Friday, May 11, 2018

The Mirror - {A Poem}

Sometimes life is going along great and then out of nowhere you practically get clubbed over the head by stuff you've already dealt with. In this particularly case, I felt rather prompted to write a poem :) the product of this endeavour is below. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me.

*this is a repost from my main blog: Hidden Doorways

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I was brought to this mirror, not by my own will
And I know he who brought me had thought this a thrill.
I tried not to look, for I knew what I’d see
But as time slowly passed, it proved stronger than me.
I took but a glance, just one lift of an eye,
And I thought I might win, but the mirror was spry.
It snatched up my eyes and it forced me to gaze
To behold what I’d been, from the paths I had blazed.
So I stood there, I shivered, I shuddered and wept
And the longer I looked, the deeper it crept.
It showed me the horrors of who I had been
Of what I had done, all the marks of my sin.
And the longer I looked, the more my skin itched
I felt useless and ugly and fully bewitched.

The mirror would have kept on its villainous ways
If the door hadn’t opened and cut through the haze
The sun poured in sharply and shattered the gloom
And I wrested my eyes off the face in that tomb.
A shadow passed over the sun shining in
And a Voice called out softly through all of the din.
“What are you doing, my beautiful child?
Why are you gazing upon the defiled?
Come, step away from the mirror now, quick!
It means you harm and would see you fall sick.”
So I forced myself first to take one step, then two
And hastily there I completely withdrew
And the further I stepped out away from the mirror
I found the Voice sounded softer and nearer.

“There you go, come to Me,” He spoke once again
And I looked and I saw it was Him – my true Friend.
He smiled and He opened His arms very wide
And I found myself rushing to get to His side.
He fully embraced me; held fast to His chest
I felt His relief - but softly, He stressed:
“I told you to never look into that glass,
It only can hurt you with thoughts of your past.
I called you forgiven and now you are clean,
Why would you go back to the way it had been?”

I shuddered and sniffled and tried not to cry,
“I’m sorry, he forced me – I didn’t think why.
I tried not to look, but the thoughts were too heavy
The pull of the mirror was painful and steady.
I thought it would pass if I just had a glance…
If I gave what it wanted, but it held me entranced.
I couldn’t stop looking, I was rooted in place
And it forced me to see how I’m such a disgrace.”
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My Friend hugged me tighter and bent to my ear
He whispered so softly, so loving, so dear,
“I know how the pull of the mirror is strong
But to look isn’t helpful, it deadens your song.
You must sing through the hellfire, the brimstone, and knives.
You must sing until you can feel help has arrived.
And you know I’ll come quick – I’ll be there in a blink
I’ll be faster than fast and I’ll stand on the brink
Because with Me you’re stronger and with Me you’re fierce
And your song has the power to thoroughly pierce
To pierce through the haze of the mirror’s distortions
That lie to your face and inflate past proportions.
We’ll sing to the wind so it carries our song;
As our harmonies meld we will shatter the wrong
We’ll set up memorials for victories past
All the times we broke out of a horde that was vast.

"You know what I speak of, we fought there together –
Your song and My song were strong through that weather.
Don’t let yourself worry he led you this way
And he forced you to look till you fell in dismay.
He’s always out hurting and harming My friends –
He hates you and wishes you’d meet a dark end.
But look – look at me,” He said with a grin,
“I am stronger and wiser and I always win.
I will give you the courage you need to resist
And when he tries again, you’ll just say he’s dismissed.
Don’t be shy or embarrassed to pull out your sword,
That’s not overreacting when he sends his horde.
My Word is alive; it’s the sharpest blade ever
And it will defeat him – it triumphs forever.
Do you think you can do that, for Me? Can you try?
Can you put on a brave face and shout to the sky?
Let’s raise up a war call and shatter that thing
Let’s lift up our voices - let victory ring!”

And with that He raised up a hand to my face
And wiped away tears that had dampened that space
Then He pulled back and, smiling, He passed me my sword
I took it and breathed out, feeling swiftly restored.
Then I turned and I grimaced once again at the mirror
And I felt the soft tickle of fear edging nearer.
But I raised up that blade till it swallowed my view
And the words there, engraved in its fuller, shone true.

