Faith isn’t passive …

Now That's What I Call Faith

Now That’s What I Call Faith

It’s been starting to frustrate me how people talk about faith as something that ‘just happens’ but the more I read the Bible the more I discover that God often requires us to step out first… and at THAT point God comes and takes over.
Faith is a VERB… a DOING word.

I’ve heard it said “If God wants it to happen it will” and while that is true, it seems that we still have to do something to prepare.
It seems to me that God has placed dreams in our hearts for a reason… and it may be days, weeks, months, years before we see the fruit of that dream… but it must be in our heart for a reason.
Right?
So what are you doing to prepare?

I read through the Bible and I see miracle after miracle where the person had to ‘step out’ first before the miracle happen…
A few examples are:

  • The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land and God commanded the priest to step into the river (Joshua 3:8) – it wasn’t until they had stepped into the river did the river part.
  • Jesus asked the staff to fill the jugs with water and take them to the head manager of the house before the water turned into wine… not only did the staff know they were taking water to the head of the house but they knew it was from the place where the people got water used to clean their feet.
  • Mark 16:20 says people went forth and preached everywhere… with signs following
  • God told Joshua that he had given the City of Jericho to Joshua… however they still had to walk around the walls 7 times in faith before they saw the miracle happen.

It seems that the Bible is FULL of stories where God asks us to step out in faith first, and then the miracles happen.

We shouldn’t just pray about our dreams… we should act on it.
Act as if God is going to deliver on his promise.

Now let me give FULL disclosure!

  • We don’t want to put God in a box and say “This is the only way that God works miracles” because our God is certainly bigger than anything we could ever believe or imagine.
  • This is NOT some “name it and claim it” scheme. You see it HAS to be in the will of God.
  • It’s not about getting God to give us what WE want.
  • It’s not about working hard to prove anything to God, in exchange for a miracle

So don’t just pray… because if our prayer isn’t accompanied by acting then there is a good chance we won’t go anywhere. It’s about putting feet to our faith or put another way:

“After kneeling down, we need to stand up and step out in faith” – Mark Batterson

I like that…
I once heard Pastor Francis Chan use the analogy of cleaning your room. He says:

“When  my daughter comes to me and I say to her “Go clean your room” she knows better than to come back and say
“Hey Dad I went away and memorized everything you said… you said to me ‘Go clean your room’ ” …
She’s also not going to come back and say “I remembered what you said and I can tell you now that I can say ‘Go clean your room… in GREEK’
Or “We’re going to get our friends together every week and we’re going to study what it might look like if I was to clean my room.”

It doesn’t work does it?We have to at some point we have to step out…
Do you believe that God has planted that dream in your heart… do you know in your knower, that this dream is from God?
Then after you pray… Stand up… and step out in faith.

 

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It’s your story…

Introduction

We all have stories

I was talking to a friend of mine, and I was reminded about the amazing provisions that God had continued to bring into the life of myself and my family.

There have been so many times in my life where our cupboard was bare… and just at the right time someone came with a box of food…
Or when our car had been in need of repair… and just at the right time the money came into our account – the EXACT amount.

I can give story upon story of how God has provided for us at just the right time in so many ways.

Revelation 12 says:

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die – Revelation 12:11

Testimonies remind us that God is still in charge… how?

Because no one can take away the things God has done in our lives… we EXPERIENCED it.

It’s kind of like walking in and seeing your grandmother naked… you can’t UN-SEE things like that… and you can’t un-experience the things that God has done for you.
When we share the things that God has done for us we take away from the enemy his lies telling us that “God doesn’t work in our lives anymore” when we know he does because we have experienced that in our lives.

We have experienced his Grace, we have experienced his healing, we have seen and heard  his answers to prayers… and we can say with all honesty that “God has been with us Thus Far and we know he will continue to be with us.” (1 Sam 7:12)

Often we think that Testimonies are only to do with how we became a Christian… and what God did for us does come into the story of how we became a Christian… but Revelations 12:11 talk about how POWERFUL our testimonies actually are.

