Tag Archives: You shall be perfect

Being perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect is not an unattainable piece of pie in the sky, but a practical and attainable goal that sets the course of our path as spirit-filled Christians.

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.

Our most Powerful Weapon

If we know the New Testament at all, we will know – even if we can’t quote it verbatim –  that “ the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts”, (2 Cor 10: 4-5) What we might not be quite so sure about is what the weapons of our warfare are. Some things are clear: Psalm 149 tells us that the high praises of God in our mouths and the two-edged sword in our hands will bind the enemy kings and nobles “in fetters of iron,” (vs. 6-9) so that gives us some guidance on dealing with the “principalities and powers in heavenly places” that Ephesians 6 vs 12 tells us we are struggling with. The gospels tell us specifically that we will be able to cast out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did this “with a word,” so we should expect, as His disciples with His power and the authority of His name, to be able to do the same. But more often than not, the most intense battles we face are not in situations where we can launch into high praise or begin calling out the demonic: they are in our marriages and families, and those with whom we have the closest relationships.

Jesus tells us explicitly how to deal with conflict in Matthew 5: 39. He famously says “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” This command has become embedded in Christian doctrine as one that promotes non-violence and non-resistance and a decision to forsake vengeance for the sake of pursuing love for one’s enemy. “The other cheek” is not commonly seen as a “weapon of our warfare…mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Yet that is precisely what it is. Jesus didn’t just come to Earth in order to build an alternative Kingdom of love and peace, where we all turn away from violence in the hope that others will see our example and come over to us from the dark side: He came to “destroy the works of the evil one,” so that the strongholds he has built in our lives will crumble, the knit together threads of anger and fear will unravel, and the roots of bitterness exposed and completely pulled out. The other cheek is a weapon “mighty in God” that we turn against the enemy.

Romans 12: 20-21 picks up the theme from the sermon on the Mount, but this time the act of loving one’s enemy is actually defined as an act of warfare: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We are not called to just ignore evil, but to meet it head-on and overcome it. The burning coals certainly imply shame and remorse, and may also be taken to suggest purification and judgement. But more than these, heaping burning coals on someone’s head strikes me as a powerful and effective act of warfare: that enemy is not going to show his face again.

To bring this back to that “other cheek:” what actually happens when we turn it? Here’s an illustration. Terry and Jean have been married 25 years and are about to celebrate their silver wedding. They both are Christians with leadership roles in church. Terry loves his wife and loves the Lord, but he has a very defensive side to his nature, particularly when accused of something that he either didn’t do, didn’t mean to do, or had a very good reason for doing. So Terry also loves his own reputation, and for 25 years he has run to shore up his reputation when Jean has been hurt by something he has done, rather than simply address the specific problem and ensure that he isn’t going to hurt Jean again. While Terry’s focus is on strengthening his own defensive shell, he is not really thinking about how deeply the wounds run that his bickering comments inflict on his wife. She feels increasingly alone and unloved; he feels increasingly frustrated and misunderstood. A problem arises concerning their silver wedding celebration plans. Jean is hurt and angry; Terry feels unjustly blamed. The enemy is rubbing his hands: can he give Terry another cast-iron reason for justifying himself and pulling down his wife? Can he make Jean feel so despondent about their relationship that she finally gives up, not just on their wedding anniversary but on their marriage itself?

The enemy nudges the argument nicely along the well-worn “You always…!” and “Well, you did…!” tracks. But what’s happening? Terry has walked away and gone into his den to sit down. He has his eyes shut. Danger! Is he praying? And now he is opening his Bible… the demon assigned to prowl around their marriage turns his attention to Jean, but she has put on some worship music, so he won’t be able to sow any negatives into her mind for a while…

Terry is pouring his heart out to the Lord. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many different ways, but just imagine this as a dialogue between Terry and Jesus:

“Lord, why do I always end up here? Why will she never admit that she is wrong to accuse me of being thoughtless like that, and that I could never have known that they have changed the menu? Nothing I say is ever any good, and it’s always my fault! And it isn’t – in fact it hardly ever is!”

“You’re right, Terry.”

“Sorry, Lord?”

“You’re right. Nothing you say is ever any good. Actually you’ve only got one option.”

“What’s that, Lord?”

“Love your wife.”

“Yes, I do! But…”

“No buts. It’s not about you and what she thinks of you: it’s about the fact that she’s hurting.”

“But it’s like she’s just slapped me in the face!”

“Exactly. So turn the other cheek. This is just one slap. But if you face this slap and are prepared to let her slap you again I’ll tell you what will happen: the barrier of self-defence that you have put up all your life will crumble away, and you will see Jean for who she is and respond to what she is feeling. She will see that you care about her more than you care about yourself, and your marriage will have new life.”

