It’s Ash Wednesday and #LiveLent

There are some great tools available to help us reflect on Jesus and our Christian faith as we enter Lent and the next 40 days of reflection. The Church of England have started #LiveLent which can be accessed through their App, Twitter,Instagram and on line.

www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/live-lent

Have a blessed day x

Fit and ready for spiritual battle?

I hope this post is a help and perhaps a timely reminder for us all to be aware of some of Satan’s strategies against us as Christians. We tend as believers to have differing attitudes to the spiritual realm. At one end of the spectrum, some Christians are unaware that satan is working against them and do not think about the spiritual realm and so do not recognise and resist him, whereas at the other end, some blame satan when anything at all goes wrong and by doing so give too much credence and focus on him. This can mean that we do not take responsibility for our own actions (we just blame satan) and we do not discern rightly between good and evil. Our eyes should always be on God who is all powerful and Christ Jesus who is raised up and seated in the highest place of authority and power and be filled with His Holy Spirit. Beware of looking for the devil in everything as this takes our focus from God which is not a healthy place to be but also let us not be ignorant of satan so that he has influence in our lives.

1 Chronicles ch 7 v 11  “ All these the sons of Jediael, by the heads of their fathers, mighty men of valour, were seventeen thousand and two hundred soldiers, fit to go out for war and battle”.

These verses in the Old Testament talk about these soldiers of Israel who could be called upon at any time to go out to war. They kept themselves fit and prepared.

As Christians we don’t sometimes think we are soldiers in a spiritual battle but:

Consider these Questions:

Q. As a Christian do I recognise that I have a spiritual enemy?

Q. Am I bold (as a lion), fit (prepared) and ready to deal with any attacks against me?

Recognise the enemy

Who is working against me?

When you become a Christian and are redeemed, you have a restored relationship with Father God through Jesus. You move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. You have an inheritance in Christ, restored relationship and the promise of spending eternity with God. Satan hates you because of this. Satan and his demons actively work against the Saints of God looking for ways to deceive, hinder, confuse, silence and rob us. Satan’s strategy is to work under cover as much as possible in a hidden way so that he can do the most damage.   He doesn’t want to be discovered and will always try to work undetected. He certainly does not want his influence to be exposed.

A Christian who understands and applies the finished work of the Cross of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection victory and the position and authority that they have in Christ is a threat to Satan’s kingdom and plans.   When we start to live out our faith, pray, read the Bible, stand up for God’s truth, justice, righteousness, witness to others etc. then satan wants to hinder us as much as possible. When you actively start to move against his kingdom by praying against his strategies, pulling down strongholds, casting out demons etc. then he is going to fight back. That is when we need to know that we are like those OT soldiers and fit and ready for the battle and prepared in God. The battle always belongs to God and He teaches us when and how to engage. How to defend ourselves and the weapons of our warfare to enable us to do so.

Knowing satans strategy;

It’s important to understand some of satan’s main strategy against us. The Apostle Paul says:

 2 Corinthians 2: 11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his strategies.”

Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Wiles = Schemings. Satan is a schemer who is extremely devious and very subtle.

Ephesians 6:10 tells us to stand strong in the Lord relying on His might and power and resist satan. We put on (our responsibility) our spiritual armour of the belt of truth, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel of peace and sword of the Spirit (Scripture/Gods Word) are our protection against those attacks and schemes. We are to use our spiritual armour, pray and when we have done all, stand firm on the rock and foundation of our faith, Christ Jesus our hope and ever present help.

Traps

1 Timothy 3: 7 “lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

We must be careful to avoid any traps which satan would set for us. Traps can take various forms in our lives and our weaknesses are often open to being exploited. We all have them. It could be pride, desires of our flesh, unforgiveness, fear, strife, disunity and the lure of knowledge and power, these are just some of those traps to be avoided.

1 Peter 5:8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”

As we read and meditate on Scripture we gain an understanding of how satan works so that we will not be ignorant (uneducated) of his strategies.   Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to these things. God wants us to have understanding and be wise. The Bible is our sword and God expects us to know how to use it, to appropriate the finished work of the Cross of Jesus, His victory and His resurrection. There is a verse in Hosea which says “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.   Satan is a legalist. He is looking for a way into our lives and will manipulate anything to his advantage. He is a liar and deceiver.

The Bible exhorts us to give him no place in our lives. Ephesians 4: 27 “Neither give place to the devil.” If satan gets a foothold in our lives it can soon develop into a stronghold if we do not submit to God and resist satan. If we yield to his influence instead of resisting him and submitting to God then he will bring us into bondage in one form or another. Sometimes we become so immune to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the hardening of our hearts that we don’t realise what trouble we are in.

Some of Satan’s strategies:

IdentitySatan will attack our identity in Christ and introduce doubt about God’s word and promises to us who are His children who are loved by Him just as he did to Adam and Eve. My friend pointed out this to me recently. When Jesus was baptised, God said “This is My son in whom I am well pleased“. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he first tried to cast doubt on Jesus’ identity by saying “If you are the Son of God”. How subtle and crafty is that. Jesus knew He was God’s son but He avoided satan’s trap by not seeking to prove it by miraculous power and signs and being disobedient to God. Beware of attacks on your identity as a child of God. Know your identity in Christ. Your position in Christ and your authority in Christ.

