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 »
Sep 302012
 

Fasting & prayerPraying together with fasting is a forgotten discipline in modern times.

“I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has ever occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, is it not, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking”. (D Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

People fasted throughout the whole bible from the Old Testament to the New. It carried on through church history and was practiced by many pioneers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. Jesus expected that his followers would fast. “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying ‘why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them ‘can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast’”. (Matthew 9:14-15)

…And after giving instructions on The Lord’s Prayer Jesus says “…when you fast…”, (Matthew 6:16). Notice he didn’t say “if”, but “when”. It was part of His instruction on prayer.

Examples from the Bible

You may have many questions about fasting, such as ‘how should I fast?’, ‘what should I fast from?’, ‘and for what purpose?’. These questions can be answered as we look through specific examples in the bible. I won’t look at all of them but here below are just a few.

Being in and enjoying God’s presence

Exodus 34:28. (However I would not recommend you go for 40 days without food or water, or you really will be in God’s presence!!!). Luke 2:37

During a personal crisis

1 Samuel 1:7. Hannah was desperate for a child and she prayed and fasted for years until God answered her prayer.

Fasting when you are mourning

1 Samuel 31:13

When praying for healing

2 Samuel 12:16. This is a sobering passage which demonstrates that fasting does not guarantee success. God is sovereign and He will not always change His judgements.

Fasting for protection

Ezra 8:21-23. Ezra and the people of Israel prayed and fasted before embarking on a dangerous journey.

Fasting when going into dangerous situations

Esther 4:16. Esther was about to take her life into her hands by approaching the king without being summoned, so she called for her people the Jews to fast and pray that she would gain his favour.

Fasting as part of repentance

Daniel 9:3. Daniel fasted and repented on behalf of the people. Many times in the Old Testament the Israelites returned to God in repentance and fasting demonstrated the seriousness of their repentance eg. Joel 1:14. God even has compassion on a godless city like Nineveh as they all turned to God in repentance and fasting. (Jonah 3:7).

Direction for ministry (guidance)

Acts 13:1-3. While the church were worshipping and fasting the Holy Spirit led them to send out Paul and Barnabas.

Fasting helps us take control over our bodies (the flesh)

1 Corinthians 9:27. When we fast we are saying to our bodies that we will not be mastered by the flesh and it’s desires.

Different types of fasting

As we have seen, there are many different reasons for fasting. In the same way there are many different ways to fast:

· A total fast where you drink only water.

· A liquid fast where you limit yourself to drinking a variety of liquids and soups but abstain from solid food.

· A fast from rich food such as the fast carried out by Daniel and his friends in Daniel chapter 1, eating only vegetables.

· A fast from watching the television. This fast of course is not mentioned in the bible, but can be considered a fast as long as the time saved by abstaining from watching the TV is given over to prayer and seeking God.

You can be creative by fasting from other things personal to you that take up your time and attention.

Fasting can also be for different lengths of time:

· 1 Day (Leviticus 23:27);

· 10 days (Daniel 1:12);

· 21 days (Daniel 10:2);

· 40 days (Matthew 4:2).

If you have never fasted before I would suggest fasting for just one meal to begin with, and building up from there. However it is very important that you consult your doctor before undertaking any kind of fast if you have any medical conditions.

Some practical guidelines for fasting

· Always drink plenty of water when fasting.

· Be aware that during the first few days of a fast your body will start to detoxify and you will suffer with bad breath. Use mouthwash!

· Take time to get alone with God as often as possible without any distractions. Read your bible. Have a pen and notebook to hand to record whatever God may say to you.

· When you break your fast, don’t eat a great big meal all at once but rather gradually build up your food intake slowly.

· Remember you are under grace. If you slip up, repent, receive forgiveness and carry on. Whatever fast you decide on is between you and God-He is not demanding!

Conclusion

To fast means to put God first. Fasting is an attitude of our hearts as we interrupt our normal life in order to pray and seek God for His will in our lives, to effectively move obstacles and burdens that we may encounter, and to simply tell God that He is the most important one in our lives. It is a discipline that quickly turns into a delight as God rewards our devotion with His presence.

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper “A hunger for God”)

 September 30, 2012  Posted by at 7:16 am Fasting, Prayer 1 Response »
Sep 262012
 

Have you ever fasted and prayed? I’m sure you have prayed, but have you ever fasted at the same time?

My church is just entering a season of prayer and fasting (22 days) and If you attend my church or not, I thought it would be a good idea to explain why you should consider fasting to go along with your prayers.

There are many reasons to pray and fast but the main reason I do it is to connect with God, to seek His presence, to hear from Him and to tell Him that He is number 1 in my life (Ok that’s more than one reason but you get the idea)

Fasting seems to be a neglected practice generally and so there may be some uncertainty as to what it actually is. Let me briefly list out what I don’t think it is;

  • Not a diet plan (not biblical fasting anyway)
  • Not a means to twist God’s arm
  • Not a thing to brag about or impress others
  • Not a ‘religious’ exercise to gain heavenly brownie points

In its simplest form, fasting is going without food (generally) and setting the time you would prepare and eat food to praying and seeking God.

It’s such a big subject that I will tackle it over a number of blogs, looking at the biblical reasons and examples, different forms, how to do it, what we can gain etc

It doesn’t have to be over a number of days, just missing a meal would be a good start. why not consider it? You may be surprised at the result and it won’t be as bad as you first fear.

I am going away tomorrow for a few days to the ‘Intimacy and Identity – Father Heart Conference” in Bedford and so I shall try to write a review about that before continuing with my fasting series next week.

God bless

 September 26, 2012  Posted by at 4:10 pm Fasting, Prayer No 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 »