Lent Series: Jesus’ Temptation

After the day I was baptised and saw Jesus for the first time, I hadn’t heard or seen Jesus for over a month. I was beginning to wonder if all of it was a dream. One day I was walking into town and I overheard a conversation between what sounded like Jesus’ voice and several men. I crept a little closer to have a listen.
 
I’m not really eavesdropping, well, yes I am.
 
I’m only doing it because I want to know more about this Jesus. That’s a good enough reason, isn’t it? Well?
I was so excited because it was indeed Jesus!
 
Jesus was talking to these men and I wanted to know why He was gone for so long. He began to tell them, so I listened in.
 
Jesus told the men that He was out in the desert for 40 days and nights with no food or water!
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What?
 
Wow, that’s a long time to go without anything to eat or drink. I am usually hungry after a couple of hours and my stomach definitely growls a lot when we have Yom Kippur a time of fasting and repenting. I could not imagine 40 days and nights!
 
During this time He was tempted by the enemy, we call him the adversary, Satan. To be tempted means a positive test as in it’s a challenge from Satan to test God’s sovereignty and plan in someone’s life. Does that mean it’s a positive thing when I am tempted to eat leavened bread on Shabbat instead of the unleavened bread? Yes and no. Being tempted tests our faith and obedience to God.
 
Jesus goes on to share three temptations He was tempted with. First of all, Satan attacked Jesus during His time of extreme hunger. He told Jesus to tell the stones to turn into bread. Now I don’t know about you, but for me, this temptation may have been a hard one to avoid, especially with being so hungry. However, Jesus stood up to Satan and told him we don’t live by bread alone but by the Word that comes from God.
Oh my, I was convicted to my core. Here I am worrying about food and Jesus reminds me to remember we are fed by God’s Word. God’s Word that has been passed down through the ages through my family, the priests and the scrolls that were read out in the synagogue. How in the world is this supposed to fill me when I am physically hungry? I should focus on God and His teachings in my life instead of the physical. My physical body will not live forever but God’s Word will and will accomplish what God set it out to do (Isaiah 55:11).
 
Jesus then tells us that Satan took him to the Holy City, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the temple. Satan even quotes scripture from the book of Psalm chapter 91. He asks Jesus to jump “For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone” (Psalm 91:11). Jesus simply replies “You must not test the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:15). I was shocked. I didn’t realise that the adversary knows our scriptures. I don’t even know them that well.
 
There is one more temptation Jesus shares with us (well the men who were around Him and me in the background eavesdropping). He said Satan took Him to the peak of a high mountain and said to Him “I will give you all that you see around you, it is mine and I can give it to anyone I wish, if you kneel and worship me.”
 
Why in the world would Jesus want to bow down to our ultimate enemy? What nerve!
 
Jesus told Satan to “Get out of here! You must worship the LORD your God and serve Him only!”
 
After this, the devil left Jesus until the next opportunity came. Then the angels came and attended Him and He then came back into the town, thus the reason I saw Him today.
 
Phew! I am so glad Jesus overcame the enemy. Satan is the one who was in the Garden of Eden tempting our first parents but sadly they gave in and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why couldn’t they have obeyed and listened to God? I have never understood why Eve took that first bite and why Adam joined her. But at least Jesus obeyed.
 
I am so glad to have heard Him speak. I hope to see Him more and follow Him. One of these days I will be in His “in group.” I can hope, can’t I?
 
Notes:
*There were 3 temptations-
1. Physical pleasure
2. Material Wealth
3. Pride
 
*Satan took Jesus up to the Holy City to solicit Messianic proof. Jesus proved His holiness by replying to the devil that we are not to test the Lord our God.
*Even though the devil is the “ruler” of this world, he “had no power over us” (John 14:30), his kingdom will be “thrown down” (Revelation 12:10) and he has no control over God’s people (1 John 4:4)!
 
For further study:
Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13
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Lent Series – Jesus’ Baptism

Join me on a journey with Jesus over the next 40 days. This is a journal of Mary Magdalene’s journey with Jesus throughout his ministry.  May God speak to us through His powerful word and bless you.

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Come with me to the Jordan River.  Many people are already there.  Can you not see the man baptising people in the river?  It wasn’t unusual to see people being baptised, just not as many as there have been here recently. People were baptised often before as a symbol of being cleansed.  They wash their hands before every meal and are cleaned after every sickness and women after every menstrual period.  Cleanliness is key in a Jewish home.

