Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Remember Lot’s Wife

pain
acrylic and pastel

Two nights ago I waited on the Lord and asked Him to speak to me . He told me “don’t look back, like Lots wife”

I live in Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. While the rest of my country has quashed covid-19, here in Melbourne it is running amok amongst the community and the aged care facilities. We are suffering under the weight of heavy restrictions that are costing jobs, hope and lives. What they don’t advertise is the number of suicides as a consequence of our second lockdown in a few months. Today our state government will be announcing stage 4 restrictions. I don’t know what that will mean for our jobs, my kids education etc. But I know my God and I know He is faithful. I trust Him and I praise Him anyway.

Why Melbourne? Why are we facing such a heavy judgement. Of all states in Australia Victoria is the most wicked. We are the only state where late term abortion has been legal for many years, where there is a safe injecting room, where Christian Religious Ed has been outlawed in public schools, where it is now legal to change your gender on your birth certificate with no surgery required. This is allowed even up to once per year! The only state where medical marijuana is legalized, euthanasia became legal one year ago….the list goes on. God has to judge, our wickedness is heaped up to the heavens and there is an outcry against our state.

As the Body of Christ He is trying to get our attention. He is separating us from every thing in this world that we cling to, rely on, trust in. As we see His judgment upon our own city unfold before our eyes we must listen to Him and let go of everything of the world and cling only to Him.  He is our only hope now, our refuge , our strength in times of trouble. We must not “look back”, long for, the things of the world that have for so long captured our hearts .

“With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Blessings,
Bel


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The Order of Suffering

I went to preach at the Homeless Mission on Saturday night and praise the Lord I had the honour of leading two men to Christ afterwards.

pain
acrylic and pastel

I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, I didn’t know how I was even going to be physically able to preach. My body was aching, exhausted, sore and bandaged.

Late October I woke up one morning with both my hands and feet tingling. This was constant and it covered both my feet and hands, up my ankles and wrists, non-stop. The doctors couldn’t explain it and I could get no answers. Then my back began to hurt. I have now been in constant pain since November. December was the worst when it was highly inflamed and agonizing. I spent most of December horizontal, including Christmas Day.

Why do you allow suffering Lord?

Because that is the order of things at the moment. The order of things is suffering.

Obviously I prayed. Although I don’t know if you’d call it prayer or just non-stop desperate cries for help. I certainly couldn’t get on my knees, I couldn’t even sit, but I non stop cried out to the Lord. That’s pretty much all I could do in December. I had all the usual questions : Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Have you finished with me God? Will I ever be ok again?

In late December I had a dream.

I was walking in a grassy field with my two kids. There in the middle of the field was a huge wooden cross standing upright. I made my way over to it.  As soon as we got close to it the presence of the Lord was thick and strong. The children commented on how strong His presence was. I simply wrapped my arms around the thick, square shaped vertical beam of it and cried my heart out.

In fact I woke myself up crying. I was still in the presence of the Lord when I awoke. I could feel the solid wooden beam in my arms still and the thought foremost in my mind was that Jesus’ nail-pierced feet are so far above me, way up high compared to me.

I have been slowly improving through January until now. Every day I get a little better until…last Friday night I sat down on the couch with a cup of black tea in my hand. As I sat down, focussed on protecting my back, I spilled the whole cup of scalding water in my lap. The pain was intense. I ran straight to the shower/bath.

Though He slay me yet I will trust Him

Job was all I could think about in the bath. Job worshipping God despite his circumstances. I worshipped God in the bath, in the pain.  Eventually I went into shock and an ambulance took me to hospital. Apparently if you burn yourself in an area larger than your hand then as your body tries to cool down the burn, your body temperature drops too far and you can go into shock. In hospital….Second degree burns, potential plastic surgery….

So there I was on Saturday night, in pain, still recovering from my back injury, legs and groin dressed in bandages, moving like an elderly lady, having no idea what I am going to say to these homeless people, to the suffering, the scarred and wounded…..

The order of things is suffering.

Man chose his way and now it must run to completion

Man has to be allowed to run with his independence from God to full growth because He will never impinge on his free will. But man has to see that the way he has chosen will never work.

