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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!

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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)

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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]

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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:)

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Jehovah Nissi: The LORD is my banner

Jehovah Nissi — the LORD is my Banner

Yehovah is the correct Hebrew name for our LORD, just as Yeshua (rather than the English translation, Jesus) is the Son’s name. I wonder if the name of GOD is more powerful in the Spirit realm when we use the Hebrew. Does it matter?

Nissi means banner.

How relevant is this expression to our walk with Jesus?

Jesus and the Church

“His banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4b) In the Song of Solomon we read a love story between a man and a woman… But the story also parallels the love between Jesus and His bride: the Church. We are the bride, He is the bridegroom. The banner is a covering. The waving of the banner demonstrates an all-encompassing mutual devotion.

It might be harder for men to relate to this wedding analogy than for woman… Esther, a woman, was pampered for months as she prepared to meet her King… We must prepare to meet Jesus. How can men prepare comparably? I suggest we also consider the spiritual battle we face against the enemy, which perhaps men can better relate to, and which is an integral part of preparation to we meet Jesus.

Moses and the original banner

From Exodus 17:13-16, we see that Moses created an altar after the Hebrews defeated the Amalekites, where the banner was raised.

But how were the Amalekits defeated?

It was through the power of unity, as reflected in Psalm 133:

“How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity…”

The unity and love for one another between Moses and Joshua and Judah(?) is expressed as the two younger men supported and help Moses to keep his arms raised throughout the battle, which ensured victory for the Hebrews.

When we witness support for one another, the love for GOD and His love for them is represented. Through their unity, the LORD enabled the Hebrews to prevail, teaching them that strength is greater when there is unity of purpose, unity of will, unity of effort.

A New Testament Principle

“Love the LORD GOD… and love your neighbour as yourself”

When we celebrate GOD, when we raise a banner to Him, when we work together toward a common cause which gives glory to GOD, we demonstrate our love for GOD and for our neighbour. This fulfils the great commandment which Jesus shared as the fulfilment of the Law. The “waving of a banner” then, is a demonstration of our love for GOD and His love for us, for the LORD is [our] Banner!

What is a banner

Worship, which can include the waving of a physical banner, is a spiritually powerful activity expressing our love and honour toward GOD and celebrating Him: His grace, His power. The waving of a banner is an act which demonstrates an act of worship, humility toward GOD.

Whether we wave a physical banner or simply jump, shout, sing, dance in worship, we express our love and gratitude to GOD. When we show the LORD is our everything, He is certainly shared as our protector, saviour, the banner of us which is love Himself.

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Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Opinion is not required

Dear LORD, 

“Teach me to pray so that others will know your will.”

“Teach M***** to be more like you because right now s/he isn’t behaving righteously.”

“Teach my father/mother/brother/sister that I am right and they are wrong about ******.”

BUT GOD

In our prayers, in our walk, GOD doesn’t need our opinions. Our opinion is not required!

We are an opinionated lot, we human beings. And nowadays, with social media, we freely have the “right” to our opinions and the expression of them. Even the mainstream media outlets are full of editorial opinions which are expressed more than fact-based journalism … or at least that is my opinion (irony intentioned).

What does the LORD say in His Word about opinions?:

Romans 12:5 ends with “…. do not be wise in your own opinion.” I suspect that is not a frequently taught principle, neither inside nor outside the church.

“DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN OPINION”

This I believe is a word for today. For us. For you and for me.

I learned a while back that my opinion can get me into trouble: it leads me to judge, it leads me to close-mindedness, it leads me to relational breakdown. And what does it yield? Only a release of exasperation. That’s just my flesh! And I suspect it is the same for others of us… but that’s just my opinion. This conclusion is born from personal experience, but still it is only an opinion.

Walking away from the Word of GOD, society in the West has lost its compass. This habit of freely (and can I say sometimes: thoughtlessly and disrespectfully) expressing our opinion is a part of it.

I encourage us not to be wise in our own opinions but to “study the Word” and allow it to sharpen us (Hebrews 4:12)… and allow us to dwell peaceably with all men.

