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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY Pt 70 What’s in a Name?

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story.

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective.

The World Re-populated

What’s in a name? Listing genealogy gives credibility to the Bible and offers other benefits…

From Genesis 11:10-11

“This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood. After he begot Arphaxad, Shem lived five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.” (Genesis 11:10-11)

And

“This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.” (Genesis 11:27-28)

Sandwiched between these two pairs of verses is the genealogy of the Shemites, from Noah’s son Shem all the way to Abram who would become Abraham, and ultimately, the father of the people of Israel.

GOD’s Precision 

So important is detail to the LORD GOD that He lists the ancestry of the father of the Hebrew nation from Shem, Noah’s son, all the way to Terah who begot Abram.

In the detail of chapter 11, we learn the age of the descendants, first with Shem living 500 years to see his descendants for several generations. We see also in chapter 11, from verse 10-28, that longevity declines after the flood. Such a change in the atmosphere there must have been once rain is a part of the courses of nature.

But above all else for GOD’S STORY in chapter 11 of Genesis, we see the introduction of the person whom GOD will choose to be the father of many nations, including his fatherhood of GOD’s Chosen People.

Nothing is unimportant

In GOD’s Word, nothing is unimportant. He lists births, ages and deaths. Later in the Word we’ll see feasts and building specs, with detail after detail. Why? Because as we uncover archeological sites and artefacts, we discover His Word is validated, over and over again. 

He also values people, and so again and again, the Bible lists names of people and their connections to other people. Some of these details have been proven in secular historical documents. Some teach us GOD’s relationship with us, and His plan for us to be saved from eternal death.

Detail matters. And so, GOD provides it for us. Over and again, details prove the accuracy of the Word, which can in turn, build our faith and test those who challenge the veracity of the Bible.

Let’s keep reading — even the bits which may be a challenge to hold our interest — knowing that every Word points to Jesus: Yeshua the Messiah, and can lead this world back to peace, righteousness and joy.

Amen.

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Politics and Society today Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Election Fever

An election has been called in the UK. This is a time of uncertainty, unpredictability, and we who know Jesus must take this time to our hearts and minds: Let’s pray for the nation and hold on….

Election Fever has struck

On Wednesday 22nd May, unexpectedly by all but only a handful of people, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of United Kingdom called a general election. As with all nations that use the parliamentary system, there is not a set election date as in the USA but the structure calls for an election every 5 years (if not before). Since the last election was in 2019, it was a known fact that the election would be held before the end of December 2024. 

This call was sudden and generally unexpected. 

The immediate results are:

  1. A scramble by the press to get the stories
  2. A scramble by MPs to get their campaigns up and running
  3. A scramble by political parties to fill their constituencies with viable candidates
  4. Just generally, a lot of scrambling.

So let’s pray for calm.

What else can we do

I believe the most important thing we can do as Believers in Jesus is to become informed and then vote.

Since we live in a democracy, however sincere or controlled that democracy may be, we need to exercise our vote as citizens of the nation. But to vote, we need to be informed and pray.

Speculation verses opinion verses fact: We need to discern. What is news hype? What is true? What are the issues we are most concerned about? Who addresses those issues best or most in the way we do? ‘Whom does GOD say I should vote for’ (If he says anything directly to us about it)?

Turbulence (flight London to Singapore was prophetic)

Our society is under great strain at the moment. 

I think even the heavens creating turbulence is a part of that. Recently, there have been 2 incidents reported about flight turbulence causing injury and 1 death. I think the flight from London to Singapore was a prophetic warning, highlighting the turbulence in our times.

Research and Vote

I believe the establishment is corrupted. But not all politicians are corrupted. And just as the established church has strengths and weaknesses — some believing we need to steer it from within and others thinking we need to avoid it — we need to take our opportunity to vote and take it seriously. Even the “Monster Raving Loony Party” is valuable in that it gives those who are very cross an opportunity to vote.

So, I encourage us all to pray, to be as positive aka as hopeful as we can be, research and vote.

Let’s not get swept up in excitement or panic, nor get so angry we choose to throw in the towel. But let us dig in for the next 6 weeks and pray. 

Let’s pray for the nation to be a sheep nation and not a goat nation. Let’s pray for the earnest politicians to win. Let’s pray for the victors to care, truly about this nation, and to make good laws, not self-serving, and let’s pray this nation is a nation turned to GOD. 

We who are in Christ, let’s love one another, discuss and discern together.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Chaos at Pentecost

Pentecost has just passed (although in the Jewish calendar it will come on 11th June).

In our world, sirens blaze, war is all around. There is chaos at Pentecost. 

What shall we do?

The West has imploded

Bombs are going off in Ukraine and Israel, political war is throughout the West; US and UK campuses have young people wanting to overcome the established government. Far right Islamic extremists are threatening Christians and claiming, “We have taken over” from the shops and street markets of London. Paris has had various torching in churches and elsewhere. And I could go on….

Still we go on even though the West is at war with itself.

But GOD

Recently a friend asked me if I thought we could regain / reclaim our society. Upon reflection I think not. We might have a bit of an ebb-and-flow, but I think the West as we’ve known it for a few hundred years is now essentially gone. My friend thinks our culture hangs in the balance. We’ll watch, we’ll see how things unfold.

We pray, “LORD GOD, Your will be done on earth as in heaven!”

Our LORD is always and ever in charge. As citizens, humanity reaps what it sows; yet He has paid the ultimate cost of sacrifice. He is ever-victorious, even if we suffer the consequences of kicking His word out of our schools and institutions, and of breaking His laws one after another.

Overcome chaos

It is time now to consider: is the end of life as we know it in sight? 

We in the West may continue to live a high lifestyle for a while. But as the billionaires grow in number, the poverty-stricken do also. Without huge intervention, the Judeo Christian roots that provided sound leadership in the West seems lost. 

The Middle Classes were temporary, an anomaly, and they are dwindling in number and authority. Through democracy, the people held the power, but it is all but illusion now. If anarchy doesn’t destroy democracy, war or Islamic fundamentalism or AI may. We are on a collision course with self destruction, unless something extraordinary happens.

But GOD can do extraordinary things!

But it isn’t doom and gloom we dwell on

Jesus is alive. Revival is coming. Put your boots, coats and hats on. Be ready to share the Gospel. And pray. Pray and worship in every season, day and night, alone and in fellowship. 

GOD is with us, will be with us, forevermore.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Living in the Moment

I was an actor before I was a writer

Once upon a time, in a part of my life long, long ago, I was a performing artist – an actor and singer. The heart of my training was from New York City’s Neighbourhood Playhouse, which boasts graduates such as Gregory Peck, Steve McQueen, Robert Duvall, Dianne Keaton, Mary Steenburgen,  and many, many other well known thespians. It was a joy to live and study in New York City. I spent a year in London thereafter, but I drew my technique primarily from what I learned in New York.