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In step, both together, my Friend and I charged
Our voices went forward – with power they barged
They barged though the doorway; flew straight through the room
They shattered that darkness and dispelled the gloom.
Agreeing together, they covered the mirror
And promptly their truth made the images clearer.
The lies molted off like a snake sheds its skin
All the hate and abuse that was magicked within
It dripped to the ground as a black residue
Now the brightened reflection was the me that I knew.

I felt my soul lift as a smile grew in place
And I turned to report to my Friend my true face.
But in turning I realized I was alone
Though the air shimmered brightly, feeling warm and well-known.
In the emptiness standing there, still as a tree,
I could just hear the remnant of laughter set free
And the warmth in my heart grew immense and white-hot
So I knew He was close, though my eyes saw Him not.

Then I turned, with my sword safely tucked by my thigh,
And I left that old room, now renewed – purified.
I stepped out in the sunlight that glowed through the leaves,
All the crisp smelling life that blew by on the breeze -
And I turned my gaze outwards to uncharted land
Where I knew I was called, for a quest truly grand.
So I set off on foot, all armed to the teeth
A warmth in my heart and my sword in its sheath.
To the faraway lands I will go, I will hunt,
I will take down the enemy on my battlefront.
The victory: won, but the battles we brave
Though we know how things ends, there’s still wounded to save.

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*****

Signed with a silent smile,
Squeaks.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pursuing the Presence of God

I woke up this morning feeling sick and half-miserable. I have so much stuff I need to get done, and I was tempted to just jump straight in and do all the things and check off all the boxes. However, I had made a promise that I would work on a worship set-list for next week, so I made a cup of coffee and grabbed my laptop. I pulled up some worship songs and started playing them on the piano, my groggy little voice squawking through the silent morning atmosphere of the house.
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Before too long, the presence of God was upon me. He is weighty and loving and full of peace and joy. My entire morning did a 180 for the better. After worship, I felt a strong push to write about the presence of God, and so here I am, attempting to bring a small portion of my perspective to the table.

It doesn't take too long to feel the presence of God in an atmosphere of true worship. He revitalizes you and completely takes your thoughts off yourself and places them on Jesus. Everything changes when God's presence is in the room. Everything becomes weighty and purposeful and beautiful.

Jesus once told a Samaritan woman the following:
Believe me, dear woman, the time has come when you won't worship the Father on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in your heart. Your people don't really know that One they worship. We Jews worship out of our experience, for it's from the Jews that salvation is made available. From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth. {John 4:21-24, TPT
It's sad how often we lose sight of how important the presence of God truly is. Bear with me - let's take a look at some Scriptures that cover this matter.

First we have Moses talking to God after the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt...
Then Moses said to the Lord, "See, You say to me, 'Bring up this people!' But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, 'I have known you by name, and you have also found favour in My sight.' Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favour in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favour in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people." And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. {Exodus 33:12-15; NASB}
So we see that when the presence of God goes with us, we are given rest. I don't think this necessarily means physical relaxation, but more so an atmosphere of peace that brings about a stillness of the soul from being within the vicinity of the presence of God and the knowledge that He guides and protects. (again guys, I'm no Bible scholar - but this is my personal reflection on this passage)

