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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.

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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

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Is GOD Demanding?

Is GOD demanding?

Not in my view.

I personally feel that, given He is the Creator of the Universe and has sent His son to die in exchange for our rescue from hell on earth and eternal damnation, whatever Yehovah GOD might stipulate for a peaceful and joyful existence for us is perfectly reasonable. Is GOD demanding? I don’t think so…. But He’s clear about positive and negative consequences of our actions.

I want to take a look at a couple of chapters in Deuteronomy that will help us understand better the principle from Luke 12:48, To whom much is given, from him much will be required.

A read of Deuteronomy 18-20

Our heavenly Father asks the Hebrews (and fast forward to today, that includes those saved by His grace) to be different from the people of the lands surrounding. “For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.” (Deuteronomy 18:14)

He goes on to promise them a prophet; one who is genuinely of GOD will be proven to be so, through the fulfilment of his prophecies (Deuteronomy 18:15-22).

What does GOD say about wickedness

Let’s have a look at the LORD’s declarations…

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…” 

So, GOD is clear about whom to follow and what not to follow.

GOD sets up refuge

In Deuteronomy 19, GOD distinguishes between accidental injury leading to death vs murder. He sets up property structure and inheritance law. He distinguishes between true and false testimony, and makes it abundantly clear that, “Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye…” in the context of deliberate guilt “so shall you put away the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 19:19)

The motive for GOD’s strictness is not so much to punish the guilty but rather to protect the innocent. The key is to deal with malicious intent, motive, for the sake of the innocent. 

We see this played out in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphire lie to Holy Spirit.

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Peter no sooner makes this statement that Ananias — and later his wife — dies. They each have the opportunity to come clean about their falsehood, but do not. Therefore, they experience the same consequence. It is harsh, but it is protective for the young Church. And they die, not because they didn’t give all their money away but because they claimed they did. Big difference.

Motive matters to GOD

It is less our behaviour that matters to GOD but more the motive behind our behaviour. We make mistakes. That’s behaviour. But we repent and move forward. That’s purification and the process of forgiveness.

This purity is what GOD wanted for the Hebrews, it is what He wanted for the early church. And it is what He seeks today amongst His children of faith. Now however, because of Jesus’ sacrifice and our surrender to Him in becoming born again, we are purified supernaturally. Repentance is the gateway to forgiveness… rather than punishment (though we can suffer consequences of our actions in the natural).

When GOD’s people venture into the promised land, they are told, “you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive…. lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18) He wants His people to avoid temptation, to remain pure.

GOD is protective

Like a loving and committed father, GOD covers us. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

And so, GOD does not ask what we cannot do with His help. He seeks to relate with us intimately and to protect us. In this world of darkness and evil, He wants us to be safe and so He sets standards within which we have absolute freedom.

GOD is not demanding. He is protective of His children, always has been, and I reckon, He always will be.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Jesus: Son of Man

Who is the Son of Man?

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me… (Ezekiel 3:17)

There are two people to whom Son of Man is referred. Ezekiel and Jesus. Ezekiel was a prophet and lived a prophet’s life: intimate with GOD; a challenged and painful existence; one given great authority from GOD to the Hebrew people. He did not call himself son of man, but GOD did, repeatedly.

Jesus: Son of Man

But what did Jesus mean when He called Himself son of man?

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32)

Jesus did not elevate Himself above others any more than Ezekiel did. Certainly He recognised the authority of GOD and the Holy Spirit.

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30)

Jesus’ lifestyle

“And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.””(Matthew 8:20)

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (Matthew 9:6)


“”For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”” (Matthew 18:11)

Lest anyone wonder if Jesus is speaking of Himself when He refers to Son of Man, He also said,

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

And so, what did He mean? I think He meant simply as He refers when He washed the disciples’ feet: He is the servant of man.

This is why He instructed the disciples, “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)

And He instructs us to do likewise.

Jesus is a servant to the people

‘A servant is not greater than his master’. As His master is GOD, Creator, Yehovah, so too GOD is our master.

We model ourselves from Jesus; therefore, we are servants to others just as He is a servant to others. 

But what do we do to serve? We are not doormats. We love and serve… but how?

Washing of Others’ Feet

To serve is to suffer for others. To serve is to humble oneself. It is a tall order.

