As I awaited the arrival of my “Shielding” letter today, I was reading Psalm 133. What a blessing there is in the reality of together. I feel sad today for anyone who got their letter today, for whom there is no reality of “together.”
(Sorry for shakiness of the video posted here! New Tripod on order.)
Apparently the Coronavirus came about as a collusion between Nancy Pelosi and the Chinese to derail Donald Trump. Must be true. An American Prophet said it…So there you are. Blame the Democrats in the USA. Now we know. The bats and Pangolins can breathe easier tonight. It is all Nancy’s fault. By the way the Prophet, the Man of God with secret information from mystical experiences, said His fellow Americans don’t need to stay in their homes.
Folly triumphs over Faith once more, in the Name of Christ. It is blasphemy. It is a breaking of the Commandments, it is a misuse of His Name. It is attaching His Name to our utterances. Those who do that even if they are believers, will not be held guiltless without repentance. This is the dangerous side of the more extreme versions of Charismatic Christianity which is flourishing in these days. It claims to save and heal. It is actually spreading destruction and death.
Please if you are Charismatic, test everything. There are open doors for this type of thing to come increasingly into the UK. It is backed by huge wealth and can make itself beguilingly attractive in the offer of wealth and opportunity. Don’t get mesmerised by the glories it seems to offer to you in this world. It will destroy your integrity and your soul in exchange for what it promises. Let’s care about the integrity of prophecy in this land.
GK. Chesterton said that madness is like a circle. When you are inside the circle of that madness you can interpret everything inside it according to its closed system of belief. They reinterpret all facts within their own interpretive system of beliefs ( they are far from being the only stable of Christian who do this). It is a closed circle. No fact is allowed to enter it to ask questions. Inconvenient fact with the power to create a chink of light in the closed circle, is neutralised at the border. At some point, conscience is seared and surrendered. Unease is ignored.
If you are in the process of ignoring conscience, I am praying for you that you do not put your integrity on the altar for anything that is being dangled before you. Get out now. If you don’t, the time will come when you are so deeply in the circle of madness you will not know it … and if you are interested, I believe that is a prophetic word for prophets in Scotland and beyond … but …those who need to hear it most already have hardened hearts and seared consciences. Watch out for doors of welcome being opened to this form of closed circle insanity: the more extreme and extra biblical the more it must be God, but only some are privy to seeing it. It is old fachioned Gnosticism revived: secret knowledge for the initiated gained through mystical experience, not open to those of us who simply embrace the gospel as given in Christ through his Apostles. Incidentally, Paul did not add to the gospel through his own private mystical experiences, even though they really happened. Don’t receive teaching based only on someone’s private mystical experience, but only that which is there in the Word of God. Paul would counsel the same, I believe.
Such people in the US. have the ear of the President, with whom they are delighted: in one way, in an infantile way of thinking, I get that. He will probably try to lift restrictions at a date significant in the Jewish Calendar. That is not a prophecy but a fear of mine which I hope will not come to be.
Written in the fear of the Lord and in the fear Charismatics may kill the Charismatic Movement: perhaps s a Movement it has already died and lost any meaningful Kingdom of God influence in the land beyond its own convinced and enthusiastic fringe people? May God have mercy and send forth His Spirit in power once more.
There is something I have observed about God’s ways. He often speaks to us in advance of something that is coming to prepare us for its arrival.
This often happened to me pastorally, especially in the earlier years of ministry when I was in my 20’s. I would find myself thinking of a pastoral situation and then it would arise. The hypothetical became real but because I had thought it through in my “imagination” just before it actually happened, there was at least a beginning of consideration about how to pastor that situation already established within me. I could give you a whole list of situations that I found myself wondering about in the immediate days before they presented themselves to me. How would I cope with helping someone who had experienced a murder in their family? What would I say to someone who asked me if they could be a homosexual and a Christian? How would I pastor in the event of the death of a baby, or the murder of a child etc.? What about a suicide? A drowning?Sometimes they were very specific warnings indeed fulfilled to the letter. How would I pastor a situation where a Father had murdered his children? What about a toddler dying in a fire, and their sibling being left scarred? These, and countless other scenarios are the sorts of situations that many pastors come across. Remember this list, by the way, when you maybe don’t get all the attention you want to for something that in comparison is pretty petty. I began to get afraid if the thought, “I wonder what I would do if…” came to mind. However, I eventually had the faith to look on it as the kindness of God that He often was minded to give me a couple of days warning, without me always perceiving it is as an obvious preparation at the time. By the way, not every wondering fell into that category, I am glad to say!
