Sunday, 22 June 2014

Joy in Christ's Suffering

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.Heb 12:2

Can you imagine the joy that Jesus must feel when he see his children "get it".  When we understand who we are in Him and who He is in and through us and what He accomplished for us on the cross.  Think about it!  Jesus endured the cross so that our salvation and healing would be
His joy and great reward.  Every time one of His kids get what is available to them because of His suffering and spilt blood on Calvary, His pleasure must be immense.

So many struggle with low self esteem and somehow don't feel that salvation and healing is for them but only for others.    We still feel that somehow we have to earn it, but scripture is quite clear....

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Is 53:3-5

The original meaning of the word "griefs" in verse 4 means sickness and "sorrows" means physical and mental pain.  He "hath borne our griefs", our sicknesses and "carried our sorrows", our physical and mental pain.  Jesus certainly showed the Father's heart of compassion being moved to heal all who came to Him.  It matters not what we think of ourselves, the reality is Christ paid an incredible and awesome price for our salvation and healing.  Think of His precious blood that seeped when that whip crisscrossed His back for our healing. He who was so merciful was beaten merciless. Think of the blood that flowed from the jammed in thorns on His head for our mental stability and peace.  Think of the blood running down from His wrists as He was nailed to the wooden beam so that we could lift up holy hands to our God and Father.  Think of the blood that trickled from His feet that we could walk in the gospel of peace bringing the good news to others.  

He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) and because of what He accomplished for us offering Himself up as a sacrifice for our transgressions we are people set free and blessed.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love;
5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire,
6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely bestowed favour on us in the Beloved,
7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace... Eph 1:3-7

What wonderful and precious promises we have.  What destiny in Him.  What identity in Him.  Did you get it, we are a blessed people, and blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  Not only are we blessed, we are chosen children, holy without blemish, favoured, redeemed and forgiven.

Scripture tells us that it was the Father's good pleasure to bruise his Son.  How can we fathom such a price the Father and Son collectively paid just so their love and goodness could be evidenced in the life of countless millions as this scripture explains:-

Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lords purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.
My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins. (Is 53: 10-11)

What amazing, sacrificial love!  All for mankind.  Jesus accomplished a great work for us and now seated at the right hand of the Father he reflects on that work being satisfied with the fruit of His suffering.  That fruit is you and me who have accepted His gift by faith.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Don' Despair - Persevere

Habakkuk 2:3 But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!

Gods word will always come to pass.  He gives us dreams and plans but sometimes it seems that they are delayed but God has to work His character into us, so when he brings us into the fulfilment of the dream we can carry it to completion.  There is always spiritual opposition, some Tobiah or Sanballat to come and discourage and try to stop the vision from being fulfilled.

God told the Israelites that they were to conquer the land and their enemies little by little least they be overrun by wild animals.  I never understood this but somehow it seems to tie into the fact that God works in us to bring out into the light, "wild animals" that lurk in our soul area.  God wants us to minister out of wholeness and so He heals our soul wounds little by little until we become fruitful in that area.  If God had of shown me all the ungodly attitudes I had when I first got saved I would probably have said this is too hard and thrown in the towel.  He deals with us gently convicting us of an attitude or sin one at a time.  We are His workmanship and the Holy Spirit, the sanctifying Spirit at work in us, will carry on convicting and helping us to conquer in God's timing until we walk in the promised land of His plan for our individual and unique work, the most prominent being Christ formed in each and every one of us.

The trial of perseverance teaches us to completely put our trust in His Sovereignty.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead.

When our dreams seem to reach a dead end and we determine to put our trust in Him, surrendering all and no longer trying to work the thing and make it happen, then there is a "but suddenly God....."  When we sacrifice our Isaac and say, "you know what God I am going to rest in you because I cannot lean on the arm of my flesh anymore, for apart from you I am nothing," God has us in the prefect place for His glory to shine through our weakness.

2 Corinthians 1:10 And he did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again.

When we see God come through on each and every battle as we walk out His plan for our life we too like the apostle can say that we expect Him to deliver us.  Someone once said, "when we are down to nothing, God is up to something."

Let's rest in Him and His timing.  His love for us wills always ensure His best interest for us in each and every situation even though we may not understand it at the time.

God is faithful, Amen?

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Relationship in the Word

"You search the scriptures for you believe that they give you eternal life.  And the scriptures point to me.  Yet you won't come to me so I can give you this life eternal." Jn 5 39-40

I have always wondered how it is possible that so many different religions have the bible but believe vastly different doctrines, even erring to the cultish.  It has been said that the bible is open to personal interpretation and this is true until.....!

