There have been some wonderful and inspiring things I have seen this weekend away in the Derbyshire Dales. I love how the beauty of nature reminds me of God. You see His hand in creation. The wildlife and scenery.
Some man made things have also inspired me- like these old drinking troughs which were built to collect the fresh spring water for the nearby village. The men and women would collect it daily and even sell it for a penny a bucket.
The first 2 troughs which collected the spring water were clear but the furthest ones were filled with weeds.
It reminded me how we keep pure and fresh by staying close to our saviour, Jesus and staying in and being obedient to God’s Word. The more we stray the weeds in our lives start to choke out Godly purity.
We are away in the Derbyshire Dales at the moment and the countryside is beautiful. We visited last year and I was inspired by their narrow gates to write this post.
So, to get to the inspiration for this post..the narrow gate. On our first evening here, we ventured for a walk and discovered the “narrow gate”. Here it is..it was the first of many we encountered on our walks in these parts but our first experience of such a gate. As you can see the gate is made of two massive stones, positioned to enable walkers to enter the next field but not the livestock.
I seriously struggled to get through it. I literally had to squeeze myself through. I know I’m carrying a few extra Covid pounds but this was ridiculous. My husband thought it was hilarious as I was trying this way and that way and eventually sideways to get through. I don’t know what was going wrong because I should have easily got through the gap. It is very narrow at the bottom and then widens out (a bit) but I seemed to approach it all wrong.
And there lies the rub…with finding and entering through the narrow gate which Jesus talks about. The gate that leads to God and eternal life.
We have to approach and enter through the gate (Jesus) in the right way. We can’t take any of our selfish ambitions, pride or get through the gate by belief in our own goodness or good works. My own righteousness and good works are just filthy rags and will not do. They just get in the way and count for nothing.
The good news is that you can enter through the gate by simple faith in Jesus alone. Simple childlike faith. The gate is available to be found by everyone from every nation to find and walk through. There is an entrance fee but Jesus has already paid it for us. He died and paid the penalty for sin so the price is paid in full.
Have you found the narrow gate dear reader and entered through? Or are you approaching the gate in the wrong way and making it too difficult for yourself. Don’t let the things of this world get in the way of walking through that gate. Divest yourself of them and simply come as you are. Believe in Jesus and follow Him.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14
“so he (Jesus) explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:7-18
This is the last in my series of posts on the Gates. I will include a link to all of them on a separate post as well for ease if you haven’t seen or had chance to read the others.
The Miphkad Gate or The inspection Gate
The bible teach us that Jesus is coming back (Hallelujah) and we should live today and each day with that in mind.
Whatever we are doing -let us do it with an eye to the future and make it count.
This gate reminds me of the judgement seat of Christ. An inspection appointment.
The bible teaches us that one day we, as Christians, will give an account of ourselves to Christ. We will appear before His throne and Christ will judge our works. Each one of us individually will appear before Him. How we long to hear those words from His lips “Well done good and faithful servant”. Christ has gifts for us as rewards for our faithfulness to Him.
We can be confident that we are not being judged for sin to face the wrath of God because our sins have been paid for by Jesus’ precious blood, but we will give an account for our works or in other words how have we have lived out our lives for Jesus as His follower.
Paul teaches on this in 2 Corinthians Ch 5 – v 9 “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad“.
What is Christ looking for?
I believe it is His character reflected in us and how it has manifested in and through our lives as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We are exhorted to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.
Matthew 7 – v 17 – “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit“.
This takes us right back to the Sheep Gate where we started our journey around the gates – We have to be rooted in Christ to bear good fruit.
John 15 talks of the true vine and Jesus says:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, and 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.”
The fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives is Galatians 5: 22 – ” love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, – Against such there is no law: And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires“.
If we are rooted in Him then the good fruit will be produced naturally by the Holy Spirit working in our lives and what we do will be good and pleasing to Jesus.
Let us not become weary in doing good but let us encourage each other to grow in our love for Jesus, the Holy Scriptures and to be wells of living water to those we meet. To boldly proclaim the Word of God in season and out of season.
“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 God’s 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.
The next gate in this series of posts about the gates which Nehemiah rebuilt is the Horse Gate.
This gate speaks of battles and as Christians we must not forget that we are in a spiritual battle. There will be battles.
