Category Archives: Abundant Life

Trusting in God and Not His Blessing

It has been a while since wrote a blog post, and there have been a few reasons for that. None of which are really valid, so here I am back with another.

One of the reasons for not writing is that I have a newborn baby. If you have read the last few posts, you will know more about the blessing that he is. So why am I writing about trusting God and not His blessing? Even when we receive from God, there is always something else we are trusting Him for. In my case, one blessing has illustrated the need for another. Let me explain.

As many of you know, having a baby means a major life change. My wife and I were both working and I had started my own business, which was growing, but not as fast as I would have liked it to. Now all of a sudden, my wife is on maternity leave and we are about to be on one salary. That of a business which is up one month and down the next. So what would you do? I am a very logical person, which you would assume by the business that I have, but faith and logic often don’t mix very well. My logic said to close the business, and go and get a job. Then I could have a constant salary, and would be able to provide for my family. Sound good? God then told me to keep the business, and continue with what I was doing. Was I sure this was God? Can this be right? I then had a complete stranger come to me after church, and tell me that God gave them a prophetic word for me. She said, “The work that you are doing now, God wants you to continue with that, do not give it up.” OK, I guess it was God. So what now?

I was now in a time where I had to make a decision. Trust God, or listen to my flesh. Let’s take a look at a situation in the Bible which relates to this.

Matthew 8:23-26

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
There are a few interesting things here. Firstly, these were fishermen. They knew the sea. If they were scared, it was not because they were over-reacting. If they were scared, there was a good reason for it. We often have a good reason to be scared, but Jesus tells us not to be afraid, as we can trust in Him. The second thing is that they went to Jesus, and woke Him. Isn’t that what we are taught to do? When you have a problem, go to Jesus in prayer. Why did He then get upset with the disciples when they went to Him? In my opinion, it is because Jesus told them they were going to the other side (in other accounts of this story), but they didn’t believe Him that they would make it to the other side. This is unbelief. This is why Jesus was getting upset with them. Thirdly, Jesus rebukes them for being afraid, before He calms the storm. Now I know it says it the other way around in some accounts, but Jesus telling us to have faith before He does the miracle, is a common theme throughout scripture. Why does He do this? Simple. This is the title of this post. So that we won’t have faith in the miracle, but have faith in Him. If He had calmed the seas, the disciples would have had faith in the calm seas, Jesus wanted them to have faith in Him, despite the raging seas. Do you see the difference?

So how does this relate to me? My prayers have been along the lines of, “God please provide for us so that I don’t need to be afraid.” What does God’s Word say? It says that He will provide. In fact that He will provide abundantly. Also, I need the money, so that I can trust in the money, where Jesus wants me to trust in Him. This is harder to do when you don’t have the money, but no one said this would be easy. I ‘know’ our financial state, just like the disciples ‘knew’ the seas. I run to Jesus and ask Him to help me, even though His scripture says He will, just like His followers in the story. I want Jesus to fix the problem so that I will no longer have to be afraid, just like the disciples. Jesus wants me to trust in His Word, despite the situation. Just like He expected from the disciples.

God is faithful. He will come through. He always has, and He always will.

What are you afraid about? What are you waiting for God to provide? Do you have faith in God for the miracle, or do you have to see the miracle to not be afraid? I’ll leave that for you to think about. I hope that this has been as much of a blessing to you as it has to me.

Until next time.

Richard

Has it Already Been Done?

So I hope that you all read my last post, which was our testimony, if you haven’t done so you may want to check it out. Now I move on to the next phase, and in order to get my mind around this, I would like to explain it to you. I hope that this will help to strengthen my faith, and help you to do the same with yours.

So my wife and I are pregnant, now it is time to start believing for the financial provision. I have been running my own business for a few years now, but it is not quite at the stage where it can support both of us. I have asked God if I should quit it and get a full time job, and He has told me in no uncertain terms to keep the business. Now my spirit is telling me to do that, but my brain is throwing a wobbly, because logically it is a very risky move. I have been a Christian for long enough to know to listen to my spirit, but how do I have that peace, when my brain is disagreeing? One way I find that helps, is to understand why I can expect it to happen. Understanding scripture helps to build faith. If we understand God’s promises, it is easier to believe them.

