Monthly Archives: August 2014

Time to Acts – Part 1

I have recently finished reading specific books of the Bible which I set out to read, so I asked God what book to read and study next. I believe that He told me to read Acts. I then had coffee with my pastor, and asked him what was coming up in the next preaching-series of our church. Yes, you guessed it, Acts. Confirmation. I have decided to take a chapter at a time, read it, think about it and then write down what I have learned from that chapter. This means that all of you wonderful people who take the time to read my blog can go on this journey with me. I encourage you to read the chapter which I am focussing on, and see what you get out of it. The Word is alive and speaks to us individually, so me may not always get the same message. I may break them up with other posts, but just look out for the ‘Time to Act’ heading.

Acts chapter one. Here is the passage that I would like to focus on for today. Acts 1:6-11. Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Firstly, the disciples are still wondering when Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel. They still didn’t fully understand why Jesus was there and what He had done. Unfortunately, I don’t think people today have any better idea in general. We see images of what is happening in the the Gaza strip at the moment, and Christians being slaughtered for their faith. I have been asked what I think this means, does it mean that Jesus is coming back soon? Yes it does, but that is not the point. The point is what are we doing with the time that we have before He does. Jesus says the the disciples will be witnesses throughout the world once they receive the Holy Spirit. They had a job to do. We have a job to do. We no longer need to wait for the Holy Spirit, we have it (if you don’t, ask God for His spirit and He will give it to you).

Even after Jesus had gone, the disciples still kept looking into the sky. They may have been sad that He left, they may have been scared or confused. They may have even been wondering when He would come back. We as Christians can still spend so much time thinking about or debating this. I have seen comment after comment about when Jesus is coming back, what is happening in Israel at the moment and how that fits into God’s plan and people literally sitting around and waiting (or praying) for Jesus to return. Have a look at verse 11. They were asked why they were gazing into heaven. Jesus is coming back, no one knows exactly when, not even Jesus. I guarantee you that no human being knows or will ever be told. So what do we do in the meantime? Verse 8, paraphrased for us today. But you have received power when the Holy Spirit came upon you; and you are witnesses to Me all over the earth.

That is what we are called to do, the great commission says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20.

What are you waiting for? When Jesus comes back it will be too late, so get started now!

Richard

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God’s Power, Our Actions.

Some of the posts that I have written in the past have been very well received, and others have received some opposition. Some have even generated a rather abusive response. I used to get upset when people opposed me, but then I realised that people opposed Jesus to the point of killing Him, so I can endure a little opposition on social media. I have a suspicion that this post will be one that will either change your life in a positive way (if you embrace it), or it will really anger you (if you don’t agree). Please keep in mind that I am not trying to upset anyone, I am merely teaching what I believe to be the truth, based on scripture. If you do want to counter my views, please at least use relevant scripture and do it nicely.

After all of that, let’s get on to this contentious issue. God needs us to perform actions so that He can perform miracles. There, I said it. Now before you all start frantically writing back with angry replies, have a look at my reasoning. Mark 6:5 says, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” This is taking about Jesus, He couldn’t do any miracles in this place because of the people’s unbelief. Now unbelief and belief is an interesting concept, most of us has belief, we just have too much unbelief. That is why we don’t see miracles, but that is for another post. It is clear here that Jesus (who is God), could not do miracles because of actions of people. So does this mean that God is not sovereign? No. He is. Have a look at my post entitled ‘Sovereignty of God‘ for more, but the bottom line is that sovereignty does not mean that you always get your way.

Let’s have a look at another example. Ezekiel 37:1-14 is the passage about the valley of the dry bones. Every time God said to Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, he did, and then the miracle happened. If he hadn’t spoken the words, would the miracles still have happened? I don’t believe that they would have. I have also done a previous post entitled ‘Mind Your Tongue‘ which talks about this in more detail. The words that we speak are extremely important, we can speak life or death over ourselves or each other. Is every word that comes out of your mouth according to God’s will? No. So if our words speak life or death, and our words are not always according to God’s will, how can God’s will always happen?

I know that this may be hard to take in, especially if you are not on board with this theology, but I just want you to go and think about this. Go and read the scriptures and see if what I am saying is in fact true. I believe that it is and it has changed my life, I want you to have the same revelation. Please note what I am NOT saying, before you retaliate. I am not saying that God is our puppet and He does what we want. I am saying that our actions need to be in line with what God wants in order to see results. I am not saying that we do this in our strength. God’s power, our actions. God wants everyone saved, and the Holy Spirit leads us all to Christ, yet if you don’t accept Him, believe and confess, you won’t be saved. His power, our actions. Healing is a classic example of this, I know pastors who believe that Jesus picks and chooses who he heals, and this is why some people are not healed. The Bible says that by His stripes we WERE healed. Look at all of the passages regarding healing, does Jesus ever go and find someone and say to them, “You didn’t ask for healing, but I am going to heal you anyway.”? I doubt it. People always made an effort to get to Him to be healed. Some even endangered their lives just to get to Him. That shows maximum belief and minimum unbelief. God’s power, our actions. Jesus taught the disciples to command healing, talk to the mountain and tell it to move, then believe and it will move. God’s power, out actions. Why have we watered this down to, “God if it is Your will, please heal me.” It is His will, God said that you WERE healed by Jesus’ stripes.

