Monthly Archives: September 2014

Time to Acts – Part 9

Acts chapter 9. I could do a few posts about this chapter, but seeing as we are going through a chapter at a time, I had better get cracking.

This is the story where Saul convert to Christianity. It is a wonderful and dramatic story where one of the most anti-Christian people out there, becomes one of the most important Christians in history. Without Saul (who later becomes Paul), we would not have one third of the New Testament today. If you are not a Believer, please let this show you that God can and will use anyone who comes to Him for His glory. You, like Paul, can go on to do amazing things if you will trust Jesus as your Lord. Seeing as most people who read this blog are believers, I would like to talk for a moment about Ananias. Put yourself in his shoes for a minute. You’re minding your own business, spending time with God, and He gives you a message. He tells you that the leader of a terrorist group (who goes out killing Christians) is nearby, and he has been made blind. God asks you to go and heal him. Firstly, if someone was known for killing Christians, would you go around to their place? Would you heal them if you had felt that God told you to? We read this as a story, and think that it is all fun and games, but think about it in today’s terms. If an ISIS leader was blinded, would you go to them and heal them? Would you be safe? Would you want to help them? These are all valid questions. Ananias was hesitant at first, but when God confirmed it, he went. I hope that I can show the same obedience when God calls me.

Saul then goes off preaching the Word. He gets a bit of his own medicine, as people then want to kill him. This is interesting, people don’t have an issue with other people, they have an issue with God. This is what it is all about. When Saul was on their side, hating Christians, he was accepted, but when he turned to Jesus, they wanted him dead. This gives me some comfort, as I often take abuse on social media, nothing like the people in this story though. I now see it as a spiritual attack rather than people hating me. They actually hate the Holy Spirit, that is why they come after me. This kind of persecution will happen, it just varies from verbal abuse to people trying to kill you.

Peter also wanted to get in on the action here, he went around healing people. I know that I teach often on healing, but it appears so often in the Word. It is also linked with salvation. When there is healing in the Word, there are people coming to Christ. I think that it is a vital part of the gospel that we have neglected. Let’s take a look at the last part of this chapter. Tabitha (or Dorcas) dies. They call for Peter, and he comes around and raises her from the dead. Great story. I would like to draw your attention to one verse. Verse 38. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Why? The people with Tabitha were Christians. Why did they call Peter? I have had Believers contact me and ask me to go and heal them. I take this as a huge compliment, but I often feel that they should ask someone more ‘experienced’ than me. They feel that I am more experienced than them, that’s why they called me. What is the solution? Do we all just ask people more ‘experienced’ than us until we reach the guy at the top who ends up going around and healing people? Do we not all have the Holy Spirit? Now I know that some people have the gift of healing, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t heal. We choose not to. This is what makes me sad. I have heard Believers say that they don’t have the authority to heal. If you have been baptised in the Holy Spirit, the only reason why you don’t have the authority is that you say that you don’t. God won’t force it on you if you don’t want it. So who are you in the story? Are you the one who calls for the ‘healer’ or are you the one who commands healing in Jesus name with the authority that you have been given? You may not be known for doing miracles, but everyone has to start somewhere. I encourage you to live in faith.

The One who raised Jesus from the dead, lives within you!

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 8

Acts chapter 8 has got some interesting stories, and does pack a lot of useful tips. Please go and read Acts chapter 8 and then take a look at these points with me.

Verse 3 says, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”. Yes, this was Saul, the guy who went on to become Paul, and write a third of the New Testament. At one stage he hauled Christians out of their houses and imprisoned them. We look at the people who are killing Christians today, and I don’t condone that behaviour at all, but imagine who those people could become if they gave their life to Jesus? If you think that you have done too much wrong, or if you think that God can’t do anything with you, think again. Paul made a major change when he accepted Jesus, you can too!