There is another observation of the same type but different. Sometimes before God moves in a particular way, in a notable way, either in mercy or judgement, there can be prior events that show where we stand in relation to what is coming. Let me give you an example from the past 50 years (almost) of my own spiritual walk. Right now, I am believing for Revival, a sovereign move of the Spirit of God that will affect the lives of untold thousands of people in the UK and in other nations. I have believed for that for decades now. At times over those same years I have seen God send seasons of Renewal, that never became Revival, but they were blessed times. At the same time such seasons often bring to light what is in the hearts of God’s people, to show what He knows about us already. Times of Renewal show perhaps why all that we can be trusted in is the glory of His presence that comes in such moves of the Spirit, compared with the glory that comes in Revival.
Times of Renewal in my lifetime have revealed where God’s people still need to be made more new still, to be entrusted with more. They have revealed where I need to be made more new still. At times of enormous blessing, disunity, pride, competitiveness have often come to light in the most crass terms. I think of one meeting where God moved in incredible power. After it, there was a terrible display of disunity and criticism. At other times, as soon as God moves in a sovereign way ,I have seen the desire to control matters rising up, an attempt to harness God to our own particular spiritual movement, theology, church, location or name. Please hear me. I am not leaving myself out of this. At a time of Renewal, when God was moving in our midst in Thurso, in the late 90’s, I had an experience in my half asleep moment early one morning, where God’s Spirit came rushing towards me with the sound of a hurricane and the speed of an express train. I had to say, “No, Lord. I am not ready for this.” I wasn’t. Have any of us the slightest clue of the terrible and awful side of Revival? Am I ready yet? God alone knows. Are we ready to be blown to bits and reconstructed, never to be the same again, in a more profound way than we have ever experienced?
I am wondering the same at this moment in the midst of the coronavirus. What does it show of the human heart, what does it show in terms of the hearts of believers? What does it show of where I am with God and how much I understand of his ways of righteousness, truth, mercy and judgement, and of how the God of the Bible acts in the affairs of this world? What further events still to come upon the earth may this present moment be a sign of? Are we prepared for that, of which this may only be a herald song and trumpet blast?
A few months ago, I think in early December, God seemed to say to me, “Get ready for the Whirlwind.” When a prophetic word comes to me, unlike a teaching word, it comes with a sense of immediacy, as though it must happen and be shared that very moment. I have learned that is in the nature of a prophetic word. It feels intensely present, but it may not be for the immediate present. Sometimes it is difficult for me to get the sense of timing as prophecy and revelatory type gifts are not my main thing. I put the word on Facebook because of the intensity but was not able to give further detail when asked, as none had been given to me. It did seem at odds with most of the prophetic words that established prophetic ministries seemed to give t the start of 2020, which were full of promises of astounding blessing coming to God’s people in the course of the year and not much of a more sombre and alarming hue such as a “whirlwind” would suggest. However, I am wondering if this present moment we are living in something at least of “the Whirlwind.”
These are difficult times for sure. Life as we know it has been picked up and blown around, for some people in very violent, distressing and disorientating ways indeed. It may be so for you at this moment. This virus and how one must adjust to it is affecting believer and non believer. It is killing believer and non believer. It is altering lifestyle, the organising of family life, causing financial loss to believer and non believer.
I was reminded, however, of this well known sentence: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Some say Luther was the originator of this thought and sentence. Others say it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I believe it has not been found in the writings of Luther, and though it may have been used by MLK, it seems it did not have its beginnings in his amazing mind, heart and oratory, either.
Whoever said it first, I think there is rich food for our souls in the thought this sentence contains. I would not know where to begin in trying to write about it on Facebook! 6 themes have sprung to life in my mind in under 2 seconds. So then, I will leave you to do your own thinking! May it build you up in your daily following of Jesus at this moment in time.
(Someone sent me this today. I like it!)
The Coronavirus is only a pale shadow of what is yet to come. No scientist when these days begin will be able to say “We are confident we will get on top of this.” Governments will have no advice. The only hope will be the ignored God who made us and who alone can save, but those who speak about Him will be silenced and persecuted.
These days are not yet. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the birth pangs, or the beginning of the beginning. I have no idea when they will begin in full measure, but I read of them in the bible and have seen their approach in a vision in which God’s voice spoke about the folly of ignoring a warning. These days may be very near or yet very far away, but purifying fire burning God’s own people, the Church, globally, will be the first sign, not a virus. Live, love, witness, serve, help, share in season and out of season and warn…and pray for a great Revival, the saving of countless souls, before these days come.
Jesus is the true friend of sinners, more than a pal or “mate.” As our true friend, He does not conceal truth from us but tells it to us and trusts us with it. Let’s show His true friendship to the world He came to dwell in and die in, in order that we might not perish but have everlasting life. Awareness of mortality and eternity is the beginning of the beginning of wisdom dawning and the escape from folly.
