Category Archives: Christian Life

Seeking God’s presence and walking in His ways as a Spirit-filled believer.

The Path of the Just (2): The Needle’s Eye

“God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us,

That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.”
(Psalm 67: 1-2)

“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:24-26)

I sometimes think that we can get so caught up in our desire to see revival sweep across the nations that we can lose sight of why revival is sent. We know for a fact that one day the Glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, because it is stated in God’s word; and we can be fairly certain – because the message has been given consistently through a number of reliable prophetic voices, including Smith Wigglesworth’s notable 1947 “The Last Move” prophesy – that God is preparing a move of the Holy Spirit that will eclipse anything the world has seen up till now. But if God is going to be merciful to us and bless us with an outpouring of His presence, and if He is going to cause His face to shine upon us and bring His light into the darkness of broken communities, broken lives and broken bodies, it will be for a purpose: that His way is known and His salvation revealed.

God’s Way is of course revealed in Jesus. Jesus is the Way; we, the Church, were first called “Followers of the Way, or even at times just “the Way.” So far so easy. But it tends to get more difficult when we look at exactly how Jesus Himself described the way He came to reveal, because He isn’t just the Way; He is the Narrow Way: “Small is the gate, and narrow the way leading to life, and few there are who find it.” (Matt 7:14). His is the way that humbled Himself to death on the cross (Phil 2:8); who “didn’t come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Way is “meek and humble of heart” (Matt 11:29); and although “He was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.(2 Cor 8:9). When God mercifully pours out His blessing it is to reveal the way of His Kingdom, which is a life lived without self-interest, motivated only by the needs of others. Indeed there are few who find it.

We all know Romans 8 28: we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” but we don’t all quote the following verse quite so often: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” The word “for” connects the two verses: God’s purpose for us, within the frame of which “everything works together for good,” is that we are “conformed to the image of His son.” Within God’s Kingdom purpose there is an inevitable progression as the blessing of God causes all things to work together for good, whereby the followers of the Way become part of the Way themselves, and in doing so are able to show the Way to others. Yet if the entrance to this salvation is narrower than a needle’s eye, and we (certainly in the rich developed world) are at least as fat as camels, how, as the disciples asked, can anyone be saved? (Matt 19:25)

Jesus answered the disciples’ question succinctly:  “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (verse 26) God doesn’t take away the eye of the needle: what He does by His Spirit is to make us small enough to go through it. When the Son of God came as the Son of Man He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant” (Phil 2:7) He sat the disciples down and told them very clearly: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35), and John’s gospel shows how He demonstrated the Kingdom way of Lordship by washing the feet of his disciples. (John 13: 1-17). “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (vs. 13-125)

These are familiar scriptures. They all illustrate the same thing: that God’s ways are not our ways. To walk in blessing, we bless others. To walk in authority, we serve others. If we give, it will be given unto us. If we want to walk without fear of our needs not being met, we meet the needs of others; because it is our “Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). This is the Way that God desires to make known on earth, the way of the Spirit that the flesh is ever opposed to (Galatians 5:17), the needle’s eye.

A sister at our church had a dream in which the Lord showed her that we, and all our fine plans, were like rocks that needed to go into a bottle in order to be poured into the places where He would direct. The rocks needed to be broken down and sieved into fine sand before they could go through the narrow neck of the bottle in order to be poured out. Only God can do this. He will only do it when we give Him permission, and our flesh will try to deny that permission in every possible way. Even if all our intentions are to serve the Lord and His Kingdom our best efforts are worthless if the rocks we bring Him are not so broken and sieved that He can direct them where, when and how He wants, and not where, when or how we think He wants.

I have just returned from a birdwatching holiday, where a group of us were taken by a guide to various birding “hotspots”  in and around the Scottish Highlands. Two members of the group had cameras with such big, powerful lenses that they could only use them when they were set up on a tripod: I would need more muscle strength than I am endowed with to even lift them to my eyes. They could take brilliantly clear pictures of a Slavonian grebe a quarter of a mile away on the other side of the Moray Firth, once they were set up and focussed on the bird; but they would have completely missed the crossbills flitting between the treetops that I could capture an image of with my lightweight handheld gear. It is God’s word, borne on the wings of His Spirit and received in an obedient heart that brings His life, not our cumbersome structures and heavyweight programmes.

For those of us who might feel that we are more reliant on the impromptu leadings of the Holy Spirit than organised missions and programmes, there is still a “heavyweight lens” that will keep us from passing through the needle’s eye, and this is the lens of signs and wonders, the prophetic lens itself. God will “cause His face to shine upon us, That (His) way may be known on earth.” The purpose of all that He does in a time of outpouring will always be to see more lives conformed to the image of His Son, swelling the numbers of those who walk the Narrow Way. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human  wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2: 1-5) Paul’s ministry clearly manifested the power of God, but his life was just as obviously a demonstration of the Narrow Way. He could write 1 Corinthians 13 because he lived it.

Psalm 85:13 tells us “Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway.” If we are seeking for signs and wonders to follow the words that we preach and for revival outpouring to fall on our churches, we tend to focus on the mechanics of ministry – how to share Jesus, how to move in words of knowledge, how to prophesy, how to lead worship etc – but what about how we can “make ourselves of no reputation” so that we can be small enough to walk in His footsteps through the eye of the needle? There is plenty of training on prophesy, evangelism and all the fivefold ministries, and I am not saying that these are not valuable; but I have yet to see a course on how to be meek and humble of heart like Jesus so that we can demonstrate His Way in our lives on Earth.

Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16) To pray “in the name of Jesus” is not a mantra that we tag onto the end of every supplication, but it is to ask the Father what Jesus would ask Him for, because we are walking in His ways and conformed to His image. From the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles this obviously worked for Paul: he saw the  power of God at work, and he saw His Way established on Earth: he bore fruit that remains. We need the power of God as much as Paul did: not just to demonstrate His sovereignty, but also to make us small enough to make His way known on earth.

Psalm 62:11 says this:

God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.

Power belongs to God; the narrow way belongs to us. It is when they work together that the Kingdom is built.

