68. As He Is, So Are We

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott –

When Jesus comes back, He is coming for His bride, the church. So this scripture is talking about us:

That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph 5:27).

And since each of us are part of that bride, we have to be ready. That is why we are experiencing a season of purification and refining in our lives. For some of us, we may well have been here before. But we have a sense that God is doing something at a deeper level this time. God is removing stumbling blocks, He is removing all the idols we have in our lives. We are praying Psalm 139, ‘Search me O God, and know my heart’. And it is so that He can make us into that holy church that Jesus can inhabit in fullness, releasing His power onto the earth.

Confidence

Now, what does it take to be ready? There are some scriptures in the first letter of John that I want to look at:

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world (1 John 4:17).

So we can have confidence, because ‘as He is, so also are we in this world’. As Jesus is: not as He was, but as He is now. He is enthroned in heaven: and we are outworking that kingdom, that enthronement, here on the earth. Our confidence comes from knowing that He is on the throne. His position as King is what gives us the confidence to outwork that kingdom, here in our lives, on earth.

‘Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming’ (1 John 2:28).

There is a relationship here: we abide in Him and He in us. It is an intimate relationship. And when He appears, as long as we are remaining in that relationship of intimacy, hearing and obeying His voice daily, doing the things we see the Father doing, then of course we will greet Him with confidence. It would be terrible to flinch away from Him when He comes in glory, not to be able to look at Him because we are ashamed of the way we have been living. If we stay close to Him now, we can have confidence when He comes.

Like Him

‘Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure’ (1 John 3:2-3).

So when Jesus actually appears, we will be like Him. We will be transformed. We will have a new resurrection body, and be transformed into an eternal being. In His resurrection body Jesus was able to appear to His disciples, walk through walls, eat a fish supper. We will be just like that: ‘we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.’ But because we have this hope, we also need to purify ourselves, just as He is pure. So we do have some work to do.

Baggage

When we see Him, we do not want to be carrying all the baggage that we might presently be going around with. We have an opportunity, right now, to be purified. We can allow Jesus to refine us, to prepare us to meet Him. All that holds us back and weighs us down, we have an opportunity to get it sorted out ahead of time.

I want to be properly prepared to meet Him face to face. I have my life here and now to work on that. And how do I make myself ready? I just surrender to Him. I allow Him to do whatever he wants to do in me. It is not something I have to somehow try to rack my brains and get all figured out. I just have to give Him my life on a daily basis. I need to present myself as a living sacrifice. I need to reckon myself dead to sin and alive to Him. I need to be crucified with Christ so that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. My flesh no longer determines what I do.

Anointed One

‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ surname, remember. Whenever the word ‘Christ’ is used in scripture it refers to the anointing he carries. When it says ‘Jesus’, it is referring to the person of Jesus; when it says ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, it is giving Him His full title and emphasising His lordship. So each time we read about Jesus in scripture, the name(s) used to describe Him emphasise what aspect we particularly need to understand about Him.

So it is Christ, the Anointed One and His anointing, who lives in me. I have been crucified – past tense – but I need to outwork that in a daily relationship, by presenting myself as a living sacrifice before God. I have written about how we do that in an earlier post. This may be stating the obvious, but the thing about a living sacrifice is that it is actually alive. I present myself on a daily basis, so that my life can be used for His kingdom purposes, so that I can be pure as He is pure.

That is how He would like me to be; how He would like all of us to be. How we need to be, because He is coming.

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62. Now You Are The People Of God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are continuing to look at Matthew 24, and seeking to let the Bible interpret itself rather than seeing it through our own filters, or imposing a particular set of doctrines upon it. If you are new to this blog you might want to skip back a few posts to see where we have come from.

In the sky

Today we have reached Matt 24:30, “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory”.

Again, this is not talking about the end of the world: this is about Jesus coming in authority judgement. It is about the destruction of Jerusalem. The end of the Old Covenant system had come because the New Covenant had been established.

All this language is very symbolic, and ‘in the sky’ is really a poor translation. It does not mean that a sign will appear in the sky. What it is saying is: the sign that the kingdom has come is that the Son of Man is in heaven.

Jesus said later said to the Pharisees and to the High Priest, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64).