One of my favourite testimonies I have heard was in Mark Batterson’s book ‘The Circle Maker’… t goes something like this:

Bob Bagley was a missionary to Africa.  His tribal church was literally meeting under a tree and one day the local witchdoctor cursed the tree and all the leaves withered.  They lost their shade.  They also lost their status!  That curse overshadowed them.  So Dr. Bagley decided to call a public prayer meeting.  He laid hands on the tree and prayed that God would resurrect it.   I love his prayer: “It’s not my name that’s at stake.”  He knew that he couldn’t establish God’s reputation without risking his own!  The rest of the story?  Not only did God resurrect the tree, it became the only tree of its type that yielded fruit twice a year!

Isn’t that great… those sort of testimonies remind us who’s really in charge, and that God is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)…

But here is the thing – If we don’t share the way God is at work in our lives, then we’re tempted to think God isn’t working at all.

So what are the stories that YOU have of Gods provisions in your life… God’s Grace etc…

Are you telling people about them… because they are YOUR stories to tell… and another way of overcoming the enemies in your life.

Testify!

The Great Ambush…

Maker Faire UK 2011

What happens when creative type get together and seek God?

A couple of weekends ago I went to one of the very few weekends that my wife and I have together every year… and both Emma I are really blessed to have family who allow us do this one thing every year.

Now it’s not a romantic getaway in a house over looking the sea… and it’s not even time getting spa treatments… It is however one of the most important times of our year, and if at all possible we wouldn’t miss it.

It’s our CM (Creative Ministries) retreat.

This is the time when all our creative types… from musicians, to artists, to song leaders and songwriters within our church go and refocus… a time to add to the creative way we do corporate worship in church. Where we as a creative group can go and really seek God.  Specifically it is a great start to the year and sets the tone (no pun intended) for the rest of the year.

This year, God was there in a real tangible way and some people were able to ‘do business’ with him in areas that were left un-dealt with.

God touched me in a real way… but there wasn’t a sense of ‘doing business’ it was a real feeling his presence type thing.

… however…

After a time of ministry I went to my room to finish a book I was one chapter off finishing (The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson)  a great book on prayer (Oh the irony)… I had almost finished when two of my close friends came in to check I was ok (as I dashed off in a bit of a hurry to finish my book…)

I said “I was fine” and really didn’t think there was anything more to say… and then they both asked if they could pray for me.

I said “yes” of course… if there any time that God can touch your life I found it’s best to take it with BOTH hands… anyway.

Jo started praying and she said somethings that God had placed on her heart… and they were accurate and they were full of truth and love and in that moment… I was broken… I started to cry and God started to deal with some stuff in parts of my life that I had just left to sort out themselves.

It was a new chapter… a clean page.

So far this year,  one of the memorable moments is what I have been calling ‘The Great Ambush of 2012’… if I hadn’t of rushed away and spent time by myself I wonder if I would have had that moment… I just don’t know.

What I do know is this…

  • I have close friends who are honest enough to come to me to check I’m OK…
  • I have close friends who are humble enough to ask if they can pray for me and to seek God for me…
  • I have friends who are brave enough to say what God has place on their hearts…
  • And I have friends who are willing to ambush me… because they don’t want me to miss out on what God had in store for my life.
I wish everyone is able to have friends who are able to ambush them.

 

 

 

Why we don’t pray

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...

Prayer

Our Church (Hornby Presbyterian Community Church or HPCC) has just finished 21 days of prayer, however I was talking to my friend Mel who made the comment “there isn’t that many younger people at the prayer meetings” – and she’s right, there is certainly more ‘older’ folk… so why is that?

Could it be the fact that we’re to comfortable? – are we just so comfortable just so blessed that we don’t feel the need to pray?

If you talk to some older people you will discover that prayer was the thing that got them through lots of hard times… but that’s just the thing isn’t it? They have something to pray for.

Is it because we don’t know HOW to pray? Maybe we’re just so out of practice that we have forgotten what words to say and so when we do pray our prayers are vague and shallow…

I wonder if part of the reason we are not very good at praying is because we’re not really good at reading the Bible. Pastor Mark Batterson once said “You don’t read the Bible… You pray the Bible”.

You see the really BIG miracles in the Bible were from people standing on the PROMISES of God. When Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still so he could finish his battle… it was because he believed that the promise of God. God had said he would always be with his chosen nation. I’m not sure Joshua knew exactly what he was asking for… however I believe he knew the immensity of the prayer.

