Tag Archives: Love one another

Without love, we are nothing. We are on this earth to learn how to love. Jesus showed us the way.

Choose Life: Love One Another.

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” (1 Sam 20:4)

The love between Jonathan and David is well known; indeed it is the most elevated example of an actual friendship that we are given in the Old Testament, if not in the whole of the Bible – excluding, of course, the friendship that Jesus offers to all who follow Him. I Sam 18:3 tells us that “Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” (NKJV) Other versions translate this as “he loved him as himself.” This takes us immediately to the model of love that Jesus teaches when He introduces the parable of the good Samaritan:  “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and your neighbour as yourself.” If we need to see an example of how Jesus wants us to love one another, we look at how Jonathan loved David.

We could study in depth what details that we are given about their relationship and find spiritual meaning in all of them; but what speaks loudest to me is who – or what – David and Jonathan actually represent in the Bible narrative. Jonathan is Saul’s son, and Saul represents the dynasty of the flesh. However David, as we know, is a man ‘after God’s own heart;’ he is a prophetic type and the human ancestor of Jesus, and he represents the dynasty of the Spirit. The anger that Jonathan’s covenant of loyalty to David provokes in Saul is the anger of the devil himself who knows that it is Christ’s rule, and not his own, that will ultimately be established on the Earth:

“Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom.” (1 Sam 20: 30-31)

In “choosing the son of Jesse,” the son of Saul chose the dynasty of the Spirit over the dynasty of the flesh. Prophetically, Jonathan died to self and turned to Jesus. When we love, we make the same choice for God. In the immortal words of Deuteronomy 30:19-20, we “…choose life, that you and your descendants may live, that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” To love others is ultimately to love God, and there is only one way to do that, which is the way that Jesus tells us to love him. It’s quite simple. He says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

A husband can long for his wife; he can miss her when they are apart; he can love to be around her; he can admire her beauty and her qualities and can enjoy her conversation. He can miss her, desire her, and seek her presence: but unless he does the things that she likes and avoids what she doesn’t like he is not actually loving her. It’s the same with the Lord: we can long for His presence and spend time with Him; we can enjoy His conversation and immerse ourselves in His word, but we aren’t loving Him if we ignore the things that He asks of us and grieve His Spirit by doing what He doesn’t like.

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” In the same way, therefore, we look to Jesus as we make our choices throughout the day and say to Him “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.”  Colossians 3: 17 tells us: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him,” This doesn’t mean we tag “in Jesus’ name” onto everything we do and say: it presupposes that we can’t actually do anything in the name of the Lord unless we know that it’s what He desires. We can’t separate loving God from loving our brother, which is what the apostle John makes clear in his first epistle: “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” (1 John 2:10)

To love our brothers and sisters, we need to abide in the light, and we achieve that by doing what He says. As we do, the Kingdom of the Son of Jesse is established on the Earth.

Love Never Fails (Mirror, mirror, on the wall)

In the last five minutes, I have been frustrated with my internet connection because it has failed yet again, and I have been annoyed by a text arriving on my phone and requiring my attention just as I sat down to write this piece. Of course there is no-one in my study with me to witness these little mini- explosions…

Although that isn’t true, is it? Actually the One through whom the Universe was made is here too. He knows every thought in my head, and every ripple of emotion that ruffles the surface of my heart. He gave his life up in agony so that I might live through him, delivered of the negatives embedded in my flesh and bearing fruit that glorifies Him, and that demonstrates to the principalities and powers of darkness the consummate victory of the cross and the eternal wisdom of God’s Great Plan. Yet in the space of five minutes, instead of spiritually “possessing my soul” by bearing the fruit of patience (“In your patience possess your souls” – Luke 21:19) I have yet again delivered it to to sin and death by yielding to my flesh.

As if to reinforce the point, Anne has just come upstairs with the landline phone in her hands: a friend from church wants a chat to arrange a cup of tea together. This time I smile. I smile because I am writing about love: the love that never fails. How far I am from that love! But as Paul famously writes, I can thank God for Jesus, who delivers me from “this body of death” (Romans 7:25). I may not have offended anybody mortal, but I offended Him.