Mark 1:13 “And he (Jesus) was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan

Temptation – Satan will try and tempt all of us. Jesus knew how to deal with satan’s temptation. He knew the truth, God’s Word and used the Word to rebuke Satan. Jesus did not give in to temptation. We recognise temptation and ask ourselves -Will giving in to this temptation be obedient to God or disobedient. Jesus who empathises with our weaknesses and was tempted just like us, but did not give in, intercedes for us before Gods throne and will help us overcome temptation.

Be aware that satan knows our weak areas. The bible shows us that temptation can come through the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes (we see it we want it) and being tempted to do things independently of God – Pride.

Satan knew King David’s weakness – women. David saw Bathsheba bathing (lust of the eyes), wanted her and gave into the lust of the flesh.   It didn’t stop there however – he manipulated the situation so that her husband was killed in battle.   A really wicked thing to do. However, after the prophet Nathan confronted him David confessed his sin and was forgiven. David could write Psalm 32 about the joy of forgiveness because he experienced the incredible mercy of God. God will always give us a way out of temptation and will strengthen us that we can resist.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

As the Bible shows us when temptation comes, which it surely will, find that escape route and get out of there quickly. Escape temptation whilst you can and have the opportunity. Avoid putting yourself in those tempting circumstances especially if you are still struggling with weakness in an area and will find it very difficult. If you have truly overcome the temptation then you may be to do it but still be wise.

Accusation – When we fall, which we inevitably do, satan is right there to accuse us and hit us when we are down.   Accusation is always from the enemy and never from the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin, not accusation. Satan will hit you with thoughts such as “Call yourself a Christian doing something like that” “How can you be effective for God after what you’ve done” or he’ll just bombard you with negative thoughts about yourself.   He is the master of discouragement.

Revelation 12: 10 “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

Don’t give in to those accusations. You will end up distancing yourself from others because of shame, will try and hide from God and will spiral downwards. Confess your sins, repent and be restored.

Deception – I think this is his greatest strategy against us. Right at the beginning, he deceived Adam & Eve. He distorted the truth and deceived them into disobeying God’s commands. Satan and his demons are liars and the root of deception and falseness. Jesus warns us against being deceived.

Jesus said of satan in John 8:44 “ He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”

 Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world”

 Satan will seek to deceive us into believing his lies. We need to be aware of the following:

 Self-deception. Neil Anderson who wrote “The Bondage Breaker “ uses the following examples from scripture.

We deceive ourselves when:

a) We hear the Word of God but don’t do it – James 1:22;

b) We say we have no sin – 1 John 1:8 – Keep short accounts with God, Confess our sins as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit;

c) We think we are something we’re not – Rom 12:3 – we are warned not to think too highly of ourselves, be humble;

d) We think we are wise in this age– 1 Cor 3, 18-19 – we need to always rely on God and not our own understanding;

e) We don’t bridle our tongues – James 1:26 – gossiping is a no-no. How often do we fall into that subtle trap!

f) We think that we won’t reap what we sow – Galatians 6:7. God is not mocked.

g) We think that we can continually keep in with the wrong company and not be corrupted- 1 Corinthians 15:33. Bad company corrupts.

 False Prophets and Teachers. Jesus warned us about false teaching and false prophets.   We should not just believe everything we read and hear – The Bible instructs us to weigh and test things.   There is teaching all around us now – We can listen to it on social media, TV, the radio, read it in books. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and plumbline by which we should be measuring.   Any teachings, words of prophecy, wisdom, knowledge etc are to be tested against God’s Word and come under the Word of God. They are to submit to God not the other way around.

Satan will counterfeit the things of God – false miracles, false tongues, false prophecies, false gifts etc. The Bible says:

 1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil”

 Mark 13:22 “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time”

2 Peter 2:1 “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 brought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute”

 Deceiving Spirits.

 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world”

 1Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

 As satan is such a master of deception it is not easy for us to recognise and discern his deceit. The gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit is invaluable in this respect. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment. Neil Anderson recommends the following type of prayer to guard against and expose deception:

 “Heavenly Father, I commit myself unreservedly to your will. If I have been deceived in any way, I pray that you will open my eyes to the deception.   I command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that all deceiving spirits depart from me and I renounce and reject all counterfeit gifts or tongues.   Lord, if it is from you, bless it and cause it to grow so that Your Body the Church may be blessed and edified through it. Amen”.

 These strategies of Satan often start with thoughts planted in our minds.

 If evil spirits can put a tempting thought in our minds, put a negative thought in our minds, deceive us into thinking something is right or harmless and

 WE DO NOT TAKE THAT THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO CHRIST THEN

 THE THOUGHT CAN BECOME AN IMAGINATION i.e WE DWELL ON IT

THEN THE IMAGINATION CAN IF WE DWELL ON IT TOO LONG BECOME A STRONGOLD AND SATAN IS EXERCISING SOME CONTROL OVER OUR THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOUR

Half the battle is actually recognising where these thoughts are coming from. Most of the time we think these thoughts are coming from us when they’re not.   We can win this battle in and through God when we;

 2 Corinthians 10: 5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

 I think Deception is the most difficult area for us because we generally know when we’re being tempted or accused but we do not immediately recognise or come to recognise when we are being deceived. This is why the belt of truth is vital in our armour as it is the truth of God which exposes the lie.

Satan is always looking for a way in.   He is a legalist – He is looking for that gap in the hedge of protection around us which we can open up when we go astray from God’s Word and His paths of righteousness. Let us encourage each other to keep ourselves rooted in Christ, submitted to God, recognise the works of the enemy and rebuke him. The bible tells us that satan will then flee from us.

Blessings to you in Jesus name.

How beautiful on..

The mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news 😀

I have some good news to give you today which some of you already know (but it’s encouraging to be reminded) and to some it may be the first time you heard.

Jesus is alive.

Hallelujah Praise God 👏👏👏👏

He has conquered sin and death.

Jesus is seated at the right hand of God with all things under His feet …..that is all demonic principalities and powers which are beneath His feet. Colossians 2:15

I read something the other day that concerned me regarding the power of demonic forces. Reference was made to the outcome of a battle which the prophet Elisha had said would be won by the Israelites but instead they were defeated when the King who was losing sacrificed his own son at the walls. The battle was turned. This story in 2 Kings 3 in the Old Testament shows us the power of blood sacrifice.

However, the posting seemed to suggest that the unleashing of demonic forces against the body of Christ and prophetic words which had been given could overcome God’s will and stop it being fulfilled.

I did not have peace about this. The Lord reminded me that this story is in the Old Testament and was before Jesus came and His sacrifice which changed everything. We are living in the power of a NEW COVENANT OF HIS BLOOD.

The Lord wants to remind us of the truth that there has never been a sacrifice more powerful than the one made by Jesus when He gave up His position with His Father in heaven and came to this earth He created and died for us.

The sacrifice of Jesus and the shedding of His blood 🩸 was more than sufficient to deliver us from the power of sin and darkness and to break all curses and the effects of sin off our lives.

There is no blood sacrifice that can be made now that is more powerful than the blood of Jesus. One precious drop of Jesus blood 🩸 which fell to this earth and was shed for each one of us is more powerful than any demonic sacrifice which is or has ever been made to the enemy or occult powers.

That King we read of in 2 Kings 3 1-27 certainly knew the power of the blood sacrifice especially of a son. Jesus was the son of God who became our sacrifice. That is the most powerful sacrifice there has ever been made. No one took Jesus life from Him. He freely laid down His life for us.

When you pray remember the position that you know pray from. Remember that you are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus who is in authority over all principalities and powers and rulers of darkness.

You have the mind of Christ. You are part of the body of Christ and the body is connected to the Head.

Is Jesus worried about Satan’s strategies and attempts to manipulate? No because Jesus knows all things and Satan has been defeated by Jesus.

Connect your mind and thoughts with the mind of Christ and pray with authority against the wicked strategies of the enemy and pull down His strongholds.

Is there a war going on? Yes there certainly is but we are soldiers of Christ and we come from and fight from a place of victory to push back the enemy and to enforce the victory of the Cross.

We should never forget the finished work of the Cross and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The bible tells us in 1 John not to believe every spirit but to test it to see if it is of God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. The test is this “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God”.

Any word that denies Christ and the power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection must be tested against the word of God.

I want to encourage you to remain rooted and firm in your trust and faith in Jesus Christ who is all powerful and victorious and is seated now in the highest place and at the right hand of God who has put all things under His feet.

Be encouraged by these words in Colossians.

Colossians 1. 13 “ He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the son of His love in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. V 20. And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself by Him whether things in earth or things in heaven having made peace through the blood of His cross”

Colossians 2 v 8. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit according to tradition of men, according to the principles of the world and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and you are complete in Him who is Head of all principality and power.

V15. Having disarmed principalities and powers He made a public spectacle of them TRIUMPHING OVER THEM IN IT.

Lift up your heads oh you gates and be lifted up you everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory ..The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads oh you gates Lift up you everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts is the King of glory. Psalm 24 7 -10.

Jesus said that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Why not? Because He is the King of glory spoken of by David in the Psalm and the gates of hell could not stand against him. He descended into hell and took the keys of death and hell and He has them now. Amen

Bless you this day in Jesus precious name.

Rivers…

I love rivers.

These are photos I took recently of the river Mawddach as it flows into the sea at Barmouth, Wales. It is such a beautiful place.

We stayed in a little cottage right on the banks of the estuary. We could just sit, relax and enjoy these beautiful views. God’s creation is so beautiful.

The river as it flows to the sea
The view from above on the hill..

The bible speaks of a beautiful river. The river of life which flows from Gods throne.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever”.
Revelation 22:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com

I long to see that heavenly river but the good news is that we don’t have to wait to experience spiritual life in all its fullness until heaven. We can drink of that living water right now and the river of life – the Holy Spirit can fill us and also flow through us to help those around us.

Jesus says that He is the living water. If we drink of Him, we will never thirst again. Not only that but we will be assured of Eternal life. We will live forever with God.

To have that assurance of eternal life, the bible teaches us that it is necessary to repent and confess our sins, accept Jesus as our saviour who has taken our sins on himself and be baptised and follow Jesus.

John the Baptist came with the message of repentance in preparing the way for Jesus. People were convicted of their sins and went to him to be baptised in the River Jordan. Even Jesus who knew no sin went to be baptised by John.

A believer being baptised

What an amazing experience it is to be baptised. I still remember being baptised at my local church back in 1977 in the baptismal tank just like in this photo. My brother was fortunate to go to Israel and get baptised in the River Jordan…how wonderful that was.

Healing – The river Jordan was also a place of healing for Naaman the leper – we read the story in 2 Kings 5. The prophet Elisha told Naaman to go and wash in the River Jordan which Naaman was not happy about at all.

His ego was hurt because Elisha the prophet did not come out to see him personally and would not take any gifts from him. Naaman thought the River Jordan was dirty and nothing compared to the rivers of Damascus. It wasn’t the river itself in the story that healed Naaman but his obedience to the word of God. God healed him according to the prophet’s word.