We then read the story about Simon. Simon is a sorcerer. He uses evil power to do magic, and he is known for it. Then you have Philip doing signs, wonders and miracles with the power of the Holy Spirit. There are a few things to learn here. When Philip did miracles, there was great joy in that city. (Verse 8). Even though Simon did sorcery, he realised the power that Philip had and he gave his life to Jesus. This just shows where sorcery fits in, apart from being evil, it has nothing on the Holy Spirit.

Peter and John then pitch up and start baptising people in the Holy Spirit. This interests me because I always used to think that becoming a Christian and being baptised in the Spirit was the same thing. According to this it isn’t. Philip led them to Jesus, they were then baptised with water, and only later baptised in the Spirit by Peter. Have you been baptised in the Spirit or are you happy with just salvation? I can tell you that being saved will give you eternal life, but having the Spirit brings you to life! Just because you have been saved, doesn’t mean that you have been baptised with the Holy Spirit, ask someone who has to lay hands on you and baptise you too. You won’t regret it!

Simon was so impressed with the power of the Spirit, that he tried to buy it from Peter. Peter tells him off in no uncertain terms. You can’t buy the Spirit. Having The Spirit is not about being powerful or elevating yourself, it is about God working through us. It is about us walking in God’s power. Simon didn’t understand this, I hope that we do. Look at the contrast, Simon wanted it for selfish gain and therefore didn’t receive the Holy Spirit, Philip was acting correctly in the Spirit, which brought Joy to everyone. What are your intentions? Why do you want to receive the Holy Spirit? Think about that.

The last thing that I would like to draw to your attention is the last story of this chapter where Philip goes off and finds a eunuch. He preaches the gospel to him, leads him to Jesus and then stops and baptises him. Not bad going really. If we went out and came across someone, preached the gospel, lead them to Jesus and then baptised them, we’d be pretty proud of ourselves. Have you ever done this? I haven’t. Why not? Is the answer maybe in verse 26 and 27? Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. Do we listen for God’s voice? When we hear it, do we recognise it? When we know what God is calling us to do, do we do it? These are some questions to ask yourself. I am trying to hear God’s voice, it is a constant learning curve, and I am beginning to have more faith in God and trust Him. This means that I do listen to what He is saying and I try to be obedient. The more obedient I am, the more miracles I see. I want to see more, so I need to be more obedient. I need to listen to God more and obey.

Why don’t you join me in doing this? You can bring some great joy to your city!

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 6&7

I have decided to combine chapters 6 and 7 as one story spans across 2 chapters. These two chapters have 2 different stories, yet there is a strange connection which I think is interesting and relevant today. Let’s take a look.

The first part of chapter 6 shouldn’t come as any surprise to any of us that attend a church in a first-world country. As the church grows, people start to complain. Sound familiar? We all have good intentions, but for some reason, when we come together, we don’t always see eye to eye. This causes people to moan and complain. It is not new for today, it has been going on for a while.

The second story is about Stephen. Stephen is out and about doing miracles and great signs, as we all wish that we were out doing, and people didn’t like that. People were so jealous and hated what Stephen was doing so much, that they lied about him to the council to get him into trouble. The council then arrest Stephen and get him before them and ask him if the accusations were true. Now at this point, Stephen could have just said no, but he didn’t. He had a whole story for the council, showing them some of the mistakes made by their ancestors, and telling them not to make the same mistake now. Even when Stephen could have just denied the charges (which were false anyway), he still took the opportunity to teach the council. As usual, they didn’t like this, because it highlighted where they were in the wrong.

Long story short, Stephen gets killed for his actions. Stephen was out doing what God had called him to do, this made others jealous, which caused them to lie about him. This lead to him being questioned, where again he tells the truth, which leads to his death. Throughout this story, you see that God’s favour is on Stephen. Yet he still got killed. When I talk about God’s provision and grace and the fact that He wants to bless us, people use scripture like this to oppose me. This is about persecution. God never promises that we won’t face persecution, in fact He says that we will. If you live in the US or UK, we may not be killed for our faith (yet, it may still get there), but you will be persecuted. God does not want us to be persecuted, yet He will not interfere with people’s free will, so His grace is sufficient. Just look at God’s answer to Paul when he asks Him to remove his thorn (persecution).