I have been by the riverside several times listening to this man who calls himself John preach.  He talks about a Messiah coming, someone greater than he.  He keeps declaring that we must repent and be baptised.  I have heard a lot about repentance from the times I have been to the synagogues but not like this.  Surely we have to confess our sins to a priest and give a sacrificial offering not just saying it and being right immediately. This man says the Messiah is coming and going to baptise us with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit!  I thought that was only for the priests and holy men. Me, be baptised with the Holy Spirit, I think this has to be unheard of!

Let’s sit by the river’s edge.  The water is fairly warm today, the sun beaming down, not a cloud in the sky.  More and more people gather in queues to be baptised.

This news of the Messiah’s arrival to save us is wonderful seeing that we haven’t heard anything from God for over 400 years!  Yes, about 30 years ago we heard about a baby being born and angels singing and shepherds visited.  You should have heard the stories about that night.  Nothing else was said so our hopes have been dashed again.  But here, now, I just have a feeling something wonderful is going to happen.  It’s just a lovely day, so many people repenting, being baptised, and rejoicing.

After baptising so many people, John speaks up again.  Silence fills the crowd.  The singing stops.  All eyes turn to him.  A man is in the water asking John to baptise Him and John just looks at Him and asks why.  The man looks at John and says “we must carry out all God requires.”  John baptises the man and when He comes out of the water, the sun shone brighter.  John then tells all of us, “This man is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world.  He is the one I was talking about when baptising you.  He is greater than me and He has existed longer than me.”

There was a touch of heaven like I never felt before.  Then out of the sky came a dove and landed on Jesus.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit.  We felt a touch of God’s presence.  I didn’t hear a voice, yet I have heard later God had declared the man in the water as “His dearly loved Son who brings Him great joy and He is well pleased with Him.”

I don’t know what came over me.  I began to weep.  I felt awful because of all the wrongs I did.  I had to join the queue to be baptised.  I wanted to be cleansed because after seeing that man for some reason I felt like I needed to change.  He just looked like an ordinary man, as one of us.  How could He really be the Son of God?  Is He really the Messiah who was promised by the prophets so long ago?  Oh, I do hope so.  I really want to follow Him.  I want to know more about this mystery man.

It’s my turn now.  I slowly walked into the water.  I asked for forgiveness and then John baptised me.  I came out of the water, rejoicing like everyone else did.  I don’t know what has happened today, but I know I am not the same person I was when I came here.  I told you I thought something wonderful was going to happen!

I have got to follow this man named Jesus.  There is something about Him which makes my heart leap, my stomach goes into butterflies and makes me feel so different.  Today is the beginning of something new in my life and I believe even in the life of Jesus.  For now, I am going to rest by the riverside and let all of this soak in.  Until later…

Notes:

*The Spirit of God anointed Jesus for His ministry when the dove descended from Heaven upon Him.

*John, even though he was Jesus’ cousin and grew up with Him, realised that day Jesus is truly the “Chosen One of God” and is the “Messiah.”

*Jesus gives His approval to the message that John preached of repentance and confession of sin which is necessary for eternal life.

*Jesus justifies us, takes away our sins and baptises us with the Holy Spirit- filling us with enabling power!

For further study:

Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23; John 1:29-34

Trust: In the palm of God’s hand

God tends to speak to me in different ways, Recently, he has spoken to me through watching Jude, our conure parrot, fully trust us. My verses this year are Isaiah 26:3-4, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

When Jude came to us in October of last year, he would not come near us. I tried everything I knew to get him to take food from me or sit on my hand. If I went anywhere close to Jude, he would shake, go to the top of our window curtain rail in the farthest corner, or simply fly away.

A few weeks passed without much change. I began to put seed on the top of his cage and a few chew toys. Jude slowly tried the seed and began to realise I was not out to hurt him. He started playing with the toys and even was coming closer to where I sit. He has a wooden play area he can sit on and chew. He slowly but surely came to me.

Now, three months later, Jude eats with me, out of my hand# He drinks water from my glass and loves tea. He follows me throughout the house. The best thing Jude does is sit in the palm of my hand, tilts his head ever so slightly and goes to sleep.

