Pray like Jesus!

Matthew 6:9-13 “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive this who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen.”

The one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to do was to pray. Traditionally, this has become known as the “Lord’s Prayer”. In fact, it should be renamed the “Disciples Prayer” because it was for our benefit, not Jesus. Jesus never committed any sin, so Jesus never had to pray for forgiveness but in the prayer taught by Jesus, he taught the disciples to ask for forgiveness. In addition, this prayer contains within it all the key ingredients needed for a powerful breakthrough in every area of your life.

Prayer is WORSHIP: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Begin with praise and worship of God’s goodness every time you enter into God’s presence. Worship lifts your focus off of yourself and magnifies God’s greatness over your life.

Prayer establishes GOD’S RULE: Your kingdom come means for the authority of God’s kingdom to be present in your daily life.

Prayer aligns with GOD’S WILL: Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Prayer releases the abundant resource of heaven into the earthly realm so that more and more of our natural reality looks more and more like the kingdom of heaven.

Prayer PETITIONS and RECEIVES by faith: Give us this day our daily bread. Prayer deals with the practical areas of our lives. God delights to give good things to those who ask in faith.

Prayer is REPENTANCE: And forgive us our trespasses. Repentance is turning away from self and turning towards God. In prayer God gives us the strength to overcome sin.

Prayer releases GRACE for RELATIONSHIPS: As we also forgive those who trespass against us. Because of the fall of humanity, our relational worlds are under the stress of brokenness. In prayer we receive grace to reconcile and engage in healthy relationships.

Prayer builds CHARACTER: Lead us not into temptation. In prayer we find the strength to become more like Jesus and resist the temptation of the enemy and our flesh.

Prayer is SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Deliver us from evil. One of the primary weapons to fight against Satan is prayer. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions and you’ll discover grace and power to be victorious over all the attacks of the enemy against you.

Prayer is DECLARATION: For yours is the kingdom. Prayer partners with the primary message of Jesus, the gospel of the kingdom. Prayer isn’t passive, it’s forceful declaration of God’s heart for his kingdom to be established in the earthly realm.

Prayer releases God’s POWER and PRESENCE: The power and the glory forever and ever, Amen. Without prayer, we have no access to God’s power. We need power top effect change in our lives and in the earth. In prayer we become aware of God’s glorious presence. Prayer manifests the glory of God. Selah!

From Battler to Blesser!

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them and said “Be fruitful and multiply.”

One of the unhelpful results of the fall of mankind is we tend to battle our way through life. Unfortunately too many of us tend to cope with life rather than conquer in life. Because of Jesus’ restoration of dominion through the cross we can not only be more than conquerers but we can be blessed. In fact we are told in John 15 that God chose us an appointed us to bear abundant fruit. Blessing is the birthright of the believer. Being blessed doesn’t mean we won’t face resistance but it does mean we are positioned to choose victory in the face of resistance by faith. God doesn’t want you to be a battler but to be a blesser of others. To do so you must settle in your heart that blessing is yours today through Jesus Christ.

The Perseverance of Faith!

Nike Human Race 10KLuke 18:8 ‘When the Son of Man comes , will he find faith on earth.’

There is much to be said for the need of believers everywhere to persevere in their faith in Jesus. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many people grow cold in their faith and passion for Jesus and slowly drift away from their commitment to Christ.

We are in a spiritual war zone and distractions abound. Temptation is relentless. Social media hounds us. Opportunities to compromise and become distracted from Jesus bombard us daily. How are we to persevere in our faith?

Firstly, note that your faith is a gift from God and it contains within it the capacity to persevere but you must tend to it and not neglect it. Romans 10:10 says, ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.’ Hebrews 12:1-3 offers us much hope to fight the good fight of faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

 

