Preparation and perseverance in the race – prize athletes

Morning all, today’s post is different to my recent posts with a return to sharing a word which the Lord has spoken to me recently. I am sharing what I believe the Lord spoke to my heart but as with any word please weigh and test it.

Last Saturday 17th July in a time of prayer, the Lord Jesus spoke to me again about preparation [for earlier posts on preparation please see Prepare, (Re-)Position, Let Go , Being prepared & persevere, Be ready for the “Suddenlies” and impressed upon me that His bride, the body of Christ has been in a season of preparation. The Holy Spirit has been speaking this word about preparation for some years. Those who have heard what the Spirit has been saying have responded, sought the Lord and started to prepare. However, many have not heard what the Spirit is saying or have heard but their hearts have not received the word.

I believe the Lord is encouraging those who have been preparing and also encouraging those who have not to act now. I heard the Spirit saying that this time of preparation is drawing to a close and a day of action/change is just around the corner. Believers need to be ready to respond in this new season – fit and prepared.

For some in this season there will be new difficulties to overcome, new obstacles put in our paths, new persecutions to be endured, new challenges but there will also be new opportunities to advance God’s Kingdom.

I wrote the following as I received it from the Lord- The day draws near – Purify your hearts and raise up holy hands for it is time to cry out to the Lord until He hears your prayers and answers. Those who bend the knee before My throne and not before man are the ones who will be heard before my Father in heaven. Seek Me in all things for I alone can guide and lead you in the times and days ahead. Great upheaval is coming even worse than the Covid that has ravaged nations. My body of believers must be prepared so that when they hear My trumpet call and when they hear My still small voice they can respond immediately.

I hear this challenge from the Lord – Is your heart prepared for Me. Is your Soul prepared for Me. Is your life laid down for Me.

Those who are not fully committed to Me, who are lukewarm – They will turn back. They will not finish the race to My heart’s grief. I want My children to run the race and complete the course but it requires discipline, commitment to Me and being prepared in Me to overcome and push through so that nothing will cause you to turn back or give up. The road is narrow ahead, the road is difficult but for those who persevere to the end they will receive the Crown of Life. They will understand what an honour they have gained in Me.

I have given all for you My children – I have it all for you. Come to Me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest for your souls. Take My yoke which is easy to bear because we bear it together. Always remember that you do not run this race alone. I run it with you and so do the rest of My believers. You are running for yourself but also with others running with you on the same course. Some ahead and some behind but all going in the same direction and with the same purpose in Me.

Blessed children – prepare yourselves as prize athletes – for the time has come to be ready for the next phase of the race.

Dear friends – whatever stage of the race you are on or whatever lies ahead, I pray that you will be prepared and will overcome. That you will endure to the end and will claim the prize in Christ Jesus your Lord and Saviour. May the grace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you to keep you in the times ahead. May all you do for His Kingdom prosper and may God use you for His Kingdom in ways that exceed your greatest plans, dreams and visions. Let the double doors be opened and may you go through – enter into all that the Son has for you and may you be filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through you. To God be the glory and honour forever and ever Amen.

#Freedom Day

Well today 19th July has been labelled “Freedom Day” here at home in England now that more Covid lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Given current circumstances though it’s not really a “Freedom Day” -we’re not all truly free as there are still restrictions in place and also a lot of people who can’t enjoy the full benefits for various reasons. Its not full freedom by any means.

I find it significant and interesting that our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak can’t participate fully in #Freedom Day as they have to follow the rules and self isolate having come into close contact with the Health Secretary who has Covid – although they did try some creative thinking or was it rule bending 🤔 to try and get the rule dis-applied to them. Thankfully they wisely did a U-turn and agreed to comply with current rules like responsible citizens.

You can’t write about #Freedom Day without thinking of true freedom and what that means. It will mean different things to different people dependent on their experiences and circumstances. As Christians we can truly celebrate a #Freedom Day that is available to everyone to participate in through simple faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the one who has set us free from the effects of sin and death so that we can live in true freedom and have ever lasting life. He took our punishment through His sacrifice and death on the cross. He was punished for us and we have obtained freedom through God’s grace and mercy.

My own personal #Freedom Day was 26th June 1976 when I asked God to forgive me for the wrong things in my life and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I gave my life to Him and went on to be baptised in water as a sign of repentance and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Praise God that I’m truly free and I hope dear reader that you also have your own #Freedom Day to celebrate or if not, that you discover Jesus and become truly free.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8

Although we may live under permanent or temporary physical restrictions, in Jesus we are truly free spiritually. Amen and thanks to our Father in heaven, Christ Jesus and Holy Spirit.

True freedom
Photo from 2015 trip to Robben Island. Freedom cannot be manacled

Stubborn as a mule

“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way.” Acts 19:8-9

In these bible verses we discover another barrier or stumbling block to being open minded. It’s an attitude called “stubbornness”. Ouch.

Paul had travelled to Ephesus and was preaching in the synagogue about Jesus. He persevered for 3 months until the stubbornness of some in the Synagogue caused him to leave and continue his preaching elsewhere in the city.

What does it really mean to be stubborn? I’m sure that we have all encountered people who we would describe as stubborn but do we really recognise what it is and how dangerous a characteristic it is. Have you ever been called Stubborn? I know I have.

One of the dictionary definitions is:

having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

In other words there is compelling evidence for you to change your position and it’s for your benefit, but you refuse to do so.