So He told those who were alive at that time that they would see it.

This is the prophetic fulfilment of what Daniel saw: Jesus coming at His ascension, His blood being presented on the mercy seat in heaven and receiving the kingdom from the Father.

I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

Mark 16:19 tells us, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”. Do you see how this is all the same language? It is talking about the end of the Old Covenant system, and the beginning of the New. We have to prepare for kingdom dominion.

angel-4928_640Messengers

And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other  (Matt 24:31).

The Greek word ‘angellos’ means ‘messenger’, and the trumpet is symbolic of the proclamation of the gospel: ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (Matt 11:10). ‘Gather’ is the word ‘synagogue’: it speaks of what church was to do, being gathered as part of God’s people.

Misunderstanding arises if we take statements in isolation rather than allowing the Word to interpret itself.

The people of God are revealed. We are now the true nation, city and temple. The same language continues to be used of us because we are the continuation of the people of God. Some say the church has replaced Israel; but actually the church is the continuation of Israel (the covenant people). We are the same. Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ; but we do all have to come together in Christ.

One people of God

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven (Heb 12:22-23).

The same language is being used here of the New Covenant people as was being used of the Old Covenant people. That’s because it is the same people being described. Abraham himself was ‘looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them’ (Heb 11:10, 16). We have a city prepared for us, the New Jerusalem of which we are part. We are living stones being built into that city and into that temple.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

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49. Jesus, the Centre of all History

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Jesus is the centre of all history

Take eschatology, the study of the last things: it is all about Jesus. It is not about us, it is not about the church, it is not about the world – it is about Jesus. He comes to sum everything up. He holds everything together. All the Old Covenant looks forward to Jesus. All the New Covenant looks back to Him. So every time we look at a scripture, we must interpret it through Jesus’ message and His Person. You cannot take it in isolation.

Some people say, ‘Paul said this in the epistles, and it contradicted Jesus’. No. it did not. It can never contradict Jesus. What Jesus said, what Jesus did, that is it. And we need to understand that, and interpret everything in that light.

All history was consummated in Jesus and it will be consummated in Him. Therefore, for as many as are the promises of God, they all find their ‘yes’ in Him  (2 Cor 1:20). Every single promise you can find in the Bible finds its answer in Christ. Every single one is fulfilled in Jesus. That is a really important principle to get hold of.

I want to give you some scriptures now which are foundational, and which will help us as we go on to look at some more complicated and difficult questions – in particular when we look at Matthew 24, which is Jesus’ teaching about what was to come.

That He may send Jesus

… and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:20-21).

So everything that has been prophesied through the mouth of a prophet, including everything we have written down as prophecy in the Bible, it will all come about before Jesus leaves heaven. Until everything is restored into the order God intended, until all the prophecies are fulfilled, Jesus will remain in heaven. And only when it is will He come back.

He cannot come until all that has been done. He is not going to come, and then do it after He has come. He is going to do it before he comes. He is going to fulfil and restore all things before He comes.

“He must be received into heaven”. Now, what does that mean? So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). When He was received into heaven, He was enthroned: He sat on the throne. When you sit on a throne, it means you are ruling, you are reigning from that place of ultimate authority and power. That is where Jesus is. And He will remain in that place until He has restored all things.

Reigning

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet… (1 Cor 15:25-27). Jesus will return to abolish death. Death is the last enemy.

Here is another scripture which talks about all things being in subjection:

…which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:20-22).

So that is where Jesus is, right now, in this age. He is reigning in authority and power. If Jesus is the Head, and we are His body on the earth, then His feet are our feet. And if all things are in subjection under His feet, then they are under our feet too. God gave Him as Head over all things to the church. I don’t have the space to go into every detail of this here, but you can follow it through in the psalms, look at what it means to be a footstool, begin to get familiar with this prophetic language and see what it is saying.

Through the church

We read in Ephesians 3:10 …that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church…’  I love that word ‘manifold’, because it means multi-coloured and multi-faceted, all expressing who God is; all expressing the wonderful wisdom of God. Being made known through… us, through the church. Being made known to whom? It continues: … to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which God carried out in Christ Jesus. So His eternal purpose was to manifest, to demonstrate, His wisdom. And He accomplished that in Christ and through the church.

