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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28. Present a Living Sacrifice (1)

Rom 12 1 wordleMike Parsons

Paul writes to the Romans, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom 12:1).

A living sacrifice is a prepared sacrifice. It will help us if we understand what was involved in offering a sacrifice in the Old Testament. When they sacrificed a lamb they prepared it in a certain way so that it was able to be received as an offering. It was the High Priest who prepared and arranged the sacrifice on the altar, and we know that Jesus is our Great High Priest (Heb 4:14). So now we come into the holy place within the heavenly tabernacle and present ourselves on the altar of incense to be a sweet-smelling aroma to God; we invite Jesus to prepare us as a sacrifice: we know what He is going to do, and we deliberately allow Him to do it.

This is how the High Priest prepared the sacrifice:

  1. He slit its throat and drained its blood. If we are going to be prepared as a living sacrifice, we have to be willing to have our throat slit and our blood drained so that our life in the flesh is exchanged for His life in the spirit. Not literally, not physically having our throat slit, I hasten to add. But Jesus said, “You need to deny yourself, take up the cross daily, and follow me”. Lose our life, to gain His life. We are going to need to totally die to doing it our way, as a choice where we say, “I die to myself,  I deny myself”, daily.
  2. The head was chopped off. We cannot be in charge, with our head. We have to be saying, like Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done”. He is the perfect sacrifice. He did this every day. He presented Himself morning by morning as a disciple (Is 50:4). I renounce the right to my free will. Every time, my flesh would get in the way and I would choose to do what suits me rather than what suits God. Therefore, not my will, but Yours be done: I am not going to let my head decide what I am going to do.
  3. The skin was removed. We cannot have defence mechanisms, protection mechanisms and our own self-righteousness as a barrier: we have to be vulnerable and transparent before God, and before others. We cannot protect ourselves: we must live in His protection. We have the armour of light, the armour of righteousness, and the armour of God to protect us. We do not have any of them if we try to protect ourselves with inferior armour of our own making. It is time to let it go.
  4. He split the body completely open, and washed all the inner parts. God wants our heart purified, refined and washed in the living water of His Word and His Presence. We have to be willing to open up our heart, open up our life. That’s what a living sacrifice is, it is saying “Everything belongs to You. I am not hiding anything from You. You have it all”.
  5. Finally, He chopped the legs off. We cannot walk our own way, we have to surrender daily and walk according to how the Spirit leads. “I am going to do nothing other than what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19). That is how Jesus did His miracles: He saw the Father doing it. He is calling us to do the same: miracles, signs and wonders, being led by the Spirit daily, following Him, not doing our own thing and going off in our own direction, but every day surrendering that day to God and saying, “God, this day belongs to You. This is Your day, I am just here as a servant. You lead me, You use me, empower me, envision me, show me what You are doing”.

When we go to heaven and He gives us revelation there, when we spend time in our spirit, in communion and fellowship with Him; if we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, He will reveal Himself.  He will use us if we give Him the opportunity. But we have to surrender and allow Jesus to prepare us to be the sacrifice, and we cannot offer it half-heartedly; because if we do, He knows.

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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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25. Who Can Live With Consuming Fire?

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

rootoutidolsAre we willing to root out of our life the idols that would otherwise keep us blind, deaf and dumb in the things of God? We saw what some of them were last time. The reason they would keep us blind, deaf and dumb is that they themselves are blind, deaf and dumb. A carved image has no life, it has no voice, it has no vision. So we will be aimless, powerless and ineffective if we do not deal with our soul. This is what God is saying to us right now.

Consuming fire

There is a verse which asks, “Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?” (Isaiah 33:14b). It is a good question: can we live with consuming fire? The answer is, we can’t, not without being continually burned. If we are to live with the fire then we will be continually changed and purified. “Who among us can live with the consuming fire?…He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, he who rejects unjust gain and shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; he who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil…” (Isaiah 33:14-15). We will need to not only be righteous but to walk in righteousness; there are things we will have to stop looking at, things we will have to stop our ears from hearing, because we must be found willing and ready.

Fix our attention

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12: 1-2, The Message).

We are to fix our attention on God. His eyes are fixed upon us, and those eyes of fire can see right through us. When we have God in our spirit, and the glory of God coming through our spirit, it will restore our soul. We will be changed from the inside out, as it says in this passage.

I have said before that the gathering angels are here among us. There is a time very soon, in fact it is about to come upon us, when the true church is going to be separated: there are things which are going to be taken out of the church, but the world also needs to come out of our lives. Then we will be able to shine like the sun, transfigured with glory; able to be true sons of God, revealed to the world in which we are living.

Ancient anointings

And I believe that all the ancient anointings and mantles that God has released in history are going to be released in these days, and restored to the church. The mantles of authority and power of every revival there has ever been are going to be conferred upon the church in the last days.

We can be eager for that, but if you have listened to and read the stories of revival, you know that virtually every one of the people who were involved in leading those revivals eventually fell into sin in some way. They ended up either dying early, or their ministries fell; and this happened to them because they were not pure and holy. God is not going to trust people who are not pure and holy with the mantles and the anointing that he is going to release in these last days. This is the reason He is wanting us to prepare our lives: if we are to carry this anointing and these mantles – and not fall – then we have to do now what is necessary in order to be ready.

Be hungry and thirsty for more. There is more to come, therefore be changed. God is wanting to  prepare us,  to equip us, to empower us; He wants us to truly be sons of God, to be superheroes of the faith. That is what God is looking for in these days, and we cannot afford to hold on to anything that will keep Him from finding us prepared and ready.

If He says to let it go, we let it go.

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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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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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