One of the main issues which I have come across of late, are 3 generally accepted statements, which we as Christians tend to believe and say. I’m not sure if they are true though, here they are:

  1. It will happen in God’s time.
  2. Pray until God gives it to you.
  3. If it is God’s will, it will happen.

Now I don’t want to be rude, as I have heard all of these comments by people that I love and respect, but they are misleading at best. They are often said to encourage, but they do not encourage me, let me explain. Let’s start with number 3, if it is God’s will. Yes, it is God’s will that I prosper. How do I know this? Simple, the Bible says so. Yes, you may know someone who loves Jesus who is not prospering, but that does not change what the Bible says. So if the Bible says that God wants us to prosper, and we are not prospering (yet), then what is the problem? The problem is that we have not yet received what God has given. This brings number 2 into play, if God has already given it, why do we need to pray? Well in short, we shouldn’t pray only for things, praying is just communicating within a relationship. If you have a best friend, and you only ever talk to them when you want something, what do you think would happen? I pray because I love God, I try and pray mostly just for the sake of it. Do I sometimes get sucked into praying only for things, yes, but that shouldn’t be the case. So where does that leave me? I don’t need to wonder if it is God’s will, I know it is, so 3 is irrelevant. God has already provided for me, so I don’t need to hassle Him in prayer. Still not sure of this? Let me ask you a simple question. When did Jesus save you? If you’re thinking about when you became a Christian, then you’re wrong. Jesus saved you 2000 years ago on the cross, you ACCEPTED it when you confessed with your mouth that you believed that Jesus is Lord. Now you may thing that I am splitting hairs, but I am not, I believe this is true for most things. Jesus did what He needed to on the cross, we just haven’t received it all yet, which brings me to number 1. If things always happen in God’s timing, then why did the Israelites spend 40 years doing a 2 week journey? Was that God’s plan, or their disobedience?

So here is where I am now. I believe that it is God’s will that my business prospers, I also believe that He has already provided me with all that I need in order to see this happen. I know that I need faith, and I know that I need to be obedient to what I believe that God is telling me. There is a fine line between knowing that God has done it, believing that we will receive it, and taking any action required on our part. Doing all of this without worrying, is what I am trying to get right.

Any thoughts? Do you agree with me on this? Do you understand it differently? How do you get this balance right? I would be interested in your views on this, it is not something that I have accomplished, but more a current walk of mine. I know what I believe to be the truth, but walking in that is a whole other story.

Richard

Great Examples of Faith

I have recently been thinking about faith, and the affect that it has on our lives, and I have come to realise that it is much bigger than I thought. I used to read scripture like where Jesus tells the disciples that they can use faith to move a mountain, and I used to think, “Yes, in theory it can”. No, it does. This is what I am trying to get my head around, because we know faith is important, but if we don’t ACTUALLY believe, then we don’t have faith. I need to build my faith and eliminate any unbelief, so I can see my faith move some mountains. This passage is just as much for me as it is for you.

Read Hebrews 11. Don’t just continue reading this post, actually go and read Hebrews 11. The Bible mentions 18 different people or people groups, who use faith. This excludes the very first, God, when He created the world. This whole chapter is showing us how important faith is, but do we really get it? I don’t think so, because if we did, we would see more mountains move. Let’s take a look at some key points.

Verse 3. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. What does this mean? Simply, you couldn’t see the universe, God commanded it to be formed through faith, and it was formed. Wow. Now obviously evolutionists will counter this, but I believe the Bible, and I believe that God spoke the universe into being. God spoke it, He believed it, and it happened. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, Jesus told us to speak to the mountain, believe that it will move, and it will move. Simple. Speak it, believe it, see it.

The chapter them goes on to list story after story of people in the Bible who had faith, and what they managed to achieve by putting it into practice. I am not going to list them here, because you have just read about them. How many times does the Bible use so many examples to make a point? I can’t think of any like this, so it must be important. So what is faith? Verse 1. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. I need to get my head around this. I need to start seeing what I believe for as a reality. This is the hard part. We all believe that miracles happen, and we all believe that God CAN do things. We don’t always believe that something WILL happen, or even HAS happened and just needs to manifest in the physical. What I mean by that is that it has already happened in the spiritual, it just needs to happen in the physical. We are lead to believe that what we hope for is a possibility, but do we believe that it is a reality? Can you believe that before you see it as a reality? Can you see something in your mind and believe it to be real, before you see it with your eyes? That is faith. That is what I need to get my head around. That is what I need to start doing. How about you?

