Truth Is The Word

Day: April 22, 2010

Moenie Worry Nie

What will the year hold for us? The future might look rather bleak for some people – loss of job, ill health, financial problems. In such cases the natural thing is to worry about the future, but God says, “do not worry!”

Jesus spoke clearly in His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ about how we are not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34).  Embedded in His message are three antidotes to worry – Faith, living in today, and a focus on the Kingdom of God.

Worry is an expression of lack of faith in God’s provision. Jesus points us to birds and flowers and asks why we can’t trust as they do. To have faith in God is to believe that He is good, that He knows what we need, and that He cares about us and our circumstances. If we have faith only in ourselves or others, then we surely have cause to worry. However, if our faith is in God we can live in the sure knowledge that, no matter what happens in the future, God will walk us through it.

WorryingWhen my son started his business career he was often worried about his ability to do what was expected of him. I remember repeating to him the well known words, ‘Do your best and trust God for the rest’. If we do our very best yet maintain faith in God, not our ability, then we have nothing to worry about.

Another thing about worry is that it lives in the future.

Regret lives in the past and is concerned with what could have been, while worry lives in the future and is concerned with what might be.
An antidote to worry is to choose to live in today. Jesus put it this way; “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own” (Matthew 6:34). On the positive side, to live in the presence of God we must choose to live in today. God describes Himself as ‘I am’ (Exodus 3:14) and we encounter Him not in the past, or the future, but in the present – today. Regret lives in the past, worry lives in the future, but God lives with us today!

Worry is focused on needs. Jesus tells us that His Father knows what we need and will provide for our needs. However, He makes it clear that pagans focus on needs whilst His disciples focus on the Kingdom of God. If we focus our thought and energy on satisfying our needs, then we will be no different to unsaved people, and like most, we will be beset with worries. However, if we choose to seek God’s righteous kingdom, then we will have little time to worry about our needs.

To apply the Faith Antidote is to express our trust and confidence in God and to acknowledge that He cares about us. It is to thank Him for what we already do have instead of fretting about what we do not have. To apply the Today Antidote is to decide what we are going to do today, just today, and then to do it together with the ever-present Lord. To apply the Kingdom Antidote is to ask questions like; ‘Does my present condition open me to people I would not have normally met?’ and, ‘Does my present experience equip me to help others in Jesus name?’

When we are struggling, our natural orientation is the opposite to what I am proposing. Our inclination is to look to someone or something to solve our problems, to focus on tomorrow rather than today, and to withdraw into a self-preservation rather than a Kingdom of God mindset.

But God’s ways are different to our ways, and only His ways bring us peace of mind.
His ways are the ways of faith, living in today, and focusing on the Kingdom of God . When we follow His ways then worry is crowded out and has no home in us, and we are free to be all that God intends us to be. So… Moenie worry nie!

 

Strongholds of the Mind

In one week last month I encountered three people whose views were so set, whose mindsets were so entrenched that I was left flabbergasted and frustrated. I used words like “Have you considered that there might be a better way?” and “Have you studied the opposing views to that?” They wouldn’t look me in the eyes and their faces were tense and combatant. “I don’t care what anybody says”, retorted one, and “It’s just not negotiable” stated another.

Of course, I have to acknowledge that the reason I was challenged by these ‘strongholds of the mind’ was because they were opposite to my own entrenched views. We view other people’s mental fortifications from the lofty heights of our own castles. So perhaps the best we can do when confronted by ‘dug in’ mindsets is to honestly examine our own. You see, entrenched positions usually lead to conflict in families, churches, and enterprises and we inevitably lose something precious when stubborn views collide.

SandcastleWe develop our views by adding to what we learn at an early age. We read, discuss, research, and then we decide on a view. From then on we tend to fortify it by selecting only the data, opinions and circumstances that support our view. When challenged, we go to the trenches and dig in around the fortress of our mindset in order to defend it. Each such battle only serves to strengthen the mind-castle and deepen the trenches.

In 2 Corinthians 10 the Apostle Paul defends his ministry, but within this context he sets out some important principles that have a bearing on the subject of mental strongholds. He writes, ’For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’.  2 Cor 10:3-5

The words ‘demolish strongholds’ evokes images of Roman siege engines. The Trebuchet hurls huge boulders at the walls.  The Battering Ram strikes at the gates. The Tower allows attackers to scale the walls and enter the fortress. So that’s how we are inclined to tackle strongholds of the mind – batter them down with debate, bash them in with arguments, or force an entry with manipulation or coercion. Yet, as Paul says, the weapons we should be using are not ‘of the world’ and if we are going to demolish mental and spiritual strongholds we had better find another way. It seems that divine siege weapons operate very differently to those of the world. They demolish by taking the stronghold captive and making it obedient to Christ.

