Tag Archives: “My sheep hear my voice.”

We need to have our spiritual ears tuned to our Good Shepherd’s voice, and to recognise the voices that aren’t His and that often drown Him out.

Ministry Gifts

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of 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; that we should no longer be children… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. “(Eph 4: 11-16)

Paul distinguishes three giftings in his letter to the Corinthians:

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. “(1 Cor 12:4)
The Gifts of the Son: “There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.” (1 Cor 12:5)
The Gifts of the Father: “And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” (1 Cor 12:6)

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, often known as the fivefold ministries, are the gifts that Jesus gave to men. They are distinct from the gifts of the Holy Spirt enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and distinct from the gifts of the Father, sometimes called the “motivational gifts,” listed in Romans 12 vs 6-8.

The gifts of the Son are unique in that they refer to people rather than the gifts of the Holy Spirit which can be “given to each one for the profit of all;” or to the “level of faith” imparted by the Father to every individual to serve in a particular way. Everyone in the church is given a “level of faith” for a specific area (or areas) of service; everyone in the church can be a channel for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself through a particular supernatural gift or ”manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:7), and certain individuals in the church are ministry gifts given  by Jesus to the church to bring it to maturity.

Jesus will be returning for a grown-up; not a child bride. The yardstick we are given for maturity is the “fullness of Christ” Himself. When He returns “we will be like Him.” (1 John 3:2) We will be “a perfect man,” we will know Jesus intimately, and our Unity will be complete. The cry of the Saviour’s heart narrated in John 17 will be answered, because we will be one as He and the Father are one. The fivefold ministries are given to the Body so that we can attain to this perfect goal.

How? When the church is functioning and the Body growing according to the Ephesians 4 blueprint, the saints are equipped as for “works of ministry.” The word for ministry – diakonia –means ‘obedient service.’ In other words, the body learns to do what the head tells it to do. And if we untangle the convoluted language of verse 16, the picture that we find at the core is that everyone grows when Love and Truth flow from the head (Christ) through all the connected members. The purpose of the fivefold ministries is to enable that flow of love and truth into and through “every part.”

What comes next is key. This equipping that brings the bride of Christ to maturity is enabled by what Paul calls the “effective working by which every part does its share.” The language  means more in the original Greek than the English translation suggests. The word “Energeia” – ‘effective working’ – is only used in the New Testament  for superhuman power. The body of Christ grows to maturity when, enabled by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, each member relates to the others through the operation of supernatural connections. Placing this in the context of the gifts of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, this means that we have to apply “a measure of faith” – going beyond our natural abilities or inclinations, and reaching into the Father’s inexhaustible supply – to whatever works of service we are motivated to carry out; and it means that we expect and rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit to touch the spirits of our brothers and sisters in ways that are impossible in the flesh. The gifts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all work together as the church grows into the “perfect man.”

In his book “Into Action,” Reinhard Bonnke saysChristianity was never intended to be anything else but an outpouring of the spirit. It is a reviving, quickening, renewing energy. Revival is not an extraordinary work beyond normal Christianity. Christianity is revival.” Reinhart Bonnke has raised the dead, seen thousands of people healed, and led millions to Christ, so he has some credibility. The church cannot grow to maturity without the power of the Holy Spirit impacting every member and enabling each one to respond to the Head by reaching out supernaturally to others. Jesus has put five ministries in place in order to bring this about, so unless leadership is in the hands of all five the growth will be unbalanced and incomplete.

Revival isn’t just about a lot of people getting saved and healed; it’s about the Church growing up.

The Stage is Set

I was looking at an image of a sage with the curtains drawn across and the spotlight shining on the curtains. Then I felt the Lord say this:

The Lord has set the stage and is assembling His cast. Our lines are written in Heaven, according to Ephesians 2:10. He says to us now: “learn your parts. For your parts are not playacting, they are the eternal reality of my Spirit. What is on the stage will not pass away; it is not just there for a season; it is built for eternity.“

An actor who comes out of role on stage is said to “corpse.“ The Lord says to us: “Your role is the reality. The spirit is your reality. Walk in the spirit, and do not corpse by walking after the flesh. The world thinks it is here to stay, and it is always fighting to stay; but the truth is the opposite: you are here to stay, and the world and all that is in it is passing away. Soon I will be drawing back the curtains to reveal what is on the stage that I have set, and my church will act the parts that I have prepared for them. But the spotlight will not be on you; it will be on Me. The Acts of the Apostles was just a prelude to what I have prepared for these times. Listen for my cues; wait for my cues; always move on cue and do not corpse. The world will begin to see who you are and who I am in your midst. The first act is coming; there will be many more acts after this, until the time comes for the final bow. So I say to you again: learn your parts, do not corpse, listen for my cues. And do not fear, for I am renewing faith among my people. You will enjoy the thrill of being in my theatre.”

