April Showers

refreshing showers of blessing

There’s huge resistance in me to write what I felt I should write – which is a post of praise and thanksgiving, for God’s faithfulness during another month (April) and of the peace that comes from casting all my cares upon Him. I said in March, that “God, in His mind-blowing love, not only takes these cares, concerns, fears and burdens upon Himself, but He exchanges them for His perfect PEACE!”

I have continued being very specific about prayer requests and petitions, for people in my life and community, and over and above every divine shower of blessing received, I can testify to the peace that I have from my heavenly Father who hears all the prayers that we bring to Him. His Word promises this peace. We are not imposing on Him with our needs and concerns, He commands us to come to Him. I want to thank God for His Presence, Provision, Power and Peace to those who come to Him, through Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition,

with THANKSGIVING,

present your requests to God.

And the PEACE of GOD, which transcends all understanding,

will GUARD your HEART and MIND in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

I want to thank my God, that specifically, during the month of April:-

L’s tumours have all gone.

S’s knees were healed overnight so he could resume his exercises the following day.

R’s tests revealed she does not have DVT.

J and family all healed and recovered.

A was well enough to come home to spend family time before round 2 of treatments.

That G and I-M are both getting much stronger.

Thank You for providing perfect respite care and support for M and M.

Thank You that our church could provide about 175 lunches for those in need in our community over half-term.

Thank You that our toddler group has reopened after over a year in lock-down and

that AA has reopened and all the brave and beautiful souls there have remained strong.

Thank You for encouraging S and meeting her needs.

Thank You for providing me ALL my needs this month and more.

Thank You for courage to face new challenges and do things differently.

Thank You for encouragement, guidance and support in all my various writing projects this month.

I thank You heavenly Father that all the needs we bring before You are heard and that You are always working to bring to completion Your perfect plan and purposes for our lives. I thank You for the privilege of coming to You in prayer and for the promises and assurance of Your great love… for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… and if You gave us Your very self, how much more will You not give us the Holy Spirit and all we need to live a blessed life of service. Amen

The Wrong Armour

What armour do you use and who is your enemy?

On an everyday level, do you find yourself sometimes aware of and struggling with conflict? Are you a sensitive soul? I am! But I want to be strong and I want to stand and be victorious. Nobody wants to lose even an argument, let alone a war! A few weeks ago I realised that I have, since childhood, learned a reaction to conflict that is not healthy. I have lost many battles, because I use the wrong armour and the wrong weapons. In fact most times I am also fighting the wrong enemy!

Some of these conflicts have actual substance, but some are even imaginations born of vulnerability and fear. I thought about the conflicts and battles in my life and observed myself in both my home-made armour and my fearful tactics. My ‘belt’ was my stubborn determination that I was right. My ‘breastplate’ was my people-pleasing conformity to a self-righteous standard of behaviour that I believed was expected of me. My ‘helmet’ was my denial of secrets and of my own responsibility. My ‘feet were fitted’ with a readiness to run and hide if punishment was coming close. I had a defensive ‘shield’ of my identity as a victim, and lastly, a sword pointing and attacking the blame at anyone I felt was attacking me…

There are some weary days when I could easily believe that everyone – or at least someone – is out to get me, attack me, argue, criticise or try to trip me up… some days when it all feels like a battle and a struggle to come through it alive, never mind unscathed! Whatever the cause of the conflict, it always demands a response – How do we stand strong? Do we fight or not? How and who do we fight? What weapons do we use? What armour do we use?

The apostle Paul urges the church in Ephesus to be prepared for battle and to put on the full armour of God. He also reminds us who the enemy is! It is not flesh and blood. It is not the boss who just sacked you, or the driver that knocked off my wing-mirror… it’s not even the relative that sent the nasty letter criticising our religious or political affiliations… our real enemy is the spiritual enemy of God.

Ephesians 6: 10 – 18.

