Thanks for reading and please come and join in on my other blog and the links it leads too. Thanks craig b
Thoughts and insights about prayer
This blog is for me to publish my thoughts, expereinces and insights regarding prayer from a Christian perspective and from the Scriptures
- Name: Craig Bennett
- Location: Tahmoor, Wollondilly Shire / NSW, Australia
I'm 41 years old, married to Rose and have 5 boys, 3 whom are step sons. I love God, love people as well as all creation. This is where I post my thoughts,aspirations, activities and any other quirky thing that catches my interest.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Thanks for reading and please come and join in on my other blog and the links it leads too. Thanks craig b
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Our response to the death of a child.
Eph 6:2 "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--
Eph 6:3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Eph 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
Eph 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
Eph 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
Eph 6:8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Eph 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with hi
We have been stuying book of Ephesians and today we are looking at the whole context of raising Children. Paul says that our children are to honor their parents, so that it might go well with them, and that they may enjoy long life. And I indeed do believe this scripture to be true, that we are to bring our children up, so that all will go well for them, and they will enjoy long life.
We only have to look at society to see many children who do not honor their parents, and because of it, they are rebellious and things go wrong for them, and for many their lifes are cut short. They cut their lives short by abusing drugs, alcohol, sex, fights, accidents etc. Things go wrong for them because they break the law, and get in trouble. Also though, as parents we are called to be gentle and kind with our children, not causing them to be angry, to be embittered, in other words bringing them up the way they should go, as Christ would have us live.
But what are we to make of it when children die young, when young lives are cut short through sickness and accidents, through misscariages etc. and today, the thrust of my sermon will beon this topic.
I must admit I feel hopelessly inadeqeuat to preach this today, it is a subject I don't truly want to preach on, yet I also believe it is a subject I must, and indeed as a preacher, feel God wants me to address today. Please lets pray that God will give me the humility to speak today, the words to say, and the compassion to say it with, and will help us all to recieve encouragement, comfort, and strength from it.
I must also begin this sermon in saying that I know my few words today will not be enough, that they will not address all the issues, that indeed we can only touch on a few of them, and yet I hope that from my few words, the few points I do make, that we can be encouraged to look to God to answer all I have not answered.
For many of us, we have been praying for a young girl by the name of CCCCCC, whose mother is a friend of AAAAA and BBBB, and who died during the week after being taken off lifesupport, I know of others who were praying for a very sick teenager, a child of a work mate, and who still passed away from leukemia. How are we to deal with this, what are we to make of a God who tells us to pray, and if we believe, we shall recieve what we pray for, and yet when we put it into practice, it seems that he has not heard us pray, what are we to make of God, what is our reponse to be if we suffer a misscarriage as has happened to many, and in one case, a married couple whom we were ministering too at church a few years ago, had nearly carried her daughter to full term, finding she had died shortly before she was born.
The first point I want to make is that all life is a gift from God.
The book of Genesis tells us about the world and the universe in which we live, it is a book of life, a story of creation, a story that tells us of Gods power and might, in that he asked spoke us into being. He made the water, the land, the air we breathe, the birds the fish, the vegetation, the sun and the moon, the stars, and he made us and he breathed life into us. He breathed life into us, commanding us to multiply and fill all the earth.
I was having a conversation with a person not long ago who was very sceptical about Gods supernatural power and gifts, and i said to that person, "That is because you are starting with making man, the centre of the universe and not God. We are technically supernatural, and God is the natural one, and all that comes from God is natural."
I want us to keep this point in mind, because I am going to come back to it.
But back to the main point. All of life comes from God, and death was never part of Gods plan for us. Then sin, happened, and from sin, death resulted, sin caused the death of many things, it caused the death of relationship between man and God. We read how sin seperated Adam and Eve from God, and they no longer had the relationship they once had with him.
Sin resulted in the death of humans, man was made to live forever with God, in relationship with God, and sin caused a break in that relationship. Non of us can escape living in a world tainted by sin. All of us are affected by it.
We can be the most holy of people and still be affected by sin, take for example, Cain and Abel, Able was a righteous man, and yet sin caused his death, not his own sin, the sin of his brother caused him to murder Abel, and so sin was the cause of the breakdown of relationship between the two brothers, and sin was what caused the death of Abel.
The second point I want to make is that because of sin, we will all experience death.
There is a saying, The one thing we know for certainty when we are born is that a time will come when we will die. I want to change this saying, I have used it many times myself, and perhaps you have as well, yet last night when I was revising these words, I felt challenged that it was not true. Life does not start at birth, life truly starts at conception, and I would like us to keep it in mind, that the one thing that we know from certainty that will happen is that we will all face death, none of us are exempt.
For some it will be much later then others, and for us all it will be something that is specific individualist to us all. All of us will face death, and all of us will experience it, and all of us will experience the grief of what happens through death. But what is it that makes us so sad when a child or a young person does die, what is it that tears us up so much inside, and makes us question God and the fallen world in which we live, even more so than what it does for us when a person who is much older dies.
I think there are a few reasons, and one is that we don't like to be reminded of our mortality, and children remind us of the hope for mankind, for the hope of life.