Dear LORD, 

“Teach me to be more like you, to know your word and to live it out, by the power of Holy Spirit in me.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

The Power of the Cross: ticket for LIFE

The Power of the Cross holds the ticket to Life

The power of the cross is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the opportunity for eternal life. How does this work?

Isaiah 49:6 says “‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant

To raise up the tribes of Jacob,

And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;

I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,

That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

In coming to earth, Jesus — GOD in the flesh — offers restoration between GOD and mankind. But how could His presence on earth make such a difference as to conquer death to mankind? What does “salvation” actually mean?

The LORD gave Jesus the commission to rescue the Jewish people, GOD’s elder son. But the commission of the Son, his suffering and his mission, was deemed to be too powerful and too huge a sacrifice to limit salvation only to the Hebrew people. 

GOD sent the son for ALL and faith in Jesus saves anyone who follows Him.

What Jesus did

Jesus was born without an earthly father, who is the source of our sinful nature. It is the sinful nature that separates us from GOD. So, with Holy Spirit as the father, Jesus was born without sin, unlike every other human being.

“I didn’t come to replace the Law but to fulfil it.” (Matthew 5:17)

GOD provides the Law in order to help mankind recognise their rebellious and sinful nature and to repent. Through sacrifice, mankind is able to repent and return to relationship with the Father. But while mankind demonstrates his inability to avoid sin, he is not able either to keep the Law. Therefore he needs something beyond the Law to save him.

Jesus offers reunion between the Law and the Father, between mankind and the Father, between Life and the source of Life. Faith in Him sets us free from our own sin through His sinlessness and His sacrifice. Jesus provides the “ticket” to eternal life.

Salvation enables freedom for the sinner, to reach the Father by His grace

Forgiveness, offered by the Father through faith in the Son, is the ticket to heaven after life on earth and freedom from oppression whilst on earth.

The first Adam sinned and gave up his immortality; the second Adam replaced sin and death with the opportunity for salvation and eternal life.

So, who is Jesus?

Jesus is the saviour for mankind: born of a virgin, He lived, taught, died, and in rising again brought victory over death. Jesus triumphed over sin and death. 

Faith in Him allows us to reap the benefit of resurrection. Faith in Jesus is the ticket to eternal life. The power of the cross is the resurrection power of a sinless substitute for our sin. 

Life is eternal for those who believe and follow Jesus. The power of the cross is the ticket to life!

“No one comes to the Father except through me”

Jesus said this not because He’s racist or egotistical but because no one else before or after, was sinless AND no one else before or after, defeated death. Those are the credentials Jesus has, and no one else. So like it or not, He’s the only Way to reunion with the Creator of the Universe, GOD the Father.

Shalom and God bless… may this explanation be useful to you and yours.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Gratitude!

Gratitude isn’t just being grateful, it is celebrating GOD’s character and the character He places in us.

Gratitude seeps out of the Psalms time and again. “I will praise you, O LORD!” appears over and over. The dedication of the writers is profound.

Psalm 137 struck me this morning… “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!”

From where does our gratitude flow and to where does it go? 

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. My heart is steadfast.” Psalm 57:7 promises the deep and earnest commitment straight from the writer’s heart, aiming for the heart of the Father GOD.

It is vital that we remember to give thanks for all things, both for our own emotional and spiritual health and for the blessing of the LORD. When we bless the LORD we delight Him and it’s handy too that we counter the devil.

As we give thanks we take our minds from ourselves and put our attention on Him. This we do because we are grateful, but it also benefits us in that we find life, joy, peace. Living a self-conscious life draws us toward self-centredness, self-pity. 

When we think of ourselves, we lose sight of our blessings and we lose sight of Him who has blessed us. We become full of self, fear, antagonism, anxiety. But when we keep our eyes on Jesus, when we praise the Father and thank the Son, when we touch the heart of GOD by His Spirit, we are divinely blessed.

But we live a life of gratitude not merely because it helps us, and not merely because it conquers the enemy, and not even because GOD is deserving. But we live a life of gratitude because it is a demonstration of love. And love never fails.

Praise the LORD: for wisdom, for grace, for salvation, for joy. Let everything that has breath, Praise the LORD!

Shalom and Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Is it time to take stock of your Christian Life?

