Category Archives: Devotion

BY THEIR FRUIT

How often do we hear Christians say “test the fruit” or “you will know them by the fruit”, quoting the words of Jesus as found in Matthew 7. 

Let’s look at the portion of scripture in context.  It starts with the heading – False prophets – and carries on from there.  Let’s pick it up from verse 5… “Constantly be on your guard against phony prophets. They come disguised as lambs, appearing to be genuine, but on the inside they are like wild, ravenous wolves! 16 You can spot them by their actions, for the fruits of their character will be obvious. You won’t find sweet grapes hanging on a thorn bush, and you’ll never pick good fruit from a tumbleweed. 17–19 So if the tree is good, it will produce good fruit; but if the tree is bad, it will bear only rotten fruit and it deserves to be cut down and burned. 20 Look at the obvious fruit of their lives and ministries, and then you’ll know whether they are true or false.” (TPT)

It seems to me though, that “testing the fruit” has come to mean “look at the accomplishment, the fame, the profile, the gifts, the manifestations or the following and decide whether someone is of God”.

What really strikes me from the quoted passage is that the fruit of someone’s character is what distinguishes them as a true prophet of God, not the level of anointing, the proliferation of signs and wonders or the gifts operating in their lives. Romans 11:29 teaches us that the gifts and calling of the Lord are ours, regardless of our actions. 

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call]. (AMP)

This can lead us down a path of destruction if we judge a minister according to the gifts and anointing manifesting through them, or if we look at ourselves and decide that the Lord is okay with our flawed character because He is using us to perform signs, wonders and miracles.  How often are we devastated when we learn of a minister of the gospel who are exposed and grievous sin is brought to the light.  Have they not been demonstrating good fruit by the signs, miracles and wonders that they performed?  Have they not been praying for the sick and see them healed?  Raised the dead even?

Further on in Matthew 7 are some troubling verses… 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the realm of heaven’s kingdom. It is only those who persist in doing the will of my heavenly Father. 22 On the day of judgment many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, don’t you remember us? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast out demons and do many miracles for the sake of your name?’ 23 But I will have to say to them, ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you!’ (TPT)  These verses should put the fear of God in us!

What fruit do we judge then?  I believe the answer lies in Galatians 5: 22 to 26.

22–23 But the fruit[ produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:

joy that overflows,

peace that subdues,

patience that endures,

kindness in action,

a life full of virtue,

faith that prevails,

gentleness of heart, and

strength of spirit.

Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

24 Keep in mind that we who belong to Jesus, the Anointed One, have already experienced crucifixion. For everything connected with our self – life was put to death on the cross and crucified with Messiah. 25 We must live in the Holy Spirit and follow after him. 26 So may we never be arrogant, or look down on another, for each of us is an original. We must forsake all jealousy that diminishes the value of others.  (TPT)

Therefor, by the grace of God, let us examine ourselves and allow Holy Spirit to have free access to our hearts and minds, so that He can produce and cultivate in us the fruit of a godly and Christlike character, so that we will be known for our sweet fruit. 

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Philippians 1:6  (TPT)

For your sake

In the book of John, chapter 11 we read the dramatic story of a man dying, a man dead and a man raised to life again.  The story isn’t just about a man either.  There are more characters involved in the drama…his sister Mary, who anointed Jesus’ feet with costly oil, another sister Martha, famously rebuked for being too distracted by the mundane and of course, Jesus and His disciples all feature in the tale of woe and ultimately, victory.

The story, in a nutshell, goes like this…Lazarus got sick, very sick and it was obvious he was dying, so Jesus was sent for.  Jesus declares that the sickness wouldn’t end in death, but will bring glory and praise to God (v 4) and goes about His business, in fact waiting two more days before setting off to visit Lazarus.  The disciples aren’t too trilled with the plan, given the fact that not long before the people of Judea wanted to stone Jesus and adding fuel to their fire was Jesus’ own words that “Lazarus, our friend, has fallen asleep.  It’s time that I go and awaken him” (V 11).  It seemed foolish to travel into danger to wake a guy up from his nap.  Only then does Jesus plainly state that Lazarus was in fact dead and says something that I find a little baffling, to be honest.  He says, in verse 15 “And for your sake, I’m glad I wasn’t there, because now you have another opportunity to see who I am so that you will learn to trust in me. Come, let’s go and see him.”  I will wrap the story up, and come back to this verse in a minute.