The Light of Love

Love never fails. One day the sun will dim and the light of the stars will fade, but God’s love endures forever. As part of creation, even the sun and the stars are “subject to decay,” as Paul writes in Romans 8:20. But when The Perfect is come, the New Jerusalem will be coming with it, with “no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory  of God illuminates it. The Lamb is its light.” (Rev 21:23). The love of God is not like the light of the sun: it cannot decay. It cannot be dimmed. It’s not the created light that God separated from darkness (Gen 1:4); it’s the light that created the darkness and shines in it, which the darkness cannot put it out. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all,” writes John (1 John 1:5). Uncreated eternal light is the light of love; it’s God Himself.

I’m not writing this because I think you don’t know it, because I’m sure you do: what I’m trying to put into words is the sense that the love that God pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit is totally outside and beyond anything in the Universe that could diminish even a single spark of its light and power within us. Not just the abstract idea, but something of the experiential knowledge that it is the power of Life itself, it is the power that raised Jesus from the dead, it is the power that created the universe, and it is the power by which we were born again to eternal life and by which our spirits were resurrected with Christ to be seated with Him in heavenly places. Can anything separate us from this love? (Romans 8: 31-39)

“No!” we say, because we know that this is the truth of the Word. Yet how much of our lives are actually spent in the experience of this truth? When I lost my patience with the internet, then again with the person who dared to send me a text while I was writing, was I living in its glory? The new creation walks by faith and not by sight; after the Spirit and not after the flesh, bathed in the light of this love. It wasn’t the new creation Bob that lost his patience; it was the old one that is supposed to be passing away. Although nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus, we can lose contact with it oh, so easily. And the more we live outside of this contact, the less we see it working through us and wonderfully touching other people. ”You are restricted by your own affections,” as Paul writes (2 Cor 6:12).

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

Yet  “It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” What is shining in our hearts is brighter than the sun, and it is not subject to decay. We have this amazing treasure in the earthen vessels of our lives (2 Cor 4:7). But what do we see when we look in the mirror: the treasure, or the earthen vessel? Paul says “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18) Can we really see the glory of the Lord’s blazing love in our own eyes when we study our reflection?

Paul had already written about reflections in the earlier letter to his church at Corinth: “Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known,” (1 Cor 13:12) Perfection hasn’t come yet, but it’s on its way. And as we allow the Holy Spirit freedom to work in our hearts, we keep moving closer to its glory. We can catch a glimpse of it even now, burning undimmable in the depths of our unveiled hearts – for “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor 3:16) – and He changes us from glory to glory as we become more like Him.

Before I formed you in the womb

The wonder of all this is, that the light of Christ within us is already part of who we are as the spiritual beings who have been raised and seated with Him in heavenly places. In that place that is outside the realms of time, we are already glorified: “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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Rom 8: 29-30) Our heavenly body already exists: “we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1) Paul doesn’t say that “we will have” an eternal heavenly body (“building”); he says we have already got it. Since it’s eternal, it actually existed before time. God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:4) When “this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality,” (1 Cor 15:4) we will finally be stepping into the eternal self that has been waiting all our lives to receive us.

Is this what we see when we look in the mirror? Because it’s what the love of God planned for us before He created time itself. Before He called creation into being and subjected it to decay, our glorified selves were already raised with Christ, and the works that we would do on Earth as we move in contact with the fire of that love were already prepared. (Eph 2:10) To walk by faith is to step through eternity, in the blazing light of perfect love by which we are being transformed from glory to glory.

If you want patience – and love, and joy, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit – take a step of faith now and look at yourself as you really are. I am an amateur photographer, and I long for images that are ‘pin-sharp.’ What you will see will not be pin-sharp yet, but the more you long for it, the clearer it will become. Meanwhile it is no less real, and the light that you see it by is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6) Look, there He is, burning with unfailing love: Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Pursuing Love (Teaching)

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor 14:1)

We all know the above scripture: it’s wheeled out often enough as a proof text for the prophetic and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And we all know the context: it follows Paul’s famous treatise on Love, and is sandwiched in the middle of the New Testament training manual on exercising the gifts of the Spirit. Both the “command” words are emphatic in their meaning. To pursue is to chase after someone until you have caught up with them, not just jog behind then a t a distance; and to desire has a connotation of a zealous, earnest longing and reaching for something, not just a wishy-washy want, an “it would be nice if…”