After reading about all of the people who had faith, you may be thinking that this is something of the past and no longer applies today. This is not the case, in fact, I think it applies even more today. Take a look at verses 39 and 40. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. We have the Holy Spirit helping us, we have a new, pure, righteous, born-again, spirit. We should be doing even more than the people mentioned. If we can get our heads around this passage of scripture, and actually start doing it, the sky is no limit. We need to use our faith, eliminate unbelief, and start to see what we believe as reality. Is this easy? No. If it were I would be doing it. I need to do it. I need to make what I believe, what scripture teaches me, a reality. If you are not seeing what scripture teaches in your life, then maybe you don’t believe it as a reality? Maybe you need to join me in getting serious about this.

Let’s move some mountains.

Richard

Who Does What?

Today I would like to discuss something rather simple, yet something which will no doubt rock many people’s understanding of the Bible. Who does what? Yes, what is God’s job to do, what is our job, and what has God already set in place (like natural or spiritual laws)? I know that there is much to discuss here, so I will try and let you know my thoughts as quickly and as thoroughly as I can.

One of the biggest issues amongst Believers now days (in my opinion) is that we think that God can do what He wants, when He wants. Dare I say a ‘reformed’ view that God’s sovereignty means that He can do anything. Truth is, He can’t. (Shock!). Before you get all angry and start sending me emails, can God lie? Can God forsake us? No. Now I know what you’re thinking. It is not that God CAN’T do it, it is that He said He WOULDN’T do it. That is my point. God can do anything, but there are certain things that He won’t do, because He said He wouldn’t. Those are the bad things though (lying and forsaking). What about some ‘good’ things? Healing the sick, preaching the Gospel, casting out demons. You see God told us to do this, so He won’t. You may say that this doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Why do we pray to God and ask Him to heal? Why do we pray and ask God to get the demons away from us? Why do we pray and ask God to bring people to Him? This is what He told us to do.

If you’re a director of a company, and you delegate some responsibilities to your managers, would you then go and do the exact thing you asked them to do? No, not if you were any good at being a director. Once you delegate, you let them do it. Yes, you may help. Yes, you may want to be part of the plan. Yes, it is your authority that carries weight. Yes, they couldn’t do it without your backing and permission. But you don’t do it. This is the same with God. We need to do what He has called us to to. Yes, the power comes from Him. Yes, we couldn’t do it without God. Yes, we do it in the name of Jesus. But we have to do it.

Stop praying for Jesus to heal the sick. Jesus told us to talk to the mountain, and He gave us authority over sickness. Talk to the sickness and tell the person to be healed in the name of Jesus. Now I know that there is more to healing than the way we say it, but this will change our attitude. It is relatively easy to have faith, when we know we have the authority, and Jesus has already done the healing (by His stripes we are healed). The healing is done, we have the authority to administer it. If you believe this, it is easier to have faith than if we think that we’re trying to ‘twist God’s arm’ to heal someone. Like we care about them more than God. Are you praying for God to give you release from the demonic? Why? God told us to resist the devil, and he will flee. Do you pray that God will lead people to Himself? He told us to preach the Gospel. It is our job to tell people about Jesus. Yes, the Holy Spirit plays a part in calling people, but we have a responsibility.

Does this mean that God won’t help? No, obviously He does. We can pray that God helps us, that is what the Holy Spirit does. We can pray that God gives us the opportunity, or the wisdom, but we still need to do what He has told us to. The things that God has told us to do is in line with His spiritual laws, things that He has set into place. One that we all accept is salvation. If you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth, you will be saved. That is the law, and if we do it as God has instructed, we will be saved. There is no other way. It is similar with other things too, although our default is to ask God to do everything.

Have a think about this. Do you ask God to do things that He has told you to do? Do you know how to do what God has called you to? Maybe this is the time to rethink how you do things, maybe it is time for change. Stop asking God to do what He has asked you to do, learn how He wants you to do it, and then get out and do it in faith. When we do what God has asked us to do, in the name of Jesus, just see what happens!

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 16

Today is the last post in my series on Mark, I really hope that it has been a blessing to you. I trust that you have read along with me, and that God has revealed many things to you. I had planned to discuss a few topics in the next few posts, and then reading through this chapter, I realised that it was the perfect introduction.