Suffering will be brought to full-bloom

“Except those days be shortened no flesh shall be saved, but for the elect’s sake God will shorten those days”

Then Christ’s order will be ushered in.

To suffer is to be human. To suffer is to be Christian. It is through many hardships we must enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

But there is One who left the glories of heaven and chose to enter the order of suffering. When Jesus took on human flesh He willingly took on human suffering. And He suffered more than any other human: beaten beyond human recognition, betrayed, abandoned, forsaken by God.

He chose the order of suffering for you and me. He stepped into it and brought us redemption. Not that we won’t have problems and suffering any more as His children and friends, in fact we may have more, but that He will be with us through it all.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;” Isaiah 43:2

The other day my prayers changed. I was lying on the floor asking Him to heal my wounds. I looked at the scars on my leg and suddenly I loved them. I felt great affection for those ugly brown, bubbly burn marks.

They identified me with my Saviour

And I thank Him for them now. I don’t want them to completely go. I want them to stay so I “bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus” (Gal 6:17)

I shared my suffering, pain, wounds and the great, great love of our scarred Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with the homeless on Saturday. The presence of the Lord was strong as we came together in our suffering and brought two new babes with us to cling to that old rugged cross.

 

Belinda 🙂


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From Confinement to Enlargement

John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

For Christ to increase, I must decrease. This is the whole point of the Christian life.  It is

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27

We saw in God’s Victories Look Like Defeats that the human Self is a powerful force.  The Adamic nature is thOMIW120Astrong and naturally Self-ish and self- absorbed.  Followers of Christ contain His righteous nature in our mortal bodies by the Holy Spirit. Simultaneously we still have the Adamic nature, or the Flesh, within.

The cross dealt with our sins once and for all through Christ’s substitutionary atonement, and once we have repented of our sins and put our faith in Christ, we are justified before God.

However God deals differently with our sin than with our Self.

Positionally we are crucified with Christ.  The believer is now to “reckon (them)selves dead to sin and alive unto Christ”.  It is now no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me. This is a spiritual fact and something we need to receive by faith. But at the same time God is dealing with our flesh over the course of our lives by working His Son in us experientially. This is the process of sanctification.

It is not God’s desire after we are born-again that we would stay spiritual babes, stunted in growth. Rather it is His design to bring us to a place of enlargement.  Or, to put it another way, it is His will to enlarge His Son in us and to bring us to maturity. 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.

However, in preparation to receive the impartation of the divine life of Christ our flesh needs to be “straitened”. (I have previously written on this subject here).  Every time God wants to bring us to a new place of enlargement we first go through a straitening or confining process.  Primarily the means God uses to straitening our flesh is the cross – affliction, suffering and trial.  We probably all know the metaphor of the empty vessel.  The emptier the vessel, the more of Christ that can fill it.  But how is the vessel emptied of Self?

I love this old-fashioned word “straitening”. The KJV uses this word and I don’t think any other translation can beat it. It means to constrict, pinch, restrict, squeeze, confine, distress, compress. A “strait-jacket” in its purpose to confine and restrict gives a good picture of this word.

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

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

source:brokenbelievers.com

source:brokenbelievers.com

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 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. This is God’s purpose and He is working in us every day to bring this to pass. Afflictions, trials and suffering have a divine purpose – to straiten our flesh.  Not to repress our flesh, but to deal with the stubborn, wilful Self that resists the Holy Spirit.

Christ was straitened so that the Divine Life could be released and imparted to us.  We are straitened in order to empty the vessel of the Self-life so that we are able to receive the impartation of the Divine Life.

If you are going through a period of straitening, restriction or confinement don’t despair.  Rather be encouraged: Know that God is preparing you, His vessel, at this time to receive a greater impartation of the life of His Son.  Simply allow the Potter to work with His clay, He knows His art.

God bless!

More on this subject in the Next post…. The Way to Bear Fruit


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God’s Victories Look Like Defeats

In Suffering: According to the Pattern, we saw that Calvary is the pattern. And if we are God’s child He will deal with us according to the pattern.

