Why Doesn’t God Always Heal?

God has been very good to us at Everyday Church. Across the past eighteen months, we have seen a steady trickle of miraculous healing. We have seen two people healed of cancer at our Kingston venue. Adrian Holloway from the Wimbledon venue has just returned from Newday where he led hundreds of teenagers to receive healing by the power of Jesus’ name. If you are part of Everyday Church then you already know this and are as grateful as I am towards God for his amazing blessing towards us. If you are not part of Everyday Church then rejoice with us. We are advancing in our experience of God’s healing power together.

But God doesn’t always heal. It’s very confusing and very painful. In the early hours of yesterday morning, Sonia Miller from Everyday Wimbledon died of cancer. We have prayed for her, we have fasted for her, we have anointed her with oil as commanded in James 5, and we have pleaded with God for her - but now we are grieving for her. 

I heard the news at breakfast with my wife and children. The six of us have been praying for Sonia for weeks, so I immediately had to open the Bible and teach my children how to process their emotions when God doesn’t answer healing prayer. This has been the first time for them but it will not be the last. I’m therefore writing this blog to help you if you knew and loved Sonia, or if you have loved and lost somebody else after praying that God would heal them. How should we respond when God doesn’t heal those we love? I’ll answer more at Sonia’s funeral next week, but in the meantime here are four key principles which I trust may help you as you grieve.

1) TELL GOD HOW YOU REALLY FEEL

The book of Psalms teaches us how to respond when God appears to let us down. One of the reasons I love the book so much is that it is brutally, brutally honest about many of the challenges which we face in our own lives. The Sons of Korah essentially accuse God in Psalm 44 that "You have let us down!" Asaph continues this in Psalm 73 and Psalm 74, accusing God so frankly that it makes your toes curl just to read it. What is even more surprising than Asaph’s language is the way that God appears to be very pleased by the way he prays. Jesus calls Asaph a prophet in Matthew 13:35, and Nehemiah 12:46 looks back fondly to the days when Asaph taught Israel to pray the words they really felt.

We need to learn this. If you knew and loved Sonia then tell God how you really feel about her death from cancer. Tim Hughes writes that "Questioning God doesn’t mean we are disobeying Him. Expressing doubt doesn’t mean we are lacking faith … Expressing anger and pain to God is a beautiful and intimate act … In our everyday lives, the people that we are most likely to share our deepest fears and hurts with are those we love and trust the most. True intimacy can be experienced when we choose to share honestly and vulnerably.”

2) REMEMBER WHO GOD IS

The psalmists are brutally honest about how they feel, but they don’t stop there. They are also very honest about the unchanging character of God. In the midst of his angry accusations, Asaph changes his tune in Psalm 73:16-17. He confesses that “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood.” His honest prayers took him into God’s presence long enough for him to stop and let God do some of the talking. When he remembered who God is he was drawn back to trust in him. If God is big enough to blame when people are not healed, then he is also big enough to trust when people are not healed. He is perfectly wise as well as perfectly loving. 

King David demonstrates this for us in Psalm 62. It’s an incredibly honest prayer about his troubles, and it ends with equal honesty about God. “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” Some people never trust for healing because they find it easier to believe that God is loving than to trust that God is strong. Some people take offence at God for not healing because they find it easier to believe that God is strong than to trust that God is loving. David urges us to hold both of these two things together in our hands. It’s real Christianity and it’s what carries us through dark days.

3) REMEMBER THE END OF THE STORY

We live in a world which is obsessed with the moment. Pleasure can’t be deferred, it must be experienced now. Without realising it, Christians can import this mindset into their walk with God. But God’s Story isn’t like that and this attitude ends up robbing Christians of the great hope which is theirs.

When the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar threatens to kill Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego by throwing them into the fiery furnace unless they deny the Lord, they reply to him in Daniel 3: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it … But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods." They believed God for instant deliverance but they also believed that God would take their souls to heaven and to raise their bodies from the dead for eternity if instant deliverance was not his perfect plan. They trusted God to grant them either instant deliverance or eternal deliverance, and they trusted God to be wise enough to decide which type of deliverance it would be.

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to his Father. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that "he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard." Isn’t that a bit weird? Jesus died painfully hours later, so how can the writer to the Hebrews tells us that "he was heard"? Because Jesus prayed for the Father to spare him the cross, accepting in the same breath that the Father knew best what would be the perfect plan for his life. Jesus trusted the Father to deliver him from dying or to deliver him from death after he died, and he trusted the Father to be wise enough to decide which one it was to be for him to play the role in God’s Story which had been perfectly given him.

In the same way, we prayed very hard as a church that God would heal Sonia. We prayed very hard that God would spare her from dying for the sake of her husband Andre and her two-year-old son Reuben. We grieve deeply that she is no longer with us but our grief is tempered by the fact that she is now with Jesus in heaven. We trusted God to deliver her from dying and we trusted him to deliver her from death if she died. Now that we know that his perfect plan for her life was the latter, we still trust him in our grief that our prayers have been answered. As Paul says in Philippians 1: "Now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." This is how Sonia lived and died. We still trust God, just as she did, now that we know that God’s perfect plan was for her to be with Christ, which is better by far.

4) REMEMBER SONIA’S EXAMPLE

If you were friends with Sonia then you will know that she trusted God to heal her. She talked about nothing but healing until the final week of her life, explaining to her friends that "I can’t pray with faith for healing and at the same time plan to die; I have to do these things one at a time." Nobody who spent any time with Sonia in her final weeks left her presence without growing in their own faith in God. She had such a strong faith in her Saviour that it was contagious. In the last week of her life, when she finally turned her thoughts to preparing to die, it was the only thing which carried her through.