In case you think I am occasionally too hard hitting in what I say about my fellow Charismatics, well, it is because folly presented as faith damages people. An example from the radio this morning: in South Africa a Church was teaching its followers that they have the blood of Jesus in their veins so they would be immune from the Coronavirus. They have been teaching that for a while. I guess they now have people in their numbers who are showing signs of infection, as mercifully they have stopped teaching that. A gathering of 3 million was being planned for Easter which they were pushing ahead with, despite being told not to. Thankfully, once more, the recent news is they are not going ahead.
This is a time to make real the closeness of God by our solidarity with a suffering world, showing what true faith is, sharing the mystery of the already here but still to come Kingdom, sharing how our God is able to deliver from fear, that He heals either in time or in eternity. All that matters, Paul told us as new creations in Christ, is faith expressing itself through love.
On the even more serious side, in the face of confrontation with our mortality, it is an opportunity to share how in Jesus, and in Him alone, death has lost its sting for all who trust in Him.
You have maybe heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare who suffered so brutally for Christ in Zaire (formerly Congo) in her years spent there as a Missionary Doctor.
This was recorded for the purpose of being used at her Thanksgiving service after she died. This lady made me seek God in tears as a teenage boy. I had never encountered such beauty. I saw the sheer beauty of Jesus Christ and wanted Him more than anything else in all the world and wanted to give Him everything. I could find no consolation for my distress and longing until I found a quiet place to be with Christ and get on my knees.
If any of you are interested in my story at all, well, this amazing lady speaking to a group of teenagers at Kilcreggan House is one of the top 3 influences in the establishing of my early life in Christ. This video to my mind is worth more than all I have ever posted.
This is the real thing. That day at Kilcreggan left me asking, “How is it possible for a human being to shine with the glory of God as I have just witnessed?”
The beauty of Christ can cut through resistance more than all the angry preaching in the world. The beauty of Christ had me in bits….
For those of you who have suffered physical and sexual violence against you, let this dear saint bring you hope that mourning can indeed be turned to dancing…
This is something I put on Facebook and then on YouTube so I could post a link here for those who follow my blog. It has had about 800 views so far and people seem to find it helpful. Feel free to share the link, if you know how! Can’t help you there!
If you are in the category of “vulnerable”then these sharings are for you.
If I get Coronavirus I have 4 conditions which would make that life threatening. Trying to take the confused back flips of the Government into account, I set myself to make some decisions earlier today that I felt the peace of God resting upon. That is what I now feel this evening.
Lack of God’s peace deep within was a sign to me that I was needing not to be blasé with false faith but to make some choices with true faith by giving some serious thought to what I should and should not do. Peace restored.
If you are similarly vulnerable and need to make decisions for yourself I am praying in simple faith that the peace of God will lead you in choice making. You may not be an atheist in terms of God but please don’t be an “atheist” in terms of this virus. We can’t see it but it is real.
Because I am a person of faith I am a person of facts. Fact and faith belong together. Because I am a person of faith, I am a person who makes choices before God. Faith, intentional action and my own responsibility, belong together.
God bless you…real good!
If you read my blog regularly you will know that a few years ago I had to get rid of all my books (and all our furniture and other belongings as well) – on the advice of the “best science!” from knowledgeable University people – as they harbour mould spores which could mean death to me. It was a bit sad. It is sad to have to walk past second hand book stores etc. It also means I only half remember what I want to remember and cannot check up on details of stories, facts, for accuracy.
Somewhere or other in one of my now long gone books I remember a story of a wee boy expressing concern about a family near to where they lived who had lost a child. The wee concerned boy was a Christian as was his family. Their own pastor like the people he was concerned about had also lost a child. His mother asked the wee boy why he had not expressed concern about the pastor and his wife and their tragedy. His reply was that he did care about them, but they had Jesus and “They know what to do. The other family don’t know what to do.”
That half remembered story reminds me of one of my most favourite ever memories of parish ministry. Someone, attending the prayer meeting for the first time prayed like this: “Lord, I thank you for bringing me to this church. Before I came here, I did not know there was another way to do life but now I have seen there is another way.”
Part of the Incarnation of God in Jesus is that He faced what we face and showed us another way to do life. He did not mock human beings and their struggle and live as some sort of a Superman figure untouched by the struggles of other mortals. He became one with us in our struggle and lived our life before dying our death.
