Feb 222013
 

We have looked in recent weeks into the fact that when we become Christians we become new creations, our whole nature has changed. We are declared righteous before God, not through anything that we do but because what Jesus has done for us. We are also called saints or holy ones, with power over sin.

My question this week, given the truth that I have just stated is; “why do we still struggle to overcome in certain areas of our lives, why are we not living victorious lives on a daily basis?”

If it is true that we have been transported from one kingdom to another, things should be a lot different It is certainly true that Jesus won complete victory at the cross. In Colossians 2:13 -15 it says; When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Jesus won the victory at the cross, winning us complete freedom, but the enemy still likes to lie to us and sometimes he can be very convincing. We are in a constant battle, although against a disarmed foe, he is still very cunning.

We have been set free – our old life the bit tied to sin has died – we can choose to follow God. The legal freedom in our lives however, needs to be applied as a literal freedom We need to be those who move from hearing and understanding the word to those who hold fast to it in daily situations. We need to Know the truth Believe the truth and act on the truth.

In John 8:31-32 Jesus explains; “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It isn’t enough to just hear and understand without knowing the truth. To hold onto it is to know it. We take baggage from our old life into our new life in Christ and we need help taking that baggage off and having a completely new mindset. In Romans 12:1-2 it talks about renewing our minds. That’s the first step in discipleship.

Sometimes we can get stuck in patterns of behaviour that are unhealthy. That can be because things we are doing now or in the past have left an open door for the devil to get in. Here are a few examples of what I mean;

1. Occult influence – e.g. fortune telling, spiritualism, witchcraft, horoscopes, Ouija boards etc

2. False religions – Cults, paganism, legalistic churches, new age etc

3. Drug and alcohol abuse

4. Sexual perversion

5. Habitual gambling

6. Traumatic rejection

If you haven’t already done so, these old habits and destructive tendencies need to be renounced and dealt with. The important thing to note in all of this is we do have a choice. We can either live a life of freedom or of bondage. As I finish this week I would just like to ask you a couple of questions to consider;

• In what ways have you been lied to about your identity?

• How can you counteract these accusations?

• How can you know the truth, believe and act on it?

• How can this knowledge about your identity affect the way you live your life.

Let me encourage you to get together with a good Christian friend or church leader who can help you work some of these things through so that you can live a life of victory that is yours by right. If you have any questions about this subject or anything that has been said, please do not hesitate to contact me as I can make a few suggestions as to where you can go to for help.

 February 22, 2013  Posted by at 4:35 pm Confession, Faith, Resurrection, Salvation, The gospel No Responses »
Jan 242013
 

If you have been around churches for any length of time you will know that there has been a lot of confusion through the years over water baptism. This week we are going to look at what the bible says about this very important subject which could be described as one of the first steps of discipleship.

Jesus was baptised

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Water baptism must be important because Jesus was baptised Himself. He was the last person who needed to be baptised because He was sinless. There are various reasons for why Jesus chose to be baptised but principally it was to identify with us as sinners and as an example for us to follow. As He was baptised He was looking ahead to His own crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus will not ask you to do anything He was not prepared to do himself and asks all his followers to be baptised as we see in His command in Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is for believers.

It does not make you a Christian, it is for those who have already committed their lives to Him and decided to follow Him.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38)

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.(Acts 16:31–33)

Baptism is a public declaration that you belong to Jesus and have submitted your life to Him. When Jesus was baptised He was identifying with you. When you are baptised you are identifying with Him. There is a wonderful connection, what happened to Jesus happened to you as well. As you get into the water you are showing everybody that your old life is dead. As you are submerged under the water you are declaring that your old sinful life is being buried. It is a funeral for your old life! As you come up out of the water you are being raised from your old life by God’s power (the same power that raised Jesus from the dead) raised into a new life with Him.

Next week I will be looking more into what baptism actually is. If you haven’t been baptised, why not seek God this week about what He wants you to do. If you have any questions or anything you want covered next week, please put a comment in the box below and I will do my best to answer it.

 January 24, 2013  Posted by at 7:11 pm Baptism, Confession, Discipleship, Repentance, Resurrection, Salvation No Responses »
Jan 032013
 

repentanceRepentance is one of the foundations of the Christian faith, however it is very much misunderstood in today’s society. It may be worth looking at 6 common misconceptions before studying what the bible says about it:

 

 

  • It is not a way to manipulate God. We can think that by simply saying sorry God is duty bound to forgive us. (In a similar way to when we insist children say sorry; as long as they say the words and look contrite all seems well, but they don’t really mean sorry because they do the same thing 5 minutes later).
  • It is not sorry simply because you “got caught”. We see this occur time and time again in the media: a well known celebrity being caught in some misdemeanour, they go into rehab, appear contrite, give some money to charity and then society decides ‘you’re ok now we will love you again’. That is penance and is not the same as repentance.
  • It is not mere confession. Have you noticed that some people say sorry and then go on doing the very thing they said sorry for? This is an acknowledgement of sin without repentance.
  • It is not a determination towards self-improvement. We all have a tendency towards striving to do better in our own strength, (I’m sorry I missed that target but I will get better at this and try even harder…..).
  • It is not shifting the blame. Some people blame their sin on their upbringing or their genes or any other number of ways to ‘explain’ why they are like they are. They say “I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am…”, or they have an affair, because “my partner is not giving me enough attention”, so justifying their sin and avoiding any personal responsibility.
  • It is not minimising your sin. We compare ourselves with others who, in our eyes, are worse than us, for example “…it was only a little white lie and didn’t hurt anybody. Not like that big fat lie that other person said…). When we minimise our sin it never feels quite so bad, but it is still sin and needs to be repented of.