Are you starting to grasp how all this hangs together? Is it starting to challenge some of the underlying assumptions you have been making?

It gets harder! Next time, as I said, we will begin to look at Matthew 24. That is a scripture which has been completely misinterpreted and misunderstood by the church, probably more so than any other chapter in the whole Bible. That is because it has been interpreted by Greek (western) logic and by people trying to make it fit with events they see happening around us today. As we shall see, that is a mistake.

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41. The Kingdom of God is Filling the Earth

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

The Kingdom of God is filling the earth.

You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth Daniel 2:34-35 .

Daniel is interpreting the dream the king has had, in which he has seen a statue representing four empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. In the time of the Roman Empire, a stone was to be cut out. That stone is Jesus and the mountain is His kingdom, which will fill the whole earth:

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever (Daniel 2:44).

So God is setting up a kingdom which will not fail. It explicitly tells us that it is not going to be left for another people. It is going to overcome all the other kingdoms. These are truths that the enemy has fought hard to keep from us, because if we really get hold of them we will no longer be sitting around saying, ‘Jesus, come and rescue us’. Instead we will be saying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, empower us to play our part in seeing this victory, the kingdom of God filling the earth’.

Here is another passage about the same kingdom:

I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.

And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed’
(Daniel 7:13-14).

Now, is this all just pie in the sky? Let me give you some facts and figures about how the kingdom is advancing. Let’s look at what God has done since 120 people in an upper room were empowered by the Holy Spirit and fire, spilled out onto the street and eventually into the whole world.

  • In AD100, there were 360 non-Christians for every true believer, a ratio of 360:1. Today, the ratio is less than 7:1. That means that the kingdom of God is filling the earth. It really is.
  • No Christian was officially allowed to live in Nepal until 1960. Now there is a church in every one of the 75 districts of Nepal with estimates of over half a million believers in that nation.
  • Every day, 20,000 Africans come to Christ. Africa was 3% Christian in 1900 but today it is over 50% Christian.That is a whole continent where more than half the people are Christians.
  • In 1900 Korea had no Protestant church and the country was deemed impossible to penetrate. Today Korea is 30% Christian with 7000 churches in Seoul alone (and several of those churches have over 1,000,000 members each).
  • Every day 50,000 people in countries served by Asia Access come to Christ.
  • There are currently 60-80 million Christians in China with up to 25,000 converts a day. That is thought to be a very conservative estimate indeed. The church there is growing fast, under persecution.
  • 35,000 conversions occur in Latin America  daily

If only 1 out of every 6 believers reproduced themselves one time each year, that is if just one in six of us made a single disciple each year (and one in six of those did the same), the entire world would be reached for Christ in 8 years! That is even without a massive outpouring, even without the River of Life being released into the earth as we believe it will be.

Jesus said the kingdom was going to be like leaven spreading through the dough. He also said it would be like a little seed that grows into a massive tree.

Make no mistake about it. We are winning. The kingdom of God is filling the earth. We belong to that kingdom, and that kingdom belongs to us.

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37. Redeemed from the Curse

Mike Parsons  –


credit-card-309613_1280The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favourable year
of the LORD 
(Isa 61:1-2a).

God wants to provide for us financially, because the scale of the task facing the church in these days is so far beyond anything we could provide for naturally out of our own resources.

This scripture in Isaiah is one that you will find we quote a lot at Freedom. It is one of the foundational scriptures for us as a church. It sums up the heart of what we believe God has called us to do in our community. And where it mentions  the ‘favourable year of the Lord’, that was the Year of Jubilee, the year in which all debts were to be cancelled, everyone was to receive back their ancestral inheritance, and all property that had been lost was to be restored.

God is saying that we are living in the Year of Jubilee; we can have restored to us what has been lost or stolen, and all debts are being cancelled (we have to understand that if we are in debt, we are under the curse; and if you read Deuteronomy 28, you will see that any kind of poverty is actually a curse).

Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you (Deut 28:48).

In John 10:10 Jesus describes our enemy the devil as a thief, a killer and a destroyer. But,

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” –  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13-14).

So the good news is this: we have been redeemed from the curse.