Let’s take a look at 2 excerpts from Mark 16, which will set the scene for the next few posts. 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. I know that I often speak about faith and unbelief, but of late I have been confronted with some interesting questions, which show that people still don’t actually understand what I have been teaching, so I will address some new ‘angles’ on the topic of faith.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptised will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.

This is what Jesus told the disciples, and therefore us, to do after He left. Do we do this? Do you do this? You see we so often ask God to do stuff for us, without really thinking about who’s responsibility it is. Someone asked me if I thought that God could do anything that He wanted, and my answer was no. The person was shocked to hear my response, but I am fully prepared to explain why I make that statement. In fact when I do, I believe that it may fundamentally change the way that you minister to people.

So in preparation for the weeks to come, ask yourself these questions. Do you believe that God can do anything He wants? How do you balance faith and your circumstances? What is God’s responsibility, and what is ours?

You are probably going to find some of what I say controversial, but please have an open mind. As usual, I welcome other opinions, as long as you provide a scriptural argument, and not just ‘because I said so’. I look forward to the next few posts.

Until next week.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 14

So what can we learn from Mark 14? There is such a lot happening in the lead-up to Jesus’ crucifixion, and so much to learn, but I would like to focus on something that you may not have thought of before. Peter. Yes, this is a very trying time for Jesus, and there is plenty that we could focus on, but that is often spoken about. What we may not have thought about, is Peter’s part in this, and what we can learn from it. Peter often reminds me of me, loads of potential, keen to do what he can, but constantly seems to mess up. Enthusiasm, mixed with failure. Let’s take a look at what Peter is going through, and see if it rings a bell with us.

Take a look at verses 29 to 31. Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. Peter is keen, confident and self assured. He can’t possibly believe that he would desert Jesus. Even after Jesus tells him that he will, he still says that he won’t. His mouth is writing cheques that he just can’t cash. Do you find yourself doing this? What I find amazing is that Jesus knows that he will deny him. Does Jesus love him any less? Does Jesus give up on him? No. Jesus has already named him ‘the rock’, even though Jesus knows what he will do. That I find amazing. Jesus doesn’t seemed phased at what will happen. Peter is the one who is upset by the fact that Jesus suggested that he would deny Him. It appears that us messing up is not as big a deal to Jesus, as the fear of it is to us. Interesting.

Have a look at verses 66 – 72. Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth. But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept. Have you ever failed this miserably? This is one of the things that I admire about Peter. Even after this happened, he still went on to be the cornerstone of the church. This is the same guy that walked down the street, and people were healed when his shadow passed them! Do you see the change that must have happened in Peter’s life? The same stubbornness which caused him to get upset when Jesus said that he would deny Him, also helped him to be determined enough to reach what Jesus wanted for him. How many of us would like to be where Peter ended up, but how many of the same people would give up if they went through what Peter went through? We want to reach the destination, but we don’t want to walk the route.

Jesus never gave up on Peter, He knew what he could achieve. Jesus has never, nor will He ever, give up on you. He knows what you can achieve. If Jesus doesn’t give up on us, why do we so often give up on ourselves? If you have messed up, like Peter did, rest assured that Jesus still loves you. He still wants you to continue, He still knows what you can achieve. Do you still believe that you can achieve what God has called you to? Learn from Peter’s life, and don’t give up. However badly you think you have messed up, it came as no surprise to Jesus, and He still called you.

Learn from Peter, never give up.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 11

Today I would like to share a verse with you which has changed my life, and is continuing to change my life on a daily basis. The reason why I want to do this today, is because this verse comes up in today’s chapter. This is not the only time that this is shown, in fact it is often taught, but it is one of the biggest misunderstanding in the Christian church today (in my opinion). This has been a revelation to me in recent years, but I am still trying to get my head around it completely, as it changes the way that you do just about everything. At least it should. I’ll get to that it in minute, but let’s first look at some other interesting points in this chapter.

The Pharisees. We love to look at them and think about how silly they were, always getting things wrong, but sometimes I think that we act more like them than we care to admit. When Jesus rides in on the donkey, all the people seem to love Him, singing His praises. Next thing we know, the Pharisees are planning to kill Jesus, so what went wrong? Now don’t get me wrong, the Pharisees may not have been singing Jesus’ praises, but there was definitely something that was the final straw. There was an event that pushed them over the edge. Jesus challenged them on money. Jesus does His table turning demonstration, which doesn’t really fit into our ‘meek and mild’ picture of Jesus. This scripture is often used to show how Jesus was ‘anti-wealth’, which is complete nonsense, Jesus is not anti-wealth. Jesus is anti the LOVE of money, in place of loving God. Jesus knows that we can only serve one master, and He wants to be the object of our worship. When the Pharisees were using God’s house as a place to make money off of His people, that upset Jesus. When Jesus challenged them on this, they couldn’t take it, so they planned to kill Him. Interesting. Maybe that is why the Bible talks so much about money. Maybe God realises how much it means to us, maybe that is why He addresses it. I’ll leave you to think about that.