Every now and then we need to pause, to “be still” simply to reflect on our proximity to GOD and His will in our lives. That’s my way of bridging my relationship with GOD to the present day in the world. 

Is it time to take stock of your Christian life?

I spent a recent Saturday evening in my rocking chair by the gas fire, talking with GOD. I haven’t done that in a very long time, and it was the most wonderful evening I’ve had in a long while. There was no hype, no intensity, no burden. Just conversation with the most important person in my life: Adonai Elohim, Yehovah: my daddy.

Thank you GOD for showing up. Thank you for waiting for me. Thank you.

It is always time

I’ve just had a lovely conversation with a brother who is relatively new in the LORD. His hunger, enthusiasm, plethora of questions, is such a joy to engage. And the questions he has are full of sincerity, faith and passion for the Truth. He’s also asking questions about poverty, power and money. And so, invariably, there are some attitudes that the LORD will touch in this friend’s walk, as he steadfastly looks to Jesus.

But even when we have walked with the LORD for decades, it is always the time to draw close, always the time to ask questions, and always the time simply to rest in Him. He promised us the Sabbath rest… Not just on a Saturday but every day, as we walk with Him, we can live in the peace, grace and stillness of GOD. When we pursue Him, when we are still before Him, we will be changed into His likeness.

Yes, it is always the time to take time to grow in Him.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

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GOD'S STORY Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY: Part 4 Why the Law?

Here at Preparing the Bride, I’m telling GOD’S STORY. Presumptuous?! Not when simply looking at scripture, because scripture is the unfolding of God’s story to us who read it.

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? We learn GOD’s Story. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. 

GOD’S STORY Part 4: Why the LAW?

“Open my eyes, that I may see

Wondrous things from your law.”

(Psalm 119:18)

I asked the LORD, What is the next thing to share of Your Story?

He led me to the Ten Commandments. Really? Yes! Okay.

Why the Law to share with you?

You will know Exodus 20, where the LORD lists the summary version of His Law: the 10 Commandments. Exodus and Leviticus are full of GOD’s laws for various contingencies. But the Law is encapsulated well in the 10 Commandments.

Exodus 20:2-17

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

12 “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”

But why was the Law necessary? 

Sin, yes. But why didn’t GOD just send His son in the first place? If Jesus didn’t come to replace the Law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17), why didn’t He just arrive in front of the Hebrews in the wilderness?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of GOD.” (Romans 3:21) But first we need to know we’ve sinned in order to recognise we have fallen short. The Law teaches us our inability to keep it. Who hasn’t made a mistake and hoped and prayed we’d not suffer the consequences? That fear, that prayer, enables us to see we’ve fallen short. The Hebrews needed to learn GOD’s perfection before they could recognise their fallibility. So they needed to know GOD’s standard, His Law — They certainly weren’t going to find it in the heathen Egyptian society.

And so, why the Law? So we can know we’ve broken it, so we can know we’ve sinned, so we can know we’ve fallen short and need a Saviour… and then value The Saviour: Jesus, the Jewish Messiah Yeshua.

What does the Law signify?

Whilst GOD very much wanted relationship with the Hebrews, the fear of GOD pervaded their hearts. They saw the power of GOD in the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud. They saw His power in the parting of the Red Sea. And so, they pushed Moses up front and said, ‘You talk to GOD and then tell us what He says.’

“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)

This was immediately after the 10 Commandments had been announced. The people were willing to obey but didn’t want intimacy with GOD. The Law gives rules, requirements and we turn it into religion. But GOD wants relationship. 

So, why Jesus?

Millennia after the Hebrews in the desert Jesus arrived, and He fulfilled the Law we failed to follow, with two commandments that encapsulated GOD’s standard even more succinctly, 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your 

strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:27)

Even further, through Jesus we can receive freedom today… overcoming the Law through the grace of faith in GOD.

