Deception – The Gibeonites Story

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and so I thought today I would publish one of my most regularly viewed posts which just so happens to be (to my pleasant surprise) this story from the Old Testament. If you have not heard of the Gibeonites before then please read on…

The bible story of the Gibeonites and how they tricked Joshua & the Israelites (which you can read in the book of Joshua Chapter 9) is a fascinating bible story which has a lot to teach us about deception.

What is Deception

It is a deliberate attempt to make you believe something which is not true – there is an intention to mislead – something is hidden, concealed, there is an ulterior motive.    Deception presents facts in a way that you think they are the truth.    It will usually contain a mixture of truth, half-truths & lies – it distorts the truth.    Deception is usually very close to the truth otherwise it would be easily spotted.  Craftiness, & Cunning are usually involved. 

Deception can also arise from giving or allowing a false impression to be made by manipulating information, exaggerating or leaving truth or some truth out – lying by omission.  If you let someone believe something untrue about you – the person has a wrong impression and instead of correcting them you let them believe it – that’s also deception.  That is such a subtle trap we can all fall into – allowing someone to believe an image of ourselves that we project which is not reality- even as believers.

A lie will usually lead to another lie. Eventually you are so far away from the truth you no longer recognise the truth.   That is why deception is so dangerous –it’s very subtle. We start to believe the lie is actually truth because we have a wrong reference point or foundation for what we believe.   We receive information through a distorted lens of deception and don’t realise it is not truth. We then think others are deceived!

We see elements of this in the plan of the Gibeonites.  It was very cleverly thought out – they went to great efforts to paint a picture and give the impression they had travelled from a long long way away and were not in fact neighbours of the Israelites.    Their bread was mouldy, their wine was gone, their clothes & sandals were worn out and tattered etc.   Those facts were true but the reason they gave was not true.   That was the deception.

There is always a motive for deception– sometimes it is just as important discerning the motive behind the deception.  The reason why someone wants to deceive us or why we deceive ourselves (self-deception) or others. It can be for a whole host of reasons – dishonest gain (greed), self preservation, fear etc. to name just a few.  

In this story, the Gibeonites had heard what had happened to the cities of Jericho & AI (the Israelites had wiped them out) and they feared for their lives – they didn’t want to die. It was all about self-preservation – that can be a very strong motive for deception– we lie or cover things up because we don’t want someone to know the truth about us – preserving ourselves. Fear about what people would think if they know the truth –we become trapped in this false picture we have created.

The Gibeonites wanted a peace treaty with the Israelites– that was what they told Joshua & that was true (v2/3).    It doesn’t seem like they were planning a Trojan horse – enemy infiltration– and kill the Israelites afterwards – we’re not told that.    The Gibeonites had various options to achieve their aim.  We know from verse 1 that they could have joined forces with the other neighbouring Kings in the area who planned to attack the Israelites.     That was a genuine option.  The Gibeonites were not a weak people or small in number– In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon was a might city – bigger than Ai & full of mighty men.  They could have fought.

However, they discounted that option – the Gibeonites were wise enough to realise that they had no chance of getting what they wanted by force because God was on the side of Israel. If someone can’t beat you at something or take something by force then beware that they don’t cheat you out of it instead.

Their other option would have been to throw themselves on the mercy of the Israelites & God – been honest from the very beginning – there was an option to do the right thing – but they resorted to obtaining what they wanted by deception.  

This is still true today of how the enemy, Satan, will use deception against us.  It is one of his greatest strategies – his motive is to “rob, steal and destroy” – he wants to ruin the fullness & joy of a life of freedom & redemption that Christ has given us & all that God has for us.  Satan wants to stop you growing and maturing and being an effective disciple of Jesus.

If Satan cannot frighten us or overcome us by a direct attack then he will seek to deceive us in some way either by what we believe about our faith in God and salvation in Jesus or what we believe about ourselves.   We need to be able to identify and discern those lies.   Otherwise there will be consequences of us believing the lie – strongholds will develop in our thinking or behaviours which are not Godly and we won’t be mature and develop in our faith with a firm foundation of truth.    

In these days with so much access to information from so many various sources we really need to be able to discern false teachings, false doctrine, false prophecies etc- That is why we need the tools which God has given us to discern deception.

The motives for deception can look “good” to us too -just as the Gibeonites thought and this is part of the trap with “self-deception” – we can do what we think is good rather than what is Godly.   We can convince ourselves that the only way out of a situation is to “bend the truth” for a good cause. What a trap. 