We have an enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want us to follow Christ or mature spiritually and discover the fullness of who we are in Christ. He certainly doesn’t want us telling anyone else the good news about what Jesus has done for us or making disciples for Jesus.
Our enemy has a strategy against us and will try and discourage us, hinder us, entrap us and stop us in our Christian life. He will do what he can to put thoughts into our minds and build strongholds there to frustrate our Christian walk. He will try and deceive us, tempt us, cause us to be fearful, to give up because we are weary, frustrated, anxious and being a Christian just seems too difficult.
That’s all a bit heavy but there is great news. This Christian life is a life that is so worth it and if it wasn’t then we wouldn’t encounter such opposition. We have discovered life in all its fullness in Christ Jesus. It’s precious and valuable and our enemy wants to steal it from us. No wonder he opposes us, but we have been fully equipped in Christ Jesus to resist satan and overcome him.
Let us not give up but let us fight the good fight. Let us contend for our faith.
We are very familiar with Paul’s encouraging words in Ephesians 6 but let us remember to apply them.
“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.”
The Lord has not left us alone at the mercy of the enemy. We are children of the Most High God. Adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus. Jesus intercedes for us before God’s throne. We are baptised in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The bible teaches us that when we submit to God and resist the enemy then the promise of God is that our enemy will flee from us. We submit to God when we are obedient to God’s Word and commandments. We resist the temptation to act or fail to act as we know God requires of us. We bring our will into submission to God. We choose life and not death.
Be confident in God’s Word which is living and powerful and is at work in us. We are in a battle that we can win. Jesus has already won the battle and has overcome all that is in opposition to God’s kingdom.
These are such incredible verses to root us in our faith from Colossians:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:6-15
Today I wanted to share this picture that the Holy Spirit inspired in my heart last year. It is Pentecost Sunday today and I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth glorifying King Jesus in and through us, His body of believers. Thank you Jesus for sending the Holy Spirit to us.
I had a beautiful and encouraging picture during worship at our church service this morning which I want to share here too, as I believe there are people reading this blog (or people you know) who will be blessed and encouraged by this picture.
In the picture I saw a shepherd who was pouring oil onto and over a sheep’s head.
The Shepherd was rubbing the oil into places that were wounded or infected but otherwise the oil was freely flowing down and over the sheep’s head onto its neck and then onto the ground.
We know that we are the sheep of God’s pasture and the great Shepherd of the flock is Jesus.
Jesus is pouring the oil of His grace and love through the ministry of the Holy Spirit over your head today. It is like the balm of Gilead dripping down over your head.
The Lord Jesus wants to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to those who are currently experiencing attacks on their thoughts – those experiencing anxiety, depression, fear, self doubt, confusion and whose thoughts are being assailed at this time.
Just as the Shepherd pours the oil over the sheep to protect it’s head from disease and to heal its wounds so the Lord is pouring out His grace and love upon you today.
Receive His love. Receive His grace.
I pray that every thought and imagination will be taken captive to Christ and we will know and experience the extravagance of His abundant love for us today.
That we will know and experience God’s amazing love and grace from the top of our heads – the crowns of our heads – to the soles of our feet.
This oil of grace and love is being poured out upon your head today – receive it and allow yourself to surrender to His loving grace and mercy working in every area of your life but particularly your thoughts today.
Bless you today my friends in the precious name of our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
Two gates today which I have mentioned together as they are both water related. The Fountain Gate and the Water Gate.
These gates have been very much in my thoughts and prayers the last week or so. At church we have been considering wells. We are all wells for Jesus. Sometimes our wells can become blocked, capped, or run dry. There are some people whose wells have been capped by others. Perhaps capped intentionally or sometimes unintentionally by a thoughtless criticism or harsh word.
The Lord wants to see those wells uncapped. I am sure you can recognise some capped wells that you know. Could you pray for them to be released. For healing of those hurts of the past and the restrictions to be lifted off people. It’s time to uncap those wells. Spring up oh wells is the cry of our hearts.
The enemy will seek to hinder us from being wells and we need to guard the wells of our heart. Sometimes our wells become polluted because it’s not pure water that we are allowing in. As my friend Paul wisely said this week, if we are pouring out a drink offering for others then may it be the pure living water of Jesus Christ, the Living Word that we offer them. May we be cleansed and purified by Jesus.
