed on Jesus, not as a child, but later when I rededicated my life to God, the realisation that I couldn’t ‘do it’ without Him, that I desperately wanted and needed Him, that I had nothing to bring to the table, but that He was calling me anyway. He loved me and wanted me, the joy and faith of experiencing His love and acceptance. I remembered how I just accepted Him and loved Him for accepting me.


I also realised how easy it is to slip into legalism, and how this ploy of the enemy robs our joy. It may begin rather subtly as we desire to please God and ‘live right’ but instead of relying on Jesus, begin substituting this by our own effort, and trying to law keep.


I would gently like to remind us, that Christ is our righteousness and He alone by the power of His spirit can enable us to live out this righteousness that has been given as a gift.


Why do we find it so difficult to accept this truth? I would like to share a few thoughts, maybe it’s just my failing? Maybe I am only just ‘seeing’ this truth?


Maybe we are ignorant of the matchless righteousness of God and the standard of holiness He demands. We think that by keeping certain standards and duties, we are doing OK, when actually if we sin in one small thing, under the law we are condemned, this shouldn’t dishearten us, it brings us to a knowledge of the truth that we are dead to the law ( we cannot keep it, and are therefore condemned to death by it), Praise God that we can be married to another! Christ Jesus – Romans 7v4.


We do not see the glory of His righteousness, or the fullness of it, or the value of it to obtain the favour of God. It is the ONLY righteousness of which God is pleased. Help us never to try to establish a righteousness of our own, this is a proud ignorance and ignorant pride.


We can also tell if we have a legal soul, if we are wearied in the way. “He is wearied in his ways, but did not say it is hopeless, but found new life for his strength.” Just redoubling our efforts is not the way forward, but a total trust and reliance on God.


God wants His glory to be seen in the magnitude of His free mercy and grace, legal obedience leaves us deluded and disappointed thinking we can cover ourselves with the tatters of a robe of prayers and duties that we have performed for many years, and that this may cover us.


As long as we are under the command of the law, we remain under the curse of the law, if we pay any attention to the law as a covenant we are a debtor to the whole law. If we are alive in any form to the law, and it can be so subtle, we are not receiving Christ’s righteousness, but leaning on our works of righteousness.


If we would live unto God we must strive to enter the rest of Christ’s righteousness, in this way mercy and grace take all the credit, and Christ will have all the honour, and we will have the peace of God and be enabled to walk in His righteousness, by leaning totally upon Him.


The word is clear, we are the righteousness of God in Christ, not in ourselves, may we never be deceived by the enemy. I pray a greater revelation of these truths for myself and brothers and sisters. There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!! AMEN.


Caroline

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.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Jahoo Clouseau on Pexels.com

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.

Time is for our benefit

As I was praying this morning I felt the Lord say the following:

Today is the day.

There is always a Today. What you choose to do with your Today is the key.

A day is important. It is written – a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.

God works outside of time. God made time for us.

Time is a record. Time is set.

God created time for our benefit.

A day is important. It has a start and it has an end. It is set.

The sun rises and the sun sets. It is fixed. God has set the boundaries of time and He sees the start from the end.

As it is said – “I am the Alpha and the Omega” –

What is it that God requires of you & I today? That is the question.

What will you do with your today?

The Lord says – I have asked the question and you will answer by your actions.

Will you redeem the time God has given you?

The Lord says that He has told His people that the days are short. This is the time to keep your eyes fixed on the King – to serve the King, Jesus with humble hearts.

To do the thing the Lord has asked of you.

What does the King, Jesus, require of you today – to act justly, to love mercy, to show love, to walk humbly with your God.

Redeem today before it is too late for one day you will give an account to Him for all the days alloted to you. Spend them wisely.

Redeem the time for the days are short.

Amen

Revelation 22: 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.

Psalm 90:4 “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night”

2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

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”.

Being a Faithful Servant

Look up and see the King of Glory (JESUS). Do not be asleep when He comes.

Do not let Him find you beating and taking advantage of those more weaker than you. Oppressing those who are weak.

Rise up & shine. Dust off your garments. Shake them out. Let them see the light of day again. Step out into the light of His glory. Do not conform to this world but be different. Be children of the king. Act like children of the king.

In my spirit as I prayed I heard the Lord say:

Woe to those who are sleeping. Let them wake now. Let them wake now and put their hand to the plough before it is too late. I will take away from them and give to another if they do not act on my words and follow me. Deny themselves, take up their cross and follow the master.

I am grieved by some within my body of believers. I am angry with the corruption, hypocrisy and those who abuse My name. They take My name in vain. My name is Holy. My name has authority. My name is not to be taken in vain. My name has power & authority but woe to those who use it in vain & treat it with disdain. They will be undone. They will be destroyed.

Make your way straight before My face.

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Exodus 20:7

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:62

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24:45-51

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:12-13