The Path of the Just

The path of just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.“ (
Prov 4:18)

I started my prayer time this morning, half thinking and a half praying the usual daily thoughts, along the lines of “Lord, what are my priorities today? What should I be doing?” And then it was “And is there anything I should be writing about?” The last question was quite unusual, because I tend to write when I feel I’ve got something to say: I don’t usually ask the Lord first if he’s got something for me. (Maybe I should…) When I sat back in my chair the morning sun came out from behind a cloud and streamed through the window, so dazzling that it was difficult to open my bible and read it. But when I did it opened at Proverbs 4 verse 18:
“The path of just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.“ (Prov 4:18)

It seemed fairly clear that His answer to my question about writing was “Yes, and this is it!” So this is what I’ve got…

Until the day that the lord chooses to intervene with the mechanisms of the universe, the Sun is never going to stop rising. It will always bring life, and it will always bring light . God does not want our path to be intermittent and jerky. Smith Wigglesworth said that once we are called to the Spirit we can’t return to the flesh. “God has given to us in the spirit, and behold, we are spiritual children today, and we must know that we have to be spiritual all the time. God forbid that we should ever be like the Galatian church, after we been in the spirit, we could come in the flesh. You are allowed to go into the spirit but you are never allowed to come in the flesh after you have been in the spirit.“ (Message given at Glad Tidings Tabernacle and Bible training school, San Francisco, August 22, 1922*)

So it is with the path of just: like the Sun, it is set on a course that is governed by immutable spiritual laws that are laid down in heaven and condensed for us in the command to love. The Hebrew word translated as “just” (tsaddiyq) means both just or righteous in government and in deed, and also righteous as justified and vindicated by God. It is because we have been justified by the blood of Jesus we are the righteousness of God in Christ, and this applies to every saint. It is only the Just who can walk after spirit. The purpose of our walk, the path of the just, is to shine like the sun, and we do that when we consecrate ourselves to sharing God’s life and His love. When we walk after the spirit every step we take is like the footsteps of good King Wenceslas in the Christmas Song: they are warm with the love and the life of Jesus.

Many of us pray see that sun shining in revival, but how much do we really want to pay the price of being part of the fire? In “Compelled by Love,” Heidi Baker tells of how – to the consternation of the authorities – she went into a camp set aside for people with highly contagious cholera, hugged the sick and dying, and brought the healing and Life of Jesus to the whole camp. Jesus isn’t going to give us black marks when we slip into carnality, but I do believe he is sad when we do, because he knows that not only we are missing His best, but also that He is missing our best. He must long for us to partner with the Holy Spirit like the apostles of old, the Wigglesworths of yesterday, and the Bakers of today.

Anne (my wife) had a visitation from God a few years ago that lasted three days. She says she knows exactly when He started to withdraw: it was when she reached out for a kit-kat (a chocolate biscuit that breaks into “fingers”) after He had said “don’t eat that now,” said to God “Why not? It’s harmless,” and ate it anyway. God has nothing against chocolate biscuits and He isn’t about micro-managing our appetites, but on that occasion He had a reason for wanting Anne to say no to her desire, harmless though it seemed. Because the presence of the Holy Spirit wasn’t so strong on her from that moment, the next time she was tempted to move out of the Spirit it was more difficult to resist, and so it continued until the sense of His manifest presence had gone.

We can scratch our heads over what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit, but I think it begins with this: the Lord wants us to be so in tune with His Spirit that we can dismiss those promptings of carnality that make our vessels so leaky, and He is grieved when we aren’t. When we spiral down the path to sin and death (James 1:15), His grief must increase, and David expresses acute awareness of this in Psalm 51, but I think this is the lesson of Anne’s story. Instead of being full of the Holy Spirit like Stephen and Barnabas in the Book of Acts, we judder along with our tanks on reserve, leaking because they are pierced through by chocolate biscuit fingers.  If more of us came to church full, instead of needing to be filled, we would be more likely to see the power of God moving among those who stagger in empty.

So we press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – although actually how much pressing do we really do?  A small group of us were praying to know the manifest presence of God in our midst, for the Daystar to consume our lives with His presence. A sister prayed with wonderful honesty: “Lord, we long for revival, or we think we do anyway…” I think she nailed it: do we really want revival, or do we just want to warm our hands on the fire?  Jesus tells us clearly that we should count the cost of following Him, whether he was talking specifically about carrying the cross, or teaching through the illustrations of assessing the cost of building a tower or the strength of an opposing army. If we want the Presence, I think we do need to press. When that shining sun is on its trajectory in the spirit, pouring God’s life and love into others, it cannot come down to Earth for a night out or a bit of r and r. It stays on course as it heads for the perfect day. The Son of Man had no place to rest His head.

The Mighty One, God the LORD,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.”
(Ps 50: 1-2)

God will do what He says. He will shine forth out of Zion. Zion will be found wherever that sun is shining. Are we just going to dream of the perfect day, or are we going to commit ourselves to staying on the path towards it? If we feel that we need a prayer of renewed consecration, we can do no better than the one or merciful Holy Spirit gave to David all those years ago:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
“(Psalm 51: 10-13)

“In royal robes I don’t deserve.
I live to serve
Your Majesty”
(Jarrod Cooper, from the Album “Days of Wonder.”)

*The Smith Wigglesworth quotation is published in “Smith Wigglesworth, the complete collection of his life teachings,” compiled by Roberts Liardon.

The Parable of the Dragnet

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)

When Jesus compared the Kingdom to a dragnet he was talking to people for whom they were central to their daily life: if they weren’t fishermen themselves, they were dependent on what the  nets brought in for their daily sustenance. In a very real sense, the dragnet was part of the very fabric of their lives. And  since the King said that His Kingdom is like one, we can expect the image to speak into our lives as Kingdom people today.

The strength of a net is in its connections. Peter wrote: “If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” (1 Peter 4:11) We are part of the dragnet when we are reaching out and making connections with others. Since we can only operate fruitfully “with the ability which God supplies,” in His strength and not our own, the connections themselves – the knots in the net – have to be made by the Spirit of God and not by our own selfish desires. Put simply, we either reach out to others to give them something that we have got (Kingdom, Spirit), or to take something that they can give us (self, flesh).

What I have I give you,” said Peter to the cripple at the Gate Beautiful. (Acts 3:6) What I have may be a Holy Spirit gift of healing or prophesy, it may be my time, my skills or (what Peter and John didn’t have) my money; but if it’s a connection made in love it will glorify God and it will add to the net. If I am just reaching out to take – your knowledge, your resources, your reflected status, your companionship, your approval – I am not making a Kingdom connection; I am actually doing nothing more than the beggar at the Gate who was reaching out his hand for whatever he could get. Spiritually I am as crippled as he was.

