Category Archives: Holiness: You shall be perfect

Jesus is coming for a perfect, spotless bride; and until He returns the Holy Spirit seeks to dwell in a Holy place. Holiness is not an optional extra in our walk of discipleship; it is central to Kingdom living, and its fruit is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

I Will Build My Church


Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell so not prevail against it.“ We are in the world, but we are not of it.  Jesus was from above; we too are born from above. All good and perfect gifts come down from the Father of lights.  All that Jesus builds of his Church is from above. When the kingdom of God comes on Earth as it is in Heaven, it comes from above, and what is built is from above. What is built is not of the world, even though it is in it. What is of the world is passing away; what Christ brings into the world is eternal. As the apostle John wrote:  “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) Even in the rubble and devastation of war, the eternal Kingdom of God is being built in the hearts of men and women who love him. (Other references from this paragraph: Matt: 16:18, John 17:16, John 8:23, James 1:17.)

That is all solid scriptural truth, and it’s easy for me to sit in my armchair and dictate it into my iPhone, in the comfort and convenience of the Western world and its technology. But if a bomb landed on my house now as they are landing in Ukraine, and took away in seconds all that I have built over 40 years, where would my heart be?

David wrote “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” (Psa 101:2) If my house collapsed around me, I wonder if  my heart still be perfect? I think not. I don’t have to look back very far over the last 24 hours without seeing glaring imperfections in my heart. In fact there is only Jesus, whom David prophesied in that psalm, who can say in truth that He walks within His house with a perfect heart. And we are all His house; (Heb 3:6) By His Spirit He does walk among us, building His Kingdom as we give Him the building materials of our lives. As Christina Rosetti wrote in the words of the Christmas Carol, all that we can give Him is our hearts, and when we give Him our hearts, He builds with them. His house is the place where righteousness dwells, and where love, truth, peace, and joy are found.


Paul wrote: “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.“ (2 Cor 5:15) If I’m living for myself I’m not building His house, but I’m building my own. If my heart is attached to the house that I build, to my own satisfaction, my own peace and joy, and it falls down around me, I will be devastated. But If my heart is truly devoted to building His house, and I live  for Him through loving others, I will not care if mine collapses,  but I will pick my way through the rubble looking for people who have been hurt by falling stones. And as I do that His kingdom will be built in that place on Earth, even though not a stone of my house remains standing.

I am a long way from this, as I expect most of us are. But we can choose on a daily basis to build His house rather than stay huddled in our own, simply by preferring one another…

Ready to give a defense…

When we are talking about sharing our faith, we often quote the apostle Peter, who wrote “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (From 1 Peter 3:15). Many people who don’t know the peace and blessings of knowing the love of Jesus Christ have been turned off Him by well-meaning Christians who have been so focussed on the first part of this scripture that they have ignored the second: they have been given the reasons why it’s so good to know Jesus without ever having asked for them. Peter is basically saying that we should always be ready to answer questions about our faith to everyone who asks them. The challenge here, as I see it, is not so much having reasons that answer the questions that people ask, but to give people a reason to ask the questions. If they don’t ask the questions, they aren’t ready for the answers. If the hope that is in us isn’t evident to the people we are with, why should they be asking about it?

The fact is, that we tend to only quote half of the scripture. The full verse is this: “But sanctify the Lord God  in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15) Being ready with answers to questions about our faith goes alongside a mindset of holiness (having the Lord God “sanctified” in our hearts) and an attitude of meekness towards others and reverent fear towards the God who has commissioned us with this task.