It seems to me that in the present situation the world finds itself in working out as best we can how to face the Coronavirus problem that Christians need to show two things. First of all, solidarity with humanity, of which we are part. Secondly it is an opportunity to share with others that facing what we are all facing God helps us find a path in which there is no panic, in which we have found an answer to our fears. Beyond that, of course, we can share about prayer, faith in what God can do etc, but let’s begin where our God began in Christ. Showing our oneness with human beings in their struggles and on that basis helping people to know it is possible to “Be not afraid.”
Of course there is more to be said, but as I have watched “Superman” bravado from some well known Christian figures, this is what was most on my mind today.
By the way, if you are a believer and finding it hard to be free from fear, don’t feel condemned by this post. Jesus knew that can be a struggle. It is why the Bible says repeatedly, “Don’t be afraid.” I don’t agree with the teaching that anxiety is a sin as though it is a disobedience to a command not to fear. I believe such teaching is a damaging error.
“Don’t be afraid” is the voice of the God of compassion who understands us who knows trust is learned by the passing of time and through experience of someone who tells us we can trust them. It is His voice telling us there is a place He can get us to. If we are not there yet, that is not a reason for self-condemnation. It is an encouragement to keep hold of Jesus who is “The Way.” So, an appeal to preachers. Stop telling people their worry or anxiety is a sin. It won’t help. Be a channel of the presence of the One who tells us patiently and persistently not to be afraid. By the grace of God, strength and courage will rise and fearful hands will reach out to One they sense is near as you preach, to take hold of the One who does not judge them or express a frown towards upturned faces and outreaching hands.
Sometimes I feel so out of step with fellow Charismatics. I have seen well known speakers on YouTube, proclaiming and praying in the face of Coronavirus. However some of it seems more like witchcraft praying to me, seeking to harness spiritual power to our advantage over lesser human beings.
I found myself thinking by contrast of Father Damian, showing the love of Christ to lepers, eventually succumbing to that disease and standing up to begin his sermon with the words,”My fellow lepers…” In that I find the love of God for a suffering people, in that I find so much of Jesus.
Shortly before his death, he wrote his brother Pamphile, “I am gently going to my grave. It is the will of God, and I thank Him very much for letting me die of the same disease and in the same way as my lepers. I am very satisfied and very happy.”
Of course Jesus heals and can protect people from disease according to His will. No doubt about that. But believing for that is not the only expression of faith. In fact it may be kindergarten faith compared with faith of the Father Damian type. It may even be a form of fear.
(Posted this on Facebook. People seemed to find it helpful! It might just help leaders who will walk into difficult church situations this Sunday, though it is of much wider application than that.)
When you are wronged publicly and not vindicated publicly you can find yourself on the fast track to becoming more like Jesus. You will learn a whole heap of lessons in one go that otherwise could take you decades to learn. God has seen gold in you that He has placed there and is bringing forth. What an honour He is trusting you with when He asks you to live without your name or His being cleared , with your honour and his apparently trampled on, mocked, ridiculed and besmirched. A wonderful moment of Kingdom importance. You may be living in such a moment right now. Look and listen within and you will find something your mind can make no sense of: your spirit leaping for joy in obedience to Jesus instruction. Don’t minimise the importance of the moment. This may be your day to become a man or woman of God! The cloud of witnesses are cheering you on!
Of course, you know who I am thinking about this morning: “Esther’s cousin, Right?” Wrong!
Well, half-wrong. It is another Mordecai who first grabbed my thoughts today. He is mentioned in the book of Ezra as one of the 50, 000 or so returnees who came back from exile to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Whilst he returned, the other Mordecai, the more well known one, stayed.
Why did the less well known one return to the land of his fathers? Well the Book of Ezra tells us the answer. The very first verse tells us Cyrus issued a decree that the people of God should return and build a house for the Lord because the Lord had stirred up his spirit to do so. The same cause is given in verse 5 as to why 50,000 returned, including the lesser known Mordecai. The Lord stirred up their spirits. He did not stir up the spirit of Esther’s cousin.
Use your spiritual imagination. If the two Mordecais knew of one another how did they regard one another? Perhaps they did not understand one another, perhaps their different course of action confused one another or maybe they accepted that for reasons they could not fully know or understand both may have been in the will of God. For sure, we can certainly be thankful one returned to build. We can be equally thankful that the other Mordecai did not return but looked after Esther.
Christians sometimes do not understand how God has led other Christians in a different direction from them. One is led to leave a church another is led to stay. Severe conflict can arise and accusation fills the air as Scripture verses are used both sides of the argument or conflict. Please be clear I am not talking about conflict between those who honour Scripture and are faithful to Jesus and those who don’t. I am talking about differing roads taken by true God fearing and Bible honouring believers and the suspicion and distancing Satan loves to sow into that ground.