The Law Jesus gave us is to love one another, and when we obey His law we build His net. He said to his disciples: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt 7:22-23), and He clearly defines what He meant by lawlessness in Matthew 25:41-43, where, put simply, it’s another word for lovelessness:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

So we can even be moving in the power of the Holy Spirit and yet not be making Kingdom connections. God is sovereign and can use the results of what we do for His purposes, whatever our motivation; but if our hearts are not in the right place and we are seeking our glory and not His, looking after our own needs and not those of others, we are not adding to the dragnet. The context of this parable is the principle of fruitfulness: a good tree bears good fruit, He tells us in verse 17. If our “mighty works” are not grounded in Love, they will be a flash in the pan and will not bear fruit that endures. A local revival may be birthed in power, but starved of love the flames die out, and the net finishes no bigger than when it started.

“As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1 Cor 12:12)

There are many squares in the dragnet, many connections. All the squares are the same size, there are no greater or lesser  squares, and they all do the same job, which is to catch fish. A strong thread in many messages coming from the Holy spirit to the church through prophetic ministers today is that God is, and will be, pouring out His anointing on unknown members of the Body of Christ who have no status in their churches, no public platform ministry and no website or You Tube channel, but who are full of the compassion of God and are wholly submitted to His will. As they believe the Word of God and trust the power of the Holy Spirit, these, the unknown brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for love, will be the ones who make the connections and cause the net to spread out across the oceans of the world.

The dragnet is a parable for the end times. The devil clearly tried to use the Covid pandemic to pull apart our connections right across the globe in an attempt to weaken our love, but God “turns a curse into a blessing” (Neh 13:2) and now not only do we seem to value our relationships more than we did pre-Covid; but church networks are growing in an unprecedented way through the use of virtual meetings. The time of the dragnet is approaching. How are our relationships? Will they break when the dragnet is drawn to shore, or are we giving what we have “with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever?”

Faith comes from hearing…

Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”
(Psalm 40: 7-8)

How often do we step out of our daily routine to draw aside with God, and then bump into a word that speaks directly into a situation that we are praying about, in a portion of Scripture that we read that very day? What never ceases to astound me as how that word has been waiting for this moment. I want to invite you to put on sunglasses for a moment and stare with me into the blazing glory of the substance of the Word of God.

The psalmist writes that Gods word is “settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89) The Hebrew word for settled means established, standing firm. This is the word that created the universe, and that sustains “all things;” (Heb 1:3) it is the Word that was in the beginning before becoming flesh. (John 1:14) Jesus says that His words will remain even though Heaven and Earth pass away (Luke 21:33). He tells us that His words are “Spirit and they are life.” He does not say that they are from the Spirit or that they bring life; He says that they are spirit and they are life. God’s word is living and active. It seems that the substance of the word is actually part of the substance of God himself. John 1:1 affirms this, because the gospel writer tells us clearly that “the word was God.” God’s words do not just come from Him; they are part of Him.


Speaking through David by the Holy Spirit, Jesus says (Psalm 40 verses 7 to 8) “Behold I come, it is written about me in the scroll of your book. I delight to do Your will Oh Lord.“ He made it clear to the scribes and Pharisees that the law and the prophets revealed Him: He was written there long before He came in the flesh. We find many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, but I think the clearest of them all is actually Psalm 22, where we find not only Christ’s experience of the crucifixion described in great detail, but also His birth and life (vs 9-10), His resurrection (v 21), the Church age (v 22) and His coming Glory (vs 27-29) as well.

The Psalm famously starts with Jesus’s cry from the cross: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“ And it tells how He can count all his bones, how He is “poured out like water“ and “all His bones are out of joint“, how His hands and feet have been pierced. how His enemies cost lots of His garments, how He is mocked and taunted. (vs. 12-18) Then, like a blazing comet in a dark sky, comes a single sentence set on its own: “you have answered me.“ (v 21)

Following this, we see in quick succession the establishment of the church “my praise should be of You in the great assembly“ (v 22), and the fulfilment of the kingdom promises of justice and mercy: “I will pay my veins before those who fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him will praise the Lord.“ (v 26) The final declarations of this wonderful psalm focus on the end time promise that “all the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations. (Verses 27 to 28)

When Jesus came to do the Father’s will, these words were already settled in Heaven and written about Him in the scroll of the book. When He cries out “My God My God why have You forsaken Me?” He is not only declaring God’s judgement of and turning away from the sin of all mankind, He is also connecting with the eternal word of His purpose and His posterity that is settled in the scroll of Heaven. In the extremes of the greatest anguish known to man, the Son of God is trusting the Father because He had already declared that He was, and that  His prayers had been answered, 1000 years beforehand. It was settled in heaven.

As Jesus so powerfully and finally demonstrated from the point of the cross, when God’s word comes alive in our circumstances it comes with all the power of Heaven. Our lives too are written in the scroll of God’s book, as we know from Ephesians 2:10 that talks of the works prepared for us beforehand “that we might walk in them.” When we pray and speak words from that book we too are taking hold of words that are “settled in heaven,“ and we are bringing something of the very substance of the spiritual dimension into space and time. We know that we are praying prayers that will be answered, because the answer is there already, just as it was for Jesus (verse 21: “You have answered me.“)

We read in Romans 10: 17  that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ When we hear a word spoken by the Holy Spirit, whether it is a word of scripture or a word spoken directly to our hearts, we know it will be fulfilled because God’s word never returns to him void ( Isaiah 55:11) God hasn’t only given the word that is spoken, He is also actually in its very substance in order to fulfil it. Our challenge as disciples of Jesus is to always try to make sure that the words we are speaking and the prayers that we are praying are words that are settled in Heaven. Jesus said more than once: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.“ (E.g. Matt 11:15) Peter says that we are “born again of the incorruptible word of God, ”(1 Pe 1:23) and I believe that these “Ears to hear” are the  “hearing” that comes by the word: it is ours at the new birth, and ours to refine as we mature in Christ. It is only this “hearing,” these spiritual ears, that is able to hear heavenly words.

We know that Spiritual things are spiritually discerned; (1 Cor 2:14), and also that “the flesh profits nothing.” (John 6:63) If we read words from Heaven that are written in the Bible with our ears of flesh, they cannot impart faith: we cannot receive the life that is in them, and the consequence will be disappointment.  We will profit nothing. We know that Heaven’s answer will always come from Heaven, but we can so easily forget that our prayers, like the prayers of Jesus on the cross that we read in Psalm 22, must also come from Heaven if they are going to bring Resurrection life into situations. These are prayers of mustard-seed faith; this, as well as praying in tongues, is praying in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray (Romans 8:26). If we want to see more prayers answered, we must always remember to ask Him for His help.