Jesus arriving at the village, finds that Lazarus has been in the grave four days, many of Mary and Martha’s friends are there, mourning and weeping with the sisters and Jesus, full of compassion, weeps with them…right before He marches over to Lazarus’ tomb, lifts His eyes to heaven, prays a prayer for the benefit of those assembled there and shouts with authority “Lazarus! Come out of the tomb!” (V 43).  Famously, Lazarus comes out, wrapped up like a mummy and Jesus instructs the disciples to unwrap Lazarus.

Which brings me back to verse 15.  If I am reading this correctly, Jesus is glad Lazarus gets to die so that disciples have another opportunity to see Who He is and so that they get another learning opportunity!  For the disciples’ benefit of learning to trust Jesus more, Lazarus dies?  Nowhere do I read of anyone consulting Lazarus on this.  The Lord didn’t ask Lazarus to volunteer for the role of dead guy, or for his sisters to play the part of the grieving family.  God just acted sovereignly and Lazarus dies, not knowing that he would be resurrected a few days later…all for the benefit of the disciples who needed yet another lesson in unconditional trust in Jesus. 

This got me thinking of all the times I felt like I was dying or where I had to go through grief and suffering, not understanding why it was happening and sometimes even slightly confused as to whether this was God or the enemy.  Could it be that God allowed suffering and trauma in my life for the benefit of someone else?  Can it be that somewhere, someone is watching me go through tough situations, trials and deep grief, learning, through what they are witnessing, to trust Jesus more? 

It seems a little unfair, until I am reminded of the testimonies of other people’s grief and shame, their trauma and pain that encouraged me to keep going when I was faced with hardship and uncertainty.  ‘If they could do it, so can I’ was what I thought when faced with my own stuff.

Sometimes the lesson we learn and teach is about how to stay strong, unwavering in our faith and trust in Him.  Sometimes it’s how to grieve well and not give in to the temptation to throw in the towel altogether.  Sometimes our stories speak of redemption…of God turning what the enemy planned for evil into good and it brings hope to the spectator because deep down we know that our turn will come in some way, so we learn and we hide the lessons deep in our heart until the times come when we need to draw on the hope that is hiding in there.  Sometimes, watching another going through the hard things, we sigh a sigh of relief, knowing we are not alone, not singled out for hardship and we remind each other of Jesus’ words “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”  (John 16:33 TPT)

So, even when we aren’t consulted or given the opportunity to volunteer to be the object lesson, let’s trust in the Lord with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding, trust Him implicitly, for He Who has promised will never let us down.  There will be a day, when Jesus stands in front of whatever needs resurrecting and He will cry out with a loud, authoritative voice and command what is dead to live again.  Until then, we are held in the Father’s everlasting arms…no safer place to be!

Know the Law

Our recent move is a gift (of topics to write about) that keeps on giving. One month after having moved into our new home a few issues have not been resolved. There are keys missing, which means valuable items, and us of course, are not as secure as it/we should be. There are loose pavers which poses a falling risk, windows that needs cleaning and a few other issues that need fixing. Numerous emails and phone calls later our frustration levels were at its peak and yet another phone call was made to the property manager. Long story short, we weren’t going anywhere until I started quoting the Tenancy Act, reminding her of the landlord’s responsibilities and obligations under the law. As a result, half an hour later we started receiving phone calls from contractors…results at last.

It got me thinking how we are here, walking the earth and frankly, we are only tenants here. Our home is in another realm…we are merely passing through this world. Remember Philippians 3:20? For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”

There is a landlord here who hates us and he will go out of his way to be as devious, as controlling and as sneaky as we let him. He will draw a line in the sand and promise us to stay on his side, if we will toe the line. Of course, every time you blink he moves the lines, or blurs it to the point where you end up with no territory while he has taken ground all along.

He is a landlord that over promises and under delivers every time. Sin looks so appealing, until it becomes time to pay up, and the price is steep, usually far more than you bargained for. Remember how he tried to trick Jesus?

In Matthew 4:8 -10 we see that Satan tries to tempt Jesus a third time:

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory [splendour, magnificence, and excellence] of them;  and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’

Jesus does not dispute that he has authority over all the kingdoms of the world, He comments on Who is worthy of our worship.

Over and over the Word warns us against the trickery of the enemy. See Ephesians 6:12 NIV “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” and 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” and James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Whether your doctrine and theology allow for it or not, the Word is very clear that we have an enemy that’s out for our blood and that those who serve him and his kingdom’s purpose are heading for destruction. That’s the truth and the reality is that many people are walking around, believing that they are powerless or that Jesus is coming back to fight the battle that he has authorised us to fight.