Now please don’t misunderstand, this is not as condemnation. I have also lost loved ones who died from illnesses, and at the time I believed that it was God’s will. I now don’t believe that anymore. I don’t beat myself up, and I am definitely not condemning you either. I am saying that we should learn from this, so that next time, we get better results. God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven. I hope that this has given you some food for thought. It doesn’t answer all of the questions, in fact it may have just created some more, but I will deal with them over time. Just think about this concept, and then read the scriptures and see how the Spirit leads you.

There is nothing wrong with God’s power, what is wrong with our actions? How can we change them to be in line with God’s will? What can we do to see God’s will on earth as it is in heaven?

Be blessed.

Richard

What is Your Mission?

This is a topic that has been pushed up my list of things to write about, partly because it is an issue, and partly because I just can’t believe that it is happening. I saw people posting stuff about Mark Driscoll, and I wanted to find out what the issue was. I went and googled his name and found a website that was apparently going to explain what the issue was. It wasn’t. It was merely a mud-slinging website. I am not going to mention the website as I think that it is a ridiculous, and I don’t want to promote it. Here are some of the accusations that they make against Mark to show that he is a ‘false prophet’:

He dresses too casual for the pulpit.

He preaches about sex.

He makes jokes in his sermons (about Bible characters).

He promotes punk music.

He doesn’t condemn tattoos.

He has been given words of knowledge about peoples sins.

Seriously? Is that what they are condemning him on? In that case, you had better condemn me too. I have preached before, and I wore jeans and a t-shirt. I have taught about sex ( and keeping it within marriage), I have made jokes in a sermon, I like heavy metal music (possibly even ‘worse’ than punk), I have a tattoo (which I got as a Christian) and I have been given words of knowledge about people’s sins. Does this make me a ‘false prophet’? No. The bible talks about false prophets, but we need to read what it actually says, and not just give that label to anyone that we don’t agree with.

Going back to Mark, he has made some mistakes. He has probably made even more that are not public knowledge. He has apologised and is trying to put them right. What more could we ask for? Is that not what the Bible instructs? I don’t know Mark Dricoll and I don’t even listen to much of his teaching, but if you’re going to call someone a false prophet, you need better reasons than the ones listed above.

Here is the point of this post. What is your mission, what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to teach people and bring glory to God or are you trying to bring someone else down? I know there people will probably argue that they are trying to help people by ‘exposing the lies’, but how about spending more time preaching the truth? Seriously, take the time that you spend gathering ‘dirt’ on Mark Driscoll and spend it in the Word. Spend it teaching truth. Then if you get it wrong, learn from your mistakes and move on (like Mark does). I’m not saying that we should ignore false teaching, I’m saying that if we preach the truth, people will recognise false teaching. Besides, if you’re after false teaching there are others that are much more false than Mark Driscoll. In fact other than making mistakes and apologising for them, I struggle to see where Mark has gone wrong. If anyone knows and will discuss it respectfully so that we can all learn from his mistakes, then fine. If you want to throw mud, go and do it elsewhere.

Are you here to speak the truth, or to oppose others that do that you don’t agree with? Please note that I am not saying that Christians should not hold other Christians accountable, I believe that we should. I am merely saying that if your entire ministry revolves around ‘proving’ someone else wrong, then you have issues. Rather spend the time preaching what you believe to be true, than following someone else trying to catch them out. If I am not mistaken, that is what the devil spends his time doing.

Jesus is the Way, follow Him!

Richard

Half Time

Today I was thinking about life, and all of the missed opportunities. I was thinking about all of the times that I had the opportunity to minister to people, whether for healing, words of knowledge or just a friendly chat. Opportunities that I had, which I didn’t take. Missed chances. I have changed my life since then, that is not to say that I don’t still miss opportunities, but I now take some too. I sometimes look back and think, “I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently”. You see you can beat yourself up for missing chances, but how does that help you take them in the future?

Let’s have a look a sport. I know that most of the readers of this blog are in the States, but I’m going to talk about soccer (football for those in the UK). There is a team called Liverpool. Now I don’t really like Liverpool because I am a Manchester United fan, and they are big rivals, but I’m going to use them for this illustration. In 2005, Liverpool were 3 – 0 down to AC Milan at half time in the Champions League. Now just to clarify, a match is 90 minutes long, 45 minutes each half. The Champions League is the top competition in Europe (arguably the world) for a club side to win, and AC Milan were arguably the best team in the world at that stage. Very few teams managed 3 goals against them, least of all in 45 minutes after being 3 down. Long story short, Liverpool scored 3 goals and the game went to penalties which Liverpool won. Down and almost out at half time, champions by the end.