Next we have David singing of the presence of God...
You will make known to me the path of life; 
 In Your presence is fullness of joy; 
 In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. {Psalm 16:11; NASB}
And from this we gather that His presence gives us the fullness of joy. I can attest to this fact. The presence of God can bring about many strong emotions. He can bring undeterred boldness to proclaim the Gospel, He can bring overwhelming sorrow in intercession, He can bring fullness of joy that seems as though to spill out from every part of your being. You know when you're under the presence of God and the anointing of His Spirit because there's nothing else like it in the entire world. In this holy place, people are changed and God moves in miraculous ways.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, 
That the mountains might quake at Your presence-- 
As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil--
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome things which we did not expect,
You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. {Isaiah 64:1-3; NASB}
His presence grows the fear of the Lord in His people. We cannot forget our God is forever holy and righteous. It is a terrifying and awesome thing to consider - that He would have friendship and relationship with us? How amazing is that? And how incredibly weighty and serious it is for us to be in the presence of the Almighty God. We should not take our faith lightly - we should not find ourselves as 'Sunday Christians' who fail to act upon the salvation that has been offered and the hand of relationship that has been outstretched.
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting." {2 Chronicles 7:1-3; NASB}
Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn't change. Jesus, having given His life as the ultimate sacrifice to bring salvation to all mankind, has now called us to be living temples for His Spirit:
Don't you realize that together you have become God's inner sanctuary and that the Spirit of God makes his permanent home in you? Now, if someone desecrates God's inner sanctuary, God will desecrate him, for God's inner sanctuary is holy, and that is exactly who you are. {1 Corinthians 3:16-17; TPT}
Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don't belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary. You were God's expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God! {1 Corinthians 6:19-20; TPT}
So if we are the temple wherein the Holy Spirit has made His home... what exactly are the implications in light of how God filled His temple in the past? Consider this, think upon it, ponder it, take it up in prayer. Are you truly living as the temple of the Most High God? Are you being filled up with His presence? Have you experienced His goodness such that you are unashamed to stand up for His Name's sake and represent Jesus to the world? Are you taking this decision you have made seriously? If not, why?

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His presence is not a trivial matter to be discussed behind the mask of theology as the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus time would have considered it. His presence is to be part of our every day life - it is to be experienced in fullness through the Holy Spirit. Have you been in the presence of God lately? Have you experienced His rest, His joy, His glory? Have you been filled with His Spirit and overwhelmed by His grace and mercy?

I encourage you to take the time to be quiet before God, to worship Him in spirit and truth.
Yet I know that you are most holy; it's indisputable.
You are God-Enthroned, surrounded with songs,
living among the shouts of praise of your princely people. {Psalm 22:3; TPT}
He inhabits the praises of His people - and I can assure you, if you come before Him with a humble heart in worship, He will make Himself known. Seek and you will find; our God is incredibly and overwhelmingly good to His children. He adores you - He died for you - and He wants you to pursue Him as He continues to pursue you. He is full of mystery and wonder and beauty; who wouldn't want to know Him deeper? I certainly do :)


Signed with love,
Squeaks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

18.03.27 - On the Topic of Worship


I want to briefly talk to you about worship today. Those of you who know me know that I've been passionate about singing since I could talk. This, in turn with the strengthening of my faith in Christ, translated into a passion for worship at the age of ~15. I became a worship leader at my previous church at the age of 18 and have been involved in leading worship since then. So in total, I have about 10 years experience overall, but I still feel as though there is so much to learn! I am honoured to be involved in worship ministries and I can honestly say it is my absolute favourite thing to do in life (not joking guys - the joy I have from worshiping Jesus cannot be compared to anything else). 


If you're a Christian and you find yourself thinking, Good grief, I actually think spending eternity worshiping God is a little drab...I hope there's other stuff to do after this life, because the last thing I want to do is spend years and ages and epochs singing to God; I have to say something. You have an incorrect view of worship if you feel this way. That's okay! Real worship should bring you to life and give you such vigor and joy in your spirit - so if you don't feel that way, you probably need to have a chat with Jesus. Part of the reason could be the worship team as well; if they haven't positioned themselves to pour their souls out in worship, then it can sometimes be really difficult for the congregation to do the same. When the Holy Spirit rests upon the worship team, you can tell the difference. The worship becomes a raw outpouring of adoration to God. The Holy Spirit within you will stir your heart and the spiritual atmosphere changes and the focus shifts off the songs/lyrics/leaders and onto Jesus. That's when the cool stuff happens - hearts are mended in the Presence of the Most High. 

Think about this for a moment, let's look at Ezekiel 1:26-28 (one of my favourite chapters in the Bible): 
And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance.  And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.   
Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
And one more passage from Revelation 4:1-6, which says: 
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”  At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,  and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.     
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
I love these parts of Scripture because they show us the glory of the Lord. How terrifying and awesome it would be to worship Him in the throne room of heaven alongside the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. We know that we are seated in spirit with Christ in heavenly places... it tells us in Ephesians 2:4-7: 
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
And we know that we worship God in spirit and truth, as John tells us in John 4:21-24:
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Therefore, being seated in heavenly places with Christ and having the rights of sons and daughters of God, our worship on earth must have huge ramifications in spirit. It's not a laughing matter to come before God to worship Him and think of how bored we are or how silly it is to sing the same songs over and over. We are making declarations with our voices united that bring God glory and raise His Name on high. We are joining with Heaven in unity - have you ever considered that fully? That by singing how holy our God is, we are joining in with the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures who are right now in the very throne room of God, worshiping Him with complete and utter abandon? Isn't that terrifying and amazing?! I think so. 