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29. Surrender Your Whole Life

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

abandon

I believe that God is challenging us to surrender. And especially if you have been hardening your heart when you have seen God at work in revival, resisting what He is doing because things are not as you expected, this is an opportunity for you to surrender totally to Him, and allow Him to do what He needs to do.

All of us, everything

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

If we are willing to turn away from ourselves and surrender to Him, He will refresh us with His very Presence. That is a promise: the question is, are we willing, or do we still want to do it our own way? Do we still want to do it according to our own thinking or are we willing to surrender that and allow God to do it however He chooses? Are we willing to give Him everything? He wants our heart; He wants our mind; He wants it all. He is not satisfied with what we are giving Him: all of us need to surrender everything.

Let us abandon ourselves to Him: be that living sacrifice we looked at last time, and let it all go. Let go of our past and let Him heal it and restore it. He will restore our soul if we are willing to sit in green pastures by quiet waters and look at His face. See His eyes, looking at us, loving us. Seeing our pain and our hurt, and bringing healing because He loves us. He went to the cross and took every sickness, every pain, every disease, every sorrow; He took every sin we have committed or ever will, every sin that has been committed against us, and He died for us. And He was resurrected and is alive to enforce the victory of the cross in our lives – if we will allow Him to do it.

The question is, will we let it go? We need to receive our true identity as sons of God. The only way we receive it is letting go of our old identity, letting go of our old way of doing it, our old strongholds and mindsets, to embrace our destiny. Every one of us has a destiny in God, God wants us to embrace it.

Today

And today, I really believe, is the time when we need to make a decision in our hearts. Some of us have been lukewarm, resistant, doing as little as we have thought we could get away with. If we have been thinking that would be OK, we need to recognise that is not enough anymore. It never was. It is not enough to play around with this: God wants our whole life: everything. And when we give Him our whole life, we receive His abundant life in return; we get everything we ever desired or wanted, but has been blocked by our stubbornness, because of the flesh and the strongholds that get in the way.  Today is the time when we can surrender.

Can we take a minute to be quiet, close our eyes, and be honest before God about where we are with Him right now? If we are struggling, to surrender that struggle. If we know there are things we have not handed over to Him, to hand them over now. Just count the cost of what doing things our own way might be for us, if we miss what God is doing right now. Consider where it will lead us and where it will take us, compared to what will happen if we surrender our life to God, compared to our destiny in God,  in the Holy Spirit, in the future Kingdom of God.

Selah

Please, pause for a minute to do that, and only continue reading this post when you are done.

Prayer of surrender

Now I am inviting you to pray with me if you are willing to surrender the whole of your life. Whether you have prayed a prayer of surrender like this before, or whether this is the first time, He wants to give you so much more than you can imagine or think, but He cannot if you are not surrendering everything to Him. Surrender to Him right now. Forget what anyone else is doing around you, just get in the presence of God.

Father,
I pray that You will receive the living sacrifice
That I am presenting before You right now.
That You will receive it into Your hand,
Receive my life, receive my soul,
My mind, my heart, my will, my emotions, my choice.
Receive me as a living sacrifice,
Heal, restore, make whole,
Empower, envision, equip;
Draw me into an intimate relationship with You, Father.

As I surrender to You,
Come, meet with me at that point of surrender.
As I surrender my life, give me Your abundant life;
As I surrender my hurts and pains, bring healing and restoration;
As I surrender my past, give me revelation of my future.
Open up the eyes of my heart to see, to hear, to feel and to know
Who I am as Your son.
Release my true identity as Your son,
Called to the kingdom for such a time as this.
Prepare my body with fragrant oils and fragrant perfume
To come into the presence of the King.

I come into the presence of the King right now
As a living sacrifice,
To present it before You in the heavenly realms
So that I can take my seat,
Seated with Christ in authority and power in the heavenly realms;
To manifest Your kingdom
On earth, as it is in heaven, through my life,
Manifesting the light of Your glory.
Take me, Lord God,
Take my heart, melt it with Your love.

