Tag Archives: draw near to God

The secret place (Prophetic exhortation)

Many of us know and refer to Psalm 91 as a promise of protection. Verse one says: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.This verse sets the tone for the many promises of protection that follow in the rest of the psalm. The Lord is calling His church under His wing, because He loves us and wants to protect us from what is coming. I believe He says:

“Do not dream that life is going to get easier, because outside of my protection it is going to get more difficult. But under my wing is peace, blessing, and security. The problems won’t go away, but under my wing are solutions; hidden, surprising solutions.  Under my wing you will learn to hear my voice, and if you hear my voice you will know what to do when difficulties arise; but to hear my voice you must be close and you cannot be close unless you seek my presence. So draw near to me and spend time with me. My sheep hear my voice, and my voice is the one that will guide you. Learn my voice.  Learn to tell it from other voices that push and drive, because I lead and draw gently; I call and whisper, I do not shout. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me: I am gentle and humble of heart. I will not scare you, but I will bring you peace.”

Entering the Land (2): Greater is He that is in you…(Teaching)

“So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we  had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 5:1)

The new generation of the children of Israel had been circumcised and were gathered between the Jordan and Jericho. As I wrote in the previous article we, the Church of Jesus Christ and the brothers of the second Adam, are the new generation who will enter the Land of Promise: the old generation, the children of the first Adam, cannot enter. And we live in a time when many prophetic voices are declaring that the Divine Nature will be manifested more powerfully than ever before when a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit equips us to live more fully in the good of the “great and precious promises” that we find in the Word (See 2 Peter1:4). So we too find ourselves between the Jordan and Jericho: we’re born again of the Spirit – we’re over the Jordan – and we know that there is a great advance ahead of us. But first we need to get past Jericho. What can we learn?

First of all, we need to remember that “greater is he that is in us than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The darkness is scared of the light, because it knows the light is stronger. The devil knows that he is no match for the spiritual weapons of our warfare, which are “mighty for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor 10:5),” because of course he knows what they are. The question is, do we? I think one of the devil’s main strategies in our warfare is to make sure we don’t. Jesus cast demons out ‘with a word’ because they knew who Him. The demons that overpowered the sons of Sceva knew Jesus, and they knew who Paul was, but they obviously couldn’t see anything of Jesus in the sons of Sceva. Their words alone were not enough.

Over the years I have done my share of “spiritual warfare.” I think I’ve won a few battles, but I have also lost many; and I have come to the conclusion from reflecting on my own experience and applying what I understand from Scripture, that we spend a lot of time firing blanks when we think we are shooting down the enemy.  We can talk, pray and declare all night, but Paul says that we are to “stand” when we have “done all.” When we “stand” in prayer against the forces of darkness, have we “done all?” Are we actually wearing the armour of God, walking in faith, righteousness and truth, spreading the gospel and speaking God’s word, or have we just rushed into prayer mode while the armour of our spiritual selves is still shut away in a locker in our heavenly home? James says we need to be “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22). The two house builders of Jesus’s sand and rock parable have both heard His word, but only one of them keeps it.

The enemy knew who Paul was because he clearly didn’t just teach the church about the armour of God; he wore it himself, all the time. To put on the armour of God, stand in it, and to “do all” is to put on Christ and walk in the Spirit. The enemy looked at Paul, and doubtless at Peter and the other apostles after Pentecost, saw Jesus, and had to succumb to the victory of the cross. Paul didn’t give us a check-list for a quiet time procedure in Ephesians 6, he gave us a picture of what the weapons of our warfare look like when we let our spirits do the walking in our lives. If we are walking in the light before confronting the enemy, he will see us coming before we reach him: he will recognise Jesus in our faith (the shield), our righteousness (the breastplate), our thinking (the helmet), our words (the sword), and our footsteps (the shoes). He will still put up a fight, but will be defeated in the end. But if he doesn’t see them he won’t know who we are, and no amount of “praying against” him will make any difference: we will just be firing blanks.