Let’s learn from the 2 Mordecais. Something of God’s glory and purpose in the face of the earth would have been lost if there had not been that different response to the same situation. I used to not understand why the more famous Mordecai had stayed. I used to think he was a backslidden Jew as was Esther. They had not bothered to return. They were too settled in an idolatrous world and did not want to lose earthly treasures. Ezra chapter 1 verse 5 made me reassess and see things differently.
I hope some day in the future this post may come to mind and help you to stay free from unnecessary conflict with other true believers when they follow a different course of action than you in the selfsame situation. Thank God there was a Mordecai in Jerusalem. Thank God there was a Mordecai in Persia.
Sometimes even these lists of names the Old Testament delights in stir up interesting thoughts! Perhaps the two Mordecais will even help us not to insist there is only one way for Christians to speak and act in the face of the Coronavirus! Even there I see we Christians can’t hide our propensity for fighting one another or at least putting one another right and grading one another’s faith and character.
When we face injustice and wrong treatment for our faith, the real thing against the real thing, I think there are several things the bible tells us to do: leap for joy and entrust ourselves and our cause to a faithful God, to give but a couple of examples. It is good to do what we are told! That is part of being a child. I am still learning to be just that. Adults who do things their way and robustly defend their actions even when unwise, tend to get into more of a fankle compared with the obedient children of a good Father.
Beating the world at the worlds game with the world’s weapons is a hollow victory. It does not leave the taste of the Lord’s joy in our mouths, but ashes. What could have been our finest moment in God became another diversion from the invitation into His glory, into being like Jesus , and secretly we know it. . I learned to sing early on in my Christian life, “If you will not bear a cross you can’t wear a crown.” I am glad I was taught that It is a law of The Kingdom.
Have you won an earthly victory or vindication recently or in the past, but feel you need a spiritual bath. ..Take it! Then, having done that, determine that though you will be wise as a serpent it will not be at the expense of being innocent as a dove. And, If God gives you another opportunity to be a man or woman of Kingdom valour…Take it!
Have been reading some things Christians have been saying on Coronavirus. Let’s not mistake bravado for true faith or attach the Name of the Lord to our own reactions or advice. God is not simply a loudmouth. He is not an idiot. As someone with heart problems, respiratory problems, a faulty immune system and diabetes, to name some of my health issues, I find secular advice is beneficial. I don’t find it scaremongering. I find it helpful despite it coming from confused and limited knowledge. I am free of course to still make my own decisions and way up risks about choices I make. I may get these choices right. I may get them wrong. Faith lives and breathes with facts and is not afraid. It does not mock fact or the attempts to establish fact.
God bless you. …and if you are particularly vulnerable, may God give you grace and help to not fear.
… of Conference speaking. It has been a great blessing to speak at conferences in the UK and in other countries over the last 20 years or so, but for reasons of health I think the time has come to bow out from that ministry apart from honouring one or two outstanding commitments.
There is a deeper reason too. The anointing for that ministry is still there but it is lifting. I have seen that recently. There is still anointing for other things. In fact that has increased.
Just thought I would put that on record so that if I say “No” to an invitation to an event you will know it is not personal.
Time for others to run…
I am aware that few of the generation this is for will be reading my blog. That almost makes the case for this post which I put on Facebook earlier!
Come on you folk in your 20’s to 40’s! Years ago I saw some of you being catapulted over a group of leaders aged around where I am now. It’s time for the “leapfrog” to happen. By the grace of God there is still life in this ageing dog yet, I am hoping for many years of ministry in some shape or form, If God wills, but you are to be the front line leaders now, not us. I will cheer you on in that new responsibility. If any advice from experience is wanted there is plenty of experience around. Why reinvent the wheel and cause yourself delay and needless pain? There will be plenty unavoidable pain so don’t add to it needlessly. Go much beyond us, wherever we got to as leaders.
It was good to see a younger Chancellor and a young Scottish Finance minister at work whether I agree with their politics or not. They rose to the task really well, I thought. Often the world picks up on something God’s common grace is doing and the Church comes along eventually dragging its heels. Of course all this depends on some of us getting on in years being willing to relinquish positions we may have held for a while to make way. Do it with grace and freely and joyfully when the time is right. If not it may happen in a more painful and bitter way.
If you have read Part 1 this will make sense. If not read that before this!
A couple of examples:
Last night I had a happy dream that it was snowing it was Christmas. In my sleep I was singing, “I wish it could be Christmas every day.” I opened the curtains this morning and there was an inch of snow all around. I had not heard or watched any weather forecast.
The other day I had an irresistible urge to read the Book of Esther. I found out the next day it was Purim. Neither of these things I picked up had any particular significance, but this is an illustration of what I was saying in Part 1. If you are prophetically wired you just pick things up. They don’t necessarily mean anything very significant.