The second thing is that we don't like being hopeless, when children die, it makes us feel helpless, it makes us feel hopeless, that what was the point of it all. we don't know what to do, or say. We like to be able to put things neatly into boxes, and yet when it comes to death of a child, we just don't know what to say, we don't know what to do, we don't know .... and we don't like that feeling of hopelessness
The 3rd point is that we feel betrayed, especially when it comes to belief in a merciful God, a God of love, a God who answers prayers, we have this sense of loss, we grieve, and we ask oursleves and others, or hold it in thinking I was praying, how could this have happened. Why did God not answer my prayers.
What do we do when it appears God does not answer prayer.
Firstly I want to say that God indeed does answer our prayers, and yet he also knows the future, he knows what is going to happen, in the future for each and every one of us. And he answers our prayers in regards to the knowledge of the future. A good friend of mines child died when he was 12 of leukemia, and they prayed, they fasted and for a while the leukemia went into recession and then returned with vengence. His son, had a vision of Jesus coming and taking him home. My friend says, that they knew in the midst of their pain, that God showed them that he had heard their prayer by causing their sons sickness to go into remission, and then showed them that it was his will to take him home to himself.
I read this story a few years ago and it stuck with me, and for me it helps in answering the question about the death of children.
A mothers child was very sick and asked the local minister to pray for her child, and after praying to God felt that God wanted to take the child home to himself. The mother refused to accept it, and gathered around herself many people to pray and fast and the boy lived and grew to be a healthy boy. Only on his 2st brithday, she had to watch him walk up seven steps to the gallows to be hung for the crime of a bruatl murder he had committed. I believe that God wanted to spare this lady the grief of what was to happen.
In the same way, God knows the future and i believe that often he wants to spare us from the future pain, which could be much much more than what we could bear for now.
yet we also have to be careful in not blaming it all on God or ourselves, sometimes sickness, death can be caused by the devil, he is a murderer, a theif and a liar, and sometimes it can be caused by a demonic presence - give example of clem in hospital ....and we must be a discerning people of God as to what is the source of sickness.
So what are we to do in response to death
What are we to do then. As christians our response is to be honest, to be honest with each other, to be honest with God and to be honest in our community. We are to be honest in our pain, in our anger, in our confusion, and to allow ourselves to truly cry. And we the people of God are to continue to trust in our living God that he is a God of mercy, a God of comfort and believe that some good will come out of all this. We are a people in relationship with each other, and so we need to continue to pray for oneanother, to comfort oneanother, to be there for oneanother, and to continue believing that God is a God of comfort and hope. and We need to continue to share with others the hope we have through the very real relationship we have with the risen Lord.
Earlier I mentioned about the conversation, I was having a conversation with a person not long ago who was very sceptical about Gods supernatural power and gifts, and i said to that person, "That is because you are starting with making man, the centre of the universe and not God. We are technically supernatural, and God is the natural one, and all that comes from God is natural."
Death is really a illusion, for us our real life is not here on earth, it is in heaven with God, a eternal life, a life of no weeping, no sickness, no death, no sadness, we will spend all of eternity with the author of life, with the creator of life, with the source of life.
and our job on earth is to bring others to the knowledge of this author of life, and that is what Jesus said, I have come to bring life, and abundant life at that.
This has been a difficult topic for all of us, and as a father I pray daily that God will protect my children, will heal my children, and will help me as a father to bring my children up they way they should go, knowing full well that my children are in our Gods hands, and there is nothing we can do to prevent any thing from happening to them, except to bring them up before the lord in prayer, in expectation that indeed he does and has listened to our prayers.
Let us pray.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The work of the Holy Spirit
Come on you guys, if you are going to make a hermenutical rule that cannot be used, and then condem others forusing it, make sure you don't use it yourself.
The following is part of a excerpt of a discussion elsewhere I am having.
It's funny how you say we first must not depend on subjective expereince
to determine biblical truth, and then you use subjective expereince to
determine truth and not what the Scriptures say? hhhmmmmmnnnn It always
amazes me how Scripture onlyists, fall themselves in this regard. :-)
If sickness is a part of the curse that has been removed through the
atonement, why are the curses of pain in childbearing, creation, and
death not also removed? If healing of disease is in the atonement
I continued to reply to your saying there is only one work of the Holy Spirit,
Also, if Pentecost was fulfilled by the 3 fold cord of the Holy Spirit
being poured out, Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles, why is there a record
of the Holy Spirit being poured out on Jews a 2nd time round, Acts 19:2,
and in his Epistles Paul speaks about them recieving the fullness of the
spirit in the same way as all the others did.
Seems that God has not stopped pouring out his Holy Spirit like he did
in NT times, and that it is recorded twice in Acts of believers having
not yet recieved the baptism of the Holy Spirit , Acts 19:2, and Acts 8:16.
There is clearly two works in Scripture of the Holy Spirit, one is the
external work in convicting believers, the other is in empowering
believers with dunamias power.
1.) The convicting / convincing work of the Holy Spirit,
a) Sin of the person
b) Righteousness of Christ
c) Judgement of the devil
John 16:8 - 13
And the other is in empowering the believer with gifts and graces of the
Holy Spirit such is as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1, which is a
distinct seperate issue to that of coming to faith.
And we also see this distinction when Jesus breaths the Holy Spirit onto
the disciples, John 20:22 A/nd with that he breathed on them and said,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
/And then when Jesus said to his Disciples you will recieve power when
the Holy Ghost comes upon you. /Luk 24:49 I am going to send you what my
Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed
with power from on high." /and also Acts 1:5
And so just as we see the Disciples being given the Holy Spirit before
Jesus ascended to heaven and recieving the power of the Holy Spirit as
seen in Acts, likewise there is a distinct difference still in operation
today in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Blessings craig bennett
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The Gift of Tongues
Sure I agree that we can hear what to us seems like non language.
