Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: Kingdom

Live

What do you live for? What’s your motivation?

It might be family or your career or cats.

Jesus came to raise our expectations. He invites us to abundant life.

When I was ill with ME/chronic fatigue and some days all I could do was breathe, I knew abundant life inside. Jesus gave me an impossible joy that had nothing to do with circumstances and didn’t take energy. He gave it. While I would never want to go back to being ill, I wouldn’t have missed knowing the nearness of God for anything.

Abundant life is all about knowing Jesus. He invites us to follow Him and to put Him first in our lives. I’ve found asking myself this question helpful: ‘If Jesus were living my life right now, what would He do?’

Jesus said that if we seek first His Kingdom, the Father will provide everything we need. We don’t need to worry about what will happen because we have a Daddy in heaven who has endless resources, is richer than we can begin to imagine, and has promised to take care of all of our needs. In the last couple of years, I’ve been daring to believe this is true. It is. It may not always look like what I expect, but He does provide.

Seek first His Kingdom. What does that look like?

When Jesus sent out His followers on a preaching trip, He urged them: ‘Proclaim as you go saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received with paying, give without pay.’

His commission hasn’t changed. God still wants us doing these things. How else can people see Him? In some parts of the world, seeing the dead raised is normal. I can testify to God’s healing power in my own life. I’ve also had demons cast out of me.

If God is who He says He is, why wouldn’t He do these things?

He loves us, He reveals Himself to us, He is the one who pursues us. It’s not the other way around. We know love because He shows us what it looks like. We live because He is the source of life.

Hand2,000 years ago, Jesus’ friend Peter saw Jesus walking on water and said to Him, ‘Lord if that’s really You, call me to join You.’

With a smile (I’m sure), Jesus said, ‘Peter, come.’

Peter scrambled out of the boat and walked on water. Just like Jesus.

But then he saw the waves and freaked out. What am I doing?! Aaaaggghhh! Peter began to sink and yelled for help. Immediately Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up, back onto the top of the water.

Jesus offers us abundant life and He invites us to get out of the boat and go on Kingdom adventures with Him. Are you up for it?

 

 

Father of Lights

During the recent brief spell of hot weather, Adi and I headed for a department store and air-con. The lights in the store looked like wrapped Christmas gifts and reminded me that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights.

I love the Father of Lights because He is who He says He is: the creator, the saviour, the Father, the only true God. He never gets moody or changes His mind. He always sees things through, and I can trust Him absolutely. He gives me everything I need to live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean no problems. Abundant life is the life within: having peace and joy deep inside that are real and present despite circumstances.

The Father pursues me with goodness and mercy. Even when things go awry with illness or job loss or whatever, I can trust Him because everything has to pass through His hand first. Nothing is able to get to me unless He allows it so that He can grow faith and hope in me, always developing my character.

SunsetThis Father’s heart blazes with such immense love and purity that it’s no surprise He is keenly interested in mine. What are my attitudes and thoughts? Are they pure and lovely like His?

There is no darkness in the Father of Lights. For one who suffered from demonic nightmares, oppression and evil presences, this is of vital importance and a great comfort. He is Light. Just as He is Love. It is impossible for Him to do anything wrong or badly. If anyone thinks He does, they don’t know Him.

I never knew how father-like this Father is before last week. But He has pursued me over the years, culminating in Him drawing near to this much-loved daughter in a bungalow in Norfolk. He entered the room, His eyes locked on mine, a huge smile on His face. I lay in awe, almost unable to breathe at His magnificent presence. He scooped me up in His arms and tossed me in the air like a loving dad having fun with His child. I giggled delightedly as He did it again and again. And then He gave me a glimpse of His burning heart, red-hot with love for me. I don’t think I will ever be the same again.

The Father of Lights, the one from whom comes every good and perfect gift, has adopted me as His daughter. One day I will shine like the sun in His Kingdom. This isn’t airy-fairy stuff; this is real; this is truth. I love the Father because He first loved me and has shown me what is love.

Mine!

One of the many things I love about Jesus is the way He completely identifies Himself with me. Regardless of the cost to Himself, He has always been determined to show me the depth of His love.

You’ve got to really love someone to be crucified. It was one of the worst forms of execution ever devised with the victim nailed in place unable to move hands or feet, severely cramping muscles, slowly suffocating to death in agony. Jesus was perfect – even Pilate and Herod couldn’t find that He’d done anything wrong during His trials. But knowing it was the only way that I could be rescued from darkness and oppression and transferred into His Kingdom and adopted by His Father, Jesus was willing to be crucified. Not only was there the physical pain to contend with, public execution was shameful. If you’ve ever been told off by your boss in front of others or shouted at in the classroom by a teacher, you can appreciate a little of what Jesus went through. People being crucified were fair game for the general public to mock and laugh at, and Jesus had to face that. His very identity was challenged by the mockers. That’s hard to take. He suffered rejection – many of His closest friends stayed away; even His Father had to turn away when Jesus became sin so that I could have His purity. On the cross, He was silently showing everyone that He loved me, basically saying: ‘She’s mine!’

Jesus identifies with me in the spiritual realm. When I chose to follow Him at the age of ten, His Father transferred me out of the domain of darkness and into Jesus’ Kingdom. I didn’t appreciate what that meant until a couple of years ago. I had been plagued with demonic nightmares and unwanted presences in the house for several years. At first I put it down to imagination but my pastor and his wife realised it was far more than my imagination. They came and prayed round the house with Adi and me, and all of that darkness was forced to go because Jesus is mightier than any occult powers. Because Jesus has identified Himself with me, marked me as His own and given me His authority, demonic forces have to take notice and leave. They don’t have a choice because Jesus is the King.

Diamond RingI don’t need to worry about Jesus getting bored of me or changing His mind. My name is engraved on the palms of His hands – that sounds pretty permanent! He has also promised that one day, He will proudly present me before His Father with exuberant joy, and He will announce to His Dad and to all the angels: ‘Mandy is mine!’

When Adi asked me to marry him, he gave me a diamond ring. The cost was less than £50. But it marks me as his wife, I belong to him and he belongs to me. The Bible says that I, along with the whole Church, am being prepared as a beautiful bride for Jesus. He has given me His Spirit as an engagement ring. The cost to Jesus was His life. The Holy Spirit marks me as belonging to Jesus, and He belongs to me.

WOO HOO for a fantastic God!

Linking up today with Claire Musters, Helen Murray and Ros Bayes.

 

 

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