Extracts from Two Seconds to Midnight

How to be ready for God’s next move

“Two Seconds to Midnight” combines personal testimony, teaching, Bible commentary and prophetic themes in an exploration of Matthew 11:29-30: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  The premise of the book is based on a prophetic revelation that there is very little time left before we reach the time marked on God’s calendar for something momentous to  occur, and we need to stay yoked to Jesus in order to be ready for it. Who knows (only the Father!) – it may even be the return of Christ. The following short extracts, starting with the introduction, are intended to give something of the flavour and the diversity of the book.


Introduction: Midnight

“On the eve of my birthday, my watch stopped at three seconds to midnight. The next morning I was writing this interesting fact in my diary, thinking about what it meant. Could it be a sign that there were just a few seconds left on God’s clock before Jesus returns? Or could it have been the Lord saying that there are just a few seconds left before the beginning of the new season we have been hearing so much about?

“I glanced up from my diary to the watch that was on the table before me, and suddenly, as I looked on, the second hand began to move again. It moved exactly three seconds and stopped with the hour, minute, and second hands all in line at midnight. Suffice it to say that the hairs on the back of my neck and on my arms literally stood on end!”

(Andrew Baker, Heavenly Visions: A Portfolio of Prophetic Revelations series 2 book 5, Ark Resources)

As Andrew Baker wrote, what happens at “midnight” was not made clear. What is abundantly clear, however, is that there is not long left until it happens and, whatever it is going to be, it is very, very important on God’s agenda. When a child is out with a parent with a deadline to meet – a train to catch, for example – we can expect to see the same parenting strategy employed again and again: “Hold my hand!” And as the child holds the parent’s hand, she knows that she isn’t going to get lost or left behind. She knows she’s safe; she knows she’s loved. And the parent who loves that child and who has a plan for them both also knows two things: she is safe, and the plan is on track.

We have a deadline, a train to catch. Jesus is calling out to us to focus; to stay close to Him. He doesn’t just ask us in Scripture to hold His hand: He asks us to do something that is more solid and safer still. He says to us “Take My yoke upon you . . .” If we remain yoked to Jesus we will not lose our way: we will be where He wants us to be, when He wants us to be there.

Andrew Baker recorded that experience in 2016; since then I believe the clock has ticked again, and with the advent of COVID the world has changed and midnight has been brought closer. Of course none of us knows how long the next two seconds will last, as “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8); but this book is an exploration of what it means to be yoked to Jesus so we can serve Him best in what little time remains on His heavenly clock before midnight chimes.


Which yoke?

Evening came. I had my file ready for taking notes. I had produced a school play earlier that year, which I had written around a published series of songs that told the story of Noah’s Ark. (My heart, even then, was always drawn to the divine.) One of the characters was God, and the ring binder we had used in the play for His book was the file I was using for my notes. She went into a trance. If I hadn’t so totally bought into what was happening I would have run a mile: her face became Chinese. Muscles that she didn’t possess changed her features and slanted her eyes as the thing that was controlling her moulded her face like putty. And then we saw Akhenaten: he was a hunchback, and she grew a hump before our eyes. He also had a deformity that twisted his mouth: her mouth twisted, her face elongated, and I was sitting in front of the pharaoh that had been dead for nearly 4,000 years. I asked him questions for my book, and wrote down what he said. But what remains with me, and the reason I am telling this tale, is the first thing that was said by “Lao Tzu”. In a thin, reedy voice, it said, “We are very pleased. We see that you have found the golden book!” The cover of the file, God’s book from my play, was sprayed all over with gold paint.

The spirit realm isn’t “up there”, it is all around us. A testimony for all of us who seek to walk with Jesus is the experience of how God can control situations, lining up our personal universes so that we step into situations, or read a relevant Bible passage, in His perfect timing so that we know that our lives are aligned with His will. But what my experience in Glastonbury shows is that it isn’t just the Lord who can move us around to fulfil His plan for our lives. The devils aren’t just randomly prowling around looking for opportunities to do us harm: they too have plans – nasty, evil plans – and will proactively seek to draw us along the path that they have laid out for us. For Anne and me it was to be drawn deeper into the occult. Decisions that we thought we were making of our own free will were actually the result of demonic manipulation designed to bring us into greater bondage. The only real difference between us and the spiritist couple was that they were probably told to go to Glastonbury by their “spirit guides”, whereas we thought we were choosing our path.


Not a Tame Lion…

In Numbers 3 – 4 we read of the specific tasks allotted to the Levites. Unless our Bible study resources take us to the books of the Law, we (or is it just me?) tend to pass over these sections of Scripture in favour of the sweeping narratives of Samuel and Kings, the beauty and the raw emotion of the Psalms, the wonders of the prophets and of course the grace-filled New Testament. But if we want to encounter the holiness of our God we will find Him above the place of atonement in the tabernacle of Moses. We too easily humanise our heavenly Father. Yes, He is Abba. Yes, He welcomes us into His arms. Yes, He sings a song of love over us. But His accessibility by the blood of Jesus and His presence among us does not dilute the awesomeness of His majesty. As C.S. Lewis famously said in the Chronicles of Narnia, He is not a tame lion. While we inhabit our tents of flesh we cannot see Him as He is (1 John 3:2), but this does not diminish who He is among us. Because grace had not been given (one could say that Moses was the exception) the Levites only had a detailed set of regulations to keep them safe from destruction as they carried out their duties. The power that emanates from His being and permeated through all the sacred objects is like the electricity coursing through overhead power cables: touch it and you die. Such was – such is – the power that if any of the Kohathites, whose job was to transport the ark on their shoulders, even looked at a part of the load that was not their designated area, they would be destroyed. When God was allocating the tasks He gave specific instruction to Moses regarding the Kohathites “that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things” (Numbers 4:19).

The pure perfection of creative love that made and powers the universe is not cuddly daddy. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is the cable that is coiled inside our spirits. Because we have the insulation of the blood of Jesus we can grasp the power line, but because we can grasp it without being destroyed does not diminish it at all; it just gives us an understanding of the power of the blood of Christ.


