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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Wisdom, family and friendship

Choices: do not fear

‘How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)

When it comes to wisdom, friendship and family, do we share ours with them or do we keep it to ourselves?

I think — without knowing it — I have always sought wisdom. Certainly I’ve never sought “gold”, though I’ve been blessed to have had a relatively prosperous level of existence. One might say to me, “It’s easy not to have gone after money, you’ve never been hungry.” And there may be truth in that, but even when I tried to live a bohemian lifestyle after university, I still ended up earning and prospering. But I digress… Because this post is not about money or an exchange of money (or other priorities) for wisdom. This is simply about wisdom and its value not to be taken for granted when we have it. Sometimes we need to share it…. that little truth can bring unto us a burden.

Wisdom, friendship and family

What do we do when we see others lacking in wisdom? Do we speak or remain silent?

I’ve recognised that I have been gifted with a lot of wisdom. Sadly, I’ve shared relatively little of it because I haven’t realised — until now — that most people don’t want to hear from me, probably because they know I’ll speak on a plain they don’t wish to join. Perhaps they are in denial or perhaps they simply disagree. Or perhaps it’s a combination, a sort of — ‘we don’t want to ask Sarah because she’ll tell us what we don’t want to hear.’ 

Sadly, I think people don’t want to hear the truth, even when they know it IS the truth. They don’t want the truth, but want their ears tickled. What does scripture say?

“…. because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools….” (Romans 1:18-19)

Many would prefer to live as they choose rather than to live according to what is true.

Making a personal leap

Well, as I’ve recognised why most don’t want to hear from me, it gives me more courage. Oddly, knowing what I say is more likely to be rejected than accepted, I don’t have to hesitate for fear of rejection but rather can speak as I am led, knowing it is likely not to be received. This kind of takes away the risk factor, making rejection much more sure and therefore less frightening. 

Of course if I’ve wisdom to share, how may I apply this in the sharing of what I have?

But Grace

There is a major principle that supersedes wisdom, and that is grace. 

Wisdom without grace is like good advice without love: both are too rough, too harsh, too stark.

So, I aim — I will aim to speak truth full of GOD’s grace. He is love, He is truth, He is grace. And He is wisdom. Packed altogether, maybe I can move some barriers and bring some love, grace, and truth into the lives of family and friends who are a bit daunted by a relatively forthright person, who is confident in a LORD they may or may not trust themselves.

I think I might have just talked myself into being more sensitive and more proactive in other peoples’ lives, those of friends and family of course, where I have a bit of licence — by long time intimacy or by blood — to do so. Wisdom recognises that with many, we have no right to speak. Without an invitation or a relationship, it is not for us to advise others, but to pray. And in fact, in all things, it is wise and prudent to pray first. The LORD can give us the words and the anointing, the timing and the opportunity.

Always seeking the will of the LORD, for you and for me,

Sarah

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What is a Watchman?

What is a Watchman

Nehemia was a watchman on the walls of Jerusalem while the city was being rebuilt.

Ezekiel was also a watchman for the nation. Ezekiel chapters 3 and 33 perhaps best describe the role and responsibilities of a watchman.

What is a watchman and how do I know?

I am a watchman. I am not a man but I am a watchman. How do I know?

About 20 years ago I spent a concerted 18 months searching, praying, asking, seeking the LORD: Who am I in You? What is my calling, LORD?

My history

I studied scripture. I was married to a teacher of the Word but I knew that I was not a prophet or a pastor, a teacher or an evangelist. But I was “something”. What?

I happened upon a speaker once, as I attended my regular weekly prayer school meeting. I walked in (a bit late) and the guest speaker was talking about herself as a watchman. “What’s that?” I wondered. As she began to share about how she discerned, often felt led to speak out, had early in her ministry been sidelined and ignored for speaking truth I thought, “I can relate to that.”

I bought her book. As I combed through it (twice) over the coming days and weeks, I realised, “I’m a watchman!”

I never felt so relieved in my life. Suddenly, all the pain, angst, side-lining for being outspoken, the prophetic vision, discernment and words I’d offered and had confirmed by individuals but often ignored by leaders made sense.

I am the grit!

Once at a church leaders’ meeting, one I’d been invited to as part of the worship team, the guest prophet pointed to me (and another woman) and said, “You are the grit.”

He said to the church leadership, “You find what these people have to say uncomfortable, challenging, but you must listen to them. Like a pearl that needs refining in order to develop, they are the grit for your church. Listen to them.”

Hallelujah! I was so pleased to be picked out and perfectly described. 

Unfortunately, the leadership didn’t pick up on what the prophet said and I continued to be “an embarrassment” to them.

Twenty years on, I am still the grit. But I’m learning to walk in the shoes the LORD has given me, and become detached (usually) from my message and the reaction the words might get. And thankfully, along the journey the LORD has taught me much about grace and how to walk in grace toward others. Isn’t it amazing how, as He teaches us, we experience grace from others as we show His grace?!

What is a Watchman

A watchman is a prophetic voice. A watchman has gifts of discernment, wisdom, and a knack for seeing what and how to prevent problems. A watchman proverbially stands upon the wall and sounds the trumpet of warning to the congregation, population or leaders thereof.

A watchman has the personality of a misfit, is often isolated from the crowd, but nevertheless, has a propensity to speak out (truths) even when uninvited to do so. A watchman can be an irritant, but is like a dog with a bone: often relentless and unable not let go of his point even when all the world does not want to listen. S/he can often be misunderstood, being seen as judgmental, when the aim is simply to guard and protect others from mishap and mistake.

The Job at Hand

The watchman has a tough job because s/he may be called to challenge the status quo or provoke others to be accountable for their words or responsibilities. This does not make one popular.

But as in Ezekiel, if we do not warn as we’re called to warn, the “blood” of the other is on our own heads. That’s a powerful motivation, even to bypass our own fear of man to get the job done.

We must share in love and gentleness, kindness and patience. But we must stand in the shoes the LORD has given us, and do the job we’ve been assigned.

If we do not honour the call GOD has given us, churches can flounder, individuals can fall, nations can end up outside of GOD’s will.

I am delighted, I am daunted, I am hopeful

I am delighted as ever to have found how my personality dovetails perfectly with my calling. I am daunted by the task at hand, sometimes terrified of speaking on behalf of GOD but erroneously, and terrified of the rejection I might receive from man. But I am hopeful that, even though throughout the Bible the prophets were despised, there were occasions when conviction and restoration came, such as when Nathan spoke to David about the adultery and murder the king had committed.

I am hopeful that some might prefer to change to GOD’s will rather than to cling onto old ways of thinking. 

I pray that we will all embrace our new wineskins and grow into the people of GOD He has created us and predestined us to be.

Oh LORD, bless you and keep me in Your perfect will, and make me to be righteous in Your eyes. Bless those whom I encounter, and help them to hear Your voice through me when I am on track and on call. Oh LORD, bless the brothers and sisters you bring to my path, and may we be united in one cause: To lift Your name and to honour Your ways and truths.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Character Development Politics and Society today Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ Reflections and Poetry

Equality Issue between men and women in the Church

“Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”

Why then is the equality issue between men and women still an issue in the church, even today?

Historically and Scripturally

Eve was deceived by Adam and so women are more easily deceived than are men. Therefore, women should not teach in the church in case they are deceived and lead others astray.  So goes one argument for holding women from leading or preaching.

Although I don’t fully acknowledge the logic, it’s the most valid I think and warrants that women have a covering and particularly when they are leaders; but so must men be accountable, for all are vulnerable to stumbling.

When Corinthians were being instructed by Paul in 1 Corinthians, a significant part of the church was being “told off” for carnal behaviour. This included the telling-off of the women for blabbing too much in services. ‘Talk to your husbands at home’ he said, for it is ‘shameful for women to speak in church.’ So goes the second argument… women must not teach or preach.

Ever since, we’ve had women suppressed in some congregations.

But Paul also wrote, there is no distinction in the Spirit between men and women. (Galatians 3:28) So logically, the two references cancel one another out. That would be logical wouldn’t it?

Women’s chatter

In matters of behaviour, women need to exercise self control. But in matters of the Spirit, we are equal to men and ought to be heard. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, comforter, protector, convict-or. Do we not all have access to the Holy Spirit in equal measure?

That’s my stand. In a nutshell, that’s my position. One of my callings is to convey this message, in grace, humility, boldness and steadfast faith.

Stocks of grain, a matt, and the Sabbath

When Jesus allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12), the leaders asked him why? And when the man whom Jesus healed was carrying his matt on the Sabbath (John 5), the leaders were very cross. Was Jesus tempting others to break the Sabbath? According to Jesus, he was not. He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law of the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17)

Men and Women are not the same… but they are equal

There are two keys to my believing what the Father wants me to do: to warn as a watchman and to stand in faith for righteousness, sometimes with words. It is not that I seek it nor do I “want” to do it. Sometimes it terrifies me; sometimes it is combative. If I get it wrong, I could cause someone to stumble and that would be on my watch. This is not my will, but to speak what I discern is my character and is my calling — or rather to say it is His calling for me. 

Reason 1: My entire personality and experience confirms I am a watchman and as such, according to Ezekiel 3 and 33, if I do not warn as I’m called to do, if a person stumbles, their “blood” is on my head.

And Reason 2: The Holy Spirit is not confined to our understanding of law. By holding the view that women must not lead based upon Paul’s reference for women to keep silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34), Jesus’ wander in the wheat fields on the Sabbath and allowing his disciples to eat grain, or his encouraging the cripple to collect up his matt on the Sabbath, Deborah the Judge and Priscilla at teacher to Apollos (Acts 18:26) and other examples are each a contradiction to this RULE.

Did GOD make a mistake?

I am not perfect. But GOD is perfecting me as He perfects each of us who seek to surrender to His will. “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” said Jesus. 

Whilst I do not wish to cause anyone else to stumble, I don’t wish to remain silent on this issue. And for even raising it, I am blocked from ministry by those who disagree. This is sad.

Did I make a mistake?

And yet, those who fear GOD, respect and keep His word. Those who turn a deaf ear to the equality of women at least in their conscious mind, do so out of reverence for GOD. Although I may see they are wrong, they are doing it for the right reasons.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

And so, I know that I am correct in believing GOD gave me a calling I did not ask for, and for which He created me just as He willed. He placed me in contact with those who would disagree and would block my message. He did not make a mistake. So long as I am doing what I know to be right in His eyes, in love for my bothers and sisters, the rest is His responsibility and not mine.

Side-bar

For two reasons at least, there is an undeniable imbalance of men in ministry over women, both in the Bible and in our world today. Why is this? For one reason, women have children and bear the greatest portion of raising them. That is both cultural and (I believe) biological. Therefore, they’ve less time and perhaps their anointing/ministry is first and foremost for their children. Another reason why there are fewer women leaders, including in the Bible, is cultural. The rule is that men lead, but Biblically and historically, there are exceptions. 

I don’t mind being an exception. I do mind, however, being blocked and ignored on the basis there are no exceptions.

Peace and Joy

But never mind. GOD is sovereign and in His sovereignty, I have gifts which some will not accept. But I accept the gifts, and I accept those who don’t accept me.

Hallelujah and Amen. The truth does set us free! How we respond to the truth brings a consequence that can only draw us closer to our Father, Jehovah GOD, if we choose to allow it to do so. I leave others’ journey with the LORD. 

Shalom and GOD bless.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Remembering our First Love

Remembering our first love

Busy, I’ve been so busy lately….. I must remember my first love: He is here! He has been here all along. My first love is here, but I realise in my busyness, I moved away a little.

In Revelations 2, Jesus commends the work of the church at Ephesus. But he has one thing against them… They have lost their first love — ie forgotten they love Him and that’s why they are doing the works which they are doing.

“Abide…..”

We must abide in Him, just as He abides in the Father and the Father in Him (John 14). To abide is to hold onto, to hold closely, to hold dearly. Then we will not forget him, our first love.