We follow Jesus

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Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Slavery 2

Slavery in Ancient times

I’m writing from the perspective of the Hebrew person who was rescued out of slavery in Egypt and trying to adapt to freedom.

I’m writing to scrutinise scripture rather than simply as a personal reflection because we are living in a society combating prejudice against historic slavery; many people locked into their own biases.

I’m writing, hoping to bring awareness to myself and to anyone reading, about how GOD’s perspective is from a completely different angle to ours with regard to slavery, and we need, I believe, to learn to look from His perspective in this an in all matters.

I’m looking at Deuteronomy 6

The written record has just reiterated the 10 Commandments in Chapter 5. Looking from Chapter 6 let us look at some of the language GOD uses to address those who will be left behind, to go into the Promised Land with Joshua after Moses has died…

“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you… “ (v 3a)

“… when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your GOD and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other peoples gods….” (v 12b-14a)

“You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your GOD, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.” (v 17)

GOD’s address

The language is bossy, abrupt, direct, warning and without any subtly… because these “children” descended from their fathers who were in slavery, and they have not yet learned how to walk in responsibility that comes with freedom.

His instructions are clear avoiding any doubt or confusion: live this way in order to avoid dire consequences. 

The behaviour expected is a bit prescribed, because that is what these people are accustomed to. This does not advocate slavery but does suggest freedom is not without its expectations.

What is important to note

Slavery is nasty, undesirable, constrictive; it keeps one within harsh boundaries. But are all boundaries bad? These Hebrew people are going into the Promised Land where the cities will be taken from others and they will not need to build. The land will offer delicious food — it is the Land flowing with Milk and Honey. They will have absolute freedom, which they have never experienced before. 

Freedom is the ability to make decisions and choices without any inhibitions or barriers. GOD is offering boundaries to those who’ve not experienced freedom because freedom requires responsibility if it is to be blessed, prosperous, healthy leading to joy and fulfilment. These people needed to learn how to live in freedom.

Freedom with Responsibility is what we all need today

While we may desire freedom, our downfall occurs when we have freedom and make mistakes. We can learn from any mistake but some mistakes are better not to make. GOD sets boundaries to protect us: ‘To love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself’…. A focus on this keeps us safe from our human propensity toward selfishness and subsequent decay.

Holy Spirit and Boundaries

When we are filled with and walk with and are in partnership with the Holy Spirit, there is total freedom because Holy Spirit within us is our safeguard from error. Ignoring Him brings unpleasant consequences. Walking with Him and following His lead provides protection.

Slavery is unpleasant bondage. But absolute freedom is risky. Boundaries within our freedom protects us from ourselves.

From Slavery to Freedom

The Hebrews gained their freedom but it took a long time for them to grow accustomed to walking in it. They needed GOD’s boundaries and they needed to be thankful. Instead they often grumbled, doubted, complained, disobeyed. Let us learn from them and instead enjoy the liberty and freedom we have without forgetting who GOD is and what He has done through Jesus for us.

Sometimes scripture is cited ‘we are slaves for Christ’… that is not so that we obey the Law. It is not so that we feel condemnation when we err. It is so that we can enjoy belonging to Him and accept the safeguard of boundaries that our mature conscience and relationship with GOD offer, so that we enjoy freedom with responsibility.

Every blessing,

Sarah

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Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Slavery

I’m looking at the perspective of the Hebrew person who was rescued out of slavery in Egypt and trying to adapt to freedom.

I’m writing to scrutinise scripture rather than simply as a personal reflection, because we are living in a society combating prejudice against historic slavery but often with bias.

I’m writing, hoping to bring awareness to myself and to anyone reading, about how GOD’s perspective is from a completely different angle to ours and we need, I believe, to learn to look from His perspective in all matters.

I’m looking at Deuteronomy 6

The written record has just reiterated the 10 Commandments in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 here is some of the language GOD uses to address those who will go into the Promised Land with Joshua after Moses has died…

“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you… “ (v 3a)

“… when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your GOD and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other people’s gods….” (v 12b-14a)

“You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your GOD, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.” (v 17)

GOD’s address

The language is conditional, bossy, abrupt, direct and without any subtly… because these “children” though descendants of their fathers who were in slavery, have not recovered and are not accustomed to freedom.