I wonder if our prayers are so boring because we’re not willing to let God be God. We’re scared to pray a BIG prayer just in case God doesn’t do something.

But do you know what? I believe the main reason prayers go unanswered… is because they are not asked.

All through the Bible we are told… “Pray first…” but it seems that we have put prayer as our last resort… and for some it’s not even an after thought.

If you want miracles… you need to stand on the promises of God and trust that God will fulfill those promises.

 

 

Pray First

"Women pray during Friday noonday prayer ...

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There are a lot of things I like about our church and the church leadership… The church I go to is called Hornby Presbyterian Community Church (HPCC) in Christchurch New Zealand…

What makes me proud of our church is the fact they they have decided every year to have 3 weeks of prayer.

Why does this excite me?

Well first of all is that it is Biblical… all throughout the Bible we are told to pray first… It would be easy for a church like ours to try and get stuck into doing community work and start big ideas to have through the year… but here is the thing, unless we pray first all of the things that we are doing haven’t been given to God to deal with.

And Secondly… it’s not about us.

It’s easy to get stuck into the rut of praying for ourselves… our own needs… our own problems. However what my church leadership has done (and what other churches around the world continue to do) is given us an example of putting prayer first, but it’s more than that… it’s reflecting as job of the Holy Spirit – interceding for others.

What a great way to start the year… bringing the needs of others before the altar of God.

It shows that it’s not about us… it’s about a God who cares for all.

It shows that in all things pray first… or as it says in 1 Timothy

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1

 

 

Are your prayers gutless???

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Have you ever read a verse in the Bible and been stopped in your tracks by what you read?

I have… and this is the verse:

“Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” James 5:17

Whoa… talk about conviction.

Did you read that?

“Elijah was as human as we are…” and yet he had the guts enough to pray that it stopped raining… and it did… for over three years!

What are your prayers like?

Are they like this maybe? “Dear God be with us??”

Why do you even pray that? Didn’t God say that he would NEVER leave us or forsake us??

Now please hear me… I  pray this type of prayer to… yep guilty and I kinda know the heart behind it so I’m not saying it’s wrong however it’s short of the kind of prayers you COULD be praying. Here is the deal.

The Bible is full of ordinary men and women who prayed BIG GUTSEY prayers… and the rain stopped… or the sun stopped in it’s tracks or battles were won… not because of anything that they had done… but because they had the Kahunas to pray BIG and expected God (the maker of all things) to live up to his promises… and do it BIG time…

But here’s the thing… these people weren’t praying for new cars or boats or MP3 players (mainly because these things weren’t invented) they were praying, reminding God of the things he had ALREADY promised… they were merely standing on Gods promises.

So do you have the guts… the audacity to pray BIG prayers?

Or are you happy with the mediocre?

 

 

 

Boldness…

Boldness 2009 logo.

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Brent Richardson is a guy I really respect… and today he reminded me of the first church in the book of Acts

Now the book of Acts is my VERY favourite book of the bible because it reminds me of how the church could (and maybe should be)

In the book of Acts, Peter and John were in and out of prison for their faith almost more Charlie Sheen has been arrest just for doing dumb stuff… and the church was saying to them “We need to protect you… we can’t have you guys being lost… you are the head of our church at the moment” but instead of becoming untouchable… instead of hiring armed body guards and armored vehicle do you know what they prayed for?

They prayed for BOLDNESS.

This is what they prayed:

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

You see it was never about them…

The church was never about themselves looking inward… the church was about looking out at the world and shining a light… and they knew some of the world didn’t like the light… they had the scars to prove it.

Do you know what boldness is?

Boldness is about creating opportunities… Do you think your friends would be mad if you said “hey do you mind if I pray for you?” – of course not… they could say “yes, I do mind” and that would be ok… the reality is, they are most likely would say “no… that would be fine”

We have to be open to be led by the promptings of the Holy Spirit… he’s certainly not going to leave you hanging… And in the Bible it says that he convicts… he does all the hard work… all we have to do is step out in faith.

Do you want to do something really uncomfortable?

… lets pray for boldness…

When was the last time you prayed for boldness?

“Lord, consider the threats we will encounter and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

AMEN!