Don’t lose hope…

“Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:22-23)

The Teachers of religious Law asked John who he was, whether he was the Messiah, Elijah or the Prophet who was to come. John confessed to none of them, but confessed directly out of scripture, “I am the voice of one calling out in the wilderness…”

Isn’t that amazing that John knew who he was? Many of us today can say who we are in terms of our name, place of birth and where we are from, but John’s statement also implied that he knew why God put him on this planet – to proclaim and make ready His people for the Messiah!

Do you know your purpose in life? I believe our purpose is connected to knowing who we are, and knowing who we are is connected to knowing who Jesus is and why He came to die for us. If we know Him, He will reveal to us who we are and what our purpose on earth is, and He will show us what to do.

Now think about this for a minute. Not much is really said about John. We know the circumstances surrounding his birth and then his ministry baptizing people and his death. But we know that once John discovered God’s purpose for his life, he went and did it. He made ready the people for the Messiah, and once He came, what did he need to live for? He fulfilled his calling, it was finished. He spent his whole life discovering his purpose in life, then Jesus comes and takes over in a sense, and what is left for John to do? In fact, here is the account of when Jesus’ ministry was starting and John’s ministry was coming to a close – look at John’s attitude in John 3:26-30…

They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him. To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

There, his ministry is complete! Jesus has come, he realizes he must get out of the way, allow Jesus to become greater than him, for that was the whole purpose of John’s ministry – to exalt Jesus. (Ours too btw!) He realized that a person can only receive what is given him from heaven. But what happens with John from here? He has completed his mission, he is not an old man, what else is there for him to do?

After this sometime, do you remember when John sent his disciples while he was in prison, to ask Jesus whether he was really the Messiah, or whether he should look for another? And of course, Jesus confirms that He is indeed the One whom John was looking for. I think John knew in his heart, but he had lost his purpose in life. He had felt like he completed his mission, and there was nothing left to do, so he began questioning whether Jesus was the One or not, because if He wasn’t, well, he had something to do again! He could start his ministry all over again!

But once he received confirmation, it wasn’t long after until he was beheaded. I think John just lost hope for his future, and couldn’t see that maybe he also had something else to accomplish for His kingdom. Well, that’s one way of looking at it anyway. I am only speculating of course.

But have you ever lost hope in this way? Maybe you felt like you arrived and it wasn’t the way you expected it to be. You focussed your whole life to getting to that point, and you’re finally there and it just turned out crap. Now you don’t know what else to do with your life. Or you loved it and finished the task, but…what now from here? What do you do?

I have one thing to say, and I know it sounds sooo cliché, but: Don’t lose hope, God does have a plan. He always has a plan. Don’t let your life be “cut off,” much like John’s head, (I know, such a sad analogy, but true, couldn’t think of any other way of putting it really!)

God has a plan, keep going, keep looking to Jesus…Don’t lose hope.

God bless,

Rob 🙂

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Noah – movie review

Hey everyone! So I went to the cinemas lastnight with my wife and some friends, and I just thought I should re-educate society on the actual version of events!

Now I expected that being Hollywood, it would not be totally accurate – however, it went far beyond inaccurate to being totally flawed and ridiculous!

Where shall I begin? Well, for starters, let’s talk about the “Watchers,” shall we? Oh dear…

Next, let’s talk about…nah, just kidding, I have more to say about them!

Firstly, the idea for these monsters came from the book of Enoch, found in the Apocrypha, NOT the Bible that most Christians hold today. In saying that, the Apocrypha isn’t all that bad, there are pieces of history in it, but the only problem is there are lots of parts missing and some very out there ideas in some of the books.

However, I am inclined to believe that the book of Enoch could possibly be true, just the Watchers are not depicted the way the movie is, that’s for sure. But here’s my reasons why I think this. Firstly, let’s look at the story of this book…

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, writes about how there were fallen angels who came down to be with the daughters of men – not to help us as the movie describes. These angels taught men about witchcraft and weapons and different things, and when they slept with the daughters of men, they produced giants called the nephilim. Here’s how Genesis 6:1-8 describes them…

“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

So it would appear if the book of Enoch were true, that this account of the sons of God would mean the “Watchers,” as they did the same thing in Enoch’s account.