The instructions are clear, avoiding any doubt or confusion: the behaviour expected is a bit prescribed, because they have descended from slaves and are accustomed to strict instructions. It would seem that that is what they felt safe with so far…

What is important to note

Slavery is constrictive, and it forces boundaries. But boundaries in themselves are not necessarily bad. These Hebrew people will be going into the Promised Land where the cities will be taken from others and they will not need to build. The land will offer delicious food — it is the Land flowing with Milk and Honey. They will have absolute freedom, which they have never experienced before. 

Freedom is the ability to make decisions and choices without any inhibitions or barriers. GOD is offering boundaries as a means of protection to those who’ve not experienced freedom.

Freedom with Responsibility is what we all need

While we may prefer freedom, our downfall occurs when we have freedom and handle it badly, making dreadful mistakes. We can learn from any mistake but some mistakes are better not to make. GOD sets boundaries to protect us: To love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself.

Holy Spirit and Boundaries

When we are filled with and walk with and are in partnership with the Holy Spirit, there is total freedom because Holy Spirit within us is our safeguard from error. Ignoring Him brings unpleasant consequences and spiritual death. Walking with Him brings protection and life!

Slavery is horrible bondage. But absolute freedom is risky; a sense of responsibility can protect us from ourselves.

From Slavery to Freedom

Historically, although the Hebrews gained their freedom it took a long time for them to grow accustomed to walking in it. They needed GOD’s boundaries and they needed to be thankful. Instead they  often grumbled, doubted, complained, disobeyed. Today, let us enjoy the liberty and freedom we have without forgetting who GOD is and what He has done through Jesus for us.

Sometimes scripture is cited ‘we are slaves for Christ’… that is not so that we obey the Law. It is not so that we feel condemnation when we err. It is so that we can enjoy belonging to Him and utilise boundaries so that we can enjoy our GOD-given freedom with responsibility.

Every blessing,

Sarah

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Tomorrow

As we consider the theme of TOMORROW, I invite you to have a listen to a post I created a few weeks ago…

Watch this on Facebook: Tomorrow

And pray that we can measure out our time, submit our plans to the LORD and trust He will give us the desire of our hearts.

Shalom, Shalom — GOD’s peace on this and every day….

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Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Belonging

Every single person has a need to belong. A sense of belonging is fundamental to humanity — the sense that someone (or several) loves us, yes, but also that we  are known by others and belong in a group. Whether it is found in family, in friendship groups, in church, with close colleagues, we all need to feel we belong.

Those who suffer loss will grieve that loss; but those who have a circle around them of close people with whom there is mutual trust and love, are comforted by the sense of belonging to a larger group. Belonging is an essential part of our mental health, our spiritual security and even our physical well-being.

Do you know someone who is isolated? What can you do to draw them into your circle? 

Do you see someone isolating themselves? How can you draw their trust, hope and confidence?

Jesus had friends: the many disciples, the twelve, the three: concentric circles of human contact.

Pets help cover our isolation. The Father draws us to Him through Jesus by Holy Spirit. But we are made, created, designed for fellowship.

Genesis 2:18 reads, “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.””

Even though GOD created man for relationship with Himself, He knew man needed companionship of His own kind.

We are made to have fellowship with GOD and other people. If you suffer from a sense of “not belonging”, can you identify it, and can you find a way to draw fellowship to you? Volunteering, putting yourself ‘in community’, accepting invitations when they are offered, not imposing your will but praying for opportunities, are all ways to become a part of a group. 

Food, alcohol, television and their relative counterparts all cover up or temporarily block our sense of isolation. GOD brings comfort when we spend time with Him. Conversation with others helps. But what we all really need is a sense of emotional and intellectual intimacy that stimulates us and gives us a sense of mutual attachment and belonging. It is what each and every one of us needs.

GOD always makes a way, but we need to be open to His way. And since every one of us needs to belong, can we take care of one another? I’d like to encourage us all to be aware that some of us may be missing this crucial aspect, missing that sense of belonging in our lives, and not know how to find a place to belong without help and encouragement.

Every blessing,

Sarah

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Working in partnership

We are meant to be partners with GOD. God working in partnership with us is His heart and it is the means to transforming society, bringing mankind back to Him.

