Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Choice is Yours

So often we ask God for good things, and we wonder why there is still troubles in our lives. Before I continue, I just want to say that what I am about to write, doesn’t take away from the grace of God. I am a believer that God’s grace is enough for us, and I believe that all the power and authority that we have comes from Him. I believe that when you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. No amount of works can earn this. Having said that, that doesn’t mean that we do not need works. Doing the ‘works’ can often keep troubles out of our lives. Does this mean that God rewards us for living good lives? No. It means that God has told us how to live in order to receive the good things that he has already provided.

This would indicate that there is something that we can do to protect ourselves from temptations and troubles. Yes, take a look at Romans 16:19-20, which says, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” This means that we should learn what is good, study it, practice it. Become wise in what is good. It says that we should be innocent about what is evil. Innocent means that you didn’t do it. Don’t do what is evil, have nothing to do with it. So often we flirt with it, we know that it is wrong, but a little doesn’t hurt. Does it? It does. If we are wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil, the God of peace will soon crush satan under our feet!

We are called to be ‘slaves of obedience (to God’s Word)’. Now the word ‘slaves’ brings up negative connotations, but Paul used the word as people understood what he was talking about. Being a slave indicates that you don’t really have a choice, it indicates a state of mind. You should be obedient to the point of not actually giving yourself a choice. Have a look at this verse. Romans 6:16 says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” You are going to be a slave to something, it can either be sin or obedience to God’s Word. If you think that you are not a slave to either, you are only kidding yourself. Just because you don’t acknowledge that you are a slave to sin, doesn’t mean that you are not. Think about it.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Yes, we need to resist the devil. It is an active response, which some of us (believers) embrace and do, however there is more to it than that. We need to submit ourselves to God and His Word. Do we do that? I mean do we actually do that? Grace-preachers (of which I am one) can often neglect our responsibility. We need to submit ourselves to God’s Word and resist the devil, in order to get him to flee. If we don’t do this, we open ourselves up to all sorts of sin, temptations, troubles, illnesses and hardships. Asking God to remove those, without submitting to His Word is probably not going to bring results. He has told us how to overcome them, it is now a case of doing it.

Does this mean that if we live Godly lives we will never face issues? I didn’t say that. I am merely saying that we invite (al-be-it unwillingly) some of the issues into our lives, and then we pray to God to remove them. God has given us the tools to remove them ourselves. Thanks to what Jesus did on the cross, the solution has already been provided! Use it! People often look at the fact that Paul was persecuted so much and that all the disciples (except for John) were martyred, to justify our suffering. Most of the suffering that we experience is not persecution, it is stuff that we have let into our lives by our lifestyle. Even if (or when) we get things thrown at us (not necessarily our fault), how do we react? Do we stick the the Word of God, do we remain faithful to Him? Or do we lose the plot and start to accept the problems? I am not condemning you (that is the devil’s job), I am letting you know the way out. I am still learning this myself, but what kind of person would I be if I kept this good news to myself?

I know that there are often issues in life that are difficult to explain, and deal with. I am not saying that these are your fault or that there is a simple solution to them. I am just saying that we do bring in some issues ourselves, which are unnecessary. Please take this from a position of me trying to help others overcome their issues, and not of condemnation. I have no intention of doing the devil’s work.

Take a stand. Stand on the Word of God.

Richard

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God, Lousy Parent or Turn-Around King?

Here is a topic that I find particularly frustrating because I feel that without understanding this, people could be led astray. I have often written articles about this, but here I plan to take it head on. Let me start with some verses that people use to back up this theory, then I will explain why it doesn’t mean what people think it does. 2 Samuel 12:15. After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. Job 2:6-7. “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot. Romans 5:3. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

Here is the theory that I have an issue with, people say that God puts them through ‘issues and trials’ in order to help them grow. I don’t believe that this is true. The first verse that I stated seems to drive people to this conclusion, but that is not what it is about at all. Firstly, it doesn’t say that God killed the baby, but IF He did, He would have only been punishing David for sleeping with someone else’s wife (and having the guy killed so that he could have her), and this was old covenant. David was not cleansed by Jesus’ blood. He was not righteous in God’s eyes, and he was not covered by grace. We are. God does not send illnesses to us anymore. God has not changed, but thanks to Jesus, we have. Now I may not have kids (yet), but I would imaging that putting your child’s hand on a stove plate in order to teach them that it is hot, would be child abuse. God does not abuse us. I have seen some websites claiming that He does, because of theories like this one. If you think that you are a better parent than God, you really don’t know Him at all.