“That is the strange lesson we all have to learn, and Calvary is the pattern of it from beginning to end. God’s victories look like defeats. It is victory in the unseen realm while one is apparently, absolutely down and out in the visible.” Prayer and Evangelism, Jessie Penn-Lewis (emphasis mine).

Therefore if Calvary is the pattern, then we know that the pattern is of suffering because we know that Christ our Lord and

sacredsharingsforthesoul.blogspot.com

sacredsharingsforthesoul.blogspot.com

Saviour suffered.  Conversely we also know that if the pattern is of Calvary, then the pattern is also of victory because we know that through suffering our Lord was greatly victorious.

If we are the disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will too be greatly victorious in Him. However, it is through suffering that the victory will be won. This was true of Paul, of Peter and of all the apostles. And it is true of us too.

“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Luke 6:40

We know the story of Peter denying Christ thrice. We know that Jesus, in His mercy, sought Peter out after the resurrection and restored him. The interesting thing is that once Jesus had restored Peter, He prophesied over him. Jesus foretold to Peter the actual pinnacle of his life for God – the very event that would bring the greatest glory to God.

It is interesting to note that Jesus’ prophesy excluded the fact that Peter was to be always happy, healthy and eventually own his own private jet. Why is that? Surely that would bring God the most glory! No, rather, what Jesus told Peter was something according to the pattern:

“’Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish’. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”” John 21:18, 19 (emphasis mine)

Peter was to glorify God by being crucified!

How could this bring glory to God? This really goes against the grain of our own thinking….

But remember: God’s victories look like defeats.

deny selfConsider for a moment this man, Peter.  He had fearfully denied Jesus over and over again in order to preserve his own life and avoid the agony and humiliation of the cross. Could it be possible that this man would one day be so given to Christ, so full of the Holy Spirit that the fear of pain and death, the fear of the loss of his reputation would be so victoriously overcome that he would eventually take up his cross and follow Christ?

Jesus knew that the one thing Peter wished to avoid the most was the very thing that would bring God the most glory!

You see, Self is always trying to preserve Self (ie. Self-preservation). Self, or the “flesh”, cries out for comfort, for ease, for safety, to be liked and accepted. Feed me! Please me! Preserve me above all else! It is only when the power of the flesh has been broken that it is able to come under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately the flesh in man is strong. So strong that it usually takes the rod of suffering to break its strength throughout a lifetime.

The flesh was also strong in Peter. He was, of course, no different from the rest of us, and yet this man was eventually crucified for the glory of God. What happened in-between his restoration by Christ and his death that effected this transformation? The answer is : the Holy Spirit.

It is “…Christ in you the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27 (emphasis mine).

It is God’s ultimate purpose to conform us to the image of His Son. It is God’s will to work His Son in us by His Spirit. Contrary to what we may imagine, God isn’t a dispensary, dishing out to our flesh an ounce of love, a pound of patience etc in order to improve it. This would be futile. Why? Because judgment has been pronounced on the flesh and now it must die. Our only hope is God coming to live in us by the power of His Spirit. God doesn’t give us more love and more patience, but what He does is work in us His very Son. Christ’s nature is loving, truthful, patient and kind and so the more of Christ that has been worked in us, the more His nature will naturally shine through us. In order for this to be able to happen the flesh will have to be crucified. And that’s always going to be painful.

God’s victories look like defeats.

We think of victory as our lives always being smooth and easy. We believe when we are happy and healthy we are being blessed and when we are sad or sick, we are not so blessed. Perhaps we have done something wrong? But God’s perspective is totally different. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts.

Key Point: If God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son, then whatever happens in our lives to achieve that end is victory.

Be encouraged that God has a much greater purpose than we can see at this time. What you and I are currently facing is intended to bring death to Self in order to allow the Spirit of life to work in us. If we yield to His hand He will bring forth a great victory in us and through us. And God will be glorified.