At that moment Terry sees a single shining tear on Jesus’s cheek. Reflected in it are streaks of red; faint reflections of His shed blood, then Jesus disappears. The tear remains, suspended. He sees that tear and that blood shed for him; he sees the dirty footprint trail of self-justification and cries of “it’s not fair!” winding through his life from as far back as he can remember, then the tear falls on the footprints and they all burn up like a fuse and are no more. When Terry goes in to apologise to Jean it isn’t just for tonight’s argument, but for every excuse he has ever made since they first met.

Jesus turned the other cheek at the cross and brought salvation to mankind. The spiritual overcame the carnal forever. When Jesus asks us to do the same it is not in a passive attempt at emulating godly behaviour, but in an active expression of His victorious Spirit that demolished the very stronghold of death itself. When we use this most powerful weapon we can demolish strongholds that bitter arguments have built up over decades. Christian marriages are always in the devil’s sights for some of his most virulent attacks, but Jesus has given us one act that will undo many years of his most careful work.

Uphill and Downhill

Uphill, downhill

Sometimes life is a struggle, and it seems like we are pedalling hard uphill in the lowest gear, but hardly moving at all; and sometimes it’s just freewheeling all the way as every button we press seems to make something happen, and everything we do works the first time. It can seem like the same applies in our spiritual lives: one day the heavens seem like brass, God is busy somewhere else and hasn’t got time for us, and in the flesh seems to be winning on every front in its war against the spirit; whereas on another day you sense the presence of God with you in an almost tangible way, you see Him sovereignly sort out a mess in your life, or you see someone healed or lead them to the Lord. We all want every day to be like this, and there can be a temptation to think we are “getting something wrong” if it isn’t happening.

The accuser is always looking for a place where his lies can stick, because this is not the reality at all. We are promised peace with persecutions, and His presence – whether we feel it or not – in adversity (Isaiah 43:2). Pauls tells the Corinthians that he “dies daily” and ”stands in jeopardy every hour.” (1 Cor 15: 31-31) We’ve signed up to a training camp, not a holiday camp. If life seems to be a struggle our words of comfort are not ”There, there; it will all get better soon,” but “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13); and that we can “count it all joy” when life is difficult because “the testing of (our) faith produces patience” (James 1: 3).

In His grace God does give us wonderful “downhill days,” because He knows that we need them; and there are times when do indeed reap in joy after sowing in tears (Psalm 126:5). But when Jeremiah asks why things are so hard, the Lord answers:
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)

Having said that, of course not many of us relish the prospect of the uphill sections of the journey. As we fly downhill with the wind in our faces we don’t say: “Hooray! There’s a steep climb ahead!” So what is God’s perspective? His ways are not our ways and His thoughts not our thoughts. He doesn’t measure how far we have come or how fast we are going, or even how high we have climbed. And it is God who gives the increase, not our own efforts, so we cannot take the credit for any fruit that we may have borne.

What matters most to our Father, and in fact what matters most to us as well, is this: that we stay upright. We particularly need to remember this when it seems that the going is easy, because it’s on the downhill runs that the falls can be most painful.

“For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will see His face.”
(Psalm 11:7)

Next time: off-road.

The Faith of Ezra

“I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him. So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8: 22-23)

Ezra and a remnant of the Israelites had been released from captivity by Ataxerxes, the King of Persia, to go and worship the Lord in the temple that had been rebuilt during the reign of Darius. Before they set out on their perilous journey, Ezra had gathered them at the river to fast and pray. However they weren’t going empty-handed: in the care of the priests and Levites was “six hundred and fifty talents of silver, silver articles weighing one hundred talents, one hundred talents of gold, twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.” One talent weighed roughly 50kg; about the weight of one adult. So along with the men, women and children were another 100 people in solid gold, and 750 more people in solid silver, plus the other precious objects, presumably transported by donkey or ox-cart, all on a journey of around 2000 kilometres.

Ezra was a priest and a scribe. He knew the word of God. And not only did he know the Word, but he believed it without compromise, trusting God and not the armies of men for protection for all those people in his care, and all the wealth that they were carrying on this long and perilous journey. He believed what he declared, and walked in it. But also he didn’t walk in presumption, but under his leadership they prayed earnestly, they humbled themselves, and they fasted; and “the gracious hand of God was upon them” to deliver them safely to Jerusalem.