Living in the Moment

The heart of the training was learning how to listen and answer, honestly and earnestly, thus developing responses that were simple, truthful, powerful. Applying that technique to scripts came eventually, but the human and relational development in the meantime was profound for every student, because we all learned two key things:

  1. Basically, human beings learn to lie — to themselves and to others — in order to survive in society, to present a good front and 
  2. Living honestly comes from listening and responding truthfully to what we see moment-by-moment.

This living moment-by-moment is what I want to address here… How is it relevant to walking as a Believer?

Life free from Worry

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)

We can become so anxious with worry about the next day, the next month, the next year. Rather, Jesus advises us to focus on the day, rather than “laying up treasures” (Luke 12) on earth.

Control v Spontaneity

Living honestly and with some measure of spontaneity encourages others to do the same… The opposite is living under control.

Do you recall the story of Jezebel and Elijah? It’s a story about the spirit of control. Jezebel was controlling of her husband Ahab. Elijah was not compliant to her control, so she sought to destroy him.

Control seeks its own will. Control uses threat and intimidation to dominate in order to get its own way. As a spirit, control inhabits and controls individuals. For example, in 1 Kings, Jezebel is exposed as controlling and domineering. In 1 Kings 19 we see that she despised Elijah and successfully threatened him. He ran away from her in despair, although eventually his confidence was restored. Ultimately, Jezebel was despised by her own servants and was literally cast to the dogs.

Opposite to control is spontaneity: responding to situations as they arise, seeking to live freely, and to allow or encourage freedom for others, experiencing peace and fearless living.

Jesus has said he offers life and to live life more abundantly (John 10:10). I think spontaneity is compatible with abundant living.

Abundant life

What is abundant life? How can we live an abundant life?

This is not about material abundance but rather about living peacefully, fulfilled, free from fear or anxiety. This is an abundant life…

When we have peace with GOD we are buffered from fear.  Without fear, the need to control our situation is less intense. Overcoming control, we have less need to plan and more opportunity to live “in the moment” — safe in the assurance that as GOD looks after us and guides us. He “leads us in the paths of righteousness” for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23)

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is how children live, how Jesus lived on earth, and offers life and joy to us as we experience the safety, security and peace that intimacy with GOD offers. It’s also uncomplicated, honest and freeing.

May our journey draw us from control to more spontaneous living. Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No Time to Waste

A Time to Celebrate

I was at the Royal Albert Hall in London UK this past weekend for the Prom Praise 2024 concert, an annual event for Christians to celebrate together, worshipping Jesus. It was great fun and a delight to worship the Lord in a secular venue with lots of other Christians.

There was a particular moment when the LORD’s presence became palpable; it was a beautiful moment sparking an extended blessed time in the auditorium. Then another moment came where I had a strong sense that there is very little time left for the nation to repent. I wept.

A Time for Repentance

What has the nation to repent for? 

Has the UK not turned from GOD — taking Him out of school assembly, passing laws which are contrary to Biblical principles, raising up other gods and practising idolatry?

No Time to Waste

It’s time to pray. To my mind, we have a small window to draw people to the LORD, to pray for our society, before something… War? Rapture? Western decline in finance as it has declined in morality?… And is their a collapse, a fall or a takeover coming? Is it inevitable or can it be averted, like the Ninevites who avoided the catastrophe that Jonah warned them of? (Jonah 3)

Something is about to happen which will shift life for us in the West hugely. But we don’t know what it is.

I do not have a prophetic edge on what is coming. However, I’m not convinced Britain is going to avoid the consequences of rebellion against GOD which began in the 1960s. We pray — and we must pray — for our families, our communities. However, I do not know that GOD is going to relent. We may be passed the point of no return. I do not know.

And that is why I’m calling for prayer: Earnest heartfelt prayer. Nonstop prayer. Dedicated prayer.

“If my people who are by my name will humble themselves and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from Heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

This is a call to prayer, now.

Let’s be still. Let’s get on our knees (or whatever position you are accustomed to take), pray, and seek GOD as to what to pray. 

Then let’s pray and follow as GOD leads whatever direction He then gives to us. 

This is a must, for us all. A tsunami is coming. Maybe it can be diverted, maybe it can be transposed. Maybe not. 

What I do know is it’s time to pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Who is the Bride of Christ?

I have been writing about Preparing the Bride, and writing “Preparing the Bride” for some years now. But who is the Bride? Let’s look at who are the Believers, the followers of Jesus, to find out. Let’s take nothing for granted….

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective.

Born from Above

Nicodemus the Pharisee, came to Jesus one night. They had a conversation. Jesus is quoted in John 3:16-17 which says,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

But how is one saved? Jesus explains this to Nicodemus in John 3:3-8,

““Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.””

Christians or Followers of Jesus

Who are we who follow Jesus? Does this include all who call themselves Christians?

First to recognise us, we must be — according to Jesus’ words — born again. Born of water and of the Spirit.

“I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

That references baptism, I believe… emersion = baptism. That’s what the word baptism means. But rather than dive into debate about that, let’s look further into being born of the Spirit. 

By “Spirit” Jesus means Holy Spirit. He left in order to allow the Spirit to come to us. There are many references that give us the information we need. As a follower of Jesus, He himself says in John 14, many useful and clear messages:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (Verse 1)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Verse 6)

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (Verse 15)

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (Verses 16-17)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (Verse 26)

Holy Spirit

There is no doubt that Holy Spirit is essential to our salvation. We must be born of water and of the Spirit. 

So who then is the Bride? Is that all who are born again?

Description of the Bride

Recently, I sat with several others to hear from a brother who goes by the pen name Walter*…

Walter highlighted 3 things about the Bride. He said, the bride listens, the bride learns, and the bride is encompassed by — is enveloped by — GOD…

The 10 Virgins – 5 wise, 5 foolish

Let’s explore Matthew chapter 25 briefly to see who listens, who learns and who is encompassed by GOD. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 25….

Listens: 5 virgins were wise. Having listened to the times, their lamps were full and ready for the bridegroom (Jesus).

Learns: These 5 wise virgins had learned from the Master and were ready. All 10 virgins had their lamps but only 5 had them full. What is the point of having a lamp without any oil? 5 had learned to be ready.

The oil by the way, is one of many references to Holy Spirit in scripture, including from Genesis 28, when Jacob poured oil on the rock which had been his headstone. And in Exodus anointing oil is referenced in 29:7 and later in the chapter, it is an ingredient in the offering to the LORD. All of these references give honour to Holy Spirit in one way or another.