Next post ….. From Confinement to Enlargement


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Suffering: According to the Pattern

th2VB52JDDI have asked God about suffering, especially lately. I have read and studied the Word. I certainly do not know the answer to it all, not even close. But one thing I have noticed is that the Church, in general, seems to no longer teach on suffering nor sanctification.

Why?

In this generation there is so much suffering, look at the situation in Nepal for example.  There are so many trials, battles and griefs that one would logically assume that the Church would be teaching volumes on this subject in order to bring hope, comfort and direction. However the opposite seems to be true. Instead of solid teaching in this area there seems to be a proliferation of the Health, Wealth and Prosperity false gospel.

So I have felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to do a little series on suffering and sanctification. I would like to share with you some of what I have learned through my own hard experiences in order to “strengthen the souls of the disciples, (and) exhort (you) to continue in the faith…” Acts 14:22

According to the Pattern

“That is the strange lesson we all have to learn, and Calvary is the pattern of it from beginning to end. God’s victories look like defeats. It is victory in the unseen realm while one is apparently, absolutely down and out in the visible.” Prayer and Evangelism, Jessie Penn-Lewis (emphasis mine).

The pattern is suffering. And if we are God’s child He will deal with us according to the pattern.

When Christ died on the cross it seemed that evil had triumphed. Isaiah 53:3,4 says:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces

source: mudpreacher.org

source: mudpreacher.org

from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:

yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Through His great suffering and death it seemed that all hope was lost and that Satan had triumphed. But this was only how it seemed in the natural realm. This is how it looked to human eyes. In reality, the cross was the place of Christ’s ultimate triumph over death, hell, sin and the devil. Sinners are delivered from sin, Satan must relinquish a captive, death is overcome and hell loses one more inhabitant – because of the cross.

What seemed so despicable, so contemptible, so utterly humiliating was the place of total and complete victory. As believers our eyes have been opened to the victory of Christ’s death and of course His subsequent resurrection. But to unbelievers the preaching of the cross is still regarded as meaningless foolishness.

Definition of

Definition of “Pattern”: a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in the way in which something happens or is done

And so is suffering. To the world suffering is meaningless, utterly contemptuous and something to be avoided at any cost. But as Christians, once again, our eyes are opened.  Just as we see Christ’s sufferings were for an eternal purpose, so we need to see that once we are God’s child, so too are our sufferings. We don’t need to suffer for our own sins, Christ has done that once for all, but there is always a purpose to the suffering of a child of God. It is easy just to see the immediate circumstances before us, but God is interested in eternal values.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

And because of the cross, there is always a victory.

Next post…. God’s Victories Look Like Defeats


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What I Learnt from an Imposter

maguires.movies.blogspot.com

maguires.movies.blogspot.com

I met him on the street and shared the gospel with him. Weeping bitterly on the street, not caring who saw him, he seemed to genuinely repent of his sins. The next time I saw him he seemed completely different, happy, in control. To me that demonstrated the “fruit” of true salvation.

How wrong I was.

One may wonder if it is even possible that somebody could pretend to be a Christian. Yes, it’s definitely possible. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:13

“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived”.

So here are some things that I learnt from 4 confusing, consuming months with an imposter:

  • That it is so important to be able to recognize other people after the Spirit, rather than according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16.

 

  • That we need to be able to test the spirits. (1 John 4:1) Even though someone may have amazing “revelations”, quote scripture, do all the right things, seem spiritual, this can all be a facade. We need to listen to the Spirit. Is there a check in our spirit regarding this person? Ask God for the gift of discernment.

 

  • Never to put any human being EVER before my own children (yes, sadly I had to learn this lesson)

 

  • To listen to my husband and my father, especially because they are Christians. Sadly, as Eve was deceived by Satan, it does seem to be easier for women, in general, to be deceived than men.

 

  • That my desperation to see “results” of my work in the gospel had opened the door to the enemy.  Christ should always be the centre – not our ministry, not results, not fruit.

 

  •  That I should not be too quick to trust, but at the same time, not become hard and cynical.  Trust needs to be earned.

 

  • That the devil seeks to consume us. Consume time, energy, spiritual life, emotional well-being. Any way he can destroy us through exhaustion/burn out he will attempt it.

