Monthly Archives: March 2015

Doubt

We have had some events in the past few days, which has caused doubt in my mind. I thought that this would be a good time to take a look at doubt, and see what it is.

Here is the dictionary definition of doubt: to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.

How does that measure up to scripture? Let’s have a look at James 1:6 which says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” Now I’m not sure about you, but I find this pretty clear. Doubt is not a good thing to have when it comes to not believing in what God has said. The question is why? Why is it not good to have doubt? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” – Hebrews 11:1-3 shows us that faith obtains a good testimony. What is a testimony? People who stand up and declare the good things that God has done in their life, people who show how God has used circumstances in their lives and turned it around for their good. Testimonies of healing, deliverance, provision and salvation. All brought about by faith. The way I see it, doubt is the opposite of faith.

We often say that people don’t have enough faith, but I’m not sure if that is true, maybe they just have too much doubt. Take a look at Mark 9:14-29, which is the story about the boy that the disciples could not deliver from a demon. Jesus asks what is going on, then tells the disciples off a little, then delivers the boy. The interesting verse is verse 24, where the father of the boy says, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Unbelief, or doubt, is acting against our faith. Faith brings testimony, so I can only conclude that too much doubt will leave us without testimony. Not a good thought. I see faith and unbelief as two horses, tied together, walking in opposite directions. The stronger horse will pull the other, but the other horse will slow down the stronger one. What is stronger in your life, faith or doubt? If you would like to grow your faith, why not deal with your doubt instead, this will leave your faith stronger.

Before I show us how to grow our faith, let’s just remember that even John the Baptist had doubt. He sent his disciples to find out if Jesus actually was the Messiah, after John had done his ministry declaring Jesus as just that! If John could doubt, we don’t need to beat ourselves up over it. That still doesn’t make it useful though, so let’s look at what we can do.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17

We need to hear the Word of God. How do we do that? Reading the Bible, listening to teaching, studying scriptures, meditating on the Word, listening to what God is telling your spirit. This is how we hear the Word of God. The more we know about what God says about us and what we can and should be doing, the less the enemy can make us doubt. Having said this, Adam and Eve actually walked around with God and heard him first audibly (I assume), yet they still doubted. Let this be a lesson as to how difficult it is to eliminate doubt. It is not easy. What else can we do? Look at Mark 9:29 (from the story about the boy) where Jesus says, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” I don’t believe that you need to pray and fast the demon out, Jesus didn’t pray or fast this one out, but the praying and fasting will help remove the unbelief. Removing the unbelief will leave the faith stronger, which will see the results, and bring the testimonies!

Join me in trying to remove the doubt, but don’t condemn yourself, the devil does enough of that. Remove the doubt and step out in faith. I look forward to hearing some testimonies!

Richard

Turn Your Life Around

I have been thinking about something for a while, so I thought that I would try and explain my theory to you. It may just help you out. We are all made up of Spirit, Soul and Body. Our spirit being the part of us that will one day go to heaven (or hell), our soul being our mind, thoughts, reasoning etc, and and our body being our body, feelings and desires. I believe that most human beings have this the wrong way around, and that causes many of our issues. Let me explain.

The usual default setting amongst humans is to put the body first. What do you feel like? What do you desire? What do you want? Life is all about me, and what I can get out of it. Just watch a few TV commercials, and you will see what I mean. You deserve this, you should have this, this is less effort, you can have this and others can’t. Do I need to go on? This is the body part of us, and it is the most demanding. It takes up most of our effort, and it is usually first in our priority. This is why people who don’t get what they want, or look like they want, take it so harshly. The problem then gets worse, because we then move onto the next step. Our mind. Because we are listening to our body, our mind is shaped by our desires, wants, lusts and feelings. We begin to condition ourselves to being selfish, we convince ourselves that we are either the centre of the universe, or we convince ourselves that we are rubbish. Depending on whether or not we get what our body wants. If this doesn’t mess your mind up, nothing will. We then start to look at spiritual matters with this mind, the one that has been shaped by our selfish body. Then we wonder why some people have some messed up ideas when it comes to spiritual things. I’m not surprised at all.

Are you like this? It is time to turn your life upside down.

Put your spirit first. God is a spiritual being, this is the part of you that He renews when you are saved. This is the part of you that is made whole, and that will go to heaven. Should this part not come first? If you put your spirit first, then your mind needs to follow. This is what the Bible means by ‘renewing your mind’ and ‘walking by faith and not sight’. We should be governed by our spirits, and renew our minds to fall in line with our spirits, and not with our bodies. Once we are born again, our spirits are made new, they are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Our spirits are perfect, and ready to go to heaven. Our bodies are not.. yet. If we renew our minds according to our new spirits, we will have a much better outlook on life. We will see things from God’s point of view and not ours, we will see more of His will done, we will see miracles and amazing things. Are we really arrogant enough to think that our ways are better than God’s? The way I see it, we seem to be governed by our minds, they decide what we do. They seem to be too busy listening to our bodies when they should be listening to our spirits. Our spirits are third in line, when they should be first. And our bodies are running the show, when they should be taking orders from our spirit. Then when Paul talks about ‘dying to self’, we don’t like that.

