Monthly Archives: February 2016

Why I Fast

When researching exactly what I was going to write about this, I discovered some interesting answers why people fast. Losing weight came up, but I can assure you that is not the correct answer. Some of the better answers included, getting close to God, denying your body and focussing on God, spending time with God that you would have used for something else. Now I have no issues with these answers, in fact I tend to agree with them, but I believe that there is more to it than this. In order to try and explain why I fast, let me tell you a story, try and imagine it as you read it.

Imagine that you’re driving a car, you have no idea where you’re going, so you’re relying on the other people in the car to direct you on an epic road trip. The first person in the car, is in the passenger seat. They are loud, self opinionated, selfish and needy. The second person is in the back, they are soft-spoken, wise, patient, and they want what is best for all the occupants of the car. You set off on your trip. All you can hear is the person in the passenger seat, barking instructions at you. They have no regard for anyone but themselves, whatever they want, will be shouted as instructions to you. After a while, you realise that the person in the front seat is only looking out for themselves, so you stop the car and get your passengers to swap places. You now have the soft-spoken, wise unselfish person in the front seat. The loud, selfish, needy person has been relegated to the back. The only problem is that the loud person can still be heard above the soft-spoken person. Yes, you hear some more of what the wise person is telling you, but the loud person will not shut up long enough for you to get some really useful directions. Eventually you turn around and shout, “Will you just shut up for 5 minutes so that I can hear the other person speak!”. You are then able to hear the wise person for a few minutes, gathering valuable information as to where to go. The ironic thing about this, is that the wise person is looking out for you all. If he gives the directions, ALL of the occupants of the car get to experience the ride, and enjoy the destination. The loud mouthed person is actually better off listening to the wise person, but they will never admit that!

I assume that you are all one step ahead of me and know where I am going with this. You (as the driver) represents your soul (mind, emotions, feelings), the loud person represents your body (flesh, selfish desires) and the soft-spoken person represents your spirit. Our spirit is the part of us that has been made new, and is seen righteous by God. Our spirit is the part that communicates with God. Before we are saved, we have our body in the front seat, we only listen to our selfish desires. Then we realise that there is more to life, so we give our lives to Jesus, thus switching our body with our spirit. We are now supposed to listen to our spirit, as the mind is the one who decides where we should go. The mind is in control, it will listen to the spirit or the body, the choice is ours. Very often as Christians, we have our spirit in the front seat, but we often can’t hear it over or bodies shouting out from the back seat. We either stop the car and revert the positions back, or we carry on listening to our bodies, who are happy to continue directing us from the back seat. We need to tell our bodies to shut up every now and then, in order to hear our spirit. That also helps the body to learn that they are no longer in charge. This gets easier the more we do it, but it is very difficult to start. Our whole being will be better off if we listen to the spirit, but we still tend to want to listen to the body. This is how we are conditioned. We need to renew our mind (Romans 12:2). We need to be following the Holy Spirit, who speaks to our spirit, as He lives in us. Does this make sense?

This is why we fast and do other spiritual disciplines, to keep training our body to take second place to our spirit, and to the voice of God.

This is an ongoing practice. Our mind is a powerful tool, we need to make sure that it is fighting for us (in line with God’s Word) and not against us (in line with our sinful desires). This is why it is important to combine fasting with prayer, it is no good telling your body to keep quite for a while and then listening to nothing, we need to be focusing on what God is saying while our body is having a time-out. Have you ever wondered why Jesus told the disciples that they could only get the demon out with prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21 NKJV)? This is not because prayer and fasting removes the demon, but prayer and fasting builds faith and removes unbelief. It is the faith (or lack of unbelief) which enables us to remove demons, but it is the prayer and fasting that builds the faith and removes the unbelief. It is the prayer and fasting that helps us to renew our mind. We need to re-train our mind to listen to our spirit and what God is telling us, rather than our body and selfish desires.

I hope that this has given you a fresh desire to make the most of any time of prayer and fasting!

Richard

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Unbelief: How to Overcome It

So far we have learned what unbelief is and why it is a problem, so today I will endeavour to show you how we can all overcome it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I have overcome it, but I am currently overcoming it. This is a journey, not a quick fix. This is a lifestyle change, not 5 easy steps. Let’s start by taking a look at Jesus’ suggestion to overcoming unbelief.