The mythical Pied Piper of Hamelin didn’t attack the rats with cats, bats, or traps but drew them out with the charm of his music. We defeat the defenders of the strongholds of the mind not by argument, manipulation, or coercion, but by drawing them away with the sweet music of the truth – and Jesus is the truth. An entrenched position becomes just an empty trench when the defenders have walked off to follow Jesus.

What I mean by all this is that to draw away the defense of a stronghold we need to open ourselves, and others, to the ways, words, and wonders of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can demolish arguments and pretensions by simply considering what the light of the person of Jesus casts on the issue at hand. What did Jesus model concerning this? What did He say about this sort of thing?

As usual, the ways of the Kingdom of God are opposite to the ways of the world. If you find yourself suffering from the effects of an entrenched view, I sincerely recommend that you open yourself to the divine siege engine – the truth embodied in Jesus Christ. I am trying to do this and already a few of my cherished castles are standing empty and decrepit on the horizon of my world view.

 

 

Pray it then Say it – The Potential of Proclamation

Jesus did not pray for any of the people to whom He ministered.

I mentioned this in a previous article, but it is worth repeating. Jesus prayed when He was alone with His Father. However, when He was ministering to people, He did not pray. He identified their need, often made physical contact with them, and then either proclaimed them healed, or instructed them to do something which indicated their restored condition. I believe that the reason Jesus didn’t pray for the sick was simply because He knew the will of His Father and realised that He already carried the anointing to minister healing.

Prayer is a form of communication, not an agency for spiritual ministry. When we pray, we talk to God. We might ask for anointing, or we may inquire if something is according to divine will. Prayer therefore precedes spiritual ministry yet we habitually pray for the sick when we minister to them, instead of simply ‘healing’ them. We don’t seem to know the will of the Father. We are unsure whether it is His will that we heal the sick, so we lay hands on the infirm, interceded for them by praying to God for mercy, and then add “if it be thy will”. Jesus, on the other hand, knew His father’s will, and so He had no need to pray when ministering; He simply went ahead and healed.

But how did He do this? He often healed by laying His hands on the afflicted people but in most cases He spoke authoritatively; He proclaimed healing.

I am not suggesting that words contain power. An essential tenet of magic is that certain words have the power to control nature, to transform physical elements, and to evoke spiritual beings. I do not believe this. However, words do play an important role in the process of transferring power.   The Roman Centurion of Luke 7:7 understood the power of authoritative proclamation because he said to Jesus, “say the word, and my servant will be healed.” His servant was in another town some distance away, yet the soldier knew that Jesus was capable of healing with a word.

Consider the actual phrasing of the Lord’s commission to His disciples. To the twelve He said:“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8).
Luke adds the insight that Jesus ‘gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.’ (Luke 9:1) To the seventy-two other disciples Jesus simply said, “Heal the sick who are there…” (Luke 10:9) He did not say “pray for the sick”, nor did He instruct them to ask God to heal. He gave them both power and authority, and then told them to get on and DO it!

P3 Book CoverHaving said all this, it would be unwise for me to end this short article without a caution. There is a difference between proclamation and presumption. I really don’t think that we should pronounce people healed (past tense) unless we have received a genuine gift of faith to do so. This would be presumptuous. However, I do believe that we should proclaim healing (present tense) when we minister to the infirm. Suitable proclamations would be “receive healing in Jesus name” or “be healed in Jesus name.”

So, to put it all together, what I am proposing is that we first pray for both power and direction, and then in faith receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. After that we should minister to those in need by humbly yet boldly proclaiming in Jesus name. Prayer – Power – Proclamation. If you would like to read this, and my other books, please visit www.truthistheword.com or click HERE.

 

The Prerogative of Power

 

As with Jesus, so with Peter, and so with us.
In another article, I wrote about the privilege of prayer; in this article I want to touch on the prerogative of power. The dictionary defines the word prerogative as ‘a privilege or right enjoyed by a person occupying a particular position.’ As sons and daughters of God we, who are born again in Jesus name, have the privilege of asking for, and receiving, power from on high. God imparts this power to us so that we can grow to be like Jesus in both character and ministry.

Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism. Luke records this event, and then continues with the words: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert.’”(Luke 4:1). Then in verse 14 he states that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit”. Further on in verse 18 Luke records how Jesus took his mission statement from the prophet Isaiah when he quoted, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me.