  • Remember, others have persevered before you. When we struggle we tend to get a microscopic view of the world around us and forget that there have been countless millions of people throughout history who have faced perilous challenges to their faith and have persevered. 
  • Get rid of excess weight and sin which will drag you down. Too many of us tolerate complexity and unnecessary weight in our lives and it needs to be identified, rooted out and cut off. Sin is an energy drainer and a soul destroyer. Don’t entertain it and seek God’s help to get free from it.
  • The race of faith is a marathon, not a sprint. As a former competitive athlete and personal trainer I know the difference in muscle fibers, training and mindset required for both events. A marathon runner needs a stronger mind than a sprinter, whereas a sprinter needs a stronger body. We need endurance to fight and finish the race of faith till the end of our earthly lives. Endurance requires you to repeat the same movements over and over again without stopping. The same is to be said for tending to our relationship with God and the basic activities he calls us to engage in on a daily basis.
  • Who you have your eyes focused on really does matter. Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith and he needs to be the object of our desire and fascination. Focusing on yourself or some other earthly entity above Christ will only lead to disillusionment and pain. Jesus founded our faith and he knows how to perfect our faith.
  • Let Jesus’ example give you perspective. Jesus set all of us an incredible example in how to respond to opposition to him and his cause. He loved, he sacrificed, he served and he endured and as a result, he ultimately won.

Are you thinking of walking away from your church, your family, your ministry? Have you grown cold in your passion for God and his kingdom? Are you disillusioned by your circumstances and discouraged by your relationships?

It’s time to get your eyes back onto Jesus and your relationship with him. It’s time to remember those who have gone before you, cut off excess weight in your life, repeat the fundamentals over and over again like a marathon runner, focus on Jesus and get perspective on your life by considering Jesus example.

The Oracle! 

Is there any hope for Lance Armstrong?

933378-lance-armstrongI, along with millions of others have followed Lance Armstrong’s career quite closely through his books, video footage and media reports. I have always admired his focus, ‘fightin’ spirit, dogged determination and commitment to hard work. His contribution both on and off the road has been remarkable. His brand has become iconic. His results, unbelievable. In short I was and still am a huge fan.

I have also been watching closely the events of recent months and days, particularly his candid interview with Oprah. As I watched, I sat there devastated for him, his family, his brand and his cause. I don’t personally feel let down as much as I feel for what he and many people close to him are going through right now. Like his cancer diagnosis, I guess it could feel like you are passing through the valley of the shadow of death.

We live in a world that is very harsh and schizophrenic. One minute they worship you like a ‘god’ and the next minute they want to stone you to death. As quickly as the world embraces a winner, they even more quickly outcast a ‘liar’ found out. Yet, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds Lance, his family and his career, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). If you’re reading this and feel justified in your anger towards Lance, your missing a fundamental point. While you are pointing your finger of judgement at Lance, you’ve got several fingers pointing right back at you.

Romans 3:23-24 says, “For, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Everyone of us is broken and every one of us needs to repent of something. Apart from Jesus, the brokenness of the human condition is without hope. But because of Jesus and the cross, Lance Armstrong and everyone else on the planet can live with hope in the love and grace that is available to us through a relationship with God.

The difference between Lance and you is that you don’t have your selfishness, brokenness and lies broadcast over every single network across the world in one of the greatest media frenzies the modern world has ever seen. Truth is, one day we will all see what dark sins have been boxed up and hidden away in our own lives. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26 ‘For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known’. There’s coming a day for all of us where if we don’t repent, what’s been done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. Be sure your sins will find you out.

Be gracious with your comments of fallen heroes because each one of us needs to swallow a dose of humility when we consider our own shortcomings.

From God’s perspective, the most important issue in Lance’s life isn’t the money, winning, brand management or helping people through ‘Livestrong’ (as great as this is) but the condition of his own soul. God loves Lance and from the very beginning has been trying to get his attention regarding his relationship with him. His ex-wife Kristen, a supposedly devout believer has been one of the greatest blessings God has given to Lance and continues to seemingly provide great emotional and spiritual support.

20130117-onc-lance-armstrong-14-318x408Towards the end of the interview, Lance commented that his ex-wife Kristen would say, ‘The truth shall set you free’ quoting a part of Jesus Christ’s famous words from John 8:32. When asked by Oprah at the end of the interview, ‘What is the moral of this story?’ Lance responded with an answer that is still in the process of forming but Oprah responded with her own ‘moral of the story’, ‘The truth shall set you free’.

To be honest I don’t think Oprah really understood the weight of even what she was saying. It isn’t just about being honest with Lance’s past actions of cheating that is the great moral of the story. The moral of the story is that only knowing the truth found in the person of Jesus Christ can truly set Lance and every one of us free from the brokenness of our own lives that drive us to behave and act in ways that are destructive to ourselves and others. 