Afterwards, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer (and fasting). Mark 9:28-29). Now let me make this clear. I don’t believe that Jesus was saying that the fasting and praying will remove this demon. I think that He was saying that we need to pray and fast more to remove stronger demons. Why do I say this? Look at how Jesus gets rid of it. When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,”he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” Mark 9:25. Jesus didn’t fast or pray for the demon to go, He just told it to. Now either Jesus is doing a ‘do what I say, not what I do’, or there is more to it. You see Jesus had already prayed, He had already fasted. I believe that this is what helped Jesus overcome unbelief. This is one of the keys to overcoming unbelief. Prayer and fasting. Because Jesus had already overcome it, so He was able to remove the demon. The disciples needed to pray and fast more, in order to remove their unbelief, so they could also remove the demon. Does this make sense? Jesus even told the dad of the boy, that anything is possible if you believe, why would He say that if the only way to get rid of that demon was through prayer and fasting? It doesn’t make sense.

So other than praying and fasting, what else can we do? Read the Bible. Faith comes through hearing, hearing the Word of God. Learn, meditate on scripture, renew your mind. We need to know the scripture so well, we need to believe so much, that these thoughts of unbelief don’t stand a chance. We need to know what the Bible says so well, that when the thought of ‘are you sure’ comes into our mind, our answer is ‘100% Yes’! I have even decided not to watch the news anymore, and I don’t read newspapers either. Why? I prefer to read the Bible and take my truth from that. The Bible says that God will provide, the papers say that you have to provide for yourself and that we face more recessions. What are you going to believe? This is just a simple example, but very often, the news we see opposes the Word of God. This can all add unbelief.

There is one other cause of unbelief which I want to draw your attention to, but we need to be careful with this, as this can be taken too far. Jesus healed/delivered all who came to Him. He didn’t go looking for those who didn’t come. I think that there is wisdom in this. We don’t really know what happened when Jesus couldn’t do miracles because of the unbelief of the people (Mark 6:4-6), but I’m going to assume that Jesus didn’t try and fail. I assume that He picked out those who believed, who were not preventing Jesus’ miracles. I doubt very much that Jesus would have been trying to perform a miracle and failing. I’m sure he would have known that it wouldn’t work. We need to be aware of that. Now I am not saying that we pick and choose who we heal, I am saying that we be aware of who we minister to. I don’t go chasing people, begging them to let me heal them. I minister to those who come and ask. Why? Because if I hear of someone who is sick, and they don’t believe that they will be healed, how can I overcome that unbelief if Jesus Himself couldn’t? If I go and try, and fail, what does that do to my unbelief and the unbelief of the person I am ministering to? That action could in fact add more unbelief to them, and get myself some in the process. Next time I step out in faith, I may be reminded that this didn’t work last time. Will I be able to overcome that, or will it trip me up? That is why I avoid adding to my unbelief by praying for people who do not want to receive. Now we can take this the wrong way, and refuse to minister to anyone, but that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am not suggesting this, I am merely suggesting that we have some wisdom when it comes to who we minster to, and how we do it. Please don’t misunderstand me here, I am all for ministry, just minister to those who will receive it. God doesn’t force His will on people against theirs, and neither can we.

Now I don’t want to leave you on a negative, but I want to encourage you to build your faith. Read the Word, fast (see Why I Fast), meditate on the Word, pray, and remove all unbelief. Remove anything from your thinking that opposes the Word of God. Get out there and do what Jesus has instructed us to do. Preach the Word, heal the sick and cast out demons!

Go in strength!

Richard

Unbelief: What it is and Why it is so Dangerous?

Last post I introduced ‘Unbelief: What the Bible Says About It‘, so if you didn’t read that, take a look at it first. Now we move on to what unbelief actually is, and why is it so dangerous. To start this off, I would like to first share what it is NOT. It is NOT a lack of belief or faith. How do I know this? Allow me to show you.

The disciples were going around casting out demons. They were not practising, they were doing it. There was no doubt that they had faith, otherwise they would not even be attempting this kind of ministry. All of a sudden, they come across the boy who they can not deliver. When Jesus comes over to see what all of the fuss is about, He seems to blame unbelief, as the father asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. This appears that unbelief is not a lack of faith, but something that opposes faith. Mark 9:24. The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” So how does this work? Here is a simple illustration. I hold a healing ministry meeting, and you come along. I speak about the authority that we have in Christ, the fact that we have been told to heal, the fact that anything is possible if we believe. I show you how it is God’s will that we are all healed, and I show you how we can overcome illness. You are now fired up, faith oozing out of you, belief is the order of the day. Then you go over to someone to heal them, and as you open your mouth, you think the following: This didn’t work last time. What if I get their hopes up and fail them? Do I really have this authority, can I really heal someone? What if it doesn’t work? This is unbelief. Is it a lack of faith? No, you had faith, you still have it, but there is something opposing it. Think of it this way, if you had a horse (faith) pulling a carriage, the carriage would move forward. What if you had another horse (unbelief) pulling from the other side? You would then still have just as much faith, but it would be rendered useless because of the unbelief. Understand? You will then be pulled from both sides, and this is what the Bible says about that (James 1:6): But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