Chase after love, reach for spiritual gifts, especially prophesy. How do we respond to this verse in the context of church? And is one of these two injunctions more important in God’s sight than the other? I think the following story can give us some insights:

And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8: 41-48)

There are many points in this story that we can ponder on, but one thing that stands out for me is this: Jesus stopped for the woman who touched him. I can imagine myself in that situation. It would probably go something like this: ‘I’ve just got a call to pray for the daughter one of the city’s leaders; and not only that, but she is dying! So not only am I being called on by a VIP, but this is serious stuff, and it’s urgent. Out of my way everyone! I can’t stop! I’m on an important mission…” And so on. How many snares for the flesh there are in that scenario. And even if had “perceived power going out of me,” I would probably just have thought “Great! Someone ese has got healed too. That’s cool. Now how much further to Jairus’s house?”

How different is the way of the Spirit. “Who touched me?” The disciples just wanted to get to Jairus’s house and thought Jesus was being ridiculous, but they hadn’t understood the meaning of “touched.” They saw just the clamouring of the flesh, but the touch that Jesus felt went beyond the flesh and reached His Spirit. So He put the “important” mission on pause while He stopped to give the woman her life back. Not only did she receive her physical healing, but He affirmed her identity (“Daughter”), He encouraged her heart (be of good cheer), He built her faith, He ministered wholeness beyond her symptoms, and He gave her peace. He did not just impart a gift of healing; He loved her.

Again, when the 5,000 were fed, it was because Jesus allowed their need into His agenda. He had just heard of the death of john the Baptist and was in a “remote place” with His disciples, where the context suggests He had planned to spend some time processing and no doubt praying over what had just happened. But the crowds followed Him, and he had compassion on them (Matt 14: 13-21). On this occasion the gift of the Holy Spirit was the working of miracles, and He empowered the disciples to minister it. But again the vehicle, as it was throughout His ministry, was love.

I see gifting like an Arabian coffee pot with a long curved spout, full of coffee. This is our gifting. We stay full of the Spirit, and we keep the coffee on the heat – close to Jesus. It’s full of everything in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. But the “most excellent way” that Paul shows is in chapter 13 is how we pour the coffee: we pour it carefully, in love, into the cups that come our way. We do not pour unless God tells us to, and He shows us which cups to pour into. Sometimes, as with the 5,000, there may be more cups than we have coffee in the pot, but if God has told us to pour, we pour. And He will keep filling the pot as we do. However it happens. we direct our gifting in Love. Because if we don’t, it goes all over people’s laps…This “most excellent way” is actually the ONLY way: without it, as 1 Cor 13 emphasises, we are nothing.

Jesus Himself makes it clear that it is possible to have gifting without love:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt 7: 21-23)

To do the will of the Father and to keep the law of Christ is to love. To minister without it is to practice lawlessness: it’s that simple. So to come back to the original question: can we say that love is more important than gifting? The answer, I think, is that we can’t. Not because of the relative values of each, but simply because we can’t weigh them against each other. I think the assumption for first century Christians was that everyone could expect to move in supernatural giftings. I don’t think anyone at Ephesus, or Sardis, or even lukewarm Laodicea would have thought of saying “I don’t operate in any gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I’m full of love!” In His letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus didn’t tell any of them to work on their prophesy and healing ministries: He told them to return to their first love; not to tolerate compromise, and to persevere to the end, even unto death.

I think most churches today are probably a long way from the level of faith of first century believers.  In the last century – since Azuza Street – the Lord has been leading His people to contend for that faith again. And now, since Covid, the world has changed:  one of the consequences of lockdown has been a proliferation of digital meetings, and along with that trend an increase in both the awareness and the availability of training courses for ministry, especially in the realm of the prophetic, to help believers satisfy their biblical desire for spiritual gifts. Even though we can’t meet as churches, the Holy Spirit is making sure that the resources are available for the five-fold ministries to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” But in this digitised, Covidised world, where we can no longer say “Who touched me?” it is even more essential that we “pursue love.”

Proverbs 25:16 says:
“Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomi

If we pour, God will fill. But if we make the filling, rather than the pouring our priority – the pot rather than the cups, the spiritual gifts rather than the way of love – we run the risk of swelling in self-importance rather than growing in faith, and we will “vomit” instead of pouring. We don’t pursue the gifts; we pursue love, desiring the gifts. And as we concentrate on the cups and let them interrupt our agendas, God will give us what He wants to pour into them.