We have a landlord that has no agenda other than to rob, kill and destroy us, we have squatters in our land that need to be evicted and we have the angel armies of God ready to do battle with us. We need to know, understand and apply the eternal law of God. We need to know, not only our rights and privileges as sons of God but also our obligations and responsibilities. We need to understand that our responsibility as sons of God is to be an ekklesia, a law-making, governmental body of mature believers who understand our identity and authority in Christ Jesus. Our role is to enforce everything that Jesus dearly paid for on the cross, whether it’s healing, deliverance or provision.

The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters! Romans 8:19 (TPT)

All of creation is holding its breath…broken people are longing for someone or something they can’t even name, a broken world is yearning for the children of God to shine because of the glory of Jesus Christ all over them…children who will stand in the face of a natural disaster, a flood, a fire and speak to that thing and say “you will not pass by here” and be obeyed, like the storm obeyed Jesus, or sons who will say to a demon, a sickness or a disease “go, in Jesus’ name” and see deliverance 100% of the time. That is who we were created to be. That is the authority we are supposed to carry. All that being said, I want to say one more thing…RISE UP THE WARRIORS! Deal to the squatters. Quote the law to the landlord. Stand on your rights. Take up your responsibilities. Be who you were created to be!

Jesus the Hero?

And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).   John 1:14 AMP

The Lord has a way with me, when He want to bring something to my attention.  Usually it starts with a little irritation, then it turns into a bit of frustration and more often than not ends with me being very bothered.  Right now I am bothered.

I am bothered by our (the Bride of Christ, the Church) infatuation with men and women of God who have received a specific grace, for a specific task. Don’t get me wrong.  I love to listen to sermons and podcasts, I too read the books, I buy study material and I appreciate the anointing and gifts the Father released to the body through anointed teachers and preachers.  What I cannot agree and partner with is the sad reality that too many Christians are more able to quote prominent Christian leaders than the Word of God.

What would it look like if we were more able to quote Jesus than the voice of another human, who, gifted as they may be, are still merely human and fallible?  What would it look like if we invested more resources in our local church, the place where we go to meet with Him in fellowship with others, rather than buying the latest book or paying for yet another seminar?  What would it look like if Jesus Christ is not only the Head of the church, but also the Hero?  What would it look like if we made more sacrifices and pulled more strings to get into the presence of the Lord, than into the presence of a faith hero?

I am not advocating for reading just the Word, and nothing else. The Lord spoke through prophets and teachers then and He does it now. What I am saying is that we should be more infatuated (love-sick, obsessed) with the person of Jesus than the personality on the stage.  The same person, professing to love Jesus would travel for hours to attend a meeting held by a faith hero, but will not travel 30 minutes to a prayer meeting.  We don’t think twice about buying the latest resources but all over the place pastors are struggling to keep local churches afloat. 

Often times, when I am feeling a little bored with idle chatter, I will ask Christians what Jesus has been speaking to them about.  More often than not, they will respond by telling me of a sermon they recently heard, a book they are reading or what pastor So-and-So said on Sunday.  I will reiterate that I have nothing but awe for the revelation that the Lord gives to His servants, but I don’t want to be fed on a steady diet of hearsay…it is bound to make me fat and lazy.  How I long for fresh bread…manna for me alone.  What is more exciting than having a rhema word straight from the Lord’s mouth to our own ears?  What is more healing and refreshing than hearing Him speak to you directly?  

In John 6:63 Jesus says “The words I speak to you are Spirit and life.”  This is true and they are wonderful when spoken through a consecrated, tested-in-fire vessel but they are priceless when spoken directly to my heart by the Lord Himself.

If this sounds critical and condescending, I beg forgiveness.  I am not  trying to bring judgment and condemnation, but to stir up a hunger in your heart for more of Jesus…His presence, His touch, His voice, His wisdom, His revelation, His healing…just Jesus Himself.

After Father God had a little one-on-one with Job he looks at himself and says: I admit I once lived by rumours of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumour.”  Job 42: 6 MSG

May our walk with the Lord be so much more and so much deeper than a vicarious walk, lived out of someone else’s revelation and insight.  May the gifted ministers of the Word put language around our own experiences and confirm what the Lord is already speaking to our own hearts, may their revelation stir up a desire in us to also hear and see like that and may every person and personality pale in comparison with the sheer and utter beauty of our Lord.