Those of us who are left have much to do. We need to support Andre as he comes to terms with being a young widower and single dad. We need to support Reuben as he learns to grow up without a mum. We need to be there for friends and family at Sonia’s funeral next week. But we also need to do more than that. We also need to learn from Sonia’s life and example. Her death from cancer isn’t a reason for us to trust God less; it’s a reason for us to trust God more.

Sonia reminded us that death comes to us all. Sometimes it comes in old age, sometimes it comes tragically early, but it always comes. There will be a moment when each of us realises that all which we prize in this world cannot help us. Our wonderful family, our faithful friends, our skills and ideas and possessions cannot save us. The only one who can save us is Jesus Christ, the one in whom Sonia trusted while she lived and as she died.

The great missionary Hudson Taylor stared death in the face on his first voyage to China, when the ship on which he was travelling almost sank, the captain taunted him: "We cannot live half an hour now. So what now of your call to labour for the Lord in China?" Hudson Taylor recalled later: It was a great joy to be able to tell him that I would not for any consideration be in any other position; that I strongly expected to reach China; but that, if I didn’t, then at any rate my Master would be pleased that I was found seeking to obey His command at the moment I died.” 

Sonia Miller challenged us all to be found trusting God in any and every situation. She challenged us to trust God for healing. She challenged us to trust God when we are not healed. Her passing from this cancer-filled world to the glories of heaven is not a reason for us to stop believing in God for miraculous healing. Her final actions still cheer us on to believe in the power of God until we see more than a steady trickle of miracles - until we see joy across London through a team of Everyday People who trust in their Almighty God, both in the victory of healing and in the victory of death.

The Bible in 100 Pages: Genesis 1-11

This week sees the publication of my new book “The Bible in 100 Pages.” This blog is adapted from the first chapter in the book.

PART 1: CREATURES

The message of Genesis 1-11 - creation to 2200BC.

The Bible begins with God. It’s very simple. It doesn’t try to convince us that God exists. It doesn’t feel it has to. It simply informs us that “In the beginning God.”

These first four words of the Bible launch into a chapter which celebrates the incomparable greatness of the Creator God. Genesis 1 tells us ten times that “God said,” and it informs us that as a result “it was so.” God doesn’t sweat or struggle to create the world. Even though cosmologists tell us that there are at least a hundred billion stars in the universe, Genesis 1:16 only uses two Hebrew words when it tells us that “he also made the stars.” The Bible begins with a mighty declaration that God is God and we are not. God is the Creator and we are his creatures. That’s the big picture.

Humans only step onto the stage of world history as God is putting the finishing touches to his work of creation. He creates Adam and Eve in his own image, but what really strikes us is how very different they are from their Creator.The Lord never grows tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28), but humans do. We have to stop at least three times a day to eat food and recharge our strength. God never needs to sleep(Psalm 121:4), but we do. Even if we manage to pull the occasional all-nighter, we always end up paying for it later. The rhythm of our lives cries out that God is God and we are not. We need to spend half of our short lives sleeping, eating and relaxing. That’s not just weird. It is deliberate.

Genesis 1 underlines this difference by reminding us six times that the Hebrew day began and ended with nightfall. It was a statement that, by the time we get to work in the morning, God has already punched a twelve-hour shift without us! In case we miss this, God decrees that the seventh day of creation will be a day of rest, a Sabbath. He does not do so because he is tired from six days of exertion. Jesus tells us in Mark 2:27 that “The Sabbath was made for humans.” God wanted Adam and Eve to begin their lives resting in a garden they had not planted, picking fruit they had not grown and enjoying food they had not cultivated. The weekly Sabbath would remind them to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God is the Creator and we are his creatures. That’s the message of part one of the Bible.

This was the issue which the Devil targeted when he disguised himself as a snake and came to tempt Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. They should have known better than to trust a talking snake, but the Devil’s message was one which people always like to hear. He encouraged them to play at being God.

The Devil encouraged Adam and Eve to doubt God’s Word, asking them “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” He encouraged them to distrust God’s character, maligning his motives by suggesting that “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Finally he denied God’s Word outright: “You will not die.” When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they fell under the curse of sin. The bitter aftertaste of the Devil’s food was death and sickness and stress and pain and toil – the very opposite of relaxing in the perfect world which God had created.

This sets the scene for the rest of Genesis 1 to 11. The human population grows and people choose whether to rest in the fact that they are God’s dependent creatures or whether to fight against him in order to become little gods themselves. We can tell that we are still caught up in the struggle from the way that we react when we read the words, ‘dependent creatures.’ We get offended by the suggestion that we are dependent upon anyone, but that’s precisely the point. We could not survive an hour without the breath or heartbeat which God gives us. Even when we play at being little gods, we are only able to do so because the Creator God sustains us in his patient love.

Adam and Eve try to cover over their sin by making clothes from fig leaves, but they can no more save themselves than create themselves. The fully clothed Adam confesses to God that “I was afraid because I was naked.” They only find forgiveness when the Creator God reveals that he is the Saviour God too. He kills an innocent animal – the first death in the Garden of Eden – and covers their nakedness with clothing made from the hide of the world’s first blood sacrifice. Adam and Eve teach their children that this is how sin must always be forgiven. When their eldest son Cain tries to impress God with the work of his own hands, God points to his younger brother Abel’s sacrifice of an innocent lamb and asks him: “Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” Cain is faced with a choice: Will he accept that God is God and he is not? He prefers to be a self-assertive murderer than a dependent creature. He kills his brother and founds a dynasty of rebels who try to act like little human gods.

