Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting Answered Prayers!

Remember how I was talking about faith.

I don't actually have trouble having faith. It's just that sometimes I'm not totally convinced of God being more sovereign than what I am looking at. So thus I need to learn to become totally convinced and persuaded of God's sovereignty.

Let me explain. Last week I realised that it hadn't rained for a while. (Who cares that it is summer.) So I did what I always do when it's a bit dry...

"God some rain would be good. Thanks. Oh, could you make it rain for a few days? Hang on, make that a week. Oh, but with intervals so it soaks in a bit and they* don't get wet tonight. Thanks"

And I expected it to rain. It always does when I pray. In fact I can always get made to order weather. I don't have any trouble believing for the weather. Like I said, I always get what I ask for. I pray and God does it. You saw the gist of my prayer... nothing special. Just faith.

James 5:17-18

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Interestingly the verse before says:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

And to prove the point Elijah and the weather is used. He prayed that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't. But then he prayed again. (This time it is mentioned in 1Kings 18.) And it rained all right!

After praying, the next thing they predicted rain for the next week. (Yep, just as I had prayed.) I was wondering what the weather would be like as soon as the week was up. In the low Thirties.

Meanwhile everyone else was saying about how strange the weather is... I started agreeing with one person and God reminded me, "This is what you asked for!"Oh, yeah whoops... I nearly forgot. I mean, once I prayed I knew I would get it so I didn't think about it anymore.

So Curry Blake says we should apply the same to all of our Christian walk... (Don't worry; I didn't tell him about what I do to the weather guys here.)

I had a cut, so I prayed for it... well more like told it to stop hurting and heal quickly in Jesus name. Well it stopped hurting. The next day I looked at it. I could see the new skin coming up already. (It was cut like you get from a knife. However I can't remember how I cut myself.) Normally takes a few days to heal... and stings because it takes a while for the new skin to grow up. I was pretty happy with that result.

So I'm learning.

*My family, who were out in the open that evening.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Would Jesus Have me Do? (Part 3 of 3)

Our next question should be then:

"What does God want me to do?"

Paul said, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ."

So we should imitate Christ.

Jesus said, "If anyone hears My Words and does them I will liken him to one who built his house on the rock..."

And obey Him.

Often called the great commission:

Mark 16:15 - 18

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
I can't believe this... what do I have to do!!! Oh, hang on, those signs will follow me. Hmm does that mean if I go, and I believe (according to 1 John 5: 14 -15*) that they will follow me?

1 John 5:14 -15

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

That means that God will do anything for us if it is in line with His will and we ask with confidence (in Him)

His Word is His revealed will. So I guess He is saying that if we preach they will believe, and if they believe than those mentioned signs will follow. I guess they will follow me too, if I believe. Which I do!!! (Just in case that needed to be mentioned.)

So what would Jesus have me do?

Obey Him, and fulfill the great commission.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What did Jesus Do? (Part 2 of 3)

First off I will start by saying that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So therefore if we want to know what Jesus would do we should be asking, "What did Jesus do yesterday?" because that is what He will be doing tomorrow.

So this is what I found:

Jesus only did what He saw The Father doing.

Jesus fulfilled God's Word.

Jesus healed all who came to Him.

Jesus set the captives at liberty.

Jesus preached the good news to the poor.

Jesus raised the dead... when He came across them.

Jesus blessed the children.

Jesus promised us that we would always have the poor with us. (I thought I would chuck that one in for good measure.)

Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.

Jesus bore the chastisement for our peace.

Jesus' wounds heal us.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins. (Just in case you missed that before.)

Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus defeated death and hell.

Jesus fulfilled the will of God.

Jesus gave His disciples the great commission. (If we are His disciples we have the same commission.)

Jesus told His disciples to wait until they received the Holy Spirit.

Jesus ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of The Father. (Oh, and some angels told His disciples that He will return as He left.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Would Jesus Do? (Part 1 of 3)

I remember when the whole WWJD movement started. Oh how I hated it! What would Jesus do if he saw the poor and hungry? What would Jesus do if he was walking down the main street? What would Jesus do if he saw an old man with a walking frame trying to open a shop door?

I remember the things that people said, and still do say about that.

Well, we should do what Jesus would do, so we should sponsor a child, smile at the people we walk past, and open the door for the man. Right? Wrong!

Let me tell you what Jesus did.

  1. He multiplied the food for everyone! (With leftovers)
  2. He cursed the fig tree on one of His visits. He also generally preached where ever He went. Oh, and He "healed all who were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him."
  3. I guess that means he would have healed the lame man... like He did on many different occasions.