I looked at the apostle Paul who ended up writing most of the epistles, yet he was the great persecutor of the church.  He was a Pharisee with a huge jealous zeal for God.  How could he have such a zeal for the Living God that was so misplaced that he got it so wrong.  He studied the scriptures and most likely could quote verbatim the Torah, yet he like many others "missed the day of visitation" not recognising Jesus the Messiah.  With a presupposition of what Messiah would do when He came, Paul missed that Christ ushered in a kingdom of salvation in men's hearts.

Throughout Jewish history, the pendulum swung from the worship of God to the worship of idols and going astray doing their own thing. A heart change was needed as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel (36:26):-

"And I will give you a new heart - I will give you new and right desires and put a new spirit within you.  I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love.  And I will put my spirit within you so that you will obey my laws and do whatever I command."

So what changed Paul from persecutor of the church to persecuted for the church?  Purely relationship.  He finally met the Author of the Book, Jesus Christ, on his way to Damascus.  Jesus was no longer words on a page, but the word became flesh to Paul as the eyes of his heart were enlightened by the presence of the One he persecuted.

When we really know someone, we are able to discern the spirit behind their words.  If someone reported to you that your wife/husband said a certain thing, you would know in your heart if they would say something like what been reported, or you would know if it had been interpreted wrongly.  It is the same with Jesus.  The closer our relationship becomes, the more we know His heart the easier we find the interpretation of the spirit of the message in the word.

Studying the word without the relationship only leads to "puffed up knowledge" and can give misplaced zeal and wrong interpretation of the message.  The life in the Word is found in relationship with Him and leads us to desire more truth and an even closer more intimate walk.  This us why He beckons us to come to Him and learn of Him.

Come today.  Call on His name and ask Him to teach you His word in the book.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Antidote to Discouragement

 "The Lord is near the broken hearted; He delivers those who are discouraged"

We can all get discouraged at times, especially as we live in an "instant-take-away" world and one of the tactics of the enemy is to bring discouragement during waiting times.  I have experienced this quite a few times, especially recently, in my calling out to God to change me and open my eyes to the supernatural realm.  I know that there is more, an abundant life that Jesus wants us to walk in, and for those who believe, He promised we would see the glory of God.  

Honestly, I see more of my faults then the glory and wonder sometimes if I'll ever be "good enough" to carry His Glory.  But it is not depended upon my "goodness" but on my belief.  Those of us who believe that the same great and excellent power that God exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him in Heavenly places far above;  that same creative power, abides in us.  God's Holy Spirit dwells in us and it is through His Spirit that God wants us to bring a heavenly taste of glory to those who need it the most.

Look around!  So many people, hurt, bruised, sick and broken and who need to know the Saviour, Jesus Christ, the anointed One.  And God wants us to show them His Love, Glory and Power.  We are overcomers, that is what His word says, but are we overcoming and allowing His Word to be effective in us, and through us, or ineffective because of our unbelief, doubt, discouragement or low self worth.  

We are the sons and daughters of the Most High God.  OH WHEN WE WILL GRASP A HOLD OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO US AND RUN WITH HIS PRESENCE, POWER  AND GLORY, to see the captives set free, healed and delivered. I don't know about you but I want this and I want it bad.  What joy to be able to bring those captives into the Kingdom where they will have a touch of the Saviour and Healer through the powerful anointing that dwells in us who have already tasted freedom and seen that He is good.

Jesus, Himself, was reliant on the Holy Spirit to do all His works.  He only began His powerful, anointed ministry after being baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit.  He Himself testified:-

'I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on His own initiative, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise." Jn 5:11

Jesus listened and obeyed the Father exclusively.  Listened and obeyed!  I seem to have a hard time listening to His voice but I am encouraged as Jesus said, "my sheep hear my voice", so I will keep on practising, believing....that I do indeed hear His voice. (Maybe God knows that I still need to learn obedience!). I am mindful of the scripture that says, "be not weary in doing well, for in due time, we will reap, if we do not give up." Gal 6:9

There it is, back to "due time".  There is always time involved.  A seed must first be planted and after time comes the harvest.  The encouragement is to keep on keeping on.  When discouragement comes, be mindful of the character of God who is faithful and on the power of the Holy Spirit who can comfort and encourage.