No matter how talented you are, what dreams you have or how successful you are in your career, nothing will bring freedom or fulfilment like believing in Jesus and walking with him on a daily basis. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man shall come to the Father except through me.’ Eternal life and present purpose are connected and intersect most poignantly in a personal and living faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus, no true freedom can be found!

Is there hope for Lance Armstrong? You better believe there is. In fact, could it be that he is about to enter into the greatest and most significant chapter of his life, far greater than 7 Tour De France Victories. Why? Because with Jesus Christ there is always hope!

The Oracle!

Is Christianity Dualistic?

You might have heard the comment, ‘There’s a black dog and a white dog in your life and depending on which one you feed, will determine which one wins the battle.’ Nice thought. Problem is it’s not the bible. This philosophy reflects more of eastern mysticism (Yin & Yang) than Christianity.

Dualism is a theory that the world consists of 2 opposing fundamental entities and is not consistent with Christianity. Christianity is Christ-centric, not two equal opposing adversaries. Unfortunately a dualistic mindset has crept into the church over the centuries and has duped Christians into believing that after we are born again we have two natures at war within us – a Sinful Nature and a Divine Nature.

Romans 6 and 7 teaches, however, that once we are saved, we are dead to sin and alive to God. We have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. After we are born again our spirit which was dead in sin, comes alive in Christ Jesus and our sinful nature is erased. In Christ Jesus we are new creations, the old has gone, the new has come and we are now partakers of a divine nature. However, our minds have a memory of our old nature that needs to be reprogrammed and renewed to think according to the divine nature we have received.

What makes us vulnerable to sin and spiritual attack is not a sinful nature because that’s been done away with, but our un-renewed mind and spiritual lethargy. These two have a massive bearing upon our response to temptation. When the external fiery darts of Satan come our way, we have a choice, do we exercise our shield of faith or do we partner with the temptation and rebel against God. If we as believers do sin, it’s because we are exercising our will to do so in disobedience and rebellion against God, just as Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden, whilst having a divine nature pre-fall (Genesis 3).

The mind truly is a battlefield and needs to be reprogrammed and renewed because it has a living memory of old patterns of thinking and acting. That’s why Romans 12:2 says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

Christianity is not dualistic. It’s Christ-centric. There are not two equal opposing forces at war within you. You have been born again. Your spirit has come alive with a divine nature and now begins the process of being transformed in your patterns of thinking to think like God thinks, according to your divine nature in Christ.

The Oracle!  

The Source of Your Confidence!

Pop Culture promotes the idea that we are to have self-confidence. Self-confidence is a good quality to have but eventually we all let ourselves down at some point. People who only have self-confidence are doomed to hit rock bottom because none of us are self-saviours. We are all in desperate need of someone external to us to save us from ourselves, hence why Jesus lived, died on the cross and rose from the dead.

I am growing in confidence. I feel it developing everyday. God spoke to my heart recently about building a stronghold of confidence in my heart. The more I spend time with Jesus and discover more of who He is, the more He helps me discover more of who I am in Him. There is nothing so freeing like knowing who you are in God and being comfortable to be the best version of you God has called you to be.

The first step to greater confidence is not an evaluation of your talents or abilities but a revelation of God. As you grow in your awareness and insight into who God is, He gives you a revelation of who you are. Without a sure conviction of who you are in Christ, you are destined to come unstuck.

Regardless of the circumstances around me, I belong to Christ and I am seated with him in heavenly places. My worth and value is not determined by my efforts but by His love and grace lavishly extended to me. I am redeemed from the poison of sin and forcefully taken from the hands of the enemy. I am blessed and have access to every spiritual blessing in heaven. I have been chosen before the foundation of the world. I have an eternal inheritance and I am sealed by the power of the promised Holy Spirit. I belong to God and He is my Abba father. (Ephesians 1:1-14)

My confidence comes from knowing God is my Father and He delights in me as His son. Many of us struggle with real feelings of insecurity, unworthiness and condemnation, despising ourselves and skeptical of anything to do with God. I know what that feels like cause I lived in that place for a long time. But I have been set free by Jesus and when you know the truth, the truth shall set you free.