“In the midst of the rubble of compromise I am raising up a strong tower.” (A prophesy)

A number of people have seen this tower in various forms, in dreams and visions. I read 2 Kings 18 this morning and I feel that I have been given the following:

“Love one another and hold fast to my word. As you build one another up I will build you up: as you stand in a circle around my fire others will come in and join you and the circle will be widened. And more will come and stand on your shoulders and you will support another, and it will be My strength in you that supports the one above you and My abilities in you that enable you to keep your balance as the tower grows and the circle widens. And you will all be close to the flame because as the circle widens and the tower grows so My fire will increase. The ones at the borrow will say to those outside: “Come in and climb up!” And those at the top will say: “Come on up: climb onto my shoulders!” And the one at the top will be no higher than he one at the bottom, because you will all be one as I and the Father are one.

It will be as in the days of Hezekiah, when by my own breath I both blew Israel like chaff out of the land that I had given to their fathers, and at the same time restored my Kingdom rule out of Jerusalem. As this happened within a few short years so also you will see within a few short years my strong tower being established on Earth in the midst of the rubble of compromise. Do not judge by the sight of your eyes or listen with the hearing of your ears, for it is by my Spirit that I am blowing down, and by my Spirit that I am building up. Nevertheless a day will come when you will see what I have done, because there will be a clearing away of rubble that will leave my strong tower revealed for all to see.

I am working among all the nations. You will see me strengthen my hand in Israel despite the opposition that is coming, and this will be a sign to you. I am calling time on corruption and compromise. America will be a sign to all the nations that I will fulfil the word I spoke to my servant Isaiah: “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place” (Isaiah 28:17).”

So, love one another and hold fast to my word. Even now I have started my building. The fire is kindled and I am gathering those who are drawn to my flame. Draw close to one another and draw close to me, and always be ready to say to those who are being drawn out of the darkness “Come on in and stand next to me, close to the fire. Isn’t it wonderful?” And do not be distracted by sideshows, for there will also be fireworks, but there is no warmth in them and they dazzle for a moment then disappear: stay close to the fire for there is wonder enough in my flames for all the world to see my glory. So, love one another, hold fast to my word, and stay close to my flame, and I will build my church.”

Where shall I send them? (A prophesy)

“The LORD has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.”
(Isaiah 14:32)

Many of us have heard and spoken words prophesying the coming revival. In an intercession time recently we were praying for all those who would come to the Lord during this revival, and suddenly I saw His eyes, full of compassion and concern, and He was asking: “Where shall I send them? You say, ‘Here am I, send me,’ but will you also say ‘Here am I, send them to me’?”

Because they will come from the highways and hedges. There will be the poor, the needy, the illiterate, the refugee. This revival will not be like any other. There is a storm coming that will start to blow away some of the structures supporting this world: when have started to collapse many will come to the church for support. They will be drawn out of the darkness into the Light. Can we hold them up? Will the one who has two coats share with the one who has none, and the one who has food do the same (Luke 3:11)?

Just as we might prepare for extra family members to come into our house at Christmas, I feel the Lord is asking the church to prepare His house for the many extra family members that are going to arrive. Are their rooms ready? Do we have enough of the right food, and the people to serve them? The Lord is looking even now at all the people He is calling, and His eyes are looking into all our churches. He is asking: “Where shall I send them? Can I send them to you?”

The Coming Harvest

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“When the ploughman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.” (Amos 9:13)

The New Testament gives us a clear picture of what is meant spiritually by sowing and reaping. The word of God is sown through teaching and preaching, and the harvest is reaped when those hearts where they were sown accept Christ. Much of the ministry of the Church hinges on the activities of sowing and reaping, of teaching and evangelism.

But God is preparing us for another, and greater harvest. Although sowing and reaping will carry on, the work of preparing for the coming harvest will overtake the work of the current one. The apostolic and the prophetic will run ahead of the teacher and the evangelist, ploughing the land and treading the grapes. Ploughing the land and treading the grapes have this in common: they break through the surface layers and break up structures. The plough breaks up the soil; treading breaks down the grapes. I believe the Lord wants to break up our well-trodden paths and move below the skins of our relationships. Even as the devil seeks to use lockdown to keep us apart, the Lord will work in our lives to bring us together and move us towards true Unity of the Spirit.