How to partnership with Yehovah GOD

Writing from GOD’s perspective as I have been attempting to do for the past several weeks, I can’t possibly assume I know what He’s thinking or wanting to share; and yet, He reveals things to us through His Word and through His Spirit that complement one another and encourage us. GOD lives and breathes in and through us to the degree we allow, through our obedience, surrender, engagement and worship. We are saved individually, but also for the purpose of bringing others to Him. He is a good GOD, the righteous and generous father of mankind, giving good gifts to His children and desiring that none should perish.

“GO and make disciples of all nations…” said Jesus in Matthew 28.

A leaf from GOD’s STORY

So, this piece is not a part of GOD’s STORY per se, but about our relationship with Him and the depth and breadth He can draw us to Him.

Why did GOD create mankind? 

GOD created mankind for relationship — with Him, as well as with one another. 

Reading Genesis 1, He reveals Himself as 3 persons with 3 identities, aspects, personalities in the One Person of GOD. He is 1. Creator who creates. 2. The Word who speaks 3. The Spirit who hovers over the waters from the beginning. GOD spoke and creation happened. He was and is and will be GOD: “In the beginning, GOD”. 

As GOD is Creator, Word and Spirit – He is one GOD revealed in three persons, He is and always has been in relationship. Likewise, when He created Adam in His image, He did so for relationship. And then, He said it was “not good” that man was alone and He created woman. More relationship. 

And so it is with us, we who are born again, we who speak of a relationship with GOD, we who have faith and follow Him through His Word and by His Spirit — we are in relationship with Him.

In Partnership

But I choose to go a step further today to say: Yes, we have relationship, fellowship… and also partnership with Him.

I read a book recently which offered good teaching for young people about following GOD. I won’t quote it but I mention it to say this: It has solid information but it lacks one thing: It does not teach about partnership through Holy Spirit.

The book taught that since Word became flesh and that word has been written down, everything Jesus had/has to say to us is in the Bible; by following that Word, and using sound judgment, we walk the Christian life. This is true but it is leaving out a vital point: through Holy Spirit we have fellowship with GOD and the opportunity for complete partnership with Him. 

The Father wants relationship with us. He is relational; it’s a part of His identity. Even following the Bible with the best will and passion in the world, we are still walking in the flesh, which is still finite and, I purport, still limits our engagement with GOD. 

Only through the power and presence of Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives are we walking in complete partnership: yielding our flesh to His Spirit with each step that we take.

This does not mean we cannot tie a shoe without asking GOD. As the book rightly suggests, GOD is Sovereign and in that, He gives us freedom and room to choose, to think, to delegate, to “live and move and have our being” while He is also fulfilling His plans and purposes. 

But our walk can be so much more than applying the Bible to our lives. Applying the Bible is good! but it is still not the fullness of what GOD asks and what He offers. Rather, He offers and seeks intimacy that comes with constant fellowship — conversation with Him, seeking Him out, allowing Him to fill us with His supernatural presence and power through the person of Holy Spirit.

John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being”

Faith is Trusting in GOD

First and foremost, we commit our lives to faith in Jesus, as son of GOD, as the one who died and rose again. We trust Him with our salvation and with our lives, both here on earth and in heaven after our physical presence on earth ends. We believe and we trust. But there is more…

Rigidity without Holy Spirit

There is a danger in following the Bible totally fastidiously:  that danger is to become rigid in our thinking, becoming religious or even self righteous. Without the Word we have no compass. But with only the Word we can become legalistic, dictatorial. Alternatively, our attempting to follow the Holy Spirit can become whimsical, irrational, or can even lead us toward error in our thinking without the Bible support. If, for example, we think “GOD said to do X” when X is clearly contradictory to the Word, it cannot be true. We do need both the Word and the Spirit to walk with Jesus in the way He has always intended.

The Word keeps us on a righteous path. The Spirit keeps us surrendered to GOD. 

Jesus said he did only what the Father told him to do (John 5:19). His Spirit will never contradict. We need to know the Word so we recognise the voice and the will of Jesus. But Jesus left earth in order for Holy Spirit to come, and we need that Helper to help: to lead, guide, teach, correct us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit will always have the same message, though they may express themselves to us differently. We need all three in our lives. We need Holy Spirit in order to grow in our intimacy with GOD, in order to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), in order to fellowship with GOD and with one another to the capacity GOD has for us.