Even though it hurts a little to tell that story (being a Manchester United fan), there is still a point to it, and believe it or not there is something that we as Christians could learn from it. I said in the first paragraph that there were things that I regret not doing (or doing) and that I wish that I had done things differently. There is nothing we can do about the past. We can change the future. Liverpool could have cried about the fact that they were 3 goals down, but they didn’t, they looked to change the future. We must learn from our mistakes, and put changes in our lives in order to see a better future. Look at what we have done wrong, and put it right. This is repentance. Repentance is not apologising profusely. It is merely changing from our ways to the ways that God has called us to.

We should be spending time reading the Bible. We should be listening to sermons, meditating on the Word and praying. Seeking first the Kingdom of God. If we are doing this, we should be growing, learning new things. Becoming more like Jesus. This means that instead of crying over what happened yesterday, learn from it and make the changes today. This way we can look forward to a more blessed tomorrow. We shouldn’t be envious of others, but if we see others doing things that we want to be doing, ask them for pointers. I really wanted to get prophetic words, so I asked the guy in our church who usually got them. I asked him to teach me how to do that. He did. I now have people asking me to teach them. This is how the Kingdom of God works! We see people healing and casting out demons, and we wish that we could do that. We want those gifts. Well here is a secret for you, you can do it! Matthew 10:8 is for all of us, not just those with a ‘gift’. There is a place for spiritual gifts, yes, but we can all do the things in Matthew 10:8. (Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.)

If you have never done this before, if you regret not doing it. Take a stand. Find someone who does these things and ask them to teach you. Spend time in the Word, meditating on scripture. Don’t just read it, believe it. Put it into practice. Let it become the Truth in your life. It is only half time, there is still another half to play. Make the most of it!

Bless and be blessed.

Richard

Dare to Believe

I have spoken a lot about healing, and that I believe that God wants you well, and does not send sickness. I have had a passage quoted to me to try and justify the theory that God does make people sick. What is more, people have used this passage to try and ‘prove’ that we can’t heal people (at all, even with God’s power) any more. If this is the case, then I am really confused, because I have personally seen two people miraculously healed in the last month, and heard testimonies of more. After reading this passage of scripture presented to me, I discovered that the person had it out of context. It is actually a very handy passage, so I though that I would talk about it today. Here it is, John 9:1-12.

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi,who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

This is an interesting passage, let’s start with the second half of verse 3. Please note that it does not say anywhere that God made him blind. I believe that Jesus said what He said merely to counteract the disciples theory that the man was blind because he sinned. Jesus was in fact saying that these bad things could happen to ‘good’ people. Any illness you have may not be because of your sin, it is in the world because of sin in general. There is no sin in heaven and there is no sickness either. You may avoid sin yourself, but someone else’s sin could leave you ill. The good news is that your illness is also an opportunity for the works of God to be displayed. Who does the works of God now? Who did He send to heal? Matthew 10:8 says that it is you and I. Next thing is verse 4, where some think Jesus is saying that when night comes (Him going back to heaven) no one will be able to heal anymore. This could not be further from the truth. Night is referring to Jesus death. Jesus is merely saying that He can’t do miracles when He is dead, so He is doing them now. We can’t do any when we’re dead either, so make the most of your life here on earth. This is the message here. Jesus also said that while He was here, He was the light of the world. Who is the light of the world now? Yes, we are. Matthew 5:14 is clear about that.

Why did Jesus make mud and wipe it on the man’s eyes. Truth is, I don’t know. Maybe Jesus was using it as an analogy as man originally came from dust, so He was using that to heal the man. I don’t know. It is similar to the reason why he tells the man to go and wash it off. Why not just wipe it off? This time I do have a theory though. I believe the answer is in verse 11. They asked the man how he was healed, and he said that Jesus put mud on his eyes and told him to go and was it off. He said that he did just as Jesus instructed and he was healed. He didn’t question, he just followed Jesus’ orders. Mark 11:23 tells us to tell the mountain to move and then believe. Then the mountain will move. It doesn’t say how long we will need to believe for. This man had a while to believe, all the way down to the pools. At any stage he could have thought that it was silly and walked away. Would he have been healed then? I doubt it. Fortunately for him he didn’t. He did just as Jesus instructed and he was healed.

So what can we learn from this? When we are commanding healing in Jesus name (as we should be), we need to listen to God. There is no exact formula of how to do this, sometimes God may reveal to you that it requires a slightly different approach. Sometimes you need to rebuke a demonic force or break a stronghold. Maybe you need to speak something over the person, maybe you need to lay hands on them, maybe they need to do something in response. Jesus sometimes dealt with healing different ways, and the only reason I can see is obedience to the Father. We need to hear how the Spirit is guiding us and be obedient. If you are the one being prayed for (or in fact praying), keep the faith! Even if you don’t see healing there and then, keep believing. Keep your faith. I have commanded healing before and not seen it straight away. The next morning, the guy woke up miraculously healed! We didn’t allow unbelief to creep in.

Your action, God’s power. He has given us the authority to heal. Do it.

Richard