The lesson of gentleness

Gentleness brings peace. At the beginning of this section we looked at James 3:17, which tells us that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” Verse 18 goes on to say that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”. If we want to see the kingdom of God established in and through our lives we need to sow “the fruit of righteousness”. Whatever emotional turmoil may be in your heart as a consequence of words spoken or deeds done by someone close to you, it is possible to make a decision to be gentle in response. You lose nothing by doing so: it is only the powers of darkness that lose their hold. As I said with reference to Jesus, this does not diminish your authority but, on the contrary, it creates emotional space for peace to reign, the wisdom from above to descend, and ultimately for a harvest of righteousness to be reaped.

At the time of writing, Anne and I have been married for 39 years, and we have been Christians for most of that time. But if I were able to go back in time and make just one change to my character, I think it would be that I exchange my orge for gentleness. I was cooking something on the hob last night. Anne came into the kitchen and said, “Turn the ring down! You always have it too high, and it just burns! You need to have it on a gentle heat.” I think I have always liked to say things emphatically and to be dominant and, as I delude myself, in control. My flame tends to be high, but instead of transforming what it touches, it too easily burns. We need to trust God to do the work of transformation, and keep our own flame on a gentle heat. When we see red, we need to see a red light. So if you are someone whose relationships are marred by emotional tidal waves, don’t wait until you are over 60 to learn the lesson of gentleness. And wherever we are in our journey, Jesus asks us to learn it from Him. He specified it because it is important, and we need to learn it now (if we haven’t already, of course) because there are only two seconds to midnight.


Daily Bread

George Muller lived with his arms wrapped tightly around God’s pipeline. He was a man yoked to Jesus. God’s abundant provision is there for us, as it was for Muller, but I believe that we are to give in faith ourselves if we are to fully appreciate what it is to ask, and receive in faith.

There are only two seconds left. Jesus warns us (Matthew 24:38-39): “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Before that time comes, He tells us that we would see various signs that many would say are strongly evident now. We are on ice that is getting thinner by the day – not just in the Arctic, but in a financial system based on debt and greed, and flashpoints increasing in the geopolitical sphere. If – or rather when – the ice breaks and society falls through into the dark water’s chaos, we will need increasingly to rely on the Lord for our daily bread. The hole in the wall will be empty. There will need to be Josephs who will feed their brothers, and who will also demonstrate the goodness of Jehovah Jireh when world systems fail. Jesus said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Let us make sure that He does.

Another sign of the last days is given to us in Revelation 13:18: “The number of the beast.” Whatever the deeper meaning and identity of 666 may be, we don’t need an online Bible teacher to help us understand the simple facts laid out for us in Revelation 13: that anyone who doesn’t have that number on their right hand or their forehead will not be able to buy or sell, and risks death. At the time of writing, thousands of people in Sweden are inserting a tiny microchip, the size of a grain of rice, into their hands so their biometric details can be scanned by various digital readers. It is being used to pay for train travel, to gain access to clubs and car parks, and it is said to be ready for use to take payments in shops and restaurants. Sweden is on the cusp of becoming the first cashless society in the world. The technology, known as RFID, is the same as that used in other contactless payment systems, so all of us who use contactless payments are only a skin-deep layer away from it ourselves.

The COVID crisis has brought cashless transactions closer still, and I don’t think it takes a great leap of the imagination to connect these developments in with the arrival of a completely state-controlled system of buying and selling under the beast. It will be hailed as a great boon to society, eliminating financial fraud as well as the contagion risks of handling cash. If that scenario is only two seconds away, we need to learn, urgently, how to stay yoked to Jesus in order to receive, and give, provision, because we do not know when we really will have to depend on God for our daily bread.


Blue tassels in our garments

Just like my game with Shelley is now an intrinsic and permanent part of how we behave with each other, and a source of fun that never diminishes, God wants the fabric of His word to so run through our lives that its living, active power is continually expressed through who we are and what we do. The Lord said to Moses:

“Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.’” (Numbers 15:38-41

The quality, the commitment, the fruitfulness of our discipleship depends on the centrality of the word of God in our lives. Our faithful response to God’s word is a measure of the extent to which we have taken His yoke upon us.

 A lot of the wisdom in the book of Proverbs is sound advice that anyone will benefit from following, and expresses ideas that are not unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Many of the moral teachings of Jesus resonate with adherents to other major faiths. But what God wants for us is not just for His words to give us a pattern to follow and principles to abide by; He wants us to be channels for the creative power of His word to be released in the world, releasing light into the darkness and building the kingdom of heaven. This means that we live in faith that the power of God’s word to bring His rule and reign into our lives is greater than the power of the circumstances around us. To apply the wise teachings of the Bible to our lives is the best way of navigating our circumstances, but to believe in and release the power of God’s word is the way to overcome them. This is why John 15:7 is so important, where Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” To move in power, contrary to the prevailing currents of the world, contrary to “the harlotry to which [our] own heart and [our] own eyes are inclined” (Numbers 15:39) we need to know Scripture, not just have a passing acquaintance with it.

In The Silver Chair, the sixth of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan (Jesus) sends Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb on a mission to liberate the prince of Narnia from an evil spell. He gives them four signs, which they are to repeat daily and never forget, and to follow whatever the circumstances. However, as the children come under the spell of the evil witch themselves, lured by a lying temptation of rest and comfort among some giants who would actually have killed and eaten them, the signs fade from significance. They neglected the discipline of keeping them uppermost in their minds, at a level where they actually would “direct their paths”; consequently their quest was more difficult and dangerous than it needed to have been. All the Narnia stories are rich in spiritual significance. We too are on a mission to bring freedom to the captives, and we too have to hold onto the “signs” that God has given us, irrespective of appearances and in the face of temptation. We cannot accomplish God’s mission without God’s word. We need to have those blue threads in the tassels of our garments.

Possessing our Souls

Jesus tells us, “By your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19) when we face end-time betrayal and hatred. Patience is translated elsewhere as “longsuffering” and “perseverance”. The writer to the Hebrews says, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:11-12). To be patient we need to be still, because we know that when we are still we know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). We need to know how to wait on the Lord, because that is how we renew our strength. Patience is a crucial attribute of the Spirit-filled life, because patience says to us, “Stop! Don’t rush to react. What is God saying here?” We believe God’s promises in our hearts, but without patience we do not stop to reach out for them.

Peter writes (2 Peter 1:4) that we partake of the divine nature through His “great and precious promises”. When we are in a time of trial and the wolves come howling round our houses, we can run to protect our flesh, which is when they will come running after us and pounce; or we can stop, and “in our patience possessing our souls”, we can reach in faith with renewed minds into the truth of the divine nature which is our promised inheritance.