Jude trusts me so much he snuggles in my hand and sleeps without a care in the world. He does the same with Mark, my husband, when I am working. He won’t look out the window at the other birds in the garden without being cupped in Mark’s hands.

Jude knows our hands are safe. He knows we are not going to intentionally hurt him. He knows there is warmth and protection in our hands.

God spoke to my heart and said this is how we need to trust him. No matter the noise of the world around us or the circumstances we are struggling with, we can find safety in his hand.

There is peace found in trust. When we trust someone, our guard is down, and we are not constantly fighting against the person or ourselves. We are calm. We breathe slower. We can relax and know we are safe.  We can be ourselves.

When we trust someone, we can share without fear. We can talk about deep things that weigh on our hearts.

Trust is difficult when it is broken. It takes years or even a lifetime to let go and forgive. When someone breaks our trust, we find it hard to trust again, especially when that trust is broken many times from many people.

However, I can honestly say, if we surrender those people and our pain to God, he brings healing. It takes time, but you can have healing in his presence. God wants us to come to him for healing. He wants us to trust him.

Sometimes this trust is difficult as we feel like we are talking to a wall or God is somewhere out there in outer space, too far to talk to, and because we cannot physically see him, we feel as if there is no point.

God desires for us to let the walls come down and fully trust him. He desires to hold us in his hand and rest there.

God understands where we are coming to him from in our journey. He has been there all along. He cares. He loves us. He always has our best interest at heart.

Come to him today. Let him hold you. Let him give you rest. His peace will be yours as you trust in him. He is our everlasting rock. He is our protector. He is our peace.

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me. You care so much about every detail in my life, including my deepest thoughts and desires. You will never hurt me. You will hold me close and protect me. You are all I need. Help me to come to you with total abandon and find shelter in your hand. I come just now and lay down in your presence. I trust you. Amen.

 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 40:10 ESVUK

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” -Isaiah 49:16 ESVUK

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Principles of Spiritual Growth

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. -John15:4-5 NIV

How is your relationship with God?  Is there a fire within your heart?  Do you still love Him like the day you first met Him or has that love grown a bit cool?  Are you growing in Him and others can see the fruit?  We all are on this journey together, growing in spiritual maturity.  Christ wants us to abide in Him and continue to draw closer to Him.  He desires us to grow, and we should not stop until we go home to be with Him.  Spiritual growth is so much more than going to church on Sunday, Bible Studies and other meetings.  Let’s look at what God has to say about spiritual growth.

God is responsible for all spiritual growth.  God is the Gardener who takes care of the soil and causes growth.  He also prunes anything that keeps us from growing in Him.  We are saved by grace and we must continue to grow in grace.  The Holy Spirit works within us to bring about change.  When we are saved, the Holy Spirit enters us and stays with us enabling us to grow in Christlikeness.  We must stay in the Vine though, we must abide in Him.

Effort, diligence and discipline on our part are necessary for growth.  2 Peter 1:5-11 says “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so short-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practise these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

We are to make the effort to grow.  God tends to us but we have the responsibility to keep in the Vine, to stay with Christ and do our part.  We cannot sit back and do nothing and expect ourselves to be changed for His glory.  We have to work out our salvation every day. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Jesus tells us clearly in John that we cannot bear fruit if we are not staying connected to the Vine.  He even says that those branches that are not bearing fruit will be thrown into the fire and burned.

God provides the resources for us, we must supply the effort in our own relationship.  Think about any relationship; it is no good to have only one person giving everything, and the other doing nought.  After a while, that relationship will be estranged.  Sometimes, we do not sense God or hear from Him because we ourselves have walked away maybe unknowingly, but because of our lack of effort within the relationship with Him, we have pushed ourselves away.

Spiritual growth depends on an intimate relationship with Christ.  This relationship doesn’t just stop at our salvation.  Jesus tells us that we are to remain, abide, continue in and dwell within the Vine.

There are five benefits for us being connected to the Vine.  One, fruitfulness will be evident in our lives.  Fruit will be seen in and through our character as it overflows to others.  The evidence of fruit is directly related to our maturity in Christ.  As we mature, more fruit will be seen.  The fruit of the spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Are we bearing fruit and do others see it?