As I can only speak English, any other language sounds like non language to me.
There are also many levels of maturity in languages as well, take English for instance, a 6 month old baby has a different style of communication then it's parents do. Our teenage boys have a different style of language, when it comes to communicating to us, it normally happens in a form of a grunt, and to each other or to their friends again it is different, yet it is still a form of recognised language.
I have only ever had the pleasure of preaching through a interpreter the once, at a Korean meeting. Often the interpreter would use either more words then I spoke or less words then I spoke in her interpretation.
The same is done in translating the Bible, we don't have many translations that are word for word in the sequence it is written, yet the translations are a good reconstruct of the meaning of what has been written.
The same goes with the interpretation of tongues, why is it that we expect a word for word translation when we hear it spoken, and not expect it when other recognised languages are spoken - isn't the true interpretation given when people are made aware of what the true gist of what has been said has been made clear.
Thats what we do with preaching a sermon, we take a whole series of words and make it known what it is they really mean. when it comes to interpreting tongues, Paul makes it clear that in a public meeting they must be interpreted so that people are edified. If we were to publically read / interprete greek word for word, in it's sequence for most of us we would not be edified at all.
When it comes to tongues being angelic languages, what Paul is saying is that we may not know who the language we speak belongs to, recognising that it is God who has given to all of his creation a language to speak, and we do know that even in heaven Angels to speak and worship God. I wonder what the original language was that Adam and Eve spoke, and all leading up to the tower of babel saga.
I have no qualms about people repeating one or two words over and over again depending on the circumstances, there are many times in my own prayer life that all I can utter is Jesus, or Father, or God, or Father God, and have even done so over an extended period of time, and most likely you have experienced the same as well.
When it comes to instructing people to use the gift of tongues, often the person already has the words on their own lips, and they think it sounds wierd to them, and so they don't speak it out, yet it is up to us to speak it out, as we have control over speaking or not. I never tall someone to say lah lah lah....I just encourage them to speak what is on their tongue.
I myself do not believe that the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is soley tongues, speaking forth prophesy is another evidence, it is obvious from Scripture that something tangible does happen when people are baptised in the Holy Spirit and tongues is one of those evidences.
I see the Pentecostal / Charismatic emphasise on baptism of the Holy Spirit as a continuation of the reformation. It is obvious that the whole issue of being bornagain was lost early on in the Christian church, and with that it is just as obvious that the practice of being baptised in the Holy Spirit was as well.
The reformation made a great comeback in bringing back the truths of the gospel to the church, and in the early 1900's the truth of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was also brought back into the church, reforming the church back to scriptural truth.
When you look at church history, all the way back through the centuries there are many times where you see the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in operation through out the church, and the offical church squashing it.
blessings craig bennett
Sunday, August 14, 2005
- ask congregation for possible answers. The Hebrew word literally means "on bended knee". It describes a servant kneeling out of respect for his master or a lover kneeling to ask his beloved for her hand in marriage. We see this in action, in Johns gospel John 13: 3-10
Joh 13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
Joh 13:4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
Joh 13:5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Joh 13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Joh 13:7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
Joh 13:8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
Joh 13:9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
Joh 13:10 Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you."
In this blessing, God is offering to come to His people "on bended knee" – that is, to come to serve them, to love them, to share Himself with them. The second part of the first phrase of the Aaronic blessing calls upon God to "keep" His people. What do you think "and keep you" might mean? - ask congregation for possible answers. The Hebrew word for "keep" is used to describe the way shepherds would use thorn bushes to build a protective enclosure for the sheep, to keep them safe from predators. "To keep" literally means "to build a hedge around". Thus, the key idea is that of protection from harm, putting around you and your life a sort of fence to keep out enemies that would snatch away the blessings that God has given you, and to keep you from wandering off. Are these not staggering thoughts? That YHWH, the supreme and almighty God, who dwells in eternity, the creator of and ruler over all things, would get down on one knee as a servant to sinful and rebellious people like us! That He would then take the trouble to build a protective hedge around us to keep us safe? Yet that is exactly what the Bible says he instructed the priests to call on Him to do. Most people do not think of God like this. In fact, I believe that many Christians don’t think of God like this. Yet, even more than the people of Israel, we should be able to see that this is how God has revealed Himself. His coming "on bended knee" was most completely put into action in the incarnation of God the Son. Jesus in the manger is God on bended knee; Jesus eating with sinners is God coming on bended knee; Jesus living as one of us, then giving His life on the cross is God on bended knee. Jesus ascending to heaven and sending His Spirit as our Comforter is God at work keeping our us secure, for as Peter wrote, "we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you." Truly, God has shown Himself to be a God who has a heart to bless and keep His people! What sort of blessings does this prayer have in mind? If you peruse the many other references to "blessing" in the Old Testament you will find that the sort of things most often referred to are: • material needs being