God is Good – His invitation

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is Good;  Blessed is the man that trusts in Him”  Psalm 34:8 

God’s invitation is open to all to come and taste and see that He is good.    He invites us to come to His banqueting table just as we are and to feast.    The Lord says that it is free to come and to partake of all His goodness.   Jesus has paid the price for us.     Other things in this life will not satisfy us but His love, grace, mercy and goodness are more than enough to satisfy our very souls.     His banner over us is love. 

The truth is that God is good.   Jesus is good.   The Holy Spirit is good.    All good things come from God above and He is good.     We declare that truth today.    Anything which teaches or tells us otherwise is a lie.   The gifts of the Holy Spirit are good.    The fruit of the Holy Spirit is good.    Anything which is not good is not of God.     The fruit which is not good is not of Him.    

I believe that the Lord is saying in this season, Come and see that I am good.   I am a good, good, God.   I give good gifts to my children.   Come and ask of me so that I might pour My gifts into you for the benefit of others.    My Spirit living and breathing through you by the power of My resurrected son, Jesus – the very breath of God.   I bring life and truth.    I am speaking in the season to bring the dry bones to life.   As the prophet spoke to the dry bones so I am sending out My Word amongst My children to proclaim that this is the day of the Lord.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Speak to the dry places and tell them to become fruitful in the name of the Lord – that there may be rivers of living water that will flow in the deserts.   Speak to the barren places and command them to bring forth fruit.     Whatever fruit has already withered on the vine then let it die,  but I am bringing a refreshing wind says the Lord which will revive those of My children who need refreshing.    Come and taste and see that the Lord is good.   If you will seek Him with all your heart then He will not disappoint you.   Come says the Lord.  Come.   The invitation is there.      If you choose to ignore it then you will not reap the benefits of My presence or My goodness says the Lord.    Oh taste and see that the Lord is Good.   Trust in Him and be blessed as you come in and as you go out.

Isaiah 55 New King James Version (NKJV)

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you [a]spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.
Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the [b]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.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me [c]void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

 

Amen.

The Valley Gate

Nehemiah re-built The Valley Gate.       This is a difficult gate and one that we don’t generally want to go through- the valley experiences which no-one likes.    We would all (myself included) much rather stay on the mountain top and enjoy those experiences with God but I don’t believe that we can stay there forever if we are to grow, mature and move on.

The valley gate can be a necessary part of following our path to achieve what God is preparing us for.   It develops our faith and trust in God and we learn from the experience that God is faithful.    I believe that Jesus had to go through the valley gate when he went from Mt Olives through the Kidron Gate into Garden of Gethsemane and then to the Cross.   He was in agony in the garden but He yielded to God’s will to be done.   Generally, in life we will all go through valley experiences but the encouragement is that we are never alone at those times and we can get through them.   Jesus promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will lead us through the valley – even the valley of death.   The words of Psalm 23 encourages that God is with us and will not forsake us and will comfort us in time of difficulty and pain. 

If you are in a valley situation right now – keep going, don’t give up and ask for God’s help.  Sometimes the valley situations teach us far more than the mountain top experiences and our faith in God grows. God will show you the way through to the other side.  Humility and the valley gate in my experience can sometimes go together hand in hand.   I have had to humble myself under God’s mighty hand before I realise that I can’t handle situations on my own or with my own wisdom or little understanding.    If I submit and surrender to God and acknowledge my dependence on Him then I have felt His peace even in the most difficult of situations.

 

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The Rubbish Gate

Just as the name suggests this gate which Nehemiah rebuilt was the one used to get rid of the rubbish and dung.      I don’t know about you but even after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am still a work in progress and I still 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 still sin, I know that the power of sin over me has been broken because of the work of Christ at the Cross.    I repent when I know I have done wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts me and I am 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 but I rely on the grace of God in my life to convict me of sin.

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 maturing in you.   If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives then He will convict us of sin. Keeping our hearts soft and not hardened by disobedience.   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.  

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The Fish Gate

The fish Gate was another gate which Nehemiah rebuilt.  As followers of Christ we are called like the disciples of Jesus to be fishers of men.   We have been given the great commission to go out and make disciples. It is the mandate from Christ to His church.     If however we just put all of our efforts into catching the fish and seeing converts, but don’t disciple them properly afterwards, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see any growth or maturity.