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?

Scan the Skies: Behold, I am coming soon!

I have just put on one of my worship playlists when I have been in the kitchen preparing lunch. The first song in the playlist is an old Toronto Blessing classic: “We will dance on the streets that are golden,” by David Ruis. As I played it the Holy Spirit just fell on me and I could hardly stand as I worshipped. I stopped preparing my food and just entered into the presence of God. I actually couldn’t do anything else: if I had tried to carry on chopping carrots I’d have probably cut my finger. What I felt that He was impressing on my heart was that the time really is “soon” when He will come again; and prior to that, even sooner, will be a time a visitation from the Holy Spirit bringing the revival that many prophets are proclaiming. So I join my voice here with those other voices around the world, and declare: Jesus is coming soon! Revival is coming even sooner!

In response to the question: “How are you doing?“ I heard someone in our church say recently: “Same old, same old.“ They were half right: God is the same yesterday today and forever: He is the same all-creative, all-powerful, all-merciful God that He has always been. But God doesn’t do “old.” Those mercies are new every morning. We are new creations. We walk in “newness of life.” And more than that, at risk of wearing threadbare a currently much-quoted verse, God is doing a new thing. He’s doing it in the world, in the church, and in our lives. If we are tuned in and open to what He is doing by His Spirit, we will be aware of new things happening in our lives.

My hobby is birdwatching. I have a pair of binoculars in the kitchen. The sun was shining outside, and I stepped out into the garden with my binoculars to enjoy the sunshine and scan the skies. I felt the Lord spoke to me as I stepped back into the kitchen: I believe He is saying to us that we are to enjoy the sunshine of His presence, instead of languishing in the room where we may be locked down, and to scan the skies for signs of His coming.

In the birdwatching world, there is an event called a “fall.” It is when hundreds or even thousands of migratory birds of a particular spieces are all brought together by a combination of specific weather conditions to all arrive at the same time in the same place, where they literally cover the ground for a short period of time before dispersing and moving on. There are always forerunners before the main flock of migrants arrives. I believe God is saying that the forerunners of revival have already started to fly in, if we will see them, and the the fall is on its way.

We all have Binoculars: they are our spiritual vision. You don’t need to be a visionary to have spiritual vision, any more then you have to be a special sheep to hear His voice. Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind (Is 42:7), and “to render judgment – to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:39, NLT)  He is coming back for His bride, and He wants us to be prepared. He doesn’t want any of us to be like the foolish virgins, whose lives were just “same old, same old” until it was too late.

The Ride up the Mountain

The Lord has taken his people off the road and He is leading us up a mountain track on mountain bikes. He says: “This is a new way that you haven’t been along before. You’re no longer in your vehicles, driving along the road that you are used to. This is my way. I am your guide and only I can lead you. I am drawing you closer to me as you move up the mountain track. You feel exposed and vulnerable on your bikes, because I am calling you in these days to be close to me and to rely on me. You do not have a vehicle to rely on, you cannot just follow the voices and the direction of others, because I am teaching you to rely on hearing my voice and seeing my direction for yourself. And I am saying to you keep moving, keep turning the pedals, because as you do your bicycle will stay upright, even though you can’t see round the next bend in the track. There will be times when your paths cross the paths of others who are also on their bikes on their own paths up the Mountain. You will stop and share refreshments with them, you will encourage each other and share stories about your journey, then you will go your separate ways and move on, always with me and always up the mountain.

There will be times when you will come to settlements hidden in little folds of the mountain, little groups of lights clustered together. You will get off your bike in these places and rest a while, and while you are resting I will overhaul your bike, oiling the chain, pumping up the tyres, tightening nuts and replacing broken spokes, and then you will get on again to continue your journey, always with me and always up the mountain. You are not in a vehicle loaded with equipment to carry out work, because you’re not working; you’re concentrating on riding your bike with me. For it is I the Lord who do the work in you and through you. And you will not always even see what I am doing. You will say “Nothing is happening! I am just on my bike all alone on this mountain!” But do not fear and do not be discouraged, because I am always with you and I am always working. You just have to keep moving forward towards the top, enjoying my presence and the beauty of my creation.