 

  • That God is not the author of confusion nor disorder, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33). If there is confusion, disorder, if things seem to becoming undone and out of control then the situation is not of Him.

(On this note, God gave me a dream around this time:

In the dream I invited a new friend to my home I believed to be

maniacworld.com

maniacworld.com

spiritual.  Suddenly and unexpectedly this friend started throwing furniture around my home. It was scary, confusing and out of control. This is exactly what the devil will do if you give him right of access in any way.) 

  • That an imposter can have a lying spirit and so will tell you things that they can’t possibly know without some sort of supernatural help. What this guy told me I thought was from God, when his source was actually Satan.

 

  • That because God knew my heart was sincere towards Him  and that because I really did seek God’s will for my life, God did not let the situation go any further or for any longer than He had pre-determined according to His sovereign will. In a period of 48 hours God exposed the lies and deception of the imposter completely and entirely.

 

  • That God is kind. I mean really so KIND. Even when we make mistakes and mess things up. He was so gentle with me during this time, especially during the period that He removed the veil of deception from my eyes. By this time my body was steeped in physical exhaustion, my emotions were all over the place and my faith was flagging. God knew, and He was oh-so gentle with me. He upheld me and I will never, ever forget His gentle kindness towards me – His imperfect, erring servant.

 

  • That God is still in control in the chaotic situations of our lives – IF we are truly yielded to Him.

 

  • That God used this situation to teach us so much. Discernment, wisdom, knowing others after the Spirit can unfortunately only be learned through hard-experience.

 

The hard and confusing thing about this situation was that we really did love this guy. We sincerely wanted to see him saved. We truly wanted to be used of God. We had a zeal for God, but not the wisdom to accompany it.

Even though this was one of the hardest times I have experienced, God used it and taught us greatly and abundantly. Now years later, I see the fruit and depth of that experience in us and blessing others. I pray that this post will speak to someone who may be going through a similar situation. I pray others will learn through my mistakes.  May God bless you with His kindness, wisdom and discernment.

“I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord.  Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad…” Ezekiel 13:21, 22

Belinda 🙂

 


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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!

 


6 Comments

Grief and the Song of Moses

Grief is strange.

You go along fine for a while. And then all of a sudden…another wave descends, and you are plunged beneath the depths of it. It encompasses you and you have no choice but to let it carry you along for a while.

Then after you’ve been thrown around for a bit, after you’re soaked through with tears and your heart pierced with pain and memories, the grief sets you down and rolls away again.

Until the next wave….

Last August my friend Jenny went to be with the Lord. It was sudden, unexpected.

Four days after Jenny went, my Grandma also went to be Jesus.

I went into shock when my Grandma went.

Jenny called me “her angel”….Jenny was “my Jenny”.
Grandma called me “dearest”…..I called her my “Granny Apple-Bee”, or GAB for short.

I miss them so much.

I don’t understand why they had to go at the same time.

But I know Jesus. And even though it was terrible and painful and incomprehensible, and sometimes still is, yet will I trust Him. He is my life. Without Him I am undone.

My Grandma’s favourite hymn was “I am weak, but thou art strong”. OH Lord help me.

My Jenny’s favourite song was “The Song of Moses”. I still haven’t been able to listen to it since she went home but I am putting the link here for you to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF-Ald7IPfA in honour of her and my Granny-Apple-Bee. It is one of the most beautiful songs in the world, straight from Revelation 15.

I love knowing that they are with Him in heaven singing the Song of Moses and of the Lamb.

God bless you this Passover season


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Ministry Accredited by God

What is true ministry?

How is true ministry accredited by God?

You may be surprised to learn that truly accredited ministry is through suffering.

T Austin Sparks explains:

“Accredited ministry represents a tremendous victory, set in a background of great conflict.

A determined effort is made through the age to discredit spiritual ministry, and to do so through the one engaged in that ministry.

In the case of the Lord, there was a persistent effort to discredit Him, and thereby discredit His ministry. It drew forth the words: “No prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24).