Living in the shining place

I prepared a message for a recent ministry trip to the Solomon Islands, but as I had over-prepared, as I often do, I never got to share it. Now, as I am sitting amongst packed and half-packed boxes, industrial sized heaters, fans and dehumidifiers after flooding some carpets and the general debris associated with moving, I am so grateful the Abba Father had me save that for another time…such as this. So, before the computer is unplugged and packed up and the internet disconnected, let me share some thoughts…

Living in the Shining Place is both the title of Psalm 15 (TPT) and the desire of my heart. I often say, when people quote half a scripture verse about the Lord giving us the desires of our heart, that He does indeed do so…after He change our hearts. So, as we delight ourselves in Him and make Him the desire of our heart, He honours us with more of Himself. (Ps 37:4)

All authority is not equal. For example, a teacher has authority over a student, but only as long as that student is in the classroom. The teacher again, is under the authority of the principal of the school, who in turn is under the authority of the Minister of Education. When it comes to the things of the spirit, I want to be one of those who carry great authority, who is allowed to stand in the courts of heaven and who is recognised as a mighty woman of God in the spiritual realm, whether I have a platform here below, or not.

Nowhere is it more true than in the Kingdom realm, that great authority
comes only when we accept great responsibility. Spiritual discipline does not equal legalism. We are free to choose obedience, we are free to choose to step into deeper water, to dwell with the Lord daily. I want to be a dwelling place of Holy Spirit, not have a visitation every now and again. King David had the same longing and he went to the source…the Lord, to find the answer…the “formula” for lack of a better term.

 A poetic song, by King David

1  Lord, who dares to dwell with you?
    Who presumes the privilege of being close to you,
    living next to you in your shining place of glory?
    Who are those who daily dwell in the life of the Holy Spirit?
2  They are passionate and wholehearted,
    always sincere and always speaking the truth—
    for their hearts are trustworthy.
3  They refuse to slander or insult others;
    they’ll never listen to gossip or rumours,
    nor would they ever harm another with their words.
4  They will speak out passionately against evil and evil workers while commending the faithful ones who follow after the truth.
    They make firm commitments and follow through,

    even at great cost.
5  They never crush others with exploitation or abuse
    and they would never be bought with a bribe
    against the innocent.
    They will never be shaken; they will stand firm forever.

Psalm 15 (TPT)

Let’s pull this psalm apart verse by verse. Verse 1 pose some questions…what do the shining ones look like? How do they gain authority and recognition in the spiritual realm?

We are already seated in heavenly place with Jesus, that is our position and it does not change but wielding great spiritual authority calls for us to step up to take responsibility and to excel at holy living. We are all children of God but not every born-again believer becomes a mature son of God, or part of the ecclesia, while they are here on earth. Sons of God carry greater spiritual weight but are also held responsible in a greater measure.

  Verse 2. They are passionate and wholehearted,
     always sincere and always speaking the truth—
      for their hearts are trustworthy.

  • They do everything to the best of their ability, to the glory of the Lord (excellence)
  • They are always sincere…no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives
  • They speak truth…also to themselves, regardless of how popular it is. They don’t rationalise, spiritualise, justify or deny and they are open to discipline and correction
  • Glowing in the dark is a matter of the heart. If these things are lacking, a heart transplant is what is needed. The shining ones allow the Lord to replace their heart of stone with a heart of flesh, even when the surgery is painful

Luke 6:43 – 45
You’ll never find choice fruit hanging on a bad, unhealthy tree.
And rotten fruit doesn’t hang on a good, healthy tree. Every tree
will be revealed by the quality of the fruit that it produces. Figs or
grapes will never be picked off thorn trees.
People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in
their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit. But
out of the evil hidden in their hearts, evil ones will produce what
is evil. For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will
be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.

Verse 3. They refuse to slander or insult others;
     they’ll never listen to gossip or rumours,
     nor would they ever harm another with their words.

  • To refuse is to withhold acceptance, compliance, or permission. Shining ones cannot be dragged into bad conversations because they set themselves against it
  • They use their words to heal, not harm. How do words harm? Lies, gossip, slander, flattery, rumours, insult etc are poison that wounds and kills, not bring life.

Verse 4. They will speak out passionately against evil and evil workers
      while commending the faithful ones who follow after the truth.
      They make firm commitments and follow through,
     even at great cost.

  • Evil prosper when good men do nothing
  • They give honour where honour is due, show appreciation, encourage their leaders and pastors and brothers and sister, without using flattery
  • Matthew 5:37  (AMP) But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one.

Verse 5. They never crush others with exploitation or abuse
    and they would never be bought with a bribe
     against the innocent.
      They will never be shaken; they will stand firm forever.