Those that are much more prophetically wired than I am find it difficult to go to a Supermarket or a Cafe! They pick up too much about too many people.
Anyway I hope that may clarify Part 1 a bit more for you.
A very simple thought came to mind as I was thinking again about Daniel and Esther. Darius, who ruled in the days of Daniel, could not sleep because of concern about Daniel who had done so much good for his realm. Xerxes, who ruled in the days of Esther, in the midst of a sleepless night realised he had never honoured Mordecai for saving him from an assassination attempt. So…
… who would God bring to mind today who has done a lot for you? If you have not yet done so, how could you help, thank or honour them?
Who comes to mind?
Prophetically wired people can pick up where people are at and what may be going on in their lives. Just thought I would share that because you may have been in a meeting where someone seemed to call out or even prophetically paint your condition. That does not necessarily mean God is going to heal or act upon that pronouncement but that is the impression given as the “revelation” is shared.
I have met so many people who have been disillusioned because what was described by some revelatory means was accurate, astoundingly relevant, but nothing happened after prayer or ministry in response to the word pronounced. The “fault” was not with you but with the prophetically wired pronouncer. They did not mean harm. They have probably found they have received little teaching on how to use their gift and some of its pitfalls. More than likely they shared what they did because they hoped for something good for you. They are neither false prophets or bad people but people doing their best in an area of gifting where most people have had to find their own way- especially when teaching courses on such things are beyond most folks means when they are living by month to month resuscitation!
Paul Cain was a gifted prophet and his fall into sin should not be used to discredit the genuine gift of prophecy and word of knowledge and other revelatory gifts which God wants to bless the church with. Those that knew him well believe he ended his earthly pilgrimage badly. Whether they are right or wrong about that, some of God’s servants do end badly, be they Charismatic, Reformed or whatever. You or I may yet end badly. “Please God, by your grace may it not be so.” Cain accurately outlined the course of my ministry from 1995 to the present day. I remember him saying at one meeting, “God is showing me plenty right now but I am waiting to see if the anointing comes to share it.” That is a good lesson for prophetic people. I am not that prophetic, in that it is not my main thing, but I know that principle in preaching. I sometimes stall for a moment. I have not forgotten where I am at in my sermon! I am waiting to see if the Holy Spirit is giving me permission to say something I was about to say or not. If the anointing does not come, if the Holy Spirit does not come upon me, I try and be disciplined by that not to say whatever I was about to say.
In fact, come to think of it, that is a pretty good rule for how we use our tongue to speak, full stop. Listen for the Spirit’s permission. Something being true does not mean it is to be spoken. That could do immense harm.
Even as a Charismatic, this is how I often feel in Charismatic meetings!
I am not one of these Christians who goes by the Jewish Year. Personally as a Gentile believer I think it is wrong to do that, though if you believe it is Scripturally the right thing to do, I will not argue the case but say “Good…for you!”
However I did find myself strangely drawn to read the Book of Esther yesterday, unaware it was Purim.
As I did that I started to think of Esther and Daniel and the situations they were in. Both characters and both books give us clues how to behave as God’s people in difficult times and may help us to be released from Satanic goading as to what loyalty to God must look like. In both books too we read of rulers being prevented from sleeping because of God’s people and the need to do right by them.
These are hostile days in the political world against the full expression of biblical truth. One only needs to look at the poster campaign last year sponsored by the government and police Scotland or listen to some of the comments of the leader of the Green Party in the current round of gender issue debates to see that increasingly we live in Biblebelieverphobic days perhaps more so in Scotland under the dominance of the current SNP leader than is the case in the rest of the U.K. Certainly Christian MP’s need our understanding and support as they do what they can in such an environment.
But here is an idea. What about praying that some in positions of authority will begin to have sleepless nights about the assault upon Christians and think of the hundreds of thousands of hours which Christians give to make this country a better place and the millions of pounds they give to do the same?