In the case of Paul, the Judaisers sought to discredit him, and thereby discredit his ministry. At Corinth a great battle raged over his position as an Apostle, and 2 Corinthians is much taken up with the establishment of his own position, and therefore his authority in ministry.

“For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life: yea, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

One who counts for the Lord, is a joint of supply, who can be of value in any way to the Lord’s people, and stand in His testimony, will know the enemy’s effort to render those spiritual values nil by discrediting. The enemy will give a strong sense of unworthiness, unfitness, uselessness to the Lord, or he will cause something to be associated with the vessel for the discrediting of the ministry; he may even patronize in order to compromise, as when the demons cried: “These men are servants of the Most High God, which proclaim unto you the way of salvation”. Sometimes he will cause to associate with a pure thing people who are unsaved, to bring discredit.

The Lord’s answer to that is to keep the vessel of ministry in weakness, dependence upon Himself; so that all is kept spiritual, and all is of the Lord alone….

Metal is passed through the crucible and refined then the stamp is put upon it to show its calibre.

So God brings through the fires of Satanic antagonism, allows the thing to reach a point where He alone is its life, and then brings it up out of the conflict, and puts the stamp of resurrection life on it, so that it has in it the power of an indestructible life – that only comes through death.

All ministry that is to be accredited will be bound up with suffering; a decision we have to make is as to the object of our ministry. A good many things can be taken into consideration, but there comes a point where all other things have to be ranged on one side, and one thing on the other side – the real spiritual value, without alloy: that which is wholly of God and not at all of man. In the measure in which that is true there will be suffering. To stand utterly for what is spiritual is a costly thing.

There must be a willingness to be dealt with by the Lord, in such a way as to keep the ministry living and pure. All ministry which issues from such suffering is going to count. It may not be welcomed or desired by the mass, but where there is need and a call for that which we have gained through suffering there will be response.

Two tragedies today amongst the Lord’s people:

(1). So many have no knowledge of the truth in any adequate way, and are therefore spiritually immature.

(2). So many have a great deal of truth, and are dead. The Lord needs a vessel to meet these conditions – a vessel that has gone through the fire, and is living in the power of resurrection.

Such a vessel is going to be a suffering vessel, which has come to the place where God Himself meets the situation.

This may explain much; it may be a challenge; it may be a call.

“Seeing we have this ministry… we obtained mercy” – we have received grace to help – and so “we faint not”. But the treasure is in vessels of fragile clay, the vessel is being broken day by day. To stand in the power of God, the revelation of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, represents cost. Are we prepared for that? That is the way of the accredited ministry.

God has accredited the ministry of His Son, yet there was a universal combination to set Him at naught.

God has accredited the ministry of His servant Paul, but he was taken through depths of suffering.

So for us; ministry accredited of God is linked with suffering, but the suffering produces that which is wholly of God and cannot be destroyed.”

First published in “A Witness and A        Testimony” magazine, Sep-Oct 1946, Vol 24-5


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The Call

“And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes I said to you in your blood ‘Live!’” Ezekiel 16:6

At my pondering this verse a few years ago, I had something of a vision. Whether it was a vision in the true sense of the word I do not know, but it was very real. Clearly I saw a long, dusty road that stretched out as far as I could see. All along the road there were bodies strewn. They looked barely alive and were half-formed, almost foetus-like. Each form was covered in blood and dirty with dust and grime. If any had clothes, they were torn rags. Along the road Jesus walked. He came and picked me up, for I found that I myself was one of those bloodied and misshapen forms. He took me to His Father’s house where it was light and colourful. There He washed me, dressed my wounds, gave me new clothes to wear and fed me milk. I grew and He held my hands as I learned to walk. Then when I was grown, when I was strong and able to stand, I saw Him standing at the open door of the Father’s house. He looked back at me and said “Come. It is time. Go back to the road. I will lead you there. There are many others who are abandoned and fatherless. They are bleeding and hurt and helpless. Bring them to my Father’s house. As I have loved you, so love them.”