Also to parallel our Bible, Jude vs 14-15 quotes the actual book of Enoch exactly, saying,

It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (found in Enoch 1:9)

So from this I wonder whether the early believers also read the book of Enoch as part of their scriptures, and who had the authority to change it? There was something interesting also in Leviticus 16:10 NLT, another parallel…

“The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD.”

Now, I have highlighted “Azazel,” because according to the book of Enoch, Azazel was one of those fallen angels, and he ended up being buried deep beneath a wilderness area to be reserved for the day of judgement, in the time of the end. Most of the other fallen angels according to Enoch, were sent to a place called Tartaruswhere they are awaiting in chains till the day of judgement. Now Tartarus is know to be in Greek mythology, but trust me, it originated from the Bible. You can find this in Peter’s second epistle…

“For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus (most translations just say hell, but this is one of the names of hell, the lowest part), and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgement…” (2 Peter 2:4 HCSB)

So there are some parallels with the Bible we have. Now, you take this movie – the movie presented the watchers as wanting to simply help the human race, and rebelled against God’s command and as a result were turned to stone. And at the end, they received forgiveness for their rebellion. That’s not even accurate according to the book of Enoch! In his account, they came for women, against God’s instruction, and as a result were not granted repentance, but were chained up in Tartarus, except Azazel who was buried in the desert – until the day of judgement! A bit of a different story!

Now what of the Nephilim – the watchers, or as the Bible describes, the sons of God and daughters of men’s children? Well, they may be the whole reason for the Flood in the first place. You look closely at the account in Genesis 6, and you see that the sons of God had mixed with the human race, and it simply wasn’t God’s plan – humans were made in God’s image – not a mixture of humans and angels. So God needed to wipe out that mixture, otherwise mankind would be completely corrupt, with the Nephilim filling this world with its evils. In fact, this may well have been Satan’s plan, because God promised him that the Christ would come and bruise his head, defeating his rule over the earth, given to him due to Adam’s fall (in Gen 3:15). So he wanted to make sure that didn’t happen through perverting man’s seed. The Nephilim was that perversion. Satan, as always, was unsuccessful!

Sounds far out, but you study the Bible – it’s a very interesting Book!

As for the rest of the movie? Well, it portrays Noah as being an “us and them” character with no grace. He did not try and reach out to his fellow man, but killed anyone who tried to get on the boat. In fact, 2 Peter 2:5 says he was a preacher of righteousness. He warned man of what was to come and would have preached repentance – but no one listened. They wouldn’t have even seen rain before, it was no wonder they didn’t believe him!

Next, they depicted Noah as actually believing his own family wasn’t even to be fruitful after the flood. He felt he heard from God to kill his own grandchildren if they were girls. But in Genesis 6:18, even before the flood begins, God says to Noah,

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” 

There was no intention from God that Noah was to end his own family’s line. In the movie, he did not allow his son Ham to find a wife and thought that Shem’s son’s wife was barren. Yet God’s plan for them was to be fruitful and multiply and repopulate the earth.

God’s plan for us today is also to be fruitful…He hasn’t changed! God is not the cruel character this movie really depicts of Him to be. Rather, He warned man for 120 years of His intention and saved a remnant whose line would see the Messiah, Jesus Christ, born into this world to ultimately save you and me, bringing salvation to all mankind…but again, it is man’s choice to receive His salvation – Jesus Christ!

I’m glad though at the end Noah came to his senses and realized man was to be fruitful, it did depict that finally, but heck, he actually knew that from the start! And I’m glad that there was a sort of rainbow at the end…but again, nothing saying it meant God’s promises never fail, that He will never destroy the world with a flood next time…nope, next time is by fire – read Revelation…that’s another story!

God bless,

Rob 🙂

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He does not give up on His Children

“After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” (Deut 4:25-31)

As I read this passage recently, I started to think about times in my own life where I enjoyed being in a certain place in my life. I was in the will of God, doing the things I felt He called me to do and finding fulfilment in those things and enjoying the presence of God. Then suddenly I mess up and do something stupid…anyone relate? My world falls apart and I am forced to leave that place, even if not literally, but just knowing you’re not in the right place spiritually and emotionally is a very distraught feeling – I don’t recommend stepping outside the will of God!

