The right approach..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT DOES NOT MEAN BEING AFRAID OF GOD

but I didn’t really grasp that it is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Know it all?

“Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Acts 18:24-26

We have a saying at work that we use a lot as a balance and check:

“You don’t know what you don’t know”.

Think about that saying for a moment.

It’s demonstrated here in the story of Apollos. He didn’t know what he didn’t know until two fellow believers told him and gave him a more full understanding of faith and explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, we are deficient in our knowledge, but until we discover that or someone points it out to us, we are blissfully unaware. We think we are fully informed but we may not be. As a lawyer it makes me consider and research carefully before giving a client advice in case there’s something I have missed.

There are some keys we can learn from these verses.

Apollos knew the Scriptures. He had been taught about Jesus and he taught others. What he taught was correct but it wasn’t the whole story, He had limited knowledge. Whoever had introduced Apollos to faith had limited knowledge too because he only knew what he had been taught up to that point.

You will only learn as much as your current teacher knows.

Aquila and Priscilla had been given a more complete teaching. They had been with Paul and learnt from him. When they heard Apollos speaking publicly they realised that he was lacking in knowledge. They didn’t just leave him in ignorance though but they acted. They didn’t leave Apollos in the dark. Instead they took him aside and explained things more fully to him.

Note that Aquila and Priscilla didn’t publicly shame Apollos. They didn’t flaunt their knowledge or act in a superior way. They took him aside these verses say and so would have explained things privately to him. This was wise and respectful. It also meant that they didn’t squash his enthusiasm and his gifting. He was already an eloquent speaker.

Let us also be careful how we correct those who may not be as mature in faith or have more limited knowledge. We don’t want to be responsible for squashing the gift within them or dampening their enthusiasm in the wrong way. We also need to understand their current level so as not to overwhelm them and make things too difficult to grasp.

As we considered in the last post about Being Open-Minded it seems that Apollos was just that. It was to his benefit and then the benefit of others that he listened, was teachable and then went on to share with others what he had learnt.

I pray that today I won’t consider myself a know it all but will be willing to be shown a more excellent way when I am deficient or lacking in knowledge and understanding of God.

Have a blessed day friends.

Adding knowledge

Feed My lambs, Feed My Sheep

These were the instructions which Jesus gave to his disciple Simon Peter, when he met him again in Galilee after His death and resurrection.

This was the same Simon Peter who had denied knowing Jesus in his time of trial. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him but Peter had protested that he was ready to go to prison and even death for Jesus. It wasn’t to be the case, but Jesus knew that.

It must have been really difficult for Simon Peter to face Jesus again after letting him down so badly, to believe that Jesus would still want him, Peter, to be involved in His ministry and to trust him to look after His flock. What a responsibility. What a calling.

Jesus did trust him though. Even when Jesus knew that Simon Peter would deny him, He comforted Peter by telling him that even after his denial Peter would return and be restored to relationship with Him.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
Luke 22:31-32

Jesus had a task for Peter to do..to strengthen his brothers. The other disciples would need Peter’s support, faith, encouragement and example of humility. I can imagine it was a different Peter who met with his brothers again after his experiences.

I was reminded today of a picture which was shared by a dear brother in Christ at one of our Sunday morning services many years ago. He saw in his vision a long banqueting table. On the table were bowls of soup ready to eat.

The guests at the banquet (members of the church) took their seats facing each other ready to eat. However, when they picked up the spoons they were far too long. It was impossible to get the spoon into the bowl and into their mouths.

Somebody then realised that their spoon could reach the bowl of the person seated opposite them. They started to feed the person opposite them. The others watched their example and started to do the same. Everyone worked together to feed each other.

Jesus has appointed different ministry roles within His church and has equipped His body of believers with every good gift so that His followers can be discipled and fed. Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists. We have the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God. The Holy Spirit has also come to us. We have the gifts and fruit of the Spirit to help us and to help others.

It’s love for Jesus that is to be the motivation and reason for our service to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Loving obedience to Him our Lord and Master. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him when He gave him these instructions. Peter replied that Jesus knew that he did love him. Jesus then replied “Feed My Lambs and Feed My Sheep”.

It was Peter’s love for Jesus that was to be the motivation for service. Jesus restored Peter in love and forgiveness so that Peter did not have a wrong understanding and reason to do what Jesus asked. Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to serve him out of duty or penance in mistakenly thinking he had to make it up to Jesus for denying him. A pure love for Jesus will lead to a pure love for the brethren and pure motives for service.