The Armour of God (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is crucial for the helmet and the shield to stay in place and to keep the feet on the right path. The righteousness of Christ is His gift to us who are born again, and His truth I have to align with my own as I buckle my belt…

I have begun a practice of putting this armour on item by item, in my mind’s eye, every morning, and of praying for the grace to not fear, nor defend against, nor cast false blame, nor attack my fellow flesh and blood. I am praying for us foot soldiers throughout the world – for you, my brothers and sisters, who are fighting to stand strong. I am a work in progress. How about you? What is your armour?

Circle of His Excellence

There is an NLP practice called “Circle of Excellence”, whereby one imagines a coloured circle and fills it with all good, desired emotions and outcomes and then steps into that circle to be thus energised, inspired and transformed by the desired emotions…

It is a useful and powerful practice, but this morning I found myself creating a new circle, filled with the truth of who God says I am.

Who is He? And who does He say that I am? I need to remember these powerful truths and let them “transform [me], by the renewing of [my] minds” (Romans 12:2)

I invite you to draw your own circle and fill it with what God says about you, and when you feel discouraged, or weak, or disappointed, or insecure – step into that circle and allow His truth to wash over you and fill you with the power of His Spirit of Truth.

So what did I write in my green (for life) circle?

I am

Daughter of the Most High God

Redeemed

Born again

Beloved of God

A new Creation

A sinner saved by Grace

In God’s family

Chosen

A Princess, belonging to the King

Born of the Spirit

Not forsaken nor alone

Forgiven

Created in God’s image

Called by name

The Bride of Christ

A holy priest of God

Living by faith

Loved by God

Set free

Living life to the full

Promised eternal life

Living abundant life

Saved

Not condemned

Not coming under judgment

Sheltered in Christ

Given authority over the works of the devil

Empowered to do ‘even greater things than these’

A fisher of men

Sent out in His name

Bearing fruit in Christ

Filled with His Spirit, Grace and Power

Confident to ask whatever I wish in His name

I have passed from death to life

I have faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, self-control

God fights for me

He is for me

The Kingdom of God is within me

God dwells in me

I have everything I need for life and godliness

He will never leave me nor forsake me

He never sleeps nor slumbers

All His promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus

His yolk is easy and His burden is light

He takes away all my diseases, my sins and my shame

He is with me, in me, behind me, before me, above me and below me

In victory and in disappointment, He IS with me

In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me

He will come again in Glory, and take me to be with Him

I will see Him face to face

He has already won the Victory over sin and death…

These are some of the truths in my circle. Who HE IS is the inner and outer foundation of that circle!

Who is He? Draw another circle with praise for WHO HE IS – for He is ALL in ALL in ALL.

In your victory and in your disappointment God the Almighty is with you.

So be strong and courageous; pour out your heart like water; be transformed by the renewing of your mind; and stand on His promise to call you for a hope and a purpose. Be bold. Stand firm.

Share with me how making and stepping into your circle empowers you.

Unequal exchange

Midway through February, I wrote a post about “Answered Prayer”, because, in the space of less than 24 hours, I had heard reports back of 3 instances where exactly what I had been praying for and visualising had happened to those 3 individuals.

Naturally this was a great encouragement for me to keep praying in such a visual, specific and intentional way, for whatever I was asked to, or felt called to, pray for.

I recalled Jesus cleansing the ten lepers and only one came back to find and thank Jesus. Jesus asked where the others were and declared that this man’s faith had made him “whole”.

I thought of the importance of thanksgiving and of how my focus is often on the prayer requests and needs, but not so much on even noticing when prayers are answered, and somehow taking it for granted when all is well again.

I knew my praying and thanksgiving needed to be equally focused and intentional.

I decided to start keeping a special book in which I only record answered prayer – a “Miracles” journal.

I wrote down those prayers I recognised as being answered during February, and gave thanks for all those answered prayers that I cannot see myself, because they are ongoing, or being worked on in a different realm.

I have done the same for March.

As an ‘aide-memoire’ of names and needs whilst praying, I write down separately all the things I am praying for specifically, but also to prompt me to ask, later in the week, how that person or situation is progressing – then my prayer either continues, changes specific focus, or is written into the “miracles” book and becomes praise for a testimony of the divine intervention of an all-powerful God.

I want to now thank and praise God publicly for all of the prayers answered during March, but first I want to say that when God “answers” prayers, He does not always answer ‘my prayers’ in the way that I think they need to be answered.