Now I’m sure that you can see the points to these two stories, but do you see the connection? Maybe it was not intended like this, but it is ironic that these two stories are one after the other. Here we have one group who are moaning and complaining that their church is not ideal, and another person being killed for his faith. Sound familiar? We sit in our first world countries, moaning about our churches, while people in Iraq are being killed for believing what we believe. Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t try and fix our church, nor am I saying that we should go to Iraq to get killed, I am just saying that we need to get this in context. Are we speaking the truth? Even if it gets us into trouble? Let’s spend less time moaning and complaining and more time speaking the Word of God. More time stepping out in Jesus name and doing what God has called us to do. Less time worrying and complaining about ‘church politics’. When you read the Bible, meditate on it, and speak the Truth, you will upset people. You will set some people free, but some will get upset. I promise you. Even some Christians will get upset with you, but it is far better to speak the Word of God, than to keep men happy.

Join me in speaking the Truth more and complaining less.

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 5

Every previous post that I have done in this series, I have selected a passage from the chapter to focus on. This time I am not going to do that. Chapter 5 is a long chapter, and there is so much to learn. Please read the whole chapter, and then have a look at what I have below. I won’t cover everything here, I trust that you will learn so much by just reading the scripture.

Ahh, this old chestnut. Ananias and Sapphira. People have used this scripture to try and convince me that God still kills people. No he doesn’t. Where does it say that God kills them? In fact it says that satan had filled their hearts (verse 3). Satan is the one who kills, Jesus removed death’s sting, Jesus was against satan, not God. The other misconception about this passage is that they died because they didn’t give money. That is complete nonsense. In fact Peter said that the house was theirs to sell and the money theirs to give. The choice was theirs. So why did they die? Firstly, they lied to God. They said that they had given all of the money, when they hadn’t. If they had said that they were giving some of the money, I believe that they would have been fine. It was the lie, rather than the fact they they didn’t give, that got them into trouble. Does this mean that we will die if we lie to God? It means that if we let satan fill our hearts instead of God, we will be subject to his will rather than Gods. John 10:10 says that satan is here to steal and destroy, but Jesus came so that we could have abundant life. Who fills your heart? Whose will do you do with your actions? These are the questions that you should be asking yourself.

The next section (verses 12 to 16) contain some interesting points. People were scared to join them after the deaths of the two who lied to God. This is further evidence that it was the devil’s doing. God wants us to spread the gospel, if something comes against that, it isn’t God. The other interesting part is at the end of this section. EVERYONE who was ill or demonised (a better word for demon possessed in my opinion) was healed. Not some people who God selected, everyone. God wants EVERYONE well. Our actions, God’s power.

Once again the disciples get themselves into trouble with the council, and once again God comes through for them. He gets them out of prison when there was no physical way out. This again shows the faith of the disciples and the faithfulness of God. Even when we are in difficult situations, do we give up or do we continue to believe in (and speak of) God’s faithfulness? I am speaking to myself here too, I give up all too often. I am now making an effort not to do that. God is always faithful. I know that I am not doing this passage justice, go and read it and let it flood your heart. Imagine yourself in the position of the disciples, image yourself having the faith that they did. Then apply that faith to your current circumstances. See how God comes through for you!

Verse 38 & 39: “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” Very useful advice from Gamaliel. Let’s look at it from both sides. If someone is preaching something that is not from God, we don’t need to go and fight against it. Yes, we need to speak the truth, and that will mean disagreeing with someone at some stage, but we don’t need to focus on attacking people who we don’t agree with. The other side of this story is that we need to make sure that what we are doing, is what God wants us to be doing. If He is not in it, we won’t achieve what we can if He is in it. Listen to God, hear what He is calling you to do, and then do it with the faith that the disciples had. We have the same God, we have the same Spirit in us that raised Christ from the dead, and God is still just as faithful.

