God is Not a Liar (journal 7)

God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

“God has never asked that we exercise faith for something He has not first promised to do for us.”

“Faith is believing that God speaks the truth.” (both TL Osborn, Healing the Sick)

Our faith needs to have its foundation in God’s faithfulness and the certainty of His word. God means what He says and THAT is what we need to believe without wavering, without being tossed to and fro, but standing firm, knowing It is impossible for God to lie. Heb 6:18

God’s Promises (journal 2)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

No prayer based on one of God’s promises will receive a ‘No’ answer. Failure to receive is due either to not fulfilling a stated condition, or a failure of belief. It is not because God is saying ‘no’.

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24


Praying in faith is having confidence that we have received (not that we will or could receive) even before we have the evidence of it.

God’s Will and Faith (journal 1)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him. 1 Jn 5:14-15

Knowing God’s will is an important aspect of prayer. It is essential for faith.

How can we truly believe and stand firm in unwavering faith if we aren’t certain that God wants us to have what we are asking for. Without that certainty, any expectation of success is presumptuous and not an act of faith.

Many things we seek are promised by God if certain conditions are met. Therefore, if we know something is promised and we know we have met the conditions, we can have the confidence referred to above.

What I’ve Learned This Year (so far) part 2

In part 1 of “What I’ve Learned This Year (so far)”, I wrote about the outcomes of the cancer diagnosis I was given, the effects on my own faith, and the challenges it seems to have presented to others. (Some couldn’t cope: the combination of the word cancer with the name Jesus seemingly sending them into a panic – more so when I spoke of believing for total healing).

I found others revealed a compromised understanding of faith – what it REALLY means to trust in God. Showing that too often only lip-service is paid to belief in the promises of God. No matter how much they defend the “faith” they say they have it seems few have escaped the influence of cessationist traditions and theology. That comes across very clearly in attitudes to healing. While they insist they believe in healing, they don’t confidently expect it. And it was surprising to see the eagerness of so many to mention the number of sick people they knew who believed God but didn’t get healed.

But moving on to part two…

Maybe the most significant thing I’ve recognized this year is that I’ve never taken my faith seriously enough, even though its been almost 50 years since I first “came to Christ”.

There has always been some kind of compromise or complacency in my “Christian” life. I’ve realized that genuinely seeking and serving God has not really been the primary focus of my life, even though, throughout at least half of those 50 years, I would have insisted that it was. But that’s easy to see in hindsight after taking the new opportunity to spend significantly more time in the word and prayer.

Now the question is, what permanent, ongoing changes are needed to ensure I move forward and don’t slip back into the neglect of those past decades. It’s easy to wallow in regret, recognizing far too many wasted years and wasted opportunities to serve the Lord, but as a good friend recently pointed out, there’s no point in regretting what could have been.

At first I was thinking ahead to the future. One of the first verses I latched onto after being diagnosed was in Psalm 118. It was short enough to quickly memorise, and its something I meditate on and “confess” frequently.

I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

Maybe as a result of that verse, my mind was initially fixed on the future proclamation of the Lord healing me. I was looking forward to the day when I’d have that wonderful testimony.

But what about now?

And that’s the question I’m still trying to answer. Yes I’ll have that testimony, but until then?

I’m still maintaining time in the word and prayer; and I’ve been reading Christian books, finding that testimonies and biographies have been the most encouraging and worthwhile. A lot of those have related to mission work, both past and present.

Recently I’ve spent far too much time hoping to find worthwhile content on YouTube, but that’s like searching for a cliche in a haystack. Good content seems very rare, but I’ve found a few sites that have been helpful.

For some reason there seems to be an over-representation of heresy hunter channels among the options offered whenever I visit YouTube – hence the many recent posts I’ve made on the subject of the so-called “discernment” ministries. However I have found a couple of good sites exposing the methods and motivations of most of those “ministries”. Sadly, despite the transparency of the way they manufacture “evidence” to condemn their targets, they maintain a loyal following keen to swallow their every claim.

Mostly those targeted are charismatic-Pentecostal believers, who are denied even the subtlety of a broad brush condemnation, but are quickly pushed directly into the “New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)” heretic paint pot, despite many of them having no association with each other (or the almost mythical NAR) outside of the conspiratorial imagination of the “discernment” ministries.

My current situation has made me hyper-aware of any attack on the present day validity of Spiritual gifts and the miraculous. Attacks on those things are an attack on the Holy Spirit Himself, nullifying His ministry and wiping out maybe the most important realities of the post- ascension gospel.

As a result of cessationist theology many have been robbed of the health and life God has provided through Jesus’ sacrifice, and the ministry of the church has been stripped of the power intended to confirm the preached gospel.