  • We cannot always control what others do, but we can refuse to do it too. We choose to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
  • We receive the promise, the reward…we will not be shaken and we will stand firm forever. EVEN WHEN WE STUMBLE OR FALL THERE IS MERCY, TO FORGIVE US, AND GRACE, TO EMPOWER US TO DO BETTER

Psalm 24: 3-6 TPT
Who, then, ascends into the presence of the Lord?
    And who has the privilege of entering into God’s Holy Place?
4  Those who are clean—whose works and ways are pure,
    whose hearts are true and sealed by the truth,
    those who never deceive, whose words are sure.
5  They will receive the Lord’s blessing
    and righteousness given by the Savior-God.
6  They will stand before God,
    for they seek the pleasure of God’s face, the God of Jacob.

Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense
narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all
our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only.
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Rewarded

On this very chilly and wet Melbourne morning, I found myself tucked up in bed, multi-tasking.  As I am singing along to Shane & Shane, I read the book of Ruth.  Now, having been thoroughly “churched” , I have heard the book of Ruth preached from every possible angle. 

I have heard it from Ruth’s point of view…an admirable story, to say the least.  What character she displayed, leaving her people and her land to follow her mother-in-law to parts unknown, committing to serve a God foreign to her. Then her reward…becoming part of the greater story of Jesus as she gave birth to Obed.

I have heard sermons preached on Naomi, who calls herself Mara, because she felt the Lord had dealt bitterly with her, only to be redeemed and rewarded with a baby boy to love on once again.  Naomi is a pivotal part of Ruth’s story.  If it wasn’t for her, Ruth would have follow Orpah back to her own people and someone else would have taken her place in history. Naomi must have been a wonderful mother-in-law, for Ruth freely followed her, therefor the brief glimpse we get of her in the beginning of the tale must be only a fraction of a story that has a much wider scope.

Then there is Boaz, the guardian-redeemer, a constant inspiration for many preachers.  He is a type of Christ, pointing to our Guardian-Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the one who comes to Ruth’s rescue, who marries her and who ensures her name is recorded in the annals of time.  Boaz becomes her rescuer, her provider and eventually, her husband and the father of Obed, who later comes the grandfather of king David, a man after God’s own heart.  Like I said, a wealth of material right there…

But this morning, it’s none of these characters that caught my attention.  Tucked away in the midst of famous and dramatic stories, is a couple of verses that really spoke to my heart.  There’s a dialogue between Boaz and Ruth that I would like to share with you:

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 

Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.  

 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  (Ruth 2:8 – 12 NIV)

Have you ever stopped to wonder why Boaz was being so kind to Ruth?  Because he heard about her good deeds toward Naomi, a woman in pain and distress, feeling lost and abandoned, even by God.  I know a little bit about people like that, for not too long ago, I was one like that.  They aren’t easy to be around most days, yet Ruth stuck by her and continued to love her and show her kindness and now, as word got out, she is being rewarded.

Malachi 3: 16 – 18 is another passage that transformed my life and it came to mind while I was meditating on the passage in Ruth.  It reads like this…

16 Then those whose lives honoured God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honoured God’s name.

17-18 God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honours them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” (Message version)

The point is this:  our Father is always watching and listening…not to catch us out and punish us, but to find reason to reward us and to show us favour.  He listens to our conversations, takes notes and remembers our good deeds.  Therefore, “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up.”  (Gal.6:9 CEV) 

People might forget the good deeds we do for them, sometimes gratitude is slow or altogether absent but God sees, He knows and He remembers.  He sees the attitude and motivation of our hearts, even when people misunderstand our intentions…so…keep going, keep giving, keep serving, keep sowing, keep loving…because in due time you will reap everything that you have sown.  The One Who promise is faithful!

Spiders

We are briefly home, before setting off on another trip.  I was going to say “adventure” but as my husband’s prayer for “everyday an adventure” was thoroughly answered, we will gladly settle for a trip.

We saw God move in amazing ways, every person we prayed for was healed and we are eagerly waiting for news from the couples we prayed with for additions to their families.  We heard incredible testimonies, for example from a hearing impaired man who was visiting his daughter on another island who testified to feeling that he had to come home, only to be told that she didn’t have any money to pay for his boat trip.  By faith, he went to the wharf to wait for God to do something.  Father did come through – a man came up to him and gave him enough money for his fare.  On the boat he heard that we were arriving in his village and he sat through every session, furiously taking notes.  After prayer his hearing improved and we have faith that he will regain all of it. God is so good.

We saw people come alive to Holy Spirit and be empowered to take up their authority in Christ.  One couple went home after a session, only to see their daughter manifest a demon.  They promptly dispatched it and stirred up everyone else to take responsibility for their own families.  We worshipped with our new friends until sweat was pouring off us all, we laughed and we cried.