met, so that you will have sufficient to live on and to be generous to others; • a happy family life; • a good reputation in the community where you live and work; • good health and a long life; • the defeat and scattering of your enemies; • fruitful labour, that their daily work would go well and be rewarded; • that they would be the head and not the tail – i.e. to be able to make decisions about their life rather than merely being followers, dragged along by others. In short, these are the sort of things that the prayer of General Thanksgiving calls "all the blessings of this life". Life, health, safety, power to work and leisure to rest, as the current version puts it. These are great things not only to be thankful for, but to pray for on behalf of others. But the Bible also teaches that the greatest blessing is that of a faithful relationship with God, issuing in obedience to Him. The Aaronic blessing also goes much deeper than "blessings of this life". It goes on to the two ideas that I mentioned at the beginning of this talk – it seeks from God the great spiritual blessings of His grace and His peace. The second phrase asks for God’s grace: "The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you." The best way I can explain God’s face shining on us is to think about the difference between rainy days and sunny days. I used to work on a farm and often would have to work in all kinds of weather, cold windy rainy weather, storms, as well as stinking hot days, I distinctly remember one day after a period of rain and wind that had made being outside quite unpleasant; the sun came out and when I went walking I noticed several things about the sunny day: - it was much brighter – the grass seemed greener, the harbour sparkled, the flowers were all wide open with their colours showing off to maximum effect; - it was much warmer – pleasant on the face, indeed it sort of cheered up my whole body to have the sun shining again; - there is much more life and activity – more people are out and about, they are involved in a range of activities that often don’t take place on wet days. The city was more alive! How good is it, then, when in the midst of the stormy weather that we often encounter in life, when our spirits are dampened by the sadness of this world, to have God’s face shine upon us? His light helps us to see clearly, brightening our understanding of what is going on in the world and how He is in control working out His purposes. His love warms us and heals our soul’s wounds. When we are weighed down because of our own inadequacies and the contributions that we make to the sadness of our world, it is wonderful to know that God is gracious. We don’t deserve it, but He is on our side. God is for us – who can be against us? Nothing can separate us from God’s grace and love in Christ. What a great thing that is to pray for someone – that they will know the grace of God in their lives! What a great thing for someone to pray for you! "The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you." The third phrase of the Aaronic blessing asks for the reality of God’s peace in the lives of His people: "The Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace." Have you ever been looking for someone in a crowd? Perhaps you’ve been to pick someone up at the airport, or been met yourself when you’ve gone to visit someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Think of the moment when you finally make eye contact with the person you are looking for. Suddenly, out of all the people gathered in that place at that time you make a personal connection with someone that you know and who knows you! You run up to them and embrace them. Any doubts – would they be there? Would they know you? – all such questions disappear as they turn their face towards you. That’s what the Aaronic blessing asks for between us and God. When God turns His face towards you, it is a moment of recognition that you matter to Him and are special to Him. The one who turns His face towards you also opens His arms wide to embrace you as you meet. You are at peace in that embrace, you are secure in the knowledge that your relationship with God is real; you know that He knows you and that your relationship with Him cannot be shaken. Is that not a wonderful thought?! It is not just a thought – it is our reality as Christians. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice; He knows them and they follow Him; He gives them eternal life and no one can snatch us from His Father’s hand. God is for us – and neither life, nor death, nor calamity, nor things or people from our past, nor anything in the future can ever separate us from Him and His love for us. Truly this is peace that passes all understanding! God gave this prayer to the priests of ancient Israel because His desire is to bless His people. He wants to come to us on bended knee to bring us great things from His heavenly storehouse of treasures. He wants to shine His face on us, to pick us out from the crowd and embrace us, to build a protective hedge around us so that nothing can deprive us of His grace and peace. This is the heart of God for us and He gives these blessings to all who come to Him through faith and serve Him faithfully throughout their lives. When Jesus hung on that cross, God came to us on bended knee to give us far more than we could ever imagine or ever deserve. He gave us Himself. There can be no greater blessing than this. At the end of Luke’s gospel we read that one of the last things Jesus did before returning to heaven was to raise His arms and bless His disciples. I believe that Jesus prayed this prayer for them, as the great high priest who gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us. Furthermore it is now our role to be priests who pass on God’s blessing to others. As Peter says in chapter 2 of his first letter, everyone who believes in Christ is part of His royal priesthood. He speaks of us declaring God’s praises – which includes praying and working for the spiritual well-being of others. As someone has put it, we are blessed to be a blessing. The apostle Paul knew this, which is why every one of his letters commences with his own shortened version of the Aaronic blessing – "grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." He blessed them as he shared God’s word with them, as he travelled around risking his life to help them to know the gospel, and as he prayed for them and sought their spiritual well-being. And we our selves often here in church say the same blessing that Paul closed his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, have you ever asked your self why it is that we stand here in church and say to one another
2Co 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
You now know why!