Sometimes God says “NO” to my specific request, because God sees the bigger picture and He knows that what I am asking for is not the best way for that person or situation.

Sometimes God says “WAIT”.

During March I want to thank God specifically for:

CJ’s lung X-rays showing they are clear of cancer

R’s 16 days sober and financial progress

C’s washing machine

J, C and E’s negative covid-test results

My 6 years sober and those blessed by reading the story

J’s work commendations and acceptance to do PHD

S’s decisions made and courage to act

J’s recognition of need for healing

R and W both pouring out their hearts full of painful memories and burdens

Canon Tom winning the legal battle declaring ban on church ‘unlawful’

G’s physical progress and healing

Inspiration and great help with personal book writing and favour with endorsements

I also thank God for 3 answers that were not what I asked for:

For the 2 sweet spirits He took home to be with himself in glory

For the other challenge now to be faced – but knowing it is not to be fought with human strength.

And I thank God that He continues to hear us when we cry out to him and He hears all our prayers, petitions and requests.

He is pleased when we entrust our burdens to Him, believing that He loves and cares for us.

And He loves it when we return to give Him thanks and remember His goodness and favour.

The thing I most want to thank God for this month then, is the knowledge that when I place the needs of individuals, peoples and situations into the hands of Him who created the earth and everything in it, I entrust it all into His powerful, safe, capable and gentle hands.

And God, in His mind-blowing love, not only takes these cares, concerns, fears and burdens upon Himself, but He exchanges them for His perfect PEACE!

What an unequal exchange!

I give Him my burdens and He exchanges it for His peace!

All I can give God in return is my THANK YOUs and to loudly declare my love for Him.

My favourite verse these past few months has been:

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition,

with THANKSGIVING,

present your requests to God.

And the PEACE of GOD, which transcends all understanding,

will GUARD your HEARTand MIND in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Always remember to give thanks to God, because He is ALWAYS GOOD.

Freedom of Speech?

The sun still shines even when you can’t it.

There are only a few subjects in life that get me a little hot-under-the-collar and I’m grappling with one of these today.

A couple of issues have come to my attention nationally, as well as internationally, that reflect one of these subjects; and the argument I am grappling with has gone around several rabbit warrens this morning and each time it has comes out in a different shape. So I will put it to paper and see what happens.

The issue is of human rights, namely the right to freedom of thought/speech/religion.

I consider freedom of speech a basic fundamental freedom and human right.

Most people, Constitutions, jurisdictions and Courts of Human rights in the world would, in theory, agree.

Societies need laws to protect people from danger and harm and they need consequences to uphold or enforce those laws.

These laws need to equally protect all persons, regardless of gender, class, nationality, religious beliefs, age, education, wealth, status, or any other classification or potential difference.

Freedom of speech, thought and freedom of belief/religion has to apply to all persons in a society, in accordance with common-sense understanding of legal human rights.

But if what I believe, think, read and say is restricted and controlled, what is the nature of the society that results from that? And who is the authority that decides what is acceptable truth or wisdom that the rest of us must all adhere to? The logical progression of such control is a dictatorship and lack of liberty, lack of creativity, expression or growth, amongst many other unbearable consequences.

That said, we do not need to pull all meaning and common sense out of this basic tenet of freedom of speech.

Do I believe that any person should be allowed to say whatever they want, whenever, wherever and to whom they personally desire? Should I be allowed to speak hate, lies and incite hatred or violence?

– Of course not. And there are laws protecting all people from such violations.

Do I believe that all things are true and there is no absolute truth and any interpretation is equal?

– No, but I believe that all persons grapple with interpretation of the truth, and their opinion of it, and that human-beings, regardless of their own opinions, are called to prioritise tolerance, love, peace and a commitment to grow in understanding and integrity.

It is my belief that God made us in His image and gave us free-will; and that “the truth will set you free”.

The sun still shines even when you can’t it.

The truth remains true whether it is believed or not.

With most issues in life, truth is complex and based on a subjective interpretation of life.

What is true to me, may not be your truth and vise-versa.