Pressing on…

“Trying to be good” is a burden, because no matter how hard we try, we are going to fail. And when we fail at being good, where do we go to escape the guilt? If we know Jesus personally, then the chances are we will run to the cross, we will receive forgiveness, and then we’ll start trying to be good again until the next time we fail. But how do we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)? If we keep having to go back to the beginning? Paul has already given us the answer in the previous two verses:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:12-13)

We don’t slide down the snake and go back to the start: it’s not snakes and ladders. There aren’t any snakes on this board, because the snake has been defeated! Yes we fall, yes we need forgiveness again, but we continue to reach forward “to those things which are ahead”. In the Spirit we already partake of the “divine nature”, so if we sin there is only ever one reason: we have walked in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees that they “bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4). Religion today writes the report that says, “Could do better. Must try harder.” What does Jesus say to us? “Take My yoke upon you. My burden isn’t the heavy burden of religion: My burden is light.” The difference is this: modern religion, whether you are a tongue-speaking Pentecostal or an incense-burning Catholic, is trying to be like Jesus and to do what He would do. Walking in the Spirit, yoked to Jesus, is asking Him what He would do then doing what He says. His yoke is relationship. By simply doing what He says we are reaching ahead into the divine nature which is our inheritance.


The Biggest Wave

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, AND TO EACH HIS WORK, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37, my capitals)

Scripture encourages us to discern the times when Jesus castigates the Pharisees for not doing so (Luke 12:56). We need to understand the season we are in, and this book is a response to the impression that the times we are in are basically the End Times. I think the “midnight” of Andrew Baker’s vision and the title of this book might be the return of the Lord, but since this is not a detail that the Father will reveal we cannot make that assumption. I see us as surfboarders out in the sea, where the waves seem to get bigger and more frequent with every passing year. I imagine God saying something like, “You are not going to have an easy ride. There is no longer going to be a calm sea; a swell is building up that is not going to die away, and the waves are only going to increase and get bigger. But the biggest wave of all shall be the wave of My Spirit as it sweeps across the face of the earth . . .”

The biggest wave will be the wave of God’s Spirit as it sweeps across the face of the earth. Whatever the waves are that crash into the foundations of society, I believe God’s wave will be bigger. I believe this wave will be unlike anything we have known in two thousand years: it will come crashing into the church and will completely uproot some of those big “leafy trees” so that they will be completely washed away, while the fruitful ones will multiply exponentially to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We ride the wave, or we are engulfed by it. To ride this wave we need to be focused on our purpose, or our quest for it – “to each his work” – and not be found sleeping. Our debt-based economic system cannot withstand shocks forever. But whether they come in the form of virus outbreaks, oil-price collapse, water shortage, plastic pollution, war in the Middle East or elsewhere, global warming, cyberterrorism, or something else as unexpected as coronavirus was in 2019, God knows all of it, and He has given us authority and responsibilities in His house. “Joseph” ministries, responsible for providing for the household when the world system crumbles, how full are your granaries? Are they even built yet? You’ve only got two seconds left . . .


The Blind Beggar

“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” (Luke 18:40-43)

Of all the healings that we read of in the gospels, the blind beggar is the only one who is specifically referred to as following Jesus after his healing. What this tells me is that we cannot be yoked to Jesus unless we ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. And when He does, not only will we be glorifying God, but those around us will be giving Him praise as well.

Our promised land – the “exceedingly great and precious promises that have been given to us” – is this: to be “partakers of the divine nature”. If we allow ourselves to be invaded by the Spirit of God, we not only find ourselves starting to really know Him – to know His heart, His character, His desires for us, and above all His voice – we start becoming like Him. We will do what He did, and we will do the “greater things” promised in John 14:12. We will start to feel His compassion, so it won’t even occur to us to want to feed ourselves before feeding the 5,000. We will speak out of His love instead of our self-interest. Our promised land isn’t our city, the mega-church we want to build, a worldwide ministry, or 10,000 views on our YouTube channel; it’s to be partakers of the divine nature. The prerequisite to entry is that we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. All that leaven has to go. Only Jesus can make this happen, because “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36) and He will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, because “the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor 3:17). Peter needed Pentecost to be yoked to Jesus. And if it was necessary for Peter, it is necessary for us.

If we are going to face the coming Jerichos we need the presence of the Holy Spirit to be so real in our meetings that bystanders see fire coming out of our buildings and call the emergency services. It happened at Azusa Street; it happened much more recently (21st-century recently) at a glory conference in Washington DC; and I am sure that there are other occasions that I haven’t heard of. It needs to keep happening. The church needs to be baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire, just as John the Baptist prophesied. And if we take His yoke, really take His yoke having had our eyes opened to all that He is and all that we are in Him, we will start to see that happen. The walls of Jericho falling down? Easy.

The righteous shall live by faith

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness(Romans 4:4).

Jesus calls us to have “the faith of God,” (Mark 11|:22), and this faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). This is the God-faith by which He “calls those things which are not as though they are.” (Romans 4:17) (See the article “the evidence of things not seen” )To walk the path of faith, however, does not mean that we spend all our time walking in the miraculous, although for some this is the call on their lives, and for the rest of us it is always a possibility and is part of the fabric of what Watchman Nee calls “The Normal Christian Life.” What we are primarily called to as the people of God is actually to demonstrate His righteousness on earth. As Psalm 23:3 tells us, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” For God’s name to be glorified, we are to walk in righteousness. Yet we know we trip up constantly, and it’s forgiveness and grace that we walk in, not righteousness. We don’t stride, we stumble. I am a new creation, but my old man has to die daily because he won’t lie down. I am crucified with Christ, but I keep jumping off the cross. I have to keep renewing my mind because the old thoughts still hang around. I have a new heart, but there isn’t a saint alive whose old one is still there, feeding his flesh. And “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

There is only one way to walk in righteousness, and that is the way that God has given us, which is the path of faith. As Paul writes (quoting Habakkuk 2:4) at the beginning of his letter to the Romans, and Luther declared again to Rome some 1,500 years later, this is the power of the gospel: “In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just (the righteous) shall live by faith.’” Faith doesn’t come to the person who is righteous; righteousness comes to the person who has faith. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness(Romans 4:4). Isaiah 51:1 is a word from God to all of us, not just the Jewish people of the time: “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” The blessing which is our inheritance was poured out on Abraham and his descendants, and again on us by the Holy Spirit, because he acted on the word of God: “Go to a place that I will show you . . . Take your son whom you love and offer him to Me . . .” (see Genesis 22:1-2). Abraham had the faith of God, so through him God’s righteousness was revealed.