Disappointment Can Be Encouraging

Yesterday Gloria and I went into town for a quick shopping trip.
While there we saw a Christian friend we hadn’t seen for a few years. She and her family attend the local charismatic church who are big devotees of Bill Johnson’s teaching, and many years ago when we attended that church, the pastor and his family took three months leave to attend a leadership training course at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, where the “Toronto blessing” originated. It was soon after their return that Gloria and I left that local church.

Last year, only two or three months before I was diagnosed, the pastor of that local charismatic church died from cancer. Also, during some of my chemotherapy , a member of that church was having treatment as well. He was in a bad way, having to carry oxygen around with him and relying on a walking frame for mobility. According to our friend that man has accepted that it is God’s will that he is dying and doesn’t have long left.

Occasionally those situations, in particular what happened to the pastor, played on my mind. Surely he had trusted the Lord to heal him, and yet he died. Why should I think my situation would be any different?

Talking to that friend yesterday I got my answer. When I told her about the medical diagnosis given to me she cheerily said something about this life being temporary. I countered her seeming acceptance of “my” death sentence with “to live is Christ” – and not surprisingly she replied “to die is gain”.

I then told her I rejected that selfish option (as Paul did after  considering his own choice), and referred her to Deuteronomy 30 where God set before His people the choice between life and death, blessings and curses and commanded “now choose life!”.

What could be clearer about God’s will than God Himself COMMANDING the choice of life?

I gave this post the title “disappointment can be encouraging”, because it’s disappointing to know that Christians have so little knowledge of God and His will for their lives (especially regarding healing and His provision of it), and therefore have a compromised foundation for their faith.

But in this particular case it was encouraging to have something confirmed. That despite being a pastor of a charismatic church, it should not be presumed that he was REALLY, single-mindedly believing God for healing. My assessment from yesterday’s conversation leads me to believe that  unwavering faith wasn’t there.

The conversation also displayed a mindset common among too many Christians. She said she was pleased the Lord had given me a scripture to let me know His will in my situation (the “now choose life” reference from Deuteronomy). But Scripture isn’t a collection of randomly personal promises that God distributes to individuals according to His whim. The choice of blessings and life isn’t sitting there in the Bible waiting for God to make it a “rhema” (or personally “quickened”) word for lucky individuals. The promise is for ALL of His people. It is an expression of His will for everyone – because He desires ALL to be obedient to Him and the blessings and life are the outcome (reward) for obedience .

To Israel that obedience, under the old covenant, was to the Law. But now under the better, new covenant, obedience is expressed through faith in Jesus.

Jesus paid for our healing just as much as He paid for the forgiveness of our sin. If we believe our sins are forgiven, what’s preventing us from accepting ALL the benefits God has provided through the gift of His Son?

Are You a Believer?

Are you a believer?

Or are you a doubter?

Are you a believer?

Or are you an excuse maker?

Are you a believer?

Or do you look for reasons to explain away God’s promises?

Are you a believer?

Or does your theology give you exception clauses to the following promises (and countless more)?

1 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

2 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

3 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

4 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

5 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 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.

6 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

7 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

8 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

9 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.

Believer?

Doubter?

Excuse maker?

…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Beware of Becoming What You Intend to Rebuke

 

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matt 7: 15-20) NIV

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Gal 5: 19-26) NIV

 

Where is the ferocity being displayed in this video?

Who is making an unfulfilled “prophetic” claim of judgement? (Note: Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead instantly)

How (and by whom) are the fruit of the Spirit being displayed, compared to the “acts of the flesh”?

Note, the video seems to have been proudly posted by the rebuker or his followers.

Does “Brother Terry” never consider how different things could be if the time and effort spent picketing events and rebuking others (something NOT commanded by the Lord) was put into something the Lord actually DID command – such as preaching the gospel and healing the sick, delivering those under demonic influence?

Beware of becoming what you intend to rebuke.

Giving Careful Thought to the Paths…Update

It’s now three months since I started this journey.

Along the way I’ve taken a number of steps to build my faith to ensure the medical profession’s prognosis is proven wrong. Doctors don’t have answers. They can offer no hope, but as I’ve discovered, and tried to share, God desires a different outcome to the one they have predicted and I’m looking forward to a complete healing and a powerful testimony of what God has done.

I will not die
But live
And I will proclaim what the Lord has done (Ps 118)

The basic steps taken have been an increased engagement with scripture, a more consistent prayer life, and return to Christian fellowship. Every step has been productive.

Scripture: In three months I’ve read through the New Testament twice and have started a third time. I have also read most of the Old Testament, with half of Psalms left, as well as all of Numbers and Proverbs. I skipped the difficult Leviticus and Numbers earlier on to make sure my reading momentum was maintained when I needed it most, but have just completed Leviticus, a book I found surprisingly rewarding, in particular chapter 26.