God’s jobs for me

I am enriched by GOD’s challenges. As He is entrusting me with greater responsibility, I am celebrating how much He loves and gives to me, fulfils me and enriches me — and others with whom I engage as I share the wisdom He has given to me. I pour into their lives and it is such a rich blessing.

BUT today as I make space just for Jesus, I come back to him, my first love, without even realising I’d gone away.

I’ve never lost sight of my Lord, of walking in His grace, of keeping my eye on him and not the storm… And yet, as I drew close to him today (as I have been for decades and especially in recent months), as I drew close to him today, it was as if fresh water had been splashed gently upon me. To be with him was – is – so refreshing. I am reminded of Revelations 2: Jesus’ letter to the Ephesians — people who were dedicated and busy for him, but they had lost their first love, their love for him. And I  relate,

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have laboured for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place—unless you repent.” (Revelations 2:2-6)

If we don’t abide, if we don’t take time, if we are fired up and motivated and moving for Jesus, but don’t seek him dearly, truly, and deeply every day, how easy it is to drift away.

Moving from him is subtle. Abiding enables us to stay close.

There is no condemnation here, only a tweak of guidance: it’s so easy to drift. Stay close. Keep drawing from him. Hold onto your first love. And finally we keep our eyes on him, and not on the storm.

Shalom and GOD bless,

Sarah

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Led by Grace rather than Expectation

What is Grace

We need to be led by grace rather than by expectation starting today!

It has been quoted over and over again when discussing the question, What is grace? that “grace is receiving from GOD what we don’t deserve.” This is correct. But for us human beings, there is a practical element which goes beyond this.

Grace is behaving toward others with an attitude of acceptance rather than expectation.

What is Expectation

Expectation is demanding, hoping for, or assuming something will happen in a particular way. Expectation influences our attitude and our behaviour toward others, as we “expect” another person to behave in a particular way. When someone does not behave as we expect, we can take it as a personal slight — and if we do, our behaviour turns to attack the other person or to withdraw; both are responses of offence. When we take offence, whether overtly expressed or internalised, we are demonstrating the opposite of grace. Although the root may be out of genuine pain, offence is ungodly, unhealthy, and unproductive. (Note: the offence may be triggered by past incidents or pain which has nothing to do with the present or with the person from whom you are offended. This signals a need for inner healing, something we all need from time to time, and can receive from the healer: the Holy Spirit and with prayer counselling.)

Opportunity for Grace

Consider your birthday and someone you thought would think of you did not call or send a card. Offence whispers, “you aren’t loved” or “they are selfish, unthoughtful” or “they should have remembered your birthday”. But grace shrugs it off, or acknowledges your disappointment but recognises the other person didn’t know or didn’t remember or that they have other matters of greater importance… and even, thinks, “I hope they’re okay:)”.

Consider the other drivers on the road… we except them to signal, we expect them to give way according to the rules. What happens when they do not? There is a lot of road rage, purely because others do not drive the way we expect them too. On the one hand, of course the expectations are reasonable because those are the rules of the road. BUT if we are personally offended, if we act with hostility, are judgemental or accusatory, this is not going to change the situation nor is it going to produce good fruit from us. Instead, we need to learn to be gracious, not to allow the mistake to affect us personally, emotionally. Lately, I’ve been saying aloud when bad driving is in front of me, “Maybe the other driver is running late; maybe she just needs to learn better driving; maybe he needs prayer…” These responses are gracious. 

Grief and Disappointment

Our lives are full of grief when we have high expectations from others who don’t measure up. This is the nub of what I’ll address in this post: 

We need to be led by grace rather than expectation if we are going to live in forgiveness, love and mutual respect.

When we are expectant toward a certain outcome or behaviour from others, it means we will easily be disappointed. People simply cannot measure up to our expectations. Some people who begin to follow Jesus end up walking away, because they perceive He hasn’t measured up… when it is actually the body of Christ: the church folk who haven’t measured up. How tragic.

And when we expect, we do not actually receive but take when someone does give of themselves to us. We take what we are owed, rather than receive what we are offered. If you reflect on this, I believe you’ll see there is a big difference.

It is vital that we, the body of believers in Christ, stop expecting from others, because it blocks love. It blocks ministry. It blocks the family from growing together.

Love one another

Read John 15 — the abide chapter. 

How can we abide in Him if we are cross with one another? 

How can we love one another if we take offence?

Why be led by Grace rather than Expectation

We all must be led by thoughts of grace toward one another to root out condemnation and criticism. We must be honest toward one another if we feel wounded, but not let that wound take root toward a heart of bitterness (which comes from pain turned outward). We need to walk in grace and forgiveness rather than protection and suspicion. This sows mutual love, acceptance and honours GOD.

How to be led by Grace rather than Expectations

If you have a tendency to put aside your own needs for others, then this word of grace does not apply to you. But if you tend to suppress your needs and walk in sorrow because others don’t pay attention to you, or if you tend to get angry at others who disappoint you and hold a grudge, then you need to start to choose grace. This will allow you to overcome your own expectations and disappointments. 

Can you begin to recognise that some people just won’t measure up to your hopes? It’s good to be aware of this… and then to let go. Let GOD meet your needs, allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you who mourn, look ahead and not behind, to see what life will unfold.

Meeting your expectations is not something others owe you. It may be a weakness in them or a mismatch between you; don’t take it personally. Perhaps you can help them to understand that you’re disappointed, or that they might benefit if they learned how to interact in a more responsible manner. But don’t shun them. Don’t allow your heart to be hardened. Allow grace to penetrate your attitude all the time. Choose to accept others as you hope to be accepted, as GOD has accepted you. And forgive.

It’s time we choose grace as GOD has chosen grace for us. It’s time. 

As Paul learned from Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9a), so let us walk in grace toward others and accept theirs toward us.

Every blessing and with much prayer, Amen.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Enough time to walk with Jesus

Priorities

If, after spending enough time to walk with Jesus in a day, you haven’t got time to do the “to dos” and your “work”, then the work and to dos are not important. As Jesus said, “take care of today for tomorrow will look after itself” (Matthew 6:34)

Thinking differently

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of GOD” (Romans 12:2)

We need to rethink our priorities if we are serious about being full of the Spirit of GOD. We need to rethink our priorities if we are serious about being fully obedient, fully surrendered to GOD. We need to rethink if we believe — as Jesus says — we are “to be perfect as [our] heavenly father is perfect.” (Matter 5:48) Because being here in this world, we are way too focused on this world — I am, that’s for sure. 

Dedication as His Bride

I do believe I surrendered to GOD at my baptism. I do believe He took me at my word when I promised to follow Him. I do believe the Bible. Living it out is not as easy as believing. While I know I’m saved by His grace, I am still responsible for the choices I make, and the discipline to walk faithfully is becoming clearer and clearer to me.

He wants a spotless bride. Spotlessness only comes because Jesus suffered in our place; but following from that, we remain spotless through our choices. We can fail and He’ll pick us up. But we have to want to remain spotless, we have to will not to fail. That much we do have control over, and must control, if we are not to be found wanting when we meet Him face to face.

A choice

I realise I have a choice: Do I lack enough time to walk with Jesus? Or am I choosing not to have enough time to walk with Jesus?

And once I’m aware I have choices, I am in charge of my choices (and my time). What will I do about it?

What will you do with your time, to ensure you have enough time to walk with Jesus?

Choosing Jesus first

Yes this will change my life! It will greatly alter your life. But we can look at it this way: the life which comes after this one is longer (eternal) and more important. 

GOD wants to live and move within us. Are we going to allow Him to do that?

Mankind at Creation

At Creation, Yehovah GOD made man in His image: male and female. Ever since then, with the exception of Jesus, mankind has chosen to walk in his own image. 

Through Jesus we have a choice and most of those reading this post have chosen to follow Jesus. But are we saved? 

There are, if you like, two salvations or two levels of salvation*: 

  1. Recognising Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. This is the one we are most familiar with.
  2. Walking in the knowledge and consciousness that we must fully surrender. This is what Paul meant by “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling”. (Philippians 2:12)

At which level is each of us walking?

Getting to Heaven

If we are operating at level 1, we have professed our faith, repented (the order doesn’t matter), and asked Jesus to lead and to guide us. The Holy Spirit has revived our spirit within us and through baptism in water we can be more assured of the Holy Spirit operating within us.

But if we are operating at level 2, we are laying down the flesh daily, hourly, conscious that it is “not I who live but Christ who lives in me”. 

I haven’t contemplated or studied enough to know where a person is in terms of heaven if we operating only at level 1. I just don’t know. Perhaps we are only responsible for the level of revelation GOD has given us. But now I’ve ruined that for you readers…

I’ve definitely smashed through the theory of “once saved, always saved” because salvation is not as simple as praying a prayer of faith; we must walk in it. (James 2:20)

In sharing the concept of two levels of salvation (btw this is not doctrine so please don’t get too excited! I am merely extrapolating in language terms as best I can, why scripture says we are saved by grace and yet we also must work out our salvation), it surely brings into question for myself and others:

If I’m serious about Jesus, why wouldn’t I be walking in level 2: fully grateful, fully surrendered, fully committed?

It seems to me that this question is for serious thought and prayer.

* Maurie Daigneau “The Gospel You’ve Never Heard”

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Who is the Accuser?

Who is the accuser? 

Satan is the accuser. How does he work? Through people. Which people? Predominantly the people of the church. Let’s be sure we are not his tool.

The church is in perilous times. The church is in challenging times. The Church as a body of believers has never had such opportunity for growth and never been so vulnerable to attack — because the two necessarily go hand-in-hand.

God is sifting

Are we going to grow in person and congregation, making way for new believers in Yeshua Jesus? OR are we going to implode from within? 

GOD is sifting the wheat from the chaff. Each of us is both: wheat and chaff as we are both flesh and spirit. Sanctification (1Corinthians 1:30) is the process of growth from being led by our own thoughts and intents to being led of the Spirit’s. Also, just as we are one body in Christ, so the congregation — local and international — is being separated or sifted: the wheat from the chaff. 

Individuals and Congregations

How is GOD separating the wheat from the chaff? He allows the accuser to operate; how we respond will expose our chaff or our wheat. Our individual and corporate response to the accuser’s meddling reveals what in us is either godly or not. Then we choose whom we will serve… We can recognise our corruption and repent or we can allow it to take over and accuse.

Self-righteousness v Righteousness

Who is the accuser? Satan. He is prowling around, seeking whom he may devour. (1Peter 5:8) How does he devour? Through accusation. If you are accusing, are you not his handmade?

I have discovered, through my own journey of failed good intentions, that there is a very fine line between what is righteous in GOD’s eyes and what is purely righteous in my own; the latter is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness wreaks havoc in its self-imposed exercise of judgement and condemnation. It sees evil in everyone but itself, and looks to spiritualise actions and motives of others. It is key in Jesus’ proverbial: ‘seeing the log in the other’s eye rather than spotting the plank in his/her own.’

I’m being blunt because I’m seeing the accuser operate. I’m seeing him infiltrate churches and individuals. I’m seeing him devouring congregates and congregations by putting thoughts into peoples’ hearts and minds — good people, sincere believers — who are feeling justified to attack others (usually covertly rather than directly because the devil is, after all, a coward). When accusations are behind backs and behind doors, you can be sure the enemy is at hand.

What is to be done to combat the accuser

First, please note I am grossly over-simplifying matters for the purpose of this short post. The devil devours in many ways and accusation is just one of them. But accusation is the epitome of condemnation and remember, 

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8) Therefore, if one is condemning, one is not operating in the spirit of love or Christ.

Remember, you shall be known for your fruits:) The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self control. (Galatians 5:22)

Open discourse doesn’t allow the enemy to get into congregations. Face-to-face confrontation, however difficult, is the (messy) way to avoid gossip and back-biting. But most of all, love, trust and mutual respect are keys to ensuring godly relationship persists and the enemy does not get a foothold.

Jezebel spirit

Jezebel was Ahab’s self-serving wife (read 1 Kings 16 – 21 for the full story), the sort of person from whom the character of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth might have been derived. 