Where does your confidence come from? Have you based it entirely on your self, your bank account, your job, your contacts, your image, your reputation, your talents and your experiences? Anything other than a revelation of God as your Father is destined to crumble. The things of this world are temporal and passing away. The kingdom of God is a kingdom that cannot be shaken and will last for eternity.

The Oracle!

Flesh vs Faith!

Hebrews 12:1-2 ‘Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.’

God can accomplish in a moment what man attempts to lay hold of in a lifetime. When God speaks, don’t add to what he has said and don’t try to bring to pass in the flesh what God has promised he will do by his Spirit.

The bible is littered with reams of examples where individuals and people groups tried to bring to pass in the flesh, what God had determined by his Spirit. Abraham is a classic example of this but Israel in the wilderness is the example that comes to mind. When Israel had rejected Gods call to possess the promised land, they were rebuked and judged by God to spend the next 40 years wandering around the wilderness. In response, a band of the Israelites decided to take matters into their own hands and attempt to force their way into the land, only to be defeated in battle by some of the occupants of the land. Moses told these men after the flesh, ‘I told you so’.

The flesh is immature, insecure, impulsive, impetuous and ill discerning. Faith is mature, secure, measured, patient and discerning of who God is and what he wants in any given situation. Faith is obedience at the point of risk to yourself. There is always a measure of risk in taking a step of faith but the alternative is not an option. Someone has described FAITH as:

Forsaking All I Trust Him!

I wish I could say that I demonstrate the dynamics of faith in every area of my life but the truth is, I ocassionally give into my fleshy impulses. Your flesh is like a shirt coloured green, representing a work of the flesh and little faith. You and I need to take it off and put on a garment of faith. The works of the flesh are in direct opposition to the spirit of faith in our lives.

What has God asked you to do that you are trying to bring to pass in your own flesh? Don’t birth an Ishmael when God has an Isaac waiting for you. God’s best is always worth the wait but it will only be possessed by the spirit of faith, not by the arm of the flesh.

The Oracle!

Do You Struggle With Sin?

Does anyone out there still struggle with sin?

We don’t like to see our human brokenness through the lens of sin but it is apart of our fallen humanity and it’s helpful to clarify what sin is, if we’re going to overcome it. Sin (hamartia) is defined as missing the mark or more specifically, to fail to live according to God’s intention and design. Because we have failed to live according to God’s original intention and design we are easily misled by the environment around us as well as our own hearts. We are also weakened by our flesh that delights in compromise and we actively resist the wisdom and truth that alone can set us free. In short, we can’t save ourselves, we need Jesus!

Our rebellion against God has caused a spiritual canyon between us and God that only God’s Son is able to remedy. As a result, apart from Christ, our lives epitomize the reflection of a broken mirror, that needs God’s Spirit, truth and community to heal.

There are 2 basic marks of sinfulness that every human has to grapple with:

  1. Immaturity – Demonstrated by a failure to take responsibility for your actions or situation in life and characterized by impulsive behaviour based upon how one feels.
  2. Insecurity – Underlying insecurity is FEAR. Fear of not being valuable or significant in your own eyes or the eyes of the world around you. Insecurity causes oneself to compare themselves to others and it results in coveting and jealousy of what someone else has.
None of us are born into this world fully mature or completely secure, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. We have to experience a process of growth in all aspects of our humanity. Unfortunately, you can be fully mature physically and yet be immature spiritually and emotionally, if you haven’t responded to God’s work in your life. Maturity and security are byproducts of a healthy relationship with God, one’s self and others.
When we find that we miss the mark (and all of us do in some way and often), it’s not going to help to simply give up on yourself or on life but God gives us the grace and power to get up again and grow closer to the mark of maturity and security in Christ. All of us have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s intention and design for us but nothing in our past, present or future is a good enough excuse to give up on God’s love, grace and power to help us grow into the people he’s called us to be.
Grace!

We are in a War!

Ephesians 6:12 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

I’ve been quite unwell the last 10 days and as I dragged myself from the bed this morning to go one of my scorching runs to revive my body (I think I might have killed it instead), I was reminded once again, that every day of our lives, on this planet, we are in a war.