So unbelief could be described as any opinion or thought which opposes those which we believe to be true from scripture. I can just imaging the disciples during the Mark 9 story. They are happily casting out demons, until they come across one who won’t leave. All of a sudden their unbelief starts to grow, which in turn starts to cancel out their belief. Do they really have the authority? Can they really cast out the demon? Even this one? I can imagine that they start to question the things that Jesus had told them. Then Jesus pitches up, and the father even shows unbelief. “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” The have mercy on us, becomes have mercy on us IF you can. Unbelief. Jesus’ response is classic. “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Jesus speaks the truth straight back into the situation, eliminating the unbelief just like that. I think that we often start to dwell on the unbelief in such a time as this. If someone came to you and said, please heal my child if you can, would your response be like Jesus’?

So we have now seen what unbelief is, and why it is so dangerous. It is dangerous because it is our faith and belief that sees miracles happen, and unbelief opposes that belief. If we want to see more healing, deliverance, and in fact salvation, we need to eliminate unbelief. I have a passion to see people set free, free from illness, demonic strongholds, sin, oppression and anything else which is not from God. Unbelief is not the only reason why we don’t see healing, but it is a major one, the others can be found in my series ‘Why We Don’t Get Healed‘. In order to do what God has called me to, I need to eliminate unbelief. Are you going to join me?

Next post will be entitled ‘Unbelief: How to Overcome It’.

Until next time.

Richard

Unbelief: What the Bible Says About It

I have decided to take a look at something which I believe to be the number one cause of the lack of miracles, healing and deliverance in the world today. You have probably all read about it, but you may have just read the word and not really understood what it meant. Today I’m going to take a look at what the Bible says about it. Next time I’ll explain what it is, why it is bad, and then show you how to overcome it. Unbelief. Let’s take a look.

The disciples were casting out demons, and then they come across a boy whom they could not deliver. The father then approached Jesus (Mark 9:17-18). One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” He then asked Jesus if He could do it, and this was Jesus’ response (Mark 9:23-24). “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Then there is a situation after Jesus is raised from the dead, and He appears to the disciples in Mark 16:14. Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

Now the last piece of scripture which I want to draw to your attention is a rather disturbing one. The reason for that is that there are various theological camps when it comes to things like God’s sovereignty, and this verse can throw a major spanner into some of these theologies. Now if you’re wondering what my stance is on God’s sovereignty, you can see that it my post entitled ‘Sovereignty of God‘ and if you’re wondering what we have authority over (because Jesus has given the authority to us), you can read about that in ‘Our Authority in Christ‘. I’m not going to explain that again here, but the bottom line is that there are certain things that we need to do, and not ask God to do. We have been told to preach the Word, heal the sick (and lepers) and cast out demons. What is the point of asking God to do things which Jesus has given us the authority to do, and told us to do? Yes, we do these things in Jesus’ Name, as that is where the power comes from, but we do them none the less. We can ask God to help us, and pray for guidance, but we need to take action ourselves. We need to have faith for God to work with. This is my stance on healing, but you will be surprised how many people oppose me on this. Now even if you completely disagree, and you ask God to heal you, and you don’t think that you have any authority, you can’t disagree with Mark 6:4-6. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own home town and among his relatives and his own family.” 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. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Whatever your belief regarding God’s sovereignty, our authority, and what tasks we each need to do, Jesus couldn’t do miracles because of their unbelief. Wow. Now if Jesus couldn’t heal people because of their unbelief, what chance do we have? Seriously, even if you believe that Jesus is the one who chooses who gets healed today, and it has nothing to do with us, He still can’t heal if we have unbelief. Unless of course He has changed since then? I don’t think so.

So we have seen that unbelief prevented the disciples from casting out a demon, we then saw Jesus rebuke them for it, and then we see that Jesus Himself couldn’t do miracles because of it. There is even another case (Hebrews 3:19), where the Israelites fail to enter God’s rest because of unbelief. The question now is, what is unbelief and why is it so bad? Well, join me next time for ‘Unbelief: What it is and Why it is so Dangerous?‘.

Until then.

Richard