After a recent time of fellowship and ministry during which we took communion, my friend had a picture of pure white washing pegged out on a clothes line.
It’s a simple picture really but it spoke deeply to me about who I am now in Christ. I’m as clean as that white washing.
In order to be truly cleansed from sin and it’s effects it can only be through faith in what Jesus has done for me through his death and resurrection. I believe as a Christian that we receive forgiveness for our sins through confessing our sins, repenting of them and believing Jesus has paid the price for our wrongdoing. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that it is Jesus’ sacrifice and his blood alone which has cleansed me from sin.
You might not feel clean like that or might feel you still have some dirty linen but there is no stain or dirt that can’t be made clean, pure and washed as white as the washing in this picture. Just like new. No stains, no grey, no streaks, no spots no matter how filthy. How do I know this? The bible tells me and I believe it.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
When we as followers of Jesus take Communion and we break bread together and drink the wine, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes again. We remember with thanksgiving all Jesus has done for us. We have opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us if there is anything we need to confess or put right before we take Communion.
When we were in lockdown many did not have the opportunity to take Communion together. As I joined with my brothers and sisters in Christ this week I was reminded how powerful it is when we recall and thank God for what Jesus did for us all through His being broken for us and being poured out for us. How powerful it is to confess and release sin in my life and receive cleansing.
“He (Jesus) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28
Jesus shed His own precious blood so that we can be cleansed from sin. A free gift of grace that is available to everyone no matter who we are. The bible tells us that all have sinned so all need to take this cup of forgiveness. Have you my dear friend? It’s freely available to you. If you want to be truly clean then I believe there is no other way.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39
Do you hear the Lord calling you to repentance? I pray that you will hear and respond to God’s grace and mercy today and be ever thankful to God who through His great love has reached down from heaven and rescued us from sin and death. Praise God.
Ephesians 5:8-10 – “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases God”
As followers of Jesus we are to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God. The bible tells us about 6 things, actually 7 behaviours that God does not like at all.
I’m sure you’d agree that some of these behaviours we too would think are extremely bad but some like being proud or telling lies we could be tempted to ignore but this is what Proverbs 6:16 tells us:
“Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent; and
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath, and
a troublemaker in the family”
Lord we want to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to you. Help us keep our feet on the paths of your right ways as you reveal to us in your precious Word, the Bible. Let us live today and tomorrow lives that are pleasing to you as we walk out our faith in your son, Jesus Christ. May your Holy Spirit convict our hearts of sin and wrong and may we turn in repentance to you through the richness of the grace and mercy that you pour out through Jesus on us as your children. Thank you Lord that when you look at us who are hidden in Christ Jesus you see your Son in whom you were well pleased. Thank you that in Jesus and through the work of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to live a life pleasing to you. Praise God. Amen
The Lord has been speaking to me about a Day of trouble which draws near. A trouble such that the world has not yet known. God’s Prophets have foretold of a day referred to as the Day of the Lord. The great and terrible Day of the Lord. The Prophets have pointed us towards this day. Jesus, God’s Son also spoke of this day.
I believe the Lord wants us to have a greater understanding and wisdom about the Day of the Lord and to pray about this day especially for those who do not believe or have any understanding of this day which will come. There are people who have never heard about this day. It’s to warn them as it will be a day of great trouble for those who do not know Jesus as Lord. I pray that those who don’t yet know God will be brought into His Kingdom and become His Children through faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World. That people will cry out to God for His mercy and to save them. May their hearts be softened and ready to receive the truth about Jesus.
“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:30-32
As believers, we can be comforted and strengthened as we have nothing to fear. Jesus has already delivered us from darkness and translated us into the Kingdom of God’s grace and truth. He is with us through everything. All honour and blessings now belongs to Jesus to give to us as He chooses. Jesus is faithful and true.
Jesus will rule the nations one day with a rod of iron and many at that time will not like it. The lovers of self who will not want to humble themselves and come under His rod of authority. Jesus will not tolerate wickedness, injustice, spiritual adultery, falseness, hypocrisy or anything which is unholy or impure. He will rule with justice but not all will want such justice because it will stop their wicked deeds.
The poor and oppressed will rejoice because their salvation has drawn near and is at hand. All those of a pure heart and clean hands will approach His throne in boldness and with nothing to fear. Their conscience is pure and they will rejoice over the Day of the Lord. It comes as a thief in the night when no-one expects it. I hear the Lord say -Oh foolish man, you see the stars in the sky and you cannot interpret the signs you see. I will open up your eyes and shine a light for true revelation.
Blessed be the name of the Lord Most High forever and ever. Amen. Glory, glory, glory for the King of Kings. A banner will be lifted up above all the nations of the earth. The Lion of Judah has roared. He is the roaring lion. Hear Him roar. Amen.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand — a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.” Joel 2:1-2 –
“The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” Obadiah 1:15
“Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord ? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?” Amos 5:18-20 –
“The great day of the Lord is near — near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness — a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers.” Zephaniah 1:14-16
“Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord —with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” Zechariah 14:3-9
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, ” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” Malachi 4:1-6
Jesus said 24 “But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 “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. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:24-37
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter —asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 2 Peter 3:10
Mercy….the Lord our God is truly a God of Mercy and Justice. The Lord has been speaking to me recently about the day that everyone will have to appear before His throne.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15
For all God’s children, all of His children, whether good or evil, there is a day of reckoning. Each will appear before His throne, whether great or small, famous or of no account. God is just and He grants mercy, favour and grace to those He chooses as He alone can judge correctly as He sees the intents of a man’s heart.