So, this verse that will change your life. Jesus and the disciples were out and about, and rather hungry, and they come across a fig tree. The tree has no fruit as it is out of season, so Jesus curses the fig tree. A bit harsh I fear, but you’ll see where this is leading. The next morning they passed the fig tree again, and it was dead. Verses 21-25. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!” Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

Let me make it clear, the fig tree does not represent us. Jesus does not curse us if we don’t produce fruit. Jesus is telling us to curse the things in our life that don’t produce fruit. Illness (physical or mental), sin, anything else in or lives that don’t produce good fruit. Get rid of it. Now I understand that getting rid of sin, may be ‘easier’ than getting rid of illness, because we have more ‘control’ over that. Let’s take a look at what Jesus says, which is the verse that I was referring to. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. If you believe that you have received it, it will be yours. You already have it, but it isn’t yours yet. If you believe that you already have it, it will be yours. It sounds contradictory, but it is fact not. Allow me to explain. We already have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have all of the healing, deliverance and salvation that we could ever need. We may not experience it yet, because it is not yet ‘ours’, but we already have it. Jesus did what He needed to on the cross, He has provided everything, we just haven’t received it yet. Why? Because we don’t believe that we have it already. We are taught to see to believe, but Jesus tells us to believe to see. Here is how it will change your life. Next time you are praying and pleading with God to heal you or deliver you from something, how about looking at it from a different angle (the real one). You already have it. Believe that you already have it. Thank God for it. Release what Jesus has already done from within you. Receive in your body and mind, what Jesus has already provided in your new spirit. This changes how we do things, because we no longer have to wait for God to do something, but rather just release what Jesus has already done for us and receive it. We no longer have to wait to see if Jesus will give us the Christmas present that we want, we just have to open the present already sitting under the tree. It is easier to believe for something if we understand that we already have it.

I’ll chat more about this at some point, but think about it in the meantime.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 10

Today’s chapter starts off with a passage where Jesus addresses divorce. I have to be honest here and say that I am still not 100% clear on the issue of divorce. Jesus clearly shows that marriage is important to God, and that we should take every step to avoid divorce. Does this mean that there are no other reasons to get divorced but unfaithfulness, what about abuse? Does this mean that we shouldn’t attend marriages of divorcees? Does this mean that you are committing adultery if you remarry without a legitimate reason for divorcing? What is a legitimate reason? My honest answer… I don’t know. All I know is that Jesus doesn’t want us to get divorced, so I will do everything that I can to make my marriage work.

We then see a passage about a rich man, which I have seen many teachings about, but some very misinformed. Let’s take a look at a few points. The man approaches Jesus and asks what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus is immediately getting to the root of the problem when He asks, why the man calls Him ‘good’ if only God is good. You see Jesus realises that the man doesn’t believe that He is God, his faith is not in Jesus but in money. How do I know this? The next time the man addresses Jesus, he calls Him ‘teacher’, not ‘good teacher’. He took the ‘good’ out, because Jesus said that only God is good. Jesus tells him what to do, but when he says that he has done all of that, Jesus hits him with the one thing he couldn’t do. Part with his wealth. It wasn’t the money that Jesus was trying to get at, but the man’s faith in the money rather than Jesus.

I have heard people teach that Jesus doesn’t want you to have money, because it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of God if you are rich, Jesus says otherwise. Yes, it is difficult for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom, but then Jesus says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” He then also addresses the issue of Him ‘wanting us to be poor’. “Yes, and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution.” Let me make it clear, this is talking about THIS LIFE, not in heaven. God will bless us in this life for giving. If this man had given up his possessions, imagine how much more he would have received back! Jesus didn’t want him to give to get back, He wanted him to give because Jesus was Lord, and then he would have received 100 fold back. This is what Jesus is trying to tell us. The reason why we give is important, and if we do that, we will not be disappointed. Jesus also shows that we receive blessings and persecution. This shows me that when we read about ‘suffering for Jesus’ it is talking about persecution, not lack of provision. Yes, sometimes we give up stuff to follow God, but He always provides, but He never promises that we will be free from persecution. In fact we are almost promised it if we do things properly.