The important thing is that we learn to listen to one another’s truth, without criticism and without condemnation; that we seek understanding, peace, dialogue and to desire good will and blessings upon every human being, no matter how their views differ from mine.

We do not have to agree with each other, but we need to listen and be honest and tolerate and accept one another as human beings, all beloved children of God.

If you would like to read the petitionary letter to the UK Prime Minister and the issues that ADF are advocating, please check out the link below and see the video highlighting Julia’s experience in Nottingham University.

6 Years Sober

What do you think of when somebody mentions “an alcoholic”?

Do you have a set of criteria, or a description? – maybe that they drink vodka for breakfast and hide all day behind drawn curtains dysfunctionally; or maybe you imagine flamboyant ‘drama queens’, who lie and manipulate; or maybe you picture the lonely, ‘down-and-out’ with a brown paper bag hiding the cheapest tipple; or a sorry soul, stooped so low as to be stealing and downing the ‘meths’?

That’s what I thought too. I had these images.

I didn’t imagine I was an alcoholic! I could stop if I wanted to.

I had a family and a professional full-time job.

I was a Christian!

I just liked the wine of an evening… Every evening maybe, but… I had a past I wanted to forget and life was hectic and stressful…

… and a glass of wine was ‘me-time’ – time to chill-out, relax and unwind!

In my earliest memories my dad was mad drunk sometimes, mad drunk! Other than that, there was sherry at Christmas… and on seaside holidays, Granddad would always let us sip his ale.

Then at 15, my big sister worked in a pub, so I’d go in after my Saturday job and have a bottle of Pilsner, or a vodka and bitter lemon…

At 17, I left home, and soon enough, I’d be partying, getting drunk and ‘having fun’.

In UK culture, ‘a good night-out’ meant getting as drunk as you could, as quick as you could.

Pubs were crowded with rowdy folk buying round after round before last orders…

I worked in the pubs and drank in them.

In time, I became more ‘refined’ and a bit of a wine snob (as long as it was on offer) and the evening glass, or four, of wine became an entrenched habit.

I stopped for Lent most years, but that was it.

I dreaded Ash Wednesday!

Then one year, I didn’t give up for Lent. I didn’t give up for anything – I didn’t want to!

Oh, I made deals and promises with myself, strategies for ‘dry-days’ and other good intentions, but I failed over and over and the self esteem plummeted along with every bottle. I couldn’t do it!

Most people had no idea of my struggle; some thought I perhaps drank too much sometimes, but most encouraged me to not worry about it and have a drink! They thought I could ‘pull-myself-together’.

But most of them could drink if and when, or have one and no more – they could choose.

That was the difference – I didn’t seem to have the choice, or any control!

I wonder if now you think – “Of course you could choose! You were just weak-willed. Nobody was forcing you! You could control it if you wanted to!”

It took me a very long time to accept that I had no control after the first glass, and that I really needed to just stop drinking alcohol altogether.

And then it took still another long time to actually have the courage to do it!

But I prepared myself, set the date and stopped.

That date was 9th March 2015. This week I celebrated 6 years sober!

When I first stopped I had to go to bed at 7pm, because I didn’t know how to do an evening without wine. Of course I woke up early every morning too, but little by little, one day at a time, I remained sober and learned new ways to relax and chill-out.

And finally my journey of recovery could begin.

I do thank God for His patience and for never giving up on me!

I had the privilege of joining AA and serving and sharing in that absolutely wonderful community. The 12 step programme is truly inspired by God – or by the ‘Higher Power’ as they say in AA. The 12 Step programme and the beautiful people who humbly follow it, are inspirational testimonies to Hope. And I can sincerely say, that if anyone is willing to follow the programme, it works 100%.

On this 6th Anniversary of my sobriety, one day at a time, I wish to publicly give thanks to my God for doing for me what I could not do for myself; for inspiring and sustaining me through this journey; for forgiving me and being so eternally patient with me.

I want to thank all my family, friends and church family – for loving me, despite me taking so long to see sense, and for forgiving me all the pain and concern I caused to some of them – for being less than I should have been!