Cain’s dynasty is known as ‘the sons of men.’ It culminates in the self-centred boasting of Lamech: “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.” Their rage against God turns into rage against anyone who reminds them that the universe does not revolve around them at all. But Adam and Eve have another son named Seth. His dynasty is known as ‘the sons of God’ because they “began to call on the name of the Lord.” We are told that Enoch “walked faithfully with God,” and that Noah “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” These events happened many thousands of years ago but they are just as relevant today. Seth’s family were the first believers, the first to confess gladly that God is God and we are not. God prized their worship so highly that he gave them a starring role in part one of the Bible’s story.

Then, in Genesis 6, something terrible happens: “The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” Seth’s family stopped worshipping God as dependent creatures and married into Cain’s self-assertive family. “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them,” God told Noah. “Make yourself an ark.” It seemed like a ridiculous command, an impossible command, but Noah believed God and obeyed. In contrast to the violent self-assertiveness, self-centredness and self-worship of his neighbours, we are told twice that “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Once Noah had built his massive boat, God saved his entire family by ensuring that it floated. Genesis 7:16 reminds us that he is the Saviour God by telling us that “the Lord shut him in.”

Nowadays many people laugh at the story of Noah and his ark, but to do so ignores the fact that a version of this story appears in the ancient writings of all the world’s great cultures – as far back as the Mesopotamian epics of Atrahasis and Gilgamesh and the Ancient Greek story of Deucalion, as far west as the Aztecs of Central America, and as far east as the Aborigines of Australia. It is a historical event which teaches us three vital lessons at the start of the Bible.

First, it shows us that God takes it very seriously when we sin by pretending to be little gods. Second, it warns us that God has set a judgment day for sin. In 2 Peter 3 we are warned that “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” Jesus promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word … the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” Third, it assures us that God has made a way for sinful people to be forgiven. Men and women who try to be like God will be destroyed but God became a carpenter like Noah so that whoever trusts in the blood of Jesus can be saved.

If anybody might have been tempted to get stressed-out and over-busy then it was Noah when he led his family out of the ark after the Flood. The whole of human civilisation had been destroyed and he was in charge of its reconstruction. He had the mother of all to-do lists.  Yet the first thing he did when he stepped out of the ark was absolutely nothing. He resolved to live as God had always intended humans to live. He put down his hammer and his axe and he lifted up his empty hands to God in worship.

We are in desperate need of the message of Genesis 1 to 11. We belong to one of the most stressed-out and self-centred generations in human history. God invites us at the start of the Bible to make a choice between Adam’s fig leaves and God’s blood sacrifice, between Cain’s hard work and Abel’s faith, and between Lamech’s pride and Noah’s obedience.

Will we act like little gods or will we accept that we are creatures whose happiness is bound up in the fact that God is God and we are not?

To read more free chapters from “The Bible in 100 Pages”, please go to www.philmoorebooks.com

Read sections of my new book: “The Bible in 100 Pages”

This week sees the publication of my new book “The Bible in 100 Pages.” It’s a short book but a very challenging one, which helps people to grasp the message of the Bible. It packs a powerful punch and helps the reader to find their own place in the big picture of God’s amazing story. Here is what people who have read it are saying:-

Andrew Wilson – Author of “If God, Then What?”

“Bold, fresh, fast-moving, relevant … An excellent resource for anyone wanting to get their heads round the biblical story.”

Nicky Gumbel, co-founder of the Alpha Course

“I enjoy reading Phil Moore’s books. He writes about Jesus and the Christian life with perception, wisdom and wit.” 

R.T. Kendall, theologian

“Phil Moore has very capably distilled the essence of the Scriptures. If you want to get a grip on the Bible, this is a great place to start.”

Terry Virgo, founder of Newfrontiers

“Allow Phil to take you into the Bible’s story and show you what it’s all about. You won’t regret it.

Sandy Millar, co-founder of the Alpha Course

“Fascinatingly helpful … I thoroughly recommend it.”

But don’t take my word for it. You can read a sample chapter for yourself by clicking here.

“The Bible in 100 Pages” is on sale for only £4.99 per copy. Make it your essential summer reading.

How to Advance the Gospel

This month saw the publication of my new devotional commentary, “Straight to the Heart of 1 Thessalonians to Titus”. This blog is adapted from one of the chapters in the book.

HOW TO ADVANCE THE GOSPEL

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

The Macedonians knew a thing or two about how to advance quickly. In Daniel 7, Alexander the Great’s empire is depicted, not just as a leopard, but as a leopard with two pairs of wings. In only thirteen years he created an empire which stretched three thousand miles east from Macedonia to the Himalayas. That’s why Paul is so surprising when he writes to Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia, and tells the Thessalonians how to advance the Gospel. He tells them that the way to advance in the Christian life is to stay standing still.

It must have been a bit of a disappointment when Paul told them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you.” It meant that, despite the Macedonians’ illustrious history of empire and advance, Paul believed their biggest need was simply to stand firm in the Gospel. The Greek word which Paul uses in this verse for teachings is paradoseis, which is normally translated as traditions. True warriors of Jesus do not advance by adding something extra to the Gospel. They advance by not seeking to modify the Gospel and by experiencing it ever more deeply.

Paul tells us in 2:13 that we are to stand firm in the fact that God has chosen us. In some Greek manuscripts Paul tells the Thessalonians that God chose to save them ap’archês, or from the beginning. In other Greek manuscripts Paul says that God chose them to be the aparchê, or firstfruits, of his salvation. Both statements are true. If we want to advance in our Christian lives and to influence others, then we need to stand firm in the fact that God chose to save us before the dawn of time in order that we might spread the message of his salvation to many others.