Just stop and think about the resistance you feel, even at this present moment, towards yourself or against something you are working towards. Satan, sin and death has been conquered by Jesus death and resurrection but the mark of fallenness permeates every aspect of this world and relentlessly wars against us.

  1. We are in a war against sin – Our flesh doesn’t do what we want it to do and rather does what we don’t want it to do because of our brokenness.
  2. We are in a war for our health – Sickness and disease attacks our bodies constantly and trying to maintain a healthy body is like facing a UFC fighter in the octagon.
  3. We are in a war for our minds – The battlefield is often won or lost in the mind. There are so many distracting ideas competing for our attention, that we are so easily misled. We need a constant renewal of our thinking to conform to God’s thoughts and ways.
  4. We are in a war for people’s souls – The stakes are huge. People’s lives hang in the balance. Preacher, you aren’t just a communicator, you are a weapon in the hands of God, finely tuned to make war with your words. Load your cannons and fire!
  5. We are in a war for truth – Never, and I mean never, has there ever been a time, where God’s truth is under attack as it is today, both inside and outside the church. “Preach the word, in season and out of season, for the day is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but will heap up for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (2 Tim 4:2-3)
I want to encourage you to ‘lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet’. (Hebrews 12:12) I know you may feel like, no one cares, and that life is just too hard but you have not been left to fight this battle by yourself. Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
God has not left you defenseless but in fact, has made available for you weapons of warfare, that are not carnal but are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. If you have downed your tools, then pick them back up again, compose yourself and run back into the fray of the front line of whatever it is God has called you to do.

Grace!

God and Porn!

I’ve heard some people comment that the bible doesn’t refer to pornography, so they are OK to view it. You idiot!

The Greek word for ‘sexual immorality’ in 1 Corinthians 6:18 is pornea which means, “writings of the prostitutes” and is where we get the english word pornography from. When God says to flee from pornea, he’s saying to flee from everything associated with sexual sin, including viewing porn.

Porn origins date back to the technologies of the ancient Romans and Greeks throughout 1st century. By the 18th Century porn exploded in a big way when John Cleland produced the landmark work, “Memoirs of a woman of pleasure”. This book wasn’t available in the USA until the 1960’s. In the 50s no store carried soft porn. In the 60s Playboy was available behind the counter. In the 70s and 80s Penthouse magazine joined Playboy on the shelf, accessible to the eyes of children and from the 90s to the present day, porn is available at the push of a button. It’s only taken 40 years from porn to move from a store shelf to a nude pic on your iPhone. We are a sexualized society and we are de-sensitized to the damaging effects of porn.

  • Currently Pornography is a $56 billion dollar industry.
  • Over 4 million Australians access porn weekly.
  • Playboy website has 5 million hits daily.
  • 13 million human beings are trafficked every year for porn and prostitution.
  • There are 200,000 porn sites on the internet.
  • Average age of viewing porn is 11 years old.
  • The fastest growing child-porn producers are 10-14 year old boys.
  • Over 5 million videos are available depicting rape-porn.
  • Porn is a major issue in the church with 47% of Christians claiming it’s an issue.
  • If the church stopped consuming porn 1/3 of the porn industry would stop.
  • Porn was used as a tool to prime allied soldiers before sending them to Iraq.
  • A Canberra sex hospital has reported a 5000% increase in child-sex abuse due to easy access to porn.
  • Over 95% of sex offenders claim to have used porn before they committed sex crime
  • Reports of sex clubs starting in Primary Schools are emerging with sexting being the new rage amongst teens.

Ahh… we have a problem! Firstly, don’t underestimate the impact of porn consumption on your mind, body, spirit, finances and relationships. Second, If you are caught right now in the clutches of porn, the only way you’ll get free is through repentance, praying for the fear of the Lord and getting accountability into your life.

The core issue biblically is lust. There are a mountain of verses on lust. Here is a key passage (Matthew 5:27-29). We have to move beyond just white-knuckling to obey the letter of the law and embrace the spirit of the law through a heart transformation (Mark 7:21-23). Out of the heart flow the springs of life, that’s why we need to guard it.

Make a decision today, like Job 31:1 that you will make a covenant with God and your eyes to not look at a girl lustfully.

Grace!