I guess being like Jesus has a different meaning to what we have been taught...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Walking with God

His mercies are new every morning.

Something a lot of people seem to have trouble with is walking with God on a daily basis. Some things that you have probably heard and possible even felt.

I forget to do my devotions.

I don't like the books they have out there, and can't find anything I like and that makes it hard.

Even if you find a book you like doing devotions with it does not last forever.

I just run out of time in the morning.

It's just too hard.

I don't know what's wrong with me.

I don't know what to do.

I have personally thought all of them. I was wanting somehow to draw near to God, but feeling like the assistance I needed was not there, and that I did not have what it took to seek God until I found Him.

Then I realised something. When I was a young girl, and first saved I used to talk to God at any time of the day about anything, because Jesus was my friend and the Holy Spirit my guide. God taught me His wisdom, to fear Him, and His ways were burnt in my heart.

I did not find it hard to pray. I was praying all the time. I did not feel that I needed some book to guide me to have devotions, the Holy Spirit guided me towards God.

I didn't read my bible out of duty. I loathed the very thought of reading it religiously. But I read it regularly, and also every time I was in a church service were I didn't understand the preacher... or it was boring.

He wanted me. If He has my heart, He has all of me. As I learn to love, and lean on Him, He teaches me more, and I'm one of the happiest people on earth!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Answered Prayer Part 2 - Pushing for Breakthrough

I realised after posting my previous post that I had covered a fair amount of what was supposed to be a separate post to make things less complicated.

One thing that is taught to us a lot in our Western culture is something very dangerous. It is something that will destroy life, lose wars, bring hopelessness, promote apathy, and wreck havoc on society. What is this thing that is so deadly to us and will take away our hope and our future.

I will sum it up for you in two words:

Give up!

What words! Daniel prayed until something happened. In fact he prayed for 21 days. With prayers and fasting. (Whoops, did I say something wrong?) The truth is that you will have to pay a price for what you are asking for... How much are you willing to pay? 1 hour with God? 1 meal missed? 1 Day? What a great start! Did you know that Jesus prayed all through the night regularly? One day I was thinking about how I wanted to do all the things that Jesus did, and then I suddenly realised that Jesus' sacrifice was His sleep, and suddenly it was not as attractive... Now I'm not telling you to stay up all night tonight, so that in the morning you will be amazingly like Jesus. I'm just letting you know what sort of regular sacrifice He did that removed every hindrance from Him seeing the power of God.

My pastor was telling a story on Wednesday night of how he was praying for something and God called him in the morning getting him out of bed with the words, "Purpose your heart." So he eventually got out of bed. When he sat down to talk to God what do you think God said? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He went back to bed 2 hours later disappointed. Then next night God woke Him again... Same story, for nine days!!! Finally God spoke to him, and he wrestled with obeying what God told him, because it was so hard, but eventually he did obey, and God blessed him because of it.

The point is though, that sometimes you will have to keep praying and you won't see any answers, and it won't make sense, and you have to push for a breakthrough.

Jesus told a story of a persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8

1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.
3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’
4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,
5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.
7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

God wants us to seek Him until He does something. Too often we give up before our breakthrough comes.

I started writing this post a few weeks ago and as I was writing I felt convicted of all my half-hearted prayers, and decided to take one thing that I had been half-heartedly praying for and pray seriously. So I picked something and decided to write down my prayers for 21 days. So every evening before I turned out the light I did just that and I was amazed at how God changed my perspective on that situation.

At the end of the third week I didn't feel like stopping, I was starting to talk to God about other things too, and it was a really amazing. Now I tend to talk to God for a few minutes before I go anywhere in the morning too. It hasn't been any effort to do that, now I have made a habit of prayer. It's just getting easier and easier. I think of praying a lot and it is making my thoughts much more peaceful.

Now I still haven't seen the results of what I was originally praying for, but I have seen God change my heart and draw me closer to Him, which was indirectly what I was praying for. Just thinking about it now, I realise that God had previously told me that what I needed to see my answer was my heart changed. Well, He has been doing that and I didn't even realise what He was doing, I was just blown away by Him again.

As you push for your breakthrough it teaches you to trust Him, and He can work on your heart. I was/am praying for about 5 minutes in the evening, but it has become more extended. I remember Him when I arise. I remember Him through out my day. I feel His presence throughout my day, and it affects how I see the world. I speak to Him at odd moments, and it isn't like it is a hard push to make this relationship work.

I am seeing a restoration of the relationship I had with God before I first got distracted by the things of this world. (Don't get me wrong; it's not like I haven't spoken to God since, I have - heaps, but it hasn't been as close as it was when I was a child, and I have struggled with staying close off and on.) Isn't He amazing!?!