Then we have people that realise that God does not bring these things on us, so they go for a slightly less aggressive approach, which is also not correct. They say that God allows us to go through ‘issues and trials’ in order to help them grow. Now this could be true, depending on what they mean by it, but I fear most people mean the wrong thing. If they mean that God sees these things happening and can intervene, but doesn’t, then He is just as bad a parent as the first illustration. If you see your kid going to the stove, and watch as they touch the hot plate in order to teach them a lesson, then you are just as bad as the one who put their hand on the stove. This is just a ‘technical’ way of not actually doing something, but getting the job done. God is the best Dad, much better than this would suggest. People usually use Job to back this up. Once again forgetting that Job was old covenant, not yet having the salvation, authority and grace that we enjoy today thanks to our Saviour. So if neither of these is true, what is the truth?

God wants what is best for us, just like any good parent would. He wants to give us good things. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”. Now if God doesn’t send issues and trials, where do they come from? This is for another post, but in short, they come from the devil and us. The devil because he leads us astray and lies to us, and us because we don’t realise the authority that we have. We also don’t live our lives according to what God has instructed, and this means that we get ourselves into trouble. If you tell your kid not to touch the stove and he does, who’s fault is that? Now it is not always that simple, but I’ll go into this into more detail at some point, this is about God as a parent, not about us as children. When we face these trials and issues, if we respond by seeking God’s guidance and doing what he asks, He will help us turn it around. Romans 8:28 spells it out for us. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. God will turn things around for our good if we listen to Him and do what He has called us to do. He doesn’t help us as a reward for being obedient, He tells us what to do because that is the way to receive what He has already given to us! God is so good at turning things around, that we often attribute the initial problem to Him too. This is wrong.

If you would like to know more about the authority spoken about here, may I recommend a book by Andrew Wommack called ‘The Believer’s Authority’. It really opened my eyes to the truth. There is too much to talk about in one post, so I may do a series on this, but for now just rest assured that trials and troubles don’t come from God and He doesn’t want them for you. You have the authority to overcome them, thanks to what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Together with God, all things are possible!

Richard

Paul’s Thorn

This is a topic that I have wanted to address for a while. Paul’s thorn has actually become a bit of a thorn in my side, because people keep using it out of context to counteract what I say. When I make statements like ‘God wants people healed’, ‘we have authority to rebuke illness and demons’ and ‘God wants what is good for us’, people say that Paul’s ‘thorn’ proves otherwise. It doesn’t. It is often written that no one actually knows what Paul’s thorn was, but an educated guess would not lead us to believe that it was an illness. I have no idea where people get that idea from, I assume that it is just an idea that has come about, in order to explain away times when healing doesn’t happen as we would like it to. This is nonsense. Let’s have a look at what the scriptures say.

2 Corinthians 12:7 says “even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” Firstly, it doesn’t say that God sent the thorn, it says that the thorn was a messenger from satan, not God. I believe that the reason why he says that the thorn is there to keep him humble, is because that is what he believed that God would use it for, I think that he was looking at the positive side of things. He was saying, “Well, I have this thorn, Lord let it keep me humble”. Secondly, how does ‘messenger from satan’ become illness? This is what astounds me. A messenger of satan is a demon. It was a demon that was harassing Paul, not an illness. What was the demon doing, you ask? Well, Paul was stoned, imprisoned, beaten, ridiculed and constantly harassed by angry people who opposed what he said. I believe that was the work of the demon. I believe that is what Paul was talking about. We all face persecution to a lesser or greater degree as believers, if you don’t, you’re not doing it properly. So, if that is the case, let’s have a look at Paul’s plea to God to remove it and what God said to him.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” This is where Paul explains what he means, once again making it clear, and not mentioning sickness. He says that God said His grace and power were the key. It also says that the power of Christ can work through him (Paul) as his weakness shows. Christ’s power, our actions. Paul is proving my point here! Paul is saying here that he wanted God to remove the demon, but God’s power in Paul was enough to overcome what the demon was doing. That is excellent news for us! When we come up against demons, strongholds, problems, mountains and issues that are trying to stop us from doing God’s will, we have God’s strength in us to deal with it. God doesn’t want us to come and ask Him to overcome these things, He is saying that we already have His grace and strength, and that is sufficient to overcome what the devil can throw at us. Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is!

I hope that this clears things up. I know that most people say that we don’t actually know what Paul was talking about, and maybe I have missed something, but this seems to be the clearest option for me. I honestly can’t see how people can claim that the thorn was an illness. God does not want us ill, and He definitely does not send us illness.

