Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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The Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross is hard

The Way of the Cross is unyielding

The Way of the Cross is sharp and pointy

The Way of the Cross hurts

The Way of the Cross shatters self

and self-belief

 

The Way of the Cross breaks open a Way

And this is from where Life springs

Eternal

The Way of the Cross is death

That leads to Life

 

Stop resisting the Spirit of God.  Why do you kick against the goads?  Yield to Him.

He has a better Way.

 

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I Believe in Brokenness

hisloveThis vessel

broken by

anxiety

depression

 

This vessel

broken by

persecution

rejection

 

This vessel had been hard,

callous

and full of Self

 

But this vessel needed to be

used

and taken from the shelf

 

God knew it would take

some major breaking,

even some smashing-

 

For the Self-life

to be conquered

’twas so secure there

in its bastion

 

And oh I’m glad He did

that He cared enough for me

to take me and break me

pastorsponderings.org

pastorsponderings.org

 

From Self to set me free

 

It hurt, it killed

at times too hard to bear

but my God – He did it

For Himself He had to share


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World Outrage Grows Over Cecil the Lion

source:inquisitr.com

source:inquisitr.com

This case is outrageous. Infuriatingly so.

An innocent and beautiful lion was killed as a trophy for a rich man, yes.

But as reprehensible to me as that is, that is not what outrages me.

What outrages me is the hypocrisy of the moral-high ground that the media, government officials, social media and individuals are all taking.

How dare he kill a lion?” “He has no right to kill a defenceless animal.” “How dare he use it as a trophy?”

I actually don’t disagree with these statements, I hate hunting for sport. I hate that a defenceless animal is killed at the whim of a human-being sporting a gun. I surely do not understand how killing anything is considered sport.

But the self-righteousness of what I am witnessing makes me sick. It is incomprehensible to me that while the world becomes so “outraged” over the killing of one lion, an animal, outrage over the systematic killing of defenceless, innocent babies every day within our civilised society is almost non-existent.

The outrage over the death of a lion! To the point where the man who killed it has to go into hiding. Where is the outrage over:

  • 60 million babies aborted in the USA since Roe Vs Wade,
  • the estimated 80,000 babies that are aborted in Australia every year and the
  • 336 million babies aborted in China over the last 40 years?

One may argue that abortion has nothing to do with the killing of Cecil the lion and that the two issues should not be connected. After all one is to do with killing for sport, the other is “women’s healthcare”.

Agreed. They are not the same issue.

Of course they aren’t. One is to do with an animal’s right to live. The other a human being’s right to live.

The issue is completely different because of course human life is more valuable than animal life.

Isn’t it?

Guys?

How the hell have we come to the point where we are so outraged, so angry over the death of a lion that the man who killed it has to go into hiding, but at the same time we collectively don’t give a rats-you-know-what about millions of innocent baby boys and girls being murdered every day?

You tell me we haven’t lost our moral compass somewhere along the line. When we consider the life of an animal as of greater intrinsic value, as something more worthy to get outraged about than the life of millions of babies, then something is seriously, seriously wrong.

God help us


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How to Receive a Prophet’s Reward

When Jesus sent out His disciples He told them that there are two possible reactions to them preaching the gospel: either they would be received, or they would be rejected.reward

This is a fact, for God has given humanity freewill, and as such every one of us is free to accept or reject the prophetic Word of God. However whilst we do have this freedom, it must be acknowledged that with every exercise of our freewill, every decision and every action we take there is a consequence in the spiritual realm which alters the material world.  And it is true in this case as well.

God has laid out in His Word the specific consequences for both receiving the prophetic Word and the rejecting of it. In fact, He holds the reception of His Word as so important that He has said :

He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward…” Matthew 10:41

Why is the reception of a prophet so important to Him? And what is the prophet’s reward?

 

The Importance of the Prophetic

shofar-blownThe prophet represents God. He goes forth from the presence of God and speaks what God has given him to speak. The prophet speaks the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not just speaking the Word, it is speaking it forth in the power of an anointing borne out of intimacy with Jesus Himself. The prophet is the ambassador of Christ in this world, and so the prophet and his message are inextricably linked. A true prophet cannot be separated from the message he brings.

We see this with Ezekiel. God had a message for Israel and He had His prophet to act out what he was proclaiming to Israel. He had to lie down for a certain number of days as a sign against rebellious Israel. (Ezekiel 4)

One cannot receive the prophet himself, whilst rejecting the message he brings. And vice versa is true.

Neither can the true prophet be separated from God. When God sends someone to speak forth His Word, then he/she is speaking it on God’s behalf. Rejection of the prophet and his message therefore is rejection of God and His Word.