Is encompassed by GOD: The 5 wise virgins were devoted to the bridegroom and to His coming. They did not compromise by giving some of their oil away, though they were kind to encourage the 5 foolish who had chosen to be not ready, to go and fetch more oil for themselves.

Conclusion

One may be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus. One may be a follower of Jesus, without being His Bride. My personal testimony will vouch for this. I never doubted the truth or reality of Jesus but it wasn’t until I gave my life to Him, that I was born again and His follower. I was far from perfect at that point (and though I continue to grow, I still am imperfect), so perfection is not the measuring stick. At first, I was still very willful, not knowing any better. But in my heart of hearts, I wanted more of Him and to follow Him. I believe that was His measuring stick and He has brought me along, step-by-step, to the point where I do believe, by His grace, I am His bride.

Through surrender, obedience and devotion, we are His bride. Have you given your all to Jesus? Are you prepared to give Him your all? 

* Thank you Walter for your kindness in sharing your understanding of GOD’s Word and your testimony of the many times GOD has brought miracles into your life. Hallelujah, iron sharpens iron and through GOD and only GOD, is the victory.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Living in the Moment

I was an actor before I was a writer

Once upon a time, in a part of my life long, long ago, I was a performing artist – an actor and singer. The heart of my training was from New York City’s Neighbourhood Playhouse, which boasts graduates such as Gregory Peck, Steve McQueen, Robert Duvall, Dianne Keaton, Mary Steenburgen,  and many, many other well known thespians. It was a joy to live and study in New York City. I spent a year in London thereafter, but I drew my technique primarily from what I learned in New York.

Living in the Moment

The heart of the training was learning how to listen and answer, honestly and earnestly, thus developing responses that were simple, truthful, powerful. Applying that technique to scripts came eventually, but the human development and relationship development in the meantime was profound for every student, because we all learned two key things:

  1. Basically, human beings learn to lie — to themselves and to others — in order to survive in society, to present a good front and 
  2. Honest living comes from listening and responding truthfully to what we see moment-by-moment.

This living moment-by-moment is what I want to address here…

Life free from Worry

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)

We can become so anxious with worry about the next day, the next month, the next year. Rather, Jesus advises us to focus on the day, rather than “laying up treasures” (Luke 12) on earth.

Control v Spontaneity

We are often drawn to the story of Jezebel and Elijah when asked to consider the spirit of control. Jezebel was controlling of her husband Ahab. Elijah was not compliant to her control, so she sought to destroy him.

Control seeks its own will. Control uses threat and intimidation to dominate in order to get its own way. As a spirit, control inhabits and controls individuals. For example, in 1 Kings, Jezebel is exposed as controlling and domineering. In 1 Kings 19 we see that she despised Elijah and successfully threatened him. He ran away from her in despair, although eventually his confidence was restored. Ultimately, Jezebel was betrayed by her own servants and was literally cast to the dogs.

Opposite to control is spontaneity: responding to situations as they arise, seeking to live freely and to allow freedom for others, experiencing peace and fearless living.

Jesus has said he offers life and to live life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Abundant life

When we have peace with GOD we are protected from fear.  Without fear, the need to control is side-stepped; there is no need to control when we have no fear. Without fear and the need to control, we have less need to plan and more opportunity to live “in the moment” — safe in the assurance that as GOD guides us, He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Living in the moment is how children live, how Jesus lived on earth, and offers life and joy to us as we experience the safety, security and peace that intimacy with GOD offers. It’s also uncomplicated, honest and freeing. May our journey draw us from control to more spontaneous living. Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY: GOD’s grace revealed again

GOD’s grace revealed again

When Adam sinned, GOD had to send him out of the garden. But GOD clothed him, sent him with Eve, made provision for his survival.

Even though Adam could have had his life taken from him immediately, GOD gave him centuries to continue: to have children, to have a mortal existence. In this we see GOD’s grace. (Genesis 3:23)

And again, we’ll see GOD’s grace in the continuation of humanity, through Noah.

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective.

Genesis 6:7-8

“So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

As a result of Noah’s character, which pleased GOD, GOD showed him — and through him all of mankind — His grace. He gave Noah a task to build the ark (which took the man 100 years to complete amidst all kinds of mockery — he built a boat on dry land with no sea anywhere near) and the instructions to save the animals and his own family in order to preserve mankind, as undeserving as man had already proved to be.

“I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16)

After the flood, GOD promised He would never again flood the earth, ostensibly promising the next generations would survive; which they have to this day.

GOD’s grace revealed again and again

Through the building of the ark by one man of obedience and faith, through the opportunity GOD gave Noah to preserve animate life on earth, we see the grace of GOD: always seeking relationship with mankind, always seeking preservation of mankind, always showing love toward mankind, in spite of his failings.

This is a GOD of the second chances. Hallelujah! I certainly often need a second chance. Don’t you?

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’s Mercy Seat: His protection against Himself

The LORD GOD loves us. He is  all powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, an all consuming fire…. And all loving.

GOD’s Power

When we recognise the powerful presence of GOD, then we might begin to fathom the depth of His love for us. He could fry us all in an instant, and yet, He does not. 

How can we see the depth of His love in original scripture right back to the beginning of time? Well, let’s at least look at Exodus and Psalms to gain some insight…

GOD’s Mercy Seat in Exodus 25 reveals His protection even against Himself. He has to judge mankind because of their association with sin and Satan. Yes, His Psalm 91 is just one Psalm which declares — and reveals in action — His love. And  all this is even before He sent His son to die on our behalf!

These two amazing passages of scripture reveal GOD’s love for us, His commitment to us and His power over us.

GOD’s mercy seat

Exodus 25 reveals GOD’s love for us in that He protects us…. from Himself.

First, a read of the whole chapter will offer context. Then, look at verse 2, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” 

What does GOD offer?

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold… (Exodus 25:17a) and “two cherubim of gold” (verse 18a) “And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim will be toward the mercy seat.” (Verse 20) “And there I will meet with you and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim…” (verse 22)

What is happening? GOD is offering His mercy: a way of communication, a way of protection against His judgement, a way to be a part of Him rather than against Him. Against Him draws us to judgment, fire, death; but with Him draws us to Him and Him to us, in relationship, safe within His mercy.

He even includes His angels’ protection for us, as symbolised by the cherubim on His mercy seat.

GOD’s Psalm of protection

Psalm 91 begins, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” GOD is our “refuge”, our “fortress”. Wow! What are we up against? Yes, Satan. But also the wrath of GOD if we are not with Him. He offers us protection even against Himself.

Again in verse 11, He offers us angelic protection rather than their power against us:

“For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.”

But why does GOD give us His protection?

GOD offers protection “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver Him…” (Psalm 91:14)

GOD is not random

In His Word, sampled in Exodus 25 and Psalm 91, we see that when we love Him, when we honour Him, He protects us.