Don’t let ego or pride stop you receiving what God has for you whether that is salvation or healing.

I pray that you too will discover the river of life in Christ Jesus and drink of that living water if you have not done so yet.

“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.
John 7:37-39 – https://www.biblegateway.com

There is a scripture that is very precious to me which to me speaks of revival and an outpouring of the Spirit of God many coming to know Jesus. I pray that for these times we live in now. That many will discover Gods love for them and salvation in Christ Jesus.

“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me round the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.

He asked me, ‘Son of man, do you see this?’

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea.

But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.’
Ezekiel 47:1-12 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage

I pray the dry valleys will be filled with the river of God and we will allow the river of life to flow through us. That the water in us won’t become stagnant like the salt marshes but will be always fresh.

As the disciples became fishers of men I pray that this is a time for many fishermen to arise and proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is eternal life, a river of living water and it is found in Jesus.

Blessings to you this day.

Gardens…

Meet Me in the garden…Those were the words I heard in my spirit as I was waking one morning. I initially turned over and tried to go back to sleep but I heard them again – “Meet Me in the garden”.    I knew it was the Lord Jesus speaking to me and inviting me to spend time with him – not in my actual garden – but in that secret place where I go to pray and talk to Him.    It was early morning so I got up as quietly as I could, so not to disturb my family, and went downstairs to a place I could be alone and meet with the Lord.

It was a really blessed time in His presence.   I started to think more about why the Lord has said to “Meet Him in the garden” and what is so special about a garden.   

During lockdown because of Coronavirus,  many people have spent more time in their gardens or local parks.   It is a blessing to have a garden – a place which is yours, a sanctuary to enjoy and take pleasure from.    A place to reflect, enjoy the beauty of nature and time to relax.    Gardens draw us in and make us feel better – they are food indeed for the soul.   There is something in our DNA which draws us to a garden – even if we are not green fingered ourselves – we can appreciate the beauty. This is me with my dog peeking through a floral display in the park.

I started to think more about gardens in the bible.

God was the first Gardener – It says in Genesis 2 v 8  that “the Lord God planted a garden”  – the Garden of Eden.    How amazing & beautiful that first garden must have been – planted & designed by God’s own hand.   It says that every tree planted was “pleasant for the sight” and “good for food”.       God made that garden especially for Adam.   He took the time to create a special place for Adam.   A place of nourishment & also a place to meet.    God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day and meet with Adam & Eve – a time of relationship.   There is also a special place for each one of us – a place where we can go and meet with God – a place to be in His presence.

Life was in that very first Garden – it was formed there – God created Eve from Adam’s side and the Tree of Life was in it’s midst.    Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness and I believe that we find life – true life – in our relationship with Him.    When we come and meet with Him we meet Life – Jesus said “I am the way, the truth & the life -No-one comes to the father except through Me”.      We won’t find true life or relationship with God any other way – After Adam & Eve had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good & evil they were put out of the garden in case they ate of the tree of life and lived forever in sin.     Jesus through his death and resurrection has cleansed us from sin, there is a way back into the garden of fellowship with God for us and we are now partakers of eternal life.

Death was also in that Garden – When Adam & Eve ate of the tree of knowledge death came.   God made tunics of skin to cover them – an animal had to die to provide clothing for Adam & Eve.  Death had entered into creation.   Death was also drawing near in the Garden of Gethsemane.    Jesus met with his Father in prayer in the Garden on that night.    It says in the gospels that Jesus often went with his disciples there and that is why Judas knew where to find him.    On that night – it was a place of betrayal, pain & suffering for Jesus.   He was in great sorrow and in deep distress.   He had been betrayed, let down by His disciples and was facing death & torture.     The garden is a place that God wants us to come when we are in such times of sorrow – times of anxiety & fear.  Times when we feel overwhelmed and think that we can’t continue – when it all seems too much.    Times when people close to us have betrayed us or let us down.God will draw us to Him, will comfort us & strengthen us in such times so that we can continue.

Beware of the enemy in the Garden. Satan entered the garden of Eden and deceived Eve. Watch out for the lies of the enemy. Don’t let him lead you astray. The garden can provoke others to jealousy. Jezebel schemed and plotted to have Naboth killed because her husband Ahab desired the vineyard garden that belonged to Naboth. The king wanted it for a vegetable garden but Naboth refused to sell. It was his inheritance and not for sale. The enemy always wants to steal your inheritance in Christ. The enemy is jealous of your position in Christ and he will do what he can to steal from you. Guard yourself and trust in God. The enemy will try and stop you enjoying relationship with God. He will tell you that you are not good enough and all sorts of lies to interfere in your relationship with God.

New Life & hope was in the Garden – When Jesus conquered the grave and rose from the dead and appeared to Mary ,she thought at first that he was a Gardener.   I had never really thought about that before but my friend mentioned it to me the other day.     Why would Mary have mistaken Jesus for a Gardener unless he was in a garden and it was a reasonable assumption to make.   From a place of sorrow and grief the garden became one of hope for Mary. There is hope in the garden – Jesus was dead but now He is alive.   It is a place of hope. It’s a place of victory. It’s a place of new beginnings.

Nourishment in the Garden – The plants which were in the Garden of Eden were good for food and there was a river which flowed from there to water the garden.    We all need food & water to survive and flourish.   Jesus said “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”  – “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.  There is spiritual nourishment in spending time with God in His presence and hearing what He has to say to us in those quiet times and as we spend time in His word – the bible.   Jesus is the true bread of life and out of Him spring rivers of living water.     I am becoming more aware of my need to spend more time in His presence, in His word than doing things for God.  I am blessed by the giftings which God has given me but being in relationship with Him is the most important thing – Reminding me of my first love.