So what do we do now? Switch it around. Read the Word, understand what God is calling you to do, how He is calling you to live. Then renew your mind around that. Make that your priority. Get your body to listen to your mind, which is lead by your spirit, which is lead by the Holy Spirit, which is revealed through scripture. Sound easy enough? Well it isn’t. Paul describes it as ‘taking up your cross daily’. Do I do this myself? I try to, but I do get it wrong sometimes. It is not something that we change over night, it is something that we spend the rest of our life trying to perfect. I may not have arrived, but I have set off on this journey. I can assure you that I would not change this for the world.

Turn your life around!

Richard

The Fire Within

I usually write these posts in advance, and then post them on a Sunday. Today is different. No I am not going to talk about mothers, even though it is mother’s day in the UK today, I think we’ve heard about it enough today. I would like to share a word that I got in church today. The word was for me, but I shared it with the congregation too, as I believed that it would also be for their benefit. I was getting ready to post something that I wrote a while ago, but I believe that God wants me to share this word with you too, so here it is. Fresh from God to you!

The picture that I received was a picture of a fire. That was it. The fire represented the Holy Spirit, which is not too far a stretch, as the Bible talks about being baptised by the Spirit and fire. This got me thinking about fire, and what God could be trying to tell me. I immediately thought of 2 scenarios, and I think that they are both relevant. The first scenario is that it is sometimes difficult to start a fire. When you watch those survival programs on TV, you watch people sitting in a rain-soaked jungle, trying desperately to start a fire with damp green sticks. They will tell you that it is not easy. The other scenario is the one that we have recently had happen in Cape Town. I am originally from Cape Town, South Africa, and I have seen my friends post pictures about the fires there. It has been an extremely hot and dry summer, and after a few inconsiderate people threw their cigarettes out of their car windows, they had a bush fire on their hands. This fire raged out of control, burning acres of land and some houses. Fire fighters tried to contain the fire, but they were often fighting a losing battle. Now how can you have one fire that won’t start, and another that won’t stop? What makes these different?

The environment.

If you are in an environment which is conducive to fire, it will roar on, but if you are in an inhospitable environment, you’ll struggle to start a fire. Sound right? Now let’s take a look at the Holy Spirit, and see how we can relate this lesson. The Holy Spirit needs the right environment to flourish. He is not here to force us to do what God wants, He is here to lead and guide us. What kind of environment are you providing for the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit lives within you, you are the environment. What kind of environment are you? One that is conducive to the blazing fire, or one that makes it impossible for a fire to even start?

So how do you become the right environment? God gives us guidelines in His Word. People often tell me that they pity me because I have to spend time praying, fasting, reading the Bible and meditating on the Word. Are they kidding me? I don’t have to do that, I want to do that. God has called us to live a certain way, not because He wants to give us some rules to follow, but because He wants us to be the best possible environment for the Holy Spirit.

What environment are you providing Him?

Fan the Flame, encourage the Fire to spread!

Richard

5 Unbiblical ‘Christian’ Sayings

I often read sayings and ‘feel good’ pictures on facebook and the like, but upon close inspection, have discovered that they really aren’t true. Some even come straight out of scripture, but are used horribly out of context. Let’s take a look at 5 of these sayings, and hopefully prevent some people from using them in the future.

1. “God will never give you more than you can handle”

I hear this often. I hear Christians come out with this whenever people are struggling with hardships. This is not correct, it isn’t even what the verse that they are half quoting says. 1 Corinthians 10 v 3 says that God will not allow us to be TEMPTED beyond what we are able to resist. Temptation doesn’t come from God, and he will always give us a way out. This has absolutely nothing to do with hardships. The saying also suggests that hardships come from God. Some trials may (although I can also argue against that), but most come as a result of sin (ours or others, or just as a result of the fall). God is on our side, but we need to let Him intervene in our lives, and this requires a level of submission, discipline and action on our part, which we don’t like. If God ‘doesn’t give you more than you can handle’, why do I know of born-again believers who have committed suicide? God can and will help us, and He can turn any situation around. Turn to Him, submit and let Him do it His way.

2. “Money is the root of all evil”

No it is not. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the LOVE of money is the root of all KINDS of evil. Big difference. There is nothing wrong with money, it is the LOVE of money that is a problem. Solomon was the richest man ever, and he was a man of God. He used money as a servant, rather than serving money. If you follow God and use money, there is nothing wrong with it. If you follow money, you’re in trouble. If you think that money is evil, send it to me, I’ll take the ‘evil’ away from you. How kind am I?