I believe the Lord would say: “Why is the soil hard? Because you have walked in the same places for so long that the soil is trampled down; the seeds of the Word do not take root and the birds of the air devour them. So I am sending out the ploughman to break up the ground again, so my seeds can take root and grow.

And why is the wine not flowing? Because you hold and treasure your clusters of grapes instead of letting the juice flow from them, and you are content with superficial relationships in which people remain separate and isolated within their own protective skins, instead of truly giving themselves to one another. So I am sending out those who will tread on the traditions, the forms and the routines that you hold onto, and they will break them down so that the life of My Spirit can be released in your worship. And I will move in your relationships and break through those defensive skins that keep you apart; and as I am in the Father and the Father is in me, you, too, will become perfect in one, and the world will see your love and will know that you are my disciples. The world does not want your well-trodden paths, but it will seek out the life that it sees growing when the plough has broken them up. The world does not see your clusters, but it will see your love when the grapes are trodden and the wine is flowing.”

Before the harvest comes the plough, and before the new wine comes the treading. When this time comes many will feel they have nowhere to stand and nothing to hold onto; but the Lord says “Stand on my Word, and hold onto Me. Do not resist the breaking, and receive those who appear to tread on things that you would preserve, because when the work of preparation is done those who sow will again see fruit; ten, twenty and a hundredfold; and those who reap will not have barns big enough for the harvest.”

Prepare the Way of the Lord

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make straight in the desert 
A highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’”
(Isaiah 40: 3-5)

Scripture is clear about where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed: “Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever;” (Eph 3:21) or as Jesus Himself puts it: “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17: 22-23)

However, the highway by which He chooses to come is by way of the desert. The world is becoming more like a desert on a daily basis, but it is precisely when the world is in a desert place that His glory will be revealed in the church,  and “all flesh” will see it. Luke quotes Isaiah to declare four areas in which the Holy Spirit will “prepare the way” while this is happening and before the world sees the Glory of the Lord.

Every valley shall be exalted.

Luke renders this as “every valley shall be filled,” when he quotes the prophet in Luke 3:5. What are our valleys? When we lose sight of the place that we have been lifted to; whenever our souls are cast down; when the Victory of the cross is on the far side of the mountains – these are that the Lord is going to fill. A particular valley we read about in Scripture is the valley of Achor, where Achan and all his family were executed for keeping back some of the plunder from Jericho. It’s the place of judgement, condemnation and death. It’s where the accuser will always seek to bring us. However there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so Isaiah 65:10 says:

Sharon shall be a fold of flocks,
And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
For My people who have sought Me.”

And Hosea writes:

“I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”
(Hosea 2:15)

In Christ, the valley of condemnation becomes the place of peace, hope, and the joy of our salvation. If we bring our valleys to the Lord, He will “exalt” them as He lifts us again, and He will fill them with His presence as we praise Him for our deliverance from bondage.

Every mountain and hill shall be brought low

Just as the Holy Spirit can’t “prepare the way of the Lord” until He has dealt with our valleys, we also need Him to deal with our peaks – our mountains and hills.

Proverbs 29:23 tells us exactly what our peaks are: “A man’s pride will bring him low.” When Mary magnifies he Lord, she says

He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.”
(Luke 1 51-52)

These and many other scriptures make it clear that the Lord will deal with any areas where we seek to exalt ourselves before His glory will fill our lives. The flesh wants to promote itself, protect itself, control and be noticed; the Spirit seeks only to Glorify God, love and serve. Our example of course is Jesus, who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8)  If the Glory of the Lord is going to come in, there can be no peaks in the way. They have to die with Jesus on the cross.

The crooked places shall be made straight

Jesus calls The Holy Spirit “The Spirit of Truth,” and He Himself is, of course, the Truth. When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming towards Him, He said: ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ (John 1:47). Revelation 21:8 says categorically that “all liars” are destined for the lake of fire. Satan is the “Father of Lies,” the creator of crooked places. The Spirit of Truth will come and purge every tendency to conceal the truth. Where we have believed a lie, He will reveal it; and where we have let others believe a lie He will bring us to repentance. Wherever the father of lies has brought his distortions into our lives, the Holy Spirit will make those crooked places straight, so that we can all, like Nathaniel, be “Israelites indeed.”