Love is in the Garden – unconditional love waits in the garden. God loves us no matter what we have done or what we do.

You will hear God’s voice in the garden. As He spoke to Adam you will hear His still small voice speak to you saying I love you.

God is love. If you seek Him you will find Him. If you are looking for love you will find it in God the father and Jesus the son. Blessings to you.

 

A course correction – the right direction

The Lord has been speaking these same words “a course correction” to me over the last month or so. It has certainly got my attention and through various scriptures and pictures, I keep coming back to this theme of a “course correction”. As I have been reading and praying, I believe that the Lord is emphasising that whether it is on a personal level or even governmental and national – there is need of a “course correction”.

I have this sense that some may have gone “off course” in terms of following God, or in doing what God wants us to do in our lives or doing what is pleasing to Him. The degree of “course correction” required is going to vary depending on how far we have wandered from the right path or direction that God wants to take us. It could be just a small correction or adjustment to get us back on track or if we are going in the wrong direction entirely then it will mean a complete “U” turn – whether that is in terms of mindsets and/or behaviors to get back on track.

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For some I believe it means they will find the right way in God through Jesus for the first time. It will be a complete revelation of truth to them. They will hear the good news and receive the gospel and believe. There could be opposition, trouble and persecution to this new direction in life and for some people it will mean going in the opposite direction to those around you – people you may have journeyed through life with for a long time. There will be challenging times ahead but Jesus will journey with you and take you through.

You might be led to take a different path and for some there may be a literal parting of ways with certain people – this even happened with the Apostle Paul when he parted ways with Barnabas and they went in different directions in their missionary journey. I see this happening in certain ministries – people are going to part company but God will show the timing of this and trust Him to give you peace about the decision. It may mean for those who do not discern God’s hand and direction that there could be hurts along the way and difficulties to overcome, so I pray for God’s grace in these situations and a covering of protection of hearts & minds. That no root of bitterness will spring up or jealousy among fellow believers leading to disunity and trouble.

At the start of Covid 19 we certainly seemed to be having a time of “reset” and people took the opportunity of an enforced lockdown to review lots of aspects of their lives. Even Churches were not immune and had to review their practices and make changes to the way that they functioned in terms of meeting together, teaching & helping each other and their local communities. Lots of changes were made, there was innovation & new practices undertaken – but recently people seem to be wanting to get back to “normal”.

People are saying more and more that they can’t wait until things return to normal. I can understand this because there has been a lot of confusion and changes of rules/regulations and this has unsettled us -there are restrictions on our every day lives and we are longing for a return to normality, but I don’t think God wants us to return to the old “normal”. I believe God really wants us to embrace a course correction. God does not want us to return to old habits and ways of doing things especially if they were wrong. There is something better that God has for us.

The Lord first got my attention on a “course correction” with a reading in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament and in Chapter 2 he says “I will stand my watch and set myself on the ramparts and watch to see what He (God) will say to me and what I will answer when I am corrected“.

Habakkuk actively sought correction from God – he prepared himself to listen and receive it but in my experience (this may just be me) -we usually try and avoid correction or disciplining. I don’t think I have met anyone yet who really likes being disciplined and told they are wrong but it is good for us and its necessary. We can make wrong choices or we move and act impulsively or at the wrong time. God loves us and correcting us is a sign of His love for us – If we are children of God then it is a given that He will correct us. As a loving Father, God wants to correct us and show us when we are “off course”. God wants the best for us. He showed Habakkuk plainly – God said “write the vision and make it plain i.e. clear so that he may run who reads it” – in other words God speaks clearly to us through His word and shows us what is required for Godly living.

When I was thinking about this scripture from Habakkuk the Lord showed me a picture of a sail boat. It was just a small simple boat with a sail and a person sitting at the helm with his hand on the tiller. The tiller is the “course corrector” – without the tiller the boat would just go with the currents, the winds & tides which would dictate its course. However, the sailor constantly adjusts the pressure on the tiller to keep the boat going in the right direction. God is the tiller in our lives. There is always going to be a “wind” or a “current” in our lives which tries to influence us and take us in a certain direction. It’s identifying which is prevailing and influencing the direction of my life – is it culture, relationships, work, fears, lies, anxieties, my desires, my assumptions etc. there are so many things – or am I allowing the word of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right way – with my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s challenging to take time and ask God to identify what is truly influencing our decisions and the direction we are travelling.

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The good news is that Jesus comes to set us back on track if we are going the wrong way. Jesus set two of His followers back on the right course. In Luke 24 starting at verse 13, we read the story of two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas, who were travelling from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus. Both had been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and were discussing everything that had happened with Jesus’ death and also the story that the women had told them that morning of Jesus’ tomb being empty. They were confused, sad and didn’t know what to believe. They had now left Jerusalem & the other believers – we are not told why- and were travelling to Emmaus – 7 miles away – going in the wrong direction. Jesus took the time to go and meet them on the road and explain the truth to them – he took them through the scriptures and explained the truth about the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament. These men both knew Jesus but they didn’t immediately recognise Jesus on the road but something compelled them not to let this “stranger” go on but to hear more from Him. The story ends with them doing a “U” turn and heading back to Jerusalem.

