Jul 182013
 

Does God change his mindFor those of you who have been following my blog for the past few weeks, you will know that I have been working through 2 Kings as I am reading through the bible in a year. I recently came across a passage which seems to suggest that God changes His mind.

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.  I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” (2 Kings 20:1-6)

A lot of the passages we read in the bible can be quite confusing and can seem contradictory, but if we take scripture as a whole we can find a way through the confusion.

As we ponder this passage I want to consider 2 truths from the bible;

1. God knows all things

Two passages that confirm this are; 1 John 3:20 and John 21:17

2. God does not change His mind

Amongst other passages, we can look at 1 Samuel 15:29

The fact that God knows all things means He knew that Hezekiah was going to repent, (which may not have happened if Isaiah had not prophesied to him). I believe that there are two perspectives here: from God’s perspective, He didn’t change his mind. He knew how Hezekiah would respond from eternity past and graciously sent him a warning, knowing it would lead to repentance and another 15 years on the throne. From our perspective He has changed His mind.

The thing we can miss by analysing this too closely and trying to explain the mysteries of God is – God loves to hear our prayers and acts accordingly. The amazing thing is that God hears our prayers and is motivated by our heartfelt repentance. We see this type of scenario repeated again and again in the bible, where God accomplishes extraordinary things through prayers of faith. We certainly need to get hold of the truth that prayer matters.

Do you have any prayers that you have given up on? Why not get on your knees before the God who graciously answers prayer and who even seems to change His mind!

I hope you don’t mind me adding this video, but it helps to highlight the power of persitent faithful prayer. This amazing healing testimony happened this week. Have a look and be amazed

 July 18, 2013  Posted by at 10:09 pm Prayer, Repentance No Responses »
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 »