Given the confusion in today’s society it is very important we understand what biblical repentance means.

The act of repentance means we don’t simply say sorry, feel a little remorseful and then carry on as before. Repentance means we stop, turn around and go in the opposite direction.

Repentance is actually a wonderful gift from God.

God reveals to us our sins and gives us a Godly sorrow that leads us to full repentance. This results in a change of heart and mind, leading to a change of action and behaviour which is then demonstrated through a changed lifestyle. This doesn’t necessarily happen all at once but will show increasingly as we live a life of repentance.

In Luke 3:8, as John the Baptist is preparing the way he says “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. He is then asked what this would look like and in verse 11 John replies “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

So does this mean that we are saved by works? No, but our lives will change as we are motivated by God’s love, grace and forgiveness to do works which show how God has changed our hearts.

Repentance is not just a ‘one off’ thing we do when we become a Christian, like ticking a box to say, “I’ve done that, what’s next?”. It is an ongoing practice, a lifestyle. It keeps us humble and reliant on God’s grace which He continues to give us.

It is God’s desire that we should repent of our sins:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”. (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:19)

Having a repentant heart keeps us humble and reliant on a gracious God who is always willing to forgive us. Do you have anything that you need to repent of? Is there anything in your life causing you to keep God at a distance?

This week, read the story of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32. Let God speak to you through it.

 January 3, 2013  Posted by at 10:36 pm Confession, Repentance No Responses »
Apr 252012
 

2_men_talking_silouette-300x231In my last blog I talked about the importance of accountability questions in Discipleship. We looked at a number of honest questions we could ask each other regularly to become accountable to one another.

Last time I looked briefly at James 5:16 which says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” In this blog I want to look at what it means to confess our sins to one another.

When we talk about confession you might, if you have a Roman Catholic background, think of the confessional booth and having to recount the weeks’ wrongdoings to the priest. Should we do this? Do we confess to each other and then to God, or the other way round? It can all get very confusing. We can sometimes come to some wrong conclusions which I will address later. Continue reading »

 April 25, 2012  Posted by at 9:58 pm Accountability, Confession, Discipleship 1 Response »
Apr 232012
 

2people_talking_375x253In my post about discipleship and accountability, I stated how important it is that we become accountable to other Christians to help us in our Christian lives.

I have listed below a number of bible passages that speak about this subject. To save you even getting your bible out, you can click on (or hover over) each verse and read the passage. Why not have a little study of these verses….?

Proverbs 25:12                                                    Proverbs 27:17

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12                                             Galatians 6:1-6

Colossians 3:16                                                    1 Thessalonians 5:14

James 5:15-16                                                       Hebrews 3:13

Accountability involves being honest, asking honest questions of each other. I have recently been reading about John and Charles Wesley, famous evangelists and preachers of the Eighteenth century and the founders of Methodism. When they were at Oxford University they started what was called “The Holy club” with other students, as they were determined to live a Holy life. They were so keen to help each other that they set out 22 questions that they hoped would help them in their quest. I have listed these below: Continue reading »

 April 23, 2012  Posted by at 7:21 pm Accountability, Discipleship 3 Responses »
Apr 162012
 

AccountabilityDiscipleship is hard work, there are no shortcuts. We cannot just complete a course or read a book on the subject. It’s not knowledge, its action.

Discipleship is true community, getting into each others lives, no skirting around issues or disagreements. If someone asks, “How are you?” do you say fine” quickly asking back “how are you?” to deflect the focus back onto them so you don’t have to tell them what a rotten week you’ve had? (They didn’t REALLY want to know anyway, did they?).

It’s about digging a little deeper and going beneath the surface and getting behind the mask.

Last time we looked at 7 pointers that will help us to get closer to and be disciples of Jesus, things such as; understanding grace and salvation, prayer, bible study, witnessing etc. These are all excellent, but is anyone close enough to you to check you are doing these things? Somebody that, as proverbs 18 v 24 says “sticks closer than a brother”? Someone you can count on to be honest with you? Continue reading »

 April 16, 2012  Posted by at 9:39 pm Discipleship 12 Responses »
Apr 142012
 

I recently wrote about why discipleship is so important and why we need to be a follower of Jesus before we can disciple others.

Following on from that I have listed out below 7 points which will help make us disciples of Jesus;

(1) Understanding Grace – I have put this first because if we do not get this, the following points will be a tick list of things we ‘have’ to do and if that’s the way you are thinking, then you will have missed the point. Grace means unmerited favour, something we get that we don’t deserve, everything we get is a gift and everything we pass on is a gift. We don’t deserve any of it. For instance, we don’t do good works in order for God to save us, they come out of our desire to follow Him. Our discipleship is based on our desire to follow Him not because we have to out of a sense of duty but because we love Him and want our lives to please Him. Continue reading »

 April 14, 2012  Posted by at 7:52 pm Discipleship 2 Responses »
Apr 112012
 

Apart from our personal relationship with Jesus, our primary calling as Christians is to make disciples, but do we know what that means and more importantly have we ever done it?

I am referring of course to ‘The great commission’ which Jesus gives to His disciples right at the end of His ministry as recorded in Matthew 28 v 18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is clearly a command to all of us because the act of making a disciple is passing on what you have learned. Jesus’ disciples passed on what they learned from Jesus down to their disciples and so on down to us. If you are a Christian and you are alive today (and I assume you are alive because you are reading this!) then the baton is squarely in your hand.

So what happens now? Continue reading »

 April 11, 2012  Posted by at 3:18 pm Discipleship No Responses »