We must remember that the same spiritual powers of darkness that were over  the “Kings of the Canaanites” are at work in today’s world. If they had had shut up Jericho for fear of the people of God, what weapons of warfare are they scared of finding in our possession today? The answer can be summed up in a single word: Christlikeness. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more like him we become, and the more likely we are to pull down the strongholds that stand between us and the promised land.

The Bread of the Presence

Come into my presence

I believe that the Lord is calling His people into His presence, and to renewed holiness. He would say this at this time:

“As the world shudders under the changes that are coming upon it, come and sit with me in the beauty of holiness. Come and eat the bread of my presence. I have prepared a table for you where all clamour is silenced and my light breaks through the shadows. As you sit with me and eat the bread of my presence I will give you seeds to sow, for my seeds are in the bread. They are the words of life that only I can give you, so come into my presence and sit with me, find peace with me and let me feed you. You desire to sow my word, so let me sow in you first; then when you speak my word you will take with you the peace that I will give. Freely receive, then freely give. As it was with the first apostles, so it will be with you, and it will be known that you have been with me.”

Entering the Land (teaching)

(Adapted from my new book, “Two Seconds to Midnight,” scheduled for publication in the Spring.)

Many of us believe that a season of harvest is coming soon, and that it will be greater than anything that the church has yet experienced; that we are about to enter a “promised land” of revival. We read about God’s people entering the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, and the principles that we see there speak to us today. If we pick up the story at the beginning of Joshua 5, we can find four main points: the men were circumcised; they celebrated Passover; they ate unleavened bread; Joshua worshipped the Lord and took his instructions from Him.

When they had all crossed the Jordan and set up camp at Gilgal, the Lord commanded Joshua to make flint knives and circumcise all the men of Israel: all those old enough to bear arms had died in the wilderness, and the new generation had not been circumcised with the sign of their covenant relationship with God. When this had been accomplished, God said to the Israelites through Moses: “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Jos 5:9) The reproach of Egypt was the yoke of slavery that they had been under: now, through this act of consecration to the Lord, this yoke was broken.

Under the new covenant, we, the Church, are that new generation, born not of the flesh and the will of man, but of the Spirit of God (John 1:13). Each one of us is a new creation. There is a Land of Promise waiting which the “faithless and perverse generation” of the flesh cannot enter. but there will be another Jericho facing us as we come up against the godless systems of the world.

Paul reminds us (Romans 2: 29) that  “he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter.” To face the end-time Jericho we will need hearts that are totally open and yielded to the Lord. It’s easy to gloss over the use of the word “heart” in this sort of context. But if, in biblical terminology, the heart is the seat of the emotions, this is exactly what must be yielded to the Lord. It is so often our unyielded emotions that cause damage and disunity, and consequently defeat; whereas it is the unity that commands the blessing, as we well know. Only with “circumcised hearts” can we be free of all that ties us into the old, binding us to the yoke of slavery to sin, and be free to take the yoke of Jesus and rise up in the spirit.

The second heading is Passover. There is only one way to be yoked to Jesus Christ, and that is under the power of His blood. I believe that the Church needs a restored understanding of the power of the blood, and especially of the truth that “the life is in the blood.” Whenever we take communion as Jesus commanded us to do “in remembrance of Him,” we reaffirm not only the covering of the blood and all that it means in terms of forgiveness of sin and shelter from its consequences, but we affirm also the life of the Spirit that courses through it in our renewed hearts.
After Passover comes Pentecost. Our preparation for an end-time outpouring has to be a season of Passover. Many Christians the world over have felt that coronavirus lockdown has been, and still is, a taste of that season, shut off from the world and reaching out for the protection of the blood of the Lamb. We know that many Christians, sadly, have not survived the virus; but we also know that there are many testimonies of genuine divine healing that were granted through the power of the Blood.