You have God’s power in you to overcome your ‘thorn’.

Richard

Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water

I have seen a few posts of late which concern me a little. They concern me because the devil has managed to get us to throw the baby out with the bath water. We see someone doing something wrong, we should separate the good from the bad, take the good on board and reject the bad. We don’t seem to do this, we end up throwing everything that they say out of the window, even the good. A few of these posts that I have seen have been about the same person, so I have decided to address it here and give my point of view.

Joel Osteen. Just mentioning the name will raise some Christian’s blood pressure, others are a fan. Let me make it clear from the beginning that I am not the biggest Joel Osteen fan, I don’t follow his teaching, but that doesn’t mean that everything that he says is bad. I have my beliefs based on scripture, whenever I hear anything from anyone, I run it through scripture and embrace the truth while rejecting the lies. I believe that Joel’s ministry contains truths and lies. This doesn’t justify the hate-speech and quite disturbing things that self-confessed Christians write about him though, let me explain. Joel’s main point seems to be about wealth, but we as Christians usually seem to have it in our mind that God wants us poor. I don’t believe that He does. Does He want us all stinking rich? No. Is wealth His main focus for us? No. He does want us to have life in abundance, and part of life is money. If you’re thinking about quoting the scripture about the rich young ruler, or the love of money being a root of evil, or the verse about how hard is is for a rich person to get into heaven, don’t. Those are all warnings, yes, and they are legitimate. It does not prove that God wants us poor. The problem with Joel’s ministry is that he focuses on wealth. Most of his talks and sermons seem to be about us building personal wealth. This was not God’s focus. I believe this to be wrong.

Joel teaches about speaking things into being. I happen to agree with this (read Mind Your Tongue for more about this). We do have the authority as believers, to speak the Word of God into being here on earth. I’m not just talking about prayer. Jesus told us to SPEAK to the mountain and believe, then the mountain would move. The problem I have is that Joel seems to only apply this to wealth. I don’t see articles about Him teaching us to speak truth into our lives, speak God’s will over our lives. I don’t see teaching about the disciplines of being a believer, fasting, praying, repentance. I don’t see the gospel message, I don’t see the ‘difficult’ messages. It all appears to be about money. Maybe I have just missed his sermons that weren’t about money, but it does seem to be his pet subject. The problem is that we disregard all that he says because he is so focussed on wealth. This is also not right.

His method is biblical. The idea that God wants to bless us is biblical. The complete pursuit of personal wealth is not. If you have an issue with what he (or anyone else) is preaching, please run what they say through scripture. Take what is good, and reject what is bad, but don’t just assume that because one thing they say is wrong, that everything that they have said must be wrong. People say that Joel sees God as a genie, this is not true, and it shows that you really don’t understand what he is talking about. I have a small understanding of how our authority works, and it is powerful. We are using the authority that we have in Christ, we are ‘enforcing God’s will’, if that is easier to understand, not forcing His hand or treating Him as a genie.

I do not agree with Joel Osteen’s pursuit of personal wealth, but I do see value in his methods. I do think that they are biblical. Before you throw everything that he says out of the window, see if there is any truth in it first.

If you throw the truth out, all you are left with is lies.

Richard

Lessons From Titus (Part 3)

Welcome to the third and final part of ‘Lessons from Titus’, where we have looked through the book of Titus and pulled out a few lessons. Today I want to look at Titus 3:1-8 and have a look what that has to say.

Do What Is Good
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarrelling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
But—“When God our Saviour revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

The first two chapters of Titus was about a whole lot of things that we should and shouldn’t be doing. It was not intended to be works based, it was there to give us instructions as to how we can get the most out of life, it was there for our good. Just in case you thought that it would save you, here is the truth of the matter. It is by grace that we are saved, the teaching is so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good, as it says in this passage. It also says that the teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. So no excuses. I suggest that you go and read Titus from start to finish and read it as if it was written to you. It sounds difficult (almost impossible) to achieve what it lays out, but it is not. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, we need to strive for perfection.

So that is it from the relatively unknown book of Titus. There is more that you can get out of that if you spend more time meditating on it, I hope that the last three posts have given you something to think about. We need to work hard at doing the right thing, always remembering that our salvation is secured by the grace of God. We not only need to strive to do the best that we can, but we ought to teach others to do the same. It sounds difficult, but we can achieve the impossible with God!

May God’s grace be with you all.

Richard