Where does Deception come from?

Deception originated from Satan – Jesus said satan is the “father of lies” John 8:44 – “He (satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.  

We see satan’s nature as the liar and deceiver in the garden of Eden.  Satan deceives Eve into eating the forbidden fruit which introduced sin & death into creation. 

Deception is sin –a half truth which misleads – is sin – self-deception is sin.

Deception introduces DOUBT  –  Deception can mean you start to doubt the “truth” – you doubt your ability to know the “truth”.     You start to doubt your own faith – “Are you really a Christian”?   Satan introduced doubt when he said to Eve ”   Did God really say”?  You can start to doubt you have heard God correctly.     

Watch out for doubt in your thoughts– where is it coming from?  Doubt and Discernment are different things coming from different sources. Doubt does not come from the Holy Spirit. Discernment is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to reveal truth.

We can deceive ourselves – self- deception – it can be in our own hearts.   The bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 – It is so important to ask God to search our hearts and ask Him to reveal if there is any sin in us.    Are we deceiving ourselves in areas of our lives, in our behaviours or attitudes.

So we see that from that very first act of deception in the Garden of Eden there are then stories of deception throughout the bible. Jacob deceives his father Isaac to steal the birth right from his brother Esau, Laban then deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, Joseph’s brothers deceive their father Jacob and pretend Joseph is dead.

The Pharisees tried to deceive Jesus, Ananias & Saphira tried to deceive Peter and Simon the Sorcerer tried to deceive Paul.

There is a pattern of deception and deception is still at work today.  Jesus warns his followers not to be deceived.

Matthew 24;24   “For False Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Paul warned the early churches – 2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”.

Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them”.

Let us heed these warnings and be on our guard as believers against deception.

Discovering Deception

The good news is that this story of the Gibeonites tells us very clearly how to avoid deception –in two words – Ask God.

I love the fact that there is no mystery here, it’s clear -In one sentence we are told exactly why the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites– they didn’t ask God but relied instead on the evidence of their own eyes & ears.

Self-Reliance & not God Reliance.

Can we rely on God – The answer is Yes.  

Firstly God knows all things (He is omniscient) – nothing is hidden from his view. God cannot therefore ever be deceived.   The bible says in Hebrews that no creature is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God forbids deception so it is not part of His character– Leviticus 19: 11 “Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another”.    Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy”.

We can also trust Jesus – The bible teaches us that there was no deceit in Jesus –  Isaiah 53: 9 “nor was any deceit in his mouth”.  

Jesus is The way, The truth & The lifeJesus does not deceive us or lie to us.

Jesus has also sent us the Holy Spirit – as believers we have the Spirit of Truth– living within us.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit is our counsellor and will “lead us into truth”. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears (from God) and he will tell you what is to come”.

God promises us guidance when we seek Him. There are lots of promises in scripture that when we seek God He will lead & guide us and that we can trust in Him.   In Psalm 5 – we are encouraged to take our requests to God each day in prayer and look up (wait for the answer).

God has provided us with His written word – Holy Scripture– His words of truth.   God’s Word is the plumb line.  If you want to check something is truth – first check what the bible says about it. Go to the source first.   

Hebrews 4 says  “ For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness for he is a babe but solid food belongs to those who are of full age – that is who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good or evil.”

We need to study and get into the bible ourselves and then practice and test whether the things we hear, read etc. are good (of God) or evil.   We have to know these things for ourselves and so mature in our faith.  We also need to live out our faith in doing good.   James says that we deceive ourselves if we don’t act out our faith as doers of the word and not just hearers.

Ephesians 4;14  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

The symbolism of the mouldy bread and wine that has run out also speaks to me in this story.      As believers we also need fresh bread from heaven – Jesus is our daily bread. He is the living water which never runs out. Reading the bible, Prayer, worship & praise- these are all ways that we daily eat & drink and build ourselves up in Christ.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirt is Discernment.  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment.   Through the exercise of that gift we can discern between good & evil and truth & lies. The Holy Spirit reveals hidden things and what would not be possible to know by our human understanding – it is a divine revelation from God.  

Jesus exercised discernment– Jesus discerned the hearts & motives of the Pharisees when they were trying to trick him –  “you hypocrites he said– why are you trying to trap me”.    Peter discerned through the Holy Spirit that Ananias & Saphira were lying to him and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The impure motives of Simon’s heart in seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit were also discerned.

