Tag Archives: John

Vision – A Prophetic Word for 2014 – The Ring of Fire.

On New Year’s Eve as I was going to bed I had the following vision:

In the vision I saw a of a ring of angels and messengers of God who were like flames of fire. The phrase God brought to mind for this was ‘The Ring of Fire’. Overhead were storm clouds, very dark, swirling and ominous.

In the centre of the ring was one angel who had been sent from the throne in heaven itself. He had raised a great sword which was the Word of God which was cutting through the clouds and allowing light to reach the ground.

As I was watching I saw others coming, these were the saints in prayer who were seeing what the Father was doing and were responding. As they too raised their swords the hole got larger and more light was able to stream through the clouds.

The numbers of those who were raising the Sword of the Spirit in prayer were not great but they had a massive effect on the region within the Ring of Fire where they were, they were changing the spiritual climate where they were.

This happened as God broke the power of the storm clouds and shone his light on the land. This light did two things, it revealed that which people had hidden in the darkness, and it also gave new life and hope to those who could before only see darkness and despair.

 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7 NRSV)

 … and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:17-18 NRSV)

 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NRSV)

 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.” (John 5:19-20 NRSV)

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NRSV)

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Matthew 16:18 – The Dry-Stone Wall Church

Before my prayer time on the evening of the 11th January 2013 I just felt that God was saying he had something special for me but I didn’t know what.  As is usual these days he was already there waiting for me to come into the place of prayer in his presence, not the other way round. I was saying ‘Thank you that your presence is already here’, not ‘Please come, Lord’.

 When I walked back into the living room to spend time with him he literally knocked me to my knees by the weight of his presence. While on my knees God gave me a glimpse of Jesus building his church in a vision. What I saw was a physical representation of the spiritual reality.

 The church was made up of rough stones, not dressed stones, and the building method Jesus was using was that of dry-stone walling.  This I easily comprehended and understood as I was brought up in Derbyshire where almost every field boundary is a dry-stone wall!

It was not a dry-stone wall like you sometimes see these days will regularly shaped dressed stones, but was one made up of irregular stones of different sizes and shapes.  In a dry stone wall there are faced stones which you see on the outside of the wall, within the wall you find many smaller stones which are used for packing and to stabilise the whole wall.  The whole church was being built on top of a large slab of bedrock, and the builder was Jesus. There was also a small bell tower on top, an open one and contained a single bell.

Boulder and Bedrock.

 ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ Matthew 16:18 (NRSV)

Here Jesus tells Peter that he is a ‘petros’, a ‘stone’, a ‘rock’, a ‘boulder’. He may be substantial in size, but he is separate from the bedrock.  He is one of the big stones built into the bottom of the dry stone wall of the church.

On the other hand he is not the ‘petra’, the ‘bedrock’.  The ancient city of Petra is called that because it was built out of the very bedrock itself.  That bedrock is Jesus himself and the fact that he is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ Matthew 16:16 (NRSV) as Peter stated on the Father’s revelation.

In this Scripture, as in the vision it is Jesus who is building his church. It is not you or I, it is not the pastor or elders or anyone else, it is Jesus. We need to make sure that we do not try to take credit for something which is not of our doing!

Bell Tower and Bell.

A bell makes a very pure sound and so should our preaching of the gospel. Living lives in holiness should be an integral part of our message that speaks volumes. We should also not complicate the gospel. The message is simple, we were dead in our sins (Ephesians  2:1) as all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory that God wanted mankind to have (Romans 3:23) so Jesus came and paid the price by the shedding of his blood on the cross to take away our sins (1 Peter 2:24). He then rose again and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Acts 2:33), when we trust in him we have eternal life which starts now (1 Timothy 6:12) and he sends the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33) to enable us to live lives that are both holy (Ephesians 1:4) and a demonstration of his power on earth (Acts 1:8).

There was only one bell, not many. Unity in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) is very powerful. God is calling us to live in unity as Christians. To come together in worship, humility, prayer and intercession as a united people. ‘If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NRSV). In past revivals God has moved because of the prayers of a few, this time I feel he wants more of his people praying in faith for him to move in power and reveal his glory. Are we prepared to come before him as a humble people united in prayer?

 Faced not Dressed Stones.

The fact that the stones were faced but not dressed is in fact significant. In the Old Testament God told Moses, ‘But if you make for me an altar of stone, do not build it of hewn stones; for if you use a chisel upon it you profane it.’ Exodus 20:25 (NRSV). This was one thing that separated an altar to the Lord from an altar to a false god, as their altars were generally made from dressed stones.

We are all different, like the stones being used to build the church building. We are to be in unity, but not uniformity. We are to celebrate our differences and be the individuals God wants us to be, then we will truly all fit together as he builds us into his church.

