Monday 30 April 2012

Time to walk on the water

Last May, I posted a blog titled "A New Take On The Bible". It was referring to the story of Jesus walking on the water and was written from Peter's perspective. As is often the case, God likes to tell us more and more about the same passage of scripture, and so I've decided after sitting on this for a few months that it's time to share it.

 22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
 Matthew 14 v 22-33, NKJV

 Starting from the beginning of the passage, the disciples had nothing to worry about. Jesus told them to "go before Him to the other side", yet I don't think they realised this when they were stuck in the middle of the sea, as the waves and wind tossed them around.
Jesus spoke into the situation, told them the outcome, and then sent them on their way. Often, we fail to hear what Jesus has spoken to us (ignore the promise) and we worry about our circumstances instead! Human nature hasn't changed much in 2000 years.
So in the middle of the night, the disciples are asleep and Peter is the watchman. Thinking about this story, it really would have only worked as well as it did if Peter was involved, the impulsive disciple, was the one to act first and think after. He was probably a bit bleary eyed when he saw Jesus- even though he didn't realise who it was coming towards him. The fright of what he saw would have woken him immediately.

Jesus was walking on the water- what a strange thing to do! Peter wanted some of this so he asked Jesus and was told to come. Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus, but fear got into him and Jesus had to grab him as he called out "Lord, save me!"

So that's the story, but what was happening? Peter allowed his circumstances to become bigger than his God. He saw the wind and the waves and their movement distracted him from Jesus. He didn't realise that God was more in his circumstances than he knew.
This is always the case with God. He is always more involved in our situations than we will ever know. He holds us in the palm of His hand.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Jesus told the parable of the man who built his house on the rock and the man who built his house on the sandy land Matthew 7 v 23-25, NKJV. I heard it preached once that the difference is that the man who built his house on the rock was building it on the solid truth of God. Sand is made out of many tiny bits of rock, little bits of truth. When there is no foundation of God in our lives, or we just like little bits of Him, our houses fall down.

On Sunday last, Gerry Butcher demonstrated what it would be like if we only drank on a Sunday and didn't for the rest of the week. We would die of thirst. As in the natural, so in the spiritual. We drink of the Holy Spirit on a Sunday and forget Him for the rest of the week, we shrivel up and die.

Jesus was demonstrating how the Christian life should be lived when He came to the disciples on the water. Jesus spent time with the Father, was (is) the Son of God and was walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
All through the Bible, the Holy Spirit is mentioned in in a similar way to water. The Holy Spirit is poured out, we are filled up, baptised in and by Him.
When Jesus walked on water, He was demonstrating that when your firm foundation is the impossible God, the impossible becomes possible.
When you are grounded in the Holy spirit, the impossible becomes possible, supernatural becomes natural.
Walking on the water wasn't just a shortcut to the other side of the lake. Walking on water was Jesus showing us how to live our lives. Peter sank because he took his eyes off Jesus. He let the circumstances overwhelm him.

Fix your eyes on Jesus today, spend time with the Father and allow the Holy Spirit to carry you into the impossible.

Roger C.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Contending for More

Has a scripture ever captured your heart, where it clings and won’t let go? You wake with it, walk with it, eat with it, talk with it and dream with it, and tomorrow it all starts again. This is something I am now experiencing and it’s winning my heart. Two such verses have nabbed me within a short few days of each other one year ago as follows.

2 Samuel 12:8 

“I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more”

After David commit adultery God spoke those words to him. He already had everything so to speak and yet God said, no you don’t there is even more you could have (even David missed something that was available). This has become my prayer and when I ask God for more I end up in tears, asking for more and more of Him. God’s response is the second verse.

1 Chronicles 21:24 

"No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing."

This scripture was after David sinned by counting his fighting men (not relying on the strength of God) with terrible consequences to his people. At this time David contended for God’s mercy, was told by God to build an altar to the Lord and then he saw the angel that was ravaging his people at the threshing floor. David wanted this threshing floor.