Why did the Israelites not ask God about the Gibeonites?   We are not told why – just that they didn’t.   This is really interesting because the Israelites had a recent testimony of God revealing deceit in a miraculous way. They discovered why the battle of “Ai” was lost by God revealing deception by one of their own people who had stolen and hidden spoil from the battle which had been forbidden.  They could have easily asked God about the Gibeonites.   Was it over-confidence or mis-placed confidence in their own abilities – they asked a few questions of the Gibeonites, tested the food etc. but ultimately they relied on themselves and not God. There is a warning in this to us.

The Gibeonites were also pressurising the Israelites to make a peace treaty and to act quickly. That can be a sign of deception – being pressurised into making a quick decision. We need to make time to seek God and ask Him for guidance before making a decision especially if that decision will have big consequences. Don’t be rushed.

There were also signs of deception – – warning bells were there – The Gibeonites flattered the Israelites. Perhaps Joshua & the people were flattered to hear that their exploits in battle had reached so far and wide. Perhaps some pride crept in which made them vulnerable. So the lesson for us it to beware the flatters.

Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites.   By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

Ephesians 5 v 6 “Let no-one deceive you with empty words”.

Seeing is not always believing

We are warned not to believe everything we see especially when it comes to signs & wonders.    If people are just looking for signs & wonders as evidence of truth or God – the miraculous – then there is a great danger of being deceived.  

Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2 9-10 “the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works.  He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing.   They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  

Appearances can be deceptive. The appearance of the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites. They believed what they saw with their eyes.

The good news is that Truth will eventually out. One day the truth will be revealed. The things that are hidden will be revealed by God.

In this story it was only 3 days – a very short time -before the Israelites discovered the truth.

Dealing with Deception

This is a really important part of the story. There are lessons we can learn. 

Imagine how Joshua & the Israelites felt when they realised they had been deceived – angry, upset, vengeful, stupid, shamed, guilty, disappointed, betrayed –perhaps they looked for others to blame, fearful that they had disobeyed God. 

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine – How would you have felt & how do you think you would have reacted.  

You may have even experienced deception and can identify with those feelings. – I know I have – twice that I know I have been in fellowships which have been deceived by trusted people– a huge amount of money was stolen from one church and in another there was a sexual predator pretending to be a believer.    It can cause a lot of pain & hurt –especially if you have been deceived by someone close to you – but the fallout from how we react can be even worse than the effects of the deception itself.  It can cause division, disunity, bitterness, recriminations & unforgiveness even pride – blame those who have been deceived and act as though it wouldn’t have happened to you.   “How could they have let this happen”?    Relationships are really tested and sometimes don’t survive.   We need to guard our hearts in these incredibly difficult circumstances.

In this story we read that the Israelites were not happy at all with Joshua & the leaders when they found out they had been deceived – they started to complain.  There was the potential here for there to be a rebellion against the leaders.    The people wanted revenge and to kill the Gibeonites and when that wasn’t possible then have them severely punished and to be their slaves.   That would have been a terrible life of slavery & drudgery.   Open to future abuse as well by their masters.    The Israelites had been slaves in the past and now they had the chance to be the masters – to make someone else pay.   There was the potential that the Israelites would even deceive themselves into justifying their own bad behaviour or mistreatment of the Gibeonites.   They deserved it by deceiving them and had brought this on themselves.

The Gibeonites had obtained the covenant of the peace treaty with the Israelites by deception. It might seem justifiable to us for the Israelites to have broken the covenant they had made as it had been obtained by fraud. As a lawyer, I know that the law today enables parties to terminate a contract if there has been fraud or misrepresentation.   It is seen as the fair thing to do.

However, the Israelites had made this vow & covenant in God’s name and the leaders were concerned about bringing dishonour to God’s name and also fearful about what God might do to them if they didn’t honour the covenant.

That decision was Godly Wisdom indeed because later in the bible we find out that Saul does break that covenant.   The result is that God is really displeased and there is a famine as a result which is only brought to an end when 7 of Saul’s sons are killed (crucified) as a substitution to make right the wrong that has been done to the Gibeonites.

This reminds me that through Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection Power we are given the ability in Jesus to overcome our natural desires of our flesh for revenge, anger etc when deceived and to forgive the deceiver and release them to God.

What did Joshua do in this story?

Joshua doesn’t attack the Gibeonites when he discovers the truth.    He confronts their lie in the right way.    He wants to discover the truth – why did they lie.  