The visible stones were faced. In the past many people in churches have been taught not to reveal their struggles, but God is calling us to be honest. We can neither fool him, nor non-Christians with our religiosity, they see straight through it as easily as God does. In fact hypocrisy switches non-Christians off very quickly and is very bad witness, and it is one thing that makes God very angry as it is spiritual pride! We need to ask him to help us to be real, both with him and with all others whether they are Christians or non-Christians. Faced stones also look clean and fresh, we need to let Jesus knock off anything that will get in the way of his light shining through us.

 All important.

Not all of the stones were visible, but the hidden stones used for packing are incredibly important in the making of a dry-stone wall. This is also true in the church. As Paul says ‘the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect’ 1 Corinthians 12:22-23 (NRSV). We need to learn to raise up the encouragers, the intercessors, those with administrative and practical gifts so that their service is a joy not a burden as can often be the case because they are the lifeblood of the church and are central to its stability.

Jesus is building his church, and we are the living stones being built into its structure (1 Peter 2:5), although the vision I saw was of a physical structure it represents the spiritual structure of the church. Let’s be the church that Jesus has called us to be!

John 3:30 – No Motive But God.

Why do we do things?  It is to glorify God?  Or for self-advancement?  Is it to serve others?  Or for others to serve us?

Like most of us I shall be honest in that I find that my motives are normally more mixed than I would like.  All I can do is submit those motives to God and ask him to purify them so he can truly use me in all the ways that he wants.

I was playing Words with Friends on Facebook this evening and felt that God would speak to me through this rather ordinary game, and he did with amazing clarity.  I had the following letters M O T I V G and C (I think).  I could have made MOTIVE, but there were no Es free, but I could make GOD as there was a D spare.

Hence, ‘No motive but God’!

WOW!!!  What a challenge!  We see this purity of motive also in John the Baptist, only from this place can we truly say with him, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30 NRSV).  But you’re saying, ‘I’m not in that place but would like to be’, keep seeking God and asking him to help you to die to self.  He will, and you will grow too.

Lord Jesus, help us to be like John the Baptist and have ‘No motive but God’ in all that we do, so that all the glory may go to you and to you alone.  Amen!!!

Exodus 3:4-5 – Holy Ground

When the LORD saw that he [Moses] had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’  And he said, ‘Here I am.’  Then he said, ‘Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’  (Exodus 3:4-5 NRSV)

If you have ever been in a worship or prayer meeting with me then you will have noticed that I always take off my shoes and put on ballet shoes.

It is not because I like to dance, although I do on occasions.  It is not because it is a superstition that I have to do it, as if I am out praying while I walk or prayer-walking I will wear shoes.  In fact at times I forget that I have my shoes on until I start praying so have to take them off, because it is too uncomfortable to leave them on!

To be honest if I can keep my shoes on during a prayer meeting in particular, it says to me that there is very little of God’s presence there.  That is why I wear ballet shoes (it is a bit safer than going completely barefoot), if God is there then I go barefoot as a recognition that I am on holy ground, wherever that may be!

From this Scripture I am in good company!  Moses was commanded by God to take of his sandals, as was Joshua on a similar occasion (see Joshua 5:13-15).  This was not because the ground in that place was intrinsically holy, it was just ground, but it was because God’s presence was there, and wherever God is, it is a holy place.

‘Remove the sandals from your feet, …’

In those days you did not walk on lovely well made paths or roads, at best it would be a well-worn track!  One consequence of this, and the fact that there were animals all around, your sandals which would protect your feet would get dirty when you were walking around.  This is why people would take off their sandals and wash their feet when they entered a tent or a building, so the dirt from the outside world would not be carried around inside.

In everyday life we all get dirty, we still sin even though we don’t generally want to.  As a result of this we need our feet washing regularly by God.  Jesus understood this, even though Peter did not (see John 13:1-20), and we are to wash each other’s feet as well.  When we come to God we need to ditch all that could get in the way of our relationship with him.  We need to try to keep short accounts with God and with each other, sometimes we will succeed in this, other times we will fail, but even then we can bring to him.

‘… for the place where you are standing is holy ground’

After ditching the dirt we need to recognise God’s majesty, power and holiness.  The fact is that God is God, and we are just human beings.

God is holy whether we respond to it or not, God asked Moses to respond by taking off his sandals, and that is how I respond to God’s presence.  How do you respond to God’s presence?  Are you quiet or noisy?  Do you respond in a physical way, or only in your spirit?

How you respond is not important.  What is important is that you do respond in the way God asks you to.  We all need to ask God to help us to be more sensitive to him, and to his leading.

Father God, help us be more like Moses, who turned aside when he heard you, and responded to your leading.  Help us to ditch the dirt in our lives, so that we might live more aware of you in all we do, and especially in times of worship and communion with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer #5 – Seeking God and his Kingdom First.

We are now going to start looking at The Lord’s Prayer in greater detail. Initially we are going to look at it in two halves, as the focus of each half is obvious.

Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven. 
(Matthew 6:9-10 NRSV)

Who is the focus of this half of The Lord’s Prayer?

It should be obvious, but here are a few clues.  We read ‘our’ only once, but ‘your’ three times, and in fact these are all referring to the same person, to God, as God is ‘Our Father’.  It is God who is ‘in heaven’, and it is his ‘kingdom’ and ‘will’ that we want to see ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.