I am not the greatest living example of these attitudes, but I do have a story of one occasion (there aren’t many…)  where I definitely had “sanctified the Lord God in my heart,” and as a result was asked a question about my faith which led to an opportunity to minister to some strangers. I have written about it in “Two Seconds to Midnight,” so if you have read the book you will recognise it. Here’s the extract:

“I sat down to start this chapter on January 4th; my eldest daughter Shelley, her husband and their three children had gone home two days earlier after spending ten days with us. Lisa, our middle daughter, her husband and their two-year-old were also with us for three days over Christmas. So the holiday was noisy and messy, with lots of clearing and washing up, governed very much by the routines of the children and punctuated by the sound of their unwillingness (the older ones anyway) to comply with them. Now I love my family, and Anne loves to be surrounded by them; but I also like to spend time in quiet solitude, reading, writing, birdwatching, doing photography or listening to music. As you can imagine, there is a clash of interests here, and I have to confess that at times in the past I have let my irritation at the level of mayhem in the house when my grandchildren are roaring around get the better of me. So I had really been asking the Lord to help me, and particularly to give me wisdom throughout the day if any tensions or difficulties arose, so that I didn’t get bad-tempered and spoil the atmosphere for everyone else.

In my morning quiet time I had been reading through the gospel of Matthew. About a week earlier I had been struck by Jesus’s words to a would-be follower: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” (Matthew 8:20). The Holy Spirit showed me that as soon as things got noisy I was looking for somewhere to “rest my head”, but that this wasn’t an option for me any more than it was an option for Jesus. Instead I was to seek His peace, which as we know is “not as the world gives” (John 14:27). This verse became a great support for me in the ensuing days, and when the family had gone Anne remarked how well I had coped with everything, and (although she didn’t specifically use the word) how much more pleasant I had been on this visit than on some previous occasions. God had sent me His word as I spent time with Him reading through Matthew, and it had been living and active through my circumstances, bringing His peace into my spirit when my flesh could find no rest:  “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” (Prov 3:17)

But the story doesn’t end there. Anne had seen some furniture on eBay that was perfect for her plans to do some redecorating in our living room. The complication was that it was in London, and I would need to drive our company van (not my favourite driving experience) down to pick it up – three hours each way. In addition, it became clear that I needed to go immediately. It was the weekend, and I had planned to spend it recovering from the busy week before going back to work on Monday. But after Anne and I had discussed it, I was able to give the whole thing to the Lord, and I had an assurance that it was right to go. I felt a real peace about the trip which dispelled all my anxieties (I drive an automatic and the van is manual; I was worried about driving the big van through London streets; I was worried about getting too tired to drive safely, etc.), and I even started to look forward to it. A total turnaround.

Bear in mind here that I had been reading, thinking and praying about God’s peace for this chapter of the book. The furniture (it was a three-piece suite) was being sold by a Greek family. I spent six months in Greece in my backpacking days before I met Anne and had learnt to speak it fairly competently, so it was a touching point that I was able to say a few words to them in their language. Soon we were sitting down and drinking tea in the kitchen. One of the first things that the man I had been dealing with (I’ll call him John) said was how much more peaceful I seemed than other people. (Interesting, I thought. “My peace I leave you . . .”) We chatted a little more, and soon they were telling me how John’s sister had died suddenly, aged 21, less than two years ago. The mother – I don’t know her name, so I’ll call her Mama – was fighting to hold back tears as she talked. I told them about our baby Miranda who died at ten weeks. I began to feel that this visit was not just about a three-piece suite. Then Mama said something really unexpected. She said, “As soon as you came in, I saw that there was something about you, and I got goose-bumps all down my arm!” John then repeated to Mama what he had said to me earlier about the peace that he saw on me. I explained that what they felt was the presence of the Holy Spirit, and soon I was praying with them, asking the Lord to comfort them in their grief, and that they would know His presence. Then I was on my way home.” (Adapted from Two Seconds to Midnight by Bob Hext, Malcolm Down Publishing)

The chapter goes on to develop other points, but I think this is a helpful real-life example of 1 Peter 3:15 in action. Because I had sought God to put my heart right in an area where I knew my behaviour could easily become ungodly, the light of sanctification that shone in me as I submitted to the word of God also shone out of me onto other people.  I’m not aware of any other occasions when the presence of the Holy Spirit on me has given anyone goose-bumps, but one is a start… The point is this: we are called to be light in the darkness, but unless we have our light switched on nobody is going to ask us why we are shining. Being a witness is drawing others into our light; witnessing is shining a torch in their faces.