3. “I am just a sinner, saved by grace”

This winds me up. Let’s reason through this, when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you become a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17. If you have done this, you WERE a sinner, but you are NOW saved by grace. To say that you are a sinner saved by grace is wrong. If a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, does it go around saying that it is just a caterpillar who can fly? It is now a butterfly, no longer a caterpillar. Yes you may still sin, we all do, but that doesn’t make you a sinner. God sees us as righteous, ALL of our sins are forgiven, even the future ones. The second you sin, it has already been forgiven. If you’re a sinner, you need grace, if you have grace, you’re not a sinner. Pick one. Does this mean that we can carry on sinning? Glad you asked, they asked Paul the same question. I’ll let him answer it, read Romans 6.

4. “Do not judge others, and you won’t be judged”

This comes straight out of the Bible, but it is used when Christians call others on a sin, which they don’t want to repent from. Read the rest of the verse, this is about condemning people. That is the devil’s job, and he doesn’t need any help. 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us that we ARE to judge those in the church, but not those outside. If you’re still not sure, go and read Galatians 6:1-3. Now please remember that this needs to be done in love, and in order to help others overcome their sin. This is because we love them and want what is best for them. We’re not pointing fingers and passing judgement.

5. “Everything happens for a reason”

Yes, but God may not be involved. Not everything that happens is according to God’s will. (Shocking, I know). Read ‘Sovereignty of God‘ for more about this. The scripture that deals with this comment is Romans 8:28, where it says that God uses all things for our good. It doesn’t say that He sends them. Yes, God can turn everything around for our good, but we have to let Him, and take certain actions. God does not force His will on us. Whatever the reason for what has happened, hand it over to God and let Him use it for your good. Just blindly accepting everything that happens as from God is a dangerous game. If you want to know what God’s will is, study scripture, it is all there.

So there we have it. This is not to condemn, it is to open people’s eyes to what scripture says. Let’s stop saying things that sound right, and rather take a look at what scripture says. Let’s get our saying in line with what God says.

Be blessed.

Richard

Be The Rock – Part 8

Some of the chapters of Peter have been incredibly uplifting and others have been difficult to hear, but this one is about the future, and what we can expect. Interesting. Let’s take a look at 2 Peter 3 and see what we can learn.

Firstly, verses 3 and 4 are very interesting. Peter warns us that in the last days, people will try and convince us that Jesus is not returning, they will scoff at us and ridicule us for believing in the second coming. Check. The other interesting verses are verses 5 and 6. Peter warns us that people will dispute creation, and they will not accept the fact of the flood. I don’t know if you know anything about evolution versus creationism, but the flood is a pivotal part. Evolutionists would love to disprove the flood. I don’t have to tell you that this is a hotbed of a topic right now, and that scientific research is only accepted (and funded) if it is pro-evolution. Having said that, I know at least one person who became a Christian because there was more scientific evidence to back up creationism than evolution. He repented when he discovered that. Why then do we have evolution stuffed down our throat as ‘fact’? The world is desperate to convince us that God doesn’t exist. Peter’s warning was spot on, take it seriously.

The next few verses are interesting. Peter goes on to equate a thousand years for us like a day to God. People sometimes use this to ‘justify’ creationism and evolution (God created us using evolution). As far as I am concerned, this is just because Christians believe what they hear (evolution), and don’t have the faith, or guts, to oppose it. Peter goes on to explain why he says this, he says it to show that God is not in a hurry. He is being patient. He is being patient to give us the most time to turn to Him. He wants us all to turn to Him. Now I’m not going to open up a debate between Calvinists and Arminians, I personally think that you’re both wrong, but that is not the issue here. The Bible clearly says that God wants us ALL to come to salvation, that is why He is taking His time sending Jesus back. Does this mean that God doesn’t always ‘get His way’? Read this article (Sovereignty of God) for more about this.

OK, so other that raise some questions that are undoubtedly going to end in a huge theological debate, what can we actually learn from this, what changes can we make in our lives? Well, let’s pick out some verses from the final passage of this book.

14 Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence.17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men and fall from your firm grasp on the truth.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the honour both now and on that eternal day.

This is what Peter has told us to do. Now you see, so many people (myself included) will read this chapter and pull out all of the ‘contentious verses’. We like them, because we can use them to argue with fellow Christians over theology. Now, theology is important, but how we live our lives is more so. This is what we have been instructed to do in light of the current situation.

Take responsibility for your own spiritual walk, don’t just believe what people tell you. Live your life in peace and keep away from sin. Study the Word of God and put what you study into practice, stretching yourself all of the time. This is what we are called to do. Simple?

Thanks for joining me in looking through the books of Peter. What is next? Who knows, we’ll see what God leads me to do!

Keep reading.

Richard