Discipleship requires service, commitment, love and sacrifice.    In order to walk alongside people,  especially people who are hurting, we can need grace, patience and love in great abundance.   The Holy Spirit can help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit in discipleship and teach us how to disciple others.     We need to know the truth of the gospel ourselves in order that we can help others to mature in Christ and follow Him.    The Christian life can be one of suffering, hardship and persecution because of our faith in Jesus and preparing people for that is a key part of discipleship. 

Are the nets ready for the catch?    If there is to be a great harvest of souls then we need to get ready to disciple them.    If you are a follower of Christ then I encourage you to share your testimony and life with others who are new to the faith and disciple them.   Help them and strengthen them to grow and mature in Christ and share your experiences with them.    We all have something to offer in service to Jesus.   Is there someone that you can take under your wing today or give a supporting hand?

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The Sheep Gate

Here are some questions for us?  How and What are we building in our lives?   First the How?     I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Ch 3 in the Old Testament.   The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit inspires us to build in our lives.    Jesus said that he would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt.    This is the most important in our lives.   We have to come to God through the Sheep gate. The bible teaches us that it is only those who enter in by Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God.   Have we come through the Cross – and really understood the power of the Cross in our lives? That the power of sin and death  is broken.  If we try and build on anything apart from the true revelation of Christ and the Cross we will be in difficulty. Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.   We need to come in through the Sheep gate.

Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate – not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing – and false shepherds.  John 10 -7 – Jesus says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep – To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus went on to explain: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.   The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”     Please beware of any teaching about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus and weigh and test it against scripture.    We need to come to Christ through a true revelation of the Cross and  build on Him as the cornerstone of our faith.

I understand that the Sheep gate was the only gate that didn’t have locks and bars.    To me this symbolises that the way to God is open through Jesus and it is open to everyone.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done.  Nothing can disqualify you from receiving grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of the Cross.   If you have never come through the Sheep Gate then I encourage you to confess your sins and take that step by faith today.    Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Friendliness for Lent

The message bible translation of Zechariah 3 v 10 is “At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence; friendly visits on one another’s porches.”   What a lovely picture of peacefulness.

We all long, I am sure, for a day when peace reigns in our neighbourhoods and cities. When people can rub along together despite “fences ” -the differences that separate them.   The Bible talks here of just such a day when this can happen.    I want that in my neighbourhood and I am sure you do too.

A day when knife crime and violence is not the words we see and read about in our newspapers and TV but instead there is genuine friendship and love for one another.   Love your neighbour as yourself is one of the commandments in the bible and Jesus emphasised it in His teaching.  As we come into this season of Lent what is it that we can do for our neighbours as a friendly gesture that will show God’s love for them through us.   

What could it be?  A friendly greeting, a smile, a bunch of flowers, a catch up with a cup of tea, an invitation for a meal?   Showing friendship to those who are alone and lonely.  I am sure that God will show us and open up the door of opportunity to us in this season of Lent.

God – He is on our side

Psalm 46 verse 1 says that “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in times of trouble”.    If you are in the middle of difficult times and struggling to hang on and feel that everything is conspiring against you then I encourage you to take hold of these verses.    God is with you and will not let you sink.  His everlasting arms are around you to support you.

In verse 10 it says “Be still and know that I am God”.   I always thought that this meant that I was to be still and know Him in such times but the footnotes in my Bible say that this is God telling the wicked- “Be Still and know that I am God”.  In other words God is telling the enemy who is rising against us and conspiring against us “Back off -enough is enough- you don’t have a chance of winning in this situation because I am God”.   

I love that.   Thank you Father that you are on our side.  God puts the enemy well and truly in his place.  He reminds the enemy that God alone will be exalted among the nations.      God may allow us to go through certain trials and struggles to strengthen our faith and so that we can grow in spiritual maturity – things that sometimes we do not understand- but ultimately God always has the last say over the enemy and his strategies because God is God.   God is sovereign and everything in heaven and earth is subject to Him.

This was evident when Jesus spoke to the storm that was raging all around the boat carrying the disciples and Jesus over the sea of Galilee and He commanded the winds and the waves to “Be still” and they were.    Does God need to speak into a few storms in your life or do you need to remind the storms that God is saying to them “Be Still”.