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If you haven't felt the Presence of God rest upon your worship (and you know it when He does - nothing can describe the awesome Presence of our Lord), then I have a few suggestions for you. 
  • Check your heart when you approach the Lord in worship. Are you focusing on your worries and problems? Do you come with a distracted or bitter mindset? Put your cares down, set them aside, and place your focus purely upon Jesus. Don't think about what the person next to you is thinking of - don't worry about the people before or behind you. This is your time to worship God for the amazing thing He has done, in freeing you from bondage to sin. This miracle of a newborn spirit, brought to life by the power of Christ overcoming death, this is surely something to praise God for! 
  • Don't worry about how your voice sounds - again, worship is not about you, it's about God. If you have kids in your life (whether yours or others) do you ever chastise them for humming or singing out loud? Of course not! To me it's a joy to hear little kids sing, even if they're off tune or off beat. I don't care - I love hearing their cute little voices. God is our Father and we are His children - He doesn't care if you're out of tune, He loves your praise and worship just as much as He loves someone with years of vocal training and a smooth voice. Equally. And He wants to hear you because He adores and treasures you.
  • Don't let your sin and imperfections stop you from worship. Repent, humble yourself before God, and worship Him in spirit and truth. Some people refuse to worship because they say, "Oh, I've sinned - God won't appreciate my worship right now, because I am not living the way He wants me to." If that's the case, ask His forgiveness and worship Him. He understands! He wants to forgive you - He wants a restored relationship; He doesn't like the separation that sin causes... guys... He literally sent His very own Son to die on a cross and be raised to life 3 days later because He hated the separation that sin placed between Him and mankind. He wanted to restore that relationship. So if you're saying, "Oh I can't because I sinned" then put aside your pride, humble yourself before God, repent, and worship Him. He is so quick to forgive and so kind. He just wants you to acknowledge where you've gone wrong and run back to His arms. He isn't the type to hold grudges or give you the silent treatment. He forgives quickly and it's only our own fault if we have a rift in our relationship with Him. He is so good. He loves you so much. He adores you.
Worship is such a powerful thing. We shouldn't approach it flippantly, but neither should we avoid it. It should be our greatest joy to worship God. So I encourage you, consider the position of your spirit in your worship of God. Don't be like the ones that God prophesied of through Isaiah, saying, "...Because this people draw near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men," (Isaiah 29:13). Examine your heart and consider the great honour you have to come before the living God and worship Him with your entire being. It is such a privilege - let's not treat it lightly.

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Call to All Believers - Priesthood, Purity, & Warfare

2 Tim 1.9
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I've been pondering many different things over the last week and I wanted to share some of them. As Christians, we are called to follow Christ - we are called to be in an ever deepening relationship with Him, in growing awe of who He is. If our relationship is not changing, then it is stagnant and something is wrong (that's a whole other discussion for another time). Today I'm going to bring a few themes of topics that have been heavy on my heart as the Holy Spirit teaches me day to day. These words are as much instructions and reminders to myself as they are to anyone else reading. The first theme is priesthood.