With Your eyes of love
You are looking into people’s hearts, saying,
“Give Me your heart,
Stop being stubborn,
Stop resisting;
Surrender,
Be a living sacrifice.
I have so much to give you,
So much more than you can imagine or think.
Today, just surrender to me
And allow me to do what I want to do in your life.
Allow me to direct your life
In the way it should go,
To empower you and envision you;
Embrace your destiny.”

I pray, Holy Spirit, touch our lives today.
As we have turned away from our own way
And we have repented and turned to You,
Let times of refreshing come from Your very Presence.
Let Your Presence rest on us;
Open up the realms of heaven
As you invite us into the throne room
To meet the King.

God wants to give you new things: He wants you to be invested with new clothes, new robes of righteousness and kingly authority. He wants to put a ring of authority on your finger. He wants to release power and anointing upon you. You are called to the kingdom for such a time as this.

But first of all, He wants you to surrender.

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27. Surrender, Crucifixion and Sacrifice

Mike Parsons –

I surrender

We are continuing to look at the Prophetic Timetable that God showed me, the plan of what He intends  to do in our days, until Jesus returns. As I have said, there are no specific dates here, but periods of time in which God will be working in particular ways.

In the coming days, God is going to equip people in supernatural ministry. There will be cities of refuge (we read about cities of refuge in the Old Testament: they were places where people could go and be safe). God is speaking to us here at Freedom about being one of those cities of refuge. And there will be others because in the times that are going to come, people will need places of safety that only the kingdom of God can provide.

Surrender

All the creative gifts are going to be released, whether in music or the arts or media – all sorts of areas. God is going to release that, but He has first to remove the stumbling blocks: and the gathering angels are waiting. We do not have to wait for that time, do not have to wait till He comes and pins us to the ground. We can be proactive: we can surrender and allow God to do it right now; we can get on our face before Him and allow Him to do anything He chooses in our lives: get rid of the flesh, pride, rebellion, impurity, unbelief – anything. And if we surrender, He will do it.

He wants us to surrender, He wants us to say ‘Yes’ to Him, so that we can shine like the sun, shine with His glory: the light has come, and that light needs to be released, manifested through us as true sons of God, manifested in power. The whole of creation is groaning, waiting for the manifestation of God’s sons (Rom 8), those who are actually reflecting the glory of Jesus, who are truly living as Christians – ‘little Christs’. You know, ‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ surname: it means ‘Anointed One’ and it puts the focus on His anointing. So when we are Christians, we are anointed ones; and we carry His anointing and His power. All those ancient anointings, together with new ones, are going to be released in these days. So please, let’s not miss out, any of us.

Crucifixion

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).

That is a key scripture in surrendering to God. This is what Jesus has already done for us on the cross: are we going to embrace it? Are we going to count ourselves crucified with Him? We are going to have to surrender ourselves to that crucifixion of the flesh. Everything that could hinder, and cause us to be a stumbling block, or cause us to miss out; everything that has happened to us; all the pain and the hurt, the disappointment, the people who have let us down, and the abuse that we have suffered – are we going to allow any of that to stop us? Or are we going to use it as a springboard to surrender to God, to be healed, restored, and made whole?

Let me make it personal: will you ask yourself, “Am I going to allow God to change my life, so that I can get on and do the things that He has called me to do?”

He wants to live through us. The New Age movement has robbed us of so much, because they have counterfeited what is real. When you talk about being a channel of the Holy Spirit or being a channel of God’s power, there is a sharp intake of breath as people say, ‘Oooh, you can’t do that”. And that is because the New Age people talk about channelling spirits. But we are actually supposed to be a channel of the Holy Spirit; rivers of living water are supposed to flow through us; we are supposed to be those who God breathes through, who God lives in, so that people see Him in our lives.

Sacrifice

This is how we do it:

I urge you, brethren (and ‘urge’ is a very strong word), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).

That is what worship is. Worship is not singing songs, though singing songs may be a way we express our worship. Worship is bowing down in obedience and saying, “You are God, and I submit and surrender to You. I present my life as a living sacrifice: You use it how You want to use it. I am not going to get in the way, I am not going to determine what I am going to do in my life, I am going to surrender it to You. I will allow You to lead me”.

Those who are children of God are led by the Spirit. We are not conformed to this world, we don’t have to come under the rules and regulations of the world. I am not talking about the laws of the land, we need to respect and honour those in authority over us; but I am talking about the things of the world that seek to keep us down, things that say to us, “You’re not good enough, you’ll never be anything”.