Paul tells us in 2:14 that we are to stand firm in the fact that God has called us to have a share in his glory. Since our salvation was based on God’s initiative and not our own, we can expect its fruit to be God-sized and not man-sized. Elsewhere Paul tells us that God has transformed us by grace into his peripoiêsis or treasured possession, the word which the Greek Old Testament used for God choosing Israel to be his private treasure collection. But in this verse Paul tells us something new which is just as mind-blowing as the Old Testament promise that God turns scrap metal into gold. He tells us that God has also turned his own glory into our peripoiêsis or treasured possession too! We do not advance by becoming distracted by things which are not the Gospel. We only ever advance by standing firm in what it means for us to have been granted a share in Jesus’ glory.

Paul tells us in 2:16-17 that we are to stand firm in the fact that God loves us and wants to strengthen us by giving us an eternal encouragement and hope. He uses past tenses to remind us that God has already given us these things, but he slips in and out of prayer because we need to lay hold of them through active prayer. It is tragic when Christians get distracted by things which are fascinating but which are not the Gospel, playing with fool’s gold instead of the real thing. God has given us all that we need in the Gospel. We simply need to stand firm and to lay hold of it in prayer.

In the movie “Die Hard”, Alan Rickman’s villain remarks that “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” The Thessalonians must have felt the same way when, despite their heritage, Paul commanded them simply to stand. However, Alan Rickman’s villain is misquoting Plutarch. What he actually said was that Alexander wept and told his friends: “It is right that I cry because the number of worlds is infinite and I have not yet fully conquered one.” Paul is actually telling us that it will take us an entire lifetime to explore and to lay hold of everything which is ours through the Gospel. Standing firm in the Gospel is never passive. It means advancing rapidly. To encourage us, Paul gives us three prayer requests which show us what will happen if we stand firm in the Gospel.

Paul tells us in 3:1 that if we stand firm in the Gospel then the Word of God will run. Paul uses such a strange word to describe the spread of the Gospel that he must do so as a deliberate contrast to 2:15. If we rest in what Jesus has done for us, then spreading the Gospel is not difficult because the Gospel does the hard work for us. Whenever those around us see the contagious lifestyle, contagious hope and contagious community which the Gospel produces in those who honour its commands, they are attracted to Jesus much more quickly than they ever are by busy evangelistic programmes.

Paul tells us in 3:2-4 that if we stand firm in the Gospel then God will deliver us from danger. Our confidence in the face of danger, both here and in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, is firmly grounded in the fact that God is faithful. Moses preached this Gospel to the panicking Israelites when he told them at the Red Sea: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm … The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14). This same Gospel still turns fearful converts into fearsome warriors for Jesus.

Paul tells us in 3:5 that if we stand firm in the Gospel then God will direct and guide us. The problem with running quickly is that we often run in the wrong direction. We tire ourselves out and end up making far less progress than we would if we simply stood firm in the Gospel. Paul promises us that the Gospel will teach us to love like God and to persevere like Jesus. It will turn us into warriors who have all we need to keep pressing forward in the midst of persecution.

Christians advance because they have first learned to stand firm, so let’s not get distracted from the Gospel. If we stand firm in the Gospel then it will run forward very quickly.

Like a leopard with two pairs of wings. 

To read more free chapters from the “Straight to the Heart” series of commentaries, please go to www.philmoorebooks.com

The Glory and the Horror of the Gospel

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This month saw the publication of my new devotional commentary, “Straight to the Heart of 1 Thessalonians to Titus”. This blog is adapted from one of the chapters in the book.

THE GLORY AND THE HORROR

 “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

 Jesus is polite but that doesn’t mean that he says please. I can’t find a single occasion in the gospels when Jesus ever felt the need to say please to anyone. He is the King of heaven and he did not come to earth in order to ask us to do him a favour. His brand of politeness is to stand before two doors, to hold one open, and to tell us we can choose which one of the two doorways we wish to use.

There are times when it is right to present the Gospel as a heavenly request to men and women. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.” Nevertheless, we must not forget that in the same verse Paul says we are Christ’s ambassadors and speak the very words of God. When Paul preached in Athens, he warned his hearers in Acts 17:30 that “God commands all people everywhere to repent.” Now he tells us something similar in 2 Thessalonians 1:8. The Gospel is not simply a request to be considered. It is a divine order to be obeyed.

Paul did not spend much time in 1 Thessalonians describing the substance of the Gospel, preferring to focus on its practical outworking instead. He certainly makes up for it now. He tells us that the Gospel is a choice between two eternal destinies. Jesus has opened the door of salvation and now he beckons us to follow him through the door. The Gospel is not so much an invitation to allow God through the door of our own hearts as it is a command to walk through the right doorway ourselves.

Paul describes these two doorways in glorious and horrific detail. The first door leads to a place of such torment and despair that C.S. Lewis confessed, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture” (‘The Problem of Pain’, 1940).What Paul says about hell is shocking but it is not unfair. It is God’s considered judgment (1:6) upon those who have chosen to do evil (1:6), to reject God (1:8a) and to disobey his Gospel (1:8b). It is the destiny of all those who refuse to worship God with their lives and who say that they would rather live their lives without him. They refuse to pass through the doorway which Jesus has opened through his blood because they would rather die than be part of a world where God is recognised as God and they are not.  In the end they get what they want.