And I want to thank the founders and the continual members of AA for spreading the message and community of hope around the cities of the world.

I have to end with my all-time favourite prayer, which I have known from childhood, as my Grandfather had engraved it into a wooden plaque, as a schoolboy –

it is the “Serenity prayer” of AA –

(Using the word, God, as you do or don’t under stand it) –

God, grant me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,

the courage to change what can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

PS If you want to stop drinking and don’t feel you have the power to do so, please contact an AA group (look online or in the phone book) and ask to speak to an individual member or find a group. They will be so happy to help you.

I wrote one poem after 6 weeks without alcohol, called, “AA Season of Pain”

The link is here if you wish to read it – https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/25

And another after 9 months sober, called “Giving Birth to Sobriety”.

The link is here if you wish to read it – https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/46

Do you have enough time?

What are your priorities?

My dear friend, (I speak here to me as much as to you),

I hear you bemoan that there are not enough hours in your day to do all that you want to do, that you don’t have enough strength, ability, enough of this, or that, to do what you (think you) should be doing and want to do – not enough money, time, energy, resources…

You want to achieve, accomplish, be successful, make a difference, be somebody, do something great! Of course you do!

I think of the well known story of Martha fretting and Mary sitting at the feet of her Lord. Jesus said Mary had chosen the better path… yet I chose the name of Martha for my confirmation name!

And I think of Jesus himself frequently going off, often in the middle of the night, to find a quiet place to pray.

And the Lord says –

(Matthew 6:33)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

How do we seek Him first?

If we ask Him first (and not ask everyone else, and try every other avenue, and go to God as a last resort)!

If we give Him first place in our time, resources and energy – we give Him the first and best bits, not the scraps left over.

He says (John 15:7)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

‘Remain in’/ ‘abide in’? –

We (maybe need to get up early and) go to a quiet place and spend time in prayer – we thank Him and pour out all our needs and concerns, and prayer requests, and we listen to His heart and what He wishes (to put on our heart) for us to do… (we remain in Him)

We read His word in Scripture and listen to what He has already told us, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak into our NOW and allowing God to convey to us what is on His heart for today. (His words remain in us).

Then we do/say what He has told us to do/say.

Allow Him to lead, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Not every job that needs doing, needs to be done by you.

Not every need is yours to serve and meet.

His priority is not for you to busy yourself, striving and stressing over things you have taken upon yourself, in your strength, because…

He wants you to give EVERYTHING over to Him and to trust Him to take care of it and to show you what He wants you to do.

I hear your sense of panic as you read this.

You want to serve God, to please Him, and you want to serve and meet the needs of all those around you…

However, you are not to be passive either. We have to turn up, put on HIS armour, face our enemy, use our talents, follow His strategy, and do and say what He gives us to do and say; but the strategy has to be His, the battle His, and then the victory and the outcome are His responsibility and to His glory.

Trust Him.

Pray.

Listen.

Obey.

Jesus says: (Matthew 6:25 – 33)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

And Jesus says: (Matt 7: 7)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Paul echoes Jesus’ words in Philippians 4:6-7 –

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Priorities for each day:

Prayer and thanksgiving

Study the Word

Rest (Sabbath and sleep)

Offering/Obedience

You say, “But I don’t have time to do that!”

I hear you, loud and clear, but I humbly suggest that you “don’t have the time” TO NOT do these things.

Make the time to build your relationship with your Saviour!

Is it all about Jesus, or is it all about you and your plans and effort?

Seek Him first, then ALL these things (that you need) WILL be given to you.

Trust Him. Remember: His Yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Father God, I give you my life and my heart and my time – all 24 hours of every day – for you to use however You see fit! I entrust it all to You. All I have is Yours – from You and for You. It is enough. My time is in Your hands. You have eternity for me. Blessed be your name forever. Amen.

Answered Prayer

A few week s ago I wrote a post about miracles – 3 miracles that had come back to mind from a period of time living in London. But last weekend I witnessed three more miracles!

I called it “answered prayer” though, not miracles. And I’m not quite sure why.

Is there a difference between answered prayer and miracles?