Well here in this passage, my experience says the same thing verse 26 says: “You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.” Sure, I’m physically not destroyed today, however, in the past when I have messed up, I feel totally destroyed.

The Lord said to them that if they broke the covenant while in the promised land, they would not live there long. In fact, that’s exactly what happened down the track. Israel was taken captive to Babylon.

But here’s the good news…God still had a plan for His children, even though they had gone to Babylon. He had not given up on His people, and He certainly doesn’t give up on us! Look at the last part of this passage; “When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey Him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.”

So we see here that the Lord does not forget His covenant with His people. Even though He disciplines us, He brings us back into His arms as well. For He loves those He rebukes. It seems to be in human nature that when things are going good, we’re in the promised land, so to speak, that we feel we have arrived and we don’t need God any more. That’s when we start slipping without even realizing it. That’s when we begin to make wrong decisions and things spiral downward very quickly, almost suddenly at times. And it’s when we are at our lowest point, that we begin to then look up to our Saviour, to our Heavenly Father, for mercy. And you know what? He gives it, as the end of this passage says…He is a merciful God who won’t forsake nor abandon His children forever…hallelujah! Isn’t that good news? And you can find this truth all through the new testament as well. From Genesis to Revelation you will find His mercies which are new every morning.

So don’t get discouraged nor disheartened. If you are going through a tough season, know he is always there to bring you through another day. When you are in distress and you cry out to Him, he will hear from heaven and come down and rescue you. You can count on Jesus. Amen.

God bless,

Rob 🙂

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Life is like a box of chocolates…

“One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, ‘You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.’ The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.” (Mark 1:9-13 NLT)

We’ve all heard the saying from Tom Hank’s classic Forrest Gump, “life is like a box of chocolates – ya never know what ya gonna get!” Well, the moment Jesus received the Spirit descending on Him that day, He probably had no idea that He was going to lead Him straight out to the desert!

Jesus Himself said to Nicodemus in John 3 that those who are born of the Spirit are like the wind…you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going…it’s like ya never know what ya gonna get, but when the Spirit gets moving, ya just have to go with the flow!

When I served as a missionary, one of the first things I had to learn was flexibility. I had no routine set in place. I didn’t have to get up early to go to work, I could stay up as late as I wanted if I wanted to…and that I did for sometime. I was in the Australian Outback in the Kimberley region, and for almost 2 years I was in fulltime ministry. We went hunting late at night, and I often slept in! We had things to do, but it was up to me when I would do them. I discovered it was better if you got up early to do your jobs and visit people in their camps, because in the heat of the day, everybody’s having an arvo nap!

But in this environment, ministry opportunities came by folks just turning up at your doorstep, and you needed to be flexible enough in your day to listen to the Holy Spirit and take those opportunities. Sometimes that meant cleaning the bus later, or mowing the grass another day. Those things are important, but not more important than a person’s salvation.

Jesus had an amazing encounter with His Father and the Holy Spirit came to be a Companion and a Helper in His life and ministry on earth. The first thing that happened after that was a test! Has that ever happened to you? You’ve just been in prayer and the heaven’s opened up and it’s like angels are ascending and descending on a ladder or something….and then the very next moment you get a flat tyre, you have trouble at work with colleagues (speaking from experience here!), or you lose your job – or something of a wilderness experience kicks in! In those times, don’t stress – the Spirit of God may be leading you! Maybe it’s a test to see how you’re going to respond. Jesus responded with God’s Word – “It is written!” And He overcame that test! Also remember: just because you’re in the wilderness and you’re getting hungry as Jesus did, doesn’t meant that good things won’t happen in that wilderness. Jesus was ministered to by angels – angels! How cool is that? He was strengthened in that time by angels!

I don’t know about you, but if I was in that position, seeing angels would have been worth going out there and obeying the leading of the Spirit – wouldn’t you say?

God bless,

Rob 🙂 

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HOW TO BE SAVED

spiritheartbeats

       PRAYER OF SALVATION….

      A born-again, committed  relationship with God is the key to a victorious life.

Jesus, the Son of God laid down His life and rose again so that we could spend

eternity with Him in heaven, and experience His absolute best on earth. The Bible 

says, ‘FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY 

BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH

BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.’ ( John 3:16.)