“I say of the saints who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16 verse 3)
In the early hours of this morning I found myself thinking of people I have been blessed to meet who were converts of the 1949-52 Lewis Revival. I have met 11 people who lived in these glorious days when the Spirit of God was poured out in extraordinary power. Some of them I have talked with at length. Those times are some of the sweetest in my Christian experience and when I think back to them, even the very memories seem to carry something of the power and presence of God. As I think of these one to one encounters and conversations, I am left humbled, aware that for all that people look to me as a minister and to my amazement even come to be for advice on being a minister, I have at most scaled only the foothills of the foothills of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I could tell you several of my memories, but for some reason this morning, my mind went back to being in Kenny Ban’s home in Lochcarron. I was there with my friend Howard Espie. Kenny had shared with us stories of Revival and his ministry late into the evening. The next morning we gathered around the breakfast table. I do not remember what we ate for breakfast, though I am sure it was wonderful! Let me tell you what I do remember:
1: The sense of spiritual hospitality . The sense of welcome and an open door. It was humbling as we sat around that breakfast table that someone like Kenny Ban should ask people like Howard and myself to pray. This was a man who had seen the moving of God in a manner that we had never seen, who knew God in a way that we did not, and yet we were not made to feel inferior. We were welcomed. So were others! Every so often as we sat at the table, the door bell would go, and someone else would be welcomed into the table, gathering, then another and another. There we sat together, feasting on the Living Bread, the Lord Jesus Christ. The only thing that was not welcomed at that table was any conversation that could draw our attention away from Him.
2: The reverence of Kenny’s prayers. In days when prayer can at times seem like a showing off of what good pals we and God are, round that table that day there was such a sense that when we speak with God, we are speaking with the Almighty. He is Father, for sure, but He is the Almighty. It felt like Kenny was speaking to God as I know Him through the Bible and in my spiritual gut, to be. The great I AM in whose presence we take our shoes from off our feet as it were. This was not threatening of foreboding, but refreshing and liberating. A human being knowing his place as a human being before God. It somehow freed me from the enforced casualness that seems to be demanded of one and exalted in Charismatic circles and set me free to rejoice in God as He is.
3: At that table, the Bible was read and listened to. There was no attempt to show off knowledge or learning, but rather to just come humbly under the sound of Scripture and let its words speak and bring life. The Bible did not just contain the word of God around that table. It was the Word of God. It was read as such, received as such and life sprang forth within me.
4: God and His Word, God and His presence, God and His face and blessing sought in prayer in fellowship with God’s people had to come before every other concern. Someone came into the table saying, “Have you read this in the papers this morning?” He referred to some scandal in the Church that was being reported. Kenny reached out his hand and placed it on the other man’s hand before he could open up his paper to read it to us all. He simply said, “Don’t read it, it will disturb your peace.” What wisdom. Establish yourself in God before facing any other reality that needs to be faced.
If there are four places to which I wish I could transport you all, one would be this breakfast table. The second would be to the home of a lady called Agnes. Like Morag and myself, you would find yourself sitting there weeping at the sheer beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. The third would be to a Gaelic Service being conducted by John Murdo Smith in Uist. He was another convert of the revival. I don’t speak a word of Gaelic, but I went to the service as I felt I had never met a man so full of the gentle grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in all my Christian life. I sat there, not understanding a single word, but with the blessing of God running through my spiritual veins: grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.. The fourth would be to the home of Donald John, because I would want you to see what I saw when Howard and I visited him in his home in his latter years: pure clear child like eyes which had seen God. He told us stories and they were wonderful stories: his trip to London in recent years to speak to 37,000 young people, his daughter being raised from the dead. Wonderful as those stories were, it is his eyes I will never forget as long as my memories are with me…it is the One who made his eyes shine with holy purity and childlike delight, love and laughter, that I want to see more clearly, preach more simply still.
Further to a previous post on demons:
There is an interesting story in Acts 19 about the seven sons of Sceva, who try to turn the Name of Jesus into a mere formula to be used in deliverance. They were really trying just to copy what they had seen Paul doing without having that personal relationship which Paul had with Jesus. They end up regretting what they do. In the process of their presumption and its terrifying aftermath, the demons reveal this information: : “Jesus we know, and Paul we know about, but who are you?”
The English translations ,such as that given above, are trying to differentiate two types of knowledge expressed in two Greek words. The first word for knowing, which the demons use in relation to their knowledge of Jesus is a word for knowing by personal experience. So the typical example used to explain this would be that we say we know the world to be round because we have travelled round it. We have not just accepted it as truth passed on, nor read it in a book. We have personal experience that the world is round.
The second word for knowing, used with regard to Paul is what we know about a matter because we have worked it out. I know the world is round not because of personal experience but because of observation , watching shadows, taking mathematical reading, principles of mathematics etc. I somehow deduce and work out certain truths.
The demons know Jesus by experience every day. It is their hell to live every day in the disarming effect of his shed blood and the knowledge they cannot escape his authority anywhere on earth or in the heavenlies. They know by experience that Jesus is Lord. What he allows them to do, gives them permission to do also reminds them of their limitation. It is hell to them that they know Jesus is Lord, and all they can do, even by doing their worst is further his purposes. They encounter him in every square centimetre of the universe, every second of the day or night, in every situation and circumstance. They know by perpetual experience that Jesus is, and that He is Lord. They do not have to work it out, they know it without having to make any observation.