I want to share this to encourage you to continue praying, and also to glorify God for what He does in our everyday lives – because God is indeed so very faithful, so very active and so very good. He calls us to pray for one another, to pray about everything and to pray without ceasing.

God really does care about the little details in our lives and we really can, and should, take every little thing that concerns us, or others, to God in prayer. As we are reminded in Philippians 4 v 6-7,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

Our hearts and minds and guarded, because we can completely trust God to make that “situation” fall in line with God’s plans and purposes. We can know peace, because we can trust Him.

Like all of us, there are many things that I pray about – personal, family, church, national, world-wide – sometimes more general prayers and sometimes more specific. Last week I was stirred to pray in a very visual way over a few issues. I think visually, so it seemed a helpful experience to pray this way too –

Firstly, I had been shown a picture of Person A’s leg, which had become terribly diseased, gangrenous, and they were afraid he would die, but were certain that if he lived he would lose the whole leg. Because I had seen this photograph, whilst praying I visualised God answering the prayer. I prayed for God to restore healthy circulation and to heal the leg completely and I visualised actually helping to massage life back into that solid black log, which is what the leg had appeared like in the photograph…

Person B, that I know, had been taken into hospital with a severe problem last week, and when praying for this one, I felt how frightened and alone she was feeling, so I prayed for healing, but I visualised giving her a very big hug and I asked God to give her a big hug, and to let her know how close He was to her, so she wouldn’t feel alone and would feel joy in this knowledge…

Person C, is a relative with anger issues that have got him into big trouble on a few occasions, and I had a call to say that he had been given a week’s notice from work, suddenly, and was on his way to see the boss. I prayed and visualised him taking deep breaths, calming right down and letting go of all the anger. I prayed that he would turn around and not visit the boss and that the boss would have a change of heart and God would turn this around…

I have prayed for many other people and situations, but I describe these three, because over a period of less than 24 hours at the weekend, I heard news of how God has answered these prayers.

On Saturday night, in a video call with a relative of Person A , I asked how A was and if he now has circulation back in his leg. She told me that he had nearly died, but recovered and has now been sent home and will not have to lose his leg! Praise and thanks and glory to God, for this answer to prayer, for this miracle of mercy and restoration. God is so good. I was so excited and happy and encouraged.

Now I am praying that he will acknowledge that it was God who saved his life and will come to know God as his eternal Saviour.

On Sunday morning, towards the end of church service, a brother shared that he had seen Person B in the hospital and she had been praising God who, she excitedly told him, had come to her in a dream and given her a big hug and a kiss!!!! Well, I was very excited and so thankful for that. Fancy coming to her in a dream. How ingenious God is! That has since encouraged me to pray for many people I would like to receive a revelation of God’s love – and a dream would be a wonderful way to do it!

Later on Sunday afternoon, I phoned to ask how it had gone with Person C. He had gone to see his boss, but had been calm and simply asked him why, had explained himself, and asked him to reconsider. The following day the boss told him he would lower his hourly rate slightly, but he will keep his job. God you are so faithful and so very good. I was so grateful and so excited again.

Honestly, I know that God answers prayer, but I was so encouraged and excited by such clear answers to prayer. In fact I was jumping and dancing with joy and phoned a few people to praise God with me for His care and love and power.

I have been encouraged to continue visualising and being specific in my prayers. I know that I am not twisting God’s arm, or making Him do something that is not on His heart, and I know it is nothing to do with me or even the way I am praying. I also know that others have been praying for these individuals too. And I know that God sees the bigger picture and that sometimes I pray for something and God does not answer it in the way that I had hoped. But I know that He hears me.

What has blessed me mostly, is that because I have been specific, I am able to see the answers to the prayers more clearly. It has taught me to be more intentional in my prayers, to write down specific prayers and to follow up how that person or situation is, so that I can really give thanks and glory to God.

Also it has encouraged me to follow up and to ask after people. Sometimes I pray for people when a request is made, or I see a need, but life takes over and I forget! I forget their need sometimes, if it is not mentioned again, or I forget when all is well again, that we even prayed.

I saw an image of the 10 lepers, all of whom were cleansed of the leprosy, but only one returned to thank Jesus – he was “made whole”.