Amen.

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 4

This is a continuation of my series on Acts, this time we tackle Acts 4. Take a look back at previous posts for the other chapters.

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.
“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

The whole of chapter 4 is very interesting, and I suggest that you read the whole thing, but I have selected the above section for today’s post. This one is really close to my heart, as I still see this today. Have a look at the first paragraph. The members of the council were amazed by Peter and John’s boldness, they were surprised by their knowledge of scripture, they recognised them as Jesus’ disciples, they acknowledged that they had done a miracle and they even had the ‘proof’ standing right there. You would think that they would believe. Nope, they still consider it propaganda and want to stop them from spreading the Word. Unbelievable. Yet is still happens today. Now I am not saying that I am always right, but I do try to spread the Truth. When I started this ministry, I expected to be attacked for my faith, I just wasn’t expecting it to come from ‘friendly fire’. 90% of the negative comments, spiritual attacks and sometimes even abuse that I receive comes from Christians.

Now you may argue that the members of the council were not Christians, and you are right, but they were the religious leaders of the day. I think that some Christians nowadays, are more like the religious leaders than followers of Jesus. I have been politely asked to leave a church because I believe that we have the authority to command healing (which Peter demonstrated in the last chapter, that is why he is facing the council), yet that same church advertised that ‘all were welcome’. All unless you have a different theology I suppose. Anyhow, the point of this is not for me to rant about things from the past, but more to teach us that we are in a battle, we will face opposition. The (possibly) more important lesson from this passage is that the Holy Spirit was with Peter and John here. As He is with us as we go about what God has called us to do. Even when they blatantly tell the council that they will not stop, they still have nothing on them. God is good!

This doesn’t mean that we will never face persecution, but as we find out from Paul, God’s grace is sufficient. Speak the truth, no matter what the consequences. This doesn’t mean that you are not above change. If someone approaches me in love, and gives me scriptures (in context), to alter my views (if I am wrong), I have no issue with that. When I get attacked and told that I am wrong because someone believes differently, and they have no scripture to back it up, I treat them as Peter treated the council. Should I believe you over what God has said? Absolutely not!

God’s power, our actions.

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 3

I am doing a series on Acts, one chapter at a time to see what we can learn, this is about chapter 3. I know that I may get out a different lesson to what you may, that is one of the beauties about the Bible, every time you read it, you get something new out. It doesn’t matter how often you read it, you will always learn. I also don’t go too deep into each chapter, just pull out a few things that speak to me. I encourage you to go and read the relevant chapters and see what God has to say to you. Here we go with chapter 3. Read the whole chapter and then take a look at Acts 3:4-8.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

There is so much to learn here, and I can say that I have done some of it, but there is one part in particular that I see as a huge challenge. The first thing that I see in the verses that I have highlighted here, is that the man was expecting one thing and Peter (and John) had something else in mind. This is vital when ministering to people. I have had so many people come to me for ministry and ask for prayer for something, I then ask God what He wants to do. The two often differ. I chose to listen to God, not because the person is wrong, just because God knows best. I have even seen people healed from what they wanted healed, because God healed them from something else which seemed unrelated. When ministering to someone, don’t just address their need, see what God wants to do, and lead with that. If Peter had money, do you think he just would have given some? I doubt it. Not that giving money is wrong, just that healing someone is so much better.

Now we move onto the healing. This is the part that excites me. Peter didn’t pray for the person, or ask God if it was His will that the person be healed. He merely told him to get up and walk, and he used the mighty Name of Jesus. He knew the authority that he had (and we have) and he did it. No lack of faith, no unbelief, he trusted in what God had said and he did it. Now I do this too, but I have to say that my success rate is not as high as Peter’s. Why? I have too much unbelief. It is something that I am working on, it doesn’t come right overnight, but it is a problem. This is what we should be striving for, commanding healing with such faith and lack of unbelief that it has no choice but to happen. This is not ‘forcing God’s hand’, it is merely forcing the demons and illnesses to vacate according to the will of God and to fall in line with what Jesus died for. When healing happens, it is not because God decided to heal, it is because we have finally got our actions and faith in line with what God has already provided. By His stripes we WERE healed. Jesus said that His job is finished. It is our turn now!