John wrote in chapter 8 of his gospel, “If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” Faith in Jesus, the son of God, offers us freedom from the Law as we receive Him and His love. We discover our choice to follow the Law changes; no longer do we follow out of a sense of duty or fear, but out of the desire to love others just as He has loved us. We are free as the yoke is lifted! “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The Law makes us aware of our failure to keep it. But we don’t have to live in fear and anxiety about the consequences of our weaknesses. Rather, we can know we have been saved from ourselves — our sinfulness — through the blood of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) Like little children innocent of their faults, we can embrace Jesus and His Father, knowing Jesus is the Truth and GOD the Father is a GOD of love. The sin of the past is left behind and the new has come: walking as Jesus walks, saved through faith in Him and living beyond sin because through faith in Jesus our sin is forgiven and blotted out.

So, the knowledge of GOD’s Law provoked mankind to realise our sinfulness and Jesus has released us from the yoke of the Law when we choose to follow Him.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

God’s Story 

When we look at GOD’s Story through the lens of His Law, we recognise that the Hebrews and all the descendants, save one, were imperfect. It is through that one exceptional person that any and all can be rescued from imperfection. 

We cannot escape GOD’s Law but we can learn to live the Law as embedded in the principle of Love, GOD’s love. And a part of GOD’s story is to recognise His identity. GOD’s identity is that He is Love. 

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GOD'S STORY Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY: part 3 Love for Israel

Here at Preparing the Bride, I’m telling GOD’S STORY. Presumptuous?! Not when simply looking at scripture, because scripture is the unfolding of God’s story to us who read it.

This is GOD’s Story: Part 3. GOD’s love for Israel.

Let’s look at GOD’s story through His Psalm 105 to see GOD’s love for Israel.

GOD is Love.

The Hebrews en masse didn’t catch the depth and breadth of GOD’s love for them. Surely if they had, their nature and their nation would have experienced more joy, peace and confidence as they trusted and obeyed their Creator and advocate.

Looking at Psalm 105 the other day, I noticed how it starts with a celebration towards the LORD and responds with a sharing of His love for His chosen people: the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The reader is called initially to thank and celebrate the LORD, and to share His good deeds among His people — While today it could refer to those who believe in Him, Jew and Gentile alike (as we are grafted into the vine), historically, most certainly “His people” refers specifically to the Hebrews, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That has never and will never change. 

The psalm is divided into 45 verses. It is a poem of praise to the Creator,

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD!… Sing to Him…. Talk of all His wondrous works!” (v1,2)

Then, His chosen people are identified: “O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!” (v6) and the LORD’s covenant is referenced (v9) and His devotion is quoted, “Do not touch My anointed ones…” (v15) 

A description of the history of Joseph and Moses in Egypt and all His goodness and protection in the wilderness toward them is referenced before the psalm ends with His holy promise of blessing and His practical demonstration of commitment to this chosen nation as “He gave the lands of the Gentiles, And they (the Hebrews) inherited the labour of the nations, That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws.” (v 44-45)

Why is it that repeatedly the miracles of the plagues against Egypt, the provision to the Hebrews of manna and quail, the guidance and protection from the pillars of cloud and fire… why are these things spoken of quite frequently in scripture? I think this is so because this history reveals HisStory of His grace, His supernatural power, His steadfast love and commitment to these His chosen people. They reveal His consistency as well, toward those who have turned away; He loves the sinner both Jew and Gentile and does not forget His promises to any of us.

The tragedy is that His people, in majority, have not kept His laws and so throughout time they have suffered loss including jealousy, accusation from others and a distance from GOD. Praise the LORD that things have been changing… There are and always have been a group of committed Jews, some Orthodox and some Reformed; but most excitingly, there are now an increasing number of Jewish people who are recognising Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah as well. These Messianic Jews suffer rejection from their own Jewish neighbours and yet they stand fast for the Lord Jesus. I finished reading Psalm 105 thinking not of the Hebrews nor of myself, but predominantly of the sadness of the LORD. But as they turn back He receives them and so it is for all of us as well.

Do we consider His loss, His mourning, His sadness as a Father, who’s children rebel?

He loves us all. He loves His chosen. So many have turned away. What is His feeling in all of this? What is His story? 

We know the LORD created us in His image. We know we suffer when we experience rejection, sadness and loss. So, is it reasonable to think that the LORD GOD Creator of the Universe likewise suffers when we reject Him?