All the time you keep moving, you are being strengthened for what lies ahead and purified by the mountain air. And as you move towards the top, you will also be drawing closer to each other as your paths converge. Then the time will come when you reach the summit and you find yourselves all gathered together in one place. For this is My Mountain, My Holy Mountain. And your purpose in climbing it until you are all gathered together at the summit is to receive me and welcome me when I return for you, my bride, prepared and purified through your journey, spotless and without blemish.

And I will be returning for you just in the same way as I left this earth, at the top of the mountain.

Walking on the Water

This is the full text of what I felt the Lord gave me for this morning’s meeting (Sunday 18th Oct):

We have just sung “My Lighthouse.” Jesus was the disciples’ peace when they were in a boat on the troubled sea of Galilee. But to find His peace, Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk towards Him. He put his foot on the waves. God wants to teach us all to put our foot on the waves, because in this troubled sea it will actually be safer than trying to stay in the boat. The Holy Spirit is teaching us all to walk on water because the ship of the world system is sinking. We have his power and his authority to do so, and he gives us the faith by His Spirit to trust that who He is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He says to us this morning: “Learn to listen to my voice so you can hear me calling you to come, step out of the boat and onto the waves; because that is your place of peace, not inside the boat. Do not be afraid, because I am with you, and I will not ask you to step further than I know you are able. Seek My presence in all that you do and be attentive to My voice, because I am going to start giving you opportunities to do by My power what you cannot do in your own strength. The storm is rising and the ship of the world’s system is going to sink, and that is why I am training you now to walk on the water.”

Bob.

Jake also had a word this morning about being on the water. Although the picture is far from stormy, it echoes the theme of God “calling us out onto the water” (as we sing in the song “oceans”) to do by His spirit what we cannot do on our own. While there is a strong sense in what I felt God gave me that He is calling us deeper into the supernatural for our own survival, the burden of Jake’s word is that we need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to effectively minister God’s love to others. The two go together: we cannot minister to those who are caught in the storm if we are stuck in our own boats ourselves. We are the body of Christ: we need to be on the water, calling “Come!” in His name to the lost and the frightened. Here is Jake’s word, and the picture that goes with it that he took at Trentham Gardens.

“Just like these swans, the Lord is saying that He wants us to be in sync with Him. Only through being in sync with the Spirit can we reveal God’s heart, which is Love, to those around us.”

“You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown, where feet may fail…” (From “Oceans, by Darlen Zscheck)

Whatever the storm may look like, the place of peace is on the water.

Hold on at all times: the handlebars

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” (2 Peter 1: 5-7)

We have all seen cyclists – usually young men or boys – cycle along without holding the handlebars. I remember when I was a boy and first learnt the skill. I also remember that, as a rule, it was only a skill I employed when I knew other people were watching…  But there are two circumstances that every cyclist riding “no hands” has in common: this particular skill can only be accomplished on as smooth terrain, generally a road or another paved surface; and it is not something that can realistically be attempted when cycling uphill. As Christians, we have left the paved surface of the road, and are heading up the mountain on a dirt track. If there is one thing we need to do, it is to keep hold of the handlebars.

There are many exhortations in the New Testament, whether from Jesus, Paul or any of the other writers, to persevere in our faith. Perhaps the most frequently quoted is from Pauls’ letter to the Philippians:

“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, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 13-14)

The word translated as “diligence” in the introductory passage is spoude, which means earnestness, eagerness, being full-on, not just in the desire to accomplish something but in the energy and persistence applied to carrying it out. Elsewhere Peter writes be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Pe 3:14) Paul exhorts Timothy to be diligent in pursuing godliness “so that (his) progress may be seen by all,” (1 Tim 4:15), and to the Galatians he writes “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9). References to being committed and wholehearted are set like precious stones throughout Proverbs. The rewards held out by the Lord to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation are all for those who “endure.” And these references only scratch the surface of what is a very deep-veined theme running through the whole of Scripture. Diligence is the name written on our handlebars: if we don’t hold on, we will fall off.