He who receives you receives me, and He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Matthew 10:40

 

The Way of the Flesh

The rejection of the Word of God is normal. What I mean by that is that it is the way of human flesh.   The flesh always resists the Spirit. It always has and it always will. The flesh has its eyes blinded and its heart hardened.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

I don’t know about you, but since I was born again I left behind “normal”. I don’t want the way of the flesh anymore, I am desperate for the way of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, we who are now living by the Spirit should be able to receive and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church regardless of whether it is a message of encouragement/edification or whether it is a message of correction/reproof. You see, the Holy Spirit wants to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ and sometimes the old needs to be torn down first before the new can be built.

 

Rejection of the Prophetic Word

The consequence of the rejection of the prophetic Word is judgment and death.

This may sound harsh, but there is a spiritual principle at work here.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galations 6:8

Because the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) when it is received it takes root in order to bring forth life, just like a little seed.

However when the Word of God is rejected, that place where life was meant to dwell becomes a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and something has to take that place.   What enters in is corruption.  When Christ is actively rejected after the Word has been preached, a new level of corruption enters into that individual/church/city.

Jesus told the disciples what action to take with those who reject them and their words:

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:14, 15

The action of the shaking of dust from one’s feet is an act of judgment against that place.

“The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters.” John Wesley

Jesus brings Sodom and Gomorra into the picture as a picture of God’s judgment.  It was an awful judgment of fire and brimstone against awful sin. Yet they were judged apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ – it had not been preached to them. How much more severely will God judge the place to which the gospel has been sent and rejected?

It is the same with us. Now that we are followers of Christ, partakers of the grace of God, born again from death into life, how much more should we be able to hear from God?

As the Parable of the Sower demonstrates, the result of that seed of the Word not being able to penetrate and take root is

nothing. Fruitlessness, barrenness, lifelessness.

You see if God wants to speak something to you and me, then He wants us to have ears to hear it. There is always a purpose to God speaking – and that is to bring forth life.  To close our hearts and our ears to Him is actually an act of disobedience. Remember Saul – he shut his ears to God’s instructions and because of his disobedience was rejected as king.  Remember Lot’s wife. She was specifically told not to look back at Sodom. She did, and became a pillar of salt. Death entered in.  Remember Adam and Eve. Specifically instructed not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned them of the consequence of disobedience : death.

“You shall not eat it….lest you die” Genesis 3:3

They ate it and death entered in.

Jesus Himself exhorts us to be able to hear. Over and again He says “He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

Why? Because He knows that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He says that seeing and hearing leads to understanding in the heart, conversion and healing. (see Matthew 13:14-15).

 

It Is Not Too Late

I want to encourage you that God is merciful  It is not too late to hear Him.

I feel that there are some in the Body of Christ who have rejected a Word from the Lord because it didn’t sit well with their flesh. Perhaps it seemed too big, perhaps you felt inadequate to receive it. Perhaps it was a reproof against a specific sin you didn’t want to give up or didn’t know how to give up. This rejection of God’s Word has brought about a measure of death in your spiritual life and you are now stagnating.

Let me tell you that until this has been dealt with you will not move forward. If you have any controversy with God then it needs to be sorted today. Get in His presence and be honest with Him. Let go of pride, let go of inadequacy. Let go of Self altogether and just allow Him to minister to you. Confess your sin of disobedience and ask Him to open your ears.  And then do what He tells you to do.

This is the way Life will flow again.

 

Reception of the Prophetic Word

jesus feetHe who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward….” Matthew 10:41

Wow – this is almost too amazing to believe! God cares so much about the reception of His Word and His messenger that whoever receives a prophet, because he is a prophet, shall receive the same reward a prophet receives.

Whilst this is amazing it is also quite logical.  Considering that the rejection of God’s word is the norm of human flesh, then the one whom can receive it the Spirit of Life must already be working on in some measure.  The one who can receive from God has not a hardened heart nor deafened ears. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet of God, is receiving the prophet as an ambassador of Christ. Therefore whoever is receiving a prophet ultimately receives God Himself.

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent Me”

Once again from the Parable of the Sower: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23

When the seed of the Word is received in fertile soil, God is able to move and new life springs up as a consequence.

 

So What is the Prophet’s Reward?

Jesus said to His disciples “He who finds His life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

This the reward of a prophet. One who goes forth and speaks the Word of God, not fearing man but fearing God. One who stands up against the forces of evil and declare God’s truth. One who loses his reputation for the sake of Christ. One who confesses Christ in the face of persecution and rejection. One who does not bow to the pressure of man. One who puts Christ before himself. This is a true prophet and this one will find eternal life because, for the sake of the gospel, he has laid down his temporary life in this world.