Along the way I have taken a lot of notes in my Bible. For that I had bought a wide margined edition of the NIV that I’d seen reviewed in a Christian publication as well as a favoured reading bible (see here for details). I’ve loved the process of note taking, finding and recording connections between different books to build up a more complete understanding of what I’m reading.

While my first readings used the NIV and TNIV, for my third reading I’ve been using a New King James Version to see if it gives me a different perspective. I was able to find a single column “reader’s” edition that places chapter and verse numbers in the margins instead of within the text itself, where they can often disrupt reading by creating unnatural and unnecessary interruptions to the flow of scripture. With that feature it is similar to the TNIV that I’ve used as my reading bible to date. I also have other translations as references if I feel that something I’ve read needs a bit more clarity. I continue to transfer notes into the wide margin NIV as I read the NKJV.

Prayer: This perhaps had a slower start than bible reading. The initial breakthrough came after seeing a few YouTube videos about prayer binders – a kind of prayer journal created and used to give some kind of order and discipline to prayer time.

Gloria has really taken off with her prayer journal, initially enjoying the craft aspect of creating pages for various categories of prayer, she now has a daily prayer time in our “prayer closet” (craft room/ office) and often adds a second or third session during the day when she is led to pray more.

My own journal is divided into sections for Praise (where I have a few relevant Psalms), Repentance, Personal needs, Prayer for Gloria, Family Members, Friends (and enemies), MIssions and Ministries, Local Community… The different categories and the notes within help to keep prayer focused and make sure I don’t forget to pray for those who have asked for prayer – or I have promised to pray for.

At first I relied heavily on the journal, but recently, while it is still used, I’ve been praying more without it (adding to the use of the journal, not doing away with it). Like Gloria, I also find myself being led to go back to the “prayer closet” again later in the day.

Fellowship:  This has perhaps been the most difficult step. We’d had problems with churches we’d previously attended, experiencing the opposite extremes of traditions. I didn’t know where we could go with few other options in our town.

But I found a small congregation meeting on Sunday afternoons. They are far from perfect, and in the past I wouldn’t have lasted more than a week or two before giving up on them, but it seemed clear that the Lord wants us there despite disagreeing with some of what they believe, and despite their clear devotion to some questionable “ministries”.

One thing the Lord drew to my attention was:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This was not a suggestion or a request. Jesus makes it clear it is a command. I was also made aware of what “as I have loved you” meant – when I considered what Jesus tolerated from His disciples, from lack of faith, to some very wrong attitudes and thinking. If we are to love other believers in the same way as He loved His disciples, we’ll find ourselves having to overlook their shortcomings, and also have the hope they’ll overlook ours.

Great is the LORD.

Yesterday I started the sixth cycle of chemotherapy. It’s the halfway point of the only treatment that medicine can provide. Treatment that medically can’t cure, but can only hold things at bay and give me a little more time.

But great is the LORD. The LORD who heals me. The LORD who HAS healed me.
My faith is not in what doctors can’t do, but in what God has already done.

Most importantly the treatment has given me time away from work. So far I’ve had three months and I’ve tried to make every moment count, building and strengthening my faith in the LORD.

More time spent in scripture.
More time spent in prayer.
Reconnecting with local believers in fellowship.

A profitable time in many ways.

A few days ago I wrote of how difficult things had been after my last chemo treatment. There was a physical element, where I had a worse reaction than usual to the treatment, but also a spiritual element, especially through comments made on this blog, attempting to sow seeds of doubt.

I praise the LORD that my time spent with Him over the past three months had strengthened me enough in advance.

I know it is God’s will that I live in health.
I know God’s promises regarding prayer and His desire to heal.
I have a confidence in God.
But I had some fear that I would let Him down, that my faith would waver. Some of the comments posted on my blog last week seemed intent on creating that wavering.

There were references to others who died of cancer despite believing they would be healed. I really don’t know what would motivate someone to purposely post such comments in full knowledge of the current situation.

And things weren’t helped by the fact that the pastor of a church I used to attend had died of cancer only a few months before my diagnosis. I assume he and his family were probably trusting in the Lord for his recovery.

But the experience of others (or even our own) should NEVER be a factor determining our own faith and beliefs. We have to build our foundations on God’s word and not any other message the world (and Satan) may try to throw at us to knock us down.

Yesterday I woke with a strong assurance. A vital confidence. A deeper conviction. It’s as if what I’d previously believed in my head has finally broken through to my heart. That assurance, established on a foundation of scripture remains today.

By Jesus’ stripes (wounds, bruises) I HAVE been healed.