For us, as we journey on the road towards Jerusalem – the New One – how much of the word of God do we believe and walk in? At the time of writing we live in a climate of virus-induced fear, exaggerated by the negative words of headline-hunting media, reinforced by the sinister image of the face mask that robs the wearer of his or her smile, and by the deprivation of warm human contact through social distancing measures. As believers we are certain that God is at work through all this, because Romans 8: 28 tells us that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” However the fact remains that the virus and its ravages are the work of “the enemy on the road.” Yes, we have to comply with the law and its anti-virus measures, because the Bible tells us that as well. But do we give into the enemy of fear when we put the mask over our smile or imprison ourselves in our “social bubbles,” or do we believe that “God is my protection” and “No plague shall come near my dwelling?”

Our response to the enemy of fear in the context of coronavirus is just one aspect of many ways in which we can be selective in our faith. For example, the Bible is clear in both the old and new testaments that God detests same-sex relationships (For example. Leviticus 18:22, and 20:13; Romans : 24-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.) Do we ignore that part of the word because it’s uncomfortable and hard to swallow, like a chewy bit of gristle that we leave on the side of the plate? There are no details given, but it isn’t hard to guess what some of the “detestable practices” of the surrounding pagan nations were that the Israelites, and many of their kings, found so attractive and which led to their downfall. A liberal gospel is not the gospel of Salvation. The narrow gate is like the restrictors found now at the top of airport and underground escalators: we can’t take all our baggage through, no matter how much we might want it with us.

Healing, deliverance, the critical importance of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, God’s promises of provision in times of hardship – how often is this food left on the side of the plate? Demons are another bit of gristle. They are a very real part of the unseen realm, but it is so easy leave them to carry on their activities instead of learning how to deal with them effectively.  And what does the Word tell us about division, backbiting and criticism, for example – what we might call the sins of the tongue rather than the sins of the flesh. Do we leave that as well? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gave Himself totally for our salvation. He is also the Living Word, and He is alive in us. If we want all that He has to give us, we need all of Him, not just the tasty bits, and we need to give ourselves totally to Him. We need the faith of Ezra in every aspect of our lives.

Give me your rubbish

We often talk about “The Father’s Heart” but it is not so often that we actually feel it. Clearly the intensity and depth of God’s emotions would overwhelm us – we would be like ants in the Atlantic – but when He reveals something of His emotions, even at an ant level, we need to pay attention.

When Jake was given the following word, he says he felt something of God’s heart breaking as He pleads with His Church to dump their rubbish and turn back to Him wholeheartedly. The last dream that Dana Coverstone reported showed that persecution of true believers would come from those within churches who did not accept the Christian message in its entirety. God is calling passionately to His Church to dump the rubbish that is in our hearts and our belief systems, and come back to the purity of the Gospel that unites us to Him.

Jake writes:
“A bin lorry came while I was  praying on my break.  My thoughts were: “Go away!”  But then the lord spoke to me with this picture and word for the church, both locally and the wider church.

The image of the bin lorry was like magnified 100 x at least. The noise was irritating; but the banging and clattering that I saw and heard in the natural was all being magnified hugely. I felt the Lord  say: “I am sending round my bin lorry to individuals and churches.

I want to take away all your rubbish. Have you swept and sorted out the houses of your lives and my church? Yes it will be irritating, annoying, disturbing and even painful. Are you bins full? Are you ready for me to collect your rubbish? Are you ready? For I’m looking for a people holy and set apart for me.

Are you ready for my spirit to break in?”

Brace Yourself! Dana Coverstone’s Prophetic Dreams

Between December last year and now an American pastor called Dana Coverstone has received three prophetic dreams concerning the state of the USA. What he saw in the Spirit in graphic detail in December was what we watched in the news between March and June: Covid and the current civil unrest around black lives matter.

Google and YouTube are now awash with comments about his dreams, which Pastor Coverstone described in a YouTube video towards the end of June. I have had a couple of thoughts myself: here there they are.

In 1983 a man of God called Tom Zimmer, who was a war veteran living in Italy who spent all his time in prayer and worship, interceding especially for the nations, received a prophecy which specified the man called Donald J Trump would lead America back to God. He shared this with an American friend of his, who said that he must be wrong: Donald Trump was a New York playboy, and hardly the man that God would choose to lead America back to Him. However Tom Zimmer was convinced he had heard the Lord. Tom lived in the town of Loreto, where everybody knew him as a holy man, like Simeon and Anna who spent their time in the temple at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Fast forward to 2020 and Dana Coverstone. He is not a well-known pastor leading a big church; his calling is to go into churches who have lost their moral compass and turn them back to the Lord. He is not a known prophet, and in fact repeatedly says “I am not a prophet.” Responses to these dreams vary from scepticism to full belief, but whatever people think about the things he says, his integrity as a man of God appears to be in no doubt.