Priesthood

All these who were chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds were 212. These were enrolled by genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer appointed in their office of trust. So they and their sons had charge of the gates of the house of the Lordeven the house of the tent, as guards. The gatekeepers were on the four sides, to the east, west, north and south. Their relatives in their villages were to come in every seven days from time to time to be with them; for the four chief gatekeepers who were Levites, were in an office of trust, and were over the chambers and over the treasuries in the house of God. They spent the night around the house of God, because the watch was committed to them; and they were in charge of opening it morning by morning. Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out. Some of them also were appointed over the furniture and over all the utensils of the sanctuary and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the frankincense and the spices. Some of the sons of the priests prepared the mixing of the spices. Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the responsibility over the things which were baked in pans. Some of their relatives of the sons of the Kohathites were over the showbread to prepare it every sabbath. Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night. These were heads of fathers’ households of the Levites according to their generations, chief men, who lived in Jerusalem. {1 Chronicles 9:22-34; NASB}
This Scripture stuck out to me as I was reading through several Old Testament passages these last few weeks. I've been coming back again and again to the concept of priesthood in the Christian life. We know from the New Testament that we are part of a royal priesthood, as Peter tells us:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nationa people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous 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 3:9-10; NASB}
First of all, I love the word marvelous (that's a side note, it's a beautiful word - one of my favourites). Second of all, as a believer, have you stopped to consider what being a part of a royal priesthood really means? I look back at the Old Testament to the Levites and to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24) and it just strikes me as a wonderful thing. The more I learn about Jesus and the more I seek to follow after Him, the more desirable His Presence becomes - and priests were born to live in the Presence of God. We have been born again into a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-12)...so therefore our new self has been created to live in His Presence (and when we're not living there, things start to get shady). 

The Levites each had different roles (and, excuse my ignorance, but I am uncertain if they rotated positions in service). Some were called to stand guard at the gates as watchmen. Some prepared and cleaned the instruments within the tabernacle. Others were called to sing and worship. And others were called to bake the showbread and set it out day after day. 

Every priest had a high call of purity on their lives and every priest lived close to the Presence of God. What an honour that would have been. 

And what more of an honour do we have now, as believers, to be indwelt by the living Spirit of God (John 14:16-21). He who rested His Presence upon the tabernacle and filled the Holy of Holies has taken up residence inside of us. Have you stopped to consider this? Have you stopped to assess what that means for your lifestyle and the calling that you are under? 

This leads to my second theme.


Purity

This overarching concept has been very strongly impressed upon me over the last month. I keep thinking about the royal priesthood that we are part of, about the Bride of Christ, and about the passionate love of God. His love is so massive I don't think many of us fully understand how serious our relationship with Him really is when we surrender our lives to Him. The Old Testament is filled with references of Israel as a Bride. Jeremiah handles it particularly well as he is instructed to prophesy:
Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say,
‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever. ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the Lord your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the Lord. ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’
“Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again.
  {Jeremiah 3:12-16; NASB}
As believers, we have been grafted in to Israel (Romans 11:17-24). When you really truly take this matter to thought and consider what is occurring, it saddens the heart. Jesus gave His life for us - He laid it down, became humiliated for our sake... killed for our sake. Why? Because He loved us so intensely and His foremost desire was to fulfill the longing of the Father - to restore His relationship with mankind. To bring us back into communion with Him. 

The more I think about the entire situation we're in, the more I sympathize with how God must feel about people. 

This year in particular I have felt very strongly that there is a call being sent out to Christians to return to a life of purity (2 Corinthians 11:1-3). We need to turn our eyes back to Christ. There is so much deception being planted around believers and an increase in distractions specifically directed to turn our gaze off where it needs to be. And the frustrating thing about it is that these distractions come in the form of what satisfies us the most. Catchy music, intriguing books, complimentary people with ulterior motives. These are things we need to constantly check and consider – is it wholesome? Are they deepening our relationship with Jesus, or are they distracting? 

When you are in a relationship with someone, they become your focus. You return to them again and again, giving them the best of what you have, the first fruits so to speak. They get your time, your attention, and your affections. Others do not distract you because your eyes are already fixed and nothing can sway you. God has called us to an even deeper relationship with Him. He wants our eyes fixed on Him – not swayed by the things of this world that seem so good in the moment but steal time from the Father (Hebrews 12:1-3). He wants purity…a Bride that is fully dedicated to this relationship, not one turning her eyes this way and that to see what else might be good (Revelation 22:12-17). 

He desires to meet us heart to heart, to impart His ways to us so that we might become more like Him. More like who we were created to be. He died for this – it is no passing matter that we can consider on a Sunday and forget for the rest of the week. He stands before you (Revelation 3:19-20), waiting for you to enter into the depths of His Word and His Spirit so that He might teach, comfort, and encourage you to continue racing for all you're worth. He is our forerunner – He paved the way before us and has called us to follow after. How hard is it if we have His Spirit and His Word? Why are so many of us stuck on the wayside of this narrow path with defeat in our eyes, letting our gaze wander to the temptations strategically placed before us? Can’t you see that they are strategic? Understand that this is not a game nor a fable – it is serious.