Consider the father and the prodigal son. What does the father experience when his youngest son asks for his inheritance and leaves the family homestead for a life of debauchery and excess? We are not told. We only know that upon the son’s return, he is welcomed by his father with open arms. (Luke 15:11-31)

We are the prodigals. The father is Our Father. And we who are saved have already been welcomed with open arms. A part of His story is that He continues to wait for others, including and especially for the Jews, the descendants from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob aka Israel. This cannot be ignored. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, wrestled for his blessing (Genesis 32) and was then renamed Israel, which is where the nation got its name, and has kept its name throughout millennia. The Father, LORD of the universe, has not broken His covenant with the people, and continues to love them just as His love is shown in Psalm 105.

We do not know when He will send His son to judge the earth. No one knows, only He (Matthew 24:36). But I certainly believe that left to me, I would have run out of patience, both with the Jew and the Gentile, long, long ago.

GOD’s love for us is clear. He teaches us to worship and obey Him because it releases us to a life of joy and peace. Let us pray for those who have yet to respond to Him, and particularly for the descendants of His people the Hebrews, that they would come to know the perfect peace and grace of a father’s unconditional love. This is what we can pray for. This is what we can minister into: That the world, and His chosen ones, will be saved.

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GOD'S STORY Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’s Story: 1 Protector

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? We learn GOD’s Story. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He walked. 

Today is a new step in Blog Posting on Larus Press by delving into GOD’s Story: 1 Protector. Yehovah GOD is our Protector…

“For He shall give His angels charge over you,

To keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11

If you look at the entirety of Psalm 91 you’ll see the beauty and majesty of the LORD in His words. But this phrase is what He is sharing with us today.

He keeps us in perfect peace, He keeps us protected, He guards our steps and watches our pathways for us. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6.

Do you see how the scriptures dovetail or overlap, complement and show us one aspect of Him at a time? From Psalm 91:11 He reveals that He watches over us and has given us angels to look after us. (Perhaps even if we’re wise, we allow them to reign us in from time to time, as necessary…. Angels certainly have protected me as I drive in my car!)

And If we acknowledge the LORD, we see in Proverbs 3:6 there is a promise: He directs the steps we take.

GOD’s story today then, is that He looks out for us. And if we allow Him His choices, He protects us.

Satan tried to fool Jesus, though he failed. In the wilderness, Satan referred to Psalm 91 saying in Matthew 4:6, 

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

But Jesus wasn’t fooled and said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Matthew 4:7

The key to GOD’s Story is always to rest in Him, to know His word, and to understand the devil prowls like a lion seeing whom he may devour.

As we trust in the LORD and walk in His ways, we are guided, protected and free to live safely in the knowledge that we are loved. “No weapon formed against us shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17) as we acknowledge His power and authority in the Creation and in our very own lives.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Rising above Circumstances

Below is a little poem, a very little quip borne out a very big surprise. But first a comment as preparation:

When we least expect it, the things we may think will cause distress, can actually be breakthrough to freedom.

Most of us need, I certainly do, to learn to let things happen, allow them to unfold, rather than to fear the worst while praying, hoping for the best outcome. 

Let’s not look at the outcome. GOD’s got it! Let’s experience the journey of this life — this Dress Rehearsal — as He prepares us for the Grand Performance when we meet with Him one day, in person.

We must let the storms rage around us but learn to ignore them. I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else. May we all be richer in shalom, warmer in love, grander in hope and resolute in confidence. He’s got us. Let’s live like we truly believe that. It’s time. I certainly need to walk in the truth of His Calling… Who will join me?

“Rejoice in all things. Again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

The poem is about my recognising my son is moving forward into autonomy as an adult. And so am I, moving into autonomy, as a parent. As you contemplate your challenges, may I encourage you to consider them gifts. Opportunities for freedom. Blessings…

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

The Importance of the Truth for 2023

Is it time for a New Year’s resolution? I wouldn’t put it that way. Rather, I think the key is the importance of the truth for 2023.

Tell the Truth

Is that a Commandment, or is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” different in its specificity?