Unleavened bread
The deeper significance of unleavened bread has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve always felt that there is more to it than it being a reminder of leaving Egypt without having time for the bread to rise. Jesus talked about the “leaven of the pharisees,” for example, when He was warning the disciples to keep away from their deceptive doctrines; and it is a positive symbol in the parable of the leaven, which is probably (I haven’t done a word-count) the shortest parable in the New Testament. So what might be the symbolism in its Old Testament usage?

Just the other day the Holy Spirit gave me my personal revelation. This may not be the same for you, and I’m not saying it is what He has breathed into the scriptural significance of unleavened bread for everyone to receive, but the following is what He gave me. A negative reaction to something was rising up in my soul. The Lord said to me: “That thing rising up in you is leaven. Get rid of it.” Having “circumcised our hearts” we need to keep them soft.  Paul writes: “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17). To move forward into our Promised Land we need to deal with any leaven in our souls that causes us to rise up emotionally and undo the work of the cross in our lives. The children of Israel “ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.”  The grain of our land consists of the seeds of truth sown into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and these are what we must feed on as we advance. We cannot arise in the spirit if we let negative emotions rise up in our souls: the best way to keep unleavened our corner of  the “one bread” that we are part of, is to make sure that we are feeding on the truth.

Worship in Holiness
And so, with hearts soft and sensitive to God, covered in and fully grasping the power of the blood of Jesus, and feeding on the living truth of His Word instead of the leaven of our emotions as our spirits are filled with His, we come into the Holy Ground where the Commander of the Lord’s Army is standing, and we worship Him. In this place, we can say, like Joshua, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (Jos 5:14). And His commands to us will be of the same order as His words to Joshua: first, respond to His Holiness (Take off your shoes), and only then move in to defeat the enemy.

Launch out into the Deep

“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.” (Luke 5 vs 1-7)

When I read the above passage of scripture this morning, I felt that the Lord gave me the following word. I believe it is for all of us to an extent, but particularly for those who feel, like Simon Peter did, that they have been ‘toiling all night and catching nothing,’ whose ministry has been “beached” by COVID, and who now have nothing better to do than sit on the shore and wonder about where their ministry is going. I believe the Lord would say this:

“It feels to you that your boat is pulled up on the shoreline. You aren’t catching fish at the moment so you are thinking about your ministry. Before you came ashore you had been working hard but catching nothing, so now you are thinking about your net and how you can improve it so that you can catch fish when you go out again.  But even now I am walking along the shoreline towards you. You don’t need to do any more to your net, because I am going to get into your boat myself. Your ministry isn’t about how good your net is, or what you do to make it better; it’s about me being in the boat and launching out with you into the deep , because that is where the fish are.  And together we will catch so many fish that you will feel overwhelmed; you will feel as if you are sinking under the weight of the catch. Will you launch out with me anyway? Will you come with me into the deep and face being overwhelmed?

So look up from your net and look out for me, because I am walking towards you. And when we get back into the shore you won’t be sitting by your nets again, making sure they are good enough and discussing them with your friends; but you will be walking with me, going wherever I go and doing whatever I do. And that is when you will be fishers of men.”

Walking in the Light

 “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

There are three elements to this verse:  walking in the light, fellowship, and being cleansed of all sin by the blood of Jesus. If we walk in the light we are walking with Jesus. Jesus said: “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11: 9-10) If we walk by the light that is in us we can see where we are going: our vision is clear. With clear vision, we can discern truth from error and good from evil, and we can  fulfil our priestly office which is to “teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23).

If we walk in the light, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we can ask the giver and source of the Light to shine on what we  face and reveal its source. We can expect answers to questions like “Is what I am thinking from God, from my own imagination, or is it a lie of the enemy designed to divert me from God’s purposes?” We can look at someone’s condition and expect to be able to determine whether it is natural or demonic. We will know if a “word” we have for someone actually is from the Holy Spirit, or just from our own desire to see that person encouraged. We can expect to receive words of knowledge in, or for, conversations with unbelievers. To walk in the light, as well as all that it means in terms of walking in love, is to be able to see clearly into the supernatural, spiritual realm. We are called to walk after the Spirit, but we need the light to walk by.