So believe me when I say to get on your knees and pray regularly. It will do you a world of good, and you will not be the same afterwards.

I personally think that the more time we spend with God the happier we will become!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Answered Prayer Part 1 - Abiding in Him

John 15:7-8

7If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
8When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. (AMP)

What does abiding mean? Is that verse true saying that if we abide in God we will ask whatever we will and it shall be done?! I guess most of us don't abide in Him and His Word in us seeing as we do not see all that much prayer answered, let alone all of it in the church.

In Mark 16:15-18 I find an interesting scripture that seems to defy all normal Christianity these days. It reads:

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (NKJV)

Now may I ask you, do you meet all that criteria? Do you cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, and lay hands on the sick and see them recover? Do you believe? I can tell you straight. I haven't done all of them!

It is rare to see anyone doing that in the church and when we do find someone that manages to do all of the above we idolize them, and put them on a pedestal. But Jesus said it was for the entire church. So regardless of what anyone else is telling you that you can and can't do: this is a criteria of believing God. Wow! That means that you can do it if you believe God.

Then the question is, 'Why aren't we seeing more of it in the church?' I guess the answer is: because we don't believe God, and we haven't realised that it is available for us.

I should mention here that I am not saying that if you don't cast out demons, speak with new tongues, etcera that you aren't saved.

What I am saying is that God says that this is available for you if you believe. It isn't just for super Christian with the wonderful ministry. It is for you!!!

So how do you access it? Prayer of course! That is why you ask God.

Hebrews 11:6 says:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (NKJV)

God wants you to diligently seek Him!

Tell me, what is eternal life? Did you answer knowing God? How do you get to know God? (John 17:3*) By diligently seeking Him. (In prayer.) Prayer is not about some religious ritual. Prayer is about a relationship with God, and talking to Him, speaking with Him, asking Him things, and listening to Him.

As you learn to shut out some of the other voices in this world that scream for your attention and listen to Him you will learn of Him. Bring yourself to the Lord and surrender your day to Him. Whether it is just starting, or it is half way through, or finishing He still wants your day. He wants you. All of you. So bring yourself as a living sacrifice and ask Him to speak to you, and be with you.

Perhaps the hardest thing you will need to do is quieten yourself. Sometimes I find it helpful to read a book of prayers and just reflect for a while. Another thing you can do is read a passage out of the bible and reflect on it. Being somewhere you won't be disturbed will make it easier for you. If you are having trouble ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Remember that is what He is there for. :D

* John 17:3 And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent. (AMP)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Trusting the Almighty God - What is so Hard About That?

What makes faith so hard? Why can't we trust the Almighty God to take care of us? Why don't we take God at face value for what He says that He is, He is, and what He says that He does, He will do?

Think about it. If for some reason God doesn't do what we wanted Him to do, or what we expected Him to do, and then we get all bent out of shape and say, "God doesn't do things for me." Yes, He does. (Just not the way you think.) Romans 3:4a says, "...Let God be true and every man a liar." (If only the church preached that a little bit more often.) I hear you say, "What?! But I am right!" Let me ask you, "Are you more right than God?"

Let me ask you a different question. Since when did God completely make sense to anyone? Does He like to be put in a box? Just in case you do not know the answer I will give it to you. He does not like us to put Him in the proverbial box. Jesus intentionally offended the religious. To top it off He did on a regular basis. In Isaiah 55:9 He says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Just because you do not understand God does not mean that He is not who He says He is.

Many times God revealed Himself in the old testament as "I am". He is. He does not lie. He is Truth. He is Righteousness. In Him there is no sin. He is Love. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) If something is going wrong it is you, not Him.

Having said that, if something goes wrong He will help you. Hebrews 13:6 says, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (italics mine) Psalm 118:7 says, "The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies." Deuteronomy 33:29a says, "Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD ? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword." Psalm 50:15 says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." You can ask God to teach you things and He will. Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit and He would teach us all things.

In essence, you can trust God, and if you are not getting the results that you are after do not just give up. Pray about it!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hearing or Listening - In Church

I remember the first book of Joshua Harris' that I read. It was a small book called "Stop Dating the Church". I was at a friend's house, and was just after some light reading to pass the time. I did not realise at the time that my life and the way I viewed church was about to be changed for good. I started reading it, and at first was agreeing with everything he said, about some people not being willing to commit, and it being the same people serving day in and day out. (My parents have both been in ministry somewhat, mum running a kids club for years, and dad being 2IC at church.) It was not until he spoke about not getting anything out of the sermon, and how it is a personal choice to listen. (Sorry this is going from a few years ago memories from reading the book...) I realised that I had been hearing, but not listening. No wonder I was not getting much out of it. I was stunned when I started listening again how much I was getting out of the sermons. Now that does not mean I have been perfect since. Far from it, but now I know what is the most likely problem, and if I do not get fed it is my own fault.

