The Fountain Gate – Nehemiah repaired the Fountain Gate. This gate reminds me of Jesus – who is the fountain of living water- and also the daily power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. There is a living well of spiritual water for us to draw from daily. It is an inexhaustible supply that will never run dry. Jesus said we never need to thirst again when we come to Him because He is the living water. He can satisfy our thirst in all areas and bring refreshing to us. When we are tired, weary or discouraged then we can come to the Fountain Gate and be refreshed. We can drink deeply of Jesus and be restored. If we forsake the living water then we will be dry and empty with nothing to give. Our source of spiritual life is Jesus.
The Water Gate – This gate speaks to me of the power of the word of God which is at work in our lives. The bible teaches us that we are washed by the word of God. The word of God is powerful and true – a test of our thoughts and intentions. When we read, meditate and act on the Word of God then we see the fruit if its out-working in our lives and it keeps us on the right path.
The Water Gate was the only gate which didn’t need repair. The word of God endures for ever. God’s word doesn’t need to be improved, added to or altered – it is complete just as it is. It is the best manual for a successful and fulfilling life.
Here are some questions for us? How and What are we building in our lives? First the How? I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Ch 3 in the Old Testament. The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit inspires us to build in our lives. Jesus said that he would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt. This is the most important in our lives. We have to come to God through the Sheep gate. The bible teaches us that it is only those who enter in by Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God. Have we come through the Cross – and really understood the power of the Cross in our lives? That the power of sin and death is broken. If we try and build on anything apart from the true revelation of Christ and the Cross we will be in difficulty. Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. We need to come in through the Sheep gate.
Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate – not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing – and false shepherds. John 10 -7 – Jesus says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep – To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus went on to explain: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” Please beware of any teaching about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus and weigh and test it against scripture. We need to come to Christ through a true revelation of the Cross and build on Him as the cornerstone of our faith.
I understand that the Sheep gate was the only gate that didn’t have locks and bars. To me this symbolises that the way to God is open through Jesus and it is open to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. Nothing can disqualify you from receiving grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of the Cross. If you have never come through the Sheep Gate then I encourage you to confess your sins and take that step by faith today. Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The message bible translation of Zechariah 3 v 10 is “At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence; friendly visits on one another’s porches.” What a lovely picture of peacefulness.
We all long, I am sure, for a day when peace reigns in our neighbourhoods and cities. When people can rub along together despite “fences ” -the differences that separate them. The Bible talks here of just such a day when this can happen. I want that in my neighbourhood and I am sure you do too.
A day when knife crime and violence is not the words we see and read about in our newspapers and TV but instead there is genuine friendship and love for one another. Love your neighbour as yourself is one of the commandments in the bible and Jesus emphasised it in His teaching. As we come into this season of Lent what is it that we can do for our neighbours as a friendly gesture that will show God’s love for them through us.
What could it be? A friendly greeting, a smile, a bunch of flowers, a catch up with a cup of tea, an invitation for a meal? Showing friendship to those who are alone and lonely. I am sure that God will show us and open up the door of opportunity to us in this season of Lent.
Psalm 46 verse 1 says that “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in times of trouble”. If you are in the middle of difficult times and struggling to hang on and feel that everything is conspiring against you then I encourage you to take hold of these verses. God is with you and will not let you sink. His everlasting arms are around you to support you.
In verse 10 it says “Be still and know that I am God”. I always thought that this meant that I was to be still and know Him in such times but the footnotes in my Bible say that this is God telling the wicked- “Be Still and know that I am God”. In other words God is telling the enemy who is rising against us and conspiring against us “Back off -enough is enough- you don’t have a chance of winning in this situation because I am God”.
I love that. Thank you Father that you are on our side. God puts the enemy well and truly in his place. He reminds the enemy that God alone will be exalted among the nations. God may allow us to go through certain trials and struggles to strengthen our faith and so that we can grow in spiritual maturity – things that sometimes we do not understand- but ultimately God always has the last say over the enemy and his strategies because God is God. God is sovereign and everything in heaven and earth is subject to Him.
This was evident when Jesus spoke to the storm that was raging all around the boat carrying the disciples and Jesus over the sea of Galilee and He commanded the winds and the waves to “Be still” and they were. Does God need to speak into a few storms in your life or do you need to remind the storms that God is saying to them “Be Still”.
As I was praying last week and in worship at Church I had a picture of a bride. I first saw a picture of a lion and knew that this was Jesus – the lion of Judah. The Lion was looking at something and when I followed his gaze, I saw that He was looking at a bride.