It is not because He is an egotist, but because He loves us and wants to protect us. He offers protection from Satan and also from our own sin.

BUT we can truly receive only when we love and honour… otherwise we are in the hands of the enemy and vulnerable to both the evil of Satan and the wrath of GOD.

When our heart is pure, our safety is sure. We hold our protection in our own will. 

GOD loves us and wants us to choose Him. He has chosen us. What will be do with that, every step of our day? Salvation from the beginning of the Word of GOD has been available. It is all about offering our love to Him. He’s waiting with open an heart.

Something to ponder. 

Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

I don’t want to operate on my own anymore

I don’t want to operate on my own anymore.

By that I mean I want to walk in step with Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit and I

One morning recently, as I finished a prayer time, I said, “I could pray for hours… I don’t want to operate on my own anymore, LORD.”

I decided to write about this because it’s vital to life!

Vital to Life

When we are in step with Holy Spirit, He leads and guides us to walk peacefully, full of grace, His Truth, and calmly.

I love it! When walking in step with Holy Spirit I have greater love and grace toward others, I have more gentleness and patience — two of the spiritual fruits in which I am otherwise quite deficient.

Fruits of the Spirit

In Galatians 5:22-23 it is written, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

It is so refreshing to walk in the Spirit. I have an inner peace that defies anxiety and stress and any sense of condemnation, because I have His grace toward others and therefore inner acceptance. For me, this is life-giving and guards me against the sort of condemnation the enemy likes to try to pour over me from time to time.

The term longsuffering

The word longsuffering — in our time and culture — is what we usually call patience. Patience and gentleness are fruits I don’t have much of naturally. In the natural: in my flesh, my natural personality, I’m more a bull-in-a-China-shop sort of person, compelled to get things done. That in itself isn’t wrong. But when the Spirit is leading me, I still manage to “get things done” but in a more relaxed manner. Then, I tend to say things more gently. I like that and I’m sure others around me would prefer that too.

Natural and Supernatural

Within our personalities, all of us will have, by our nature, some of the fruits of the Spirit. But when we are walking in Him, those fruits are magnified and all the fruits flow from us in a supernatural way, and what we have been given in the natural is amplified

Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Every day, every moment, we can ask to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Isn’t it time we surrender and expect our inner being and our outer behaviour to match, emulating our walk with Jesus? It is like being wedded, not as two humans become one flesh, but rather as we each become interlinked with Holy Spirit, our source of intimacy with Jesus grows and the Spiritual fruit — and our character — become more and more like His. Let’s be wedded to Holy Spirit.

As it says in Acts 17:28, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”

Be encouraged. Jesus is with us. And by His Spirit, inner peace and outer love can and will shine through as we surrender more and more to Him.

Every blessing:)

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Zion? Israel? What is the Jewish claim to the Holy Land…

Israel documented from ancient history

It is incredible to me how anyone can look into history and suggest that those who call themselves Israel did not exist before 1948.

What is the Jewish claim to the Holy Land?

Zion? Israel? What is it?

In the age of the Egyption Pharoahs, when the Hebrews crossed the River Jordan from the wilderness into the Promised Land… that was the start of GOD’s nation of Israel. It took a few hundred years before it became a nation… but eventually it did. Then it was overrun and folks were displaced…

A look at the history of Babylon or Persia reveals the removal of Jews from the land during the reign of King Nebachudnezer and the return of those exiled under King Cyrus of Persia. This has been well documented in history books.

Biblically, in the Book of Ezra Chapter 2, there is a detailed list of those who returned from captivity to Jerusalem and Judah. This document is one piece of much evidence that the LORD GOD knew would be valuable today, as it was in the 19th and 20th centuries when the British government and many within, first sought to return Jews to their native land. 1948 was the culmination of those efforts, though the borders where somewhat reduced from the earlier promises and the historical geography of the land.

“Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city.” (Ezra 1:1). The next 69 verses lists the family names, numbers in the family, sometimes their jobs, other times their livestock. It is detailed. Why? It’s a document of proof.

Jerusalem is mentioned repeatedly; it was and is the historic land of the Jewish people.

Damascus, Jerusalem — these are Old Testament cities which still exist today. The one proves the other. Lebanon, Israel — these are nations from the Old Testament which still exist today. The one proves the other.

Israel’s historical existence is in no doubt

Let there be no doubt of the ancient history of Israel: First it was a nation under King Saul, then King David, then King Solomon. It became divided thereafter but although the Northern Kingdom called Israel dissolved, the Southern Kingdom of Judah survived and the Romans changed the name of the entire territory from Isreal to Palestine to root out the rebels. And yet, through dispersion and return, the Jews have always inhabited the land of Israel. Arabs too lived there in less ancient times, but there was never a nation of Palestine and never were Arabs in charge of the land. It was occupied by one group or another until the British Mandate in the 19th and early 20th centuries, until Jordan (at first called TransJordan) and Israel became the Arab and Jewish nations in their own right.

Those who call themselves Palestinian now

The Arabs who call themselves Palestinian now are simply the Arabs who refused to integrate into either Israel or Jordan. They want all the land of Israel to belong to them and for them, there is no room for the Jewish state or its people. 

“From the River to the Sea” simply means they desire and claim the land so that there will be no more Jews in their own historic land.

What is fair

It isn’t to ask what is fair. What is fair is to have no bullying, no violence, no indoctrination against another nation. But that isn’t relevant. Those who argue the origins of Palestine as a legitamate argument fail to acknowledge there has never been a state of Palestine and weaken their “right” to a nation because Israel has been a nation historically, which they categorically deny.

What is true: that is the question. History cannot be erased or altered. What has been, has been. Israel as a nation has existed for centuries. Palestine has never existed as a nation. For me, that is the starting point.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What angers GOD and how does He measure anger?

GOD’s anger is for a moment but His favour is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5)

What angers GOD?

Israel and the Hebrews disobeyed. At the heart of it all, this is what dismayed GOD and caused Him to be angry with them.

Likewise for us, we must walk with Him, surrendered to the degree of our understanding, willing to grow in His likeness. This is our call as disciples of Jesus. This means we are called to obey Him. He seeks a “contrite spirit” and to be followed on His terms, not our own.

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.”

In this GOD takes delight.

How does GOD measure our obedience?

GOD looks to the heart of mankind, and of an individual, to see How close (or far) from Him is their walk.

“I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease;

For I was a little angry [at the Israelites], 

And they [other nations] helped —

but with evil intent.” (Zechariah 1:15)

Let’s look at GOD’s behaviour towards Israel

When we look at Zechariah 1, we see that the LORD allowed nations to overcome Israel as a consequence of her disobedience. And yet, when entreated upon by Zechariah, GOD says that although He allowed “four horns” — four nations — to rise against and conquer Israel, their motive was impure. Part of their motive was for evil. And so, He was even more angry with these Gentile nations.