It's part of the opportunity we have to be instruments of God’s blessing in this world - to minister grace and peace to our each other, our neighbours, our work colleagues, our classmates, our families and our friends. We can do this by how we treat them and by what we say to them and about them. The things we say to people can be a powerful force for good or ill in their lives. In a world that so often sets out to curse people, to put them down and keep them down, a positive word, an affirmation that God desires good for them, can be profound. Let me illustrate what I mean by reading to you a true story. Writing in his book, "Life of the Beloved", Henry Nouwen tells of a time when he was working with disabled people. One of the handicapped women in the community asked him for a blessing, but when he started to do the ritual signing of the cross she said, "no that doesn’t work. I want a real blessing!". He realised something special was needed and promised to do something when the community was gathered together later. He tells of how later on when about 30 people were present he said that Janet had asked for a special blessing. I continue in his own words: "As I was saying this, I didn’t know what Janet really wanted. But Janet didn’t leave me in doubt for very long. As soon as I (started speaking) Janet stood up and walked toward me. I was wearing a long white robe with ample sleeves covering my hands as well as my arms. Spontaneously, Janet put her arms around me and put her head against my chest. Without thinking, I covered her with my sleeves so that she almost vanished in the folds of my robe. As we held each other I said, ‘Janet, I want you to know you are God’s beloved daughter. Your beautiful smile, your kindness to the people in your house and all the good things you do show us what a beautiful human being you are. I know you feel a little low these days and there is some sadness in your heart, but I want you to remember who you are: a very special person, deeply loved by God and all the people who are here with you.’" Nouwen relates how Janet’s smile assured him he’d hit the mark and that before long many of the other handicapped people had also come forward for a blessing. "The most touching moment, however, came when one of the assistants, a 24-year old student, raised his hand and said, ‘And what about me?’ ‘Sure,’ I said, ‘come’. He came and, as we stood before each other, I put my arms around him and said, ‘John, it is so good that you are here. You are God’s beloved son. Your presence is a joy for us all. When things are hard and life is burdensome, always remember that you are loved with an everlasting love.’ As I spoke these words," writes Nouwen, "he looked at me with tears in his eyes and then he said, ‘Thank you, thank you very much’."1
This was driven home to me very clearly one day on my way home from college in 2000, a busker was on the train wanting to sing a song to me for $2, which i did not have, I had a dollar which I gave to him, and so he sung a song to me, and said he would sing another one to me, which I said I had no money and had to get off soon. I then said to him, you can go with a blessing, well this young bloke erupted, he went ballistic saying you so and so have to bring God into every situation don't you, and I replied calmly I'm sorry I didn't realise I had mentioned any thing to do with God, and by then a crowd had started to form and he replied to me this very thing that has stuck in my mind ever since, "Where do you think all blessings come from, they only come from God"
Friends, many in this world believe they live a blessed life, chasing after money, material possesions etc, yet without God in their life there is no true blessing to be had, during the time of communion I bring my boys down the front at the communion rail, you may not know why, today I am going to tell you why, you see, I take the whole issue of blessing very seriously, I have spoken to Alan about this a few times in the past, and in those conversations have said to Alan, Alan, I bring my boys down the front to recieve a blessing from you, as their father I expect you to take that role seriously, and I expect you to meaningfuly bless my children during this time. Some years ago my boys were being a bit stroppy and a lovely christian lady who is not here today well meaningly said to Rose and I, go down the front and I will mind them for you, and i said NO, they will come down the front, and so they did, and after being blessed they settled down, you see I had discerned that their behavior had a bit of demonic stirring behind it, the devil wanted to rob my children of the blessing I as a father and more importantly that God wanted to give them at that time.My dear brothers and sisters, blessing and being blessed are very important parts of being a Christian. Blessing is the work of God. Let me conclude, then, by praying this prayer for you. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace."
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Being sifted like wheat
Peter the Apostle knew all about this, Luke records the warning, exhortation and encouragement of the exchange between both Jesus and Peter.
Luk 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
Luk 22:32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Luk 22:33 But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Luk 22:34 Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
We read here that Satan has asked to sift Peter, and Jesus has said that he will do so; we know that God has given Satan permission to do so. Have you ever watched wheat sifted? A normal sieve was round about 30 – 40 cm across with sides about 100 mm – 150mm high, and a fine mesh type bottom, some sieves were bigger made of a mesh type material, about the size of a blanket and took two people to operate.
What happens is that you put the harvested wheat with the stalk etc into it and throw it up and down, shaking it, tossing it, so that the wheat is separated from the rest of the plant, and ready for use, either for storage, sowing or grinding into flour. The sifting process is a much-needed process for the grain to be any use.
So we see here that Jesus is telling Peter and not only is he talking about Peter here, he is also talking in a plural sense meaning the rest of the disciples, that he and the other disciples are going to be sifted, to be thrown about, that they will be going through some tough times, but not to worry, he has prayed for Peter and the rest of the disciples and we see this happening in John 21:15-17.
So Jesus tells us that he has prayed their faith will not fail them, that they will turn back, and in doing so strengthen many, Peter of course argues against this saying not me, and yet Jesus says, it will be you as well, and this is how it will pan out, and so the story goes and we know that indeed all the disciples bar John deserted Jesus and after the resurrection Jesus also reinstates them all, especially Peter.
How often have we been in the shoes of Peter and the other disciples, our boldness and confidence fleeing from us, we being shaken and tossed and turned in our faith, maybe not quite walking away and totally deserting our Lord denying him like Peter did, none the less our faith and walk with the Lord has been through a bit of a shaking, perhaps we have been through a dark night or season of the soul, where we know our walk with the Lord is perhaps not OK, we find the going tough, to witness to others we lack the wisdom and boldness to do so, our prayer life lacks the dynamic it once had and we wonder in the deeper recesses of our inner being if we will ever recover that dynamic again, we go to pray and we get easily distracted, or we go through the motions, not enjoying our reading of the word, that is if we do read it, going through the motions of our prayer life, and if we do pray, we can’t wait for them to be over and done with, as if we are scoring points for being so dutiful.