The picture shocked me. Although the bride was dressed in a beautiful white dress and veil -the dress was truly beautiful – spotless and pure bright white, the bride herself looked grey and gaunt, withered and frail. Her beauty had faded and she had no vitality or joy. Her skin was stretched tautly over her bones and was grey and papery. She looked weary as if she had no strength in her from lack of food. She reminded me of a living corpse. It was a terrible sight. The bride was not old which accounted for her appearance. She was young.
I thought is this a picture of the church at the moment- the body of Christ as a whole in the world? Is this what Jesus sees when He looks at us? That the body has lost its vitality, its beauty and is famished and without strength. I was encouraged that the bride’s dress was pure and white. Jesus’ blood truly cleanses us from all sin and purifies us. It reminded me that Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride, but I believe He also wants to come back for a radiant, beautiful and strong bride who is full of His life, joy, power and strength and who radiates His glory and goodness in the world.
I pray that if this picture is correct that the Holy Spirit will reveal it and show us our true condition. That our hearts will be convicted of our lack of His life working in and through us. That we will acknowledge and repent over our condition and turn again to the living hope which is in Christ Jesus by the power of His Holy Spirit to be restored and refreshed. We will realise our desperation and need of Jesus and that without Him there is no power for living. He alone is the bread of life and the living water. John 7 v37 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, he who believes in me as the scriptures say out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. John 6: 48 Jesus said “I am the bread of life”. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and His words are life to us. The bible is food for our soul.
Jesus is in the business of restoration. The Lord reminded me of the picture of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 later in the same day and God’s question to Ezekiel – can these dry bones live? In my picture – Can the bride’s strength, joy, life, beauty and power be restored? In faith I believe that the answer is Yes and I say Yes to God. As Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones – we say to the Church – hear the word of the Lord. “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live” V5 “I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live” v13.
Isaiah 40 v 29 says “He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might, He increases strength”. V31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”. I believe God wants to restore our strength for these days ahead so that we will not grow weary in doing good but will have the strength to continue in the face of adversity and persecution and persevere. We are called to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. May our vitality be restored. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.
Isaiah 30: 21 says “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”.
If you are looking for direction in your life and seeking the path that God wants you to take or a new door is opening up to you then take encouragement from the promise in these verses. God will direct your way.
This is a season for stepping into the new things of God. It may be paths that you or no-one else has travelled before, areas which you have never ventured into, things you or nobody else has ever done but take comfort that God will make it clear that you are on the right path. God will direct you to move forward into new things. Don’t look back at the old or try to do things in the same way but with boldness step into the new. This is a season for God to show you how to do things in a different way. Don’t worry or be anxious that you don’t know what’s up ahead – trust God. If you are walking where God wants you to walk then you are going in the right direction.
You may face discouragement – people may think you are crazy even to attempt something new but God will give you the vision and you will hear His still small voice saying “This is the way walk in it”. You will know it is God speaking to you. I encourage you to be bold in faith today as you hear Him speak to you. Take hold of the opportunity which God is bringing your way.
I sense this may be a season for some that God will completely turn things on their head. God will flip things upside down but you will emerge unscathed. Allow God to be in the driving seat.
I pray God will increase your vision in these days. To stir in you a new vision, a bigger vision and to break new ground for Him. To see new things and create new opportunities for the gospel to be preached and people to be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Over recent weeks God keeps bringing these verses from Isaiah 55 back to mind. v1“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Many years ago our Pastor had a vision in which he felt God say the following to him.
” I am going to restore the appetite of the church for the manifest power and presence of God. A spiritual famine has touched your land. It’s not the result of the lack of or withdrawal of God’s presence and power but it’s a famine of the appetite of God’s people.
Then I looked and saw two groups of people. The first group looked thin and drawn and slightly withered, they were frail and looked prematurely old. God said to me, these people are not the result of an imposed famine. Their condition is the result of a famine in their appetites for the presence and power of God. They have withdrawn in their faith, belief and expectation of God. As a result their appetites have been suppressed, reduced and their health is at risk.
Then I looked and saw another group of people, they were overweight, large people. I said to myself, they must have an appetite Lord. And I felt the Lord say to me “they are also part of a famine. They have just filled their lives with something other than the manifest power and presence of God. They have substituted their appetite for God for other things, as a result they too have suppressed their appetites. I was reminded of this scripture. Isaiah 55 v 1-2. Ho everyone who thirsts come to the waters and you who have no money come buy and eat, come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance. “
I pray that God will restore our appetite during these days so that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness and will overflow the “goodness of God in the land of the living”.