"For this is what the High and Exalted One says:  the One who rules forever, whose Name is Holy:  I dwell in an exalted and Holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order tocheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged." Is 57:15

Maybe the waiting game helps us to become more reliant and dependant on Him. God has a "due season" and He brings it to pass in His time and not ours.  We can be assured harvest will always come if we do not faint and give up and this is why discouragement is such a powerful weapon against us.  It causes us to give up, drop the dream, have a self-pity party, lose our identity of who we are in Christ and how powerful He is in us.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." 1 Pet 2:9

We are ambassadors for Christ, with a heavenly calling and anointing to do the works which God has planned for us to do before the foundation of the world, and.....there is a reward for those who "do not grow weary".

"I am also aware that you have persisted steadfastly, endured much for the sake of my Name, and have not grown weary."  Rev 2:3

God is aware! God sees!

"I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown." Rev 3:11

God promises!

"The Sovereign Lord has given me the capacity to be His spokesman, so that I know how to help the weary. He wakes me up every morning; He makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do."  Is 50:4

"But as for you, be strong and don't get discouraged for your work will be rewarded," 2 Chr 15:7

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

God's Powerful Word

In the same way, the promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realised as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend.(Is 55:11)

I had a revelation about the power that is in our tongues as the word declares we have the power to bless or curse. I realised afresh how important it is that we should speak God's promises as well as blessings over our families, businesses, churches and even our nation. The world is full of negativity, criticisms and gossip yet we, children of the light,  should be full of encouragement and blessings.

There is an amazing story in Numbers 22 which confirms this importance of blessing and cursing. Balak the King of the Moabites, fearful of the Israelites who had great victory over the Amorites, called upon a seer Baalam to come and curse the Israelites so they could not conquer him.  Baalam went but would only speak the word that God would allow him to speak over the nation.  God commanded Baalam to bless them and not curse as Balak required. The message of this story is clear in that we should only speak what God speaks over our circumstances for overcoming victory in our lives.

My message is like a fire that purges dross! It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces! I, the Lord, so affirm it! Jer 23:29

The word of God is spirit and life and has the divine ability to do what God has said it will do.  It is amazing that we can use His word like a hammer and if we keep confessing it over situations it will finally break all resistance to accomplish that which God had promised.  His Word never falls to the ground to be trampled on, but it will return to God who will watch over it to perform it.  We can trust the Word of God because it is the Truth and we know that God cannot lie.

The Word also has the amazing ability to change us even as silver or gold is heated to extreme temperatures to remove the impurities.  So the Word of God exposes the dross in our hearts if we allow it to by testing our thoughts, motives and intents of our heart.  It is so important that when we see something adrift that we bring it before God and repent and ask Him to create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit in us. (Ps 51:10)

This brings me to confession of the Word.  it is important that we use His Word as a weapon, even as we see Jesus doing when tempted in the wilderness and as we are exhorted by Paul in Ephesians 6.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Praying the scriptures is a powerful weapon but, as I heard someone say the other day, we should not just be confessors of the word but heart possessors of the Word.  The word needs to posses our hearts as the bible encourages "to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". (Col 3:16)  When we possess the word, we will have full understanding and revelation of that word, our faith and belief in that word will bring the authority and divine power that the word yields into play.

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight, and women received back their dead raised to life. But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life. Heb11-32-35

Those who have believed have seen incredible things as the writer of Hebrews reminds us.  The only way we can possess the word in our hearts is through meditation. Mulling over it, speaking it out loud and thinking about it; what it means, what is God saying to us and how does it apply in our lives.  Doing this will allow the Holy Spirit to bring the full revelation to our hearts and with that revelation our  faith will rise.

As the scriptures say, “Those who know their God will be strong and do mighty exploits.” (Dan 11:42)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Infinite God

Sometimes I just can't equate the God of the Old Testament to Jesus in the New.  they are the same God - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost - one God, three distinct personalities.  I came to a conclusion. How can we, who think from a human perspective, with finite minds and finite actions understand a God who is everywhere, all knowing, all powerful and all creative.

I look at some of the judgements of the Old Testament where people were to be cut off from their society or stoned. I think about the earth splitting open and swallowing up those who rebelled and my heart would almost cry out, "no, this cannot be God".  Yet somehow I know, that I know, that I know, God is Love and He is just.  He is also Holy yet He is Mercy.  When I look at His Mercy, surely it outweighs His Judgement.  It certainly did when "the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us".  God, Himself, manifest in Jesus Christ, sacrificed Himself on that cross to redeem us from death to life, from judgement to justification, from the curse of the law to freedom in the Spirit.

So how does this reconcile the Old with the New.  I know that I will never understand from my earthly perspective for we see in part but one day we shall see more clearly. (1Pet 13:9-10) I do know that in His Love and Grace, God chose for Himself a people, the Israelites from all the nations and with this came great responsibility.  As God's people, they were to be a witness to nations and from them would come the fulfilment of the Seed promised in Genesis to Eve, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who would save people from their sins and reconcile His people, the Jews and the Gentiles to God.