The Fountain Gate
Nehemiah repaired the Fountain Gate. This gate reminds us of Jesus, who is the fountain of living water and the Holy Spirit freely given to us, who lives in us and fills us daily by His power.
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.
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
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 and the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. The promise in Jesus’ words is that if we believe in Him then rivers of living water will flow from us. That’s a promise from Jesus. We have to thirst, come, drink, believe and let the river flow. No capping.
The Water Gate
This gate speaks to me of the power of the Word of God (Holy Scripture) 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 living, powerful and true – a test of our thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
When we read, meditate and act on the Word of God then we see the fruit of its out-working in our lives and it keeps us on the right path.
The Water Gate was the only gate which it seems did not need to be repaired by Nehemiah as it doesn’t mention the repairs. They repaired opposite that gate and then the next section after it.
“Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate towards the east and the projecting tower.”
This speaks to me powerfully.
The Word of God endures for ever.
God’s Word does not need to be improved, added to or altered. It is complete just as it is. It is the best instructions, which are never irrelevant or outdated, for a life lived to God’s glory and fulfilling in every way. It’s the manual for successful living in God’s eyes. Not worldly success as we know it but Kingdom living.
Just as the name suggests this gate which Nehemiah rebuilt was the one used to get rid of the rubbish and waste from the city. The rubbish has to go somewhere.
I don’t know about you but even after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am still a work in progress. Working out my salvation. I sin (even when I don’t want to or intend to) and get things wrong. However, I don’t write myself off. Even though I sin, I know that the power of sin over me has been broken because of the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.
I repent when I know I have done wrong or when the Holy Spirit convicts me and I am forgiven and cleansed by the power of the blood of Christ. The rubbish is swept out of the door. When the accuser comes to me I just point to the blood of Jesus and he has nothing on me. The slate is wiped clean.
I don’t use the grace of Christ as a licence to sin though but I rely on the grace of God in my life and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict me of sin. Keeping short accounts and pursuing a life in Christ.
If there is still rubbish in your life or you are carrying it around then I encourage you to get rid of it. It is only choking the word of God and the fruit of the Spirit from maturing in us. If we allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts then He will convict us of sin. Keeping our hearts soft so they do not become hardened by sin and disobedience.
Guard the gate to your heart. There is so much rubbish out there in the world, don’t let it through the gates to contaminate and pollute your soul and mind.
What rubbish needs to be out of our lives today? Let’s be ruthless with it and get rid of it – once and for all through Jesus.
I did a series of posts a couple of years ago on Gates and I am re-posting them with a couple of tweaks over the course of this week. The posts were inspired by a teaching I heard a Pastor give many years ago at church from the story of Nehemiah. I have also over the years used the material in small group teaching. The book of Nehemiah is rich material for a bible study and discussion group as there are valuable lessons for us that we can apply.
To set the scene, the Lord leads Nehemiah by His Spirit to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the ruined gates and walls of the city.
Here are some questions for us to consider. How and what are we building in our lives?
I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Chapter 3. The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit leads and inspires us to build in our lives.
The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt. This is the most important gate 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 Jesus Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God. Jesus said that no-one could come to the Father but by Him.
Have we come to God by repentance through the Cross of Jesus and understood the power of the Cross in our lives. That the power of sin and death is broken because of what Jesus has accomplished for us by His death and resurrection. That we are now children of the living God, adopted into God’s family. If we try and build on anything apart from the true foundation of the revelation of Jesus Christ and the Cross we will build wrongly. Jesus Christ has to be the cornerstone of our faith.
We all need to enter in through the Sheep gate to be a true sheep, no exceptions.
Jesus Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate.
They are not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing and there are false shepherds.
In John chapter 10 v 1-11 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 be on your guard of any teaching or doctrine about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus.
We need to come to God through a true revelation of who Jesus is, why his death on the Cross was necessary and the power of His resurrection. The bible teaches that Jesus was God’s son, the Word made flesh. Jesus came as God in the flesh. Jesus died for our sins but was raised again victorious and ascended back to Father God in heaven. God has given Him all authority and power and a name above all Names. Jesus sits at God’s right hand and makes intercession for us. One day Jesus will return for His church as He promised.
An interesting detail is 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 in Jesus today. Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.