Today we have teaching about the Jezebel spirit of control that operates through other people. I’ve had that spirit and I’ve seen it in operation through others. Jezebel, in the spiritual sense, is a sense of manipulation and control that seeks to “get its own way at any cost”. BUT it is all-too-easily given as a label to anyone who doesn’t agree with the accuser (which tells me it’s likely operating more in the accuser than in the ‘accusee’). 

We need to remember Christ died and saved the believer. If one is truly demonised by any spirit (and theologically, I recognise there are many who will weigh in on the debate as to whether a believer can or cannot be possessed by anything ungodly) he or she needs love, sound teaching, deliverance and more love. Condemnation, accusation, and gossip are not on that list of “how to help a person oppressed by demons”.

Does anyone really believe a sister or brother in Christ deserves to be hurled onto the street and devoured by dogs as Jezebel was as GOD’s response to her evil intent? Does anyone really believe someone who declares love for Jesus is motivated to destroy anyone or anything that gets in his or her way? Because that is was the accusation implies.

Beware a spirit of accusation

Rather, I think we need to be wary of any accusation that we may carry. We are responsible for our hearts and out of our heart speaks truth or lies. Accusing someone else of lying, deceit, or evil intent is a very dangerous thing to do. Sadly I’ve seen it done all-too-quickly and all-too-easily. Yes, many do so out of fear of the power of that evil spirit, and in that sense, exposure of it is intended for good. But fear is also a tool of the enemy, the remedy for which is GOD’s “perfect love [which] casts out fear. (1John 4:18)

I am not condemning

I am not condemning anyone through the writing of this post. I am warning. If your heart is convicted through the reading of this post, we both can praise GOD. For through conviction comes repentance. And after repentance, comes the reparation: the apology to the falsely accused and their forgiveness in return.

Through conviction, apology, and forgiveness, the enemy is thwarted and the real accuser, the real Jezebel, the real evil is thwarted.

Please GOD

The enemy must not be given a foothold in our hearts, even if our hearts are well-intended. Please GOD expose this accuser of falsehoods in our own hearts and teach us to love one another well, by your gracious spirit.

Amen.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Handling Unjust Treatment

What the Bible says about handling unjust treatment

“Do not fret because of evildoers….

Trust in the LORD and do good….

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him…

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret…

Do not fret — it only causes harm.” (from Psalm 37)

“One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on…” (Philippians 3)

Song: “Your eye is on the Sparrow and your hand it comforts me, from the ends of the earth to the depths of my heart, let Your mercy and strength receive… And I will run to You, to Your word of truth…. Not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit oh LORD.” (Hillsongs) These words depict a method for handling unjust treatment.

When we are treated badly: this is what we must do — “Trust in the LORD and do good, Dwell own the land, and feed on His faithfulness…” 

Feed on His goodness, not on the evil that is being done

Make no mistake, injustice, unjust treatment IS evil. But we MUST leave it in the hands of GOD, not stew on it. If we eat it, it will eat us. If we ignore it, it most likely will fade away.

The evil that men do to us can be ignored. Allowing it to fester, it will grow. Ignoring it, it will die. If it doesn’t die that might be Step 2 (for another post). But first, we focus on Step 1: ignoring evil done to us.

Look at the recent trial between Johnny Depp and his ex wife Amber Heard. Look at how awful that situation has become. She may have blown out of all proportion their private lives — exposing and putting him on trial in the public eye. Now he is doing the same thing to her. What hell they are putting themselves through for money and/or reputation. Who is guilty? Should a criminal, if there are abuse crimes, be held responsible? Absolutely, of course. But why then, did the purported victim, not put her husband up on charges and allow the legal system to punish him? It is too detailed for me to analyse and dissect, and I’m not passing judgement on either of them. From what little I know, they are both going through hell and with alcohol and drug abuse, they have been through a nightmare, some of which was of their own making. BUT my point is, neither is moving forward. And in their world, how can they know any differently? It is tragic. And what is the fall-out? Broken lives, suffering.

When we are treated unjustly, how do we cope?

We forgive. We trust GOD. We move ahead in our own righteousness with Him. 

Turning the other cheek, something Jesus recommends, is not only for the other person’s benefit, to give them space and time to repent, relent. It is for ourselves too, for when we forgive, we can walk away free from stress, pain, anxiety and wrath.

The opposite is true: when we do not forgive, we carry stress, pain, anxiety and wrath — or self-righteousness, which eats away at us, first through pride and anger, and ultimately through conviction that will come to us for our own sinfulness in the situation.

When we justify ourselves, we are blocking the protection from GOD. 

So instead, we can rest in the LORD as Psalm 37 says, and feed on His faithfulness.

Persecution is going to come in its many shapes and forms

There are places in the world where those who love Jesus are being persecuted for their faith. So far in the West, persecution has been very mild. Christianity is top of the list for religious persecution around the globe. But in the West we have barely needed to flinch (I gather an exception is in Canada where some churches have been burned during the Covid crisis).

And yet, I’ve seen a lot of flinching, a lot of conspiracy theory shouting, a lot of discomfort. We need to toughen up if we’re going to get through it, when it comes to us, if it comes to us. 

We need to learn to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) in order to overcome the temptation to strike back. IF GOD calls us to defend, then yes we must defend. But by and large, we need to ignore, walk away, overcome. “He who overcomes” remember receives much (Revelation 2, 3).

“He who loses his life will gain” — holding onto this world, holding onto our rights, holding on to what is just and fair in this world, will not enable us to grow and it will not give us crowns in heaven. We must discern between when to fight and when to ignore. And mostly, we need to ignore.

The evil that men do will not stop until Jesus returns to rule and reign

We are held in the palm of GOD’s hand. Are we going to trust Him to protect us, or are we going to fight for our rights?

This matter: handling unjust treatment, can be complicated. There are nuances and individual cases and situations. But overall, we need to allow GOD to rule and reign in our lives. We can trust in His sovereignty, trust in His ways, allow Him to grow, mould and shape us. And we can love our neighbours — even the nasty ones, event the brothers and sisters in the LORD who spite us — and walk on water.

Walking on Water

Whatever is going on around us and to us, we can focus on Jesus and trust in Him. He has what is best for us. This is “walking on water”.

Are we going to allow ourselves to strain through the mucky ponds, waist deep in the sludge of someone else’s false accusations, back-biting and disparaging remarks? Or are we going to walk on the river of life, above the criticism, lies and opinions of our enemies?

We choose. But if we choose to walk on water, we will not be pulled apart or brought down by false rumours or accusations, side-lining or cruelty. Instead, we will be washed, awakened and free.

Jesus said he came to bring life and life more abundantly. That comes from keeping our eyes fixed upon him and looking ahead. Enemies will come and go. How we handle them will determine their power or lack thereof. 

I choose life. I choose peace. I choose love, and love empowers us to overcome all the threats and attempts of the enemy.

So let’s fight the good fight and finish the race. Let’s ignore that which is from the enemy, and dwell on the faithfulness, the goodness of GOD.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Is GOD near or far? A look at faith v religious practice

Is GOD near or far?: Looking at Faith and Religion

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Many people believe in GOD but don’t know GOD intimately as those who are born again claim to experience Him. How can I know that? Because I’ve been in both camps — which I’d call the “before” and “after” camps: before being born again and after being born again

What’s the difference between born again and not born again? And why does it matter?

Firstly: What’s the difference between being born again or not born again? Biblical Christianity puts the Bible as the first reference point. Born again people generally do that. We base our lifestyle on whether or not it lines up with the Bible’s recommendations for a peaceful and fulfilled life. Although sometimes we fail in our walk, the Bible is our guideline, our plumb line, our reference point.

However, that isn’t a sufficient explanation because many adhere to the strict code or legalistic lifestyle of following the rules in the Bible, not because they have had a revival in their hearts but because they are religious about their commitment to ensuring society — or at least their family — tows the line!

Being born again is a realisation that ‘I want to follow Jesus and I cannot live the life I want to lead without him; and then it is a decision to commit my life to him, to surrender and start again, to look ahead and not behind, and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.’ And then there is baptism which is a public profession and experience of being immersed in water as Jesus was.

“What must we do” to be saved? some asked Peter in Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Observations

Let’s make no assumptions as to salvation of another person…. Only GOD sees our hearts.

To be born again means we’ve repented of our mistakes, and surrendered our lives to Jesus. This is what makes us “saved” according to John 3:16 (and other verses of course). But isn’t that also what we do in the Protestant Church when we get confirmed or in the Roman Catholic church when we go to confession?

An aside for a moment…

There is a specific trigger for this my writing this post: I mentioned to someone recently that I was sad that they were keeping GOD at arms length, although I was delighted they had faith in Him. The response was polite but the person did take exception to my comment.

I suppose it seemed as though I had made an assumption that I knew their relationship with GOD. So the other person was taken aback by my comment, which is quite right and a fair point… no one can know another’s relationship to GOD.

AND YET, there are certain markers. The most apparent one is, Do we put GOD first!? Is our relationship with Him the most important in our lives? With this question in mind, I continue on the main track once again…

How do we know we have a personal relationship with GOD?

  1. We need the Holy Spirit. He is the comforter whom Jesus ascended into heaven in order to send after him. He, like the father and the son, is GOD (John 14).
  2. Jesus said we must be “born again (John 3:16) – which is to have a personal encounter with the living GOD, based upon an experience or decision or both, where we willingly die to our old life and seek to start again, knowing GOD is listening. We can trust we are forgiven and are reborn, brand new and without sin.
  3. Paul wrote we must have faith in order to please GOD (Ephesians 2), and that we are saved by His grace. Faith, by definition is, “the substance of what we hope for”, it is evidence-based. James says faith without works is dead, so while works includes good deeds, it also includes a tangible hunger for GOD’s Word, the Bible (more below). Without faith it is impossible to please GOD (Hebrews 11:6). And – by the way – faith comes from GOD. It is a fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22); we can’t drum it up. But we can ask for it!
  4. Do we have a desire and commitment to our relationship with GOD which is lasting and ongoing?…. I thought my friend was keeping GOD at arms length. Did I presume or did I sense or observe a lack of engagement? 
  5. Do you have a hunger for the Bible as GOD’s Word? In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word….. and the was GOD and the Word became flesh…” That’s Jesus! Do you “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind…. (Jesus quoted Deuteronomy)? Good works without the Love of GOD first, is NOT Christianity, but simply good deeds. Are you a person wearing the label Christian? Does that mean you are going to heaven? Being a person who believes in Jesus is a necessary start, but that alone doesn’t mean one is going to heaven. According to Jesus’ own words, to some he will say, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) You can’t whip up your faith. You can only follow; ask and it will be given, seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you. 
  6. Have you passion to know GOD? It can grow! I was ignorant but I was open… and then the Spirit of GOD began to convict me of my ignorance. I chose to listen. Through 3 different people in the space of 48 hours, I heard “My people are destroyed/perishing for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) and I realised I was one of those people!
  7. So much hinges on the Bible, our hunger for it, our growth from it. I started at the top of this post with Hebrews 4: “Word of GOD is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword” ….. “and discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Our walk hinges on the Word of GOD, which is why Paul writes to Timothy and says, “study to show yourself approved…” A deep study of theology reveals how Jesus’ identity matters, that only as the son of GOD, only he could take our place on the cross, taking all our sin — everyone’s sin — and then how painfully he was abandoned as evidenced by his question to his Father, “why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15) The more we study, the more we can grow. And yet, even this is not what gets us into heaven.
  8. Is the Holy Spirit active and alive within us: convicting us of sin, prompting us to dig deeper. Do we allow the Holy Spirit to go to the heart of our matter, not only touching our minds? What leads us to heaven is to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21). And it is through relationship with the Lamb of GOD, through the Holy Spirit, through our following him, that we are born again, saved for our place in heaven. Jesus said, “In my house are many mansions…” and “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2).


These are markers of our relationship with GOD. But of course, only GOD knows the heart.

On the structures of religion in Christianity

What about the ceremonies of religious denominations?

