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”.
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
“Then I will give you Shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding”. Jeremiah 3:15
We live in times when good shepherds are certainly needed in the body of Christ. In Hosea, we are warned that Gods people perish or are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Ignorance is certainly not bliss and especially at these times when there is so much false news and deception out there. There are false teachings and practices which try to lead us astray.
All wisdom & knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus. Godly shepherds will lead you in the true gospel of Jesus Christ so that we are not deceived by false doctrines or as Paul said to the Colossians “fine sounding arguments”. Their teaching will be centred on Christ Jesus and the gospel so that we are rooted in Jesus and have a solid foundation of faith to build on. We need such shepherds.
If you are blessed to have a good shepherd or shepherds in your life then value them and respect them. They are a covering for you and watch over you. They will lead you in the right direction and help you make wise decisions. If you are without such a shepherd then I pray that you will find one and God will provide such a shepherd or shepherds for you. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we need shepherds according to His heart.
Perhaps you could be such a shepherd? Is God calling you to be a shepherd and help shepherd His people.
The bible has a lot to teach us about the value of knowledge and understanding. I believe that we are living in days when God will accelerate knowledge and understanding for Christians. This will help not only us but also others, so that we can bring words of knowledge and wisdom into all sorts of situations where it is needed. Not just in Christian circles but to guide and lead in the world. To be influencers for good. To be the Daniels and Josephs for these days.
God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning to Daniel and his friends. They used this knowledge to help the King make wise decisions. God gave Joseph a strategy to prepare for a famine. He helped the Egyptians prepare for this time and saved many people in the process.
Ignorance is dangerous and wilful ignorance even more so. Burying our heads in the sand helps no one. It is our responsibility to seek out knowledge. A wise person said that foolishness is doing the same thing time and again and expecting a different result. Let’s not fall into that trap.
Confusion can lead to an inability to see clearly what needs to be done. We stagnate and can’t move forward. Fear can also result in paralysis so decisions are not made and things wither and die. If you find yourself in this position then I pray God will show you the way ahead and give you shepherds with His heart to help you along the journey.
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:
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.
Watch out for people who despise authority -they are not submissive but proud and will not listen. They cause division and stir up trouble.
Watch out for those who speak disdainfully & disrespectfully about things they do not understand – especially things of the spirit realm.
Such people are selfish & motivated by greed and a desire for recognition. They are takers not givers.
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.
These people are grumblers & faultfinders – always moaning and complaining. Nothing is ever good enough. They are dissatisfied & disappointed.
They are boastful and living for their own pleasures – people who will flatter & manipulate for their own benefit.
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:
Build our faith up in Jesus, keep praying in the Holy Spirit and rest in God’s love & mercy;
Discern those who are doubting or weak in faith – help to disciple such people and build their faith;
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.
Warn about the consequences of such ungodly behaviour (in a Godly & truthful way).
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”.
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.
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.
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 says “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”.
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.