How flabbergasted we were to be told that of all the pastors in attendance, only one was able to attend a Bible school.  They had been praying and longing to be educated and their prayers were answered when we “brought Bible school to us”.  No amount of hardship, sickness or sleepless nights can take the shine off watching God work mightily and miraculously in people’s life.

You might wonder when I am going to get to the spiders…well, the wait is over.  In order to appreciate the story, I have to explain about what the locals call the “charismatic road”.  It’s a 45 km stretch of road that takes 2 hours to traverse.  We decided it was called the charismatic road, because you can throw the worst pagan or heathen on the back of the truck (the only mode of transport) and by the end of the journey they will have found Jesus, confessed and repented of all their sins, been baptised in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.  I am not exaggerating, it’s a frightening stretch of road.

One day we were sitting in the house, where there is no electricity, therefore nothing to eat or drink that’s not served at room temperature, trying to recover from fevers, throat infections, sinus issues and extreme heat.  I jokingly asked our coordinator to go to town to get us some ice cream, knowing full well the 4 hour journey that would ensue, making it an impossible feat.

The very next day, as we come out of the room where we dropped our bags after another long day of teaching, there on the table sat three ice cold Cokes and a tub of vanilla ice cream. A miracle, right in front of our eyes!  Someone had gone to the trouble to load up a cooler box, travel four hours on the worst road, bought ice, Coke and ice cream to bless us.  We understood not only the tremendous effort, but the financial implications of the gift.  It was worth more than gold.  We promptly set about to share the drinks between five mugs, added vanilla ice cream and introduced our island friend to spiders (floats in other parts of the world).

As we bonded over cold drinks, I mused about the goodness of God, the significance of having a servant heart and how we can reflect Jesus to a dying world by going the extra mile, or in this case, many extra miles. Sometimes the love of God looks like two ladies traveling far, at great expense and personal cost, to bring hope and revelation to a far-off village and sometimes it looks like an extravagant gift from someone who can least afford to give it.

That spider reminded me of an alabaster box broken over the feet of Jesus, of the fragrance filling a house and an act of kindness forever capture in our hearts.  Let us seek out opportunities to bless abundantly, love extravagantly and to indeed go the extra mile.

Comfortably uncomfortable

In the natural I wouldn’t call myself an adventurer by any means.  I don’t crave the thrill of adrenalin sport, I don’t drive fast and I certainly don’t queue for hours to ride the latest and greatest roller coaster.  I do however crave the thrill of seeing the lost saved, seeing miracles, signs and wonders, traveling far and wide to preach the gospel and meeting people from other cultures and tribes…so I guess there is a little bit of “adventurer-blood” coursing through my veins after all.

Yesterday a man of God made a statement that really resonated with me.  He said:  “people need to be mobilised…too many Christians are bored”.  Isn’t that the truth!  I am going to be real and confess that more often than not, I am bored.  There.  It’s said.  I. AM. BORED.  I am uncomfortable with how comfortable Christianity has become, like a well-worn pair of slippers, fuzzy and utterly cosy.  There is a doctrine and theology to suit every taste, bent and disfunction.  Sin an issue?  No problem, let’s just “not believe in hell anymore”.  Want to have your own way, every time?  Taken care of.  God gives us the desires of our hearts, let’s just name it and claim it.  Lust an issue?  Easily fixed.  Act out now and repent later…God’s good and kind and forgiving .  Go into all the world (and your school, workplace, neighbourhood) and preach the gospel, teaching people and making disciples of all men?  Will have to pray about that…no, not called…

A scripture that convicts or challenges us?  Let’s just read a different book, blog or opinion piece until we find one that confirms what we want to Word to say…voila.

Elohim Kadoshim, the Holy God, Who made us in His image, Who calls us to be holy, as He is holy, Who sent Jesus to die for us so that we can be righteous and live righteous has seemingly been transformed into God, made in our own image.  Jesus, the great Adventurer, the wild, fearless Warrior King has been sufficiently tamed to fit comfortably into very small compartments, left over after we have filled our lives to the brim with the things we do to curb our relentless need for entertainment and to relieve our terminal boredom.

Once, some time ago, I received a prophetic word that I should get comfortable with being uncomfortable; that it was the Lord keeping me in discomfort because He wants me to keep going higher, and deeper.  He has been true to His word.  I am at rest and at peace and yet, more often than not, comfortably uncomfortable.  Oh, how I long for every person who calls themselves by Jesus’ name to get uncomfortable with being comfortable.  How I long for churches to be thoroughly uncomfortable for demons of every kind, while being comfortable, free spaces for the broken, the young in the faith and those coming in after a great God-adventure to recover, rest and get replenished, ready for the next intrepid journey.  How amazing would it be if churches and congregations became the place where the saints are trained and equipped to be mobilised, rather than parking lots for the terminally bored and perpetually unproductive.

