Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know-
Not till then – how much I owe.
I couldn’t sleep for the pain
I sought the Lord
His eyes are fire
I am scared
He had fire to give me but I was
Too scared to receive
His eyes are like a flame of fire
His feet are like fine brass refined in a furnace
I laid my body down on the altar
Of burnt offering
He spoke to me of fire
Why was I keeping on keeping the fire going?
I see now it’s going to hurt
To keep the fire going
I am willing and He is able
I’m in His army
It’s His work
I wanted the fire
I received the baptism of fire
Go out to the Road again
Pick up the lost, the forgotten and broken
With burning hands
Hands of fire
Paul was under house-arrest in Rome for two years. Chained to a prison guard, he couldn’t leave his own home.
During his home-imprisonment he asked the Church to pray for him :
“and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak” Ephesians 6:19, 20 (emphasis mine)
Paul couldn’t go to church, he couldn’t street-preach, he couldn’t go to Synagogue. Paul was physically restricted as soon as he arrived in Rome, and that’s how he stayed for two whole years. But in it, in this very situation Paul was asking for prayer to be able to speak forth the gospel boldly.
Do we think Paul’s situation caught God by surprise? Do we think He did not know that Paul’s arrival in Rome would be under hard circumstances? That His man would not be free to move about as previously? No – it was in to this very situation that God brought Paul, and thus the gospel, to Rome.
At that time Rome was becoming the centre of the world’s wealth. The art, the artists, the architects were moving there as it became recognised as the world’s most cosmopolitan city. This place was of diverse culture, containing many different beliefs and ideas. In some ways it was advanced, as in the case of women’s rights. It was to this worldly city that God chose to send His man, chained and bound to one small house.
God’s strategy to evangelise a whole city was through a man bound to his own home.
Paul may have been restricted, but never is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restricted!
Never will it be restrained.
God still used Paul, even chained to a prison-guard, unable to leave his own home. One man, in one house, but in that one house God brought revival to Rome.
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” Acts 28:23
Do we think this Covid-19 pandemic has caught God by surprise? Do we think He had no idea all the churches would be shutdown and outlawed? Of course He knew. And it is into this very situation that He has called us.
The gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped, no matter if our church buildings are shut. The gospel will go forth.
The gates of hell will never prevail against His Church! It’s time to recognise that this is how God has chosen to use us for this season. God’s plans are not being stymied by the enemy, God is still Sovereign and from the Throne He has decreed that right now this is how His church will go forth.
Without high-tech sound systems, church buildings and programs, once again from the simplicity of our homes! Prayer with our families, Bible studies online, prayer in the closet. Could this be God’s plan…?
We have the internet, social media, telephones. We can walk around our neighbourhoods, dropping leaflets in letterboxes. We have many ways we can answer God’s call from our homes:
““Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Who will join me in saying “Here I am Lord, send me!”
“Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Acts 28:30,31
It is time we rebuild the altar again brothers and sisters. The Spirit of God is calling us to return to the prayer closet.
Remember the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel? Before the fire of God could fall on the offering, Elijah had to rebuild the altar of the Lord “that was broken down“.
Broken down… neglected…disused….Nobody cared enough to do something about it until Elijah came. It was a time of backsliding in Israel. Evil king Ahab was ruling with his evil wife Jezebel. Witchcraft and the occult was abounding, people were turning away from the true God and to lesser gods. Sound familiar?
And then Elijah comes to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.
Just like John the Baptist would do later, Elijah confronted the people with his holy life, and with his words:
“How long will you falter between two opinions?”
But they answered him not a word. How sad. When God’s people no longer seek Him they lose the conviction within them for the truth, they go silent on good and evil. Things that were once detestable to them slowly start to be tolerated. It’s a recipe for lukewarm-ness.
“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” 1 Kings 18:30
Notice Elijah rebuilt the altar in front of the people. His life was an example to others, just as ours should be, particularly in ministry. We can’t call others to pray if we aren’t doing it ourselves.
The altar represents prayer, coming before the Lord and offering up the sacrifice of praise.
Let’s rebuild the altar again Church so that the fire of God can once again fall!
Sensitivity to the Spirit of God is driven primarily by being able to hear Him.
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned” Isaiah 50:4
Again, sensitivity to the Spirit of God is driven primarily by being able to hear Him.
“He awakens my ear to hear as the learned”
This hearing happens within our spirit. This can be sometimes channelled through our physical ear as we listen to a sermon, or someone gives us an encouraging Word, but not always. But it is always through our human spirit.