Perhaps you don’t know what it is I’m talking about, then for you, perhaps the time will come for you to experience it, perhaps you have gone through that and come out the other side a bit worse and wiser for the experience, and perhaps you are in the middle of such an experience right at this very moment.
If this is you, and I am talking from personal, experience of this in having personally come through it myself, then I want to encourage you with,
1Co 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Just like Peter was sifted by satan, we to are liable to being sifted by satan in all his subtle and not so subtle ways, and just as Peter was told by Jesus that he would fail, he was also told that his faith would not totally fail him, that he would bounce back and strengthen others.
What ever it is we are facing right now at this very moment, God will not allow us to face more than what we bear and he will also provide a way out, under the shadow of his wings.
Father God, I lift us all up to you tonight, individuals families and friends. Lord I ask that those who are going through the trials of being sifted that you will strengthen them, help them to both know and to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that you are providing a way out for them, that you will deliver them from all the shaking of the evil one. For those who have come out of such an experience I ask that you will continue to help us to walk with you in joy, in peace, in strength, in the fullness of your spirit, and for those who have not yet been through the sifting process that indeed you will prepare them for such an event if it is to be your will for them to do so, I ask that none of us will ever fall away, to deny our Lord, that we will all grow from strength to strength, faith to faith, in the power of your spirit I ask that you will do this Jesus, shielding us from the power of the evil one.
Blessings all, craig
Sunday, April 17, 2005
I love Church, I can't get enough of it, I love the fellowship, the music, the prayers and the preaching and I just can't understand how some people don't like it. ....I do actually, the reason why most people don't like church is it's to do with them, they get nothing out of it.. I think in the majority of the time, we don't get nothing out of chruch because we don't put anything into it.
Christianity is not about self, it's about relationship pure and simple, relationship with our true and living God, and relationship with others, helping them to come into a relationship with the real risen Lord.
Walking with God requires us to share our selves, sharing with God about who we are, what is going on in our life and sharing the needs of others as well with our risen Lord and in turn responding to the needs of others as God moves us to do so.
Read the link to the article I wrote about walking with God, because when we do start sharing with God about the needs of others, God will in return start changing us to help in providing the needs of others, but first we must share.
Next time you go to Church, think how can I give of myslef today?, Can I pray for someone, smile at someone, shake someones hand, have a conversation with someone, and even during the course of the conversation have the opportunity to be able to meet someones needs.
Blessings, ask the Lord today to help you to see and to be able to meet someones needs, in his way.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Ask and Recieving.
"Daddy sometimes prayer doesn't work and sometimes it does work"
My reply back to him was, "Well you see son, God is our heavenly father, and just like sometimes when you ask daddy to do something for you, sometimes I will do it straight away, sometimes I will say yes son, you need to wait a little while and sometimes I will say no because I know what is the best for you, and other times you have to keep asking God for things, just like sometimes you keep asking your daddy for things."
He went quiet for a bit and said, "I know that daddy" you see on the way home he wanted to go to maccas, and when we went to the service station to fill up he wanted me to buy him something there, I said to him, "if we do buy something here, we don't go to Maccas, what do you want?" and he pointed to a pkt of bubble gum.
"We are going to go to maccas instead," I told him.
We are told to ask in the scriptures, but if we ask amiss we will not get, just as I knew what was better for my son, though I'm not saying Maccas is that great a choice, he does like the cheese burgers with no onion, gerkin and last night no sauce and fo rhim it is a healthy choice... I wont say what I ate...if only I had the wisdom of a child!
Sometimes we ask and ask and we don't seem to recieve, we need to wait on God timing, he is never early and allways on time, and while he wants us to ask, I love it when my son asks me for stuff, our heavenly father does as well, and he will decide when, where and how he will give to us what we ask.
Peter says in,
1Pe 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I would not have missed today for any thing in the world, apart from my son getting a bit stroppy because he had to wait for a time on the swings while another family was using them, but that is good for him to learn a bit of patience.
I remmember reading a story about a well known person, I have forgotton who, whose father took him out to the beach for the day. This boy grew to be a man and remebered it as one of his high lights in growing up and time spent with his dad, just him and dad on their own. Later on after his father died, he was reading his fathers dairies and found the entry for that day, it read.
"I took my son to the beach, a day wasted"
I don't ever want to consider time with my children as a waste, they are precious, and every minute I spend with them is good time, I don't spend enough time with them as it is. You know our heavenly father never thinks of us spending time with him as a waste of time, he loves us and wants us to spend more time with him.
Think about it, do you like spending time with those who like spending time with you? Why don't you go and spend a bit of time with your heavenly father, and if you don't know him, give me a yell and I will introduce you to him, for he knows you, and wants you to meet him personally.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Monday 11th April 2005
To our Men of the land
Australia was settled by many children ripped from the care of their parents and sent out here without a father, many men were ripped from their families and sent out here causing an issue of fatherless-ness where they left.
This wound was what was behind the killing of many aborigine men in the land, again causing the issues of fatherless-ness to increase, and then this wounding was the root cause of what caused the men of this land to then rip many aborigine children from their families and caused another deep wounding of fatherless-ness,
This wounding on the nation was again compounded by the various wars across that our nation was involved in, where many men were killed or in action while their wives gave birth back home, causing an issue of wounded-ness in these children of being brought up with no father, during world war one may of our men who went to war never came back and the same with the second world war, those who did come back found it hard to be a father to their children and the cycle was growing worse and worse. Then the Vietnam war came and men went to war and caused much heartache and brought home much heartache, and as a result again many children increasingly were being raised up with no father.