That is important for us – we may need, in some circumstances and however, difficult and upsetting to confront the deceiver. In the right way- in a Christ like way- just like Joshua did.     Jesus did the same with the people who tried to deceive him – He called it out.   “Why are you trying to trick me

The Gibeonites take the opportunity and tell Joshua the truth.  It’s like a confession of their sins. They confess the lie.

They are under a curse because of the lie but Joshua also shows them Mercy – v 27 – He doesn’t make them the slaves for everyone – imagine what a life of hell that would have been -but he makes them woodcutters & watercarriers for the house of God.   This would still been a hard & demanding work but not the punishment that the people wanted and perhaps arguably that the Gibeonites deserved.  

By making them the woodcutters and watercarriers for the house of God Joshua actually brings them close to God.     This reminds us that God is truly merciful to everyone and He has made a way through Christ for everyone to come into His family.

So I would say -Put those who have wronged you into the hands of God.   Let Him deal with them for you.   If we have done wrong let’s confess our sins and God will forgive us.

It doesn’t say in the story that Joshua explicitly forgave the Gibeonites but this is something which we are required to do as believers.  Forgive those who trespass against us.   Jesus tells us to forgive – it is a requirement of living out a life of faith.  It is not easy.   I didn’t realise for a long time that I even had any unforgiveness in my heart still towards the person who had hurt me through their deception.    It wasn’t obvious – I didn’t think about them or wish bad things on them.   I thought I had dealt with it but I had deceived myself by burying the hurt & fear deep inside me.  

God showed me the effect of that buried unforgiveness in my life was like those little foxes which ruin the vineyard.   It was ruining my fruitfulness in certain areas of my Christian walk.  God really opened my eyes to the things I had deceived myself about by not dealing properly with those things– lies that I had started to believe – that I couldn’t really trust God to protect me or those close to me, that there was hatred buried deep in my heart towards this person.   I learnt to forgive by God’s grace.

Defeating Deception

When we deal with deception in the right way I believe that we defeat it’s power in our lives.     In Joshua chapter 10 the Gibeonites are under attack from the other Kings and they ask Joshua for help.

This was the test.   Joshua does not refuse them help. He helps his one-time enemies who had deceived him.  Joshua is faithful to his promise and because of this and the way he acts, we read in Chapter 10 that God gives the Israelites their biggest victory in battle so far – there are miracles and God enables them to defeat all of the 5 Kings who had plotted against the Israelites at the start of chapter 9 at once.   God says “Do not fear them for I have delivered them into your hand”.

If you are obedient to God then he will give you the victory over your enemy and you will overcome.

God can do the miraculous in your circumstances – in v11 of the chapter we read how God came to their aid and cast down great hailstones from heaven – a demonstration of His great power.   

Even the sun stood still v 12 and v 14 – The Lord fought for Israel.  He didn’t just fight for the Israelites though (His people) – He also fought for the Gibeonites – it was their city that was being attacked.   God was now protecting those who were serving in His house and part of His house.   We are also under God’s protection now having been brought into His family through Jesus the Son.    We are under God’s loving care.    God surrounds us with His favour.

I don’t think that Joshua & the Israelites would have had such a victory if they had not honoured the peace covenant made with the Gibeonites. God honoured Joshua and gave him a mighty victory.

Bless you my friends.

Credibility

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Luke.1-4

This is the opening statement in the gospel of Luke. It’s a bold statement and sets out the confidence that the writer, Luke has in the account he is writing of Jesus because he has carefully investigated everything.

He has tested the first hand accounts of the stories of Jesus from those who were eye witnesses of what happened. Luke acknowledges that many others have sought to share and record what Jesus did because it is such a marvellous truth. People who knew Jesus wanted to share the good news with others just as Jesus commanded them to do.

Luke does not want the truth about Jesus and what Jesus has accomplished to be lost, so in order to preserve the truth for Theophilus he has decided to write a full and orderly account. I wonder if Luke had any idea that his words would be preserved, read and studied by millions of followers of Jesus today still.

As we know there is much taught, discussed and written about Jesus today. You can access so much on the Web. Just as Luke was diligent to test the source of his information so that it was credible, it is so important that we test what we hear, are being taught and read about Jesus. It must line up with the Jesus who is revealed to us in the Bible. The Son of God. Any purported new truth, teaching or revelation of Jesus which is not in the Bible is a false teaching and a false gospel.

Paul commended the Bereans for diligently searching the scriptures to test the message that he brought to them about Jesus. The Bereans wanted to know the truth. I wrote a post called Being Open-Minded which you can read on the link. Alarm bells should definitely ring if someone doesn’t want or like their teachings about Jesus to be tested and expects you to blindly accept everything they tell or teach you.