If we keep ourselves in the light, we will ensure that whatever sin the light reveals in our lives is brought to the cross and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. The cleansing is a result of walking in the light. But it is also true that we couldn’t walk in the light without having first received that cleansing: the two are interdependent. However they both have one consequence, which is true “fellowship with one another.” This fellowship isn’t just coffee after church; this is the outworking of 1 Peter 1: 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit  in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” The fellowship of those who walk in the light is the fruit of the divine seed that we have been brought forth from;  the John 17 unity that glorifies the Father who sowed it.

David’s cry to the Lord was ever thus: ”Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Who is it that ascends the Hill of the Lord? “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:4) Who does Jesus say will be blessed because they will “see God?” Again, it’s the pure in heart. To be pure in heart is to be holy. The only way to walk in holiness is to walk in the Light, and the only way to keep walking in the Light is to allow that light to shine on anything in our lives that the blood of Jesus has to cleanse us from. If our hearts are pure our fellowship with one another is untainted and we can see clearly by the light of the Spirit. If sin comes into our relationships the light that we see by is dimmed and we need to go back to the Lord for our hearts to be cleansed.

I believe we are coming into the fulfilment of Isaiah 60 vs 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.”

If we want the “Gentiles” to see our light, if we want kings to come to the brightness of our rising, we need to diligently walk in it ourselves. Psalm 119:130 says “The entrance of Your words gives light.” With the crystal-clear vision that is borne of a purified heart and unsullied relationships we can bring His words of light into any arena that He sends us to, including the courts of kings.

I am the Gate

“Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the East, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.” (Ezekiel 44: 1-2)

Starting with chapter 40 and going through to chapter 48, the book of Ezekiel closes with a revelation of the Temple that is yet to come, of the restored land of Israel, of the river of Life that flows from the temple, and ultimately of the New Jerusalem defined by the final verse of the book: “the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.” (Eze 48:35). The Temple that Ezekiel is shown is a picture of majesty and perfection in worship described in the terms of the Old Covenant, which was the only frame of reference that Israel had at the time. In his vision, Ezekiel saw the Glory of the Lord enter by the East gate, which is the context of the beginning of Chapter 44 quoted above. No man shall ever enter that Holy place by the gate through which the Lord came into the sanctuary.

However, “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb 9: 12-13). When that perfect eternal sacrifice of Jesus was accomplished at the Cross, we know that the veil of the Temple – the great curtain that screened off the most Holy Place – was torn in two, from top to bottom. Christ had made a way for us to enter into the Most Holy Presence of God.

The East gate was shut forever to all men, because it was touched with the majestic holiness of God which no man can come near. But now the Son of Man, the first Man of the new creation, has passed through that gate on our behalf. Jesus said: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Jesus Himself has become the gate to the heavenly temple that was closed to all, so that through Him all can have access to the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 19,20, 22)

Jesus talks of coming to salvation through Him; He is the Gate into the holy presence of God. Through that gate those who are saved ”come in and out and find pasture.” As Peter said to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) This great salvation that Jesus and the New Testament writers speak about is not just ‘being saved from the consequences of our sin and going to heaven instead of hell’ – although of course it is that- it is feeding (“finding pasture”) day by day in the Holy Presence of God.

The apostle Peter wrote: “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9) By faith we enter that Holy of Holies which is “not of this creation,” and from it we take an experience of the Presence of God that is a reality in “this creation,” because it fills us with “joy inexpressible and full of glory.” That joy in the presence of God is part of the ‘deposit of Heaven’ that is given to us by the Holy Spirit, who is “is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1: 14)

There is no way into the Holy of Holies other than through the gate of Jesus, and having received salvation through Him the Presence of God becomes our daily food, a source of inexpressible and glorious joy. The River of Living Water in the Holy Spirit that flows out of that same Eastern side of the Temple (Ezekiel 47) pours into us, and comes bubbling “out of our hearts.”  (John 7:39) The package that Jesus and the New Testament writers call Salvation is not just eternal life in the future, but it’s eternal life bubbling through into the present as well as we experience the presence of God in our daily life. This experience is what God created us to enjoy: when Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10) this is what He means. The “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” is not just a phrase that comes out of our mouths when we “say the grace” together: it is the experienced reality of Salvation; it is life to the full.