Warfare

We all know by now, as believers, that we are entrenched in a spiritual battle that is easily forgotten about but significantly influences our day-to-day living (Ephesians 6:11-12). I often have to stop and remind myself that a person is not necessarily acting harsh or unkindly towards me because they hate me, but perhaps because they are being unknowingly influenced by the spiritual atmosphere around them. 


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We can't afford to believe that there is no enemy. We also can't afford to accredit him with more than he deserves, because ultimately we know that we are victorious in Christ, who has crushed our enemy under His foot through His victory on the cross. Nevertheless, it is a reality that we are part of and we must be aware of this. 

The theme of warfare fits well following our discussion of purity. The distractions that are so well placed are part of this war we fight in. We are not to stand limply by and let ourselves get struck time and again until we give up and surrender what ground we had taken. We better not! Even the priests of Israel stood by and guarded the tabernacle day and night, because what was within was holy and worth their time and energy to guard. 

We know that we are a royal priesthood called to lives of purity – but we are also to defend what we have. If we don’t, the enemy will try to take it away from us, because he hates what we have. It angers him to know that we are living hosts of the Spirit of God – that Jesus died for our restored relationship with the Father. 

Paul wrote of the armor of God not so that we would have more Scripture to memorize and quote languidly in passing to our fellow believers. He was Spirit-prompted to give us this information because we need it. We know we have armor – so put it on and get up and fight. Defend what is yours. No one else is going to do it for you. You have been given a gift – start learning to recognize the attacks of the enemy and don’t let yourself be so easily felled by his snares.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. {Ephesians 6:10-20; NASB}
This further leads me to note that we must also stop so easily being riled up to snap at the prods of the enemy. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40) – so other than our relationship with God (our time/discussion/worship given to Him) the enemy targets our relationships with others (or with ourselves). We are called to lives of humility and sacrifice in love for others. What better way to discredit the faith and calling we have than to snare us into hating others or being sharp or critical of them. 

This is not to say we should tolerate sin and allow the world to walk over us as if we were doormats. This is to say that we are to stand firm in our faith but to extend the love of Christ to the world. Jesus recognized the sin in others: think of the woman at the well (John 4:1-44). He knew the details of her life, and yet He bent the social boundaries of His day to extend to her the love and compassion that was overflowing from His heart. Why? Because He saw who she was created to be. He saw purpose and hope for her future – and when He recognized that in her, her heart was touched. He brought life to her emptiness. He did not stand there and condemn her for the way she lived and the things she had done. He treated her with tenderness and grace – He loved her even though she was the least loved in her community. How much more should we extend such love to those around us? Do not let the enemy trick you so easily into destroying the hearts of others by the careless words you speak. Stop your tongue from its hurtful meandering – hold it silent until what proceeds from your mouth is the encouragement and life-giving hope from the wellspring of Life that flows within you (James 3:1-12). Remember – how we deal with believers and non-believers should always be from the heart of Christ. Correction and rebuke of sin is another topic for another time. 

Securely fasten your breastplate of righteousness. We are clothed in the righteousness of God – keep it close and tight (Isaiah 61:10). Check your helmet of salvation – don’t take it off. Remember who you are in Christ – you are a new creation (Colossians 3). Put on your shoes; the Gospel of Peace. Let your peace go before you and proceed you into all situations, such that you continuously proclaim the Gospel by the way you live and the way you speak. Tighten your belt of truth - do not let the Word of God be far from you, but keep it imprinted on your heart so that no one can call you a liar. Keep your mind centered on the reason for our salvation so that you do not trip and fall on what traps the enemy has laid for you. Pick up your shield of faith. Don’t drop it, don’t leave it behind; speak the Gospel to yourself daily and lift up your soul by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 14:4). And take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Use it for offense and defense – stand firmly over the ground you have taken and do not give it up. Be brave, be courageous, be bold – be humble, be loving, be compassionate. Above all, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. You are a warrior priest called to a life of purity and selfless love. 

May the Spirit of God continue His good work in your life.


In Christ, 
Squeaks.
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