Tag Archives: Unity: we are one body. Love one another

The Overbearing Invader

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

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

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

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

The Unity of the Spirit

“All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them.” (1 Chron 12: 38)

When David was at Hebron, the men of Israel came to make him King. We too are going into battle, to see our King installed. The commander of our army is calling us, too, to “keep ranks.” But our unity is not of the flesh, and as we prepare for war we need to understand what it is in the Spirit:

Unity is the garment that covers the body of Christ when we love and serve one another in meekness and humility. It is held out to all who are of one mind to make Jesus King. It is the psalm 133 anointing on the royal priesthood that comes when the Father sees our love and answers the prayer of His son in John 17. It does not come about by preaching or prophetic utterances or by doctrinal argument; it is not a work of the law but of the Spirit; it is spoken in a gentle whisper and not a strident shout. Unity is in the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit joining the hearts of every believer who understands that we love and serve the Lord when we love and serve one another (Matt 25:40), and that we can’t draw near to Him when we close our hearts to our brothers and sisters. Unity is  not a robe that we can put on with our own hands and parade in our churches and our streets: it is the wedding gown of the bride of Christ, and the bridegroom will see it reflecting His glory when He comes to receive His own.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in you all.”

(Eph 4: 1-6 NIV, except NKJV adds in “you” all)

How often I have longed to gather you under my wings…

I took these pictures of Juvenile starlings clamouring over a feed tray at the weekend. When I showed them to a Christian friend at work today, he immediately looked at the first one and quoted Jesus saying: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather you under my wings, yet you would not…” I realised in that moment that there were other pictures in the collection that could also have parallels for some of us today.

If you have ever seen and marvelled at the wonderful synchronisation and unity in a murmuration of mature starlings, you will know how different that sight is from the squabbling rabble of juveniles in these photographs. Sometimes we must seem like these young birds, thinking only of ourselves and our own agendas, with no vision for what we are to become. But one day Jesus will gather His church under His wings, and we will all be one; and on that day we will be like the murmuration in the last picture, swooping and soaring as one in the freedom and the purposes of the Spirit.

Wherever we are as believers today, let us take heart in the fact that our Lord is not going to leave us there: He has a vision for His church, and it will be accomplished in all who will seek His presence and hold onto His word. I offer this series of images in the hope that they will inspire some of us to take another step forward in our journey towards full maturity and unity in the Spirit, when, no longer children, we will “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 4:13).

Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I wanted to gather your children together,
like a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, and you refused
!
(Luke 13:34)
“Do not be like your fathers, to whom
the former prophets preached, saying,
‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “
Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.
But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the LORD!

(Zech 1:4)
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart
of unbelief in departing from the living God;
(Heb 3:12)
“Blessed rather are those who hear
the word of God and obey it.”
(Luke 11:28)
He who supplies the Spirit to you and works
miracles among you, does He do it by the works
of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
(Gal 3:5)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as
God in Christ forgave you.
” (Eph 4:32)
“Not giving back evil for evil, or reviling for reviling,
but on the contrary, blessing, having known that you were
called to this, that you may inherit a blessing; “
(1 Peter 3:9)
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:” (John 17:22)

By Your Patience Possess Your Soul

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1: 2-4)

Can we honestly say that we welcome the trails that come our way? Do we say: “What an amazing trial I am going through! I am so looking forward to what the Lord is going to do in me through it! Thank you, Lord! Bring it on!” Because that is the attitude that James is exhorting us to take on, right at the outset of his letter. And just in case we want to file those verses for later reference, the Holy Spirit gives us another reminder in 1 Peter:

 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  (1 Pe 1: 6-7)”

Trials are not a popular subject – we prefer healing, grace, faith; in fact anything that focuses on the blessings of our inheritance rather than the hardship of the cross.  Resurrection trumps death every time. But the New Testament is peppered with expressions of the joy felt by the early church as they lived under the hammer of persecution, and the inescapable logic of James’s statement is that, through the development of the fruit of patience in  our lives, we become people who “lack nothing” as a direct result of the trials that we undergo. So do you want to be perfect and complete? Do you want to lack nothing? The good news is that the perfect work of patience that will bring that about. The bad news is that you need to “fall into various trials” for it to happen.