One day all will be laid bare for all to see. There are those who have been the great deceivers, deceived the whole world by their displays of pretence of goodness, who have loved the praises of men but not to God. Their works will be burnt up like dross. The true heroes of faith will be made known. Those who have been faithful to God. He will reward them according to the thoughts and intents of their hearts.
God will open His books on that day of reckoning. All heaven and earth will know the truth. The truth will be revealed for all to see. That is why the Lord urges His people not to judge each other without cause because they do not know the truth unless the Spirit of truth has revealed it to them. There are not many who can judge correctly with Godly wisdom and knowledge but Solomon was one of those that God gave such wisdom.
Make no mistake, each person from all time from the greatest to the least will appear before the throne of glory to give account of themselves. The reasons for their actions and the reason for their hope. God will be merciful to those He will be merciful to and show grace beyond the understanding of man because He sees the heart. His grace and mercy is the book of life. If your name is written in the book of life then grace and mercy triumphs over judgement.
James 2:13 judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.
If you do not have confidence today that your name is written in the lamb’s book of life and that you will receive God’s mercy on that day of reckoning then you have an opportunity to say sorry for your sins, accept God’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ His son as your saviour. By repentance and saying sorry and by faith in Jesus you will be saved and your name written in the book of life. You will experience the grace of God. This is the start of your new life as a believer in Christ. Find a local church or a believer who can help disciple and teach you how to be a follower of Jesus and live out your new life.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:23- 27
Jesus has a lot to say about service through His teachings, His parables and also His exhortations to the 7 churches in Revelation. We know the foundation of our faith in Christ that we are saved by grace not works, but we must not neglect our service to the King of Kings and are called to let our light, His light in us, shine before the world. These are the days that the Lord is exhorting His church to rise and shine.
Jesus said that we are the light of the world and as a light on a lamp stand gives light to the whole house so should our light be visible to all so that men will see our good works and give glory to God. Matthew 5:14-16. I am also reminded of John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation as He walked amongst the 7 churches who were shown as 7 lamp stands, the reminder that each church is a lamp stand for His light to shine. Representatives of Jesus. To each church, Jesus said “I know your works”. He is saying the same to us today. I know your works.
As Jesus encouraged and called those churches to account so we too can learn lessons from His words. His exhortation to the church of Ephesus is not to forget our first love, Jesus. We can so easily get caught up with works of themselves and become so busy that we can neglect our relationship with Jesus. If it is not our love for Him and His love in us that motivates us then Jesus says we are to repent and return to our first love. To remember the fervent love we had for Jesus when we first encountered Him and His love for us. To be zealous for Him and not lukewarm and indifferent as the church in Laodicea.
The church at Sardis had a reputation for being alive but Jesus said this was not actually the case. Jesus had tested their works and found them not perfect before God. This was a wake up call. To recognise things as they really were so that the church could repent and then take what was still alive and nurture it so that it could grow. As Jesus said to the church at Thyatira, who had corrupted themselves by allowing false prophecy, false teaching and sexual immorality, that He is the one who searches each mind and heart and will give to each one according to their works. Jesus warns against following false teachings and false doctrines. They will distort the light and corrupt our works. Jesus wants us to wake up and recognise false and corrupt things which influence us. To anoint our eyes with His eye salve so we can see clearly.
Jesus is calling us to examine ourselves, prepare ourselves so that we can shine. As disciples of Christ we have much to offer the world, not just in being good citizens and doing good things but also in terms of Godly wisdom and knowledge, insight and understanding. In the bible we are told that the sons of Issachar had the ability to understand the times and seasons that they lived in which enabled them to give the right advice to the people of Israel so that they knew what to do. 1 Chroncles 12:32. We so need that Godly ability in the body of Christ today for the days we live in. Understanding the times and seasons and recognising what God is calling us to do and hearing His voice so that we can advise others whether in our families, work lives, businesses or other positions of influence.
I believe that the Lord is reminding us in this season, where such great needs and injustices are evident in every part of society and in the midst of this global pandemic, to take every opportunity to trust God, obey God and do good because when Jesus comes again, which He will, then He will test our works in this life and reward us accordingly. The question is what we have done in obedience to His calling and according to the measure of gifting and opportunity that have been given to us. What has motivated us in our minds and hearts.