And the rough places smooth

What are our “rough places?” Where are we abrasive? Are we gentle in our dealings with others? Are our relationships made smooth by the fruit of the Spirit being manifest in our lives, or do we have rough places here people are hurt or damaged if they bump into us? If Christ is going to fill our lives with the glory of God, these rough places need to be confessed and submitted to Him. If people have been hurt by them we need to repent and seek their forgiveness. We cannot be rough with one another and love one another at the same time.

The Glory of God will fill the Church when He has dealt with judgement and pride in our lives and has made us pure conduits of truth and love.  When that happens “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)

Sweep the Floor (2)

We have a large paved patio which I look out on when I am having my prayer time. I was thinking again about sweeping the floor to prepare for the Lord to come and fill it with his presence (see earlier post: “Sweep the Floor“); and then I was in the spirit, trying to sweep the patio outside. But there were lots of little bits of straw lying around: I was trying to sweep them up but they got caught in the cracks between the paving stones and got stuck on the bristles of the broom. No matter how hard I tried I could not sweep the bits of straw out from between the paving stones. Then the Lord said to me: “You will never sweep the straw out from between the stones. You need a complete new surface.“ And He reminded me of the floor around the throne that Ezekiel and John saw, like a sea of glass. He said: “You need a floor like this, where every single strand of straw stands out, where you hate to see it, and where you can sweep it away immediately and with ease. It’s the floor that I laid down for you by my blood. It’s the floor of grace and forgiveness. There is no other foundation.

But where there is division in my church rubbish will always gather, and your broom cannot sweep it away no matter how hard you try. In many places the floor of my church is like that patio, with lots of individual paving stones, marked by division and unforgiveness where the rubbish gathers. But my mixer lorry is ready. It is just outside, with the engine running, waiting to pour out a new floor of grace and forgiveness in your lives and in your churches that will shine with the beauty of holiness. You will not even need a broom to keep it clean: if you see any little bits of rubbish you will just bend down to pick them up, because you will say “that doesn’t belong here!” You will love one another and prefer one another, and then you will see me in your midst and the world will see my glory, because you will be gathered in my name.

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.

The Purpose of the Commandment

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

The task of the Ephesians 4 ministries, of which the ministry of the prophet is one, is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4: 12-13) That is actually quite a big ask. It’s one thing to run around on the walls of the city waving flags that say “Thus saith the Lord,” but it is something else entirely to enable people to respond to what the Lord saith.

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul wrote “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1: 5) This commandment was the “charge” that Paul had instructed Timothy to lay upon the elders of the church at Ephesus that they should not stray from the “sound doctrine” (1Tim 1:10; Titus 1:9) outlined in verse five above. The purpose of the commandment is love. If I have been out in my car and am driving home, the purpose of everything I do is to get me home. Turn here, brake there, indicate now, stop at these lights – many different actions, but all one purpose: to get me home. I can wave lots of flags – and there are plenty of them on this website – but the ultimate purpose of them all has to be to help and encourage the body of Christ to grow in love “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

So according to 1 Tim 1:5, love comes from three sources: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Each of these sources is in itself God-given. To start with the first one, I know for a fact that my heart, outside of Christ, is far from pure. It is addled with sin and self-interest. But also “I know Him in whom I have believed” (2 Tim 1: 12), and His heart is not only pure, but it overflows with love for me; so much so that when I am walking in the knowledge (the experience, not just the theory) of that love I can love others with it. It’s only the Cross, and the blood that He shed for me there, that can bring me into the place of relationship with Him where His love is “poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit that is given to us.” To lead others into a love that make sense of all the flags I am waving, I need to lead them into an experience of the Holy Spirit that makes His love an empirical reality. Jesus said: “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matt. 10:8) We cannot give what we haven’t received.