I am an evangelical Christian, and I certainly do believe that the moment when I trusted Jesus for salvation, accepted His forgiveness of my sin, made Him Lord of my life and was born again, is the moment when I received the robe of righteousness that I am wearing today and that I will be wearing for eternity. It is the gift to me of God’s grace. But I don’t think it stops there. If the Holy Spirit leads us in the paths of righteousness so that God can be glorified, if we are to look to the model of Abraham in order to seek after righteousness, and if the righteousness of God is revealed “from faith to faith”, it is this revelation of righteousness to the world that the Spirit of God is urging us on to, not just the security of knowing that we’re dressed properly for the wedding feast. We reveal His light to the world as we walk from faith to faith; one step of faith to the next. My faith yesterday was for yesterday. What is God asking of me today? Where am I exercising my faith in the next couple of hours? When did I last make sure that I was tuned into His wavelength? Are my decisions based on what I feel in my spirit God is telling me to do, or am I just following the path of conventional wisdom and doing what is expected? Am I walking by faith, or by sight?

Our pastor, Markus, demonstrated this walk of faith for me one night when I was with him at a 24/7 prayer meeting. He told me to stand in the corner of the room, then picked up some small floor mats, about 18-inches by 18-inches square. He said, “Cross to the other corner of the room without your feet touching the floor!” It was of course impossible – by sight anyway. “Go on,” he said, “cross over!”

“OK, whatever . . .”, I thought, and started out as if to walk. Immediately Markus dropped one of the mats in front of me, and I put my foot on it. Then he did the same with another mat, until I had crossed the room. So I did the impossible thing I had been told to do. I “set out for the place I did not know”, and arrived there. I could not have done it, of course, if I had not been close enough to Markus for him to drop a mat where my foot was about to go.

God is calling us all the time to stay close enough to Him, moment by moment, so He can whisper those floor-mats of His words into our spiritual ears for us to see where He has put the next mat and step onto it in confidence. And so we walk, faith-step by faith-step, from faith to faith, led by the Holy Spirit in His paths of righteousness, so that Jesus is glorified and His righteousness is revealed.

(From “Two Seconds to Midnight,” chapter six: The Path of Faith)

The evidence of things not seen

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)


The evidence of our senses.

“I saw it with my own eyes.“ This is the statement a person who knows that something is real. An eyewitness to an accident or to a crime testifies the truth of the event by declaring the evidence what he or she has seen. In a court a witness will swear for the truth of the events that he described as the evidence of his own eyes and it is taken as truth. What we see with own eyes is the evidence of its reality. The same is true about other senses: we know something is real if we smell it, hear it tasted or touch it. The chief quest of history is to point to the evidence of events in the past to prove the veracity of historical accounts. Primary evidence is the holy grail of the historian. The scientist cannot state that the theory is true without showing the evidence that support his claims. The evidence of our senses gives us a consistent and true account of the world our bodies inhabit. We can reasonably expect that the Sun will rise tomorrow and that grass will still be green next week, and not red or purple, because the evidence of our experience tells us that this is the truth.

The domain of the spirit

However here is another world, an enduring eternal world which the body of man rejected at the Fall; where God dwells, which our human senses do not naturally perceive and which scientific evidence can no more grasp than a hand made of fog could can clutch a stone, and which even the measurement of time cannot encompass: the world of the spirit. The truths of this world cannot be grasped by the senses with which we engage with the natural world. And yet if our spirits have been born again and we’ve been raised up into the eternal domain of the spirit, I think it is possible to say that our spirits also have a sense of their own, and that sense is faith. If spiritual things are spiritually discerned, faith is the sense that does the discerning.

Without faith we cannot please God. Righteousness dwells in Heaven, and without faith we cannot see Heaven, neither can we perceive the truth of righteousness. When we are born again of the Spirit our spirit is born with its sense of faith, which is why even faith is a gift of God (Eph 2:8): our natural bodies do not possess it. And just as a human baby is born with senses that function, so the spiritual baby is born with faith in its heart. In the new birth, the battery is included.

Our Living Hope

Peter writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pe 1:3). Through the perception of faith our living hope comes alive in the person of Jesus: hope for the present manifestation of supernatural realities, and hope for the future realisation of our incorruptible Kingdom inheritance. And so (we are) “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last Time. In this you greatly rejoice.“ (1 Pe 1:5)

Faith is not a belief system: it is substance; it is evidence. Because Jesus had the faith of God so he could see what the Father was doing even though it was still unseen in the material realm. (John 5:19). Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for. This hope is not the “maybe, someday” hope of the English language, but a certainty of something yet to happen- more like the destination of a journey being travelled than the possibility of one not yet embarked on. All of Jesus’s miracles were hoped for as certainties before they were manifested: since He had this faith as evidence of what the Father was doing, he was able to “do also in like manner.”

Seeds of faith

So faith is not generated by how we think: it informs and shapes how we think. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14): our flesh cannot have faith, although it can be changed by it. Faith is not an extension of the imagination, but when faith is operating our imaginations can be the screen upon which the Father can project impressions of what He is doing, just as He did for Jesus. We cannot grow our own grains of mustard seed: they have to be received in the Spirit realm. We don’t need extra or bigger grains for bigger miracles: if we have faith we can see what the Father is doing and we can do likewise, whether He is moving mountains, mending hearts, healing bodies or releasing resources; and when we see with our faith what He is doing, we can receive the substance of faith as a seed that we plant in the material realm. We know that we will see on Earth what we have seen in Heaven.

In Jesus all the promises of God are Yes and Amen, but if we want to live in the victorious Christian life that all those promises lay before us, I think we need to perceive each one as a spiritual reality grasped with our own personal faith-sense as “evidence of things hoped for”, and plant our feet on their substance, step by step, knowing that they have been “set in a broad place.” (Psalm 31:8) We cannot walk in the truths of the word just because we know them or can read them: they have to be revealed to us in the Spirit, by faith.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). In these days of uncertainty there is nothing more important than staying in the presence of God so that we can hear Him speak seeds of faith into our hearts. Because when we can see what the Father is doing, we have the evidence of His light shining on the path that He is calling us to walk, however dark or confusing the world around us may seem.