Other similar expressions to describe people who are stubborn are – “headstrong, obstinate, wilful”. It’s definitely not a characteristic which is mentioned as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

My father in law tells the story of his daughter and his Dad (who were both stubborn people) getting into a deadlock over taking her medicine. She knew it would make her better but she refused to take it. Both sat either side of a table with the medicine in the middle refusing to move until one of them backed down. It lasted hours. In that situation one was determined and one was being stubborn.

If someone calls me stubborn then I have learnt to carefully consider the context in which they are saying it. Is it justified? The word “stubborn” can get bandied about as an accusation (wrongly) when someone just wants you to do what they say or want. If you refuse you are labelled stubborn.

The question to perhaps consider is this. Is there a good and valid reason and solid argument for me to change my mind? Is the evidence being presented credible and weighty. If it is and I’m not changing my position then why is that? Am I just being stubborn? If so, I need to do something about that attitude.

If on the other hand, there isn’t a good reason or argument to change and I am not convinced by the reasoning or evidence then I will stand firm, remain steadfast and not change or compromise. Being steadfast in my beliefs is not the same as being stubborn. Steadfast or stubborn…there is a difference.

Pride and stubbornness are often linked together and in my last post I considered being a A Know it all? Pride and thinking we know it all can make us stubborn. Does pride lead to stubbornness or stubbornness to pride.

So what did Paul go on to say to the Ephesians in his letter to them. He encouraged them to be humble.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future”. Ephesians 4:2-4

He also encouraged them to resist the enemy, his accusations and lies and to be steadfast in their faith.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness “ Ephesians 6:13-14

Stubborn..me?? Really??

The Lord’s Anointed

Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.”
1 Samuel 10:1

Whilst away this week in the Peak District we visited Thor’s cave, which is a natural cave and has been used by people over many thousands of years. It was a large cave which you could access quite easily, but as you went further into the cave there were hidden passages and it quickly became very dark.

Thor’s Cave

Being in the cave reminded me of the story in the bible of David hiding in the cave with his men as a fugitive from King Saul who wanted to kill him. Saul came into the cave not realising that David was in there. He passed so close to David that he was unknowingly completely at his mercy but David restrained his hand from killing “God’s Anointed One”. He did however cut the edge of Saul’s robe but even felt guilty for doing that.

Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.”
1 Samuel 24:4-6

Saul was certainly not behaving like God’s anointed one and God had already rejected him from being King. Samuel had already anointed David who God had chosen to replace him but Saul was still at this time King. Here we have two men both anointed by God. One whose time was over but was still King and the other who had not yet become King.

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” 1 Samuel 16:1

David could have taken Saul’s life in the cave and probably would have felt justified for doing so, but he was not prepared to usurp his position and take matters into his own hand. David was prepared to wait for God to position him and fulfil His plan for his life. Self-Promotion was within David’s grasp. It would have fulfilled the prophecy over his life. He had been anointed to be King. The temptation was there to take advantage of Saul but David did not fall into the trap. He waited for God’s promotion.

Notice how David’s men even encouraged him to kill Saul saying that it was God’s will that God had put him in David’s power that day to do as he wished. A word that sounded good and in the circumstances could have persuaded David but this was not a word from God. It was not God’s intention that David killed Saul. It is so important that we test and discern words, even if they are from those closest to us who may have our best interests at heart, so that we do not act on anything contrary to God’s will and purposes.

There are people anointed by God for certain times and seasons. There are people who have received prophecies over their lives or clear direction from God of what the Lord is calling them to do. They have visions of ministries which God has given them. David’s reaction in the cave is a great lesson to us to wait for God’s timing to bring about His plans for our lives and not seek to take the inheritance too early or in the wrong way. God will bring about opportunities and open doors or close others in His timing. We submit to Him and actively seek His will. Let us beware and avoid the trap of self-promotion or being encouraged by others to move too quickly before God’s appointed time.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10

David didn’t just have one opportunity to kill Saul, he also had another one when he snuck into Saul’s camp past his bodyguards. Even though, David was again encouraged by his companion to kill Saul, he still refused.

No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!” 1 Samuel 26:9-11

Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.” 1 Samuel 26:22-24

David was willing to trust God and allow the Lord to deal with Saul in God’s way and in God’s timing. I believe there is a lesson and encouragement in this bible story for somebody today. May God bless you richly.

Curve Balls..

Life has curve balls. For me, For you. For our families. For our friends. Even for Christians. Things happen, shocking news comes that we weren’t expecting to receive. Times of pain, hurt, disappointment, unsettling times of trouble. It shakes us, throws us off track and then we remember that we serve a God who knows all things, is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever present help in times of need.

In such times, the Lord draws us to Him with love and reminds us of His faithfulness and goodness. That He is a good, good God and we can trust in Him.

Recently, the Lord gave these promises from His Word to sustain us in the difficult and painful times ahead. I hope that if you are experiencing such times yourself that you will also find hope and comfort in these verses. I have meditated and spoken them aloud especially at the start of the day. They have uplifted my soul.

Psalm 91:2. “ I will say of the Lord:He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in Him I will trust”

Nahum 1:7. “ The Lord is good; A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

Psalm 25:5. “ Lead me in your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation on you I wait all the day.”

Psalm 96 1-3. “ Oh sing to the Lord a new song, Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name, Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.”

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Lamentations 3: 22-23. “Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning:Great is your faithfulness”.

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever He is the rock eternal

My friend also gave this wise advice.

I believe the Lord wants us to stop fretting and to rest in his love and goodness for this season and also to look and see His beauty in nature all around us.

Have a blessed day.

One of my favourite places in Wales
La belle France
The amazing rock formations in southern France