“Isn’t there an easier way?” I hear. “Can’t I just receive this perfection by faith? Can’t I just be imbued with the perfection of Jesus as I spend time in His presence?”

Unfortunately that is not what my Bible says. Yes, we must spend time in His presence, and yes, we receive our inheritance by faith, but it appears from Scripture that the development of a Christ-like character can only come about one way, and that is when patience is forged in the crucible of our trials. Jesus set the pattern himself when, speaking prophetically about the persecution coming on the church He said: “”By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19) He gave us the extreme example of patience when, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Heb 12:2) The word  (Greek “hypomonē ,”also translated as endurance and perseverence) used as a verb here by the writer to the Hebrews is the same as that is used by James, when talking about the “perfect work” of patience; and by Jesus when he tells us how to  “Possess or souls.” Patience certainly had its perfect work in Him, and because He endured the cross and sat down at the right hand of the Father we too can possess our souls and be seated there with Him.

What have You done?
How can we relate this to our own trials? If you are reading this article you are almost certainly not facing life-threatening persecution, unlike James and Peter. You are not about to be crucified for the sins of the world. But I think that we can find a useful lesson if we look at the actual trial of Jesus before Pilate. The person who sat in the Judgement seat was in the position of the “prince of this world” in terms of worldly authority over the man Jesus. As we know, Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world in John 14:30. Here is the exchange between Jesus and Pilate as recorded in John 18:35-36, when Jesus Christ stood before His worldly judge and was challenged to give an account of Himself:

“What have You done?” (asked Pilate)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
(John 18: 35-36)

When we face judgement and we feel that we have done nothing wrong, what are the thoughts that we are likely to give voice to? “It wasn’t me/my fault!” “I didn’t touch it!” “Well, you said…” And so on. We all know the script, and we know the sense of indignation and hurt that goes with the injustice of false accusation and blame. But not so Jesus. For the joy set before Him and through His absolute confidence in His identity and His mission, he endured not only the temptation to justify Himself, but also all the mocking, the slaps and the scourging that he suffered even before walking the final path to Calvary; and He spoke only of His Kingdom and its eternal truth. Patience had its perfect work in Him, and He possessed not only His own soul but yours and mine for eternity.

Peter expressed it like this:

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
(1 Pe 2: 21-24)

It is likely that Peter wrote this letter, and the second one, when he was living in Rome under Nero, not long before his death. Just a few verses earlier, he said: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…” (1 Pe 2: 13-15) Peter was submitting himself to the ordinances of Nero. This is New Testament patience: the mindset of a man totally sold out to the Kingdom of God.

We do of course face many and varied trials in this life. We are promised persecutions. Illness, poverty, injustice, pain – these are all realities, and in all of them it can be said that when Christians succeed in keeping their hypomonē through them Jesus is glorified, as Peter writes in the second of the opening scriptures. But the trials I am thinking about are not physical hardships, but the emotional trials we can face on a daily basis where our minds are buffeted by negative, defensive reactions to the comments of other people – often loved ones. These may seem insignificant when compared to the trials of cancer or the prospect of martyrdom, but they are part of the very fabric of our relationships; and if part of the preparation of the spotless bride of Christ is for us to be in unity before He comes back for us, we need to deal with it.

Trial by argument

Jesus’s mission was to bring the victory of Love into the world through the cross. When He was on trial His choice was to defend Himself or hold onto His mission. When we are on trial, and the voices that come from the prince of this world are goading us to defend ourselves, we too can make the choice that Jesus made: we can remember that we belong to a kingdom that is not of this world and choose our mission of unity and love over our protestations of innocence. The Lord is our strong tower: if we can hold onto the author and finisher of our faith instead of fighting our corner, we will eventually see His love prevail – because it always does – and patience will have its perfect work.