  1. What about confirmation then? And our promises and vows made to GOD at this time? Is this less than baptism? Zach 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” At Jesus’ baptism it was then that the Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
  2. IF GOD is at the centre, then do we get to choose how we come to Him? Intimacy, unity, lap of Abba/Daddy comes through baptism: sign, obedience, step of commitment. Some people are committed born again believers and yet they are in a culture where they are confirmed rather than baptised. Does them make a  difference to GOD? All I know is that I was confirmed at 16, born again at 24 and was challenged at 31 to be baptised. GOD convicted me and I was baptised. It was only then, after my first 7 years as a Christian, that  I truly began to grow: hunger, read, pray, improve my human relationships. I believe I was saved from 24 and destined for heaven. But it was after 31 that I really, really began to grow and be useful to others — helping them to grow in the likeness of Jesus.

So, what’s the difference between GOD being near or far? 

Our relationship with GOD, which includes our hunger for His Word and our prayer life through the Spirit, is what makes the difference between a person of religion or faith and the person who is born again.

We can define our relationship with GOD as something that goes far beyond attending church, though developing fellowship with other believers is important.  

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We surrender and we allow our minds to be renewed (not washed as in brain washed) seeing things from GOD’s perspective, beyond what we know and see in the here-and-now. And within us, we’ll notice that there is much more is going on as we develop our understanding of GOD’s Spirit within us.

Why bother with church?

And yes we attend church for fellowship, because iron sharpens iron, and being part of a family keeps us strong and supported. If we merely attend a religious act or ceremony, it may take us to church but does it help us or others to grow? To be with the people: our brothers and sisters in Christ, who also have a relationship with GOD is a wonderful opportunity to share His love, to discuss His word, and to grow in His likeness. When we are in fellowship, we have the opportunity to work as one body: hands, eyes, ears, hearts all working together to give us the ability to function fully. (1 Corinthians 12)

And finally, in our walk we look ahead not behind: “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the upward call of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) It is not our behaviour, our deeds, our successes or our failures that marks us for an intimate relationship with GOD… but it is our hearts — our yearning for Him and the growth of our spirit within us — which sets us apart for Him.

Conclusion about religious Christianity: Jesus tore into the religious pharisees because they were hypocrites many times in Matthew and of them he also said,

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Religion alone does not cut it with Christ.

We cannot presume anyone’s level of intimacy or faith with GOD our heavenly Father. But we can encourage intimacy, sincerity, and if we meet with opposition, we can pray for that heart to be convicted and that mind to be renewed. If the spirit dwells within, alive — born again — and well, then the person will experience conviction. He or she will choose what to do with that, and they are encountering the living Creator of the Universe. When that occurs, GOD is at work and the “arms length” no longer applies.

Hallelujah!

Secondly: Why does it matter whether or not we are born again? 

It matters to GOD whether we are born again because Jesus said ‘unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of GOD’. So arms length or intimacy now is not only about how we experience GOD now, but also where we end up later…

Where are we at now?

Reader, Are you a long-term believer or one new to the faith? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person with faith who doesn’t know how to get closer to GOD or even whether or not you want to? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person who doesn’t believe? 

Solution: That’s okay, you can read the Word and even ask GOD if He’s there, in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Is GOD at arms length or intimate with you?

We are all equal as human beings. GOD offers us all the same opportunity. He meets us wherever we’re at and if we allow Him, He draws us to Him, from arms length to close. 

I pray you’ll be closer to Him today than you were yesterday. I pray that for myself too. 

Shalom — I ask for GOD’s peace for you, and GOD’s blessing too.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Joy in Bereavement

Joy in Bereavement

“The Joy of the LORD is my strength”: 

Rebuilding our lives amidst loss…

Has death lost its sting?

Do we believe that joy in bereavement is possible?

Do we believe in scripture? Do we trust GOD in all things?

Do we accept as Paul wrote in Philippians, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”?

Do we know we can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and that “the joy of the LORD is my strength?”

Yes. Even so, how is joy in bereavement possible?

Attitude to death

Suffering unto death is painful. Today, look at the war-torn refugees: The Ukrainians are fleeing their homeland. Previously, it was Afghans, and before that, Syrians hoping to escape civil war. I wonder, are the Christians in these nations — and there are many — are they in fear?

Has death lost its sting? For me, it has…. Oh, yes, I am concerned for those whom I would leave behind. But going to be with Jesus…. for me, in death there is nothing to fear.

Why then, would I grieve irreparably for my lost husband who has proceeded me to eternity?

Yes, I have mourned, curled up from time to time, have missed and still do miss him. Yes, the process of bereavement is not an easy process for anyone. And yet, we who have lost someone who is in Christ can also have joy — joy to know the person we love has gone to a far away place but also it is a far better place. We miss them, but we can enjoy in their absence the knowing that:

  1. GOD has them in the palm of His hand
  2. We have had the joy of knowing them, of having them in our lives
  3. We have been entrusted to carry on and can be confident that GOD will equip us.

If these things are true, why carry on suffering? There is no need.

A TESTAMENT:

As many of  you know, I lost my husband a year ago. He was not old, was healthy previously, and he left a 16 year old son, a daughter, and a grandson (with a second born just a month after he passed away).

BUT I KNOW that because I choose to trust GOD, to take Him at his Word (as have we all), we are all okay!! Praise the LORD. I choose not to be bitter, nor to be angry, not to blame, condemn or feel sorry for myself. I trust GOD is in all things and in all things we all can trust GOD.

COPING THE WORLD’s WAY:

There are 7 stages of grief, according to common psychological practice. Nothing wrong with analysing or making ourselves aware of what understanding is available  in society today.

BUT we who are In Christ do not have to bind ourselves to these stages because we have supernatural healing and comfort. We who are In Christ need to recognise we are SET APART and through prayer and comfort of GOD almighty, we don’t have to go through any human secular pattern.  We can — it isn’t wrong. But we don’t need to. 

We can even have joy in bereavement.

Bittersweet: Do you know what “bittersweet” means? Memories of a lost loved one are both joyful and sad: joyful because it is as though they are still with us, for a moment, and sad because they are not. So memories are both bitter and sweet. That’s life too, isn’t it?… As the expression goes, we take the bitter with the sweet.

We take the bitter with the sweet, because we know that all things work together for our good. We who are free in Christ are not only saved from hell, but there’s so much more to our salvation. We can experience life & death with no big sting! 

Death has lost its sting. We can walk in this. It’s even a good witness to bear the loss with His grace within and upon us.

This is not denial of our loss. Yes, it hurts. Yes, we miss the one who has gone. But we carry on, with peace and confidence in Him, our GOD.

GOD’s WAY FORWARD:

Have you got lots of prayer cover? Let’s never underestimate the power of prayer cover to comfort us and hold the enemy at bay.

We needn’t just survive but we can thrive even in grief. 

The First Year

We have responsibilities to attend to which helps us through the first year.

For example…. there is the looking after others, taking care of financial aspects following death, arranging the funeral? Doing nothing in only the rarest of instances is advisable. Doing a lot isn’t advisable either as there is sort of a cloud over us that makes concentration difficult. Rather, pacing ourselves wisely is sensible and good. Idle hands don’t help; over-work isn’t ideal. Finding a balance between taking time for ourselves to process our loss, and yet gradually moving forward is so important.

All of this addresses our mental attitude. Let us allow GOD to renew our minds, taking us through our situation with the many changes, and leading us to deeper, wider understanding of Him and our relationship with Him.

What do I miss most?

Knowing what we miss, being aware, helps us to address it at some moments and allows us to work through how to cope without.

I suppose the thing I miss most is conversations with my husband. I have no-one to talk to about some matters now. So, I simply take my conversations to GOD and either He satisfies or He leads me to a human source as well.

SO, HOW DO WE GET THROUGH BEREAVEMENT GOD’S WAY?:

  1. Trust Him: I made a decision very early on to accept the situation and recognise GOD’s faith in me – as a person, as a mother (my primary concern of course), as a watchman. In my life GOD is sovereign so I know He didn’t make a mistake, and He didn’t forget about us as a family. He must have reckoned I could cope — and I told Him so. Further, He must have reckoned this for my son as well. This attitude — along with the prayers of many others (aka importance of fellowship)— this attitude of being able to overcome, enabled me to overcome.
  1. Know thyself: I walk in GOD’s grace. I rest when He leads me to rest

– or curl up

– or be prayerful

– or remember 

– or be honest with Him or myself or others about what’s on my mind and heart.

– I rest upon scripture, for example, “He leads me beside still waters and He restores my soul” !!

3.   Talk: As I mentioned earlier, I talk to GOD

– I talk to others

– I talk to family who have lost their brother, uncle, father. Remembering others have also lost Alan reduces self-centredness and shows compassion.

– thinking of others, doing for others keeps people near and gives little room for self-pity or self-absorption. I know and have proof in the doing:

– I am not helpless

– I am not worried

– I am productive

– I am occupied

4.  Listen to the Spirit: GOD provides boundaries: Walking close to GOD, listening attentively for His Spirit, I allow the Spirit to lead me. The more I allow myself to be led, the more protection I experience. And allowing the Spirit to lead me keeps me within a spiritual structure that enables me to walk in His peace, His rest, and His wisdom.

5.  Handle the practical responsibilities: 

– funerals

– finances

– friends : All these things occupy our attention when we most need to face the void of the loved one’s absence. This is a good thing (so long as it is kept in balance… avoiding pain or denying pain is not good, but working through the pain with other healthy distractions keeping us from moping or being pulled down).

6.  So, where is the joy in bereavement?: Grief is like the ebb and flow of a river or a tide. It comes and goes. So too, surprisingly enough, comes joy. It may be only a glimmer at first. But there will be some laughter amidst the sorrow, especially if we allow others into our sphere. 

Even in the most horrendous crisis movie, there are uplifting moments. Life is like this… we cannot despair 24/7.

If beyond the natural sadness of grief, a sense of hopelessness or “lostness” comes upon you, do tell a doctor, tell a pastor. Don’t let it stew. Don’t wallow or dwell there, because that can lead to depression. Instead, share it and know you can — and will — get through this time.

And know that breakthrough will come! There will come a time when the cloud lifts. You cannot lift it, but there will come a time… For me, it was eleven months after Alan had passed away, on a Saturday evening after a pleasant day, as I put my head on my pillow to go to sleep I realised, “Oh, I was happy today.” 

The cloud has not returned.

7. Music not Food for Comfort and Uplifting: My son said to his father when in hospital, “Don’t underestimate how much music can help.” He was right!

8. Remember the lessons learned: When my husband was ill I learned two particular things: 

1. to keep my eye on Jesus, not on the storm

and 

2. How powerful is His grace: His amazing grace!

I have not forgotten these lessons, and I have grown in the ability to practise these truths.

9. Receive: I’ve never been so supported as while my husband was ill and I’ve never been as spoiled as in the year following. I didn’t basque in it but I did accept it and am very grateful for it.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all to overcoming a period of bereavement

10. Prayer: Do not underestimate the power of being in GOD’s word throughout this time, allowing Him to change you in these new circumstances. And pray, frequently and abundantly!

In all things GOD works for our good. This you can trust, this you can rely upon, and this you can walk in regardless of how you feel, until the cloud lifts and you can say, “Oh, I was happy today!”

A Prayer

Father, I thank you that all things do work together for our good, for those of us who love You and are called for Your purpose. I thank you that I am a living testament to this as are many other spouses, parents, children, and friends who have recently lost one dear to them. Father, I thank you that we can overcome any storm when we focus on Jesus. Thank you for this truth and for your wisdom to us. Help us to trust it, to apply it, and to share it with others so that they too, can overcome all circumstances.


In Jesus’ name, Amen

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

End Times preparation: illnesses, passing – and our enduring faith

A prayer

Dear LORD,

“You are our Father, our Yehovah, our GOD in heaven. We thank you for the lives of those whom we have loved that have gone before us to be with You. We trust Your timing, Your will — be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

When my husband died after thousands of saints praying and believing GOD for his healing, I knew that GOD was sovereign and He had given me the ability to cope. 