There is nothing trivial with GOD!

Some might say that GOD isn’t interested in what we should eat for dinner, or whether we should wear these shoes or those, take this job or that, marry this Christian or that one. But I disagree. 

“As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13) He is watchful, He is engaged, He is interested.

Jesus adored and encouraged the children to come to him. Likewise, the Father relishes our time with Him. It is narrow for us to think He isn’t interested or that what is trivial to us is also trivial to Him. That is looking at ourselves as equal to GOD, as “adults”… but we are neither equal nor adult to Him.

1 John speaks of children, young men and fathers. And yes, we in the faith, mature. And Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians of teaching “meat” versus “milk” to the believers. We do grow in maturity as re are ready to hear.

But GOD does not limit our access to Him nor our prayers. Yes, He wants us to move and respond freely and as we grow, in a mature way. But this takes time and experience. We learn the Word and we discover Holy Spirit: both Jesus and Spirit of GOD are equal and of equal importance to grow us into the people GOD has created us to be. 

In one sense, we will always be His children.

Predestination v Arminianism

I think the debate between predestination — where everything is pre-ordained, and arminianism — where GOD gives us freedom to effect the outcome of our lives, is futile, because both purport a one way or other way view. 

I think the truth is in between, a both/and reality. GOD is sovereign. And yet, we must wrestle against flesh and blood to grow into His likeness. 

The Hebrew people were completely able to recognise competing truths. I think we gentiles need to be able to do the same.

Sovereignty and Partnership

Recognising GOD as sovereign does not mean we are puppets. Realising the active influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not mean we can foul up the predestination of GOD. Rather, we trust in GOD’s righteous and powerful sovereignty even in the midst of our attempts and failures at following His voice today through Holy Spirit.

GOD wants partners. GOD wants us to grow to full maturity. GOD wants to engage with us. And in my experience, I grew more though Holy Spirit than without. I failed more often too. But here I am, more surrendered, more intimate, more in line with the character of GOD as revealed in His list of Holy Spirit fruits (Galatians 5) , than I ever would have become with the Word alone.

I have studied the Word voraciously. But that alone was not enough to curb my impulsivity, my fleshly temperament, my ego. I needed Holy Spirit actively in my life to ensure my dependence and eventual maturity in GOD. 

Flesh v Spirit: obedience, wonder, worship, surrender, grace

We cannot walk in the flesh forever. Ultimately and sooner-is-better-than-later, we need to walk by the spirit in us. How?

“I die daily.” 

“I am crucified with Christ.” 

We must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Centuries ago, priests seeking to be more like Jesus literally flagellated themselves to try to defeat the sinful flesh. In the 1800’s many preached hell and damnation, not erroneously but without love, and alienated for generations those who would be lost; today Christians still have a rotten reputation for hypocrisy and judgementalism rather than for the lovingkindness of Jesus.

Seek Jesus, Seek Holy Spirit, Seek the Father

The Word of GOD is wonderful. It needs no editing, no addendum, no apology. However, Jesus was openly declared at his baptism by the voice of GOD and the presence of Holy Spirit. Only then did his ministry begin. Likewise, we need Holy Spirit to live our lives as Jesus teaches us. 

If we resist Holy Spirit out of fear, suspicion or pride, we miss an essential part of GOD and forfeit the power and presence He wants us to have. 

We learn to worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth!

“Not my might, nor my power but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6)

As we ponder the Spirit of GOD, to the degree we allow Him to be active in our lives, we will determine our growth in character and our depth of relationship… that’s what I’ve experienced and that’s what I believe.

Going forward, I press on to the upward call of GOD in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13) and pray for the same for all of us. How we manage is up to the LORD and may we all surrender fully into this so that He can have His way entirely in our lives.

Shalom and GOD BLESS you!

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Commitment to Love your Enemies

Jesus calls us to ‘Love your Enemies’… But is that only New Testament teaching? When exactly are we introduced to the idea to love your enemies?

Let’s begin with an excerpt from Psalm 35

Psalm 35:11-14 reads,

“Fierce witnesses rise up;

They ask me things that I do not know.

They reward me evil for good,

To the sorrow of my soul.

But as for me, when they were sick,

My clothing was sackcloth;

I humbled myself with fasting;

And my prayer would return to my own heart.