At this point there might appear to be a tension between the fundamental truth that we are saved by Grace (the Cross of Christ) and not by works (staying on the bike) However there isn’t one. The bike itself is a gift from God. The desire to ride it and to stay on is a gift from God, just as faith itself is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8; 2 Peter 1:1). And Psalm 37:24 tells us: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand,” so even our ability to stay on the bike is by the Grace of God. The very words that are given to us by the Holy Spirit encouraging us to be diligent and to endure also give us the desire and the ability to carry them out. I think it can reasonably be said that those who to fall away are the ones who never really got on the bike in the first place – who confessed with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, but never really believed it in their hearts. (Romans 10: 9) So if you, like me, are picking your bike off the ground and getting on again for the fiftieth time this week, don’t beat yourself up over it and call yourself a failure. The good news is, you never were a success in the first place! All of that glory belongs to the Lord. The fact that you are getting on your bike again is proof that you are, by the grace of God, being diligent.

So, holding onto the handlebars, we press on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. We carry on pedalling along the mountain track. Sometimes there are downhill stretches and easier sections, but the call is upward and the overall direction of the track is always to take us ultimately “further up and further in,” as Aslan says in the final book of the Chronicles of Narnia. And this leads us to the other essential function of the handelbars: they are what gives the bike direction. We don’t just hold on “with all diligence” in order to stay on the bike; we hold on to stay on the path. And we always look forward: looking back brings disaster. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we steer along His track to  the top of the mountain.

Being born again isn’t about boarding a train in this life and stepping onto Heaven’s platform in the next one: it’s about the slow process of growing to maturity in Christ as we consistently reveal to the watching world that He is the one who is keeping us on track. The higher up and further in we go, the closer to Him we get and the more like Him we become, so that “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:3)

The Mountain of God is the Mountain of His presence, where Love rules and His Glory dwells. It’s where He met with Moses and gave the Old Covenant to His people, and it’s where He meets with us to lead us forward by His Spirit today. There is one simple test that will tell us if we are on our bikes or completely off track, and it’s the question I referred to in the chapter on the pedals: are we learning to love? Jesus has individualised lessons for each one of us, and they will all be somewhere along the route that Peter maps out in the scripture that opens this section. But learn them we must if we are to progress up the mountain, because

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

This is where our direction must be set. We can keep moving, with both wheels on the ground, our feet on the pedals and our hands close to the brakes, gripping the handlebars tightly. But whenever we hurt or destroy we’ve lost our way.

Blowing the Trumpet

Beginning on Sept 18th and ending on Sept 20th, the Jewish Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, heralds the Jewish New Year and commemorates the sounding of the first trumpet, when the Law was given to Israel and they became God’s covenant people. Following the feast of trumpets are eight “Days of Awe,” during which time Jewish people prepare themselves, through prayer and repentance, for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the shofar is blown again. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the only two Jewish festivals when the shofar is blown ceremonially.

In the second vision of “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” Jacob Dominy prophesies that “The roar of the Lion is near and the blast of the shofar trumpet is about to be heard.” I posted that yesterday evening, and decided then to publish as a download the chapter in “Wheat in the Winepress” entitled “Blowing the Trumpet,” as it is relevant to what the Holy Spirit seems to be saying at the moment. Shortly afterwards I was drawn to pick up a messianic newsletter that we receive. When I opened it, I found that most of the content was about these two forthcoming festivals when the shofar is blown. Not knowing the Jewish festival calendar as well as I could (or should), I was unaware of these forthcoming dates until then, so when I saw them I felt the Lord was making a connection between the festivals and what I had just published.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is over the 24 hours from 27-28th September. If Jake’s visions were from the Lord, and I believe that they were as they are very much in keeping with what the Holy Spirit is saying through other prophetic voices at the moment, the shofar is about to be sounded in the heavenlies and the Lord’s army will be going into battle. On Earth as it in Heaven: what more strategic moment could there be than the day when the sound of the shofar reminds Christians and Jews alike of God’s wonderful provision of atonement for His people? What better moment for the commander of Heaven’s armies to launch His attack on the enemy than the commemoration of the Victory that He has already won?

I am not saying for certain that I have heard from God on this, but I think I may have done. If the battle really is about to intensify, (and even if it isn’t!) we need to make sure that we are right with God to avoid being a target for the enemy. I can think of no better time than to stand with the Jewish people as they prepare themselves for the Day of Atonement.

To download Blowing the Trumpet, click the title link here or go to the Free Downloads section.