If you feel like you are banging on the doors of the Eastern Gate but you do not know this “Life to the Full,” you need to ask yourself if you really do know the one Person who can give it to you. Knowing about Him, and even trying to do what He taught, isn’t enough: you need to be in Him, because He is the gate. And more, much more than that, He longs to be in you. Because when His Spirit is in you, He can bubble out to other people that He loves as well. Don’t let the thief steal fullness of Life from you any longer.

Lambs and Wolves

In 1978 a book appeared called “The Upside Down Kingdom”, by Donald Kraybill. I’ll say now that I haven’t read it, but I heard of it years ago and the title has stuck with me ever since, because it seems so true of the King who wins by apparently losing and leads by serving. The Kingdom of God certainly turns the world’s wisdom upside down, and it has continued to turn the world upside down for the last 2,000 years. I used to be reminded of it often as I had a plain leather Bible cover with no marking to show the front of the back, and it seemed that every time I opened my Bible I opened it upside down. Maybe I needed a lot of reminding.

Going as lambs into the wolf-pack to take their territory is definitely an upside-down idea. However it’s no more upside down than the Israelite “grasshoppers” going into Canaan to defeat the giants, because it’s not the lambs who overcome the wolves any more than it was the puny Israelites who overcame the giants: in both cases, the battle is the Lord’s. And if the battle is to be His, because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God,” (1 Cor 15:50) it is imperative that we do not attempt to fight the battle any other way: it is only as lambs that we will see the wolves defeated.

The key to our protection is of course the fact that God does not ask His lambs to go out alone. He is with us, and He is the only protection we need. Our first stop for a “protection” scripture has to be Psalm 91, and indeed we need to look no further if we want to discover exactly how the Shepherd has established protection for His lambs. The psalm is full of wonderful promises for protection, but they are summed up well in verses 9-10:

“Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;”

No evil. No plague. Thank you Lord; I’ll take that, particularly now! However there is a condition; a “because.” The condition is that we make the Most High our “dwelling place.” Our dwelling place is where we live; it’s our habitation, our home. It’s the place where we dwell intimately with our spouse and family. It’s the word used most frequently in the OT for the Lord’s “holy habitation,” whether on Earth, in His sanctuary, or in Heaven where He has His eternal home. The opening verse of the psalm says: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” These verses don’t mean that when we are threatened we run to him from wherever we have gone and remind Him of His promise by quoting verses of scripture in His face: they mean that if we dwell with Him and He is our home, we dwell under His protection, we abide in His shadow.

As parents we might play shadow games with our children: we walk around outside in the sunshine, and they have to stay in our shadow as we move. To stay in our shadow, they will have to stay close. To stay in God’s shadow, His Word says that we must dwell with Him. We stay close. We don’t go running to Him from the other end of the garden when next door’s big dog suddenly barks close by.

Jesus will have it no other way. Our protection is nothing other than His presence. Moses said to the Lord “Unless you go with us, I’m not going anywhere!” Jesus turns this round, and says: “Unless you go with me, you’re not going anywhere!” This isn’t just for our benefit, because our souls are fragile; it’s for the purpose of the Kingdom, in our lives and in the lives of those to whom we are sent, because it’s as we abide in His presence that we are also able to walk in His ways, “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.“  (1 Pe 3:9) This is the way of the Lamb. It’s the way to bring His peace and righteousness into our world.

We know the Lord speaks to us through His word, and we know that there is power and authority in the word of God to perform His will. But He is drawing us closer into His presence in these days, and those verses from one of everyone’s favourite psalms are only part of the picture. Yes, they declare the Truth, and as it’s the Word of God this truth is “living and Active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Heb 4:12) However they also point us to a higher truth: just as God is with us, He desires passionately for us to be with Him, so that we can know the truth of the words He has given us in the fullest possible way.