I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;

I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.”

King David and Love

In spite of the cruelty others impose on David, when they are in need, he prays for them. He looks after their needs. He devotes his heart to them. 

David knew, from his relationship with the LORD, that we are to love our enemies.

When Saul wanted to kill David out of fear and jealousy, David knew not to touch the LORD’s anointed. His turn would come…

David knew we are to respect our enemies.

And so when Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-48,

“… love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. …”

it may have shocked the hearer, but it was not new.

The Holy Spirit inspired David. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus. The Holy Spirit inspired all scripture — it is all GOD-breathed.

So, our commitment to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, is not Jesus’ revelation but GOD’s from centuries before. 

GOD is consistent. He asks us to be consistent: to love Him, to love our neighbour, even to love our enemy. 


Love is the most important quality in us. GOD is love. GOD in us is love. 

“… But the greatest of these, is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Walking in the Spirit

Walking in the Spirit

Psalm 32:8-9 reads,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.”

When we draw close to the LORD, He draws close to us (James 4:8).

You do realise He will lead us, instruct us by His word? This is walking in the Spirit!

Yes! Knowing His word gives us understanding. But allowing ourselves to hear His voice and follow His lead will give us that intimacy and instruction as to His pervasive gaze in our situation, enabling us to be His servants. 

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, walking with Him daily, surrendered and open to opportunities and leadership, He will speak to us and we will hear. He speaks all the time but how well we are tuned in determines how much we hear. And when we hear, do we respond?

We are not puppets nor tiny children, unable to take decisions or responsibilities on our own. But we are His workmanship, His vessels, His hands and feet. How willing, how tuned in, how surrendered are we?

Psalm 32, written centuries before Jesus came and sent His Holy Spirit — helper, comforter, who convicts us and enables us to go deeper with GOD, to be more like Jesus — this Psalm tells us David was guided by that same spirit. Provided by that same understanding, he heard His heavenly GOD and penned as he was inspired to do.

And what does GOD say to Him and to us?

He instructs us. He guides us. He does not want us religiously tied to a “bit and bridle” but wants us free to engage, free to be with Him and ready to move as He leads, not by force but through intimacy…. It is a partnership.

I for one cannot be lead of GOD only by the Word. That is supremely important. But so too is His Spirit within me.

[Thanks to Laurie Lockerbie, Kingston Canada, for the use of the Gull image]

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What is Reality?

Recently it has occurred to me that our perception of reality is wrong. If our perception is wrong then what is reality? And how can we know, how can we test to be certain: What is real?

What is reality?

There are two approaches to explaining what is reality… because there are two kinds of reality: the physical and the eternal.

The physically real is that which we see and touch, taste, hear — 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. So GOD recognises that physical reality whilst on earth is important. BUT…

The eternally real is that which is connected with GOD: the everlasting: Holy Spirit. Healing. Anointing. Revelation. These are everlasting.

I want to 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, your life experience with Him, the earthly, temporal existence we live and experience becomes relatively insignificant. Perhaps that’s why testimony is so powerful. In testimony, we demonstrate how our physical reality has met with eternal reality.

Jesus would have known

Jesus would have known that this earth, this human life, our passing existence is relatively insignificant. Oh, it is very significant when we are here! But measured next to eternity…. it is finite. It pales into insignificance. 

“Consider the lilies of the field…” (Matthew 6) Jesus tells us GOD takes care of the physical reality, and we don’t have to bother about it.

Reality is GOD. Reality is His anointing. Reality is the relationship He has with us. We only become alive when we are are born again, when we are in relationship to Him.

Earthly existence is finite

We put our attention on our earthly existence. For Believers we do recognise, even emphasise the heavenly destination. But every time we worry about the present, our earthly presence, we are saying the physical reality is what is (more) important. And that is simply not true. Distractions come and go. We need to put our greatest effort and attention into what is eternal. That’s my belief. Just as “the weapons of are warfare are not carnal,” (2Corinthians 10:4) so too must the greatest of our attention be not upon the carnal / physical, but on the spiritual / eternal.

GOD and our connection with him is Eternal. Therefore it is of value, of relevance, of importance, even whilst we live in this world. The eternal is what is significant, what is important, what is real.

Ponder this: Matter does not matter relative to the eternal.

Shalom. Happy pondering:)