Life is a battleground!

Life is a battleground!

Friends, for the true Believers there will many battles to fight.

There will be the temptations of the enemy, the distractions of the world, the trials, the storms of life, hear hard things in our lives, hard things in our country, hard things in the world and in it all the enemy has one aim and desire…

to get our eyes fixed on anything but Jesus!

Friends, these battles are for our souls and they are fierce and hard.

There will be times when everything seems to be going wrong and the enemy feels to be gaining so much ground ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’

But what do these trials do for us?

Do they make us pray more, read our Bible more, trust more, make us more dependent upon God?

Then Friends, if these trials bring us to our knees they’ll serve only to fix our eyes on Jesus and make us a stronger soldier of the cross.

If these enemy attacks make us pick up the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, and fight, then praise God!

If they make us walk a little firmer in the gospel of peace then praise God!

If they make us polish up our breastplate of Christ righteousness rather than trusting in our own then praise God!

If they make us hold a little tighter to that shield of faith then praise God!

Then Friends, what the enemy intended for evil, God, just as he did with Joseph, will work it all together for our good and His glory!

‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’

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Eph 6:10-18.

Negative thinking…

It’s so easy to get into negative talking or thinking about others especially at the moment with so many different opinions flying around, I found myself spiralling into it yesterday but Friends this is all part of the battle!!

How quickly we forget that there’s constantly an unseen war being fought, battles far more fierce and way more important than any physical battle that’s ever been fought on this Earth: because Friends, this battle is for souls, it’s for your soul and mine!!

Paul tells us that ‘though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:’

No battle compares to the battle over your soul!

Paul then goes on to tell us about our weapons…

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)’

Friends if we’re true believers our weapons are mighty and not just mighty but mighty through God!!

And not just mighty through God but mighty to the pulling down of those strong holds, those fortresses of the enemy!!

In Christ we have everything we need to fight these battles and WIN!!

Because Jesus is, ‘unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.’

What are those weapons then?

We have the sword of the spirit, God’s word and we have prayer!! And for our defence we have that heavenly armour (Eph 6:10-18)

And what are we to be doing with these? We’re to be ‘Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;’

Friends, let’s be those that take those arrows of temptation that the enemy fired at us, those judgemental thoughts, those irritations etc: take them captive hold them up to the light of truth in God’s word and fire them up to Him in prayer because that’s where they lose their power to harm us!

Friends, we’re not just accountable for our actions or words but for our thoughts too…

‘So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way….

….Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.’

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2 Cor 10:3–5, 1 Cor 1:24, Rom 14:12,13,19.

Although… yet I will rejoice!

‘Rejoice evermore!’

A simple commands, just two words but there are times in our lives when rejoicing feels impossible so why would God tell us to rejoice for evermore?

Because my Friend, although this is impossible in our own strength it is possible through Christ.

So does this mean we have to pretend to be happy when things are hard or to try rejoice when we lose someone we love? No!!

This rejoicing is a rejoicing that can happen alongside grief, it’s a joy that we can feel even as tears run like rivers down our cheeks!

Paul phrased it slightly differently here…

‘Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.’

Friends, our joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances, it’s in God. Circumstances change, but God never changes!!

Rejoice in that God knows, that God sees, that God hears, that God understands, that God has all your hard in His capable loving hands.

Some of you already know this but the Lord taught me this beautiful lesson through a little blackbird during one of the hardest years of my life.

I got up early one morning, while it was still dark, feeling exhausted both mentally and physically and with a very heavy heart due to circumstances but out in the garden a little blackbird sang beautifully!

Friends, that little bird sang because he knew morning was coming!

Then a few weeks later, still in the middle of this hard time, one evening as it was geting dark and raining hard and that little bird sang again!

Time after time through those long hard weeks I would hear or see a blackbird just when I most needed that reminder to rejoice.

Friends, that blackbird sang when it was dark, it sang in the rain and God taught me a beautiful lesson, He showed me that the joy of the Lord is indeed my strength, He showed me that even when you fear losing someone you love dearly there is joy to be found in Him. He showed me that praise brings perspective and joy brings peace!!

There is always joy to be found in the Lord, seek it until you find it!!!

Praise Him in the hard for He is worthy!

‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I WILL rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.’

‘This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’

1 Thess 5:16, Phil 4:4, Ps 118:24, Hab 3:17-19.

Fear not…

When I woke up this morning these well known words came into my mind…

‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’

Here believers are told not to fear and why, what precious promises to hold onto when those doubts and fears come!!

Friends, fear fights against God’s love!

Fear opposes faith!!

Fear tells us that God’s love, mercy and power are not big enough!!!

We’re to fight fear with all our might, fighting it with faith and truth, picking up ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;’

This instruction to ‘fear not’ is followed by five reasons we shouldn’t fear.

1: Because God IS with us…

“lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

2: Because He is OUR God…

“For this God is our God for ever and EVER: he will be our guide even unto death.”