Now it has been a few years since then, and the most recent memory of teaching on this is John Bevere's books. (He mentions it in several of them.) This will not be an exact quote, but he says that he was talking to God one day complaining about his pastor and how he was not getting fed at church; and this is what God said to him, "The problem isn't with your pastor. It is with you!" The reason you do not get feed sometimes is the pastor, but a much more common problem is that you are not listening. If you are having trouble concentrating try taking notes. Have breakfast before church so you are not hungry. Get to bed at a decent hour the night before. Of course do not forget to ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your understanding. If you expect to get something from God you most likely will.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Drawing Near

Last post was on how much God wants to be with us, and why we should draw near. I thought that I should expand a little bit more than I did there on how to draw near. Please forgive me if it sounds a little elementary. I am trying to make this as easy to understand as possible.

First let me just say one thing: Relax!!! This is not hard.

Some of the more commonly mentioned problems with prayer is that nothing seems to happen, and that it is hard to pray for long extended periods of time. This is not hard.

There are two problems mentioned there.

Firstly is that nothing seems to happen. Firstly let me tell you that a young man named Daniel once prayed for 21 days with prayer and fasting before he got an answer. Usually we give up too soon, or we do not even try in the first place. The other thing that causes people not to get answers is this: A double minded person can expect to receive nothing from God.

The other often heard is that praying for a long time is hard. Again think of it as a friendship. I do not pray for long, painful, extended periods of time. I just talk to God all day. He is your friend. Just talk to Him about everything... and then sometimes wait to see if He will say something back. You might be surprised at His responses. If you are okay with the idea pray in tongues for a change. I have some friends that I can talk to for hours... literally. How about a 45 minute phone call, that gets interrupted, so you call back and talk for another hour... yeah I did that once. We would have talked for longer if we did not have to go. My point is that God is not boring, you just have to get to know Him and then all sorts of things will come out!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Knowing God

It has never ceased to amaze me that people in the church think it normal to not converse with God, not read their bibles, or pray and still they think that they know God. I suppose you compare it to a normal friendship. I don't listen to them, I don't read their letters, or written communication, and I don't talk to them either... Great relationship? OF COURSE NOT!!!

How then do we expect to know God oh so well, if we haven't had any contact lately? He knows you because He knew you before He formed the heavens. He watches over you every moment of the day. He sees your deepest thoughts, and knows the intents of your heart. If you do not cultivate a relationship with God, you will not know Him.

Does God want it to be this way? Of course not!!! He made us to have fellowship with Him, and that is the reason He sent Jesus; to reconcile us to Himself that we might be one with Him! God wants to draw you to Himself; the problem is that we are too lazy to make time to be with Him!!!

I know; I've been close to Him, and drifted a long way away, and suddenly woken up to find that I wasn't anywhere near where I needed to be! The wonderful thing was that I could come to Him, and He would forgive me, and draw near to me as soon as I drew near to Him. However it was much harder to come back, and I had to learn to trust Him again. I felt that I was not worthy, and that God was so far away from me, when He was watching, waiting, drawing nearer and drawing me nearer.

So when you come to God remember, He has been waiting for you, and it's not like He doesn't want to be with you, or that He won't forgive you. You need to forgive yourself, and sometimes the only way we become strong enough to forgive is in His presence.

How do we come near? What if your Bible reading is boring, and nothing happens when you pray? The thing with drawing nearer is to talk to God. Then when you talk to Him expect Him to talk back. Now it might not be what you are expecting (usually God likes to disturb our ideas of Him when they aren't accurate...), however He will speak to you and He will teach you.

Quickly on how to read your bible so you don't get bored:
1. Try something a little lighter than Leviticus to start with. (John, Hebrews, Acts, etc.)
2. Read more than one verse. (yes you heard me correctly!!!)
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and teach you. (The bible says that He will if we ask.)
4. Relax for goodness sake!!! No-one is going to eat you.
5. Get rid of distractions. (Now I can hear some people saying, but it's always noisy here!!! How can I do that?! That is not true for most of you I am sure. Think about it! If it really and truly is never quiet, and you can not get somewhere there is not a lot of noise and distractions then you will have to learn to tune out in a crowd.)
Remember GOD LOVES YOU, and He wants to talk with you sometime... soon!