GOD recognised the evil in the nations who conquered Israel and they would not have their reward.

So we today must discern our motive

Today, why are we following Jesus? Is it out of fear? Yet perfect love casts out fear. Fear is unnecessary.

Why are we following Jesus? Out of duty? 

Why are we following Jesus? Because He’s True?

We need not be afraid

When we look through scripture, we see how devoted GOD is to Israel, in spite of her sin.

Inevitably, the people of Israel are brought back to the land Israel, as promised in Zechariah 1,

“I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;
My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts,
“And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:16)

So, that temple later is rebuilt…. and in 1948, that nation is reborn. GOD keeps His promises.

And we who are In Christ

We who have Jesus and abide through the Holy Spirit, have no excuse or reason to disobey, to frustrate the plans and purposes for our individual lives nor as the Church. Just as we see GOD keep His promises to the nation of Israel even though they are disobedient, we also can trust He provides for us and protects us. We need not fear… nor disobey, but must allow ourselves to surrender fully to Him so His work can be achieved in and through us as is His intention and desire.

Let our Light Shine

Matthew 5:16 say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Let us not grow weary nor disobey His voice when He speaks to us. Let us not take lightly the following of His will and His timing. Let us not frustrate the will of GOD but let us shine brightly, so that others can see the path and follow it.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Preparing the Bride for the New Earth

Eureka moment

Sitting with a group of Christian artistic friends last evening and sharing insights about GOD’s direction for the Arts, I had a Suddenly! — you know a sudden moment when a lot of understanding comes all at once. This suddenly is about GOD’s preparing the Bride for the New Earth.

Angels and Heaven

In recent weeks, I’ve been studying about angels (as suggested by a bishop friend) and about Heaven (as encouraged by a pastor friend). I’ve been in agreement with the general thrust of what I’ve been looking at, which is that life in eternity is on a real planet, where we are flesh and blood, have proper jobs and responsibilities, with perfect bodies and perfect peace.

Carrying this perspective into the meeting last night, I listened as one in the circle said she’d been preparing for ministry in the Arts through prayer, sowing into the ground as though a crop of potatoes was ripening but unseen, and that we were meant to continue in fellowship and prayer without developing any particular project going forward.

And there-and-then I had a “suddenly” about this internet posting stream: Preparing the Bride.

We are being prepared as the bride for the New Earth

I’ve been writing about developing our character to be ready for Jesus for some years now. I’ve been examining and exploring our depth and breadth of understanding and maturity in Jesus. That’s all fine. BUT I’ve just realised that matters are changing….

All that we as a body of believers are doing right now, all we’ve done, all we are called to do in this life going forward is more about being and about being ready, than it is about doing. The being is not only for the next phase of our journey with GOD here on this earth, but also (and probably more) about living with each other and with Jesus on the New Earth.

We will receive crowns in heaven (Revelation 4:10-11). We will have jobs to do as opposed to sitting on thrones (Revelation 20:4, 6).

He is preparing us — whether it’s for rapture or for Heaven, depending upon your theological perspective and level of revelation with GOD — He is preparing us to be His bride for eternity. That destination ultimately, is the New Earth: His New Earth (or the revitalised Earth that we inhabit now, reclaimed and renewed by GOD). (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1)

On the New Earth, we will not be singing and strumming harps endlessly, and floating on clouds in spiritual-rather-than-physical bodies, but (according to my reading of scripture and secondary readings) we will be living life on this renewed planet Earth, with joy, peace, love for one another, free from strife, anxiety or any other sort of pain, eating and drinking, working and playing, with Jesus, in perfect fellowship altogether. (Revelation 21:4)

In order to live that life, we need to prepare for it now.

And now, what we need to do is hone our fellowship skills

For some of us, the preparation now is on our fellowship skills. Some of us have used our talents (Matthew 25:14-28) to the best of our ability. Some of us are aged or infirm or have disability. Some of us are healthy, fit and full of zeal to do GOD’s will. But whatever our situation or condition, He is calling us to deeper fellowship with Himself and with one another.

He delights in our unity. (Psalm 133)

In John 14:2 Jesus says,

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

As we meditate on this scripture, and any others you look up which I’ve referenced above, please let’s all wait on Him and begin to absorb the current responsibility we carry: to grow in our fellowship so that we are the beautiful Bride He will have with Him in the time to come.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

The Meaning of Christmas

For me: the meaning of Christmas is CHRIST the saviour.

Isaiah 49:6 says it’s too small a thing for GOD to send the Word, Jesus, only for the Jews but for the Gentiles as well. Why did He need to be sent? Because we human beings were slaves to the World and we needed rescuing. 

Satan claimed the earth for his dominion when he successfully deceived Eve, and Adam knowingly accepted her offer of the forbidden fruit to maintain relationship with her. 

All fall short

People, all people, have needed rescuing as a result of Adam’s sin. Adam disobeyed GOD and broke their relationship. The Jews, GOD’s chosen people, were meant to share GOD’s reality to the rest of the world by modelling worship and relationship. They failed and instead needed rescuing like the rest of us.

GOD’s action plan

Christmas then marks the start of GOD’s action plan of sending His Son to be a substitute sacrifice. Something needs to be sacrificed to restore relationship with GOD. That’s part of GOD’s structure, His way of reconnecting us to Himself.

The most important gift in the Christmas Story is the myrrh which represents Jesus’ sacrifice.

It isn’t the baubles, it isn’t the gifts, it isn’t even the newborn baby. It’s the death and resurrection of the man whom the baby will become. And the gift of Myrrh symbolises this rescue gift to us.

For me then, Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth so that we all can be restored to GOD, if we so choose. And Christmas is about the gift of sacrifice that Jesus would become as represented by the myrrh given to Him by the wise men (actually by the time they got to Jesus He was about two years old… but that’s another piece of history with a truncated date that has been woven into the Story for convenience).

Next Monday is Christmas day. I don’t think I’ll be writing… but wish you Every Blessing, whether or however you celebrate the day.

Sarah

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Real v Fake

Does it matter whether something is real or fake?

Consider AI. Which is better: Fake people or real people? Plagiarised papers or our own work? Fact-based news or doctored? Fake sunset or the real thing?

Define “better”

What do I mean by better? I mean more beneficial for character growth. Life isn’t about promotion or money, popularity or advantage. Life is all about character and so to me, better is all about what will make us better people.

So for me, getting an advantage using what is fake is no real advantage at all when it doesn’t help us or others to grow in character. AI probably isn’t helpful in this regard in most cases…

Nature v Man-made

GOD created the universe. Everything is beautiful. Man builds a tower and GOD disperses man to prevent completion.