God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He is not looking for people of great intellect, He is looking for people who are available, people who are willing. It is not about how much head-knowledge we have of the Bible: what counts is knowing Jesus. It is actually having a personal relationship with Him. No-one reading this is excluded from that, no-one at all. You might have university degrees, that is great. I had an education like that, but did it help me in knowing God? Not a bit. Most of the time it got in the way, because I rationalised, analysed and thought about Him rather than feeling Him, experiencing Him and knowing Him.

And now that I am feeling, experiencing and knowing Him, it is a total revelation! To meet with God and know Him, to meet with the Holy Spirit and know what God is saying; to receive visions and direction and dreams from God: that is what He wants for us, and that is how He wants to speak to us. We cannot know God except by experience. It is not about gaining knowledge, it is about being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will know what God’s will is for our lives, and we will be able to outwork it.

That is why God wants us to sacrifice ourselves to Him, to surrender and to submit to Him as Lord of our lives: to allow Him to determine what our lives are like – who we are, where we go, what we do, what we say.

How do we surrender and submit to Him? We come as a living sacrifice, a prepared sacrifice; and in the next post we will see exactly what that involves.

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24. For Such A Time As This

Mike Parsons 

We are in the middle of looking at some serious issues which require a response from us. We saw last time that Jesus is saying to the church, ‘Repent, or else!’. There are things which God wants removed from His church in these days and if we are wise we will remove them ourselves – because if not, the ‘or else’ is that He will come and remove them.

Jude picks up the same theme: Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah (Jude v11).

Cain was a murderer, overcome by anger and  jealousy; we need to watch out for unforgiveness in our relationships with each other – these things have no place and can no longer be tolerated in the church. Balaam, as we said last time, indulged in licence, immorality and idolatry; and he encouraged others to do the same. Ministry for personal gain was what that started with, being paid to prophesy against God’s people. Korah rebelled against Godly authority; he wanted to do it his own way. But the days of loose cannons in the body of Christ is over. There is no room for ‘lone rangers’. We work together, in unity and harmony; side by side, not on our own.

We need to keep in mind that all these things were written for our benefit: ‘Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come’ (1 Cor 10:6-11).

We need to be really careful about polluting our bodies. If 23,000 fell in one day under the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant brings greater responsibilities, then we had really better not try God’s patience. Grumbling? It doesn’t sound like much, but it was fatal, it brought destruction on them. God is not going to tolerate such things much longer; He is coming to clean His house, and if we carry on behaving this way then we are putting ourselves seriously at risk.

We are called for such a time as this. That is what was said of Esther; she was the queen and the bride, representing the bride of Christ in the New Covenant. She lived in a time of extreme danger, as do we, and she was able to go in to the king and rescue the nation. But she had to go through a time of preparation, of anointing with fragrant oil and perfume, she had the very best lavished upon her, and she made herself ready for the king.

We need to make ourselves ready because this is our time. We need to deal with all the idols that take priority over God. Those might be family, work, church, sport, relationships, ministry, money, success. Sickness can be an idol, as can addictions, problems, issues. Images you have seen, words you have heard and said, memories of past hurt and trauma, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, disappointment… the list goes on. Mindsets and strongholds, things you strongly believe and hold on to, doctrines and traditions in the church (Mark 7:8) – anything that is bigger than God in our thinking. Smoking is a big one: using tobacco to cope with stress and trouble, to relax. Some people use food the same way.

Looking at the problem rather than the solution will magnify the problem, and then it gets in the way of our looking at Jesus. Maybe we can still see Him a bit, but it prevents us looking into His eyes; it prevents us looking into His heart. It can appear so big to us that it gets to the point where we can’t see past it. Or if we can see through it at all, it still acts as a filter; so that everything we see of Jesus is coloured by our issues. But Jesus is way bigger than any problem we might have. If we keep our eyes fixed on Him, the problems become diminished and He is magnified. Nothing is impossible for God.

Let’s remove the stumbling blocks from our hearts. Let’s not see everything through the filter of our idols. God doesn’t want us seeing Him that way; he doesn’t want us living like that. That sword is coming. That living, active, sharp word will come and judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. It will reveal our motives; it will expose selfishness and self-centredness.