A final thought. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was the final verbalisation of all the passion that Jesus carried in His heart. This is one of the things He prayed for you and me: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I amthat they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) If we stay close to the Lamb, not only does he protect us from the wolves, but we get to behold His glory. What more could we ask?

By Faith

(School of Prophesy 14 Nov 2020)

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

I enjoy cooking and do a lot of it. Some of my meals are experiments; some are “regulars.” Cooked breakfast based around bacon, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes on Saturday morning is a “regular:” before I break the first egg I know what the complete meal will look like on the table and taste like when we eat it. I have faith for it. The word “substance,” in Hebrews 11: 1 is hypostasis, which literally means something that is “set under;” firm foundation that has actual substance. Elegchos, “evidence,” is just that: it’s proof of reality. That egg isn’t broken in a vague hope that somehow it will become scrambled and the rest of the  breakfast will also appear from an unexpected source: I have a track record of making  lot of breakfasts successfully. My faith in what is not yet seen has a substantial foundation and strong evidence to support it.

For a faith-filled walk with Jesus the same principles apply: the difference is that we put our trust in His “track record,” and not our own. We know that Hebrews 11:6 tells us “without faith it is impossible to please (God): for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,” but to see answers to our prayers, and, more importantly, to grow in our faith, I believe we have to be more focussed and specific in how we exercise it.

I think a key verse is John 15:16: “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.”  We tend to connect “bearing fruit” with becoming more Christlike as we increasingly manifest the Galatians 5 fruit of the Spirit. However Jesus, whose likeness we seek, directly links fruitfulness with answered prayer. Whatever we ask in the name of Jesus the Father will give us, and that fruit will remain.

Anne and I own a small business. If I say to one employee: “John, go and ask Phil to fetch me a large box from the warehouse, please,” John will be passing an instruction on to Phil in my name. If John then just gives Phil a generic request to get me a container, and Phil comes back with a glass measuring jug, for example, did John pass on the request in my name? No. The measuring jug won’t do the job that I needed the box for. Jesus knows what He needs to build His Kingdom much better than we do, which is why Paul says in Romans 8:26 that we don’t know what to pray for. If we want our prayers to be answered we need to know what to ask for, and we have to hear this from Jesus by the Holy Spirit, because it’s in His name that we are asking.

Faith is like a muscle: it grows from exercise. The more we pray according to the Holy Spirit’s instructions, the more we will see our prayers answered; and the more we see answers to prayer, the more we will seek God for what to ask for. And so we begin to develop our own personal track record, not of what we’ve done, but of what we’ve seen Jesus do; and our faith grows until we start to see those “greater things” happening through our prayers that Jesus has promised us. No more should our faith be like a grappling hook on the end of a long rope that we sling in God’s direction, in the hope that we can hang onto something substantial: the evidence and the substance of the outcome that we are praying for, in the name of Jesus and according to His instructions, can be seen in the history of answered prayers that we already have accumulated.

Psalm 2: 8 says “Ask Me, and I will give the nations as Your inheritance.” God told Heidi Baker to ask Him for a nation, and she asked Him for Mozambique. He gave it to her: multiple thousands have been saved and healed in that country, and others around it, since then, and Iris Ministries was born. Heidi Baker had already exercised her faith muscle enough for the Lord to know that He could trust her with that prayer. She was a long way past “breakfast.” She has borne fruit a hundredfold, and many times a hundredfold, and has been living in a season of “greater things” for many years. So yes, God will indeed give us “anything we ask:” He said so, therefore it must be true. There is no limit to His ability and desire to give to His children. But we have to ask according to our faith. When the two blind men approached Jesus after He had raised Jairus’s daughter and asked for healing, He said to them:   “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” (Matt. 9:28). So “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” Like those blind men, we have to see by faith what God is going to do.