“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” (Genesis 11:5-8)

In these few short verses what do we learn? GOD does not want man to create what is false, an imitation, a city!

GOD’s preference 

If GOD prefers His creation to a manmade cit, and since He created man capable of doing all that he desires — that there is nothing withheld from man that he attempts to do — then is it fair to say that GOD does not take delight in AI. Certainly He doesn’t seem to prefer that which is developed over that which is natural.

Man’s abilities

But surely GOD delights in man using his creativity, which is GOD-given, and loves his children enjoying the earth He has created.

But why then does GOD not desire cities?

Imitation is from Satan

Cities distract mankind from what is organically and innately human.

I propose that imitation is from Satan, who wants a world where there is no GOD. He wants his own world — or because he can’t create one, he has pinched rulership over GOD’s earth and chooses to distort it. We see in money systems and the creation of cities a move away from the natural and toward the concrete. There is no life in the concrete jungle — take a person away from trees and sunshine, for example, and strife or depression will eventually set in.

We know the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and so he has drawn man to himself. He has enticed mankind to create that which is unnatural, artificial. Satan desires a self-sufficient world where GOD is not needed, recognised or desired. The city of Satan is a city of fakery. The artificial gives a semblance of self-sufficiency but it is life-less.

So what do we do in a world full of what is false?

Let us be in the world but not of it.

Let us rejoice and be glad for the LORD our GOD is with us.

Let us persevere, running the race set before us.

But let us not add to the fakery!

There is no condemnation for him who is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so I am not posting this to criticise or to condemn, but merely to highlight that GOD’s Creation and mankind’s Creativity exists to build humanity toward inner growth and the natural world. Going beyond is superfluous… like Satan himself.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Punctuality

Recently I awoke from a dream. I don’t know that it was prophetic but personally, it was a wake up call (yes, pun intended!)

Punctuality is important to GOD, if this dream is anything to go by…

The Dream

A young woman was dressing in a room which was dimly lit. With her was a younger girl, chatting. The young woman was distracted by the chatter and ended up running late.

The attire she wore was a long, cotton, white summer dress. Her hair was sandy and long. When she was finally ready to leave it was 1:12pm.

She was double booked for 2 appointments: a dental appointment made especially for her at 1:15pm and another appointment… viewing a prospective home.

She got a man in her life (father? husband?) to drive her to the dental appointment. She was late but although it made the dentist run late, he accepted her (after 1:25pm)

I awoke, and I don’t know if she made the second appointment, whether it was postponed or what she did.

The Message of the Dream 

I accept that I am represented by the young woman, although I’m no longer young and therefore that is clearly wishful thinking! 🙂

I am too busy, too easily distracted, and rely too much upon grace to meet my appointments and my needs. Except for the child, all the others were male… perhaps each representative of GOD.

The 10 Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13 reads as follows,

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

There are many things that can be said of this passage. I’m only going to touch on one aspect here…

We must be ready. And as my dream would seem to dovetail with this: I must learn to be punctual.

Distraction and busyness are no excuse. 

We must all be ready.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What is Reality?

Recently, I was walking along when a thought suddenly came out of nowhere:

GOD is real. Everything else is just temporary.

This is a powerful thought. GOD, although we cannot see Him in the natural, is REAL. And eternal. Pondering this will help us to reassess the value of everything else. For if GOD is the standard, everything else pales into relative insignificance. That’s good to recognise in that I can learn to take myself a lot less seriously. It is good too, because it can help us all to put our priorities in order. 

What is real? How do we know what’s real?

I think humanity usually assesses something as real by whether we can taste, smell, see, embrace or hear it. 

And yet, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) So I ask myself “Is believing in something the equivalent to bringing it into existence?” 

No, that’s the cultural marxist strategy to distort reality; the philosophy pinches a truth and warps it to suit its anti-establishment agenda. No, simply believing in anything doesn’t make it real (except perhaps in the mind of the one who believes it). But believing in & having faith in GOD is what brings substance to our relationship with Him and that is the first step to living in His reality. Faith enables us to understand what we read in the Bible, and to embrace Him and grow as a child of GOD.

What is reality?

What exists in the natural realm is not the full extent of reality. Rather, there are two kinds of reality: the physical and the eternal.

The physically real is that which is tangible — that which we can test as physically real. In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, there were hundreds of witnesses that saw, even touched Jesus after he rose from the dead (assuming the reader trusts historical documented accounts) and that physical reality of the resurrected Jesus is vital to the Gospel. GOD recognises that physical reality whilst on earth is important. BUT…

Earth is temporary — GOD is eternal

I want to put my focus on GOD’s reality.

GOD’s reality is harder to prove using scientific testing, but when you know it’s real particularly based on your own journey, ie your life experience with Him, the earthly, temporal existence we live and experience becomes less significant. Perhaps that’s why testimony is so powerful. In testimony, we demonstrate how our physical reality has met with eternal reality.

I AM

Revelation 1:8 states,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

That which is permanent, eternal — is what is real, powerful and true. We live in a temporal world but when we move to GOD’s heaven, we will see the reality of truth and permanence.

When we dwell on this, the earthly things melt into insignificance. Jesus said we need not worry, GOD provides (Matthew 6). When we walk in GOD’s reality, we walk in His provision and abundance, knowing our needs will be met.

When we dwell on this, our character begins to grow. Fear gives way to love; doubt gives way to hope; anxiety gives way to the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, self control.

I’ve presented a more in-depth piece about What is Reality on Revelation TV and if I may, I’d like to direct you to it….. To ponder this to see if it does not help you to overcome the concerns of this world and to draw you closer to Him.

Reality is not what we make it. Reality is not only what we can see and touch. Reality is on two plains: the physical and the eternal. The more we live in GOD’s eternal reality whilst acknowledging our physical state on earth, the closer we can trust, surrender, follow Jesus to our ultimate goal of becoming more like Him and abiding in Him.

Let’s meditate on these things

From John 15,

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Closer than a Brother

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Recently I felt a bit isolated, experiencing the loneliness of ‘a widow and orphan’ a wee bit, although I am not an orphan (my son has left home for university… does that count?).

Friendship

The necessity for friendship is so embedded in our human make-up that it is impossible to ignore its benefits and our frailty without it.

I love Proverbs 18. Reading the entire chapter before coming to this final verse, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” reveals the confidence of man and his/her frailty, so that when we come to verse 24, we see how valuable friendship is to our existence. How to win friendship is to be friendly oneself it reads. 