Now the last point I wish to make is the hardest one to swallow. This is one that I have never done, and I need to pluck up the courage to do it. Just because I haven’t done it, doesn’t make it incorrect though, I need to change here. Once Peter had commanded that the man be healed, he grabs the man and lifts him up. Now please note that the man is only healed as he lifts him up. This is incredible. Let’s just imaging for a minute that someone in a wheelchair comes to you for healing and God says that you must heal them. No pressure. You may be like me, and you may understand this theology and command that the person be healed in Jesus Name (as Peter did), but would you have the faith to pull someone out of a wheelchair? Most of the people reading this are probably in the UK or the USA, can you imagine the legal charges if you are wrong and the person falls down? Fear. Unbelief. Peter didn’t have any. I unfortunately do. This is what I am trying to remove. So how do I do that? Read the scripture, meditate on the word. Let these lessons soak in and go from mere head knowledge to actual belief and faith. Submerge yourself in the Holy Spirit, pray in tongues. Fully embrace the kingdom of God and what it has to offer you here on earth. I encourage you to join me in this.

Let’s move the mountain.

Richard

Time to Acts – Part 2

I am doing a series on Acts, one chapter at a time to see what we can learn, this is about chapter 2. I know that I may get out a different lesson to what you may, that is one of the beauties about the Bible, every time you read it you get something new out. It doesn’t matter how often you read it, you will always learn. I also don’t go too deep into each chapter, just pull out a few things that speak to me. I encourage you to go and read the relevant chapters and see what God has to say to you. Here we go with chapter 2.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4 is talking about the believers, God sends His Spirit down, and they start speaking in other languages. Other languages that are heard and understood by foreigners. This is awesome, as I think sometimes people can fake tongues, yet if you start speaking an actual language (understood by other humans) that you yourself don’t understand, then that is definitely God at work. This must have been an amazing time for the Christians, experiencing this for the first time. This can also be a lesson to us today. So often I have experienced amazing ministry trips or God-encounters, and they are almost always followed up with someone trying to cast doubt. Look at verse 13. Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”. Typical. There is always someone who is trying to come against what God is doing. Sometimes it is an atheist, sometimes a non-believer, and sometimes sadly it is a believer.

I think that the thing here is to ignore the opposition and concentrate on what God is doing. If we get distracted by the waves, and take our eyes off of Jesus, we will start to sink. The opposition that we face after an awesome God-encounter, is nothing but a ‘wave’ sent to distract us. Keep your eyes on Jesus. I am ‘preaching’ this but the truth is that I struggle to follow it. I don’t do this blog because I have learned everything and now I am trying to teach you, I write this blog as I learn as I wish to help as many others as I can. It is hard to keep focussing on Jesus when we are facing problems here. That is exactly why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. We can’t do it on our own.

If you are wondering how I managed to get all of that from two verses of scripture, have a look further down in verse 42 and 43. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. The apostles carried on doing what they were doing, carrying on fixing their eyes on Jesus and ignoring what the enemy had to say, and they did many signs and wonders and it goes on to say that people were added to them every day. Are you seeing signs and wonders? Are you seeing people coming to know Jesus? If not, you need to ask yourself why not. Have you maybe taken your eyes off of Jesus and fixed them on your problems? I ask this not as condemnation, but because I often fall into this trap too. I have to decide to keep focused on Jesus, it doesn’t always come naturally, it is not easy. I have decided to do it as I know that is what is best for me, and I want to be more like Jesus.

I hope that this post has given you something to think about. Please take it as an encouragement and not condemnation. It does not matter what you have done in the past, you can always do what is right in the future, so make the change now.

God bless.

Richard