Many years ago, I had a vision of Jesus which impacted me greatly. I saw him stood in front of me and as He held His hands out to me I heard him say very clearly “well done my good and faithful servant”. He then gestured for me to look behind him and I saw this incredible amount of amazing things. I couldn’t describe them in detail to you but I knew they were items of incredible value and beauty and I couldn’t believe how much there was. I remember being completely overwhelmed and asked the Lord what they were for as I couldn’t imagine they were for me. I had done nothing exceptional with my life to deserve such a rich reward. Jesus simply said “ For you, for your faithfulness”. Then He gestured again, and I saw another amazing amount of things and He said “but all this could have been yours as well”. I knew that Jesus wasn’t disappointed in me but He was saddened that He could not give me all that was mine to obtain. I had missed opportunities for service either through disobedience, fear or countless other things which had stopped me. The little foxes which I had allowed to ruin my vineyard.
It would be a trap for me to use that vision to do lots of works for works sake. It wasn’t the message that the Lord had for me. He was encouraging me to remain faithful to Him and His call on my life. To persevere and not give up until My race is run. Jesus reminds me that He is My first love and My heart belongs to Him. I pray that when He calls I will answer and be bold to do all that He calls me to do in service of Him. One day when I do stand before Him I trust I will hear those words “well done good and faithful servant”.
I just want to finish with the following words of encouragement to us.
I heard the Lord say the following in the Spirit. It is time for My church to examine itself. To look carefully at what it is doing. The example it is setting. I am coming and I come first to My church. May they be found ready when I come to test their works with fire. Let him who is doing good continue to do so but examine the heart. For out of the heart comes every selfish thing and motivation. Let My Spirit guide and lead you. Let My Spirit be the one that breathes life into everything you do for Me as then you will reap a harvest, not just in this life but in the life to come. Let your good works be seen by others so they may glorify your father in heaven. It is time to rise and shine like the stars in the sky. This is the day for the church of My people to be the source of nutrition and goodness for others. To give freely out of an abundant storehouse, for I am the bread of life and the pure living water. I will never run dry and I will never run out of provision for My people. To those who are called and chosen by Me and whose name is written in My book of life and My name is written on their foreheads for all to see. Arise and shine for your light has come and the glory of God my Father has risen upon you.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 answerwhen 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.
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.
This morning the Lord led me to read Daniel 5 and the account of Belshazzar’s feast. During the feast a finger divinely appears on the wall and writes. This sight terrifies the king and he wants to know what the words mean as no-one can read them. Daniel is brought in and he interprets the words as:
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
He tells the King that the meaning is this: God had numbered Belshazzar’s kingdom & finished it. Belshazzar had been weighed and found wanting. His Kingdom was now going to be taken from him and given to others.
Belshazzar had not learnt the lessons of the past from his own father’s (Nebuchadnezzar) experience and was brought down by pride.
I believe that God is warning us that we, the United Kingdom, are in danger of being brought down because of Nationalistic Pride.
I have written below the words I heard from the Lord this morning in my spirit:
My eye has been over the kingdoms of the earth since the beginning of time. I have watched them rise and I have watched them fall.
In the time of Daniel, my servant was shown the mystery of the kingdoms of the earth and how they would be brought up and brought down.
I have measured each one in My hand and all have been found wanting. Not one earthly kingdom has measured up fully to the calling that was put upon it and the mantle which covered it.
The kingdom that you live in (the United Kingdom) is a kingdom about to divide itself again.
For a kingdom divided against itself, such as your kingdom is now, cannot stand.
The day is approaching faster than some can see – that the kingdom will divided. This is not part of My divine plan for your nation but is an inevitable outcome if they continue in this way. If each one takes continual power for themselves and decides what benefits their own nation rather than the collective then this kingdom will fall.
It is an inevitable consequence unless there is a repentance and turn of heart and each nation truly joins together for the common good of all. Divided they will fall otherwise.
May My people pray for a turning to occur in the hearts of those who govern these nations. May they humble themselves and rid themselves of nationalistic pride but rather seek the good of all. United they stand but divided they fall.
Pray for the unity of the kingdom before it cleaves itself completely and then it will not be able to fulfill the destiny calling to which it has been called for the last days.
This is the day for coming together and not tearing itself apart.
I was reminded of Jesus words in Matthew 12:25 – “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
I believe that we are stronger together as a kingdom rather than as individual nations. Nationalistic pride is a stumbling block. Each nation that makes up the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland is important and has a voice that should be heard but no element should be favored above the other. Let each work together for the benefit of all.
Lord we pray that you will open the eyes of those who govern our nations and the ministers of each nation of Scotland, Wales, England & Northern Ireland. Lord let them see the division that is occurring. Open their eyes Lord and convict their hearts. Let their hearts be softened and let truth be received. Reveal nationalistic price and let all be truly repentant and turn instead in humility to working for the common good of all in equality and for unity. Let there be true unity among those who govern our nations. Let the stumbling blocks of pride be removed.
Let them lead us, the people, by example and let their example Lord then bring change in us. Let us all Lord come together as one – truly united in You our sovereign God.
Lord reveal the demonic plans of the enemy to bring division and stir up hatred. Let the enemy be undone and let his plans to divide this nation come to nothing. Lord we pray that your Will is achieved in us and that you use the United Kingdom powerfully for your purposes in these days ahead Lord. Amen
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”.