But there is a type of friendship which goes beyond company and the passing of the years. It is a kind of brotherhood

David and Jonathan: a beautiful example of friendship

When we look at the relationship between David and Jonathan, we see deep and lasting friendship. Mutual trust, respect, loyalty, love and a broken heart for the difficulties of the other — these are the traits which Jonathan personifies toward David and to which David faithfully responds (read the story of this friendship in 1 Samuel, chapters 18-23) In fact, years after Jonathan’s death, out of loyalty to his friend, David asks,

“Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1) There is! And when that person is found, David looks after him without limit or end.

Self inflicted loneliness

We who are in Christ may from time to time feel lonely, even when we are in fellowship within the body of Christ. Personally, I feel lonely when the house feels empty and quiet, with no one to talk to.

But mine is a kind of self inflicted discomfort, because I have a friend closer than a brother or sister, which I can choose to draw toward or not. That friend is Holy Spirit.

Yes, sometimes we need human companionship. But how much do we need it when we’ve spent time with Holy Spirit? 

Time well spent

As the effects of Covid lock-down wear off, as I become busy once again, I realise the quality time I am spending sitting with the LORD has shrunk. It is time with Him that I most need to spend, if I am to feel fulfilled and replenished. Time with Holy Spirit not only brings anointing and a sense of intimacy with GOD; it is also a time when we can reflect and share our hearts with Him.

Personally, a sharing of the Heart — both in giving and in receiving — is the core aspect of friendship I most need. I can run around busily and denying my need. Or I can run to, sit with, and share with Holy Spirit.

Time with Holy Spirit satisfies our need for intimacy

People are a blessing and we need folk in our lives. But when we feel most lonely, we can abide with Jesus through Holy Spirit and know we have the truest of friends who is closer than any brother, sister, relative or friend.

Abiding — being deep with Holy Spirit

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4)

There are many ways to explore abiding, but in this instance, simply put, abiding brings fruit and that fruit includes a sense of warm companionship essential for the thriving spirit within us all.

Prayer

May we all experience the simple reality that GOD is with us and fulfils our every need, even — and especially — a need for friendship.

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Hebraic Roots: Israel and Jewish Culture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

James & John knew their Bible

It’s so important to know the Old Testament. In it is such rich supply of GOD’s Word to His people, both Jew and Gentile.

Value of the Old Testament

Apostles to Jesus: James and John knew their Bible, the Holy Word, the Scriptures back in their time — which is what we Gentiles call The Old Testament.

Jesus only referred to the Bible Scriptures of the Old Covenant or Old Testament. The new wasn’t written yet. Jesus was writing it on the hearts of those who were following Him at the time.

I discovered a text many others of you may know… But I didn’t know it. Although I’ve read the Old Testament in full, start to finish, at least 4 times (as well as the Pentateuch, Psalms and Proverbs numerous times, as well as the prophets repeatedly), I never recognised this until today:

Zechariah 4:11-14,

11 Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” 12 And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?”

13 Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?”

And I said, “No, my lord.

14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”

The two anointed ones who are on either side of Jesus?!

I believe it is this scripture that James and John refer to in Mark 10:37,

“They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.””

It must be, surely! Unless of course it matters that one text says “stand” and the other says, “sit”. Whether these young men were wanting to be those anointed, or simply had the concept of being on either side, I suspect they were referring to the concept of being on either side as mentioned in the Zechariah text.

The brothers wanted a place next to Jesus in Heaven. They recognised Him as “the Lord of the whole earth” and wanted to be anointed to be next to Him.

Why seeing this matters

Kernels of truth hidden from view pop up all the time when reading the Old Testament. It is not just history and law. it is Truth that helps us, enables us, to know GOD better, to know Jesus better, and to be better guided by Holy Spirit to live the life laid out for us.

What does this text reveal?

It reveals these disciples knew their scriptures. It reveals these disciples recognised Jesus as Messiah. It reveals they were looking out for themselves and/or wanted to be close to Jesus in eternity. It helps to confirm,  especially for Jewish people, the validity of scripture.

We need to know all scripture

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)

At the time when Jesus walked, the only scripture available was what was written already by those chosen by GOD. They are irreplaceable. Jesus didn’t come to replace but to confirm the Law. We need both Testaments to complete the scriptures.

Every blessing

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Peace & War: Choosing our state of mind

“Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!

When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people,

Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.” (Psalm 14:7)

These are words to pray over, especially these days. If you’re like me, you’ve been praying and thinking a lot about peace and war lately.

Peace

Peace is a state of mind, rather than based upon circumstance. 

Peace & War Choosing our state of mind is up to us.

In these days of tension and threat, where we see anarchy and fury in protestors toward others who don’t see Truth in the same way they do, and where we are experiencing cultural earthquakes where diversity and inclusion seems to exclude traditional values and Christianity in particular, we can find rest in the word of GOD and grow in our attitude of peace.

We can remain in peace, without stress or fear. We can choose what we dwell upon and we can decide where we focus our attention.

If fear is growing, robbing you of peace, turn off the notifications or the television/radio and tune into GOD.

I’m certainly saturated with news and updates. Today I’m focusing in prayer, worship and thoughtful contemplation. I choose to find peace.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

Take time to dwell on GOD. Put on prayerful music (DappyTKeys on YouTube is one artist I listen to a lot and can highly recommend). Read the Word. Rest your mind. 

War

War is bitter, miserable, catastrophic for all involved. We in the West seem to be on the brink of war…. Some nations are in the middle of it.

War is a great money-maker. War is a physical attack of the enemy. The real enemy is Satan. War, some war, needs to be fought against that enemy, Satan.

But remember, 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Prayer

We may choose a side. GOD is always on our side, and is always on the side of Israel His beloved, even if He allows temporary defeat or pain… Always He seeks to grow us and turn us towards Himself.

We are praying spiritual warfare. Let’s remember we are not praying against man but agains spiritual wickedness.

And always, we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem,

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

Prosperity within your palaces.”

For the sake of my brethren and companions,

I will now say, “Peace be within you.”

Because of the house of the Lord our God

I will seek your good.” (Psalm 122:6-9)

Amen

I’m praying. One of the items on my prayer list is the salvation of many, many souls in these times.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Love: keeping short accounts

“…But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 12)

Why is love so vital? A look at 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 describes love and its outworking. 

I want to touch very briefly on ONE ASPECT OF LOVE: that is keeping short accounts.

Short accounts

‘Do not let the sun go down on your anger’ wrote Solomon. If we go to bed having made peace with whomever we might have “had words” with in the day, we — and they — will sleep better. 

Keeping alive conversation, relationship in spite of sore feelings or disappointments means we have shalom, GOD’s peace, and between ourselves and another person, his is such a huge expression of respect and love. 

Forgiveness

We can’t force ourselves to forgive, but we can ask for GOD’s help. Even if we aren’t ready to forgive another person whom we feel has wronged us (sometimes our emotions are stronger than our spirit within us and the emotions trump what we know spiritually we need to do), it is important that we still keep the relationship, the conversation going. How many of us have felt shut down by someone who doesn’t even tell us why they are angry? Time Out is valuable, but after a time of a breather, we do need to come back together to work out how to move forward.