Second, when we remain in God, He will stay with us.  He will never leave nor forsake us.  This should give us security in who we are in Christ.  God is not like any other relationship we will ever have on earth.  He is not going to die as He lives forever.  God will not let us down, even though at times we don’t understand why things happen and we blame Him.  God will never abuse us.  He will not mistreat us.  God is an amazing God.  He will carry us when we hurt.  He wipes away our tears and stores them.  He comforts, strengthens and blesses us.  Rest in that knowledge that God is the same today as yesterday and forevermore, amen.

Third, as we remain in the Vine, Christ answers prayer.  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (verse 7).  The closer you get to someone, the more you know each other’s needs and try to meet those needs.  The more we know Christ and grow closer to Him, the more we desire Him and think like Him.  The prayers we pray will be according to His will and purpose and those prayers will be answered.  This is not to say that Jesus is going to be like Father Christmas and we can give Him a shopping list and expect Him to do everything we want or ask.  God knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what we need.  God always takes care of us.  Sometimes God answers with a “no” but He has our best interest at heart.  We just have to trust that He knows better than us.

Fourth, walking in a close and intimate relationship with Christ equals joy.  Christ’s joy relates to a supernatural, inner peace, which brings emotional satisfaction even in difficult times.  We have an assurance of God’s presence in our lives.  Jesus tells us that we will have joy and that joy will be complete in Him.  Our relationship with God should be exuberant.  We should be on fire in our love for Him.  Our hearts should burn for Christ.  No matter what life throws at us, His joy will be in our hearts. We know God is with us, we know we have eternal life and we know one day we will reign forever in heaven with Christ.

Lastly, we have friendship with Jesus as we stay connected to the Vine.  Jesus calls us friends!  What an honour, to be a friend of Jesus!  As friends of Christ we are able to discern God’s word.  Legalism and tradition is replaced with freedom to do what God desires without fear of man and is also replaced with partnership with Christ.

This whole process of spiritual growth within the vine starts within our own hearts and then is seen outwardly.  Loving, serving, and worshiping God are actions that arise from passion and love for Christ.  Our challenge is to keep kindling the fire within our hearts.  Spiritual growth relates to every aspect of our life.  It affects our family, friendships, leisure time and work.  It’s a process which we allow the Holy Spirit to control every aspect of our lives.  We are to grow in our personal development in belief and action.  We are to be living sacrifices being renewed in our mind.  Every part of our being changes to be more Christlike.  People will notice a difference within us. We will be different than the world.

Usually our greatest growth come from our frustrations, sufferings and/or challenges.  Suffering is a necessary, normal part of the Christian’s life.  Jesus suffered greatly.  If we are to be like Him, we must too suffer.  During these times, our faith in God’s Word is strengthen.  We rely on God more.  Suffering moves closer to our goal of being more like Christ.  Think of the times that we suffer as the time God prunes us.  Our faith grows, and our branches grow stronger.

How is your relationship with Jesus?  Are you passionately in love with Jesus?  Are you connected to the vine or have you walked away? Are you growing spiritually? Are you producing fruit and is that fruit visible to others?

Think about these things today. How are you spiritually? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart to you and to restore any brokenness in your relationship with God. God bless you.

Intimacy With God

“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”” -Exodus 33:18-23 NIV

Intimacy with God is vital to our growth and maturity in Christ.  Relationship with God is far more important than religion, programmes, Bible studies, etc.  He desires to commune with us, to spend time with us every day.  The more we get to know Him, the more we will want to spend time with Him in His presence.  Jesus made time to spend with His Father, often slipping away in the wee hours of the morning.  Men and women of God in the Old and New Testament spent time with the Lord.  This morning we are going to look at Moses, a great example of what kind of relationship we can have with God.

Spending time with God on a regular basis seems to be difficult for many people.  For young people it can be difficult because of demands of school, friends, and extracurricular activities.  Time is hard for those who are working full time and raising a family.  Even in retirement time may be hard to find because of many commitments within the church, family and community.  Truth be told, we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365-366 days a year of which we can spend time with God.

We read in Exodus 33 that Moses met with God in “the tent of meeting.” Whilst he did, the people of Israel worshipped outside of their tents.  This tent of meeting was a place where God’s glory showed forth.  Moses spent time with God.  The Bible says he talked with God face to face.  This is not in contradiction with the end of the chapter where God told Moses that he could not see God’s face and live.  Face to face was a figurative expression suggesting openness and friendship.  In order for this friendship to happen, Moses gave himself completely to God.  The people of Israel worshipped God and God was pleased.