Where are we in our faith journey? Are we on the road to the “greater things,” or are we still standing in the same place with our grappling hook, and just hoping God will reach out and grab it when it’s thrown? The disciples asked Jesus to teach us how to pray, and in the Lord’s Prayer He gave us a series of chapter headings on the different areas that we should cover. (For more on this topic, see “Praying with Jesus, by Paul Yonggi Cho; written in 1988, but just as fresh today.) If we are still just praying the chapter headings, we haven’t learnt anything. If we are praying for “all the sick in our town,” or even in our church, we haven’t learnt anything. It’s not what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to pray for other people out of our relationship with Him, asking the Father for what the Holy Spirit reveals to us as His will.

Like everything else in our journey, our prayers must spring out of our relationship with Jesus. If Jill’s life is in a mess and our hearts goes out to her, it’s not enough to say, “Lord, Jill’s life is in a mess. Please sort her out!” That’s just a grappling hook with nowhere to land. The test is simple: where is the faith that is the evidence and the substance of the answer? It’s not there. But if we ask the Holy Spirit for revelation, and we get a sense of a particular problem in Jill’s life that the Lord wants to address, then we can have faith for a clear outcome that becomes the substance of our prayers. Our prayers will flow from our relationship with Jesus, not our relationship with Jill. This is one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit gives words of Knowledge: if we know that God is going to open deaf ears in a meeting, because He has told us, we can step out and break the eggs, knowing that He is going to make the omelette.

As we move forward into the uncharted waters of today’s world, believing that God has got a great move of the Holy Spirit planned and knowing that the enemy will do everything he can to get in the way, it is of paramount importance that we grow in faith and keep moving along the path to those “greater things” of John 14:12. Like a parent on a busy sidewalk holding a child’s hand as they hurry to catch a train, Jesus is saying to us “Stay close!” The time is advancing quickly, but in His presence there is always provision and protection. If we ensure that our prayers always come from that proximity to Him we will bear fruit to His glory and our faith will grow. But if, in the full knowledge of Romans 8:26 we continue to pray without knowing what to pray for, we will be standing still while Jesus leads those who are staying close towards the station. And when that revival train pulls into the platform and the doors open for a few minutes, we won’t be getting on board.

If this article has helped you, please forward it to somebody else. We don’t want people missing the train.

Draw Near to God

If there is one over-riding theme in what the Holy Spirit has been saying to the Church over the last year, it can be found in James 4:4 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  God is calling His people into greater intimacy with Him. This is nothing new, of course, but it is something that He is emphasising at the moment. The Lord has given Jake two pictures recently which help us to capture something of why this is so important. They are both very different, but they both emphasise the importance of intimacy with God. He writes:

Autumn Leaves

The other day I looked up why it is that sometimes we get such a beautiful display of colour in the leaves of autumn. It is due to the amount of light and sun they get. Then I felt the lord say this: ‘My people are like these leaves of autumn.  The more they let my light in, the more glorious they appear, due to my light shining on and through them. And when I shine upon you, like the sun on the trees, my glory shines out, so that even at the changing of the seasons they are radiant to those around them. My beloved I want to use you to reveal my glory to this desperate world.’

The Hurricane

I saw a hurricane swirling around the country:  there was mass destruction – buildings , nature all being razed to the ground. This was across the whole country.  Then the Lord reminded me that the eye or the centre of the storm is not only calm but quite often cloudless.  He said to me  that the hurricane is God moving across the Land. And those (churches and world systems) that do not get in line with what the Lord is doing will be destroyed.  I felt both a comfort and also a warning from the Lord on this, in that as long as we stay close to the Lord and move with Him, we will be safe and enjoy life to the full.  On the flip side there is a warning, that if we, as individuals or as the body of Christ – whether local, national or international – do not stay close to Jesus, in the eye of the storm, then not only are we in danger of destruction, but we also become part of the destructive force affecting those around us, like the bits of rubbish swirling around in the winds of the hurricane.