The Overbearing Invader

The map of Europe has been pencilled in by man, country divided against country. When divisions arise and nation rises against nation, all that happens, as a friend of mine said, is that the lines are etched in more deeply; and so I saw recently a newspaper report on the Ukraine crisis that declared: “The map of Europe is being re-drawn  in blood.“ If the war in Ukraine – any war, in fact – makes one thing clear, it is that only God can erase those pencil lines and bring unity; it’s only when the government is on His shoulders that will this happen, and until then nation will continue to rise against nation.

We however are citizens of another country; we are pilgrims in the world and citizens of the kingdom that is to come. We don’t belong to a nation; we belong to the kingdom of God. His Kingdom is the realm of love, peace and unity. What happens when divisions arise between us? I would not like to count the number of times that I have been in an argument with someone (usually my wife)  and told myself how completely untenable the their position is,  and have done nothing except justify where I stand (usually in the vain belief that by raising my voice I increase my powers of persuasion), convinced that ultimately they will see my point and change their ideas. I don’t see that the place where I am standing is actually on their toes and it hurts. When I keep explaining why I am sanding there, all I am doing is hurting them all the more.

God’s ways and God’s thoughts are not our ways and our thoughts. God’s way is the way of love. If what I am doing and saying makes complete sense to me but you are hurt by it, the fact that you are hurt is of far more importance to God than the fact that what I’m saying makes sense to me. It’s His righteousness that goes before us, not my rightness. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7) I don’t fear God if I say I know better than you. If one ministry is pulling down another, it is not in the Spirit of Jesus that they are ministering.

When we are about to let our overbearing attitudes crush and invade another person or another ministry let’s remember Ukraine, because it’s the same bear that is trying to work in our own hearts.

If the body were an eye, where would the hearing be? (1 Cor 12)

Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirit in the church and the diversity that He has placed within the body of Christ is a well-known passage. In the first part Paul shows how the Holy Spirit distributes supernatural gifts among His people when they meet together to reveal Jesus, the second part shows how each born again believer is a unique gift to the body of Christ that helps enable the kingdom of his Love to  be established on the Earth.

The world and worldly culture celebrate diversity. However the politically correct emphasis on diversity that we see in today’s society is not an expression of the rich variety that God has put into His creation, but is a worship of diversity for its own sake. Diversity in the world has become an idol: worshippers gather round it In abandonment to their lusts just as the children of Israel gathered round the golden calf and “rose up to play.” (1 Cor 10:7)

The devils’ idols are always a substitute for God’s truth. If the Lord is doing something in Heaven, the enemy will try to set up his copy on Earth, so where the Kingdom of God is advancing there is often an idol to be pulled down in order for God’s will to be done. If we look at the counter culture that the enemy is seeking to establish on Earth, we can often see the emphasis of the heavenly culture that the Holy Spirit is bringing to the church. Diversity is an example of this. The devil is seeking to establish his doctrine of diversity in the flesh, according to which every divergence from God’s created order is to be not only accepted, but celebrated. There are many bodies, but no membership.  In fact membership of any one group is often regarded as sectarian.

In God’s kingdom there is one body, and we are all members of it. Like the snowflakes, each one of us is different and each one of us is beautiful, and each one of us is a unique expression of God’s perfect order. But we are all made of water. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)  The devil, on the other hand, would have us celebrate snowflakes made of plastic, rubber, bronze…

How does this translate into Gods kingdom purposes today? I believe that the enemy is parading his version of diversity in front of our eyes because he wants to blind the world to the beauty of God’s Kingdom truth. Jesus is calling His body to unity, but in that unity is the essential principle that we recognise the diversity and beauty that He has put into each individual. A prophetic theme currently being expressed is that God will be removing many leaders from the platforms and podiums where they have become exalted, and raising up the unknown and lowly to minister in the power of his Spirit when he sends the next great wave of Revival. We will no longer gather around denominational flags and banners; we will just gather around Jesus under his Banner of Love, honouring and serving Him as we honour and serve one another. The Unity won’t command the blessing because we all sing the same songs, have all read the same books, or all agree with the same teachers; and not even because we all pray in tongues and prophesy (or not!): the unity will command the blessing when we love, serve, and prefer one another.