Let’s remember to thank God continuously for the peace He gives us, knowing that we can bring EVERYTHING to Him in prayer and that we can trust Him with the outcome. And let us remember to thank Him and give Him glory for all the answered prayers, for all His provision and blessings.

This is an attempt to depict the dream God gave me when He “extended His sceptre” to allow me to make my requests to Him. He welcomes us into His presence and we can bring our requests with confidence in the name of Jesus.

Do you strive to defend yourself?

Have you ever had one of those Holy Spirit revelations that sends you laughing and crying simultaneously and almost uncontrollably? I had one of those this morning, and it’s not a common occurrence, so I think it’s worth sharing.

The conclusion was – “Dawn, you don’t need to defend yourself!!!”

The revelation of truth is that I’m not good and have never been good and I don’t need to pretend to be.

God doesn’t love me because of something I’ve done, He loves me because He made me and I am His.

It is by grace I have been saved, through faith, and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no-one can boast.(Eph 2:8-9)

Although I know this in my head, I am one of those people who has such poor self-esteem from a childhood of negative labels and emotional abuse, that I became both always internally critically harsh with myself, whilst also terribly sensitive to external criticism. My own internal critic is loud and unforgiving, but if someone else criticises me, I crumble and cry. I also acknowledge today that I defend myself and can take offence at criticism.I pray for a teachable spirit, but I still don’t seem to take correction well.

A few weeks ago, a good friend told me she thinks I ‘did my best’ (in a certain sensitive area of my life), but that I was ‘not good enough’. Those words pierced my heart and I felt they were deliberately cutting. I brought it all to God in tears and pain and defended myself against the colluding internal critic, by blaming all the external factors that had conspired against me to make my task impossible to do well. I blamed her, my past, all those others and myself. I was hurt. Very hurt. And the “poor me” syndrome raised its head and I thought of all those who had made my life difficult and not helped etc… A slippery slope, to be sure. In AA, they say “Poor me! Pour me another one!” I “forgave” my friend, but she was not happy with that, so I proceeded to get off my chest a couple of other things she had done which had really hurt me too. It was helpful for me to let go of these things, but she was very angry. I had defended myself and attacked her in retaliation. I hurt her in return. I repent of this.

This is not God’s way.

But I mess up.

Yes, I get it wrong, and sometimes I hurt and get impatient and fearful and spiteful and defensive… and all the things I don’t want to be.

I don’t want you to know that.

I want you to see me as a good Christian; as one who always forgives, always loves, always reaches out with kindness and Godly wisdom…

But, you know – I mess up. I am a broken pot. I am a sinner. That’s why I need a Saviour! I fall short every day! I was not good enough and I am not good enough, but by His Grace, His power is made perfect despite and in my weakness.

He loves me.

It is His grace, His righteousness.

I don’t need to pretend!

I don’t need to wear the “goody-two-shoes” mask any more.

I’m not good. He is!

I went into fits of laughter and tears as I saw, and then let God demolish, the defensive walls I have built up in my attempt to look good in my own eyes and to be what I believed other people wanted me to be.

I experienced such an amazing sense of release as I took off the mask (we all now know how uncomfortable masks are!)

I realised today that I have been using the wrong armour! I built up my own armour – it is not the Lord’s armour, but my own! I have a mask of what a good Christian should look like and a shield of defensiveness (to hide behind, or if anyone questions my motives or actions) and a sword of blame and offence against criticism.

Oh my Lord. Oh the peace, the rest that You give. “My burden is easy”, You say.

It’s true!

A friend of mine just sent me a text with “Jeremiah 31:3” quite out of the blue, as I came to the end of my time of reflection with my God, so I looked it up – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness”, but I had a quick glance at the verse before, which confirmed His message to me – “The people who survive the sword will find favour in the desert. I will come to give rest to Israel.” I have survived the sword, a great many swords and now, in this desert, I have laid down my own sword. Now I take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and I take up the Shield of Faith, with which I will defend against the fiery darts from the evil one.

I don’t need to fear Satan, the “Accuser” either. Because I am a sinner, saved by grace – that is all. That is the good news. It is not my work or my failure, but God’s love and grace alone that enables me to stand.