Araunah who owned the threshing floor offered it to David for free. Look at David’s response in this verse. David paid in gold and God at this point commanded the angel to put away the sword. This is an amazing passage of scripture, David encountered God and a fear was broken off him which brought break-through for future generations. When Solomon came along the ground work was done and Solomon built the Temple on the site that David bought, the site of Encounter.

Today I know how to receive more of God, it will cost me the full price, it does not cost nothing, and I also know this is what I hand on to my children, they will walk upon my victories, my victories will be their starting point. Without my victories, my testimonies, my children have to battle for those same victories and only with testimonies of old without having seen it with their very own eyes. Through my victories and testimony they get a head start and so will run farther than I can run. I am contending for more, as the ground I currently occupy does not satisfy me.

In these last 2 years since I encountered God through the XL Prophecy School, I have as a result an unceasing hunger for God’s word. As God rocked my boat so violently over a period of 7 days, I started asking questions of God, some of the questions can offend man but not God, he really enjoys them and loves teasing out and revealing the answers and setting me free. In these early days I looked at the passage on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and started looking into this gift called “prophecy”.

As I did so, two other gifts caught my attention and won’t let go off me, the gift of healing and the gift of working of miracles. I did not believe such gifts including prophecy was for today, in fact in my early years in church in the late 1980’s I as assistant leader of a home group (bible study group) would have responded to questions raised by the group by saying that the Holy Spirit gifts were now defunct. Be careful who you ask for answers!

I gave answers that were wrong. Scripture tells us God will teach us, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. How foolish I have been. What has been going on in me these last two years has been tough at times, God is turning my life upside down and using those very things that I had cast aside to speak deeply into my heart. Today I believe a different gospel, I laugh to myself when I remember the words of a song “I’m losing my religion” and know those words ring true for me. I believed something that man told me and never asked God for His opinion, now that’s close to the definition of religion. Who gave me the right to put that responsibility on any bible teacher, no one, this is a blatant act of disobedience on my part and unscriptural, I have paid a heavy price for this error over the years.

I have just read through the book of John’s gospel and have been amazed to look at how Jesus operated in these 3 gifts of the Holy Spirit. I want to summarise what John wrote of these gifts, healings released belief in people, the miracles released faith in people, the signs revealed God, Jesus was welcomed because of the miracles, full households believed because of the signs, great numbers followed Jesus because of these miracles, people recognized these gifts were from God, people worshiped because of these signs, the miracles spoke to the people, the signs brought glory to God, the signs enabled people see God, the miracles brought salvation, the signs were a tool for belief, the miracles were so that people would believe.

In fact at one point Jesus said if you don’t believe my words believe on the evidence of the miracles and can you believe it he also said John 10:37 “If I do not do the works of my Father do not believe me”. What if we were to apply the words of this verse to ourselves? We concentrate much on communicating Jesus, Jesus didn’t communicate Jesus. He talked of the kingdom of God, displayed the raw power of God and His Kingdom and in so doing released the ability in people to believe in Jesus and confess his name.

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, Peter’s asked Jesus to go away from him because he was a sinful man, the evidence of the miraculous catch of fish brought conviction of sin to Peter. (How we need such gifts today as we reach out to a broken world). It’s interesting in the last days of Jesus’ ministry Peter’s response to another miraculous catch of fish saw him jump out of his boat to get to Jesus, unable to wait for the boat to reach land. Peter spent 3 years with the master teacher. He was sent out with the twelve, without the Holy Spirits presence, because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given as our helper. He was then sent out again, a mission training trip you could say, but now with 72 (so not just apostles in case you think it’s got to do with being an apostle).

Jesus gave them these instructions Matthew 10:7-8

“As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give”.