Paul’s description of the second doorway is as glorious as the first one is horrific. It takes us into a new world where God reigns as undisputed King and where those who suffer for his Kingdom in this world receive their reward (1:5). Jesus will usher in this world when he returns to earth from heaven in all his glory to reveal that he was Lord of the universe all along – he was simply giving people a bit more time to choose (1:7). Nobody will be able to resist his powerful angel army and nothing will be able to prevent him from destroying this earth with fire (1:7). Like a farmer burning the stubble in his field so that he can plant a fresh harvest, Jesus will remake the heavens and the earth as they were always meant to be. He will not whisk us away to heaven, but will bring heaven down to earth and dwell with us forever. He will glorify himself by transforming us into the perfect people we were always born to be and by allowing us to marvel and worship him in this new world which will never come to an end (1:10).

The Thessalonians were suffering in the short-term, but this hope would turn them into unflinching warriors. They were marching on a one-way journey to a new home which would make all their sufferings worthwhile.

Our hearts have become so infected by the sinful world in which we live that some of us view these verses as bad news rather than good news. Instead of rejoicing that a day is coming when God’s justice will be vindicated in the eyes of all the world, it is easy to join with the wicked in blaming him for overreacting towards sin. Rob Bell is not the only one who thinks it would be better news if we were able to say that “History is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins.” But Paul is insistent. The good news of the Gospel is that, along with God’s love, his glory and justice and righteousness also prevail. God loves people so much that he lets them take whichever doorway they choose: an eternity of joyful obedience to him or an eternity of reaping the reward of trying to act like little gods ourselves.

Paul tells us that the Gospel is a message to be obeyed. Those who rebel against it will be punished with olethros aiônios, or eternal destruction. They will be “shut out from the presence of the Lord” in a place devoid of any good, and they will be “shut out from … the glory of his might” in a place devoid of any second chances.

Paul takes us back to his teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 when he tells us in 1:9 that God will take ekdikêsis, or revenge, on those who persecute his People. This link tells us how we should respond to the glory and the horror presented by these two doorways. We must not pretend that hell is less real than it is. We must endure hardship with such hope that those who persecute us become convinced that the Gospel must be true. We must hunt them down with love, pursuing them like warriors whose endurance proves that a Day of Judgment is coming which will end their spiteful judgments against us.

Jesus is not saying please. He has opened a doorway through his blood to forgiveness and eternal life. He is commanding us to obey the Gospel by stepping through the door, and to proclaim this Gospel command to all creation. The Gospel is not to be debated, dissected, doubted or despised. It is to be obeyed and to be proclaimed as a command to everyone. Mark Dever reminds us that

“To evangelise is to declare on the authority of God what he has done to save sinners, to warn men of their lost condition, to direct them to repent, and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ … We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all.” (‘The Gospel and Personal Evangelism’, 2007)

To read more free chapters from the “Straight to the Heart” series of commentaries, please go to www.philmoorebooks.com

Why Doesn’t the New Testament Condemn Slavery?

This month saw the publication of my new devotional commentary, “Straight to the Heart of Galatians to Colossians”. This blog is adapted from one of the chapters in the book.

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5) 

William Knibb, a British missionary to colonial Jamaica, wrote home: “The cursed blast of slavery has, like a pestilence, withered almost every moral bloom. I know not how any person can feel a union with such a monster, such a child of hell. I feel a burning hatred against it and look upon it as one of the most odious monsters that ever disgraced the earth.”

Most of us aren’t surprised that Christians led the fight against slavery in the early nineteenth century. We aren’t surprised that Christians still lead the fight against human trafficking today. What is surprising, however, is that Paul tells the slaves at Ephesus to submit to their masters instead of helping the slaves to throw off their chains. We clearly need to dig a little deeper into what life was like at Ephesus.

Paul does not condemn slavery outright for historical reasons. It is almost impossible for us to utter the word ‘slavery’ without thinking of the appalling transfer of three million black Africans across the Atlantic between 1492 and 1807. Roman slavery was very different. Most slaves were prisoners of war and had they not been enslaved on the battlefield they would almost certainly have been slaughtered instead. Whereas black slaves in the New World tended to be slaves for life, most Roman slaves could win their freedom within a decade. That doesn’t mean it was right, but it does mean it is wrong for us to read these verses without being aware of our own cultural baggage.

Paul does not condemn slavery outright for practical reasons. Historians cannot agree on the population of first-century Ephesus, but some estimate that its 250,000 free citizens were outnumbered by anything up to 400,000 slaves. Paul is smart enough to see that calling for their immediate emancipation would actually destroy them, since Roman slavery at least ensured that the very rich had a vested interest in providing for the very poor. The Roman orator Cicero lamented that conditions for most poor workers were worse than those of slaves, and that “the very wage they receive is a pledge of their slavery.” Friedrich Engels argued something similar during the Industrial Revolution: “The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly. The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labour only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence … Thus, the slave can have a better existence than the proletarian.” Paul was smart enough to see that legal freedom might not bring the Ephesian slaves true freedom at all.

Paul does not condemn slavery outright for theological reasons. He tells us throughout his letters that unbelievers are slaves to sin and that the Gospel frees a person from the inside out. He therefore helps the Ephesian slaves to see that they are freer than their masters if they work as willing slaves of Jesus Christ, and he helps the Ephesian masters to see that they will only know true freedom if they recognise that they have obligations towards their slaves because they are also slaves of Christ themselves. The nineteenth-century German thinker Goethe observed that “Nobody is more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free.” Paul refuses to short-change the Ephesian slaves with superficial liberty. He teaches them how to be truly free on the inside.

That’s why Christians shouldn’t be embarrassed by these verses. We should see them as instructions which are just as relevant to employers and employees today as they were two thousand years ago. They teach us how the Gospel transforms the daily grind of our working hours, no matter how difficult they may be. They tell us that the way we work from Monday to Friday is as much an act of worship as the way we sing on Sundays.