When a friend had an accident and was put into hospital, I prayed and so far all is well, though recovery is slow.

When an elderly lady in my home group went to bed on Thursday evening and on Friday did not wake up, I could see the hand of GOD giving her lasting peace without any suffering, lengthy illness, or pain.

GOD gives life and He restores life to Himself.

Nihilism

We live in society where many people think life is meaningless. Many believe we are powerless, and GOD is dead — if He ever existed at all.

This is hopelessness at its peak. We see this lie transform the hearts of innocent, inspired children into despairing, depressed, lonely young adults. What a transformation! And for what? To attempt to prove life is meaningless by removing the purpose of our lives, the core of our meaning from the thoughts of the young, and lead them instead to believe in nothing, to hope in nothing, to die sick and empty and bereft. From where I sit, this proves GOD and the consequences of a denial of Him.

The Bible says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:6a) and “our hope…. is the LORD”. (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

The passing of saints

When I experience loss, I recognise the one who has passed is now with the LORD of his/her life. For those who pass who did not know Him, yes, it is grievous. But it is not so for those who have gone to be with Jesus.

We grieve their loss, but we must recognise the reality of our faith and theirs: that they have gone to be the Good Shepherd and they have joy forever. One day we will join them. That is the source of hope and joy.

Crutch

The atheist may say we who believe have a crutch. Perhaps so. But what does that matter? The truth is, we have joy and they do not. Joy is our source, joy is our crutch, joy is the result of our hope. Our lives now and in the hereafter are full. 

The atheist may say we live a lie. But we live by faith. And that faith offers joy in all circumstances and heaven beyond this life. It is substantiated by the Word of GOD and by our life experiences.

The atheist may say there is no future beyond this life. We say there is. We say there is both heaven and hell: we each can choose where we want to go. 

The truth may be that we do have a crutch. But that crutch is there for us and it is built on truth. The life of a Jesus follower is tough, and we need a crutch sometimes, just to endure the pain. But I think it is a different pain and a different challenge to that of the atheist. The atheist may think he’s stronger than we are, for believing in nothing and carrying on. But the challenges of living our faith, whether in the relative freedom of Western society or in a society where freedom of religion does not exist, are far greater, because our faith is tested daily. It is also repeatedly rewarded, which is something that enables us to keep going. But at the end of the day, we revert to the cross: the truth that Jesus died for us and if we believe and trust in Him, we shall be saved.

Enduring trust

Times are coming thick and fast, times of our shaking, our testing, our pruning. A study of Matthew 24 highlights the challenges those in the “last days” will face, and I believe we are in the last days.

What I am particularly aware of is the passing of other believers: sudden illnesses, sudden accidents, suddenly-s! GOD is allowing this for our strengthening. Some will pass away, and this is for the pruning of those who remain. This pruning is necessary for we do not know our total mission on earth and we do not know our mission in heaven.

Hold fast, folks; “…but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” (Joshua 23:8) Hold fast. And we will see the salvation of our GOD (Exodus 14:13)

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Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No fear of death

We who are in Christ are free to live knowing the GOD of all creation knows us and loves us. He guides us as much as we allow Him to, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of His testimony. 

And when this life is done, where are we going? To our heavenly home. In fact, we are pilgrims, we are passengers, we are aliens of this world. (1 Peter 2)

So, then do we cling to life? It’s an odd thing, knowing we are bound for heaven but not seeking it, and dead to this life through baptism and yet very much alive to enjoy one another, to enjoy life.

What do you most enjoy? Rustling of leaves in trees on an autumn day? Twittering of birds in the spring? Snowdrops on your tongue in the wild north? Laughter with friends, or hearing your grandchildren shriek in delight? Or the smell of a wonderful roast beef dinner (or the equivalent for you… considering your culture or your diet)?

What do you savour? What do you miss when it’s gone?

We are more than on the brink of war. Dotted around the globe there has virtually always been war somewhere, but now with the Ukraine and Russia fighting, and refugees escaping in the millions, war is here, in one form or another, in Europe and effecting the globe.

And what about us? Do we fear invasion? Or starvation? or Death?

I remind us all: we who are In Christ, have no need to fear, have no fear of death. 

Paul said, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) As we trust in GOD, His word and His love, we know that we know we will see Him face-to-face one day. 

I am not afraid of when that day might be. For if I stay, I am with the family I love. And if I go, I go to the LORD and the the family I once had. 

What can we gain if we fear death? 

What can we gain if we do not?

Perhaps it is time to live as though this may be our last breath, not in fearing the end but in relishing the present. 

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)

I have people I treasure here. I have people I treasure who have gone before me. Either way, I trust in the LORD. I shall fight the good fight and continue the race until it finishes, but I will trust the LORD for the timing of the end. And I have peace.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Passover, Easter or Resurrection Day?

Which is it?

My dear husband who was a Bible teacher, pondered communion and said, “Jesus said ‘as oft and you do this, do this in remembrance of me’. What did he mean by this? I think he meant Passover, which is once a year.”

From the last Passover meal Jesus held with the disciples, Christianity has extracted Communion. Church denominations, church congregations, have pondered this very question throughout the ages. Most practicing Catholics participate weekly, I think. My church — monthly. Scarcely any Gentile congregation participates only once a year, as far as I know, though Jewish people remember the Passover yearly. What of Messianic festivities? We don’t have an answer with all in agreement. But it is that season now, so …

I will attend a low key Good Friday service in my local parish church. I will attend a Passover Meal in my personal congregation. I will go to church on Easter Day (though I prefer to call it Resurrection Day as the connotations of Easter aren’t very Bible-based — carrying pagan roots… and bunnies!). I am no more holy because of my actions or choices, nor is anyone who attends a particular service. This is because it isn’t what we do that ultimately matters, but what is in our hearts.

I will sit and watch a movie with my son about the last days of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion. We will watch it because I need to invest in my son’s spiritual future, and the season suggests to me, it is a good time to watch this particular film.

I am doing what I feel led to do. Is this out of habit, or preference, fear, or love? It is all done out of love.

From Matthew 6:25 and onwards, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? …”

Jesus asks us not to be worried… not about anything.

Instead, He says, “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

From Paul, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

Does this not pertain to our recognition of days, titles of days, and activities on those days today?

We can’t ‘get it right’

When we surrender to GOD, and we walk in the Spirit, we will be perfected. As long as we continue to try to get it all right, we are walking in religion and in the flesh, and attempting to be perfected in our own strength.

As we seek to adore and cherish GOD: Father, Son and Spirit, we will find that our flesh is stripped away and we simply come to Him with our hearts, by His Spirit.

The LORD looks at the heart. We look to Him for our leadership and our spiritual protection. Let us aim to follow and not aim to get things right. Then, I think we will have true communion with Him.

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Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Taking GOD out of the box: freedom v religion?

Do you know how much GOD loves you?

Do you know you are free to make any choices you want? 

Do you know, really know, GOD is sovereign over everything? 

How big is GOD? 

Do you get anxious? Concerned you might fail? Do you fear making a mistake in GOD’s eyes or offending someone else?

How much do you trust GOD? How much do you trust yourself in Him? How much do you leave your life in His almighty hands? How much do you know it’s okay if you can’t say honestly, “I know, I believe, I trust!” to all those questions.

How much do you dwell in the peace of GOD’s Shalom, confident in His saving grace? Do you know that: The bigger your GOD, the more you will relax!?

TODAY, my point is to get us to realise just how absolutely incredibly HUGE Yehovah GOD is, and how powerful, and that He leaves nothing to chance! And next we are to recognise we are saved to walk in freedom not religion (which has a peculiar and persistent way of trying to trick us).

  1. Let’s look at GOD’s law to help us to see how BIG He is:

“Oh, how I love your Law… Precepts… Statutes…”

Matthew 12:1-2 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!””

The Sabbath is very important to GOD, just as His day of rest is important for us. But GOD is bigger than our understanding of Sabbath rest and is bigger than our interpretation of scripture. We can get very bogged down or hemmed in by what we think GOD intends when really, we can explore and learn by study and intimacy with GOD, what he really means in His word.

For example

Matthew 12:11-14 “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

The Pharisees perceived that Jesus was breaking the law and encouraging others to do so. It infuriated them. Led by a pharisaic — a religious – spirit, they sought to yoke others.

The Pharisees had put GOD into a box, calling the box the Law. All Jews were meant to adhere to the Law and failure meant condemnation and sacrifice. And yet, GOD knew there would be failure to keep the Law which is why He gave them the sacrifice so that they could repent and move forward from condemnation and sin. In an even greater way, through faith in Jesus, because of His death and resurrection for our sin, we are saved from the sacrifices of the former Law and know we are saved to eternal life.

A religious spirit says Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t sufficient, but we must earn our salvation. This is completely contrary to the Gospel message which Jesus personified.

Salvation by grace or by works?

Although we are free in Christ, do we do the same as the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus on earth, putting heavy burdens of shame upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters? Do we condemn people (rather than their sin) or do we encourage one another to overcome? Is our GOD big enough to forgive anything when repent?

GOD is sovereign. His ways are not necessarily our ways and His understanding is not necessarily our understanding (Isaiah 55). This outlook has been lacking in many religious people throughout history, which is likely why a large contingent of people are not interested in Christianity today. Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi said something like, ‘The teachings of Jesus are good but it is the Christians that I can’t accept.’

Know the Word to distinguish GOD’s heart

IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE WORD — not so we can break it but so we can know our freedoms in Christ. When we know “all things are permissible but not all things are helpful” and follow His Spirit, trust Him, and know He’s sovereign, we can rest in Him. We strive to ‘be perfect’ as He is perfect, and when we err, we repent and move forward. 

Resting v Relaxing

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Allowing GOD to be BIG means we can rest in His will and purposes, trusting Him to reveal His path. As we surrender and rest, He leads us. GOD’s rest is walking in obedience whereas relaxing is “idle hands” which has negative consequences.

There is no need or room to be anxious when we rest in Him!

Free from Religion

Let us also not be religious or heavy-handed or pharisaic like some of our predecessors but rather let us practice the Law of love: “Love the LORD your GOD… and your neighbour…” It is what Jesus said and what he lived.

GOD’s Standard

And yet there is a standard, isn’t there. Jesus said of the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you… Go and sin no more.”

How did Jesus make that proclamation of forgiveness and commandment of changed behaviour? GOD was not kept in a box. GOD is and was — for Jesus —completely sovereign. He was righteous. Jesus followed Him, was intimate with Him in prayer, so much so that he did nothing that was not from the voice of His Father. Therefore, Jesus could step forward knowing the Law but using it for its intended purpose: not to lay heavy burdens but to guide towards righteousness.

2. Let’s look at GOD’s Word to see how BIG He is:

Born again, Bible believing followers of Jesus believe GOD’s word is accurate, complete, and any action of belief needs to be in line with the Word.

BUT do you know we don’t have to put that Bible Word first. WHAT?!!?

GOD comes first. That’s how big He is. Even Jesus doesn’t know when he’s returning, only the Father knows… That’s because even the word doesn’t stretch as far as GOD does.

Living in this knowledge we have Shalom. Denying it keeps GOD in a box, making us fearful and vulnerable. The flesh convinces us that our choices, activities and behaviours influence the ultimate outcome. This thinking is like mixing linen with wool. The Hebrews were told not to do that…. nor to put new wine in old wine skins… remember that? (Matthew 9:17)

3. So, what do I mean by “taking GOD out of the box”? :

WE NEED A PARADIGM SHIFT

When we think we’ve got an issue sorted and clear in our minds, it’s so often a sign we probably don’t. The issue will arise again one day, for us to recognise: “Oh, I thought I understood, but now I see more clearly.”

Saul — who later became known as Paul — was a pharisee and had his Creator in a box. He was certain he was doing GOD’s will in destroying the followers of the upstart rabbi Yeshua. The Pharisees were the leaders of the faith at the time of Jesus, but they didn’t see the Messiah coming! They needed a paradigm shift, which is exactly what Paul experienced when on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9)

4. So, how do we live?:

We have freedom!