Again we are at war, this ugly issue of Fatherless-ness is again increasingly raising it’s ugly head, only the spiritual stronghold behind this is worse, fathers are abandoning their children in many ways, one is through abortion, another is to leave their families and there kids for a life of their own, and the 3rd issue is that men are opting out of father hood altogether, deciding not to have families, deciding not to have children at all.
Then the lord spoke to me and said,
There is a deep wound in the men of the land, a wound that has been caused by fatherless ness, a wounding that runs deep into the very soul of Australia, a wounding that is festering and weeping, a wound that is gaping open and is ugly and is a wound that can not be left to heal on it’s own, it’s a wound that can only be healed by me. Men of the land, you need to turn to me and to come to me as your father, you need to lay down all your hurts, you need to lay down all your pretences, you need to lay down all your pride and come to me and allow me to be your father. Men of the land listen up, I am the father of all fathers, I have seen and I know the weaknesses and the failings of your own natural fathers, the very weaknesses and failings that were caused by them being wounded by less than perfect fathers, men of the land listen up, you cannot do it on your own, you can not continue to be independent, you cannot continue to pretend you are not hurting, men of the land, many of you are orphans, many of you have no father, many of you have never known a true father and for many of you wish that you never had a father. Men of the land listen up, I am the only perfect father, to the men of the church you need to get a revelation of me as your father, you need to get this revelation deep into your soul, deep into your spirit, and you need to bring about that revelation into your community. Men of the land listen up, your communities are hurting because of fatherless-ness, your children are hurting, your walk with me is hurting, men of the land turn to me,
Psa 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Men of the land I am calling you to stop the curse in this land, I am calling you to me and for you to rise up and defend the cause of the fatherless and for you to turn to me, to seek my face and for the stronghold of fatherless-ness to be broken in this nation.
Men of the land listen to me, my son died for you, and through him I have called you to be my children, I have called you because of my son, come to me all you who are heavenly laden, cast your cares on me, my yoke is easy, my burden is light, come to me and cast all your cares on me because I care for you.
"Mat 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
We are in a relationship with our God, who is real and alive, and whom we can know and who knows us, I am a father and when my son asks me to do something or give him something, if it is good for him I will do so, sometimes even if it's not - such as a pkt of chips or a few lollies etc.
I give to my son because I love him and I want what is good for him, and I am in a real relationship with him, we too are in a real relationship with our heavenly father, we do not just get strengthened through praying, we also get strengthened through recieving what we asked for.
Can you imagine how disheartened my son would be every time he asked me for something i ignored him? Our heavenly father is the same, he gives to us what we ask, because he knows what we need and in the process this recieving helps us grow in our faith and in our relationship with him.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Forgiveness / remission of sins
Luk 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Luk 24:46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,
Luk 24:47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Today after church I was at work and there I picked up a Gideons NT to read whilst I had to attend some very important business, of a private nature...say no more. BTW I am a member of Gideons and I actually placed this bible there.
This particular version is the NKJV and verse 47 say's
Luk 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be proclaimed in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Now we all know what forgiveness of sins means right, well i do, but this word remission of sins struck me because this is the subject I'm preaching on next Sunday - "Sin" - what struck me is how we can carry guilt around with us, condemn our selves about something we did years ago, or just 5 minutes before hand. As christians we carry a mixture of belief and unbelief, and often we mix belief and unbelief in the outworking of our faith. We allow ourselves to carry guilt and shame because we just can't or don't want to believe we are forgiven.
Remission is a great word, often used to describe terminal illness or cancer, remission in these cases means it is no longer there, it has been cured, it is no longer a threat, the body is carrying no trace of it.
Friends I can not urge you enough to believe that when you tell God you are sorry for your sins he has cast them from you as far as the east is from the west, and he remembers them no more.
Who in their right mind if they had a case of cancer or other serious terminal illness, when told that it had gone into remission, would ask the doctor to re-inject them with that desease, or germ, cancerous cell etc to bring it back to life? - the same is with our sins, stop munching on them, bringing them up and chewing on them like a cow does it's cud.
Once you are forgiven, you are forgiven, yes you might sin again, and if so, ask God to forgive you for it, don't sin lightly, do your best not to sin, and if you fail confess it to our living God and believe he has forgiven you.
Friends the greatest gift we have been given is the forgiveness of sins, the remission of them, dare believe that you have been given the all clear dispsite the past, it's what Jesus died for "YOU"
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
I have been thinking and reflecting a lot lately about the whole subject of honor. In the world in which we live, I believe that we have forgotton what it is to truly honor each other, to honor those amongst us. I know in Australia we have the tendancy towards the tall poppy syndrome - to cut down those who it may seem to be growing taller then what we are and it can make us uncomfortable. This reflection hasn't been a just a recent thing, but something I have meditated on and off for some time now.