My good friend Nathan discovered the transforming message of these verses a few years ago. He worked for a small business which was in serious trouble. His boss responded by cutting everybody’s wages while expecting them to work harder than ever. Nathan applied for other jobs but was unsuccessful in all his interviews, and he began to feel as much like a slave as any of the original recipients of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It was a real act of sacrifice to Jesus that he guarded his heart towards his boss (6:5) and kept working hard for him even when he was not looking over his shoulder (6:6). It was an act of faith for him to work for Jesus as his true Employer (6:7), believing that Jesus would reward him fairly even if his boss didn’t (6:8).

Then one of Nathan’s work colleagues was diagnosed with cancer. Although he was not a Christian, he had been so impressed with Nathan’s attitude at work that he turned to him in his hour of crisis. Nathan was able to help him to prepare for death, first at the photocopying machine and then later at the hospital. When Nathan preached at his colleague’s funeral, he was able to tell the man’s widow and children how he led him to repentance and faith in Jesus before he died. Shortly afterwards, Nathan found a better job, but when he looks back on that year he says he would not have been freed early for any other job in the world. Because he learned to live as a free man, though chained to a desk he hated, he was able to lead a fellow slave to freedom through the Gospel.

Paul therefore taught slaves to experience true freedom whilst still slaves, but he also sowed the seeds for the eventual overthrow of slavery in years to come. When people saw the godly character of Christian slaves, they began to take Paul seriously when he argued that the slave trade was evil (1 Timothy 1:10), that slaves should gain their freedom if they could (1 Corinthians 7:21), that masters ought to view their slaves as equals (Ephesians 6:9 and Galatians 3:28), and that they ought to set them free at the proper time (Philemon 16). Although governments resisted his teaching for many years, the historian Rodney Stark argues that Paul’s teaching eventually won the day:

“Of all the world’s religions, including the three great monotheisms, only in Christianity did the idea develop that slavery was sinful and must be abolished. Although it has been fashionable to deny it, antislavery doctrines began to appear in Christian theology soon after the decline of Rome and were accompanied by the eventual disappearance of slavery in all but the fringes of Christian Europe. When Europeans subsequently instituted slavery in the New World, they did so over strenuous papal opposition, a fact that was conveniently ‘lost’ from history until recently. Finally, the abolition of New World slavery was initiated and achieved by Christian activists.” (Rodney Stark “For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery” (2003)).

To read more free chapters from the “Straight to the Heart” series of commentaries, please go to www.philmoorebooks.com

God’s Dirty Dishes

This month saw the publication of my new devotional commentary, “Straight to the Heart of Galatians to Colossians”. This blog is adapted from one of the chapters in the book.

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2)

I was converted to Christ because somebody told me Jesus had lived a perfect life so that I didn’t have to. Given what a mess I had made of my own life, this sounded like very good news. What wasn’t there to like about a message that Jesus had lived the sinless life I had failed to live and that he had died the death I deserved to die? Like Charles Wesley’s friend in the previous chapter, I felt I had been set free on the inside. 

The Christians who discipled me informed me that I needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Again, this sounded like very good news because I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a Christian unless I had God on the inside. Then came the small print. “The Holy Spirit only fills clean vessels,” I was told. I needed to sort out my life and show God I was serious about following him before I was ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That didn’t sound much like the Gospel which had saved me, and it is why I got so excited the first time I read the start of Galatians 3. Paul tells us that my friends were wrong, that we receive the Holy Spirit in exactly the same way that we are justified – as a gift of grace through faith in Jesus. Paul tells us that God fills dirty dishes just like you and me.

I had been told that being filled with the Holy Spirit was rather like trying to get into an exclusive nightclub. There was a strict dress code (I was told I needed to sort out my life first). There was a long queue (I was told I needed to do something called ‘tarrying’). The bouncers were unpredictable (I was told I shouldn’t be presumptuous). There was a VIP lounge (I was told that many of the gifts of the Spirit had died out with the apostles). This kind of thinking is why Paul calls the Galatians fools at the start of chapter 3. Legalism doesn’t just stop us from receiving God’s forgiveness; it also stops us from growing as Christians after we have been forgiven. Paul therefore shatters these four myths about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit in the opening verses of chapter 3.

Paul tells us that no dress code is required. My friends were well-meaning – they wanted to spur me on to deal with the many areas of sin in my life – but, by telling me that the Holy Spirit only fills clean vessels, they were inadvertently encouraging me to mix a little legalism with the Gospel. They were telling me that, now I had been forgiven, it was time for a little hard work if I wanted to capture God’s attention and leave the little leagues of Christianity behind. Paul begins these verses with a strong rebuke: “You foolish Galatians! … Does God give you his Spirit … because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” Having been forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus in spite of our sin, we need to continue in the same way we began. Knox Chamblin explains: “The Spirit does not take his pupils beyond the cross, but ever more deeply into it.”

I find the Old Testament example of Samson very helpful. While he is on the way to enter into a sinful marriage, God anoints him with the Holy Spirit. He falls out with his neighbours so badly that they tie him up and hand him over to the Philistines, but God anoints him with his Spirit again all the same. While he is sleeping with a prostitute, the Holy Spirit gives him supernatural strength to escape from the Philistines. Could there be a better proof that God’s grace means much more than forgiveness and the offer of a second chance?! It is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, and so it means the Father tells us in Jesus that “Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Yes, we can grieve away the Spirit as Samson eventually did, but we will receive him back again like Samson the moment we repent and ask God to fill us anew. God fills dirty vessels so that he can clean them from the inside out. It’s just as well. Dirty dishes are the only ones available.