Breakthrough

A visiting speaker encouraged us recently to be a bit of kindling and allow the Lord to set fire to us.   A little fire can be all it takes – it can spread like wildfire as nature has shown us with the wildfires which took hold last year in various places. At this time we are to press in and not be discouraged.  Don’t settle where you are but press on in faith.     The breakthrough or miracle you have been waiting for or seeing in faith could be just around the corner.

We may face opposition just before we see the promise and answer come to pass.    When Jesus was on the way to heal the sick daughter of the leader, Jairus, people came to tell him not to bother because the girl was already dead.     Jesus refused to accept that and told them that she was not dead only sleeping.   The people ridiculed him but Jesus silenced them, pressed ahead and the girl was raised up. People may ridicule you or try to stop you pressing in to what God has for you and the vision He has shown you.

When we step out in faith we are His vessels.  It is the oil of His Presence and the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to do His good works which He prepared beforehand for us to do.    The people who know their God will be strong and do mighty things.   You may have people telling you opposite things to the promises of God and what God has revealed to you by His Holy Spirit.   Do not listen to them and refuse to believe them.  Stand on the Word of God.    You may have to be bold and silence them.   Fix your eyes on Christ.  Lift up your head and see the King of Glory

In scripture John the Baptist said that Jesus was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.     Tongues of fire appeared on the heads of those who first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit but I want to be on fire for Jesus.   I believe this fire is purifying and empowering to enable the Holy Spirit to flow through us in power in signs and wonders to give a powerful witness to the gospel message of Christ.     The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and glorifies Jesus Christ. People are saved and those who are suffering to healed and restored. Hold on to your promise and vision today and believe in faith. It will happen in His appointed time.

The Bride – Restoration

As I was praying last week and in worship at Church I had a picture of a bride.     I first saw a picture of a lion and knew that this was Jesus – the lion of Judah.     The Lion was looking at something and when I followed his gaze, I saw that He was looking at a bride.

The picture shocked me.   Although the bride was dressed in a beautiful white dress and veil -the dress was truly beautiful – spotless and pure bright white, the bride herself looked grey and gaunt, withered and frail.    Her beauty had faded and she had no vitality or joy.    Her skin was stretched tautly over her bones and was grey and papery.    She looked weary as if she had no strength in her from lack of food.   She reminded me of a living corpse.     It was a terrible sight.     The bride was not old which accounted for her appearance.   She was young.

I thought is this a picture of the church at the moment- the body of Christ as a whole in the world?   Is this what Jesus sees when He looks at us?    That the body has lost its vitality, its beauty and is famished and without strength.      I was encouraged that the bride’s dress was pure and white.   Jesus’ blood truly cleanses us from all sin and purifies us.    It reminded me that Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride, but I believe He also wants to come back for a radiant, beautiful and strong bride who is full of His life, joy, power and strength and who radiates His glory and goodness in the world.

I pray that if this picture is correct that the Holy Spirit will reveal it and show us our true condition.   That our hearts will be convicted of our lack of His life working in and through us.    That we will acknowledge and repent over our condition and turn again to the living hope which is in Christ Jesus by the power of His Holy Spirit to be restored and refreshed.    We will realise our desperation and need of Jesus and that without Him there is no power for living.   He alone is the bread of life and the living water.   John 7 v37 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, he who believes in me as the scriptures say out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”.   John 6: 48 Jesus said “I am the bread of life”.     Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and His words are life to us.   The bible is food for our soul.  

Jesus is in the business of restoration.      The Lord reminded me of the picture of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 later in the same day and God’s question to Ezekiel – can these dry bones live?    In my picture – Can the bride’s strength, joy, life, beauty and power be restored?  In faith I believe that the answer is Yes and I say Yes to God.   As Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones – we say to the Church – hear the word of the Lord.   “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live” V5  “I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live” v13. 

Isaiah 40 v 29 says “He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might, He increases strength”.  V31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.  They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”.   I believe God wants to restore our strength for these days ahead so that we will not grow weary in doing good but will have the strength to continue in the face of adversity and persecution and persevere.   We are called to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.   May our vitality be restored.  May we be filled with the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.