I love this story – Jesus shows His love and compassion as the good shepherd for these two followers. He actively seeks them out because they are headed in the wrong direction but they don’t realise it. They need to be in Jerusalem. They need to go back to where they headed out from. Jesus eventually reveals himself to them when they all sit down to eat & break bread together (this speaks to me of a time of intimacy and fellowship) and then immediately once they recognise Jesus it all makes sense – they get up and head back to Jerusalem – even though it is late at night to tell the rest of the disciples the good news – Jesus is alive – He has been resurrected.

This story made me think – What would have happened if those two followers had not returned to Jerusalem. Not only did they encourage and immediately witness about Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples when they returned which must have had an impact especially when their story was verified when Jesus appeared again to all of them there, but I also think they could have missed out on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised His followers. It is not recorded in scripture, but I do believe those two men were part of those 120 who were recorded as gathered in the upper room in the Acts of the Apostles and received the infilling and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not want them to miss out on the fullness of what He had promised and it’s the same for you and I today. Jesus does not want us to miss out on the fullness of what He died and rose from death to give us – life in all its abundance.

I think Jesus wants to cause an intervention in some lives to get us back on track. We hear of “interventions” being made in secular terms – someone might be in a desperate situation and there has to be an “intervention” by friends or authorities to get them to stop and change – to get them to realise truth. Jesus does the same and the New Testament is full of stories of Jesus intervening in people’s lives and totally changing them and their circumstances. The apostle Paul is another example who comes to mind- Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus and totally changes the direction of his life – instead of persecuting and killing Christians as Saul – he becomes Paul – a believer and follower of Christ who becomes a witness of Jesus – an apostle and missionary.

Isaiah 55 v 7 says “Let the wicked forsake his way, …….Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God for He will abundantly pardon”. The good news of Jesus is that salvation -believing in Jesus and accepting Him into our lives – the biggest course corrector to lead us back into fellowship with God – is available to everyone. Repenting means doing a “U” turn – a “turn around” – turning away from our former sinful and self-centered lives – and following Jesus as a disciple. It is not too late to make that decision to get off the wide path that Jesus says leads to destruction and instead choose to take the narrow path which Jesus guides us to and puts our feet on – the path of salvation and to eternal life with God. Restoration in all its fullness.

And what of those of us who are followers of Christ already- where could we possible need a course correction. Jesus speaks to the churches in Revelation and showed them some course corrections needed -Firstly – the church who had forgotten their first love. I was really convicted of this recently – My love for Jesus – it needed rekindling. My passion for Him as I had at first as a young believer – when I first came to know Him and love Him. Those verses in Revelation 2:4 spoke right into my heart “I have this against you – that you have left your first love”. Remember from where you have fallen – repent – a course corrector – it’s always first and foremost about Jesus. It’s about our relationship with Him. It’s not what we do but why we do it – Jesus is the reason – our love for Him.

It’s not just losing our first love, Jesus also points out in these early chapters of Revelation the churches who are tolerating immorality, idolatry, false teachings, tolerating false prophets, the indifferent church – neither hot nor cold and the dead church – having a name for being alive but actually dead. Jesus has words of correction to all these churches but also words of encouragement to keep the churches on the right paths of His presence and teachings. To help them get back on track and overcome all trials and temptations just as Jesus did – with His guidance and the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us. We, who are the Church – the body of Christ – a living, breathing body with Christ as our head need to take these words of Jesus on board – They are relevant to these times that we are living in. What is Jesus saying to His church today – what words of correction is He bringing to us.

I pray that this blog will be an encouragement, challenge and help to you. It may resonate with you and may you be blessed in Jesus’ precious name.

Truth will always out

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”.

What’s in a name?

Psalm 8:1 “ O Lord our God, the majesty and glory of your name fills all the earth and overflows the heavens”

Names are extremely significant.    They are used to identify and describe people.    People sometimes pick names for their children based on characteristics they hope that child will develop.    Some people’s names really suit them and others not so much.   Names become popular and then are picked because they happen to be the latest fashion.

There is authority & power associated with names.    A law or order signed in the name of the ruler of a nation has a seal of authenticity and is to be obeyed.   It signifies the will of that person and those subject to their authority will obey.

Some people will still “name drop” to get favoured treatment or bend the rules by pretending to be associated with a famous name or person.

Others go even further and will steal other people’s names & identity to get what they want.   Identity theft is one of the major crimes throughout the world.   Good names can be stolen and ruined in an instant.

The bible teaches us a lot about the character of God from the names which God reveals about himself and uses.    Jesus also introduced a new name for God – “Abba” meaning Father.

Matthew 6: 9-13 “Our FATHER in heaven, Hallowed be Your NAME

Hallowed means – to revere, sanctify, consecrate, set apart, worship, lift up, exalt HIS HOLY NAME

Names also have great significance in the Bible and in the spiritual realm.

The Hebrew word for name is “onoma” and was used to signify:

RANK OR AUTHORITY, CHARACTER AND REPUTATION

Every name of God in the Bible reveals a characteristic of God

 1. “ELOHIM” – GOD THE CREATOR – Genesis 1:1

GOD is revealed as the creator of heaven and earth who has all authority, power, greatness, dominion and glory in the whole of the universe.   This goes very much against current secular teachings.

Elohim is in the plural form because Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there at the beginning with God when the world was created.

It is humbling to think but actually I believe that man has never had an original thought or done anything new under the sun really.   We claim to create but I believe that God is the only true source of creative power.