We will all be one when we have recognised that we are all different. If you are an ear and I am an eye, we may look like we have nothing in common, but the same blood flows through us, we both serve the same body, and we both have the mind of Christ. I’m not inadequate because I can’t hear like you, and – even more important – I’m not superior because you can’t see like me. When we really celebrate each other’s uniqueness I believe those beautiful snowflakes will fall more and more thickly, until the glory of God covers the Earth as the waters cover the sea.

Not by might nor by power

We know that “nothing is impossible with God,”  and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We also know that it’s “not by might nor by power” that the Kingdom of God is established on Earth, and we know that we walk by faith and not by sight. The stories and the imagery of Scripture is full of the opposition between flesh and Spirit, or the kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of our God and His Christ; Saul and David; Babylon and Jerusalem; Egypt and the promised land. We only have to spend a few minutes reading the news headlines to have an idea of what is happening and, sometimes, what to expect in the world of the flesh. But there are headlines being published in the spiritual realm as well, and if we pay attention to them we can also have an idea of what is going on in that dimension, which is important as It will directly affect what we see on the news. As Amos 3:7 says “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.”

The headlines in the spiritual realm

Just as we don’t believe every newspaper headline we read, there are some “prophetic messages” that have more credibility than others. Nevertheless there is a clear narrative from recognised individual prophets and groups that has two main threads. One is that we are moving into an unprecedented time of darkness and chaos, most probably that which Jesus prophesied in the “wars and rumours of wars” passage recorded in Matt 24: 4-25. Woven in with this thread is a second one, announcing that a great revival is coming onto the Earth as prophesied by Smith Wigglesworth in 1947, and that it this outpouring will be unlike anything hitherto experienced. Both these headlines can be found in Isaiah 61:1-3:

Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.

For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you

The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising…”

The point is not that these words have been around for thousands of years, but that, as Peter declared in Acts 2 when he preached at Pentecost, “This is that which was spoken of.” The headlines of prophesy today are essentially this: now is the time that was spoken of by Isaiah in verse two. It’s now. And in this context, it’s imperative for the church to separate itself from the darkness. Just as God separated the light from the darkness at the dawn of creation; just as Jeremiah – and the voice from Heaven heard by John (Rev 18:4) – called God’s people to “come out of the midst of Babylon” (Jer 51:45), so it is time for the church to separate itself from the world and be serious about consecration to a holy God.

Swept up, or swept away

As we allow God to reveal more of His holiness to us, so He reveals more of His majesty, and as He reveals more of His majesty so He reveals more of His love. The attributes of God are bound up in His identity, and we find them all in Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), and equally in the Holy Spirit, whom the Father “sends in the name (the identity) of Jesus” (John 14:26). The Kingdom of God is established “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech 4:6), and His Spirit is holy. Holy comes before Spirit: as the Holiness movement preceded the Pentecostal revival at the beginning of the last century, so the “story” behind those prophetic headlines today is that God is calling the Church today to wake up to His holiness: those who do will be swept up by the power of His Spirit, but those who do not will be swept away.