Paul tells us that no waiting is required. I was told that I needed to ‘tarry’ or wait for the Holy Spirit because of Jesus’ command in Acts 1:4, but he gave this command to a specific group of people because the Day of Pentecost had not yet arrived. Paul does not tell the Galatians that they will receive the Holy Spirit if they wait prayerfully – prayer itself can become the object of legalism. “Are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” he asks them incredulously. All they need to do is simply believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit has now been given.

Paul tells us that no false humility is required. Presumption is expecting God to do things he hasn’t promised he will do. Faith is taking him at his word and believing that he will do as he has promised. Since Jesus has told us in John 7:38 that “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them,” we can never presume too much when it comes to being filled with the Holy Spirit. In case we struggle to believe this, Paul assures us in 3:14 that God “redeemed us in order that … by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” It is the very reason why he saved us.

Paul tells us that there is no VIP lounge. You need to hear this if you are tempted to believe that miracles and many other gifts of the Spirit belong to Paul and the other apostles but not to us. When Paul healed a lame man in one of their cities, he told the Galatians in Acts 14:15 that “We too are only men, human like you,” and he repeats this same message here in 3:5: “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles in you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” There are no VIP restrictions over who gets to perform miracles in Jesus’ name. They are simply part and parcel of what it means for us to have God on the inside.

So don’t be ashamed to admit that you are one of God’s dirty dishes and that you don’t deserve to be filled with the Holy Spirit, no matter how long or how obediently you wait. Simply believe that this promise is as much for you as it was for the apostle Paul and the Galatians. Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit because of all that Jesus has already done to make you perfectly clean.

To read more free chapters from the “Straight to the Heart” series of commentaries, please go to www.philmoorebooks.com

New STTH commentaries in store now!

I’m really excited to see that the latest two commentaries in my “Straight to the Heart” series hit bookshelves earlier this week.

Straight to the Heart of Galatians to Philippians explores the Gospel as Paul describes it in four of his most popular letters. I demonstrate how these truths were the secret to his own massively successful ministry across the Mediterranean, and I help the reader to apply those same truths to see similar breakthroughs in their own ministry.

Straight to the Heart of 1 Thessalonians to Titus explores five more of Paul’s letters and points out that they give us a front-row seat in Paul’s discipleship training school. They summarise the lessons which Paul taught to his new converts (the Thessalonians) and to his emerging leaders (Timothy and Titus). Paul knew how to take nobodies off the pagan scrapheap and how to turn the scrap metal of their lives into purest gold. Through these letters, he can still do the same with us.

You can read some sample chapters of the books by clicking here. If you are buying several copies for a church or seminary, then you can buy them from my website at £5.99 instead of the normal £8.99. My goal is to help you, as much as I can, to use these books to change the lives around you in the same way that Paul changed the lives of the Galatians, the Philippians or the Thessalonians.

Nicky Gumbel says: “I enjoy reading Phil Moore’s books. He writes about Jesus and the Christian life with perception, wisdom and wit.”  But don’t take his word for it or my word for it. Click here to see for yourself. I hope and pray that you enjoy the latest two books in this “Straight to the Heart” series of commentaries.

James Fraser: Everyday Person, Extraordinary God - part 5 of 5

James Fraser: Everyday Person, Extraordinary God - part 5 of 5

This is the fifth of five blogs which describe the secrets behind the astonishing spiritual breakthrough which God achieved in China through the unassuming missionary James Fraser. His work in southwest China sparked a massive move of God which has resulted in around a hundred million Chinese converts to Christ in the past forty years.

In the first four blogs, I began to describe the secrets of his ministry, gleaned from my studies of his journal, his letters and the accounts of his friends. In this final blog, I draw some closing conclusions. James Fraser was an everyday person, just like us, but he learned how to make his life count in the hands of his extraordinary God. So can we.

LESSON #9: COMMUNITIES GET CHANGED WHEN WE TRUST WEAK NEW LEADERS

When James Fraser arrived in China as a missionary in 1908, the British thought they had a healthy model for world mission. Missionaries would dress in Western attire, draw their converts out of their primitive culture, dress them like Westerners and organise them together in churches which were led by European missionaries. Fraser signalled his refusal to work their way early on when he started dressing like one of the Lisu. He grasped that the task of a missionary is not to make converts. It is to start a movement by discipling and releasing indigenous leaders. Had he not grasped this, he would have placed a ceiling on the move of God among the Lisu. If we are serious about seeing the nations of Europe reevangelised in our generation, then we must learn this final lesson from James Fraser.

Fraser taught his Lisu converts Lisu to gather all together every morning and every evening to worship God. He told them to build a place for worship and to build it in their own indigenous Lisu style. Then he appointed Lisu elders to lead the church in each village. He refused to become a bottleneck to the move of God. He made converts, appointed elders and then moved on, only returning a few weeks later to strengthen the elders he had appointed. He followed the model of Paul in Acts 13-14, and it was absolutely crucial for what happened next.

For a start, it meant that the Gospel movement gained its own momentum throughout Lisuland. Young converts with only a few days’ experience took the Gospel message to others, without any need to check with denominational leadership first.

Second, it meant that the move of God was not stunted by what missionaries refer to as ‘the choke effect’ – when missionaries become so busy discipling the converts they have made that they have no time or energy left to reach out to more unbelievers. Fraser taught the slightly more mature Lisu converts to disciple the even less mature Lisu converts! He did what Peter did in Acts 2:42-47 when he was presented with 3,000 new additions to his church of 120! As a result, Fraser was able to keep focused on releasing more and more new leaders. If we are to see any great success in growing our churches, then we need to learn to do the same.