Is it total abandon? We have freedom but not licence. “Do we sin so grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1) 

We also don’t want others to stumble. Rather than to tempt others, we put aside our freedom on occasion for the sake of others. 

When we look at loving GOD and one another, we look not to get the most out of our freedom but rather, in caring for the spiritual wellbeing of one another, we measure our actions, showing self control and restraint, not because of law but out of love for others.

In this way, GOD is outside of the box we may have put Him in, and likewise we discover our place outside of a box, free to be alive.

So, let us be free to live, love and learn… that we might become more and more like our Saviour and role model, Yeshua – Jesus the Christ, lamb of GOD, risen one.

Shalom and Every blessing to you as you navigate through life by the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in all who have given their lives to Jesus.

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Loneliness: the 21st century disease

Massive change to society

What do you suppose has changed this world most rapidly and most profoundly in the past 2 decades… even the last decade? What has transformed the way we live, interact, study, learn… not what we study, but how we study? What is the single-greatest influence in recent years that has transformed the way people around the world live?

INTERNET! If I say it’s the internet would there be much opposition?

What do you suppose is the single-most crippling disease in recent years or even just months? Not Coronavirus, although Covid has certainly made this other disease more obvious… It isn’t heart disease, at least not literally… I would say, and this is just my opinion, but I’d say many would agree with me… The #1 disease in the 21st century is Loneliness…

Loneliness

Loneliness isn’t mental illness, per se, although sometimes it can be closely linked. Isolation has crippled our world — yes economically through the pandemic, but also this by-product: isolation has been around a lot longer than the pandemic. Isolation is largely a result of the internet.

While the internet has expanded our list of contacts, and has enabled people to link up with “long lost friends” — yours truly included — it has also created a shallowness to our relationships, because we have less time as we spread ourselves thinner and thinner with each person, and have less face to face time with one another.

It is vital that we learn how to enjoy our own company as a healthy basis for human relationships, and we’ve had plenty of that especially over the last 2 years. BUT BUT BUT as well as “me” time, we also need “we” time: time with me and Jesus time!

Time with Jesus

We need abiding time…. John 15:4 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.”

This abiding with Jesus helps us tremendously. And we also need occasions to be with flesh and bone friends: for companionship, discussion, fun! … and of course, spiritually: iron sharpens iron.

Companionship

If I had to pick one single thing I miss most with my husband who has passed way, it is our conversations.

What does John write about companionship? Continuing in John 15:9-13,

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

Then he instructs the disciples: If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Inherent in this is that we have friends, we need friends, and Jesus recognises this.

Then he puts a bit of a definition about quality friendship in verse 13 when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Jesus values friendship. We are not meant to be alone. GOD even said “in the beginning it is not good that man should be alone” and therefore He made female as well as male.

PART I: IDENTIFYING LONELINESS leading towards the #1 cure

First premise: We aren’t meant to be lonely. Being alone is not the same as being lonely…

What do human beings need for contentment as a way to deal with Loneliness? 

  1. Self acceptance — for Inner Peace: John 15:11 “joy may be full”. We need a ‘relationship with ourselves.’ To have ‘fullness of joy’ we need: i. acceptance of self ii. acceptance of circumstances iii. reaching out to others though calm, confidence and love iv have something to offer and v to be ready to receive also. In these ways, we experience fulfilment even when we are on our own.
  2. Relationship with GOD: We are made in His image, male and female. With our current gender blurring and natural/biologicial boundaries being removed, there is a lot of confusion. BUT we are wonderfully and fearfully made, Psalm 139: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. There is one GOD who made us according to the Bible and He is in relationship: Father, Son, Holy Spirit (who perhaps has the most female personality aspects). Other gods are either remote or powerless. Here again in Psalm 139, David knows GOD does not leave nor forsake him, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence….

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.”

3. Loneliness and human relationship: Have you ever felt ‘alone in a crowd’? Have you been the centre of attention and yet felt completely misunderstood? Have you hidden your true self (we all do in some measure, don’t we?). These mark our sowing of loneliness. I recently watched a documentary about Cary Grant, the famous and award-winning actor during the 1950’s and onward. He and many Hollywood stars are prime examples of being famous and yet totally lonely. Have you or anyone else you know been the ‘scapegoat’ of the family and felt isolated as a consequence? Rather, have you been blessed with a great friendship in your life, either with a spouse of good friend? Look at David and Jonathan and what devoted friends they were? Friendship is valuable and to be valued. We are not meant to be alone.

PART II: SYMPTOMS of LONELINESS

  1. Loneliness and Hunger: Loneliness is like a hole, a void in our lives. It can ache, like hunger. So, what shall we fill it with? People-interaction or food? Comfort eating is a real problem in society today, with unhealthy snacks being the tasty temptation to fill/fix the problem rather than addressing it. Poor diet is just one health issue that can arise from loneliness. (more later…) But Matthew 5:6 says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”
  2. Loneliness and Pride: We are proficient at masking our pain when we don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable, or perhaps unpopular. But while masking our pain is sometimes prudent, often it can lead to rigidity, high blood pressure, anger that can explode inappropriately — and even provoke our isolation with a “superiority complex”. Our personalities can become distorted. On the fantasy extreme, look at the super hero foes… aren’t they often people who have been shunned, excluded from the crowd? And on a serious, very serious note, Adolf Hitler was denied art school and was a loner. One of the profile aspects to mass murderers, serial killers, psychopaths is their isolation. Taken to extreme, pride and loneliness can be a toxic combination. Left on his own, King Saul wrongfully offered sacrifice to GOD which brought down his reign. And of King Uzziah it is written in 2Chronicles 26:16 “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
  3. Loneliness and Despair: Depression, isolation, fear, emotional instability and insecurity all may stem from the barren landscape of the heart that is the result of long-term loneliness and the despair that comes with it. If we despair for any reason, how can we be revived? Psalm 119: 25 says, “My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” Spending time with the LORD and in His word lifts us from loneliness and all its consequences. This may be a temporary solution as we do also need human relationship in our lives. But GOD will bring us through if we will allow Him to do so.

PART III: AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUES to LONELINESS

  1. Loneliness and Busyness: “Be still and know that I am GOD” is repeated in scripture time and again. Without stillness, we can hide our loneliness behind activity. But overactivity can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, frustration and over-work. 
  2. Loneliness and (over)Eating: Poor diet and comfort eating is a way people cover up their pain, whether it is pain from loneliness or some other grief, anxiety or fear. But the medical consequences can be quite profound: diabetes, kidney disease are two serious diet-related illnesses. Cardio-vascular diseases can also result. Bad teeth / bad breath and obesity are results which are visually apparent. Rather than to feed our discomfort, we are meant to consider our bodies “the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” When we try to manage our pain rather than deal with it, this is an example of ‘being wise in our own eyes” which brings destruction rather than well-being.

PART IV: CURE FOR LONELINESS:

  1. Search for, find GOD’s plan for your life: Jesus gave us clear instructions. i. A new commandment: to Love the LORD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. and ii. To go into the world preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and raising the dead. This will not only keep us busy but also engaged with others. Jesus also gave us a new family to be a part of: the family of the Church. Yes, we’ve messed up His plan, taking it onto ourselves; but if we search hard enough, we will find a family of believers who will honour and accept, love and encourage us, especially as we seek to model it. We all have a particular plan for our lives, but whilst we may not know quickly and easily what that is for us individually (it took me 3 years of concerted effort to discover what my calling is; I’m still waiting for it to be fulfilled completely), we have plenty of opportunity to engage with others and have purpose, while we’re waiting for GOD to unfold His complete plan for us individually. Being transparent, open, vulnerable on the one hand and being compassionate, encouraging and kind to others on the other will draw people to us who will provide human contact which eases and removes loneliness.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Loneliness is not an incurable disease. Rather, as we mature and reach out to others, as we recognise we’re meant to be part of a family, and recognise that following GOD is not a religious activity but a relationship-based life, as we are willing to go to GOD through His Word and His people, and as we resolve to be healed, so we will become whole. When we practise the great commandment to love GOD and love others, our isolation will end. “ In Him, may we live and move and have our being” both individually and corporately… Amen.
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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Prepare – Prepare – Prepare!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

I keep having dreams the bottom line message being “Prepare”.

I am not one for prophetic dreams. There was a phase of several years where I did not remember my dreams at all! Before that, I used to dream stories, some of which have become short stories and books (some published, some on the shelf). But over the last couple of years, I’ve tended to dream messages which tell me to ‘be prepared’ — for a worsening scenario on the society scope.

John the Baptist said, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD”. 

I am dreaming, Prepare dreams: preparing landscape, preparing buildings, preparing farmland, preparing young women by encouraging character growth… I’m preparing for something….. 

Yet, this morning I awoke and thought to write this post.

How short is our time?

When is Jesus to return? 

About 18 months ago, the LORD spoke to my heart and said simply, “Jesus is returning soon”. Well, we know from scripture that GOD’s quickly and ours is not the same sort of time line. McDonald’s fast food ‘soon’ and the Father’s ‘soon’ are worlds apart.

In Revelations 3:11 Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

Preparing the Bride

I write “Preparing the Bride” in an effort to offer depth and breadth of Biblical understanding to encourage us all to grow in the LORD, to deepen our faith, trust, responsibility, readiness for the return of our Lord.

The wise and foolish virgins

Have a look at Matthew 25:1-13. I highlight the following, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour [b]in which the Son of Man is coming.”

This familiar parable is for all of us to remember along with “… I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23) to remind us, to ensure we are wise and ready. The oil in the lamps is compared to the oil of the Holy Spirit, the surrender of our souls, to willingness to follow. 

Elisha did not leave Elijah but clung to his presence, not wanting to miss his teacher’s departing. Elisha did not miss that moment when Elijah was taken up as recorded in 2 Kings 2 and was rewarded a double portion of anointing in his own life as a prophet.

Likewise, we do not want to miss what the LORD has for us: here on earth and in heaven. So let us continue to be ready, to be prepared for Jesus’ return, not dwelling on the riches of this world nor rewards here on earth, but on the eternal presence and eternal rewards — such as the crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10)

Wearing our love and our armour

Today we who are In Christ must wear our love and our armour….. for we wrestle not against flesh but against powers and principalities. May I encourage us to do deeper study of 1John 3:16-24, 1 Corinthians 13:4-12 and Ephesians 6:10-20, to develop a clearer, deeper, fuller understanding of how we may love the LORD our GOD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves… even our enemies.

May the word of Yeshua Jesus dwell in us richly! (Colossians 3:16)

Added bonus

When we are in heaven, taken up as in a rapture, or when the LORD takes us in death — I know not which — let us be all He has created us to be, to the best that our surrender, love, joy, compassion and peace will enable us to be. And then we will have “no more tears”, perhaps even to meet our previous-departed loved ones, and many of the saints that have gone before us, including the prophets of old and of course, Yeshua / Jesus himself.

Hallelujah!

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Reaching out – Looking in: pt6 Abiding as Protection

Attack – spiritual manifests in the physical

Yesterday (as I write) I was attacked financially by a smooth workman who overcharged me. I don’t usually fall for this sort of thing. But I did and in processing the matter, drawing close to GOD, I learn (again!) that to abide with Him is my greatest protection. 

Why was I vulnerable? I believe it was because I’m upping my involvement in intercessory prayer. Hallelujah! I must be in the right place, doing the right thing. Praise the LORD!!

Did I think I’d express this 12 hours ago? Nope, I was in a muddle, a bit confused (GOD is not author of confusion) and feeling a bit raw and exposed. I do have good discernment but where was it yesterday? My hubby used to call it my “radar” — an ability to gauge a person’s honesty: workmen, mechanics, salesmen, and so on. Well I failed yesterday and that was annoying. But now I realise, it was a spiritual attack and it has me doubling-down on prayer covering and on prayer abiding!