3: Because He WILL strengthen us…

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, That the everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth,Fainteth not, neither is weary?

There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; And to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord SHALL renew their strength; They SHALL mount up with wings as eagles;

They SHALL run, and not be weary; And they SHALL walk, and not faint.”

4: Because He WILL help us…

“God is our refuge and strength, a VERY present help in trouble.”

“My grace IS sufficient for thee: for my strength IS made perfect in weakness.”

5: And because He WILL uphold us with the right hand of His righteousness.’

“The LORD upholdeth ALL that fall, and raiseth up ALL those that be bowed down.”

Believer, THIS 👆🏻 is who our God if and these are His promise to you!!

Fear not, “the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he WILL be with thee, he will NOT fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

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Is 41:10, Eph 6:17,18, Matt 28:20, Ps 48:14, Is 40:29-31, Ps 46:1, 2 Cor 12:9, Ps 145:14, Deut 31:8.

What is God’s purpose for your life?…

What is God’s purpose for my life? What is His will for me?

Have you ever asked those questions Friends?

Photo by Nina Ruth Bruno

There are three passages of scripture that come into my mind when my thoughts go down this road.

1 – ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for THIS is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’

2 – ‘Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.’

3 – ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’

Friends, there’s the will of God in Christ Jesus for us, that we continually rejoice, pray and give thanks.

God longs for that constant moment by moment joyful communion with us and for our dependence upon Him.

He loves His children and longs to help us live out our purpose!

Photo by Nina Ruth Bruno

This is God’s desire for me and for you Believer, the very purpose for which we were created, that our lives might bring Him, our God and Creator, pleasure and glory because Friends, He is worthy!!

If we were to ask these two questions more often – will it please God and will it glorify God? – then we’d more often be found communing with God in prayer, rejoicing and giving thanks whatever our circumstances.

Friends, may we each be given the grace we need to live our lives for God and may our prayer be ‘no more me, just all Christ in me!’

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1Thess 5:16-18, Is 43:7, Rev 4:11.

Easy and light…

Part seven

‘For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Some say that God never gives us more than we can bear but I disagree, I think He does BUT He never gives us more than we can bear through Him, with His grace and help.

‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:

Photo courtesy of Alyssa

Here we have the picture of a farmer working his fields.

When a farmer has two oxen that work together the yoke is shaped to fit those ox and the older more experienced ox takes the lead and as long as the younger ox follows there’s no problem.

But if the wrong yoke was to be laid on those oxen it would soon chafe and cause pain or if one ox was to be constantly trying to pull in a different direction things would rapidly get really difficult and the yoke would be hard to bear.

Jesus yoke is easy if we walk right by His side and let Him lead and it’s easy if we don’t rebel against it and try to go off in our own way.

Jesus burden is light but we can so quickly pick up burdens that God never meant us to carry then our load becomes too heavy to bear.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa

Friends, we’re not told that by following Jesus we’ll have everything we want and no troubles along the way, in fact we’re told the opposite, there’s to be that daily taking up of our cross, that there’s to be that crucifying of self BUT what we are promised is that when we walk with Jesus He will help us to bear even the heaviest burden and the most crushing weight, making it light and easy.

The most bitter trial becomes sweet when Jesus is walking close by our side carrying the burden with us.

Easy – chrestos – here means better, good, gracious, kind, fit for us, pleasant. As opposed to hard, harsh or bitter.

Light – elaphros – means light or easy.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa

The only other place this Greek word elaphros is used in the Bible is in this verse where Paul said…

‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;’

God’s way is always good, it’s better, it’s pleasant and it’s fit for us!! This is the way of wisdom and ‘Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.’

Friends, there’s a purpose in these afflictions, in our hard things, God allows them to send us running to Jesus so that through them we might find the beauty and blessing of complete dependence upon Christ Jesus!

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Matt 11:30, Ps 55:22, 2 Cor 4:17, Prov 3:17.

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Meek and lowly…

Part six

‘For I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’

What a beautiful description of Jesus!

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’

This little word ‘for’ joins the invitation and command with the reason for obedience.

If we’re weary and heavy laden and we come just as we are in all our felt sinfulness and weakness and if we take His yoke upon us and follow Him, seeking Him, learning from Him, we will receive this precious gift of rest in Christ and we’ll find rest for our weary, burdened souls.

This meek and lowly, humble Jesus who did so many wonderful works still calls those that are weary and burdened with the weight of this sinful world and their own sins to come to Him find rest for their weary souls.

These coming, seeking, weary, burdened souls are the souls that Jesus reveals the Father to ‘no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.’

Image courtesy of Jane Verheij

But let’s look a little more at these two words describing Jesus; ‘meek and lowly in heart.’

Meek – praos – humble, meek, gentle.

Interestingly the only time this Greek word is used in the whole Bible is here to describe Jesus.

What a reminder to us each that Jesus is the only perfectly humble person that has ever walked this earth, for that sin of pride is always in our hearts waiting for an opportunity when we’re not walking so close to Jesus to rear it’s ugly heard and make us stumble.