I’m inspired to read the gospel of Luke again and I hope today’s post has blessed and encouraged you.

#TestimonyTuesday – Life Verses

This week at church we did something different. Our Pastor asked us to share our “life verses” or some people call them their “north star verses”. They are verses from the Bible that have guided, helped, encouraged and shaped your walk with the Lord. They can be bible verses that have been lifelines in times of trouble.

Our Pastor invited people forward and there was soon a queue of people eager to share. They read their bible verses and shared why those bible verses were so important to them. Some were able to recite long passages of Scripture which they had memorised.

It was so inspiring and touching to hear these verses and the testimonies. Do you have a life verse? If so, I would love to hear it and why it’s important to you. Please share in the comments section below.

My life verses are from Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.”

These verses give me confidence in God, who cares for me and guides me in the right way. When I am unsure then I remember these verses and declare my trust in Him and submit the circumstances or decision to the Lord.

I took the opportunity on Sunday to share my Dad’s life verses which he shared frequently with us. They had a profound influence on me because they taught me the importance of worship and the intimacy of relationship that the Lord desires with each of us.

My Dad’s life verse was from Psalm 84 verse 10. He recited this passage of Scripture often especially when he had his first stroke and was so ill.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked

In sharing with others our life verses then we also help disciple others by showing the importance of God’s Word in our lives and how it shapes us. We show that God’s Word is living, active and powerful.

I look forward to reading the comments and your life verses.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Staying close to the source

There have been some wonderful and inspiring things I have seen this weekend away in the Derbyshire Dales. I love how the beauty of nature reminds me of God. You see His hand in creation. The wildlife and scenery.

Some man made things have also inspired me- like these old drinking troughs which were built to collect the fresh spring water for the nearby village. The men and women would collect it daily and even sell it for a penny a bucket.

The spring feeding these troughs has never been known to run dry
Even the dog knew which trough was the best water

The first 2 troughs which collected the spring water were clear but the furthest ones were filled with weeds.

It reminded me how we keep pure and fresh by staying close to our saviour, Jesus and staying in and being obedient to God’s Word. The more we stray the weeds in our lives start to choke out Godly purity.

The last trough filled with weeds

The trap of deceit

I was inspired to repost this today when I read this post from Alan Kearns of Devotional Treasure yesterday which you can read here https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/06/08/traps-on-your-wayside/

Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful.” Jeremiah 5:26-27

Among My people – That is a sobering thought. I believe God is warning His people again now to beware of the wicked one’s trap of deceit. If we fall into that trap, we will be in great trouble. If our minds are deceived then our eyes become blind to the truth and our ears do not hear correctly. The communications we receive are tainted. We see through a distorted lens of deceit and hear through a filter which corrupts us.

The messages we receive become mixed and we are in danger that wrong things are heard and not discerned.

The trap of deceit sucks us further and further into it. The door of the gilded cage is shut and we cannot fly and soar in truth as free as we should be. We are ensnared and our wings are clipped by deceit. Yet we do not see it or hear it.

Let us avoid these traps by keeping to God’s Word revealed in Scripture as our plumb line of truth, stay close to Jesus, follow His paths. We encourage each other to weigh, test and discern the truth. It is Jesus, who is The Truth, who sets us free from deceit. The bible teaches us that –Who the son sets free is free indeed. Lies and deceit are a snare to God’s people and the father of lies, satan loves it so. Let us rather submit to God and resist Satan’s lies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and Jesus teaches us that He, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.

Peter in his second letter to the early churches reminds them that there were false prophets throughout history and that there would also be false prophets amongst them and the same is true for us as believers today. There are false teachers and false prophets at work still.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
2 Peter 2:1-3

Peter warns us that such people will deny truthful aspects of Jesus, are greedy, exploitive and goes on to say that such people despise authority, are bold and arrogant, boastful, appeal to the flesh, entice people with promises of freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity. If we follow them the consequences are dire, and as people who once knew truth we are worse off than before we knew Christ. What a terrible thing.
2 Peter 2:10,17-20

I pray that we will pay attention to these warnings and not be like the people who Jeremiah spoke of:

“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests rule by their own power and My people love to have it so.”

I pray that we as followers of Jesus are not be deceived by flattery or words that “tickle our ears” and appeal to our flesh. The Word of God is like a fire 🔥 which refines and purifies us to be more like Christ.