We Have the Fire

“And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings : 15-17)

In recent times there has been an emphasis in the prophetic on an increase in the intensity of the heavenly battle that we are engaged in. There have been words about God sending angels to earth, and His heavenly army being drawn up in battle array. But where is this battle taking place?

The battle is taking place all around us: not just in our churches, but in our private lives, in our family lives, and in our schools and workplaces. In some contexts it is also taking place visibly in the geopolitical sphere: in Israel, now as always; and where ever political and religious systems or legislative acts are standing in opposition to the Kingdom of our God and His Christ. The growing civil unrest in the USA is also largely an expression of the clash between liberal humanistic values and the values of the Conservative Christian foundation of the nation.

Individually, we can expect to face more and stronger temptations, and more frustration and opposition (especially in areas of ministry) as the devil unleashes his forces against the people of God. Where they are fissures and cracks in relationships the enemy will seek to drive in a wedge and force people apart. He will intensify his attack on Christian marriages and Christian families. Where we are neglecting to adhere to Romans 12: 1-2 and we are not “presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice” as our “reasonable service” to the Lord, the enemy will exploit all the weaknesses of our carnality to do as much damage as he can. The intensified battle over our own lives will often come down to the ongoing war between the flesh and the spirit – (Romans 6:19, Galatians 5:17, James 4: 1 1 Peter 2: 11), so we need to take seriously Peter’s warning to ”Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Now is the time to stay closer than ever to the commander of our army, and to tune our ears even more finely to His voice. Jesus reminds us in John 10:27 that we, His sheep, do hear His voice; but very often we are listening to too many other voices as well, so His quiet whisper is drowned out.  Now is the time to ask the Lord, Just as Elisha did, to open our spiritual eyes so we can discern the spiritual forces around us: not just the forces of darkness, but the angelic forces of the Kingdom of God whose work it is to minister to the Saints (Hebrews 1: 7). We need to remember that we are not alone in any situation: that there is a spiritual dimension all around us that is peopled with beings who are both against us and for us. We need to pray at all times, not just for ourselves but for one another, and especially for those in church leadership; and those of us with the gift of tongues need to spend more time than ever praying in our spiritual language, because it is given to us for our edification.

But, as Paul says, “we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor 2:11), and the truth is that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world, and that those who are for us are greater than those that are against us. The enemy may have his “horses and chariots” arrayed against us, but against them are “horses and chariots of fire.” Although the battle may rage, the war is already won, and we can stand firm in the hope of partaking in the fruits of that victory, whether it’s in this life or the eternity that Jesus has won for us. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Jesus told us that the “violent” take the Kingdom of Heaven ”by force”.  There is a land to take, but we are going to have to fight for it. The battle is on. But we have the fire; and the Lord says to us today what He said to His old covenant people through Moses and Joshua: “Be strong and very courageous, for I am with you.”

And if God is for us, who can be against us?

The Mountain Bike

Our bike is not a road bike; it’s a mountain bike. God wants us to go up the mountain to seek His presence, and He wants us to ride on the paths that He shows us. I’ve written elsewhere about not being conformed to the world, so I won’t repeat it all here; but essentially the relevance of the idea of a mountain bike to thoughts on Christian discipleship is that the mountain bike is designed for the narrow way, not the broad road of the world’s thinking.

Long before Coronavirus, prophets of God all over the world were announcing that ‘God is about to do a new thing.’ There is material on it here as well – in particular the guest blog “You have not been this way before.” Now that new thing is upon us. I am sure that this is just a beginning; there will be more changes to come. But we are setting out on a path without a map and without roadsigns: only the Holy Spirit can tell us where to go, so we need to listen to His voice. If we aren’t used to hearing it, now is the time to learn.

As Jesus leads his off-road church further up the mountain track and away from the road there will be a separation between those who are following Him and those who are staying on the road that they have always known. It will be gradual, and for a while those on the road will say ; “It’s OK, they’ll see sense and come back down soon,” while those on the mountain will say: “Surely they will pay attention to what the Lord is saying soon, and come up here with us!” And some on the track will go back to the road, because they long for the smooth ride, while some on the road will turn off up the mountain to seek the presence of the Lord.

As the track goes higher the going will get harder yet more exhilarating, and a time will come when the distance between the two is too great and the crossing over will stop. The riders on the road will have become wedded to the world and its ways, while the Bride of Christ will be up the mountain, waiting for the Lord to return.

The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
(Hab 3:19; Psalm 18:33)

Next: Two wheels.