We are taught in the bible that satan is also a created being & a counterfeiter.   He impersonates and steals identities.  He pretends to be what he is not.  We are warned to test things and not to just accept what we see on face value as there are false christs, false prophets, false teachers impersonating the truth.

2        “EL ELYON” – THE MOST HIGH GOD

Genesis 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Creator of heaven and earth.

And blessed be God Most High,

who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

There is no-one or thing above God.

GOD occupies the highest position and throne.

God has the last word.   He cannot be over ruled.   If God has declared or decreed it – then it is coming to pass and no-one or nothing can stop His will being accomplished.

God has sent forth His Word and it will be performed.

3.  “JEHOVAH JIREH” – GOD OF PROVISION

Genesis 22:8-14 –Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

God revealed himself to Abraham on Mount Moriah that he is the GOD of PROVISION.

God provided a ram for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. Abraham experienced the provision of God.

God later provided Jesus as the sacrifice for sin in our place so that we could be redeemed.

God shows his provision for His people all through the bible.  God can and does provide for our needs.    We still encounter His incredible provision for us.

The storehouses of heaven are not empty and God has all resources.  He can truly supply all our needs.

4.  ”EL – SHADDAI” – GOD ALMIGHTY -ALL POWERFUL

 Genesis 17:1 & Exodus 6:3

“I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty”

The literal translation “The God who is Enough”   “The All Powerful” “The one who is Self-Sufficient”

God is the source of all power.  Nothing or no-one is more powerful than God.

If He is for us then who can be against us.

5.  “JEHOVAH” – Exodus 3 v 13 “ I AM THE I AM.”

God reveals himself to Moses at the burning bush as the I AM.

God is saying in this statement that He is everything and also in everything.  He reveals himself as a HOLY GOD and tells Moses to take off his shoes because he is standing on holy ground.

God is going to demonstrate to the Israelites that He alone is everything to them:

Redeemer, Protector, Healer, Source of all Provision in the wilderness, Defeater of their enemies.

6.  “JEHOVAH RAPHA”HEALER

Exodus 15:26 – God reveals himself as the GOD WHO HEALS.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

GOD reveals that it is in nature to heal and to sustain in health.   Jesus went about doing good and healing people.  He sent his disciples out with the power to heal and he uses His people today to bring healing in His name.   God is still in the business of healing people.

7.  “JEHOVAH NISSI”PROTECTOR

Exodus 17:15 – God is revealed as “The LORD is my BANNER”.

God revealed his protection of Israel by defeating their enemies the Amalekites.

Exodus 17:15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.

In the same theme there is also a similar name of God

EL GIBBOR –Mighty God (Champion/hero) – Isaiah 9: 6,7

Super heroes are very much the culture of today.   The film franchises of super heroes are popular for a reason.   Everyone wants a hero –  A champion to look up to.

God is the ultimate hero of His people.

8. “JEHOVAH SHALOM”the Lord is PEACE

Judges 6:24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace.

Shalom Peace means rest, harmony, wholeness, completeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquillity, and prosperity i.e. total wellbeing.

Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace.

Perfect Peace is found in God.

9.  “JEHOVAH TSIDKENU” – RIGHTEOUSNESS

Jeremiah 23:6 – the LORD our RIGHTEOUSNESS

“In his days Judah will be saved  and Israel will live in safety.

This is the name by which He will be called:

The LORD Our Righteousness.”

Jesus is righteous.   He was the only true righteous son because he is God.   God himself who is Righteous became our Righteousness through Jesus.

10. “JEHOVAH SHAMMAH” – the LORD is THERE/PRESENT

 Ezekiel 48:35 God reveals himself as wanting to be present with us – that is His plan.  He is in our past, present and future. He is omnipresent and eternal in nature.

God is the Alpha (beginning) and the Omega (end).  He is there when we get up and when we go to bed.  He is not surprised by anything!! Even when we are.

He makes the way ahead for us to walk in.

11. “JEHOVAH SABAOTH” – “The LORD of HOSTS”.

1 Samuel 17:45  “Then said David to the Philistine,  You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts”

God is the captain of all the hosts (angelic) of Heaven.

The angels are at God’s command.   We read in the bible how they are used as God’s messengers and to carry out God’s orders.   I often pray and ask God to send his angels to help me and to protect my family.

12.  “JEHOVAH – ROI (Ra-ah)”– SHEPHERD

 Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

God is the good shepherd who looks after us.  We are the sheep of His pasture.

A good shepherd tends & watches over the flock,  protects them, feeds them & leads them in and out to good pastures.   He binds up their wounds & heals them.

13.  ABBA  – God as FATHER

Matthew 6 9-13 – Jesus teaches us to pray to  “Our FATHER in heaven, Hallowed be Your NAME

Jesus reveals God as our Father for the first time in scripture. It reveals a new more intimate level of relationship.

The identity of God as a Father to us is so important and learning to relate to God as a Father can be difficult if we have not experienced what true fatherhood is.  I pray for a revelation of God as a father to those who have not experienced or understood this before.

14.  GOD IS LOVE

The Bible reveals that God is LOVE (AGAPE)– His Character is LOVE

 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

AGAPE means “undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable good will that always seeks the highest good of the other person.

It describes the unconditional love which God has for the world.

Discovering God loves us and the extent of that love for us – that love that knows no bounds – it’s height, depth & breadth – what an incredible thing to be loved so much.

When we are loved like that and by such an awesome God then you realise how valuable you are to God.

We really are the apple of His eye.