Behold I will make your words like fire and this people like wood and it will devour them” Jeremiah 5 v14

Please Lord keep us from the trap of deceit and reveal to us if we have been entrapped in any way.

Blessings to you in Jesus name.

Gates-The Fountain and Water Gates

Two gates today which I have mentioned together as they are both water related. The Fountain Gate and the Water Gate.

These gates have been very much in my thoughts and prayers the last week or so. At church we have been considering wells. We are all wells for Jesus. Sometimes our wells can become blocked, capped, or run dry. There are some people whose wells have been capped by others. Perhaps capped intentionally or sometimes unintentionally by a thoughtless criticism or harsh word.

The Lord wants to see those wells uncapped. I am sure you can recognise some capped wells that you know. Could you pray for them to be released. For healing of those hurts of the past and the restrictions to be lifted off people. It’s time to uncap those wells. Spring up oh wells is the cry of our hearts.

The enemy will seek to hinder us from being wells and we need to guard the wells of our heart. Sometimes our wells become polluted because it’s not pure water that we are allowing in. As my friend Paul wisely said this week, if we are pouring out a drink offering for others then may it be the pure living water of Jesus Christ, the Living Word that we offer them. May we be cleansed and purified by Jesus.

The Fountain Gate

Nehemiah repaired the Fountain Gate.   This gate reminds us of Jesus, who is the fountain of living water and the Holy Spirit freely given to us, who lives in us and fills us daily by His power.

There is a living well of spiritual water for us to draw from daily.   

It is an inexhaustible supply that will never run dry.      

Jesus said we never need to thirst again when we come to Him because He is the living water.   He can satisfy our thirst in all areas and bring refreshing to us.   

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 7:37-39

When we are tired, weary or discouraged then we can come to the Fountain Gate and be refreshed.   We can drink deeply of Jesus and be restored.     

If we forsake the living water then we will be dry and empty with nothing to give.  Our source of spiritual life is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. The promise in Jesus’ words is that if we believe in Him then rivers of living water will flow from us. That’s a promise from Jesus. We have to thirst, come, drink, believe and let the river flow. No capping.

timelapse photography off water fountain
Photo by Gabriel Peter on Pexels.com

 

The Water Gate

This gate speaks to me of the power of the Word of God (Holy Scripture) which is at work in our lives.    The bible teaches us that we are washed by the Word of God.   The Word of God is living, powerful and true – a test of our thoughts and intentions of our hearts.  

When we read, meditate and act on the Word of God then we see the fruit of its out-working in our lives and it keeps us on the right path.

The Water Gate was the only gate which it seems did not need to be repaired by Nehemiah as it doesn’t mention the repairs. They repaired opposite that gate and then the next section after it.

Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate towards the east and the projecting tower.”

Nehemiah 3:25-26

This speaks to me powerfully.

The Word of God endures for ever.     

God’s Word does not need to be improved, added to or altered. It is complete just as it is.   It is the best instructions, which are never irrelevant or outdated, for a life lived to God’s glory and fulfilling in every way. It’s the manual for successful living in God’s eyes. Not worldly success as we know it but Kingdom living.

False Anointings and Manifestations

I want to re-share this post today which is from a word that the Lord gave me in August 2020. I believe that it is still a warning the Lord wants us to hear especially in these days and in times ahead. Please read, pray, weigh and test.

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 who they believed was 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 people 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 Holy Spirit and the Lord’s 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 and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.   He is Lord and there is no other.

The Lord does things according to His Word (the Bible).   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 and 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 and 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 and 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.

I am reminded of these scriptures from Matthew 24:

24 3 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
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Plumb line

If you search for the definition of a biblical plumb-line then the reference to the book of Amos will often come up.

“Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said: “Behold, I am setting a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” Amos 7:7-8

Amos pleaded with God to relent his judgment and, in their place, God places a plumb line.

A plumb line is a weight suspended from a string used as a vertical reference line to ensure a structure is centered and straight.

It’s the same with our Christian faith. Jesus who is the truth must be the cornerstone of our faith so that we build on our faith correctly. It’s the Jesus revealed in the bible (not a Jesus of our own imagining), the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached (not a false gospel) and His commandments which we live out.

Deception means we are no longer centred in God’s truth. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to guard against deception. Jesus himself warned us against being deceived particularly in the time before He returns.

It can be easy to get carried away as “charismatic” believers particularly when we belong to a Spirit filled church and it is so important that the Spirit and the Word are in harmony with the right emphasis on both.