Derek Prince said “Just when we think we’ve arrived at a certain sort of plateau God begins to deal with us and say, ‘Come up higher, there’s another step.’  And although it is demanding and challenging, it’s exciting.  I would say if you’re having a dull time as a Christian, in all probability you’re not in what God has initiated because when God initiates it, it’s exciting.”

 I beg your pardon if I sound harsh or unkind, but some things need to be said.  If someone claims to love Jesus, they will want to be where He is, they will want to obey His precepts and do His will.  If you love the Father, you will want to be close to Him.  God always backs Himself.  He backs His Word, He backs His Son and He backs His sons.  We do not have to stagnate to the point we are immobile, immovable and bored stiff.  We preach healing…He heals.  We preach freedom…He delivers.  We pray, He hears.  We seek, He finds.

As we are heading toward Easter, the season when we celebrate the greatest Love of all, remember the greatest sacrifice ever, let us crucify our comfort, like Jesus did, let us embrace what He did for us and out of gratitude, let us ask Father to give us the gift of discomfort.  As we rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection, let us pray for a resurrection of every dead and dying place in our hearts, let us embrace the grace and mercy Jesus bestowed on us…mercy that sets us free and grace that empowers us to do His will, obey His commands.  I am praying for God adventures…may they be frequent, may they be spectacular and may they help us to fall deeper in love with Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit and humanity.  Today we are free to choose, free to say yes…free indeed.

 Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.

 Galatians 5:1  TPT

Unleashed: The hero within

Spoiler alert:  if you haven’t seen the movie Captain Marvel and plan to, be aware that I am disclosing the plot

Our heroine goes by many names…Carol Danvers, Vers and later, Captain Marvel.  She is a trained warrior, from a heroic warrior people, the Kree and is caught up in a battle with the evil Skrull, a race hell bent on conquering galaxies for themselves.  Their very existence threaten the Kree’s way of life and every Kree has an obligation to fight them wherever they are found.  Not only are they monstrous, but they have the ability to shapeshift, taking on the exact form of people around them…even to fingerprint and DNA level.  You see the problem?  Identifying a Skrull amongst a group of people is extremely difficult.

Vers is also having a bit of trouble…she struggles to contain her emotions, something a Kree warrior cannot do.  In order to be a great warrior, according to her Kree mentor and trainer, you have to be able to turn off all emotion so that you think, instead of react when in battle.

As the story unfolds, Vers learns that she is Carol Danvers, a human, who had a previous life, before she was abducted and brainwashed by the Kree.  She finds out that she had been deceived, that her friends and allies are actually the enemy and that the Skrull are indeed the “good guys”, simply fighting to survive and live a peaceful life without the threat of antihalation. Carol goes from Carol, to Vers, back to Carol, to Captain Marvel when she begins to understand just who she is and when she comes to terms with the great power that is dormant inside her.

In one powerful scene Vers is confronted by a Skrull, who says to her “I know who you are” to which she replies “you don’t know me…I don’t even know who I am”.  It’s then that her best friend from her life pre-Kree says “I know who you are..”  She begins to tell Carol who she is and the truth of the deception begins to dawn on her, paving the way for her to turn into the hero that she was always meant to be.

This movie spoke to me on so many levels.  It is a metaphor for my life, and most of my Christian walk.  How often do we struggle with our identity?  Who am I?  What am I destined for?  Where do I belong?  Where is my home?  Who are my friends?  My family?  My tribe?

Like Vers, I have found myself grieving because people I thought were my friends, my allies and part of my tribe turned out to be deceptive and not at all who or what I thought they would be – even to the point of proving to be an enemy.  I have been disappointed when I misplaced trust, when I opened my heart, only to be stung by those I valued most. I have been angry at myself for not discerning who the real enemy was, for making myself vulnerable to much grief and pain by trusting the wrong people or failing to discern the enemy at work in my life.

Like David lamented, in Psalm 55…If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshippers. (V12-14 NIV)

I have also found myself in seasons where I had no idea who I was or what power and authority was laying dormant inside of me.  I too needed a friend to tell me “I know who you are”.  Sometimes it was the Father, Who spoke to me through the Word or through a prophet or teacher.  Sometimes it was Holy Spirit, speaking to my heart or guiding me through my dreams.  More often it was “Jesus with skin on”…those people who journeyed with me and reminded me of who I am, calling forth the gifts in me, drawing out the creativity and God-given talents and strengths I didn’t know I had.  Then there is Jesus. 