And the one who receives the prophet and his words will share in his reward of eternal life because he has received him.  Because rather than resisting the prophetic Word in the flesh, he has heard by the Spirit.

Because in his humility he has identified with the prophet, God will identify him with the prophet’s reward.

 

This is a wonderful topic with much depth. I cannot cover it all in this one post but God willing I am going to write more on this. It needs to be stated that not all “prophets” are true prophets of God.   There are many false prophets in the world whom we should not receive, nor receive their words.

Next post…. false prophets and testing the spirits


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Missionary Quotations: Leonard Ravenhill

No man is greater than his prayer life.  leonardravenhill

The pastor who is not praying is playing.

The people who are not praying are straying.

We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters.

Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

 

Leonard Ravenhill


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From Muhammed to Jesus

“Belinda, why hasn’t anyone told me before that Jesus rose from the dead?”cropped-jesus.jpg

This was Muslim woman *Safa’s question to me when I first shared the gospel with her just over a year ago…

On Friday I had the great honour and privilege of baptizing Safa*- our first adult convert to be baptized in our Mission.

 

With her permission I will share with you a little of Safa’s story…

Safa moved to Australia with her family when she was six years old. She was brought up a Muslim in a Muslim family. She remembers her father regularly went to mosque to make his prayers.

 

As time went on her family life broke down and violence became a part of it. As Safa grew up she turned away from her childhood faith and entered into an albeit God-less existence, although she stilled called herself a Muslim. Over the course of the years a pre-arranged marriage which didn’t work out, another violently abusive relationship and then the arrival of a baby boy had caused Safa to withdraw from much of life.

As she struggled to bring up her son as a single mother, she remembers spending most of her days simply staring out the window. Eventually she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and turned to alcohol to alleviate some of the pain of her past.

Most days at midday she would begin to drink and would keep going right till 2 or 3am.

How I became a part of Safa’s life is through the food pantry. We have run this ministry from our garage for five years now. Another single mother whom we had helped with food parcels told me she knew someone who needed help – Safa. So one day I took food around to Safa. As well as the food, I popped into the bag a Bible and a Christian tract. This continued for a few weeks until one day Safa told me she had been reading the Bible but didn’t understand what she was reading. She invited me in for a coffee and to explain it to her.

I shared the basic gospel of Jesus Christ with her. This was when she had said to me:

“Belinda, why hasn’t anyone told me before that Jesus rose from the dead?”

From six years old she had lived in this “Christian” country – and it was not until she was in her forties that she heard the gospel. How terribly sad.

Then she said to me:

“But Belinda- If Jesus rose from the dead that means God is real!”

Her simple faith stunned me. Never before had I come across this beautiful child-like faith. I admit I almost did not know how to react to it. Antagonism, skepticism – these reactions were all familiar to me, but this was something new.

As I left her house that day I praised the Lord. I praised Him for His mercy and lovingkindess, I praised Him that He had sent me to Safa. I praised Him for her childlike faith and beauty.

Week by week we began meeting and reading the Bible together. Safa was full of questions. She couldn’t get enough of this incredible Book. New meaning was coming into her life and suddenly she began seeing that God was real.

“Belinda, I have never before noticed how beautiful those flowers are! It is like I am seeing them for the first time!” Safa said this sort of statement to me regularly as God’s beautiful creation unfolded before her for the first time.

Safa even began dreaming. She dreamt she was dropping down a big hole on her way to hell when suddenly she was saved. Some nights Safa would wake herself up talking aloud to Jesus. She said His presence was so very close to her.

All of this was so encouraging to me and I rejoiced in the Lord.  However one thing was bothering me. I had smelled alcohol on Safa on a number of occasions. I didn’t know anything much about her or her past at this point, but I knew the smell of alcohol and I knew what it meant.

 

At that time I had just come out of a very difficult situation with another alcoholic that we had been ministering to. He had never confessed his alcoholism to us but it was obvious by the copious amounts of drink he consumed whenever we saw him. He had hurt us incredibly by lying to us, abusing us and then ultimately rejecting us as we tried to reach Him with God’s love. That is another story, but now being confronted with another person enslaved to alcohol was potentially too much for me to bear in my recent hurt. I spoke to God about this regularly. I didn’t know what He was going to do about it but I knew that I couldn’t bear being lied to again.

 

And then He did it.

 

One night I dropped food into Safa. She met me on her front porch. She was ready to accept Christ as her Lord and Saviour and to give Him her life. Suddenly the floodgates were opened and she confessed. She confessed her sins to me, she confessed her alcoholism and the hold it had on her. She confessed she was powerless against it. I knew then that this situation was different from the last. That God was working in her and that He had had her confess in absolute childlike honesty everything to me.