Under the Old Covenant, the only route to holiness was through obedience to the many external requirements of the Law.  In Christ, holiness dwells within us by His Spirit and we are given just two commands to obey: to love God, and to love one another. When we obey these two, we “obey the whole of the law,” (Romans 13:10) and the holiness that dwells in the immortal part of ourselves, our spirits, can reach out through our mortality to bring light and life to a dying world. In calling the church to holiness, God is calling us to love: to worship Him and to love one another. It is where “lawlessness abounds” that “the love of many will grow cold,” (Matt 24:12) and it is because of that lawlessness that “darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the people;” and it is when we separate ourselves from that darkness by submitting to the Royal Law of love that “The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.”

There is no other way. It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Holy Spirit that this prophesied revival will come. To bring these thoughts to land in Scripture, 2 Cor 3:18 spells out exactly how it will come about:

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

We will see the Holy Spirt at work through us and the light of Christ reflected in our faces when we remove the veil that separates us from His holiness.

“It was before the Lord…”

Now as the ark of the LORD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart….  Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” So David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. (2 Sam 6: 16, 20-23)



I stayed recently at a hotel where I was speaking and exhibiting at a dyslexia conference. The hotel was built, I think, around the end of the 19th century: in its heyday it must have been a jewel in the crown of Victorian opulence in that city. It had a splendid ballroom, tall ornate mirrors, spacious bedrooms with recessed seats in the walls, crystal chandeliers, and wide steps where you could imagine the daughters of the local shipping magnates sweeping through in their flowing robes as men in top hats held an outstretched hand and gave a slight bow as they descended. Today it is a different story: the opulence hasn’t just faded, it has disappeared. The carpets are dirty, paint is peeling off the walls, The pictures in my room weren’t even hanging on the wall but they were on the floor, leaning against it; the lift door got stuck and the goods lift didn’t work at all.

I was thinking of all the shortcomings of this place when I opened my Bible at the place I had reached in my current reading: it was the verse I’ve quoted in the title of this piece, from psalm 138 vs 8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me…“ When I read this I looked at myself and realised how Man was like this hotel that I was staying in: created in beauty and perfection, but now worn down and broken by sin. Yet, because of the blood of Jesus, our Father can see us in our original beauty, Immanuel still chooses to come and dwell in us, and the Holy Spirit promises to perfect us…

When David was bringing the Ark into Jerusalem and famously dancing and whirling in celebration, Michal looked out of the window and “despised him in her heart.“ She disapproved of his actions which she considered to be unseemly, and she spoke in a critical and negative way. She just saw what she considered to be peeling paint and dirty carpets.  David‘s response, detailed above, was that “it was before the Lord…” The consequence of Michal’s criticism was that she had no children.

Our words can be either fruitful or barren. The unfruitfulness of Michal‘s life is a dramatic illustration of the consequence of barren words. How easy it is to judge a brother or sister with our negative comments because we consider that what they are doing is inappropriate by our standards. Yet because of the blood of Jesus that brother or sister is standing “before the Lord.” God does not peer down disapprovingly from behind a twitching curtain: He opens His arms wide in welcome. If the blood of Jesus is sufficient for the Father to look upon us in love and approval, how can we ever do otherwise when looking upon each other? The only consequence of our negativity will be unfruitfulness in our own lives.

Michal’s contempt of David was more than a passing thought in her head; it came from a deeper place. It came from her heart. If we criticise a brother or sister we are no better than Michal: we have lifted up our own hearts in contempt, and we are forgetting that we too are like that run-down hotel I stayed in. We need to pray, as David did: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139 23-24) Our negativity will never lead anybody else “in the way everlasting;” it will only, ultimately, have a negative impact on ourselves.

However, God says “I will perfect the things which concern you.” David’s prayer suggests that anxious thoughts lead to offensive ways. What anxieties lie deep in our hearts that can cause us to be offensive to others as Michal was? If we invite Him in to that run-down, broken area of our heart that feels the need to despise another person, He will come in, mend the lift, lay a new carpet, repaint the walls and hang the pictures in their place. The lift will take us up into heavenly places, the carpet will be a red carpet of welcome for His presence, the walls will be as white as snow, and the pictures will show the face of Jesus. And instead of criticizing David we will be joining him in the dance.

Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.

I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.

You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
(Ps 73: 21-24)

Our eyes will see the King


The river of God’s mercy flows from Cross, and because we stand in that river we are able to come before a holy God. But as we stand there God is doing a new thing in us: He is bringing us to a higher level of sanctification. He is bringing us to a place where He will say “Take off your shoes, for the place where you stand is holy.” Our shoes have walked in the dirt of the world, but His presence in us will become so strong that we will be able to separate ourselves from the sin that has stalked our lives and so often overpowers us.

When that time comes we will be able to say with David: “I was also blameless before him, And I kept myself from my iniquity,“ but it will not be because of our own righteousness, but of the righteousness of the God that dwells within us.  Our eyes will see the King, and conviction of sin will be strong in all who are submitted to Him, as it was in the days of Azuza Street; but the Lord says that Azuza Street was just a forerunner of what is to come: as we stand in that place of sanctification He will lift our eyes to new heights of love that only a very few prophets and apostles have known until now. What a few have just glimpsed, many will grasp, and those who do will know His power going before them and into the fallen world to establish His Kingdom.

We are standing before the walls of Jericho, and He says to us now “I am drawing you into the Holy Place, where I will give you your instructions and prepare you for moving into the land ahead.” For when we obey the commander of the Lord’s army we will see the walls come down.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said:

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.”
(Isaiah 6: 1-4)

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so”
(Joshua 5: 13-15)

“For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
All his judgements were before me,
And I did not put away his statutes from me.
I was also blameless before him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.“
(Psalm 18:21-23)

“I Put before you Life and Death”

A word given to Louise Davidson, published on her Facebook page “HeartBeats by Louise Davidson” and reproduced with her permission.

“It is time for My people to mature: there is too many that are still motivated by fear especially, fear of man’s opinions. This fear paralyses my people and it is time to render account repent and allow the Holy Spirit to come and reveal where there are foundations that need to be repaired. The is no time to stay in the background and hope that all will pass you by so you don’t have to get involved. Being lukewarm is not an option if you desire to live in My Kingdom. It’s all or nothing. Time is short and I am bringing a move of My Spirit upon the earth, that has never been seen before!
NO man can say that he was the source, and take MY Glory, no one group will be singled out but it will be My power through the Holy Spirit that will sweep through the earth and bring conviction of sin like never before.
I stand at the door and knock … will you give me entrance to your heart and will you enter into My kingdom completely. Now is the time to decide, as when the great awakening comes there will be great distress for those that have sat on the fence and accommodated the world with one foot in the world and one foot in MY Kingdom. Come now today is the day of your redemption. I put before you LIFE AND DEATH… just as I did with Adam and I say choose LIFE.”

Revelation 3:13-15
13 So the one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is now saying to all the churches.
14 Write the following to the messenger of the congregation in Laodicea, for these are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the originator of God’s creation:

15 I know all that you do, and I know that you are neither frozen in apathy nor fervent with passion. How I wish you were either one or the other!

Jeremiah 21:8
8 “Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.

Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

The roar of rushing waters at Lauterbrunnen falls.

There is a waterfall in Switzerland called Lauterbrunnen, where the glacier melt from high mountains pours down through the rock into the valley below. The water pours at a rate of 30,000 L per second: the roar of those rushing waters and the power of them is breathtaking. Yet when you look at the stream in the valley that runs away from the foot of the waterfall there is nothing impressive to see. It is just a little river running over some stones.

We often sing in church of the greatness and all surpassing majesty of God; the God of the heavens, the creator of the universe. When I look at Lauterbrunnen I am reminded that the same power and majesty dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. All the power and resources of the kingdom of heaven are within us, yet most of the time our experience of the God who lives within us is more akin to that trickle over the stones than the roar in the rock. In our awareness of this reality, we cry out to the Holy Spirit to come – even asking him at times to “come down“ – and fill us some more; to pour in the waterfall to cover our barren stones.