(Note no explaining who Jesus was, just displaying who He was – interesting). The guys came back full of joy amazed by what had been done through their co-labouring with Jesus. The apostles learned how to impact their community from the master teacher, these two mission trips were training for the great commission. Just in case you might say that this was only for when Jesus was alive, read the Book of Acts, Stephen and Philip not numbered among the twelve seemed to operate with a more powerful anointing. If you are still not convinced read about Paul, and if you find them Paul’s relatives that were marked as outstanding among the apostles. How did this all work for Peter, I don’t have the space to talk about Pentecost, the anointing of the Holy Spirit in this paper but I promise I will write again.

So leaving the anointing aside, there is a real key revealed to us all in Acts 3:6. When Peter encountered the cripple at the gate looking for money, Peter said …

"What I have I give to you..."

There is the key, Peter recognized what he had, simple. You can only give what you have, and you only have what you know you have. What have you to give? Freely we received and we are commanded to freely give. As you give your receive. If fact I would go further and say unless you give it away you lose it, look at the parable of the 10 coins, it does not sound fair but it’s the way it is.

Now look at Paul and more particularly what he says, Romans 15:18-19

"I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done-by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ."

Paul dared not speak it unless he displayed it, isn’t this what Jesus did for three years? Does this challenge you, I can’t explain the emotion it stirs in me. Imagine if we chose to do as Paul did, what would we speak during our meetings, our small groups. The same Paul said 1 Corinthians 4:20

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power”

By what power do you speak? These are tough questions that demand an answer, welcome to my life, I love it. I see Him transforming us and am so privileged to have a few very close friends hold my hand and walk with me as we explore who our amazing God is, and what He has for those who believe, and further more what He has for those who believe in more.

On the 13 February 2011, we were issued with a BHAC (Big Hairy Audacious Calling i.e. into the extraordinary – the supernatural). Two words were breaking our speaker’s heart that day, “How Come”. That was a fantastic message and I would recommend you all listen again and again. I now dare to add a little something to her message or maybe more accurately ask something. Is the How Come answered in Paul’s words above?

I have to sign off now, so I challenge you as follows. Why are the gifts of healing and the gifts of working miracles so unspoken of in the Irish church? Why do we fear that these gifts lead to the church being deceived? Look as Elisha’s response to the cry of his servant when they were surrounded by the enemy army. Elisha asked God open his servants eyes and once opened he could see that the enemy is surrounded by multitudes of Gods army. Remember the church belongs to God, do we think God is not capable to protect us from the deception of the enemy. To fear is probably the greatest tool in the enemy’s kit (Job feared and it came to pass Job 3:25), fear is a form of idolotary. It says you believe he is more powerful than God and to place the enemy in that position is idolotary, something before God. The sign gifts are pointers, pointers to God. I now believe the sign gifts are the key to break-through, to operate in the sign gifts we must dwell in His presence, and this is only a result of His anointing.

God gave me a word 15 months ago “What you hold in your eye, you will hold in your hand”, instantly I knew what God was saying. Today I see the same message in God’s word. Proverbs 23:7

“For as he thinks in his heart so he is”

[Side note - Do you believe as it says in Jeremiah that your heart is evil, If you do you are believing a lie, that verse is the most abused verse of the bible, do not take it out of context, we in Christ have been given new hearts and He never gives bad gifts]. Joshua 1:3 says:

“I will give you every place where you set your foot as I promised Moses”

(this also applies to your spiritual feet, my feet are contending for all these gifts) and Proverbs 18:20-21

“With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied. He will be satisfied with the harvest from his lips”

As we see in the Spirit, speak it, teach it, we will see it in the flesh. Romans 10:17

"Faith comes from hearing, and the message is heard through the word of Christ"

Our words impart life or death, create or destroy. Our ears hear, our faith increases, then our words create. We are in the last days as it says in Acts 2, the last days are marked by the out-pouring of Gods Holy Spirit, cry out for the anointing and watch what happens. There is more, much more and those who contend will lay hold of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Declan D.