“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)

“The testimony of Jesus (2): when two or three are gathered in my name…”

We often quote the words of Christ: “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the mist of them.“  (Matt 18:20) I don’t think that this is just a reference to the presence of the Holy Spirit manifesting Jesus in the body of Christ, although of course it is that. But I think it also points to the underpinning of truth found in the law, where a matter has to be established by two or three witnesses. (2 Cor 13:1) Where two or three witnesses are gathered in His name, His presence is a proven reality and is a fulfilment of the law.

But we cannot just leave this as an article of faith. “The just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Our faith is not just a given set of principles that we believe: it is the source and fabric of our lives. Faith colours and directs what we do. It’s a reality: “the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The presence of Jesus “in the midst”  when two or three are gathered in His name is a reality to be experienced, evidence that testifies to the truth of His existence. It is the testimony of Jesus.

The qualifier that I think we can pass over rather too easily is the need to be gathered in His name. The ancient idea of “name” is so much more than an identifier or a label: it is the whole of a person’s identity, it is the reality of who they are. To be gathered “in the name”  of Jesus is not to be together in one place that has the name of Jesus on a plaque outside; it to be gathered in submission to His will, open to His power, and as vessels for His love. If we gather in the name of Christ it is with our desires and our agendas laid at His feet.

When we fulfil these requirements the Holy Spirit can come and make Jesus an experienced reality among us: we are gathered in unity, the blessing is commanded (Psalm 133), and the prayer of Jesus quoted in John 17 is fulfilled. The spirit of prophesy is evident. If we do not lay down our agendas we are being double-minded, and cannot therefore “expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:7) If we bring them to the gathering with us, the only requirements that are fulfilled are ultimately those of “confusion and every evil thing” (James 3:16) and of religion that “has a form of godliness but denies its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) And we know what the Scriptures say about that.

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19:10) 

The key word here is testimony: martyria, meaning evidence given, record, report, testimony, witness. The testimony of Jesus is the evidence if His reality. Those who have the testimony of Jesus are those who testify to the truth of who He is. When Jesus left the disciples at the mount of ascension He said “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The word He used, although in a different grammatical form, is the same: the witness is the one who gives evidence. The term “martyr” has come to mean one who physically lays down his life for Christ in the ultimate sacrifice that is evidence of the strength of their faith, but the original Greek is broader in its meaning, and it applies to every Christian: we are all called to lay down our lives on a daily basis, and, through the power that we have received from the Holy Spirit, to give testimony to the reality of Jesus. But I think there is an important connection between our call to witness, and the testimony of Jesus that the angel spoke about to John.

Jesus said to the Jews (John 5:30): “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. If I bear witness (martyrio)  of Myself, My witness is not true.”

Jesus said that his testimony had no validity if He just talked about Himself. Referring to the law (Deut 19:15), He said: “It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.” (John 8: 17-18). When Jesus promises the disciples that the power of the Holy Spirit would come on them and they would be His witnesses, He was saying that the signs and wonders that followed their ministry as the Lord worked with them (Mark 16:20) were not just a bonus to their preaching, but were the necessary ‘second witness’ that proved that their testimony was true.

There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved… But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness (martyreō) of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me.”(John 5: 32-34, 36-37)

Jesus speaks “that you may be saved.” It is the words of Jesus that bring salvation. Only He has “the words of eternal life (John 6:68). But for Jesus’ words to be proven true the “testimony of man” is not sufficient: the works done in His name by the power of the Holy Spirit are what bring the witness of the Father. The truth about Jesus, the proof of His reality, has to come from the Spirit of God, not the spirit of man; so when the Father bears witness of Him through the Holy Spirit, He can speak and bring salvation.

“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness (martyria) in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony (martyria): that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5: 10-11)

The testimony of Jesus that every believer has within himself is that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. But I don’t think that the scriptures encourage us just to tell people about Jesus and move on, or that quoting His words alone will bring eternal life.  The testimony only has weight when there are at least two witnesses: the disciple speaking in His name, and the Holy Spirit confirming the disciple’s words and transforming the testimony of man into the testimony of Jesus. It is only through the revelation of Jesus that anyone can receive eternal life. I think our words are of little or no effect – and can even push people away from Jesus instead of drawing them to Him – unless the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is working with us to reveal Jesus. We need Him to be leading us in our conversations, and who to have them with; and to be revealing His love for the people we are talking to, often through gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of prophesy – the essence, the breath, the pneuma – is always the revelation of Jesus, confirmed through the Holy Spirit, speaking words of salvation. The angel tells John what we must do to walk in it:

“Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophesy

The spirit of prophesy isn’t the gift of prophesy, the ministry or the office of the prophet. It’s the very heart of what prophesy is, the God-life that flows in it. The key to walking in this is worship. This isn’t just singing songs: it’s worship in spirit and truth. I think worshipping in spirit in the context of the church service  is allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, to make room for His ministry and be led by Him into the presence of God. But that is only one half of the story, because we need to be worshipping in truth as well. And we aren’t worshipping in truth if we are not obeying Him by loving each other, and we’re not loving others if we are on our own agendas. To be worshippers we have to be continually checking our agendas. Am I on God’s agenda, or my own?

David prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24: ) David only knew the Old Covenant Ark of the Testimony, but he looked forward prophetically to the testimony of Jesus and revealed it throughout his psalms. Just as the Old Covenant Ark carried the testimony of the Law, we, the church, are the Ark of the New Covenant, and we are the carriers of the Testimony of Jesus. If we pray David’s  prayer on a daily basis (at least!) we give God permission to examine our hearts and  minds for hidden self-centred agendas, and our worship will begin to reveal the truth of who He is.

Here are just a couple of those “wicked ways” to be going on with. Paul writes to Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15). Approval. Am I looking for God’s approval, of Man’s? Do I want to give my testimony because I want people to hear my dramatic story, or because the Holy Spirit is going to work with me to reveal Jesus? Only the last one is the testimony of Jesus: the first is the testimony of man, which He doesn’t receive. And secondly: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7) Is everything I am saying and doing grounded in God’s power, His love, and the realities of salvation – or is there fear lurking somewhere in the woodwork? Fear hides in surprising places, and nothing prompted by hidden fear will bear good fruit. We all need to allow the Holy Spirit to flush it out of our lives, because it will keep us off God’s agenda.

I think we are like water channels that can get silted up: the deeper the silt, the shallower the water. If as individuals and churches we want to see the Spirit of prophesy bring the testimony of Jesus into people’s lives, we need to worship in Spirit and in truth: we need deep to be calling to deep (Ps 42:7), which means praying those verses from Psalm 139 every day to keep dredging the silt out of our lives.