Moses relationship with God was very close.  He had one to one conversations with the Almighty God.  He was considered God’s friend.  The book of Numbers even states that Moses was closer than a friend, better than even a prophet because God talked to him face to face.  God trusted Moses.  What an honour!  We can have that same kind of relationship with God today.  This relationship is not just for the elite, it is for everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Do you want to be known as one of God’s friends?  Can He trust you to do as He says or pray about what He shows you?  Friendship with God is sacred and a privilege.

Moses talks with God within the tent of meeting.  In their conversation Moses asks that God’s presence would go wherever they go.  He wants God to be a part of every step and decision that is made.  In fact, he even says in verses 15- 16: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have grace in Your sight, except You go with us?  So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

When we ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives, surrender everything to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, the presence of God goes with us everywhere.  Before Christ came and tore the veil for us to be able to come before the Lord without having to go through the priest, the Holy Spirit came upon people.  His presence was visible within the tent, the tabernacle, and the temple.  His presence was not present within the hearts of everyone.  Yes, He did fill people with His presence, but because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He’s given us the key to the Kingdom, the very presence of God.  Think about it, the very God who raised Jesus from the dead lives within us through the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit!

Moses desired God’s will, presence and peace.  Moses desired God!  He saw the work of God delivering the people of Israel out of Egypt.  He knew the wonders that God could perform.  Yet, in all of this, Moses desired God.  He longed for God to show him His glory.  He could have wanted anything in the world, such as a better life in the wilderness, but Moses wanted God.

What do we want?  Do we want God, or do we want the things of God?

God longs to be desired after.  He longs for a close relationship with God.  He longs to call us friend and to be able to trust us.

God was pleased with Moses and said to him in verse 17- “I will also do this think you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”  Moses then asked for God to show His glory.  It wasn’t a selfish request, it was so Moses could know and experience God in a better way.  God told Moses he could see His glory but not His face.

Do you desire to see God’s glory?  Do you want to feel His presence?  Oh I pray that the church today will fall down to our knees and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. I pray that we will seek His face and His presence not the miracles, not the gifts, not the healings, but just God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I believe that God will pour out His Spirit in a mighty way if we would just seek Him!

When we spend time in intimate worship of God we will become more like Him as we become like the one whom we worship.  In chapter 34 Moses goes up to meet God on the top of Mount Sinai.  He obeys God by taking two stone tablets up with him.  Whilst he was on the mountain, he spent time in God’s presence for 40 days and 40 nights.  The Lord descended in the cloud and His presence stayed with Moses.  When Moses came down from the mountain the skin of his face shone with the glory of the Lord.  It was so powerful that the people did not want to come near him, so he covered his face with a veil.  He did this until he went back up to the presence of God, then he would take the veil off.  Moses shone like the glory of God.  God’s presence was made known. Have you ever been around someone that you knew without a shadow of doubt that the presence of God was with and in them? I have honestly known a couple of people in my lifetime like this.  These people are so close to God that they shine like Him.  People were not afraid of Moses, they were afraid of the power within him, the power of the presence of God.

My friends, God wants us to experience His glory.  He desires us to be close to Him.  He longs for us to have that intimate relationship with Him.  The question is do we want it?  Do we want to have an intimate relationship with Him or just continue being a Sunday morning, open door church attender?  Do we want God, or do we just want a glimpse of Him?

This relationship is costly.  It means that we have to put ourselves aside and surrender everything to God.  It means taking time to spend it with Him instead of our own personal desires.  It means putting aside our selfishness and seek His face.  The challenge is to not allow busyness, fear and worry to get in the way.  Let’s not be like the Israelites afraid of God’s presence.  May we be willing to lay down everything and allow God to show His glory.

I promise you, when God does show His glory to us and we truly feel His presence within our lives, we will be changed.  Moses’ countenance changed after His time in the presence of God.  That power was around Moses, upon him and spoke to him on the top of Mount Sinai and in the tent of meetings.  However, that same power can live within us today!

 

My word for 2019

Every year since 2015, I have picked a word to focus on for the year. This year’s word is peace.