When we are vulnerable — and let’s face, we often can be vulnerable — we need to rely upon GOD for our protection and our comfort. He will never leave us nor forsake us. But we do need to abide in Him to awaken and strengthen ourselves. And as we move further in the matters of the Spirit, and as we are under more responsibility and the world is spinning out of control, how much more we need to abide and rest in Him.

Giving Thanks

Thank you LORD, for enabling me to be exposed, to learn and to draw closer again to you, that I might yield more and better fruit and in the process be more useful to your Kingdom works.

Thank you Jesus, for your blood covers me. Thank you Holy Spirit, for being available and ready, by my side, inside my heart. Thank you Father for your patience as I grow. I am preparing. Thank you.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No Fear of Death

We who are in Christ are free to live knowing the GOD of all creation knows us and loves us. He guides us as much as we allow Him to, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of His testimony. 

And when this life is done, where are we going? To our heavenly home. In fact, we are pilgrims, we are passengers, we are aliens of this world. (1Peter 2)

So, then do we cling to life? It’s an odd thing, knowing we are bound for heaven but not seeking it, and dead to this life through baptism and yet very much alive to enjoy one another, to enjoy life.

What do you most enjoy? Rustling of leaves in trees on an autumn day? Twittering of birds in the spring? Snowdrops on your tongue in the wild north? Laughter with friends, or hearing your grandchildren shriek in delight? Or the smell of a wonderful roast beef dinner (or the equivalent for you… considering your culture or your diet)?

What do you savour? What do you miss when it’s gone?

We are more than on the brink of war. Dotted around the globe there has always been war somewhere, but now with the Ukraine and Russia fighting, and refugees escaping in the 100’s of thousands, war is here, in one form or another, in Europe and effecting the globe.

And what about us? Do we fear invasion? Or starvation? or Death?

I remind us all: we who are In Christ, have no need to fear, have no fear of death. 

Paul said, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) As we trust in GOD, His word and His love, we know that we know we will see Him face-to-face one day. 

I am not afraid of when that day might be. For if I stay, I am with the family I love. And if I go, I go to the LORD and the the family I once had. 

What can we gain if we fear death? 

What can we gain if we do not?

Perhaps it is time to live as though this may be our last breath, not in fearing the end but in relishing the present. 

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)

I have people I treasure here. I have people I treasure who have gone before me. Either way, I trust in the LORD. I shall fight the good fight and continue the race until it finishes, but I will trust the LORD for the timing of the end. And I have peace.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

True Courage: loving your enemies – a look into Ukraine

What’s been happening in Ukraine?

There have been harrowing acts of courage displayed since 22nd of February when  the Russian invasion of the Ukraine began.

I’ve seen photos of the children from an orphanage sleeping in a bomb shelter. What courage did it take for the carers to collect those children, move them and stay with them to guard and protect them?

I’ve seen video footage of Ukrainian citizens encircling a convoy of Russian tanks, and singing their national anthem.

And the convoy did not appear to shoot.

All of these acts and many, many more require great courage. To defy the norm, to behave in an unexpected way, to stand for principles even when your life is in the balance: these all require courage. 

But perhaps the greatest courage that I have heard about is people feeding and caring for the invading soldiers who are hungry and confused. Apparently, the hosts are Christians. Loving your enemies is a tough order. But loving your enemies, serving and feeding them when their tanks are pointed at you — that takes ultimate courage.

What triggered Putin to decide to invade now?

How much of this battle in Ukraine is spiritual? There are theories. Interesting the date coincides with an historical date — Perhaps a previous invasion was what I read or heard this past week? Is that the day Putin invaded Crimea in 2014? (May I invite a reader who knows to respond?) That the invasion date was 22.02.22 is peculiar, memorable at the very least.

We know from President Putin’s own mouth that he couldn’t tolerate the closeness of the Western ideology near Russian boarders; and how deeply the West was influencing Ukraine and for Ukraine to become a part of NATO was inconceivable — in Russia’s own backyard. Although its joining NATO hadn’t happened yet, it was becoming more a possibility, at least in the eyes of Putin.

Whether Putin is deluded or simply calculated, it took something extraordinary for him to invade…. I don’t think I’d call that courage but it was outrageous and extraordinary.

How did he have the nerve to gather his troops on the Ukrainian borders? Did he take courage from his economic alliances with China? Did he say, ‘Win or lose this must be done?’ I suppose he reckoned victory was invitable. And perhaps that’s where he got his nerve..

But he isn’t winning… not easily. And he’s very isolated. 

Putin seems to be claiming he’s ridding the world, or at least Ukraine, of a Nazi-dominating influence. If it were true, and if he were obeying international law, he’d be doing a good thing wouldn’t he? And so, wouldn’t that be courageous?

Courage is 

Facing odds for the sake of what is “the good”, and taking action under dangerous circumstances, no matter the outcome, seems to me to be a stance or act within the realm of demonstrating courage.

And surely in order for an action to be considered courageous, it must be an action that is deemed noble, good, self sacrificing, virtuous. What the Ukrainians do in showing steadfastness and kindness toward their Russian invaders is courageous.

As for what Putin is doing? Let us allow History to define his actions. The aggressor is rarely seen as virtuous. If Nazism has any strength in Ukraine and is a threat to the world, then maybe Putin will be sparing us a recurrence of World War II…. But to provoke World War III in order to achieve it is hardly a gain in the process.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ Watchman on Alert BLOG

Church or not church this week?

Early Sunday Morning

I was sitting on a Sunday morning, listening to Holy Spirit led music (Dappy Keys, your You Tube channel is great!)

I was reading the Bible and being still with GOD.

I was enjoying the peace after a weather storm. And I was reflecting on the peace that the LORD brings. 

Was I to interrupt that to go to church that morning? I could settle down and watch on line because our church does live streaming as well as in-person meetings. But then I’d miss the fellowship. Or I could just continue dwelling, abiding, with GOD.

Fellowship

John writes, “…. that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1John 1:3-4)

As we listen to preaching, and spend time together, and as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to the Father and His son Yeshua, as we are all gathered together in church, we share: we enjoy and we have joy!

But sometimes I just want to be still, be with the Father, and reflect upon His word on my own.

We are not called to a rigid gospel of behavioural dictates but we are called to a gospel of love, joy, peace. I can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and that includes choosing whether to go to church this time or to stay at home to abide with my Lord.

Factors to consider

Hebrews 10:24-26 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

If we miss one week at church, are we forsaking the assembling together?

Jesus…. and Paul and all the other writers of the Gospel and New Covenant which we find in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, wrote to guide us, not to bind us.

If we proceed in our journey without fellowship, then we are subject to lots of pitfalls. We are to walk together, strengthened by each other, offering and willing to receive aid, support, love. But we are not yoked with “should”, “ought” and obligations. We who are in Christ are free, and we are not to fear. We are not to be bound… Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

If we forsake meeting together, determined to walk on our own, then ultimately we are risking our faith. But if we fear condemnation or fear man’s attitude towards us, or if we reckon we must go else will lose our salvation, then we are going to church for the wrong reasons. Rather, if we prefer — once in a while — to be alone with the GOD of our salvation, then we are not doing wrong.

We are to love GOD and then love one another. Spending time alone with GOD is love. Spending time together is an act of love also.

Freedom of Choice

Church service once a week is the real issue. Why don’t we, as they did in Acts, meet daily, over food: breaking bread together? (Acts 2:42)

What I would really love is this: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46)

It isn’t practical in our world, but that’s what I would love. 

There is nothing I like more than to spend time with other believers over a meal (or even without a meal) discussing GOD’s Word and sharing love. Nothing.

As for church service, isn’t it wonderful to worship together, to listen to someone share his or her contemplations of the Word through a sermon, and to pray together? I love it!

Decision on this occasion

But this time, I stayed at home, because I felt the LORD’s prompting to do so. ‘Don’t go this week,’ I sensed Him saying to me; ‘just slow down, abide with me, and live.’

This is the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, our Messiah and Lord. This is life. Hallelujah!

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Coping with a World in Crisis

Yes, World Crises

How to cope? Praise like never before… 

Here is a list of concerns this week:

A volcano, Mount Etna in Italy has erupted.

Earthquakes are happening in diverse places.

Storms are shaking the nations.

Shortage of fuel and therefore of food are on the horizon.

The nation of Canada, voted the “most popular” nation in which to live, and the nation with the longest and deepest history of keeping the peace in other nations, has civil unrest. Civil unrest is echoing around the globe.

There are wars and rumours of wars with tension ratcheting up: particularly in Russia/Ukraine, the Middle East surrounding Israel. North Korea is flexing its muscles.

Last night, Russia attacked Ukraine and war is no longer close but present!

So we pray, right?

Yes, pray, of course pray. But praise breaks the yoke-hold of satan. Praise the LORD on High like never before and see how the demons flee!!

“I sing praises to Your name, Oh Lord, praises to Your name, Oh, Lord

For Your name is great, and greatly to be praised…”

Yehovah, Adonai, Elohim.

Yeshua, Messiah, Saviour.

We sing to the Lord our praises, and “At His name, the demons flee; At His name, captives are freed; For there is no other name than Jesus…”

Prayer…. and Praise

There is always time for prayer. But do you know that praise is a form of prayer and that praise breaks the yoke?!

Find music you can dance to. Find music you can sing to. Or sing or dance without any music at all. But if you praise, your own fear will disappear; if you praise, giving glory to GOD, you will lift the yoke from yourself, from your situation, even perhaps from tense political circumstances around the globe.

So, will you?

Will you praise the Father? Will you praise the Son? Will you praise the Holy Spirit?

Now, more than any time in my lifetime, perhaps in the lifetime of many you, my brothers and sisters, it is time to sing His praises. It pushes fear, oppression, doubt aside. Let us bring GOD’s peace, hope and blessing down to earth.

“LORD, Thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven…” (Psalm 23)

Now is the time to Praise.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

There is no more time

Earnest Prayer

As I prayed with a sister in the Lord recently, I heard her ask GOD for more time to reach out to unbelievers. I agreed with her heart for the lost. But when it came my turn to pray I said, “LORD, I don’t mean to contradict my sister, but there is no more time. We need to act now, we need to be ready now, we need to speak as led, now.

There is no more time

With the US president threatening — or is he baiting — the Russian leader Putin, there is no more time to hope for de-escalation. 

With global extremists challenging gender biology, sexual identity, rights and freedoms, global diet and use of carbon fuels… aka anarchy in its many shapes and forms, there is no more time to ponder our rights and freedoms as individual Christians. I believe we need to be ready, willing and able to surrender all our human rights to our GOD who is able to defend us, protect us, and use us in meaningful ways.

Time is up

We need to know the word of GOD. We need to love one another as He has loved us. We need to love our neighbours — friends and enemies alike. We need to be fully available and fully surrendered. We need to have our oil lamps full (Matthew 25), and we need to be dressed for spiritual battle. There is no more time to prepare.

Nehemiah

There was a time when Nehemiah and Ezra had returned from exile, were back in Jerusalem, rebuilding the temple with the people of Yehovah GOD. Builders worked on the wall; but with a free hand they held their swords. (Nehemiah 4:15-18)

There are Seasons

There is a time of war and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8b) I believe our time as we know it is up! What does that mean? 

What does life now look like? “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalm 120:7) What does this mean?

All I know is…

We must be ready. We have no more time to consider. We have no more time to speculate. We have no more time to ponder. That luxury is gone. Simply, we must be ready: be ready to share the gospel, be ready to defend truth, be ready to stand in faith, be ready for whatever is coming.

Pregnancy

One day we know that, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the Lord.” (Isaiah 65:25) But that day would seem to be afar off. First other things must come to pass, things which are less pleasant. 

We are in the birth pangs (Matthew 24). War is on the horizon, a spiritual war which may or may not manifest in the natural, but war is coming.

We must be ready. We have no more time to be shy or ashamed. We must be bold and resolute. “Thy kingdom come, O LORD. Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And let me be ready LORD, to go as you call me.