But I can relax and accept that I am not good. I will need reminding of course. Un-learning takes a long time.

I don’t need to strive and pretend to be good for Him to love me, or to use me for His glory.

Oh what peace, rest and joy in that revelation for this soul.

Praise be to God, my Saviour!

Relax kid! He sees you just as you are and He loves you with an everlasting love!!

Alleluia.

What did Jesus preach?

Before the Cross, what were Jesus and His followers preaching?

Most of this can obviously be answered from accounts in scripture itself, but I am hoping that this can become a bit of a collaborative discussion so that you can give your ideas and help me to understand this better.

For several weeks I have been pondering on these questions, which took a deep urgency in my spirit. I felt the need to know what I should be preaching and what was the original message…

Today the message of the church is that of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the disciples were ignorant of this message. Jesus was not preaching this either. It suddenly struck me that they weren’t preaching the message of the cross and resurrection from the dead, or the shedding of His blood to take away our sins… The cross and resurrection is what I equate with the Good News – The Story of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday! So what was the good news that the followers of Jesus preached?

My questions are:

What did Jesus preach?

What did the 12 and the 72 preach, when Jesus sent them out?

What should I be preaching?

1 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Matt 3:1 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’ ”

People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

2 – (Matt 4) Jesus Begins to Preach

Matt 4:12 – When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee…

17From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him…

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Jesus healed, loved, taught the people to love God and to apply love in their lives.. He called for repentance, forgave their sins and He called people to “Follow me!”

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Matt 9:13)

Matt 9:35 – Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. .. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

4 – Matthew 10- Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give…

14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

The 12 disciples were some of the first believers in the gospel of the kingdom. They were among the faithful of Israel who trusted that Jesus was the Son of God and promised Messiah. They were sent only to the lost sheep of Israel – to those who knew the law of God and the prophets, those who were to expect and long for the coming of the Messiah… they followed the message of John the Baptist, who had prepared the way with the call to repentance…

What did it mean to preach “The Kingdom of God is near”? We know that they healed the sick and cast out demons in His name – which was a compelling evidence for the claim that the Kingdom of Heaven is near! But what else would it have meant? To the people of Israel, the message to repent and to turn back to God, would have been both familiar and very rich and meaningful. The people of Israel knew God’s laws, to which they must return.

When Jesus sent out the 72, it seems the message was slightly different and the instruction was not only to Israel, but to every town and place where He was to go.

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go

9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town…

In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, the preaching seems to be –

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”

In Mark’s account –

The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 3:36 – “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 6: 29 – Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:40 – For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

The Great Commission to all followers of Jesus

Matt 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …”

The Acts of the Apostles

Peter and the other disciples, continued to proclaim this message –

Acts 2:36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

… 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 10:34 – Then Peter began to speak: [to Gentiles] “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him…

… 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

My Conclusion

John the Baptist and Jesus preached to CONFESS and REPENT of SINS, to TURN (back) TO GOD, BELIEVE in ‘JESUS – the MESSIAH and SON of GOD’, and believe THE GOOD NEWS that THE KINGDOM of HEAVEN – (the RULE AND REIGN OF GOD) – is NEAR at HAND.

TODAY IS THE DAY FOR SALVATION. Believe, be baptised and turn to God with all your heart, mind, strength… Everyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him is forgiven and saved from the wrath of God, for eternal life.

Salvation happens in a moment, but sanctification is a process that takes the rest of our lives, which is why He exhorts us also to “make disciples… baptising… and teaching…”

The Holy Spirit helps us in this mission too.

I love the assurance that He sends us to every town and place where He himself intends to go

This is the message I need to preach, I believe.

But I also ask myself, How significant is the change in the message of Salvation after the death and resurrection of Jesus?

How different is the gospel as it needed to be presented to Gentiles and now, to people of today?

Please add your thoughts in the comments about what we need to preach today.

Oh that The Holy Spirit would still validate the preaching of the word with signs and wonders, that the lost may see and believe and be saved, and God may be seen and glorified. Amen.

Jesus preached and taught the people… He had compassion on them.