Proverbs 18:24  tells us that “The man of too many friends will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother” (AMP) 

To me, Jesus has been that friend for a long time.  He is the One that is always true, always accessible, always faithful, never distant, never deceitful and intimately interested in my well-being.  He reminds me of who I am…beloved, one worthy of sacrifice, one called to be the hero for many others, one capable and worthy of speaking for Him, His bride, His ambassador, His heir, His champion.

If you, like Vers, have lost your way because you have been hijacked by the enemy, who came in the guise of a friend,only to trap you in misery, depression or addiction or you have forgotten who you are and what you have been called to, may I encourage you to seek out Jesus, and allow Him to remind you who you are and Who you belong to.  Open your heart to Truth today and allow Him to shut up the voices telling you that you are too small, too insignificant, too emotional, too distant, just not enough for those who will never be satisfied, no matter how hard you try.  Allow Holy Spirit to unleash the hero inside of you!

Lord, how wonderful you are!
You have stored up so many good things for us,
like a treasure chest heaped up and spilling over with blessings—
all for those who honour and worship you!
Everybody knows what you can do
for those who turn and hide themselves in you.
 So hide all your beloved ones
in the sheltered, secret place before your face.
Overshadow them by your glory-presence.
Keep them from these accusations, the brutal insults of evil men.
Tuck them safely away in the tabernacle where you dwell.
The name of the Lord is blessed and lifted high!
For his marvellous miracle of mercy protected me
when I was overwhelmed by my enemies.
 I spoke hastily when I said, “The Lord has deserted me.”
For in truth, you did hear my prayer and came to rescue me.
 Listen to me, all you godly ones: Love the Lord with passion!
The Lord protects and preserves all those who are loyal to him.
But he pays back in full all those who reject him in their pride.
 So cheer up! Take courage all you who love him.
Wait for him to break through for you, all who trust in him!

Psalm 31:19 – 24 TPT

Anointed to Stir

This blog started to form in my mind when custom t-shirts became a thing, a joke was made over a cup of tea and ended in a revelation that I feel is worthy of sharing. 

Let me start at the beginning…Amanda and I ordered some t-shirts printed with the ministry logo.  Then I ordered t-shirts that was of a very poor quality, so we redesigned it and order another pair of custom printed t-shirts to wear on ministry trips and a thing was born.

Fast forward to the joke over a cup of tea…during a meeting, over a cup of tea Amanda and I lamented over the fact that so many people are so wounded that you can barely speak before someone’s buttons are pushed and offence occurs (a great topic for another day).  We decided that the next t-shirt would read “ANOINTED TO STIR” as we seem to have a knack for innocently rubbing people up the wrong way.  That’s when another member of the party waved a red rag in front of a bull, by saying “I’ve never heard of that.  I don’t think it’s in the Bible”.  Of course I had to find out…

Guess what?  It is, very much so!  We are indeed anointed to stir…feel free to imagine my grin.

Let’s start with Paul saying to Timothy “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Tim. 1:6 NKJV  

The Passion Translation reads: I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you. 

The Passion translation is a good translation of the Greek word, anazòpyreò translated into “stir” as it means to rekindle the remains of a fire or a pair of bellows.  God never expects us to do anything without giving us the grace to do it.  If we are to stir up the gifts that is in us, He will surely give us the grace to do it.  This verse also speaks to me of a personal responsibility to keep the fires of passion burning in our hearts.  I believe it starts with a desire to burn for Him, followed by a total surrender to His ways and a confident trust that He will do it in us.

Like Paul encouraged Timothy, I want to encourage you to stir up the gifts imparted to you when Holy Spirit took up residence in you.  The Father Himself laid hands on you when Jesus died for you and you may not have my gift, but you have some gift that’s waiting for bellows to blow on it.

Futhermore…

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to STIR you up by reminding you, 2 Pet. 1:12, 13

And…

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I STIR up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour  2 Pet. 3:1,2

In both these verses the word stir is translated from the Greek word diegeirò, which means to arouse the mind, or to render active.  It is from the root egeirò,which means to arouse from sleep, to recall the dead to life, to cause to rise from a seat or bed or to cause someone or something to be born.

As sons of the living God, we are called and commissioned to stir up those who are dead in sin and those who are weary or simply resting comfortably on their bed of complacency.  We have been anointed to do good works, to preach the full gospel of Christ and to do the work of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher and pastor.  We are indeed anointed by God to stir, to rouse, to resurrect, to encourage and to awaken the minds of those around us.  Jesus was a stirrer par excellence and we are being formed into His image…so go ahead…STIR!