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Friendship and the World

“…. friendship with the world is enmity with GOD” (James 4:4)

I love James because he doesn’t pull any punches. He says “faith without works is dead” and advises us to bridle our tongues!

And so when he asks, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with GOD?” then I notice and I wonder, for James speaking to us, what is friendship and what is the world?

Friendship

We are created for relationships, family and friendships. Even GOD is in relationship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as having created us for relationship with Him. Where then, do we draw the line?

We all need friends. We all seek friendship, in all its various shapes and sizes, backgrounds and ambitions, hopes and dreams.

I just met up with a friend. We had a lovely time walking, catching up about our families and though she does not walk with GOD as I do, she is very near and dear to me. Am I contradicting scripture in walking with, in befriending her? Of course not!

“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)

As we put GOD first, love GOD first, love Him with all of our hearts, then we turn to others with that love, and we nourish them with our love. As we receive, so we give.

To love in our own strength is not compatible with this commandment. But holding our love from GOD unto ourselves exclusively, is not the only reason we receive.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”” says Jesus (Mark 16:15) before his ascension. But what is preaching the Gospel? It is being available, in season and out of season, waiting and wanting to teach, to explain, allowing the LORD to give us words. And if He does not lead us to share Him, we love anyway.

We walk with GOD. We are His workmanship. That comes first. But a candle is not only to light a small space, it can also be lifted and carried to another place, allowing us to receive its light along the way.

And so, when we love GOD first, and put Him first, we have plenty of light to love others. Who is our neighbour? She is our friend. One who sees us as an enemy is also our neighbour. We allow people to choose us (so long as the friendship does not cause us to stumble), not turning our backs on others but facing them with our hearts, willing to accept them as Jesus accepts us. And we can enjoy their company. This is part of life on earth! Through this too, they discover us and they may glimpse the Lord as well.

The World

We are called to be in the world but not of it.

Jesus said, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” (John 11:9)

While Jesus walked the earth, others noticed. But the true disciples chose him over all the rest of the world’s offerings. They followed the light even onto death, because they preferred the light of the world over the world.

Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:9)

We will meet those who oppose us. Yet, they — like Saul who became Paul — may eventually turn to the light. And we meet those who embrace us, and we can enjoy their company. What matters is where they come in the hierarchy of what matters to us.

Those who have Jesus and walk in the love of GOD, are called out of the world. We cannot love the Lord Jesus and the world any more than we can serve both GOD and mammon. (Matthew 6:24) We inhabit space just like every other living, breathing human being on the planet; but the space we inhabit is only physical space, not moral, emotional, spiritual space. The space we live in our hearts and our minds is not to seek after worldly things — possessions or positions. It’s a funny thing, actually, that as soon as these things are not important to us, we can then handle them safely. 

The world and the beauties and attractions of it are nothing to those who love GOD first. This even includes our relationships. 

And so, when we are outside of the world — existing in it physically but not wanting anything from it, not being a part “of it” — it does not have any effect upon us: no pull, no temptation, force or power. Likewise, our friendships will be secondary to GOD, dear to us but holding nothing on us, and so we are free to enjoy others without putting them above GOD. 

Friendship not of the world

We can enjoy friendships. We do not have to shun those who are not of like mind or spirit. We can minister, gently or directly, as the LORD leads. But when GOD is first, this is not a problem or a challenge, it is simply natural for us — aka supernatural. 

We are not of the world, but we are in it. So let us rejoice and be glad, knowing that the LORD loves us and we love Him. All the rest is icing on the cake!

Every blessing as you navigate through the world, its people and GOD’s people as well.

Shalom and GOD’s blessings rest upon you.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Was Jesus lonely?

Loneliness is

…. having the sense that no one else understands you, or at least your immediate situation.

“Get wisdom! Get understanding! 

….. Love her, and she will keep you.

Wisdom is the principal thing;

Therefore get wisdom. 

And in all your getting, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5…6, 7)

I understand wisdom: a knowing of what significance a situation may have, or a knowing of how to handle a particular situation so that relationship and peace are retained. How is understanding different?

Understanding is 

…. a recognition of the human condition, and the humanity of any particular circumstance. In this case, I am learning and sharing about loneliness.

Companionship 

Where companionship is the sharing of common memories and/or goals or perspectives, loneliness is the absence of that sharing.

Jesus had close friends around him: the 12 specific people chosen from a sea of people who would call themselves followers or disciples of Jesus and his teaching. Amongst those twelve were three with whom he seemed to share a deeper intimacy: Peter, James and John were with him at the transfiguration, and were called out to be nearer at Gethsemane. So, Jesus had the physical presence of friendship. 

Companionship goes beyond physical company

Having companionship curbs being alone, but does it prevent loneliness in our souls? I don’t think so.

Companionship, in a deeper sense, is that sense of a shared journey in life — or in a season of life. Perhaps this is why it is so pleasant to live and grow in one community over a long period of time, and this is why physical separation can be so challenging for us as human beings.

Jesus had the companionship of his heavenly father and proximity of his earthly mother; so perhaps he did not feel loneliness as we do from time to time. Or perhaps he felt deeply lonely whenever he explained things to his twelve and they did not understand. 

And likely, at the most profound level, an incredible depth of loneliness is what he was experiencing on the cross when he exclaimed, “”Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: that is, “My GOD, my GOD, why have you forsaken me?”” (Matthew 27:46)

On an intellectual level, I believe Jesus had to have experienced loneliness as part of his walk, so that he understood our human experience entirely. 

We experience loneliness when we feel isolated, not understood, or unable to share with at least one other human being what we are living in our journey of life. When someone else has had the same revelation born from a similar experience, we feel that sense of community we as human beings need.

Counselling and Psychology

The beauty of pastoral counselling and the study of human psychology is that it offers engagement with another person, giving us the sense of being heard or understood, helping us immensely against loneliness. But that human understanding or intellectual understanding is finite. 

GOD’s counsel goes much deeper, goes to our very core. 

Dreams

This very morning, I awoke having had two dreams — short images in my mind —which, upon reflection, have given me an inner, personal, deep understanding of two questions I carried to sleep with me last night. Reflection on each image has helped me to remember the questions and understand GOD’s answers to me. 

I asked GOD to help me to understand two issues, one personal, one relational. The images he has given me have provided me with total and complete understanding. And with understanding, I know how to proceed.

Ask and you shall receive

My friendly reader, ask for wisdom and for understanding. Wait upon the LORD, and He will provide. 

Was Jesus lonely?

On a human level, Jesus must have been lonely from time to time. But he did not remain in that place, but would have had the wisdom and understanding to move beyond it. Even by declaring his being forsaken, others heard! And so in sharing, the inner pain would have been reduced. Whilst being GOD, walking as a man, His aloneness must have been profound; and yet, whilst being a man, as son of GOD, his earthy experience must have been truly unique and enthralling. 

Our Journey

Each of us has our years on this earth. There will be times when we feel no one understands or cares. And yet, we have a GOD who totally understands because He has experienced what we have experienced. And that, is what true companionship is… the sharing of understanding and experience. 

Our earthly journey will be full of “hello” and “goodbye” which sounds tragic — or at least glib. But in reality, our journey is our own. No one has precisely the same life experience, perspective or challenge. If we are wise, we will share our life with others. That will bring pain sometimes, because sometimes those with whom we share drift apart from us, or move, or pass away. But it will offer tremendous joy in the meantime, and enable us to learn and grow as well.

The human condition

…. is part joy, part sadness, and a journey and passage of time between the two. An old adage says, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” (Tennyson) This is wisdom, this is true, and when we know life will offer some highs and some lows, we can engage in life knowing that it is better to live life than to fear it.

Shalom and GOD Bless.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Receiving from GOD: Are we like the Hebrew slaves?

Receiving from GOD: Are we like the Hebrew slaves?

Why the Hebrews didn’t trust the power of GOD

A question I’ve often asked myself is ‘Why did the Hebrews not have more faith? Why did they moan instead of trust GOD?’

They moaned when their backs were against the sea and the Egyptian chariots were closing in. Sure, it’d be scary. But already they’d received the gold from the Egyptians before they departed as promised to them from GOD through Moses. And they were wandering in the desert but never lost, following a supernatural cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. And yet, when they came to the Red Sea they despaired.

So why did they doubt GOD would protect them against the Egyptians?

Before the Red Sea is parted, Moses promises them, “Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD” (Exodus 14:13) and GOD delivers!

A look into Exodus 12-14 reveals how GOD provides for them time and again. They praise GOD after they escape from the Egyptians, passing through the Red Sea while walking on dry ground. And yet their fear returns as soon as they are thirsty….

Even after all the evidence of GOD’s provision through the supernatural, as soon as the Hebrews got thirsty, they lost faith again and complained… to Moses.

The root problem: the Hebrews’ lack of relationship

Notice first, that the people didn’t talk to GOD but to Moses. They didn’t relate to their heavenly father, the Creator but to the appointed human leader. They looked to their provision to come from Moses, rather than seeking GOD for themselves. They must have feared the all-powerful GOD, whereas the human leader was the one to whom they could make their pleas and demands.

Perhaps this is how they received their subsistence from the Egyptians; food came from the designated leaders or guards, not from Pharaoh himself. They had no relationship with Pharaoh and so, they had no expectation to relate to GOD Himself.

They didn’t know HOW to be free

The Hebrews had been slaves for generations. What they did, what they ate, had been determined by the sovereign will of the Pharaoh; and what they received depended upon the distribution by the guards. They had no expression of free will.

They only knew how to follow commands.

Slaves do not have freedom. Consider the slaves in the American South at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865). For decades, slaves had received from their masters their food, lodging, clothing; sometimes even their mates were selected for them. They were seldom taught to think but only to take what was given to them. Perhaps some had the gumption to complain, but they knew they might get whipped for it, or worse.  Some had kind owners, some had evil owners; therefore, some lived in peaceful surroundings, but many lived in total fear…. 

Plantations were somewhat smaller than the universe though.

As for the Hebrews, whilst they too knew how to follow, they did not know whom they were following…. And so they didn’t receive. 

Lack of Faith

They refused to trust GOD to go into and capture the Promised Land, so their generation never got to see it. When all but Caleb and Joshua refused to take the land, GOD said,

“… because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.” (Numbers 13:22-23) 

How about us? Will we see our Promised Land?

Our personal concept of GOD

Are we like the Hebrews, fearful of GOD, avoiding personal contact? Even unbelievers have a concept of an all-powerful GOD, though they lack the awareness that He could be full of grace and love — if He exists at all.

As born again believers, are we aware of who GOD is, or are we as still slaves in our perception of GOD? Do we know Him as our provider, full of goodness and truth?

Moses asked GOD, ‘Who shall I say has sent me?’ In Exodus 3:14 GOD’s reply was to say, “I AM WHO I AM”

There are many names of GOD which evoke an image or identity of Himself. Here are some below:

El Shaddai = all sufficient one

Adonai = over all

Yahweh or Yehovah Rohi = shepherd

Rapha = one who heals

Jireh = one who provides

Shalom = one who is our peace

Do we recognise our image of GOD in this list of names? Or have we developed a false sense of GOD’s identity? 

(There are so many more names which identify GOD. Check out the internet for a more comprehensive list.) 

Our perception of GOD

Jesus called GOD his father many times. So he is Our Father also. But have we inadvertently overlaid that image as Our Father with that of our own imperfect earthly father, or teachers, parents, or church leaders?

Moses acted as GOD’s spokesperson, in part because the Hebrews did not communicate with GOD directly. Do we put someone between ourselves and GOD?

Do we trust, knowing he “gives good gifts to children”? 

The Father loves us, does not condemn us

Are we receiving everything as He intends for us?

Now “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) So I am not seeking to condemn anyone, or to suggest anyone is walking in an “unfit” manner. But rather, I am urging all of us to ensure our image of GOD is as accurate as our knowledge of Him will allow, and that we walk freely — in love and in the Spirit — so that we can receive all He has for us, both now and eternally.

In Yeshua/Jesus I pray, Amen.