Lowly – tapeinos – humiliated (in circumstances or disposition): base, cast down, humble, of low estate, lowly.

‘And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’

Friends, Jesus was made ‘a little lower than the angels’ this Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords left His home in heaven, took on human form, was a baby in his mother’s womb, was born by a natural birth in a stable! He was despised and rejected but so many, even by those close to Him, He knew grief and sorrow buy through it all He was meek and lowly in HEART!

Image courtesy of Jane Verheij

This wasn’t just an outward meekness, He IS meek and lowly, it’s the very essence of who Jesus is. No pride in this One, though the Son of God, though the Creator of all, He humbly reached out to those despised and rejected ones of society, the beggars, the leper’s and the immoral and He reaches out to sinners still with this invitation to come and find rest for Your souls.

Friend, will you come?

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Matt 11:29,27, Ps 8:5, Phil 2:8

Learn…

Part five

‘… and learn of me’

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me’

Friends this coming and following Jesus doesn’t just join us into an eternal union with Him, He also wants us to learn from Him day by day.

Jesus wants us to learn greater and greater depths of God’s goodness and holiness, justice and mercy.

Jesus wants us to learn from Him, from His life and example as recorded in God’s word and from the way He leads and teaches us.

God shines in the believer’s heart…

‘to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’

Friends, if we keep seeking we will never stop learning greater and greater depths of the goodness and greatness of God and the perfection of His ways.

When we follow Jesus we learn that God’s way is always best and that in Christ we have everything we need to live a life that honours and glorified Him.

‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:’

How quickly as believers we can walk in our own strength and wisdom and yet we don’t need to, Jesus by the Holy Spirit lives IN US!!

Friends, if you don’t yet know this truth may God help you to seek it until you find it.

And if the Lord has shone His marvellous light into your soul Friend may He help you to live remembering that Christ lives IN us and for what purpose we were redeemed…

‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’

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Matt 11:29, 1 Cor 1:30, 2 Cor 4:6, John 17:23,26, 14:16,

Together…

Part 4

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me’

The word translated here as ‘take’ also means to lift up, bear, carry, to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised up.

The rest we’ve been looking at comes as we’re yoked or joined together with Christ. When His desires become our desires and His ways our ways and we truly follow Him.

‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me….’

It’s in the path of self denial Friends, of living for Christ and through Christ that we find true peace and happiness and this precious rest.

‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?’

A yoke joins two together and so the child of God never needs to struggle on alone in their own strength and wisdom because Friends, God’s ‘grace is sufficient for thee:’

Interestingly the Greek word translated here as yoke can also mean to join, a coupling, servitude, of rest.

Servitude and rest seem like opposites but they’re far from it in this instance. Take my service upon you, take my rest upon you!!

When we’re joined together with Christ it’s a union of servitude. Christ serves us by giving us all the grace and help we need to live our lives serving Him. It’s in this union and in the being filled and poured out that we find true rest and peace.

There’s no rest if we’re not walking in God’s ways but when we live for Him and learn of Him, as promised here, we will find true rest and peace.

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Matt 11:29, Luke 9:23,24,25, 2 Cor 12:9,

Weary?…

Part 3

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

This invitation to come to Him that Jesus gives is to weary, burdened souls.

‘Ye that labour,’ comes from the Greek word – kopiao – to feel fatigue, toil, be wearied, labour with wearisome effort, exhausted.

‘Are heavy laden’ – phortizo – means to load up, over burdened with ceremony or spiritual anxiety, laden, to be loaded with a burden of rituals and unwarranted precepts.

We have two types of weakness and burdens here, physical and spiritual.

Are there things that weigh you down Friend?

‘Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he SHALL sustain thee: he shall NEVER suffer the righteous to be moved.’

Come to Jesus in all your weariness, bring all your striving and struggles, give it all to Jesus in prayer, and find rest and peace in Him because this is what He promises…

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I WILL give you rest.’

It’s a promise Friends, come and He WILL give you rest.

But maybe there’s one of you that’s thinking I have, I do bring my worries to Jesus but I just seem to pick them back up again.

This isn’t just a one time coming, it’s constant coming, it’s abiding!!

Keep coming Friend, don’t keep dashing back to the world more concerned with what needs to be done like dear Martha but sit at Jesus feet like Mary even in the middle of your busyness and learn from Him how to trust Him more.

God’s word is full of encouragement, full of His own words speaking to us.

God doesn’t just want a moment snatched here and there with Him, He wants and deserves our all.

ALL our heart, ALL our devotion, ALL our days, ALL our moments.

He longs to be communing with us throughout our day. In the middle of our muddle, while our hands are washing dishes or folding laundry, for us to be telling Him all our little as well as big worries, looking to Him and leaning on Him for help moment by moment.

Will you come Friend and experience the sweetness of this rest in Christ?

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Matt 11:28, Ps 55:22.