Now this is how Jesus structured his prayers, yet this is the antithesis of so much prayer that takes place today.  Jesus had got his priorities right, it was about his Father first of all.  Elsewhere Jesus says ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’ (John 5:19 NRSV).  This shows that he taught others how he prayed himself.

Jesus prayed for and sought what his Father wanted before what he wanted.  The ultimate expression of this is when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives on the night he was betrayed.  Here Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42 NRSV).  This was no nice prayer, it was so deep and painful a prayer that, ‘In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.’ (Luke 22:44 NRSV).  This prayer cost Jesus everything, because he wanted his Father’s will before his own, and if we really grasp this then we will realise that he is asking nothing less of us!

If we, like Jesus, get our priorities right then we will have our prayer revolutionised!  When we start seeing that God’s needs (God is sovereign and could easily work without us; but he chooses to work in, with and through us so needs us to work with him) come first, then we change how we pray, and that in turn changes us.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus had so much power, that he sought to do his Father’s will not his own, the second was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and did all things through his anointing.  If we want to truly walk as Jesus walked then we need to start getting things in the right order.  It is not that our needs are unimportant, but Jesus says we should ‘strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33 NRSV).

Who comes first in your prayers, is it God or you?  Are you really prepared to follow Jesus example and pay the price in prayer?  Do you want to see God working in mighty ways?  Do you want it badly enough to ‘strive’ for it?  What do you think?

Prayer Lists

What place should prayer lists have in our personal and corporate prayer?

If you have read some of my other posts on this site then you will know that I am not a fan of prayer lists.  I shall explain why I dislike them, and also what their good points are (and I do admit that prayer lists do have good points).

I shall look at why I dislike them first by asking a few questions, I am doing this on purpose so that when you then look at the good points of prayer lists it will actually put those good points in perspective.

Let’s first define our terms.

What is a prayer list?  A prayer list is a list of things or people that you feel that it is necessary to pray about.  In its simplest form it would just contain names or headings, but will often contain more detailed information.

What is a prayer outline?  A prayer outline gives you points around which you can focus your prayers, again these may just be single words or headings, or may give you more information.

Are prayer lists biblical?

This is a very simple question, ‘Are prayer lists biblical?’, or to put it another way will you find a prayer list anywhere in the Bible?  God at times asks people to pray, or not to pray about specific things.  People asked other people to pray for them and what God was doing in and through them (e.g. Ephesians 6:19-20).  But nowhere do I find a list of things to pray for.

By contrast I find plenty of prayer outlines.  Here are a few examples that I have personally used, and the situations I prayed about them for.

  • Psalm 96 – I prayed through this for about 6 months, praying for Israel and her place in God’s plan of salvation of the world, and place in God’s present and future plans.  From it I was led onto other scriptures which I also prayed through including Romans 11.
  • The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) – I have prayed through this in various ways, at various times over the years, and I look forward to many more years of getting to know it better.
  • I have used many, many scriptures as bases for prayer, and all the prayer outlines I now write for Kingdom Revival Prayer are completely based on scripture.

Do prayer lists deepen your prayer life?

What I mean here is, ‘Does it draw you closer to God and to know his heart in how you pray?’.  Let’s be honest here, in general the answer will be a resounding ‘NO!’.  In fact, one problem with prayer lists is that praying for things on prayer lists can be a good way of avoiding going deeper in your prayer life with God.

It is not wrong to pray for things and people, but prayer should be a conversation not a monologue.  What is more, prayer is most effective when you really touch the Father’s heart in prayer because he has first touched you and shown you what is really in his heart.  This is how Jesus acted and prayed, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.  The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing’ (John 5:19-20 NRSV).  When you pray in this way you know that God is listening to your prayers, even if the ultimate outcome is not the one you hoped for!

Now a prayer list can be a springboard for moving into deep places with God, but as one can often get in the way it is not the one that I would generally recommend, and would say that having the starting point of scripture is generally preferable.

Depth of prayer is important.  If you read accounts of revivals then you will see that God led deep prayer, intercession and repentance are a feature, and are key to that move of God taking place.

Do prayer lists broaden your prayer life?

If the only prayer list you have is a list of your immediate family, friends and only about your local church then the answer may well be no, in all other cases the answer will be yes!

This is the main area where prayer lists can be very good.  They can give you a wider perspective of what is happening elsewhere in the church and in the world.  Basically this is where prayer lists really shine, especially those that have been put together prayerfully and skillfully.

In conclusion.

Prayer lists, as I have said before in The Tyranny of the Prayer List in a Meeting and Growing Beyond It! are good slaves, but very bad masters.

They can have a place in broadening you prayer life, but our ultimate basis for prayer should always be scripture, and we should also always be seeking to deepen our prayer lives and not use prayer lists as an excuse for not asking God to do so.

Do you use prayer lists?  Are they a help or a hinderance to you?  What do you think!