“What is Truth?” asked Pilot. Jesus had already taught us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) therefore, He could quite rightly have replied to Pilot, “I am Truth”. In fact he had already said to Pilot, 

“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

It seems the causes many fight for now — LGBTQ, Global Warming and related issues, are not of The Truth for if they were, the fruit would be love rather than condemnation for “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) and “you shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)

We need to discern who is telling the truth and who is lying. There are many voices; who is representing the voice of Jesus and who is not? This is crucial to our society and beneficial to those who seek to walk in the footsteps of Our Lord.

Why tell the truth? 

Because society hangs upon it, thrives on it, survives only with it. 

Look at the damage being caused by lies: we are now living in a society where, out of pity for confused people who wish they were a different sex, we endorse as reality their wishful thinking. As science can now tinker with biological sex through drugs and operations, gender fluidity is promoted as a norm. This untruth, this denial of reality, is harming the education of children and the relationship between parent and child due to government interference and mandate in some western nations.

As those who lie shout their protests and are full of fear (rather than love: “Perfect love casts out fear”), they may believe what they are fighting for, but that doesn’t make it Truth. Consider Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and other voices supporting the issue to protect us against Global Warming. What is their fruit producing? Do you note the rise of world wide starvation and deprivation for the sake of the limitless fight against Global Warming? Does the end justify the means?

As believers become entwined in arguments not of the Lord, we all become disrupted, even damaged, at our peril. Consider the vaccine issue and fighting Corona Virus? How good is the fruit coming out of fighting over this debate? Regardless of which side we choose to support, there have been family divisions, church divisions. Is that of GOD? I think not.

We need to know what is truth and what are lies. Then we need to walk in, speak out and thrive with the Truth. The consequence of not doing so is clear… our society is crumbling because the lies are being adhered to and the truth-tellers are being swept aside.

When lies overtake truth, society based upon Judeo-Christian values, crumbles. This is what we are experiencing now. It is not because of one pronouncement but of a slow and progressive erosion based upon distraction and lies.

Is it time to tell the truth?

Isn’t it always?

The truth will set us free and has set us free. We who know Jesus may walk in it, but what of others? How can we speak truth and be heard? It is never too late, for one may set a thousand to flight, even as the still small voice who speaks to us rises up from within us and sets the captives free. 

What is the truth?

I’ve already said it: Jesus is the truth — he is the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to GOD through any other means. This may not be popular but as we believe it, so we need to speak it.

Historically, not speaking out produced a void and that void has now been filled with lies. Society is imploding as a result.

As we speak the truth of Jesus in love, let us see where it takes us. If we all do it, there is no telling what freedom may come, for assuredly, the truth will set us — and anyone — free.

The Truth

The truth is not religion. The truth is not a particular style or even a particular nuance to the theology. Examining our own theology will raise up questions within us and lead us to search our hearts and our bibles for deeper understanding. Not having all the answers is good ministry to those who have questions.

The basic truth is simple: 

  1. Only Jesus has the right to claim he is GOD. And he does claim it. Theologically, he has the right because he was born of a virgin without a human dad. he wasn’t born with the sin that Adam took on. Like Adam, Jesus was born immortal and reclaims immortality for all of us through his defeating death and reclaiming immortality for us through faith; he defied death and took the keys of mortality which Satan had taken from Adam. We who accept Jesus are born again of the Spirit and receive immortality; we will join him in heaven at the time of our physical death.
  2. Receiving Jesus is a simple act of humility and the recognition we are rubbish. We are not good enough for GOD — none of us is. Once we accept and recognise that, we can receive Jesus who sets us free from being rubbish and gives us our royal robes, not based upon who we are but based upon who he is, and our acceptance of him.
  3. We do not have to do anything to be right with GOD. It isn’t our good behaviour that gets us into heaven. But we do have to believe and repent of what went before our recognition that we are rubbish. That’s what being born again is. And we have a fresh start.
  4. Baptism, obedience, continued faith and fellowship are what Jesus modelled in his love for GOD. Through baptism, he received the endorsement of his father and the Holy Spirit came upon him. Believing and acting our faith without baptism doesn’t give us the public confession which Jesus modelled and perhaps doesn’t give us the fulness of all that the Holy Spirit offers. Jesus sweat blood (metaphorically at least) in Gethsemane when his arrest, crucifixion were close at hand; but he did obey. He models obedience (did you know he didn’t heal everyone but only those whom the Father told him to?). He did not doubt GOD but lived faithfulness throughout his life and ministry. Jesus had disciples and friends. Yes many followed him, but also in particular were the twelve, three of whom: Peter, James and John were particularly close. He did not walk alone and neither must we.
  5. In summary, the focus is not upon what we do or say as followers of Jesus, but upon what our motive is. If we follow Jesus in our own integrity, then we don’t do good deeds because we are supposed to, we don’t go to church because we’re supposed to. Rather, we follow Jesus because he is the truth and we are committed to that truth. We follow Jesus because we know the truth has set us free. We follow Jesus because he is the Way to the Father GOD in heaven. We follow Jesus because we love him and are thankful for our freedom. All our deeds, attitudes and behaviours will flow out of that, naturally and supernaturally. And we need the Holy Spirit to help us for Jesus said he had to go back to the Father in order for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to come to us. He doesn’t expect us to manage on our own, and neither need we.