Love comes from a good conscience. Again in the first letter to Timothy (1 Tim 4:2) Paul writes of those who “speak lies with hypocrisy” whose “consciences are seared with a hot iron.” These are people whose consciences have become totally insensitive to conviction of sin, for whom truth and integrity have no meaning or value. A good conscience is the opposite: open to conviction by the Holy Spirit, a good conscience is the reflection of the heart of someone who runs to Jesus whenever sinful thoughts or actions creep into their lives, whose speech is always in sincerity and truth. 1 John 1:7 says “if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” It is the blood of Jesus that keeps us in the light, so we can love (“have fellowship with”) one another.

When Jesus first saw Nathaniel approaching, he said:  “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1: 47) In the Spirit Jesus had already seen Nathaniel “under the fig tree” and knew his heart. The Father’s vision for His people was – and still is – that they would represent His ways on Earth, and although we can only guess at what Jesus meant, it would seem logical to assume that the transparency inherent in being without deceit, also translated as “guile,” is a prerequisite to effectively representing and demonstrating the love of God on Earth. The name Nathaniel means “Gift of God.” The transparency of a clear conscience can only be ours through the Cross, as a gift of God’s grace.

Finally, love comes from a sincere faith. Sincere means without hypocrisy; without pretence. Sincere faith is faith that is lived, not just faith that is theorised about.  I have written in The Mind of Christ about Peter stepping out of the boat, but another good example of faith at work can be found in Jeremiah 32 vs 1-23. Jeremiah has been imprisoned by King Zedekiah for prophesying God’s judgement on his sins and the sins of Judah. Jerusalem itself is already under siege: destruction and exile to Babylon are imminent. In this context Jeremiah receives a word from the Lord to buy his cousin’s field at Anathoth, which was a priests’ city about three miles from Jerusalem. He obeys the Lord, signs the deeds for the field in the presence of witnesses, weighs out good silver for it, then buries the deeds in a pottery jar to preserve it as a testimony to God’s faithfulness, in anticipation of the day when his prophesy of Jerusalem’s ultimate and glorious restoration would be fulfilled. Jeremiah didn’t just stand up in the storm of imprisonment and destruction and say “God is going to restore Jerusalem:” he demonstrated his faith that God would do as He said.

Those of us who teach and/or prophesy the word of God have a responsibility to demonstrate in our lives that we believe it. We have to be prepared to buy the field; to start walking impossible steps on the waves. We have to have a testimony: without one, our faith is just a theory.  Paul said to the Corinthians “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1). It’s not enough to say “Step out of the boat!” We have to step out of the boat ourselves and say “Follow me!” In doing so we are also demonstrating that we do not love our lives unto death, because if any sinking is going to happen, we will be the first under the water. However if we stay afloat, we are able to reach out a hand to others in the name of the One that we are standing next to and lift them out of the waves.

In “the Mind of Christ” I also wrote how the “effective working” in Ephesians 4: 16 – “the effective working by which every part does its share, (that) causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” – exclusively means the use of supernatural power. The power that God makes available to us is analysed in detail for us in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and is commonly referred to as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The growth of the Body which fulfils the vision and purpose of Jesus, the head, happens when all of us are open to, and operate, in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If we want to know where to aim for, it’s helpful to remember what Jesus calls effective working. It is what He tells the disciples to do with what they have freely received: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:8) The gifts of the Spirit that He is telling them to use are italicized below: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Cor 12: 7-11) As Paul writes to the Philippians, we may not have already attained, but we press on towards the goal. John Wimber, an icon in the ministry of healing, said that he must have prayed for a thousand people before the first one was actually healed…

Confidence to operate in the supernatural is best achieved in small groups, down to twos and threes. One of our School of Prophesy members suggests that those who are not confident in using the gifts connect with those who are, and who can help that gift to grow. She says “Growth in the use of gifts helps us to hear from the Lord – we connect in like interconnecting wires attached to the main body.” This seems entirely scriptural to me, as it is a practical application of the principle of discipleship and will contribute to “the effective working by which every part does its share.”

Revelation 12:11 says that the saints overcame the enemy “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” We find in this verse the three foundations of sound doctrine that are expressed in I Tim 5: our conscience is cleansed by the blood of the Lamb so that we are transparent to the Truth; the word of our testimony tells of those acts of faith in the name of Jesus where we have walked in the supernatural ourselves, and we love from a pure heart that is void of self-interest. If we want to help others to overcome, we need to be doing it ourselves.