When I was on the fast I spent time going through my life year by year, repenting and being cleansed. It was really valuable, but I know I only scratched the surface. God wants to take us deeper. He wants to cleanse and purify our conscience, the ears of our hearts; He wants to cleanse and purify our imagination, the eyes of our hearts; He wants to cleanse and purify our reason, the voice of our hearts. The deaf cannot hear the voice of God, the blind cannot see Him, and the dumb cannot speak with His voice. But we can do all these things if we choose to be cleansed and purified.

I have said it before: our choice empowers God or it empowers the enemy. God wants us undistracted; He wants our choice.

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Main image attribution: Photo of the Astronomical Clock, Prague by Jay8085 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

23. A Bride Bejewelled with Splendour

Mike Parsons 

William and KateIt is, and always was from time and eternity past, God’s intention to have a bride for His Son. And that bride is going to be arrayed in finery, perfumed with fragrant oils, and adorned with precious jewels: she will not be dirty and dressed in filthy rags.

Royal Wedding

We had a royal wedding here in Britain a while ago when Prince William married Kate Middleton. Do you remember what that was like? The bride wore a beautiful lace dress – it must have cost thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands – and she went through weeks and months of preparation to be ready for that day. God wants a bride like that for His Son.

He wants her meticulously prepared. The angels are going to be looking on in wonder and amazement. She will be adorned with the character of Christ – that is what the beauty is, the fruit of the Spirit – and bejewelled with gifts of splendour. Jesus is coming back for a bride like that. And who is that bride? It is the church, and we have the opportunity to be a part of that bride, or to be an obstacle that gets in the way.

Discipline

The Message version of Heb 12:6 says:

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training.

And verse 11:

But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

So God is doing His best for us, because He wants His best for us. He is looking for a people who are well-trained, people who are mature in relationship with Him. We need to risk letting Him see inside our hearts, and we need to surrender.

Eyes on Jesus

We also have a part to play if we want His best:

London_MarathonLet us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

You do not run a marathon carrying heavy weights. You don’t wear a heavy costume – well, some people do, but not the winners! You are not going to win the London marathon dressed in a gorilla suit.  The winner will wear a lightweight vest and proper running shoes, and their focus will be on the finishing line, the goal, and on the prize. We need to have our eyes fixed on Jesus.

It is so easy to get distracted, to take your eyes off Him and start looking around at something else that catches your attention. Not everything that distracts us is bad in itself. But we can’t afford to lose sight of Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We will need to be radical. We will need to be ruthless. We need to ask ourselves the questions: What is it that holds me back? Entangles me? Distracts me and draws me off track? People do get drawn off track, sometimes for years. Whatever it is, you need to turn away from it, and run the race with your eyes fixed on Jesus. Such things are idols, idols in our hearts, they become bigger than God to us.

Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity” (Ezek 14:4). God hates idolatry; he has the right to first place in our lives, and that is what he demands. What idols are we bowing down to? God wants them thrown down.

You can put the name of this church, or any other church in the world, into this scripture, because Jesus is saying this to His church everywhere:

And to the angel of the Church at ……… write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this… I have a few things against you… The teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality… Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth (Rev 2:12, 14, 16).

The sin of Balaam was idolatry and immorality. God is going to clean house. Anything that we fail to deal with ourselves, He is going to come and deal with it. Jesus says ‘Repent or else!’ That is a strong word, and we had better sit up and take notice. The ‘or else’ is that He will ‘come with a sharp sword and make war against them with the sword of His mouth. I don’t want that; I’m sure you don’t want it; we don’t want it for ourselves, and we don’t want it for anyone else, come to that. God is giving us one last opportunity to repent and turn away from these things.

If we are smart, we will take that opportunity.

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15. Revelation of God’s Prophetic Timetable

Mike Parsons – 

We are getting to the core part of what we set out to share with you. Everything we have posted so far has really been by way of introduction. We are now beginning to look in detail at the prophetic timetable that God is opening up to us, the revelation of His plans and purposes over the coming months and years. Let’s remember, there are no specific dates or times here, just a sense of different phases or periods in which God will be working in particular ways, which He is calling us to recognise so that we can cooperate and participate with Him.