The last part of this chapter is another healing. Another time when someone follows Jesus, determined to receive his healing. This time the people actually tell him to be quiet, but he continues after Jesus, and receives his healing. Again, Jesus tells him that it was his faith that healed him. How urgent are you to receive your healing? Do you keep quiet when others tell you to, or are you determined to receive what Jesus earned for you on the cross? I for one will never be quiet about us being set free by Jesus, which includes healing. Keep believing, as it is your faith that will heal you, by the blood of Jesus.

Until next week.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 9

There are some interesting things in today’s passage, some which I don’t fully understand why they happened, and some that stand against what we are often taught in churches today. Let’s take a look. The transfiguration is something which I don’t fully understand. Why did it need to happen? I have looked up some teachings on the topic, but most of them didn’t satisfy me, as they seemed pretty ‘wishy-washy’. Here is what I do know. The vision of Jesus was ‘dazzling white’. This is a hint of what we have become since accepting Jesus, this is a vision of the glory of God. This is the contrast between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.

We then move on to one of my favourite passages of scripture, one which I have taught on many times, and will do so again today. This is a passage of scripture that, when understood, could fly in the face of ‘common Christian beliefs’. The disciples are casting out demons and, next thing, they come up against one which they can’t get rid of. Now it is probably safe to say that most Christians either avoid deliverance at best, or completely deny that it can even be done. The disciples were leagues ahead of us – they were actually delivering people – but look at Jesus’ response when they couldn’t get it right once. Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” Wow. If that was His reaction to them, what do you think that He would say to most of us today? When last did you even attempt to cast out a demon? I have done it on a few occasions, but if I am honest, I must say that I don’t do it as often as I should. Fear and unbelief seem to be the main issues, although we tend to find all kinds of excuses not to be obedient. In this story, it is unbelief that seems to be the culprit, as the boy’s father asks Jesus to help him overcome it. Most Christians believe that Jesus CAN heal people, and He CAN deliver people, but He doesn’t always do it. We then start to make excuses as to how Jesus is using it for our good. Here is the truth of the matter. The boy’s father asked Jesus if He could heal his son, here is Jesus’ response. “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Interesting. Do you believe? That seems to be the key here, faith. In fact, Jesus almost takes Himself out of the equation. Now don’t misunderstand me here, I am not saying we don’t need Jesus, I am saying that we can do this in the name of Jesus. In fact, later on in this chapter, Jesus even tells them not to stop others from acting ‘in the name of Jesus’. Most Christians get upset when people do miracles in Jesus’ name, as they say that we should just beg God until He does it. Where actually, Jesus reprimanded them when they couldn’t do it, and brought the boy to Him. See the difference? Without Jesus, we have no power. With Jesus, we have the power symbolised by the transfiguration. We need to have faith and act on that.

There is a warning in the middle of this chapter though. We need to be humble, like a little child, and not think that it is all down to us. I believe that Jesus taught this because the disciples were getting arrogant because of the power. You see they needed this lesson because they were walking in the authority. It is a fine line between walking in the authority and getting too big for your boots. The sad reality is that we don’t really need this lesson to humble ourselves, because we don’t walk in authority. We use this message to be humble, as an excuse not to do anything. How many times have you heard Christians say, “We are nothing, we can do nothing, it is all down to God and what He chooses to do.” Nope. God has given us the authority to act in His name, and He even gets upset when we pass the buck back to Him. Just never get so arrogant that you think that it is you who have earned the right, or that it has nothing to do with God. Do you understand? God’s power, our actions.

One last thing, which I have said before, but I will say again. “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” I have heard it taught that some demons will only come out if you fast. This is not what Jesus was saying, if it was, then Jesus is a hypocrite. He didn’t pray or fast, He just told the demon to go. So what was Jesus saying? This was a lesson about unbelief. When you pray and fast, it helps you to remove unbelief, which makes your faith more effective. This is what causes the demon to go. Jesus already knew this, because He did pray and fast. If you would like to know more about this, please take a look at my series about unbelief.