The Word of God is our plumb line and any teaching, tongue and interpretation, prophecy or revelation that does not line up with the word of God is false. It may not all be false but test, weigh and discard the false.

The apostle Paul teaches us that the enemy has strategies against us and one is deception. He loves to lead us astray and cause confusion. Any moves of the Spirit need to be discerned to make sure it is the Holy Spirit and not the wrong spirit at work. It is vital to be rooted in God’s Word and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

It’s a really good exercise to ask yourself and write down what you believe about Jesus and what the gospel is. If you had to explain to someone who didn’t know Jesus or had never heard the gospel. What you believe and wrote- Does it pass the plumb line test of God’s word. If it does then we are building on a correct foundation and we are centred but if not we have to dismantle the wrong beliefs and re build. We have to re-centre ourselves in truth.

The belt of truth and our sword is such an essential part of our armour for defence and discernment of truth. Every piece of armour would not fit together or be effective without the belt or sword but we can rush or just neglect that part of our preparation. It takes discipline to read and study the bible, to pray but I encourage you to do it daily and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in truth.

The Lord showed me a picture once of a plumb line and the effect of deception. At the start it only takes a tiny bit of deception to lead you away from the truth but the more you follow that wrong idea or false teaching the further and further you eventually end up away from the truth.

If you draw a straight vertical line on a piece of paper you will see what I mean. Draw the plumb-line and then draw another line from the bottom at a slight initial angle away from the line and see how far the line deviates away from the plumb line as you draw.

The thing with deception is how subtle it is. Be on your guard against it. Deception is so close to the truth that we can readily accept it as the truth because it sounds right but when you hold it up to the Word of God you will see the error. Satan knows the Word of God too. He quoted it to Jesus when he tempted him but Jesus knew that satan had twisted it’s true purpose and used the word of God in response correctly.

Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who will lead and guide us into all truth. That is why the Word and being filled with the Spirit are so essential to the believer and our walk of faith.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment and I encourage you to pray and ask and seek this gift. When you operate in the gift of discernment you get that sense in your spirit that something is just not right. People refer to gut feelings and it can be like that. I have heard false tongues and just knew in my spirit that it was false and not the Holy Spirit. You hear an interpretation and again it just doesn’t sit right. That is the Holy Spirit helping you to discern the truth. When you talk to other believers they will often have discerned the same.

Have a blessed day.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

Praying People 2

Morning friends, today I am continuing on from yesterday’s post Praying People:

WORSHIP

Our prayerful confession of God’s name is part of our WORSHIP of God which literally means – giving worth to HIS NAME .

Our response to the name of the Lord is to worship Him (Psalm 66:2) and to give thanks, praise and bless Him (Psalm 100:4) and to lift up our hands to Him. (Psalm 63:4)

Worship changes the atmosphere when you speak out and give voice to the praises of God and Jesus.

Praise and worship should naturally be part of prayer times as it is the pathway of praise & worship which leads us into God’s presence.  

If you find it difficult or awkward at first to praise and worship on your own or even in a small group then perhaps start off by reading a Psalm of praise, put on worship music, watch or listen to a YouTube music video or read aloud the lyrics of a worship song.  

You’re not expected to be a musical superstar – make a joyful sound to the Lord – it doesn’t have to be note perfect. It’s worship of the heart that is music to God’s ears.

You will soon find and start to initiate your own Worship of God and become freer to express yourself in Worship.

Psalm 103 encourages us to “Bless the Lord O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name” and in Psalm 99 “Let them praise Your great and awesome name – He is holy

REPENTANCE

As we worship God and read His Word then we can be led into times of repentance.

When praying it is important to ask God to reveal by His Holy Spirit areas of our lives where we have sinned and are not right with Him. Taking time in prayer to allow God to search our hearts.

Psalm  51 v 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me”.  

Repent of anything the Lord reveals and receive and thank God for his forgiveness and cleansing by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.   Remember this is conviction not condemnation. We should repent of sin (including sins of omission, bad attitudes etc) then receive forgiveness through Christ and move forward.

We want our prayers to be effective and the bible teaches us that it is the “ fervent prayers of a righteous man which are effective” James 5:16

Solomon’s Prayer

I encourage you to read Solomon’s prayer to God in 2 Chronicles Ch 6 v 12-42.

Right at the start of his prayer, Solomon demonstrated a humble attitude before God by kneeling down before all the people and lifting his hands up towards heaven.     Kneeling before God in prayer and lifting up our hands to heaven demonstrates submission to God as mentioned in yesterday’s post.    