And oh how He loves us. “This is how God demonstrates His love to us: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) So much so that He left the presence of His Father to come to a world all dusty and darkened by sin. He laid down His own life to seek us out in our helplessness. He picked us up from the dusty road of life, up out of the harsh exposure to the elements and adopted us into the family of God. “To all who believed in his name He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) His nail-pierced hands gently ministered to our needs; they cleansed us from the dirt and dust which we had accumulated along the road; they poured oil and wine into the wounds which had been inflicted on us and they clothed us in new garments – a robe of righteousness in place of the filthy rags of our own. He nurtured and fed us with the pure milk of the Word to bring us to maturity.

With that vision God had put a call on my life and a fire in my heart. I saw that the story of the Good Samaritan is actually the story of Jesus. While others may pass us by in our need, He never will. While others may find stopping for us too difficult, too inconvenient or too much effort, He stops at nothing to save us, even to the shedding of His own blood. And I saw that He calls us to join Him in this mission. He calls us to do to others as we would have them do for us. The religious leaders who tentatively passed by the robbed and wounded man left on the road could easily be us. For once He has brought us back to the Fathers house, it’s possible to remain there cosy and comfortable forever. We could keep enjoying our salvation and feasting at the banqueting table, becoming fuller and fuller. But for what purpose? I saw that if I allowed myself to remain feasting and comfortable rather than following Him back to the road, eventually I would grow sluggish and fall asleep. I saw that Jesus’ purpose for cleansing me, healing me and clothing me was not merely for my own benefit, but so that ultimately I could join Him in His work.

I believe this is the same call He puts on all of His children’s lives and the same flame that He wants to ignite in all of us.

There is a season in our spiritual infancy when we are tenderly nurtured, fed and protected. Just as at Shabbat, when the father of the house pours wine into the chalice, our Father pours the life of the Son into us, the newly cleansed vessel. The more we allow this vessel to be emptied of the self-life, the more He is able to fill us with Himself. God’s desire is that we should not remain perpetual babes but, like any healthy infant, grow and mature over time. And so the Father, eternally giving, keeps pouring into us. The Shabbat chalice is a picture of what He would do for us if we would let Him. On Shabbat the father of the house does not stop when the chalice is full of wine, he deliberately keeps pouring until the cup overflows. The liquid flows out from the vessel, for in fact, it was never intended to be contained and kept by this vessel – it was always meant to flow out, like rivers of living water. God patiently ministers to us until the time we reach maturity, and then He calls us into His mission of mercy.

And so Jesus bids us “come”, to join Him in His relentless pursuit of the lost. But the Good Shepherd will never force us. He will never cross over into our freewill. He says “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt 16:24). He simply calls to us and waits for us to weigh up the cost.

Undoubtedly taking up our cross and following Jesus back to the road, is not the easy option. It means the denying of ourselves, the leaving behind of some comfort and convenience. It means going out into the elements again – being burned by harsh heat, soaked in heavy rains or battered in driving wind. It means being confronted with the reality of human existence – the hurt and pain, the blood and dirt. It means getting our hands dirty and our feet calloused. It may mean that we are abused and rejected or even that the chalice of our lives is poured out on that dusty road. There is a real cost and it is worth our prayerful consideration. Yet Jesus, knowing the individual cost to each of us, still beckons us to “Come.”

Anything that is precious is costly, though, and along with this high cost comes an abundant joy when we are one with Him in His work. When the life of the Holy Spirit can truly flow from the Head into the Body, united as they are in will and in purpose, then the result is the absolute reality of His abiding presence with us. Jesus said:
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

You may still be on the road, wounded and abandoned. If that is the case, you can rest assured that there is a Saviour who knows and who is seeking you. Even at this moment He is reaching out His hand to pick you up, if you will let Him.

You may yet be an infant in Christ, newly adopted into His family. If so, I encourage you to keep feeding on the pure milk of the Word and to be continuously filled with His life, through the Holy Spirit, until you reach the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Or you may be already in the Father’s “house”, having been picked up by those nail-pierced hands from the road. If you’ve found the comfort, love and security in becoming a child of God, will you now go on to share this love and comfort with others? Will you heed His call?

May God bless you mightily on this Resurrection Sunday.