The first of his dreams accurately prophesied events in America between March and June. The second dream which he received at the end of June, I think it was the 24th, looks forward to the period between September and November, the time of the US presidential election.

He saw America in meltdown, with Washington burning and troops on the streets. It was full-scale Civil War. You need to see the videos yourself: just google “Dana Coverstone Prophetic Dreams.” I won’t get into details here, but they are a warning from the Lord to the church of America to “Brace Yourself!” We might say, “What’s that got to do with me in the UK?” I can’t answer that, other than to say I expect that the ripples will be felt around the world if the predictions come true. Pastor Coverstone says: “Believers, STOP MESSING AROUND if you’re not living for the Lord as you ought to be!” I think we can all hear this, whatever the context.

What we don’t necessarily realise in our peaceful United Kingdom is that the polarisation between the Republicans and Democrats in the USA is practically on a civil war footing already. The fuse is already burning,and it’s helped along by the partisan reporting of the two main TV news channels: Fox (Democrat) and CNN (Republican). There is a battle raging in Heaven over the whole world between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, and I believe that much of it is being played out on the streets of the United States, as the fight for the soul of the nation rages. What pastor Coverstone saw, was, I believe, the time when the burning fuse reached the dynamite at the time of the presidential elections in November.

We don’t know, of course, how the last stages of this battle will be played out; but if we believe that God spoke to Tom Zimmer, as I do, we can trust that the final outcome of this “civil war” will be a re-elected Donald Trump leading America back to God. As you read this, please don’t think that I believe that God endorses Donald Trump’s politics. This is not about politics at all, but about the eternal destiny of millions of people, and about the part that a spiritually restored USA will play on the world stage in the events leading up to the return of Christ. Whatever his failings, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, it would appear that Trump has a part to play.

A detail that I find particularly interesting, and prophetic, and which as far as I know hasn’t been picked up by anyone else, is this: the 1983 prophecy was about Donald Trump restoring the moral and spiritual compass of a country that has turned away from God’s ways. The Dana Coverstone prophecies were given to a man whose ministry to the church is to do exactly the same thing. I take this unlikely connection as a sign that these things are in fact going to happen.

See also the post “The battle and our part in it” – Click here or follow the link below.

Holiness: you shall be perfect

You shall go to the ball…

If you are married, it is very likely that you and your spouse became man and wife because you loved one another. If your marriage is successful, one of the reasons is probably the fact that you were attracted to the qualities you saw in your spouse. You loved – and hopefully still love! – your spouse because of who they are, and because you love the qualities and the attributes that characterise them. We worship God, and tell Him we love Him. It’s reasonable to say that God’s standout attribute is His holiness. So do we love holiness?

If we put a poster on the wall saying Be holy, for I am holy,” our response to it at any given time would be a good litmus test of whether we are walking in the flesh or in the Spirit. The flesh is corrupt so it will always want to avoid even the thought of holiness, so in the flesh we would most likely just want to take it off the wall and put a photo frame there instead. If we want to run from the poster there is no point praying about anything, because we won’t be praying in the Spirit and our prayers will have no Life – unless of course we are praying about not wanting to run from the poster. However in the Spirit we will see those words and be drawn to Jesus, and coming from our heart will be a cry that He will continue to work in our lives to remove anything that stops the light of His holiness shining in our lives. That would be a good time to pray.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus sets us a goal which is more or less interchangeable with Holiness, when he says “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Seated in heavenly places, as we are, it is true that our spirits are “the righteousness of God in Christ,” and when the Father sees us in His Son all He sees is perfection, and the Beauty of Holiness. But earlier in the same chapter (verse 16), Jesus exhorts us to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our mission on Earth is to live our lives in such a way that the world also sees what God sees. Paul uses the same Greek word for perfect – telios – when he writes to the Ephesians that the purpose of ministry is “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.” (Ep 4: 12-13)

As we have already explored, the words of Life that Jesus is sowing, the seeds of the Kingdom of God, would not be activated until the Holy Spirit came and watered them in. So we too need to hear them in the Spirit: perfection, just like holiness, comes by faith and by intimacy with Jesus – “the knowledge of the Son of God.” The pursuit of perfection is for the Church on earth: now, so that the light of Christ in us is not clouded by the flesh but shines strongly into the darkness that covers the nations; and ultimately so that when the groom returns He finds His bride pure, spotless, and “without blemish.” In these last seconds, (see “three seconds to midnight”) the Holy Spirit is reminding the Church that Jesus meant what He said in the sermon on the mount. And if we listen with the hearing of faith, we hear the promise as well as the instruction: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven in perfect.”

Cinderella church, you shall go to the ball. But in our story, the ball starts at midnight…