What do I mean by our human spirit? When we are followers of Christ, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our human spirit and quickens (or makes alive) that inner part of us which was previously dead through trespass and sin. With our spirit now alive to the Lord and His Spirit dwelling within us we have the ability to hear His voice.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27
Whether we hear a sermon, read something or feel a prompting in the spirit, we know it is of the Spirit of God when it bears witness with our spirit.
Sometimes you may listen to a whole sermon and nothing registers in your spirit. It could be an intellectual masterpiece, or it could stir our emotions, but if it doesn’t penetrate through the realm of our soul and into the spirit it is simply the flesh and profits us nothing spiritually. Another time you may hear a couple of words, a line of a song, read one verse and your spirit suddenly jumps. You know like you know that that is a Word for you. That is the Holy Spirit speaking, bearing witness to your spirit.
When that happens we need to slow down and listen. We need to allow it to really sink in and take root in our hearts because the Spirit of God is trying to tell us something. We need to wait on God. But even more than that, we need to be so intimate with Jesus that we are constantly in a pose of listening to Him. Remember Mary sitting at His feet… We are with Him where He is so that when He speaks a Word, or wants us to do something we are so close to Him that we know like we know immediately.
“He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches”
Jesus said something similar to this multiple times through the gospels and also repeatedly to the churches at the beginning of Revelation. Since He repeated this phrase so often there must be a reason for it.
Hearing in the Spirit Leads to Speaking Forth in the Spirit
Notice in Isaiah 50:4 it says “The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary…”
The hearing in the spirit and the speaking forth of a word in season to those around us are connected. How do we speak forth with the tongue of the learned into people’s lives in order to minister and be a blessing? By having our ears awakened to hear as the learned! We need to hear from Him first or else we will have nothing to offer others.
The deaf-mute man whom Jesus healed in Mark 7 is a picture to us. This man could not hear, thus he could not speak. Jesus first touched the deafened ears, then spat and touched his tongue.
“Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.” Mark 7:34,35
Are you wondering why you have nothing to give others? Do you not know what to say when someone comes to you for help? Do you feel like you have failed them?
You need your ears opened by the Lord. Go wait on Him. Confess your need, confess your desire to be able to feed others with the Word and ask Him to open your ears to the Spirit. Then when He tells you to do/say something, do it. Prompt obedience to the Lord is a sure-fire way He will keep speaking to us.
I stand alone before You
You tell me what to do
And if I should consider Man’s opinion Lord
Then have mercy:
I really need You
For it can be so hard to see You
But they’re always in my face
Oh Lord let me see You more clearly
And not let their opinion have place
Cos it’s JUST YOU AND ME, JESUS
It’s between You and me
And I just want to obey You
And to be free…
Written 1st November 2011
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
The Way of the Cross breaks open a Way
And this is from where Life springs
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.
You’ve been heading one way…”But God…”
You’ve received a diagnosis… “But God…”
You have nowhere to live… “But God…”
Your marriage is struggling… “But God…”
You don’t know how you will get through this…”But God….”
These words are like a great signpost in the middle of the path of your life.
They signal God’s intervention in our lives. They signal God’s mercy in caring enough to reach down and move in our circumstances.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” Ephesians 2:4
“But God…” there it stands, two words that are full of promise. These two words can change the course of your future.
But God… that is all it takes to raise the dead to life.
But God… is all that is needed to change your direction
But God… lifts us up from the ash-heap to the heavenly places in Christ
But God… don’t walk past the signpost. Don’t accept that this is how it just is. Don’t give in. Don’t believe the words of man.
Stop. Look up.
There is God’s Word “But God….”
Take hold of a promise of God.
Know that if God can take you, who was dead in trespass and sin, and intervene to make you alive together with Christ, then God can certainly intervene in your situation now.
There is a way, and it’s God’s way. He has an answer, He has an outcome.
Take hold of “But God…”
He is chief among ten thousand
His head is like finest gold
His body is carved ivory
With sapphires laid in the mould
This King of kings
This Lord of lords
Surely none can compare
Yet who may be this blessed one
To Him who is “All Fair”?
This is the Bride He’s purchased
With His own spotless blood
There is no blemish in her
She’s made perfect in holy Love
The Heavenly Storehouse is opened
To provide a bridal dress
Precious stones to adorn
Sapphire, emerald and amethyst
She will be made ready
And will watch for Him and wait
For the King will not tarry long
Time is getting late
(Based on Song of Solomon)
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