Last year was a difficult year for our family due to injuries and health issues. Sadly, it seemed it would never end. Then in September, our beloved conure, Pip, died suddenly after Teflon poisoning. Pip was the family bird, and he knew all our quirks. Later, there were more injuries for Joel whilst refereeing. Josiah also suffered health concerns. Finally, to end the year, I was diagnosed with diabetes on top of my other health issues. To be honest, I was glad to see the end of 2018.

However, there were moments throughout the year where my family and I were blessed. God provided for our every need. We were given enough money to get another conure, Jude which means Praise, who has become a dear member of the family. God provided a position for me in ministry I had never thought could be possible. I asked for early retirement because I had been off work for five years, but to be honest, retiring at 42 was a bit daunting and depressive. I am so glad God is not finished with me yet. He opened the right doors and I am loving the ministry he has given me now.

There are a lot of changes coming our way as a family this year. I know I can trust the Lord because he has always been faithful to me.

However, I still struggle with the “what-ifs” in life. I understand about not being anxious or worrying. I do suffer from anxiety disorder. The “what-ifs” and “what is going to happen” questions run over and over in my mind. I pray and pray and leave them with Jesus for them to pop up later and rear their ugly faces. God has been healing my heart from worry and anxiety, but it is taking some time.

I wasn’t even thinking of a word when “peace” came into my mind. I know my heart needs peace amid all that is coming up for us.

God gave me two verses to focus on in 2019; the verses are from Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT)

In order for me to live with peace in my heart, I need to trust the Lord and have my thoughts fixed on him. Paul says in Philippians to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

My desire this year is to focus on God and not the circumstances. I trust the Lord because I know he has looked after me and taken care of me well. I pray he will give me his perfect peace that surpasses all understanding in all things.

I need to remember God is in control. He knows the future. I just need to focus on what I can do for him today. The future will take care of itself. Besides, none of us are promised tomorrow.

I desire shalom which means so much more than peace. It means well-being, tranquillity, peace, and wholeness. However, shalom covers everything the Lord wants for me and for you. I am declaring shalom for me and my family this year.

God is my Rock and my Fortress. In him I put my trust. No matter what comes up against me, God is on my side. He may not still the storms raging around me, but he can indeed still my anxious heart. I am going to be relying on him heavily for peace this year.

Shalom Aleichem. Peace be unto you.

Order, glory, and judgement

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.” -2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV

“The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” -Haggai 2:9 ESV

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” -Exodus 33:18 ESV

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
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There are three things that are set within a pattern in the Old and New Testaments. These three things work together to bring honour and glory to God. They are divine order, God’s glory, and God’s judgement.

Whenever we see God’s glory it encompasses those who were holy and living solely for God. God set order to a world that was without form or basically a world that was disorderly. The earth was formless and chaotic. Nothing was in place until God set everything into motion. God spoke order into being. When He created Adam and Eve, they were covered with God’s shekinah glory, they had no need for outward clothing. They walked in God’s glory, slept in God’s glory, ate in God’s glory, and lived in God’s glory. Their fellowship with God was sweet. They did not have to worry about anything because everything was provided for them. Until Satan came into the picture.

Once again, he wanted the glory and honour. Thus the reason he was kicked out of heaven. He tempted Eve and of course she fell for it and ate the fruit. Then Adam although knowing what God had told him about the fruit, ate it as well. He deliberately disobeyed God and blamed Eve for his own disobedience. Because of their disobedience, they realised that they were naked. At this point the glory of God had departed from them. They lost that sweet, beautiful relationship with Him at that particular point due to disobedience. If we too disobey God after tasting and seeing His glory, we will be punished. This is discipline from a just and loving Father.

Each time God set things into motion, someone in the Bible messed things up. Look at Moses. He was a holy man, stood in the very presence of God on the top of Sinai. He had a willing heart to follow Him and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised land. He tasted the Lord, he knew that the Lord was good. He even came down from the mountain top so full of God’s glory that others could not bear to see His sight. Moses was very close to God. However, because of disobedience, he lost the chance to be able to walk into the Promised Land. He knew what God had said and the human side got in the way and he disobeyed by striking the rock. It may seem like a minor sin to us, nothing to worry about. It may even seem like cruel and unusual punishment for Moses to miss out on walking into that land that God had promised His people so many years ago. However, because Moses experienced the shekinah glory of God, he was held to a higher standard. We too are held to a higher standard when we carry the name of Jesus as our faith. And no this is not just the pastor that has to live up to that higher standard, everyone that claims they are a Christian is accountable once we know His truth.