The Gospel of Luke contains some significant references to Jesus’ wonderful anointing. Luke 5:17 records how, ‘One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.’ The Holman’s Christian Standard translation has: ‘And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him.’ Luke 6:19 is even more specific where it records that ‘the whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was coming out from Him and healing them all.

Jesus possessed power to heal; he was full of a supernatural energy which issued from him and dramatically affected those to whom he ministered.
Luke Chapter 8 records the incident when the woman touched Jesus’ garment and received healing. Jesus sensed that someone had touched him and responded to his disciples’ protestations with the words “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (vs. 46).

Jesus was truly anointed, but we know from Luke 24:49 that this same anointing is also the prerogative of all his disciples. The Lord instructed his first disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received power from on high. This they did, and the book of Acts records how they went out in the power of the Spirit and ministered supernaturally in Jesus’ name. Peter is an example of this.

Powerful PeterP3 Book Cover

At the Gate Beautiful, a beggar asked Peter and John for money, and Peter responded to this request with the words, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6). He did not have money, but he did have something of greater worth that he could give freely to the man crippled from birth. This is a significant text, because it reveals something of how Peter understood the anointing. He didn’t say, “I don’t have money but I will pray for you’” Instead, he said “but what I have I give to you.” What did he have? He had anointing from on high, the power that the Holy Spirit had imparted to him! Peter understood that he possessed this power – “what I have”. He also understood that he had the ability to impart this power to others – “I give to you.”

Then Peter addressed the lame man and said, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” He evoked the name of Jesus to indicate that he was acting under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he said, “walk!” He did not pray, he proclaimed. He was acting on what he had observed in the life of his master. Jesus prayed often, but he did not pray for the sick. Let me state that again; Jesus did not pray for the sick. He ministered healing. He laid hands on the sick and healed them. He pronounced them well and they became well.

As with Jesus, so with Peter, and so with …us – Prayer, Power, and Proclamation. To read more, CLICK HERE
 

The Privilege of Prayer

In an article I wrote for Joy! in August 2009 I asked why we, as Christians, are generally so passionless and powerless. I suggested that one of the reasons was that so many of us are confused concerning the nature of prayer, the stewardship of spiritual power, and the need to proclaim in word and ministry – Prayer, Power, and Proclamation.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we have separated these three elements instead of integrating them into one – three yet one. Conversely, we tend to confuse these elements with each other.

A well known adage is, ‘there is power in prayer’. But there is no power in prayer. Prayer precedes power, but in itself, prayer is simply communion with God. Prayer is the communication component of our end of an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. God is certainly powerful, but how can the act of speaking to him have power in itself? Yet preachers often tell us that prayer ‘works’ (another expression which confounds me). Powerful results of prayer are simply evidence of God’s response.

We confuse the response with the request when we say that there is power in prayer. Even more seriously, we confuse the object with the method. God is the one to whom we pray (object), and prayer is the method of communicating with him. Yet prayer is foundational to both power and proclamation.

In prayer we express our dependence on God and our willingness to proclaim His will in word and deed. In prayer we ask Him to fill us with power from on high so that we are able to powerfully proclaim His word.
As children of God, we also ask Him, in prayer, to exercise His power to achieve what we perceive to be valid kingdom endeavors. It might appear on the surface that our prayers have released power, but it is actually God who chooses to manifest His power. An example of this is in Acts 4:29-30, where the disciples prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Verse 32 records that “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” The disciples prayed, and God responded with a mighty demonstration of his power.

P3 Book CoverHowever, the text also reveals that God went further than just demonstrating His power; He also filled the disciples with spiritual energy so that they could speak His word with boldness. This is the second level connection between prayer and power. God may respond to prayer with direct acts of power, but He may also respond by imparting power to us, His children, so that we can act in His name. This seems to be the Father’s preferred response to our prayer requests. Why? I think it is because He wants us to grow up to be responsible and mature members of his household; children who have learned both dependence on Him and responsible stewardship of His authority and power.

As always, let’s take our queue from Jesus. Matthew chapter seventeen records how Jesus went up a mountain to pray. Whilst He was praying, He had a dynamic spiritual encounter, heard the voice of the Father, and received an illuminating anointing.

Jesus then went down the mountain and cast out a demon from a suffering boy – Prayer, followed by the receipt of power, followed by proclamation.
Prayer precedes power, and power is essential to effective proclamation. To find out more, please download my latest book ‘P3’ concerning power from on high.

 

 

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar. I have started a site called Classical Guitar SA to serve classical guitar enthusiasts in South Africa.