So, let us walk in the truth

Let us live, love, laugh and celebrate our knowledge of the truth and in on our Way accept others to do the same. Let us hold fast to what is true, and not hide in fear of condemnation, but share in wisdom, and hope that others too, who need Jesus as much as we do, will spot his identity in us.

And let us live the truth that we know, and see how society can be transformed by the renewing of one mind at a time…

Shalom, Happy 2023, and may GOD continue to BLESS us all.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What really matters about Christmas?

I have strolled through days of loving Christmas, explored only to discover the dates we use to celebrate are all wrong; I have meandered through the Bible to explore the Hebrew roots and stumbled upon culture and Hanukkah; I have wondered whether to put up a tree or glitter or give gifts and more; I have concluded Christmas marks the birth of GOD’s son, secular festivities, and much much more…

But at the end of the day, I ask myself — and you if you’re willing to ponder: What really matters about Christmas and how can we mark it well? 

Why the Nativity?

With a look at the nativity I aim to share with others at this Season, the love, truth, grace, peace and joy that the LORD offers to those who will receive.

GOD is love and He brings love, in the form of His son Yeshua. But He also ensures we have the capacity and opportunity to share love; we have an inbuilt need for love and relationship. He offers Himself and even if we reject Him, He loves us so much He reaches out through others so that no one needs be isolated or alone.

And now, the story of the Nativity is recounted in Luke 2:8-20 as follows,

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

What the Nativity shows us

We see fulfilled prophecy in that Isaiah and various other prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah in just the manner in which it is recorded here… Bethlehem will be the Messiah’s place of birth, a virgin will give birth, He will be a son of David — one born of King David’s line. There are hundreds of prophecies fulfilled in this one night (the substance of which is for another post).

We see the mercy of GOD in his love, respect and confidence for the lowly shepherds who were the blessed ones who would be the first to see this Messiah.

We see the wisdom of GOD in His choice of mother, who held the marvellous events in her heart, rather than boast or discuss or proclaim them.

We see the love of GOD for us in giving to us His son, who will be the Saviour of the entire world. Jesus would grow to teach us how to live, so that society moves from barbarism to life, from paganism to profound worship.

We see the truth of GOD in that He is not a respecter of persons, choosing a lowly stable, a modest couple to parent His son, and that babe who would grow to teach us love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self control.

We see the commitment of GOD as He fulfilled His promise to send a Messiah, to stand for the Jewish people and land, to be GOD to those who would call Him GOD.

We see the power of GOD and the presence of GOD in the angels and in the babe Himself.

We see GOD Years later, Jesus would say to us, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)

So, what really matters about Christmas?

Simply, the birth of Yeshua — Jesus — Emmanuel, GOD with us.

And How can we mark it well?

Stay focused on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The trappings of turkey or gifts, tree and tinsel, these are not Christmas. The carols and cards, the family and friends, these are not Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is not necessarily of GOD, if it removes our gaze from the One and Only who gave up His heavenly authority to be of no account. The spirit of Christmas can be ignored when we look at the Son of GOD — the Son of Man, and linger on his infant beginning. And we mark Christmas well when we allow ourselves to ponder, to embrace and to engage with Him who came for us, and love one another as He has loved us, and as He has commanded us to do,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). 

On this hinges everything.