Love always builds. Love does not focus on self, but on the other. There can be many times in a trial by argument when we know that what we are saying is true; but unless we speak that truth in love the words will be destructive, because the enemy will twist them into a weapon of attack for his own purposes. What is truth? Truth spoken in defensiveness only serves to puff up self, and self will always fall sooner or later; whereas truth spoken in love is what causes us to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” More than anything, this is what we all want. We know it in our spirits, but it is hidden from our flesh. So if we want to possess our soul we need to listen to the quiet voice speaking into our spirit and ignore the loud ”defend yourself!” clamour of the flesh. We have got used to weddings being postponed because of Covid; we don’t want ours to be put off because of our discord.

The Railway Track

“I am going to lift the train back onto the rails…”

I felt the Lord showed me a railway line going into the distance, except it was going up into the air, like a fairground ride, not along the ground. He says “The train has been bumping along slowly because it has been running over the sleepers, not along the tracks that I have laid down for it. The sleepers are barriers across the path: divisions, religion, unbelief. All the time my church looks at these barriers it remains stuck on them, rooted to the ground and bumping along slowly instead of rolling freely along the tracks that I have set and rising up into the realm of the Spirit. For the track is the twin rails of faith and love. I am going to lift the train back onto the rails, and the train will surely speed up as the wheels roll freely at last. You will look for the sleepers, but they will be flashing by so quickly that you will not see them, and you will just hear the sound of the wheels speeding along the track towards your destination. Listen: can you hear them? Faith and love, faith and love, faith and love, faith and love, faith and love …  The destination is your certain hope, the anchor of your soul. Take your eyes off the sleepers, for it is only faith and love that will get you there. Listen to the sound of train – Faith and love, faith and love, faith and love, faith and love, faith and love …”

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. (Gal 5:6)

“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.”

The Unity of the Spirit

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)

It’s the Unity that commands the blessing, and without the unity the blessing will not be commanded. The Unity that God is waiting to see in us is what the Lord Jesus prayed for in John 17, before going to the cross: it is the “The Unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace” of Ephesians 4:3, where we are “perfect in One” in the Father and the Son. I believe that this will be a new work of the Spirit, that will cause us all to look up to where we are seated in Heavenly places, already “perfect in one” together with Christ; and when we do we will see and begin to walk in the Unity and Love that He has purchased for us at the Cross and that is already ours. The day of Ecumenism is over, the Unity of the Spirit is coming, and in that unity the Lord will perfect His bride.

At the moment we are like the Shunammite woman, and we have just a little oil, and there are many empty jars in the church. He is going to visit us like Elisha visited her, and he is calling us to gather together all those empty jars and to start pouring in what little we have. So He says: “Pour yourselves out into the empty jars, in your praying and in your ministering, and I will pour through you. And you will see coming on the Church the Unity that commands the blessing.”

You may be one of the empty jars: if so, let yourself be filled. It may be that the jar of oil that you have needs to be emptied so you can be filled anew with the fresh oil of His Spirit. He wants all those jars to be full, because it is from them that He will pour His love out onto the world.

Jacob Dominy, (one of our prophetic team who has a number of prophetic words and other material on this site, including “serving to soaring” and “a beginner’s guide to prophesy“) also received a word today on the theme of Unity, which he has sent me. I don’t think the timing is a coincidence...

“Oh my church, my bride my beautiful bride, when will you take your blinkers off; when will take hold of what I have called you to be; when will you truly work together; when will you get out of your individual trenches and work as one across your town, your country and your world?
I am not calling you to work as individual churches: I am calling you to work together so that I can reveal my Glory in the world. I am wanting you to share resources so that My church, My bride, My army, can advance My kingdom here on Earth. I am calling you to put My will and My Kingdom above your individual agendas. What I am calling my church to do is to work as one unit.”