In October 2017 I attended a Partners in Harvest conference at Oasis Church Colliers Wood. During that time the Holy Spirit did some amazing things and I was spiritually cut-off from past hurts and curses. I gave a testimony which a friend, Matt, videoed. Unfortunately the video is too large to update on this site, but maybe I can work something out in the future. In the meantime here is a summary of what I shared.
Before going forward I had hands laid on me within a “fire tunnel” twice – on the day before and that same day. During this time God dealt with some very painful issues from my past going back to my childhood but also replacing it with something new. However, during a worship time we were singing “I love you” to God and I was reminded of John 21 where Jesus restores Peter starting off by asking him “Do you love me more than these?”
This single thought translated my worship to saying to God that I love Him more than anything. That was challenging – because if you are honest you then have to consider those that you love more than any other person in your life and could I really say that I love God more than them? However, I knew that I could trust God and that He actually loves those that I love more than I love them. So, in choosing to love God more than I love anyone else I know that He will only ever want me to do something that demonstrates His love through the love He gives me for others. In other words by choosing to love God more than others my capacity to love those other people actually increases. So, it is safe to do! It is not a betrayal of those I love, rather it is simply a commitment to love them even more.
But we do need to be honest about our hearts. How do I love God more to the point that I love Him more than anyone else? It’s simple really, the more I trust in God’s faithfulness the more I can leave with Him and the more I can love Him. Have I reached the point where I can say like Peter, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you (more than these)”? I am not sure, but I do know that I love my wife and children even more and that I am learning it is the fruit (result) of giving myself more to God and that therefore I can trust Him more. The more I trust, the more fruit I see, the more I love God even more and I can now say I have reached a point where I have to pursue this path more and more. I can’t look back, I have to move forward. So yes, I do think I now love God more than I love anyone else. I want to spend more and more time with Him.
Now, that is a lot of words for a quick moment during a worship time, but the reality is that God had been sowing this within me leading up to that time. So I knew it already in my heart. It just needed unlocking – to reach my mind. The Lord then reminded me of what He had shown me about the whole passage (John 21:15-19) and in particular the shock I had when I paid close attention to verses 18 and 19. This is what I shared in my testimony but the big reveal for me at the time concerned identity. Given the work God had already done at the conference I realized He was dealing with things in my past that were holding me back and hemming me in. However, given that Jesus effectively releases Peter into a whole new identity (see below) in this passage I started asking God during the worship time, “what is my identity?” I am still asking that question, but I am beginning to get some answers.
This is what I said (paraphrased).
This passage is how Jesus restores Peter following his 3 times denial. He asks Peter 3 times “Do you love me?” and in particular the first time he asks, “Do you love me more than these?” In other words, “Am I your first love?” which is what we were singing. Peter gets very upset. There is then a bit that comes after which when I read it really surprised me because it seems quite brutal. Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Well that is not very subtle!
When I read that anew I was shocked. So called “gentle Jesus” tells Peter he is going to die. It seems brutal.
But it’s not.
Jesus words would echo with Peter over the years. These words would overwrite anything the enemy might try to whisper in his ears. Remember, Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Can you imagine the guilt and condemnation he felt after he did that until Jesus restores him? When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him 3 times he will have his very denial running through his conscience. It’s why it hurt so much when Jesus kept on asking. But Jesus then uses Peter’s very declaration of love and follows up with a prophetic word that reverses Peter’s destiny and identity. Jesus was saying you are not the person who betrays, that is in the past, it is forgotten (you are separated from your sin as far as the east is from the west). Going forward you will follow me with all your heart even to die the same death on the cross. You will not betray me, you are the rock on whom I will build my church.
In short Jesus changes Peter’s identity and destination. It is a total change of trajectory.
Having shared the above revelation (as it was to me) I then went on to share more about what this meant for me.
I was asking God what is my identity?
God had shown me at the conference that my whole life I had been afraid of rejection. From within my own family (lots of heated arguments) or for example with friends at school where I would try so hard to be liked and fit in with usually the opposite effect. Within the family I had worked out that having seen the arguments between my father and older brother that you have to tread carefully around my father. My dad used to joke about how when he was running late and was due to take me to rugby that rather than ask him to hurry up I would put his shoes outside the bathroom door without saying anything. I did this as I was afraid he would blow his top. During the times I received the Holy Spirit at the conference God cut me off from that fear of rejection. God told me “I am accepted”. My name is not rejected, my name is accepted (said with passion). On top of that as I was prayed for by a another friend, Mark, he prayed against a spirit of intimidation and God then said to me, “I am giving you a heart of courageous fire.”
I am no longer going to stand in the identity the enemy has tried to put on me, I am going to stand in the identity that God has given me. Remember, Jesus’s identity for Peter was based on his future not his past and that is what I am claiming for myself.
Having given that testimony John Arnott then prayed I would be filled up with the unsearchable riches of Christ.
An afterthought. Recently God has been highlighting to me the importance of recognizing and dealing with our fears. It is these fears that the enemy uses to give us a false identity. They are like walls of a box keeping us contained and away from our true identity. But more on that later …….