This is the first part of that prophetic timetable:

Each of these is a period of time which does not end, but continues alongside the other periods of time. Over these periods, there are going to be an increasing number of apostolic centres, where God is equipping people in apostolic power and ministry, and in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Increasingly, fivefold ministry gifts are going to be released to the body of Christ. There will be increasing manifestation of a people who are seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. There is going to be an increased shaking of every worldly system: financial, medical, political; in fact any system that is out there is going to be shaken. And the only things that can remain are the things that are based on the Kingdom of God. There is going to be increasing world darkness, but church light. We are going to shine in the darkness and there are going to be increasing manifestations of the glory in signs and wonders, which is going to demonstrate God’s Kingdom in heaven here on earth.

This second diagram is just a different way of looking at those same periods  Now there are a couple of things I want to touch on. The first one of those periods has already started, it is already here, a call to intimacy and love. Again, you can see it will not stop, it will go on underneath all the other things God will be doing, until Jesus returns. You can read Song of Solomon and just get information, or you can catch His desire for intimacy; you can read it and expect to experience the presence of God for yourself. Many people are experiencing the presence of God and his love today far more than they were last year.

That is happening, and it is to prepare us for the coming of the sword, because there is going to be a gathering of stumbling blocks and the refiner’s fire. You do not need to be frightened of that, you can fall on the rock and be broken! I would rather do that than the rock fall on me and be crushed, but whatever way, God is going to do it, and it is up to us which way it is to be (see Matt 21:44). We can surrender to it, and allow God to do it, or not.

We need to be a habitation of God, a dwelling place of God’s Presence. We need to know God is in us. Father, Son and Spirit came to dwell in us: as it says in John 14, ‘they made their abode’. Jesus went to prepare us to be a place where the Holy Spirit could dwell, and the Father and the Son could dwell.

In Acts 2 there was wine, fire, and wind of the Spirit. The early rain was great, but there is going to be a latter rain which is even better. So all the wind and the fire and the rain of the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit is only a taster of what is going to be poured out in the end. ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’.

Wine, fire, wind

I have engaged with three of these periods so far personally.

I experienced the wine of the Spirit in 1993 through a guy called Rodney Howard-Browne. He was known as ‘Joel’s bartender’ because he brought the pouring out of the wine of the Spirit to the Pentecostal arm of the church, with a lot of laughter. In Toronto they picked up on that, and it was wild. As a church, Freedom was birthed from that in More for ’94: and it really was wild, it was like a zoo. Bob Jones prophesied in 1983 that this was going to take place, and when it did it caused warfare in the church; it caused division. Most of the people in the UK were on the side of God: for instance the Church of England came out and said ‘These are manifestations of the Holy Spirit – we are going for it’; Holy Trinity Brompton, particularly, were in the forefront of that. Awesome! But in America it was totally different. It caused division, so much so that the Vineyard church threw out Toronto from their whole movement… and in my view have never been the same since.

Pensacola. The fire. Now I went to Pensacola and it was the most intense fire of the Presence of God I have ever experienced anywhere. You could not walk into that place without wanting to get on your knees in repentance. People ran to the front, including me, to repent; and I couldn’t even think of anything to repent of! I ran to the front and just got on my knees and cried to God because my spirit was so touched by the fire of his Presence. That was just a flicker of what is coming.

Lakeland: the wind. Some of us were touched by what happened in Lakeland. Whatever you believe about what went on in Lakeland, it was God. Man got involved and there were unwise things that happened but it was God. You can’t reach out and touch your TV screen and be changed if it isn’t God. How many of us did that? We did that. It was the Presence of God, it was the wind. Now that disrupted everything, it was a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to God TV and the internet. The wind blew, but that was just a breeze compared to what is coming. A wind is going to blow, and nothing is going to stop it. You can’t tell where it’s coming from, you don’t know where it’s going; but it is going to blow powerfully, more powerfully than any of us really know. Before Jesus returns, that wind is going to blow. The former glory is going to be nothing compared to the latter glory of the house: the Kingdom of God revealed, on earth as it is in heaven.

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