Festering and Offence

It’s too easy to judge another person’s behaviour without knowing the facts. And in today’s climate, it’s far too easy to get offended as the mood of society seems to encourage it. But stewing rather than communicating is the stuff of ulcers; and negative emotion robs us of joy. Instead, let us work out our own way to forge ahead, recognising hurt and disappointment but not living in it indefinitely. “GOD has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) That means when we focus on hurt and disappointment, then fear creeps in to tell us we must protect and defend ourselves, rather than allowing GOD’s love and protection over us. Instead, let us give way to love and the power of GOD, and experience a calm mind rather than one full of agitation. This will bring us into a deeper revelation of GOD, of ourselves in Him, and even of the other person with whom we have had a clash.

Conclusion

I’d like to leave you with this one particular scripture on which to meditate, to contemplate, and to pray:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)

Bless you beloved.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Joy

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart… down in my heart to stay!” (George William Cooke, Doncaster England)

Joy

“For the joy of the LORD is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

This verse comes from Nehemiah whilst he and the Jewish people were rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem, working 24/7 shifts with a rotation to allow for sleep.

“In His is presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11b)

Even the very word “joy” evokes in me hope, excitement, enthusiasm, happiness.

GOD gives us Joy

He gives us a reason to be. He gives us opportunity to express that reason. He brings us into families so we’re not alone in our expression. 

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it is straight from GOD. We who know and experience joy are truly blessed indeed.

Let’s be grateful

No matter what is thrown at us, let us remember GOD enables us to get through adversity. Sometimes He puts us into difficulties but always He provides us with the ability to overcome. Adversity always helps us to grow. And He promises that He will, “never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Overcome

Let us remember to “rejoice in the LORD always.” (Philippians 4:4) Joy is a fruit of the Spirit which is expressed through our attitude of endurance and thanksgiving.

Praise helps us to overcome. May we never underestimate the power of praise to GOD.

Remember one of many promises, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his GOD and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)

Joy is a significant help in our overcoming process. Truly, the joy of the LORD is our strength! 

Hallelujah and Amen

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Peace

I can think of 3 categories of peace: peace of mind, political peace, and the peace of GOD which passes all understanding….

No anxiety

When we seek to control, we are inevitably going to suffer anxiety because a situation will arise which we will be unable to control. 

The solution is to surrender our will to GOD’s and to trust His course and care.

No war

When there is disagreement within a nation or between nations, inevitably there will be debate that might then transform into physical battle. 

The solution is to give way to GOD, to Jesus the Prince of Peace, to the love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. Those who can, must pray for the nation(s).

No fear

“Perfect love casts out fear” (1John 4:18a) and when we allow the Father of Creation to rule in our hearts and in our minds, we have His peace, which goes beyond human reasoning, beyond understanding, to a joyous experience in His care.

The means to this peace is through surrender and trust. When we give our control, our will to the goodness of GOD, and when we trust the outcome of our lives and those of our loved ones to this same Creator, we are choosing peace. 

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

Let us abide in Him (John 15:4), in His shadow, in His shelter. 

Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” In Jesus, the Prince of Peace is a life of peace, a life without fear. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

There is only one pathway to real and lasting peace, and that is the peace which GOD offers to us. I pray each of us reading this will receive His lasting peace today.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Family

What is family?

In the Kingdom of GOD we are a family of believers, as Matthew 12:50 says, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

In the world, we have blood relatives which is the traditional definition of “family”.

In our hearts, we have close friends, special colleagues, neighbours whom we may call “family”.

Family is so valuable and important to the human being. We are made for relationship and family. “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Family, I will define as those with whom there is a special bond: be it spiritual, physical, or interpersonal. Whichever way you define it, family is vital to our happiness and to our quality of life.

What of Evangelism 

In our sphere of influence, we will consider our family as those closest to us and therefore most important to us. If they know Jesus we want them to grow, right? And if they do not, don’t we want them to discover Jesus for themselves?

So, why is it so important and yet often so difficult to speak of our Lord casually and naturally to our family members? Why is it difficult to discuss the “elephant in the room” with blood relatives who know what we believe but show no interest?

We need to practise balance in our witness

I am not an evangelist by calling, but like all of us who know Jesus, am called to “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” (Mark 16:10)

Can we season our conversation with salt: not too much or it loses its natural flavour, and not too little for the food we offer will not be preserved.

A Prayer

Father, we pray for our families, that those on our hearts will grow, discovering more and more about the truth of Jesus: of who He is and His love, power and might, and that those who do not yet know Him personally, that you will draw them to you until they surrender and discover the peace, love, joy, contentment and truth of the only salvation available.

In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY: pt 32 Eden (part 1)

A Garden, A Man and Two Trees

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8-9)

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective. 

EDEN: A Garden, A Man, two particular Trees

So, why did GOD create Eden, put in it a man, and two particular trees?

GOD gave Adam choice.

Did He know Man would choose to ignore GOD, follow the woman, who would follow Satan?

Here is the crux of the Creation Story

GOD created beauty. He created life. He created opportunity: eternal life or knowledge of good and evil; a walk with GOD or a walk without Him.

In Satan, long before the time of Man, came self-seeking, vanity, evil. So Satan fell from grace and took a third of the other angels with him. (See Ezekiel 28)

Then we have Creation, and Satan lures Man and Woman from GOD. 

And what does GOD do?

He sacrifices — kills to create clothing to cover Man’s shame. He allows Adam’s life to continue, albeit without immortality and outside the Garden.

Why?

Perhaps the best perspective I can possibly offer is that of a parent. GOD is Father, Adam is His son. And as a father, GOD gives grace to His son. Also like a wise and loving parent, there are consequences to disobedience. Adam failed to protect Eve and he failed to obey GOD. So GOD allowed pain and suffering to come to them; yet He spared their lives.

He sent them out of the garden, we will soon learn, ““lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.” (Genesis 3:22b-23)

GOD wanted relationship but Satan wanted power.
GOD wanted relationship but Adam wanted Eve, and the knowledge of good and evil.

GOD wanted relationship but it would be a long pathway for mankind to come back to Him. 

We who are saved through Jesus — faith in Him and through His death and resurrection — regain that relationship…. through the Sabbath Rest He offered in Eden and offers to us today.

As we attempt to gain a glimpse of understanding of GOD’s reasoning, we have to reconcile GOD’s brilliance with Man’s failure.

My conclusion

It rests with choice: GOD wants us to choose Him. But we must be allowed to do the choosing.

Next week I hope to delve into Eden a little more…

Every blessing,

Sarah