Until next time.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 8

There is so much to learn here, so let’s get started. We start with Jesus feeding 4000 people with some loaves and fish. We’ve all heard this story, and we marvel at Jesus’ provision, but do we understand the part that we play? This is something which is particularly relevant in my life at the moment, as I learn to have faith in God for provision. It is not easy, and I don’t claim to be excelling in the area, but I do know the answer. Faith. Here it is again. If Jesus could just do what He wanted when He wanted without any input from us, why didn’t He just create fish and bread and pass it around? Could Jesus multiply, but not create? He created the world, so that is a bit of a stupid question. The question is, why involve us? He needs faith. You see there must have been a moment when the disciples thought, “What on earth is he going to do with this little bit of food?”. Yet they did what they were told, they brought what they had in faith. Whoever owned the food would have gladly given up what they had, because they had faith in Jesus. Once again, we see what Jesus can do when we have even the smallest amount of faith. Now some people accuse me of being too ‘us oriented’ and not focused on Jesus, because I keep going on about what we need to do. That is not true, we can do nothing without Jesus. I give the glory of every miracle I see, no matter how big or small, to God. The reason why I teach about what we need to do, is that we are the ones who need to change! It is no use telling Jesus what He did, He knows, we need to learn our part. My prayer for myself and you, is that we understand the power that God has deposited in us, and that we learn more and more how to release this power through faith and obedience.

We then see Jesus asked for a sign, by the Pharisees, and He denies them. I wonder where they had been up until now, because Jesus has done so much already. I’m sure there is a lesson there, but I’d like to move on to the next part, where they are crossing the lake. Here is a lesson where we all look at the disciples and utter the words, “How much unbelief can a person have?”. The disciples have just seen Jesus feed 5000 people, and then 4000 people with a little fish and bread, and now they are arguing because they don’t have enough bread. Unbelievable. Face palm of note. The problem is, how often do we do this? I have so many testimonies of God’s provision. I have been in much worse predicaments than I am now, and Jesus has never let me down. Why do I struggle to believe now? We tend to forget these things, don’t we? When we look at the disciples and think about how stupid they were, we need to think about ourselves here too. Now I am not condemning anyone, I’m just saying that we need to learn to believe. If we think about it logically, stress and worrying is a fruit of unbelief. If you believed 100% that Jesus would provide, why would you worry. I know as I write this that I need to sort myself out, because if I don’t, my wife is going to remind me of this next time I worry. Even the fact that I just wrote down ‘next time I worry’ as if I am expecting to worry. Do you see what I mean? It is a lack of faith. How much stress and anxiety could we get rid of if we trusted God completely? I need help with this just as much as you might. When I was reading this passage, I got a little uneasy reading verse 21, as I felt that Jesus was talking to me. “Don’t you understand yet?” Lord, please help us to trust in you completely, and never to let unbelief hold us back. Help us to exercise the faith that we have, and stand firm in Your Word.

Jesus then heals another blind man, this time with yet another twist. This time Jesus spits on his eyes, and asks him if he can see. The man can see, but not properly, so Jesus places His hands on the man’s eyes, and then he can see properly. Two things to learn here. You may not see a complete miracle first time – Don’t give up. Secondly, don’t lose faith when it doesn’t happen how you were expecting. Keep believing for a miracle, don’t give up and accept the acceptable, God wants His best for us.

I can talk about this for ages, but I want to move on to the final point for this post. Verse 33, Peter tries to reprimand Jesus for what He said, and Jesus says this to him. “Get away from me satan!
Now we know what Peter went on to do, and that Jesus hand picked him and loved him, so isn’t it a bit harsh to call him satan? No. Jesus wasn’t calling Peter satan, but He recognised satan’s voice speaking through Peter. Let me ask you this, how many times have you had well meaning Christians, speak unbelief into your life? I get it often. People try and calm me down, try and water down my theology or faith. They don’t do this because they don’t like me, but because they do, and they think that they are helping me. The devil won’t come out and lie outright, but he is a master at just slightly twisting scripture to take us off track. I often get well meaning Christians challenging me (in love), but they get it wrong, and end up speaking unbelief over me. I have sometimes thought about saying something like Jesus said, but can you imagine how upset people would get if you said that to them? Maybe I must just do it. Jesus understood how important it was, and it didn’t change His love for Peter, it just put satan in his place. Maybe I need to be less concerned about what people think, and more concerned about what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life.

I’ll leave you with that thought. Until next time.

Richard