Solomon did this before “all the people”. He was the king but he wasn’t too proud or embarrassed in front of the people to adopt this humble posture before God.

Solomon starts by confessing who God is verse 14 “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with your servants who walk before you with all their hearts”.

Then Solomon asks God to hear and answer the prayers which the people will make in the temple.

Solomon points to the responsibility of the people to seek God for mercy and the importance of repentance and confession of God’s name (v24 & 26) as part of this.

An incredible answer came to Solomon’s prayer:

When Solomon had finished praying fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” Ch 7 v1

Oh to experience the glory of the Lord manifest amongst us.

Do you desire God’s fire and glory to fall and for revival to come. If we desire the fire of God to fall on us and ignite us then we must acknowledge that revival has to start in each one of us.

Am I, are we, willing though to sacrifice time in prayer and seeking God to see revival in myself/us, my/our family, my/our church, my/our community, my/our nation, the nations.

If the answer is yes, particularly in these troublesome times, then let us seek God, asking God to increase our hunger and desire for Him, actively seeking His Will to be done, for an urgency to development in us and that the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon us in power and fire.

John the Baptist said of Jesus “He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Let’s not forget that promise. Jesus baptises with fire.

Let’s pray:

I pray today that you will know God and the Lord Jesus Christ in a new and deeper understanding. That you will have a deeper revelation of who Jesus is and the power which is His.

I pray that the eyes of your heart will be opened.   That your spiritual eyes will be opened.   That you will have a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ from this day forward.

I pray that fire from heaven will fall upon you and the power of the Holy Spirit. That you will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and will go out and do great works by the power of His holy name, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Let the fire fall and let your heart be aflame with love and revelation of Jesus and the power that is in Him. Never tire of doing His good works and walk in His footsteps forever and ever. Amen”

Praying People

Over the last few weeks, I have been considering how meditating on and confessing the names of God, discovering the character of God (which is revealed through His names) can help us in our times of prayer.   

Other things which can also help our prayer life to develop are:

ATTITUDE; – The word “confess” comes from the Hebrew word “Yadah” meaning “an open or extended hand

In prayer we are reaching out to take hold of God and Him alone and declaring that we are putting our trust in Him.  

We are acting humbly by putting God in His rightful position and focusing on Him.

A humble attitude is I believe a KEY to God hearing and answering our prayers:

If my people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land ”  2 Chronicles 7 v14

A humble attitude in our hearts can also be demonstrated physically in prayer by kneeling, lying on our faces before God, raising our hands etc.

Jesus’ model prayer that he taught his disciples demonstrated his humility.

FOR YOURS (God) IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER AMEN”.

Let us not forget (particularly when prayers are answered or when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation) that the glory always belongs to God and Jesus.

THE WORD OF GOD;- If we are going to give voice to our faith and understanding of GOD’S Character, His Works, His Wonders, His Glory and confess our belief in God, His promises and His Word then it is really good (for me a necessity) to have a bible or other access to the Word of God to hand whilst praying so that we can confess scripture out loud or meditate on God’s Word.

I encourage you to try and get into the habit of praying with your bible to hand or other access to the Word of God through your phone, tablets etc. The Holy Spirit will bring a scripture to your mind and that can form the basis of your prayer.

Isaiah Ch 55 v 11So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth: It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing which I sent it“.

When you proclaim the Word of God it builds you up spiritually and encourages you in your faith.

You are also proclaiming God’s Word boldly to the enemy -to spirits, principalities & powers as you resist the enemy. Wielding the Sword of the Spirit against the lies of the enemy. Demolishing arguments and strongholds.

If I am praying about a situation where I am declaring God’s victory then I will often read aloud the song of Moses from Exodus 15 verses 1-18 about the time God rescued the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians.

When I want to declare Christ’s sovereign position and authority over a situation then Revelation 19 verses 11- 16 will often come to mind.

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It will take some effort initially to look up relevant portions of scripture when you are praying but the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians Ch 6 ) and the weapon of our warfare, so we need to know how to use THE WORD of God effectively in prayer.  

I wouldn’t advise just picking out bible verses without any thought to throw at situations but by prayerful meditation on the Word of God allow the Holy Spirit to direct you to relevant passages of scripture.   The Word of God is living and powerful.

When you meditate on the Word of God in your prayer times it allows the Lord the opportunity to speak to you through HIS WORD and you will hear His still small voice in your spirit.

Have a blessed day my friends.