Pictures from China: 1) The confluence.

A Pattern of Heavenly Things

Anne and I have just arrived in China, where we’re going to be for the next three weeks.  Our hotel window looks out onto the confluence of the two rivers that join to become  the Yangtze Qiang, one of the world’s greatest rivers. Before we left the UK, a friend commented that this will be a time of attack and a time of revelation; and indeed it is, because what is on earth is “a shadow and a pattern of heavenly things.” (Heb 5:8) Every time the Lord takes His people to a new place, it is an opportunity to learn new things from Him and take new steps on the path of faith. So whenever God takes us to new places, the enemy will have a contingent targeting our movements and briefed to keep us out of  God’s purposes for as much of the time as possible. This is an article about relationships and warfare.

Swirling currents

Where the two rivers join, the currents swirl around one another before they merge into the greater stream. For every Christian couple seeking looking to move forward in unity, the enemy will seek to pit one partner’s flesh against the other, aiming always for a clash of interests, arguments, and fruitless discord. His plan is for the currents of the two rivers to keep swirling around each other and never to become one, and he has his forces constantly on the lookout to goad us into self-centred and unsubmitted decisions that will ensure that this happens for as long as possible.

God’s Way

But where the Yangtze is flowing, the other two rivers have ceased to exist: you cannot pick out their identities anymore. They have died. We cannot choose God’s direction and still maintain our own. When we die to self and pick up our cross we have to let go of our personal agendas. But when we do, we are free to flow in God’s direction as one, it is His current that carries us, and we can rest in His peace, knowing that we are flowing His way.

Being sober and vigilant

It is no use deceiving ourselves that the battle is only raging at key moments in our lives: it is all around us all the time, whether we are getting in the car, putting the children to bed, washing up, or just going out in the garden.  Unless we are “sober and vigilant,” as Peter writes, the enemy is always prowling around, seeking to divert our attention from the purposes of Love and the Kingdom of God onto the purposes of self, the flesh, and ultimately destruction. If the devil shoots us down while we’re clearing away breakfast, we’re no use to the Holy Spirit when we’re leading worship. And Peter knew from his own experience with Jesus how easy it is to be taken unawares in the most well-meaning moments…

Epistles of Christ

Walking in the Spirit is not just about seeking spiritual experiences and looking for opportunities to preach the gospel, prophesy, or bring healing; it is about winning the battle at the confluence of streams and applying the words that are spirit and life to everyday actions, moment by moment, so that we become the gospel ourselves, or as Paul puts it  living “epistles of Christ.“  (2 Cor 3:3) It is  actually when we are carrying our own cross  that other people can see the cross of Christ most clearly.

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