Yet he has already come down: we don’t need to ask Him to come again – He hasn’t left part of Himself behind. When God pours out his Holy Spirit He doesn’t pour it from a cloud that somehow floats our head; He pours it from His own presence that is already here on Earth, living in every believer that makes up the church. When God pours out his Holy Spirit he pours from us, not into us. Rivers of living water flow out; they don’t flow in. We are exhorted to be filled with the Holy Spirit – that is, to be filled on a continual basis, not just once – so we tend to carry some sort of picture of a jug full of Holy Spirit pouring down into our rapidly emptying bowls a we hold them up to him. But I don’t think it’s like this. I think the space He fills is the space that we give Him. If we aren’t full of the Holy Spirit it is because we are full of ourselves. We must decrease, as John the Baptist said, so that He increases within us. God prepared the church for the Pentecostal revival at the beginning of the last century with the holiness movement: His people sought to make room in their lives for the presence of a holy God, and the result was that the Holy Spirit filled the space they gave Him, resulting in an outpouring of His love and power that has gone round the world ever since and brought millions of lost souls into the Kingdom of the living God.

Today, prophetic voices all around the world are declaring by the Holy Spirit that a new and even greater outpouring is on the horizon. But before Pentecost comes holiness. To be full of the Holy Spirit we need to be empty of everything else; otherwise we are not full, we are only partly full. But the Bible tells us to be filled, and keep on being filled. Jesus wants to operate through the Holy Spirit to be Lord of all of our lives, not just bits of them. He wants to be Lord of our thoughts, our emotions, our plans, our motivation, our will, our bodies; worshipping with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, all our strength. The extent to which we are filled with the Holy Spirit is the extent to which He is Lord.

He is calling the church today into a renewed commitment to His lordship, and when we respond to the call He will reveal Himself in a way that is unprecedented In the history of the church. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will know the roar of the waterfall instead of just the trickle of the stream. And when we do, we will no longer be satisfied with anything else.

Be Renewed in the Spirit of your Mind

Changing the points…

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4: 20-24)

The verses that follow (Eph 4: 25- Eph 5:5) give the Ephesian church – and the rest of us – a blueprint of what “true righteousness and holiness” look like as we walk in love as children of light and imitators of God. So we read them, maybe underline them in our Bibles; we pray over them, we memorize them and write them down – and yet we find that the old man is stubbornly clinging on like an unshakeable shadow. “O wretched man that I am,” we cry, quoting Romans seven, and maybe go back to our Bibles and our worship, feeling weak and defeated in our personal walk but thanking Jesus for His saving love. But we will have missed a key, though: like changing the points on a railway line, there is a course of action from which all those attributes of godliness can flow, and it’s that little one-liner that makes up verse 23: “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” If we can really grasp verse 23, the rest of the verses will follow.

The Blue Letter Bible lexicon defines the word spirit (Greek pneuma) as it is used here as “the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any body.” Paul’s exhortation is quite uncomplicated: instead of letting the “old man” influence our thinking, we allow our minds to be filled and governed by the “new man.” To move the language away from first century male-dominated culture and into the twenty-first, I am going to use the term “new creation” from now on where Paul uses “new man.” The new creation is born of the Spirit, and, just as Adam and Eve before the fall, is made in the image of God. Since God is Love and He is light (1 John 1:5), the disposition of the new creation is always towards love and light. The new creation is a spirit being and has to walk in the light, and will always pursue love: not to do so is not to walk in the spirit. To be renewed in the spirit of our mind is to let our thinking be controlled by the desire to love.

We can get up at 5.00 am and spend three hours in prayer and worship to God, but if at 8.05 our words to the person next to us are negative and unloving, the spirit of our mind has not been renewed by the previous three hours spiritual activity. If we have not love, we are nothing. Jesus hasn’t called us to spend three hours with Him in Heaven and not to bring Heaven with us when we come back to Earth. He taught us to pray “You will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” and the Father’s will is always going to be to show His love. In all our communication and all our interactions, this has to be our priority. It is only the thinking of the renewed mind that is in line with the loving purposes of God, which is what Romans 12:2 makes clear: “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.”