      It is the will of God that everyone receive eternal salvation. The way to receive

this salvation is to call upon the name of Jesus and confess Him as your Lord.

The Bible says, .THAT IF YOU SHALL CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH THE LORD

JESUS, AND SHALL BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD HAS RAISED HIM

FROM THE DEAD, YOU SHALL BE SAVED…

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THE ONLY TRUE ANCHOR

This is my Mum’s blog! Check her out here at spirit heart beats!

spiritheartbeats

        From a devotional by CAROLYN LARSEN……

             This world can be a scary place. We humans have perfected the art

of hurting others – emotionally and physically. Does hearing about what’s

happening around the world  – senseless murders, persecutions, hunger,

disease, send shivers up and down your spine? 

      You need an anchor. ..something to hold on to…something to

stabilize your heart when it goes into spasms of fright. 

If you’ve looked for that anchor  in friends, a career or success,

you probably didn’t find it.  Perhaps you looked for it in the love

of your family, but it wasn’t there either. Even the best things in life

aren’t strong enough to protect you from the dangers of this world.

      Where can you find the true anchor that can hold you steady?

In God. Only in…

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To obey is better than sacrifice…

“But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22 NLT)

I hate waiting, and that’s been one of my problems. I get an opportunity and I take it without really waiting on God to see if He wanted me to do it or not. I remember one time, I was asking God to show me whether or not I should go to live in a certain place or not. After not even a week I gave up praying and just decided to leave…even said it was God and quoted scripture I found to support what I wanted! So I quit my job and made my arrangements. I was going out to preach again, and that was it for me. The desire was good, but the timing and the place was wrong.

However, the night before I was due to leave, I had a dream. In this dream, I saw a pastor I knew well tell me not to go, but to stay in the town I was in! I woke up thinking to myself, “was that God?” In my heart I knew it was, but I rationalized it all in my head – “I just quit my job. If I stayed any longer, I wouldn’t have much money left and then I wouldn’t know what to do.” Well, the fact was the place where I was going to, I wasn’t even assured of getting a job! Yet because I just wanted to go, I went! Through the next 2 and a half years, I knew why God didn’t want me to go now. But that’s the thing…I have always seemed to learn from hindsight. Even then, how much have I learnt?

There was another time a couple of years after that, where God gave me another go. He told me that a pastor was going to give me an opportunity of ministry. I didn’t know exactly what, but I felt strongly that he was going to give me an opportunity…and the Lord’s instruction was that I turn it down, and stay where I was. Well, we had our annual convention for that ministry, and at the end of it, this pastor pulled me and my wife aside and asked us to lead an outreach to a community 160kms away. I stood there not hardly believing that what God had just spoken to me a week earlier was actually coming to pass! That was an amazing feeling, that I actually heard God….but that was the challenge I faced also. I wanted so much to do something for God, yet I was meant to turn this down, according to what I felt God tell me…but I found myself saying yes to it in direct disobedience to the word of the Lord. How could I do this? I was following my own desire for ministry, my own ego, instead of following Jesus. It’s as simple as that. I guess like Saul, I couldn’t wait on God’s timing.

Now God was very gracious in that time we ministered there, bringing a few people to the Lord and encouraging the believers in that place, and He did move. But again, I discovered why God didn’t want me to go there…the ministry took a toll on our marriage, and I discovered my wife wasn’t handling it too well. We were arguing more than usual. There were other factors that came into play also, but the root issue was that I put my ministry ahead of my wife and her needs. God gave her to me to look after, and I didn’t put her in regard at all. I was trying to fulfil a ministry that neither me nor my wife together were even ready for…and we burnt out really bad and hurt alot of people.

Today, I am not willing to step out in any form of ministry unless God has told me, and I have the blessing of my wife and support of my pastors. But even with the latter two, if God does not approve, no matter how good it may seem in the natural, I am not going near it. I am content where I am today, working where I am. If He wants me to do anything else, He will tell me, in His time.

So why am I sharing this with you today? I share it in the hope that you learn from my failures, because it’s way better to learn from someone else’s than your own! Disobedience is painful, and there’s consequences and needless suffering because of it. That’s why I so truthfully share it, though I haven’t even shared half of it, but you get the picture I think!

God bless,

Rob 🙂

 

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