PRAYER;

“ Lord, your word says that you are my shepherd. I choose to believe your word and declare in faith that you are my shepherd . Thank you God that you are Jehovah Roi – My Shepherd. I declare that I belong to you and you alone and you are Lord of my life. Thank you God that you are the one true shepherd who tends, cares and provides for me.   Thank you that you make me lie down in green pastures where I can rest and be refreshed in you.   Thank you Lord that you lead me every day. Help me to follow in your footsteps and to be obedient to your voice.

Thank you God that you are JEHOVAH JIREH – the God who provides for me and that I shall not want. Lord, your word declares that you will provide all my needs according to your riches in glory. Help me to see Lord that these are not my wants but my needs.

Thank you Lord that you are JEHOVAH TSIDKENU the God of righteousness who leads me in paths of righteousness.   Lord keep me from temptation and sin and keep my feet on the rights paths of your presence. Thank you God for Jesus who your word declares is the good shepherd who by his death on the cross has opened up the way for me to come before your throne. I thank you for the blood of Christ that cleanses me and the robes of righteousness which cover me.

God, help me to share the love of Christ with those who don’t know you so that they can see and know Christ as their Shepherd.   Lord give me compassion for those who don’t know you.

Thank you God for the pastors and elders who you have put in positions to be shepherds of this flock. God bless them and help them to be good shepherds filled with your wisdom as they love us, lead us and care for us.

Lord, help me to feed on good food – building up myself and strengthening myself in you and your Word. Lord, renew my appetite and thirst for you because I know that you are the only one who can satisfy.   You alone are the bread of life.

God finally, I acknowledge that your word says that “Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His People and the Sheep of His pasture”. Lord, let me have a true revelation of who you are so that I will not boast in me but in you alone. That I will walk humbly before you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Finally, these are some of the things which the Bible says about the Name of the Lord:

The Name of the Lord is a defence (Psalm 20:1)

A help in time of trouble (Psalm 9:10)

A comfort (Daniel 11:32)

A strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)

A weapon (1 Samuel 17:45; 2 Chronicles 14:11)

An ointment poured forth (Song of Solomon 1:3)

“In the name of our God We will set up our banners: The Lord fulfill all your petitions “ Psalm 20:5

Exodus 34 v5

“The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there AND PROCLAIMED THE NAME OF THE LORD; And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed. “The Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation

 

 

 

A warning -Don’t be deceived -Watchmen take your place

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

This morning the Lord impressed this word to me:

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 peopled 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.

24 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives,( the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming( and of the end of the age?

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.(For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.( You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted( and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets( will appear and deceive many people.

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom( will be preached in the whole world(as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place(‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop( go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders( to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning( that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[

 

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven,with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[ is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father.(37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,(up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.( 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.(43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant,(whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

blue body of water with orange thunder
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Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there..Do you know how to find God

“and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”
Ezekiel 48:35 or “The Lord is PRESENT”.

These are the very last words in the book of Ezekiel. It’s an encouragement that there is hope & restoration following God’s judgments on the sins of his people and the surrounding nations which have been prophesied by Ezekiel. God is merciful.

Ezekiel describes a future day when the temple is rebuilt and where God’s glory comes to dwell with them and which will remain forever. This time the glory of the Lord will not depart as it had in the past.

John also describes such a place in the last book in the bible, Revelation.

After God’s final judgments on Satan, the nations and sin, we have this beautiful picture of the holy city and that we will be with God forever…just as God always wanted it to be.

Complete restoration of Gods plan for mankind. Eternal Fellowship with Him. Eternity in His presence.

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.

God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;

there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.

There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1-4

These verses speak of a future day & time which we look forward to but these words for me also sum up the ultimate desire of every Christian’s heart and I hope the desire of your heart. To be where God is present.

That is my goal, my vision..to be where He is. To be in His presence. There is no better place to be. There is no more loving & secure place. Not going ahead of Him, not behind but perfectly aligned with Him.

The good news that we declare and are witnesses of is that Jesus has made not only this future possible but also a present reality. The truth is that you can be where God is. You can have the confidence to know that you will be part of that glorious city. To be forever with God.

But the good news is also that you don’t just have to wait for that future day in eternity. You can also enjoy relationship with God right now in the present.

God can be present in your present.

You can enjoy a relationship now with God through Jesus his son. We can come boldly to Gods throne in prayer for help every day. You don’t have to be alone and without help. God can be your refuge and help in times of trouble. He will be your comforter.

“Seeing then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The reason Jesus came and died is so that we can be in right relationship with God. So we can be where God is present. There is no other way to get to the place where the Lord is. Jesus made the way.

We can’t get to God by our own efforts and good works alone because sin is the barrier to a holy God. We can only come through the cross by acknowledging our sins and receiving Gods forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus paid the price of sin by his death and took our sins on himself.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6 –

God wants you to find Him while there is still time.

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
Isaiah 55:6-7

In Revelation we are warned not to leave it too late. We read of those who won’t be allowed into this glorious place where God is forever present.

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 –

“ Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” Revelation 21:25-27

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:14-15

Is your name in the Lamb’s book of life?

Jesus is inviting you today to believe in Him and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour. To follow Him. To add your name to the millions that are already written there. God wants to write your name too.

What does the bible warn about those whose name is not in the Book of Life:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.

And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:11-15

That means going to a place where God is not present. A place where we do not want to be.

It is not Gods will that you go there. He does not want you to perish.

“ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:16-18

Please respond to the invitation to find God through Jesus His son before it is too late.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:16-17