Taking the steps
So how do we take the steps to walk in this direction? A few people are called to spend most of their time in prayer and public ministry, but for most of us the majority of our Christian life is spent with the relatively small number of people with whom we live and work. We work out our salvation in the close relationships of our daily lives. Our interactions may involve works of service and may involve prayer ministry, but most of all they are the words we exchange concerning the issues that affect us. These are the conversations that either build us up or break us up. We can either tend towards Ephesians 4: 14 “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ;” or Galatians 5: 15 “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” It all depends on whether or not we are renewed in the spirit of our minds.

A key to the renewed mind is in the well-known phrase “speaking the truth in love.” There are two aspects to every conversation: the content, and the relationship. The way of the world – that Romans 12:2 says we are not to conform ourselves to – is to “tell it like it is”, to “have our say,” to “tell them straight,” etc., or at a corporate and governmental level to “have talks.” But the purpose is always the same: it isn’t to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” but for me to prove to you that it’s my will that is good and acceptable, and that you should comply with it. The discussion is about the content; relationship is secondary. If “talks have broken down,” at whatever level, so too has the relationship.

The Kingdom way is the opposite. Relationship comes first. It’s love that endures forever. If we are keeping in mind the law of Love we prefer one another (Romans 12:10); we submit to one another (Eph. 5:21); and through love we serve one another (1 John 4:7). Every conversation is an opportunity to allow the love of God to flow into a situation. Speaking the truth in love starts with considering what the other person wants from the conversation. This is what causes the body to grow “into Him who is the Head, Christ.” (Eph 4:15) Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies,” writes Paul (1 Cor 8:1), and to the Ephesians he writes “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph 4:29) Corrupt words come from the old creation, which “grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Words that impart grace are what edify, and have their origin in the new creation, “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Changing the Points
According to these scriptures, then, the purpose of everything we say should be to build up the other person and “impart grace” to them, releasing something of the love of God into their life. Every time we do this, prioritizing relationship over content, we establish our minds in the new creation rather than the old. Bob Dylan released the Christian album “Slow Train Coming’” in 1979. In one of the tracks he sings: “I’m gonna change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules.” When we change our way of thinking, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind; and when we renew our minds, as Romans 12:2 says, we start to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We do literally change the points, because the purpose of my words is no longer for you to get my point, but for me to get yours. And once we have let go of our own agenda, it is a small step for me to move from trying to consider your agenda to actually being open to hearing God’s agenda for you, and to catch something of His perfect will for your life.

So if we want to impact the lives of others with the truth and the power of God, we start by seeing every conversation as an opportunity to love instead of an opportunity to make our point. And when we do this, we will be built up in our own lives too, because as we give, it shall be given unto us (Luke 6:38).  As Atticus said to Scout in  Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Jesus climbed into our skin, walked around in it and was crucified in it so that we could be renewed in the spirit of our mind and live, speak and act out of the new creation, rather than out of the old one that was crucified with Him. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

Becoming established
It is because the Son of God did this for us that we can to put off all the corruption and self-centredness of the flesh, and put on the new creation that has been born of the Spirit of God. We do this every time we make the decision to love. The more we do it, the stronger the new creation becomes, and the fainter the shadow of the old. This is what I think is meant by the idea of being “established” in God that we find, for example, in 1 Thess 3:13, 1 Pe 5:10, and Romans 16:25. The more we make it our habit to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, the more the new creation will walk in the love and the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing blessing to others, manifesting the character of Christ in the fruit of the Spirit, and building the Kingdom of God at every step. Who knows what miracles will flow, when we are open to God’s “good and acceptable and perfect will” for the person that we are talking to?”