Their knowledge of Paul and of you and me and every believer is different. They learn about us from observation when by design or accident they find themselves around us. They work out things by how we react, what we do, how we spend our time, the words of our mouths, what we seem to be living for, what they observe of us in our secret moments hidden from human eyes. They cannot know our thoughts, though they may try to put their thoughts into ours, but they can work out what may be going on in our inner self by what they observe.
This is the cruel thing about the apparent knowledge give out by mediums. This is not the dead person communicating with their loved ones, but demons speaking forth what they have picked up by observation. It offers a satisfaction of a spiritual type and a level of comfort on an emotional level that keeps lost people lost, keeps them away from Jesus and his cross, keeps them away form repentance and faith in Him which is the only way to conquer the grave and enter an eternity of life and peace rather than lostness, darkness and everlasting torment. It comforts the lost in their lostness and keeps them on the road of a lost eternity.
Demons work things out from the information they gather and use it against the children of God as well. They cannot rob us of the free gift of eternal life which we have found in Jesus, but they will seek to use what they know to trip us up, hold us back from the full freedom of life in Christ and the stream of blessing that can release into the world around us.
It is really important to be careful the way we live at all times. You never know when their may be a demonic watcher, picking up something which will be used in the future to try and make you fall, or to bring you into open shame.
Take your spiritual life and its element of warfare seriously. Live “In Christ” each moment, each day in the covering of his blood and in obedience to His Lordship. Do that, live in Christ and you can say with Jesus, that even when the Prince of this world comes, “He has no hold on me.” That is already true in terms of his accusations having no landing pad. The blood of Jesus has paid the penalty of our sin. As redeemed sinners, we belong to God as His children at great price and cost. By the grace of God may our being “In Christ” also be true of our actual behaviour. In Christ there is not only forgiveness, but another life, His life, that can be lived in us and through us by which we actually conquer sin more day by day and learn to live righteously even in our private moments when there is no human being around to see us and only God and the demonic watchers can see us.
By the way, a final thought. Sometimes as you are in conversation, you will be aware that a demonic watcher has drawn near. It was not there and then it is. It is often because you are talking in genuine concern and love about another person and saying some deep things that the demonic listeners and watchers do not know about them. When you are aware of a watcher and a listener, stop the conversation immediately. Take it up when the unseen watcher and listener has moved on. They will lose interest when there is nothing to their benefit being talked about and will search around for more fruitful pickings.
And, – just as I say when I am preaching – one more thing!! Finally, finally! You are maybe wondering about prayer. What if there is a listener in there? There isn’t, or if there is they will be completely frustrated. Prayers to the Father in the Name of Jesus are unintelligible to the demonic listeners and watchers. I remember praying with people on one occasion. A Satanist burst through the door with fury on his face and demanded to know which one of us had been praying in tongues. None of us had been. We had all being praying in English. The Holy Spirit has His own way of encrypting our prayers to the Father in the Name of Jesus. Speak to the Father anywhere, about anything: gloriously, freely, speak to Abba, Father, Daddy. Time, space, eternity is cleared of other matters, just for you and Him.
May these thoughts help you into more victory in Jesus still.
Demons are not omniscient but they do observe and gather information on us. Jesus knew when Satan was around and was careful at such moments even with what he was saying. When I was in Gran Canaria a lady approached me, tied a thread around my wrist and said,”Welcome to Gran Canaria, Kenny. How are you enjoying your move to Edinburgh?” We had just moved to Edinburgh from Thurso. I was stunned into inactivity trying to work out what was happening. Morag was more alert. She tore the thread band off my wrist and said, “We are Christians and we believe in Jesus, the Son of God!” The lady looked frightened and moved off pretty sharply. On another occasion I went in to a drinking den in Wester Hailes looking for someone I cared about and was trying to help in the Name of Christ. From a dark room of filth and squalor another man started to shout out “I know you, Kenny Borthwick from Glasgow.” He then spoke some facts about me even though we had never met. There was such a sense of spiritual chill and threat.
Remember you are watched. Your story is of interest simply because Satan hates what God loves and seeks to kill, steal and destroy for no other motivation other than that hatred. Weak points, wounds, cuts and bruises are known about and used against us.
Like a heavyweight boxer Satan goes for weaknesses he observes with the dying fury of a mortally wounded lion who knows his time is short. He will hit them again and again at a moments he sees as opportune. We all have them. Do you know yours? Are you defending those areas of living, speaking, thinking, or have you dropped your guard. Make sure you put on the armour of God, put on the Messiah as your armour, or you will hit the canvas.