Ephesians 2:11-18 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” which is done in the body by human hands— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Colossians 1:19-20 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

The Old Testament clearly shows the effects of sin on the nation and creation.  Yet God promised them if they would obey Him, he would heap upon them blessings after blessings.  The nation was blessed and prospered yet His people continually gave themselves over to the prostitution of other gods.  So the cycle of apostasy is clearly seen.  Judgement fell and they were carried off as captives to the nations whose gods they worshipped.  In their captivity would cry out to God and He would deliver them and heal them and bring them back into their own land.  The cycle would start all over again.

What a lesson for us.  God is a jealous God. Not in a human, worldly sense but jealous of anything that would break the sweet communion of fellowship with Him where His abundant blessings flow and He showers us with His Love, Joy and Peace.  Outside of that covering fellowship, God knows that we are easy picking for the adversary of our souls.  As Jesus said,

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
We have a choice.  We can accept the gift of life Jesus came to give us or we can choose to go our own way.  His way is the way of Life and blessing.  Even in tough circumstances, His way keeps us and strengthens us, guarding our hearts and minds as we lean upon Him and keep our focus on Him.  Choose today, life or death, blessing or curses.  This is our choice, freely given by a God who loves us and desires to wrap His arms around us in that Love.  He has blessings for us, in our obedience, but we get to choose what we prefer.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Spiritual warfare

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10: 3-5

Divine power!  This really caught my attention as I was reading this scripture.  The weapons available to us are supernatural with inherent divine power.  I wondered about these weapons we have to demolish pretensions and arguments that seek to destroy our spiritual faith and walk. Arguments that stop our belief in the knowledge of God.  The bible tells us that those who know their God shall be strong and do exploits. Spiritual enemies like nothing more then to spread their lies and pretences for us to believe rather then what God has communicated to us in His Word. When we don't know who God is, we don't have faith in what He can do.  Whenever we don't see God as a loving, Almighty Creator of all, who dwells in the eternities and loves us, we have no confidence that He can and will deliver us. God is good. He desires good for His children. We just need to look at how Jesus died for us on the cross to see His love and desire for humankind,

So what are these divine, powerful weapons?  My thoughts went to Revelation 12:11.

"And they overcame him because of their testimony and the blood of Jesus and they loved not their lives unto death."

We are in a spiritual war for our souls and being in this spiritual war, we need spiritual weapons which God has given to us.  Our testimony - what God has done in our lives and how He has saved us is a powerful witness to those who are struggling with the same things that God so graciously freed us from - strongholds and bondages of being in a fallen world.  His Word has power to free us from these strongholds and bondages that grip our minds - lies we have believed about ourselves and God which are contrary to the Word.  Our testimony brings hope to others. I recalled the verse of scripture from Ps 149 4-6, 9

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hands.....
To execute upon them the judgements written: this is the honour of all His saints.  Praise ye The Lord.

This reminds me of the scripture in Hebrews 4:12 that tells us that the Word of God is active and powerful, like a two edged sword.  The testimony that is most powerful is the Word of God that comes from our lips. Declaring God's word over our situations and loved ones will bring the divine power of the Word to actively change, reconcile, heal or bring repentance.  It defeats the enemy's plans to kill, steal and destroy.

Oh the blood, the powerful blood of the Lamb that washes us clean from our sins and begins to restore.  The blood is an effective, powerful, spiritual weapon against the enemy and accuser of our souls. The blood covers and protects. Death could not take the Israelites when they sprinkled the blood of the lamb on the lintels of their doors when waiting God's deliverance from Egypt.  The death angel had to pass over when he saw the blood and this was a type of what was to come.  Jesus bled His blood out, laying down His life for us and in doing so, gives eternal life to those who plead the blood.  The enemy has no weapon against the blood of the Lamb which has redeemed us. We have great worth having been purchased by the imperishable, incorruptible blood of Jesus Christ.

The final weapon, and loved not their lives to death, is also very powerful and can only be accomplished in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are willing to lay down our lives for each other, living in love and desiring only the best for others, the enemy has lost his grip on us.  When we refuse to gossip, be envious or take offence and instead encourage, love and support others, how can he influence us in any way and will therefore remain a defeated foe.  Love is definitely a divine weapon.

Let us ask God for the boldness to love as Christ loved us and to be able to fearlessly proclaim Him who called us out of darkness and into the light and to give us revelation of His word and His wisdom for all situations we find ourselves facing.