 

This was the beginning of Safa being set free.

 

There on her front porch we prayed together. She gave her life to Christ and I broke the power of the demon of alcohol over her in the Name of Jesus.

Safa says that was the night that everything changed.   Even though she still drank, the alcohol lost its grip on her there and then.

 

She began reducing her intake. Her doctors became concerned. They told her she was reducing it too fast and that she would go into cardiac arrest.

She said  “But if I don’t need it why should I drink it?”

They encouraged her to drink more. They said her body needs it. They were scared of what would happen.

When she refused, they helplessly told her to ring the Drug and Alcohol helpline, which she did.

After explaining to the man at the Drug and Alcohol line her situation he told her to continue with what she was doing.  he was amazed by how well she was doing. When he asked her the cause of this sudden change in her life she told him:

“I have gotten to know Jesus.” She ended up witnessing to him on the phone. He asked if he could share her story with the other drug and alcohol counsellors he worked with….

 

Safa asked me one day how she should now answer on official documents as to her religion – should she write “Muslim” or “Christian”?

 

I answered by asking her “Well, Safa, who do you follow – Muhammed or Jesus?”

 

“Jesus!” She exclaimed, “I follow Jesus.  I am a Christian!”

And so Safa was baptized on Friday in front of the ladies from our women’s prayer group.

Safa has found a Man she can trust. A Man who will never harm her or abuse her in any way. A Man who gave up His very life for her.

A Man she is totally in love with….. That Man of Galilee.

On Friday Safa obeyed her Lord and was identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection.

I am absolutely overjoyed that God led me to Safa. I feel so privileged to have been with her every step of the way as she came to also know Jesus, my wonderful Saviour. I feel so privileged to be able to continue to disciple Safa and watch her grow.

I praise God with the angels in heaven that “there is a new name written down in glory”.

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!

But one thing I can never forget is her question to me:

“Belinda, why hasn’t anyone told me before that Jesus rose from the dead?”

 

*Name has been changed to protect privacy


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The Place of Enlargement

I believe it is God’s heart to bring His children to the place of enlargement.meadow

Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness” Job 36:16

It is not His desire that we should stay spiritual babes, rather it is His design to bring us forward, to help us grow and enlarge.

At the moment we are extending our little house. As a result, things are busy, messy and chaotic here. Currently we have no phone line, no proper plumbing in the kitchen and big holes in the wall where our back door and kitchen window used to be. It is winter here, I might add…. It is difficult, painful, inconvenient. However, with the greater vision in mind of the complete transformation at the end of all this, I find I can grin and bear the mess and disorder (so far at least).

The process of the enlargement of our home somewhat reflects the process of enlargement in the spiritual life…

Enlargement always comes through straitening.

I love this old-fashioned word. The KJV uses this word and I don’t think any other translation can beat it.

Jesus said: “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Luke 12:50

It means to constrict, pinch, restrict, squeeze, distress, compress.

straight jacket(A “strait-jacket” in its purpose to confine and restrict gives a good picture of this word.)

We see that Jesus Christ Himself went through a straitening process in His sufferings and ultimately His death on the cross.   He was straitened. He was God wrapped in human flesh yet His eternal divinity was compressed into the limitation of humanity.

This limitation could be removed only by the baptism of dying on the cross. Then the unlimited divine eternal life within the Lord Jesus could be released.” The Experience of Christ, Witness Lee

So why did the Lord of Life have to be straitened?

He was straitened so that we could be brought to the place of enlargement.

It was through His death that His divine Life was able to be released and imparted to us limited, small human beings.   He interceded for us by becoming a human-being like us. He was confined, restricted, distressed and squeezed for us so that we could be brought to the place of enlargement by partaking of His divine life.

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24

It is only through the impartation of the divine life of Christ that we are enlarged and there is no enduring enlargement apart from Him. But in order for this to happen we are taken through many afflictions, trials and suffering.

potterUnfortunately there is no other way – we also need to be straitened to be brought into the enlargement that God intends for us.

As with the renovations all around me : for the new to be brought in, first the old has to be removed. And sometimes that’s painful, noisy and messy.

It is His way of conforming us to the image of His Son.

So if you are feeling pinched, restricted, squeezed and in distress – know that God has a purpose in it. Know that He has not abandoned you, nor is He finished with you. No! Instead He is busy working on and in you to bring you to a place of enlargement.  Like clay in the hands of a potter, simply yield to Him, allow Him to do His work and you will be brought through it into a broad and spacious place.

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me” Psalm 18:16-19

 

God bless you!