So, why have we not seen much of this shekinah glory? Why does it not fall like it used to in the early days? What has happened to us? First of all, the church has become too religious. We have become too comfortable, too deceived, and very unaware of our true heart condition. We have also become too afraid of the extraordinary. We need a sure foundation in their spiritual lives before they can grow in their spiritual walk. If God poured out His Spirit like He did in the olden days of the Welsh or other revivals, what a difference it would make. In the early days of the church, people didn’t care whether or not they were opposed, they were on fire for Jesus and they wanted the world to know about it. They counted the costs and realised that life with Jesus, though they had to give up everything, was far better than life without Him.

We cannot live on formula prayers. We can recite the Lord’s prayer all we want, but if we do not truly believe the truths that are stated in that prayer, what is the point? The problem is there are very few people that even attend prayer meetings within the church. And if there is a prayer meeting, it lacks passion or power in prayer. When is the last time any of us really prayed hard about something or someone? When is the last time we came before God in tears and agony over them? When is the last time we actually cried out for hours or even days for God to answer a specific prayer? When is the last time we shouted in anger at God over injustices, or pure no understanding of situations? We need passion in our relationship with God, we need power in our prayers!

But we cannot have this if we do not really know God. It’s not just knowing scriptures, coming to church, singing a few hymns. It’s about really knowing God intimately like Adam and Eve and Moses. I would love to hear from God as Abraham did, I am a friend of God. We can only love God as much as we know Him. How many of us loved our best friend or spouse before we even knew them? Impossible isn’t it. We may have that brotherly love towards them, but I am talking about intimate, passionate love. That’s what God wants from us. That can only come through a living relationship with Him.

Jesus said on judgement day He will be separating the sheep from the goats. There are some that will cry out and say didn’t we claim you as Lord, didn’t we go to church, didn’t we sing those beautiful hymns uplifting your name, didn’t we serve others and give all the time unto your name? And Jesus will look at them and tell them ‘I do not know you.’ But why? Why would Jesus say this? Surely if we have said to Him Lord I confess my sins, I ask you to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins, we will go to heaven. We are to work our salvation out daily, being in a relationship with Him. There is no point in giving to the church and serving in the church if we are going to neglect the poor, the down trodden, the beaten, the lonely, the hurting. If we are in relationship with Jesus, we will love them as well, because we never know, we may be entertaining angels or even Jesus himself. Jesus said whatever you have done unto these brothers you have done unto me.

If we want to see God’s glory in the church, there must be divine order in our lives. We must know God intimately. We have to die to ourselves and have no agendas but God’s. In the early church, the disciples in the Upper Room were in one accord. The interesting thing I found was that there were only a few that afternoon in the Upper Room compared to the amount of people that said that they were followers of Jesus. There was a little over a hundred and that may seem a lot but when compared to 5000 plus people, but really it is not.

Those who decide that they want to experience the true shekinah glory of the Lord will wait for Him, they will die to themselves, and they will go where God goes. All that should matter is following Jesus. Those that left Jesus, either got fed up and bored waiting, got too comfortable and just wanted it the way it had always been, or just went back to their old lifestyles. The ones that had the true desire to know God intimately, received His power at Pentecost. And when His power came, thousands came to know the Lord as their Saviour after Peter stood up and preached. They were so full of His power that the people thought they were absolutely drunk in the later hours of the morning!

It is our choice whether or not we really want to experience the true glory of God. He wants to share it with us. He wants to have that intimate relationship with us as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden. He wants to have a closeness with us as He did with Moses, David, Peter, Paul. We have to take a look at the costs of following Him and decide, is this worth it. Are we willing to stop following our own agendas for ourselves and or the church? Are we willing to die to ourselves and pursue His holiness, pursue His glory? I cannot make the decision for you. I can only make it for myself. Do we really want what God wants for us or do we just want to keep going as we are?

It is my desire to follow hard after God’s own heart. I want to experience His shekinah glory and I want to really know Him. The more I do, the more I love Him and I want to share that love. I want to be busy going where God wants and being who He has called me to be. Do you?