I believe that there are those within the body of Christ who have not taken up their ministry roles or have laid down their roles and gifts for many different reasons. There will be so many different reasons but Jesus knows them all. Jesus wants to restore us just as He restored Peter. There is a way back to Jesus and there is a way forward to serve Jesus in love as He has called us to do.

As Satan wanted to hinder Peter and to sift him like wheat, so satan does not want any of us to take up our God given callings within the body of Christ. Don’t let Satan deceive us or rob us and the body of Christ of our service to each other.

Waiting Patiently…

I have been reminded of this word which the Lord gave me in August 2020 which I posted on False Manifestations…Watchmen Arise. I also posted recently on The trap of deceit and there is a warning theme in these posts against deception which the Lord is bringing back to my attention.

Satan is a counterfeiter of the things of God. It’s such a wicked thing to deceive people in this way by pretending to be of God or a move of God. It is one of Satan’s craftiest weapons.

If as believers we just hunger and seek after signs and wonders as “evidence” that the Holy Spirit is at work or present then we are in danger of being deceived by false spirits and false manifestations. This will be especially true if we are not rooted and grounded in sound biblical doctrine and the true gospel of Jesus.

This is why discipleship and having a correct understanding of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are so important. The Word without the Spirit in our lives is not in balance nor is the Spirit without the Word. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He leads and guides us into truth.

The bible teaches us that satan can appear as an angel of light as do false apostle and false teachers. Paul says this in his letter to the church at Corinth:

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Have you ever been blinded by a bright light? If someone has ever shone a light directly into your eyes then you will know what I mean. You become dazzled and blinded by that light and you cannot then see anything else around you. This is like the blinding light of Satan. It takes your attention from everything else and blinds you to the truth. God is light and this is why satan also pretends to be light.

Satan still acts in this way today and he will until the end. Counterfeits and deception are still part of his schemes but as Christians we do not have to fear deception but place our confidence in Jesus the rock of our salvation and allow Him to lead and guide us.

If we are ever in doubt then we should not blindly accept what is being said or done but test it. Test it against biblical teaching, test it with fellow believers and test it in prayer with God.

This is part of the word that I posted previously on this theme;

You will hear a rumour or a word that “The Lord is there ” – Jehovah Shammah” but the Lord says do not be fooled.

The Lord says that in the past many have run after the manifestations of the Holy Spirit because of a deep hunger to meet the Lord and encounter His presence but these have often been false manifestations and have led people into the wrong things and opened up a door in their lives to the enemy by accepting a false anointing or a false spirit to oppress them.

The Lord says that you don’t have to run after manifestations of His glory. The glory of the Lord is coming to you.

Wait patiently for the Lord he says – He will come. He will not disappoint you.

The Lord says that He has already warned us in His word not to run after such manifestations or people that claim to be Him. He says not to do it -for if you do then you will be deceived.

As the lightning streaked across the sky as it did in the storms that roared across this nation in the night and which all could see clearly in the sky, then so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

Do not be deceived. Do not go running after false manifestations of the Spirit and the glory.

You will know the awesome presence of the Lord for He is Holy and where He is – is Holy. You will not be able to stand in His presence. Every knee will bow & every tongue confess that He is Lord. He is Lord & there is no other.

The Lord does things according to His Word. He does not act outside of His Word.

Keep the Word of God close to your heart. Feed on the Word of God. Be guided by the Word and do not be deceived for many false prophecies & false words are circulating at the moment. Many false prophets and leaders are rising up in this hour to lead His people astray.

Do not be deceived says the Lord. Say true to His Word – Put your trust in God & do not be deceived. God is faithful and He is true. He will sustain you and protect you at these times.

Watchmen – Take your place on the city walls. Arise & look out at the horizons.

What do you see?

Warn the body of Christ. Sound the alarm. You need to watch in these days ahead says the Lord. There is an acceleration now occurring and things will happen fast. There is a suddenly approaching – Look & Wait. Sound the alarm when the time comes and warn the body of Christ.

Blessings to you this day in Jesus name.

The trap of deceit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pray that we will pay attention to these warnings and not be like the people who Jeremiah spoke of “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests rule by their own power and My people love to have it so.”

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

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

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

Blessings to you in Jesus name.