A few years ago I was thinking about this whole issue of honor, and I prayed to the Lord, "Father I really want to honor all the local clergy in this area, open the doors for me to do so" and he did. One pastor I spent the whole day starting early and going with him a few hours drive to help him pick up a whole heap of furniture and items from his house he was selling, and we did so and did some basic maitanence on his house such as painting and fixing the fences, cleaning the pool etc. Another pastor the Lord had me give a certain book to when he was retiring which he recieved with much thanks, another one the Lord had me knock on his doorstep and pray with him, another he had me write a letter too etc etc. all in all the Lord showed me a specific way in which I could honor every clergy person in the local area and each person recieved it with joy and thankfulness.
I think honor, respect, love are all tied up with one another, I am a mrried man, I have 5 children - and sometimes my household gets very messy, noisy and relationships can get very strained, and thats before the devil gets in and stirs the pot a bit, you know sticks the knife in the back and puts the boot in. Being honorable people can often be the hardest thing that we as Christians can be, certainly I find it hard and I reckon it is so for all of us as well at times. And I have to be honest in saying that I often fail in being an honourable man towards my family and those around me - I don't go and do what I do deliberatly, but as the Apostle Paul says about this inherent failure in us all,
"I do what I don't want to do and I don't do what I want to do"
But then I am reminded of John and him telling us that if any one has sinned we have an advocate with the father who is willing to forgive us our sins. And so I turn to the Lord and ask him for my forgiveness and for him to strengthen me to be an honorable person - or what ever other failing may have broken through in my life.
Friends we are called to be people of honour, we need to ensure that our hearts are filled with the good things of God and not of evil things, the scriptures tell us that our lips speak forth from the overflow of our hearts, and as well to ensure that our talk is not just empty words but that our words truly come from a heart of goodness.
Luk 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Mar 7:6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
One of the quickest and effective manners that satan uses to bring his people down is through the dishonoring of each other with our words and our actions, satan is called the accuser of the brethren, let us ensure that we do not join his ranks and find ourselves being used as his tools to bring any one down, instead let us make sure that we are used by God as instruments of his mercy and his grace to build each other up, to build those up around us, to build ourselves up. As a man of prayer, it frightens me that I could be a man of empty lips, that my prayers would be of no avail because of my own sinfulness and lack of showing others honor, instead I want my prayers to be as James says about a righteous person, fruitfull and effective - prayers that avail much, I want to be a person who reaps honor because I am a honorable person. As men and woman called to prayer, it is easy for us to become judgemental of anothers failings and shortcomings, I think the lord shows us these things about those around us, not for us to be judgemental, not to be condemning, because thats not Gods nature, but for us to put love and mercy into action and to pray into those very areas and build those people up in those areas of weakness and failings that we see in those around us.
God has been speaking to me a lot about this issue lately, perhaps I'm only sharing my own weakness and you do not share this weakness in your own life, I give Glory and Praise to our living Lord if that is so, perhaps it's an area that you struggle in, if so know that you are not struggling alone in this area, let us not ignore it, let us not give in to it, instead allow God to deal with it in our hearts, allow it not to leave our lips, to affect our thinking, to give a critical spirit a foothold in our lives.
Its my heart, it's my hope and it's my prayer that God will pour out his spirit into our hearts and truly make us honorable men and women, truly make us honorable children, that he will help us to speak forth blessings after blessings after blessings, and in return recieve Gods blessings back to us. I pray for us all, not only in the various groups I send this to, but for all those who we have a influence over, for all those we have a job to witness to, and I would ask that you in return would pray the same for me and each other as well.
May each and every one of us be the beginnings of turning the world in which we live around on it's head, may we bring honor into a broken world that glorifies dishonor, may we be world changers, may we be peace bringers, may we be glorifed as Gods people and known as such.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Jesus taught us to pray ..."Our father"
Jesus showed us how God is the perfect Father and also how he is the perfect son.
Today the world is lost, fathers don't know how to be fathers any more, sons and daughters just don't know how to be true sons and daughters either, where our our role models and our mentors?
I was only praying with my pastor today that none of us can truly walk in the presence of God with out knowing him as father and knowing our role as a child or his son / daughter. We only need to look to Jesus as our role model.
I say today that no matter how good or bad your upbringing was and is, no matter what your own father was or was not like, God is our perfect father, he is for us and not against us, he has good plans for us and wants us to know him as the perfect father.
All of us were and will always be some ones child, and none of us were perfect children, all of us were naughty in some way or rather, some of us were / are cheekier then others as well. It doesn't matter our past, God will allways accept us with open arms through his Son Jesus Christ and in return he will adopt us as his own children.
It is my prayer today that you will truly come to know the only living God as your real heavenly Father and accept what he has to offer you through his son Jesus.
What do you want?
Eph 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
Eph 1:20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
People need forgiveness, Jesus himself said to the religious leaders of his day, what is easier to say, you are forgiven or get up and walk, so that you know i do have the authority to forgive sins I say to the lame man get up and walk, and he did.
There are a lot of people in this world today who know they are under some form of oppression from the evil one and for many when they have turned to the chruch for help they have been frowned upon or told they need to see a shrink. Counselling will not help get rid of a demon, they love it, bringing up all the past hurts and discussing it, what is needed is for them to be kicked out.
It is my view and experience that when people do see God in action then they can actually believe that Jesus has indeed died and rose to life for them and that if they turn to him they will indeed recieve forgiveness for their sins and inherit eternal life.
The ministry of the early church was to set the captives free and the calling by God to that ministry has not changed at all, the only thing that has changed is the churches unbelief.