Third, it meant that the new Lisu churches did not receive a penny of financial support from Europe and America. It would have been easy to give them foreign money, but Fraser was determined that the churches needed to learn to become self-supporting and self-governing so that they could become self-propagating without the need for constant oversight from European missionaries. He encouraged unpaid Lisu preachers to go out on evangelistic missions across the mountains, going wherever God led them and without central control, relying on God to meet their needs on the road and on Christian friends to meet the needs of the families they had left behind.

Fraser made the Lisu save up for their own gospels, hymnbooks, notebooks and pencils. He made them build their own church buildings and refused to pay for fuel for lighting, even when it meant that the churches held meetings in the dark. “What I want to see everywhere is the spirit of SACRIFICE for the Lord Who bought us with His blood – a desire to prove not what we can get but what we can give – and my heart burns as I write it.”He told his wealthy prayer supporters in a letter home that “I am more convinced than ever that it is a mistake to use foreign money on the mission field as we do.”

Fourth, and as a result of this, the Lisu church was able to survive and thrive after all foreign missionaries were deported from China by the communists in 1949. Whereas many of the European-led mission stations faltered and closed, the move of God among the Lisu carried on. Since the church’s main leaders and teachers were all Lisu, their work continued uninterrupted. In time, their churches were able to spread the Gospel throughout Communist China, planting underground churches according James Fraser’s model.

James Fraser died without warning in September 1938 from a sudden attack of cerebral malaria. He was aged only 52. He was buried on the mountain slopes which he had prayed for and won, but the story was only just beginning. There were no Christians amongst the Lisu in 1908. There were around 3,000 Christians in 1938. By 2010, 60,000 of the 70,000 Lisu in the area were Christians and there were around 200,000 Lisu Christians scattered all across the world. These Lisu Christians had gone as missionaries across the whole of China.

When people ask me how Europe can be revived in our generation, I answer in two words: James Fraser. He was an everyday person with an extraordinary God, and so are we. If we …

1) Take Jesus seriously

2) Love people

3) Keep focused on sharing the Gospel

4) Persevere through discouragement

5) Grasp our weakness

6) Pray

7) Take authority

8) Gamble everything on prayer

9) Trust weak new leaders to lead without us

… then anything can happen. At present, 150,000 Europeans die without Christ every week. 7.8 million Europeans die without Christ every year. But God is raising up men and women like James Fraser. Will you be one of them?

James Fraser: Everyday Person, Extraordinary God - part 4 of 5

This is the fourth of five blogs which describe the secrets behind the astonishing spiritual breakthrough which God achieved in China through the unassuming missionary James Fraser. His work in southwest China sparked a massive move of God which has resulted in around a hundred million Chinese converts to Christ in the past forty years.

In the first three blogs, I began to describe the secrets of his ministry, gleaned from my studies of his journal, his letters and the accounts of his friends. James Fraser was an everyday person, just like us, but he learned how to make his life count in the hands of his extraordinary God. So can we.

LESSON #7: COMMUNITIES GET CHANGED WHEN WE TAKE AUTHORITY

When thousands of Lisu people started turning to Christ, the spiritual struggle got harder, not easier. James Fraser found that threats, setbacks, discouragements and persecution multiplied. At first, he was surprised by the intensity of the conflict, but he learned that he needed to take authority over the demons of the Lisu mountain ranges based on the Gospel he was proclaiming. “I went out of the city to a hidden gully on the hill-side, one of my prayer-haunts, and there voiced my determined resistance to Satan in the matter. I claimed deliverance on the ground of my Redeemer’s victory on the Cross. I even shouted my resistance to Satan and all his thoughts. The obsession collapsed then and there, like a pack of cards, to return no more. James 4:7 is still in the Bible. Our Lord cried, we are told ‘with a loud voice’ at the grave of Lazarus. He cried ‘with a loud voice’ from the Cross. In times of conflict I still find deliverance through repeating Scripture out loud, appropriate Scripture, brought to my mind through the Holy Spirit. It is like crashing through opposition. ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’”

Fraser was a 20th-century Englishman, so he struggled to believe that the spirit-gods worshipped by the Lisu were demons rather than simply childish superstition. We find it just as difficult to see the demons who are at work behind the secular idols of Western culture. But Fraser learned that “We need different truths at different times. ‘Look to the Lord,’ some will say. ‘Resist the devil,’ is also Scripture (James 4:7). And I found it worked! That cloud of depression dispersed …  The Lord Himself resisted the Devil vocally; ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’ I, in humble dependence on Him, did the same. I talked to Satan at that time, using the promises of Scripture as weapons. And they worked. Right then, the terrible oppression began to pass away. One had to learn, gradually, how to use the new-found weapon of resistance. I had so much to learn!”

Fraser certainly did learn. He found that resistance to the Devil and his demons in prayer was an essential aspect of the breakthrough amongst the Lisu. He wrote in his journal: “Seem distinctly led to fight against ‘principalities and powers’ for Middle Village.” He told his friends back in England that “I like to read passages of Scripture, such as 1 John 3:8 or Revelation 12:11 in prayer, as direct weapons against Satan.”

LESSON #8: COMMUNITIES GET CHANGED WHEN WE GAMBLE EVERYTHING ON PRAYER

However much he resisted the Devil and his demons in prayer, James Fraser spent even more time in prayer to God the Father that he would give the Lisu people to his Son. He believed that Jesus had bought the Lisu with his blood and had asked the Father for their salvation (Psalm 2:8). Fraser was merely adding his own prayers to this request in Jesus’ name.

Fraser recruited a small band of prayer supporters back in England who were willing to partner intensely with him in his work amongst the Lisu. He sent them long letters describing each village, mapping it out and describing key individuals in incredible detail so that they later told him they felt they knew the Lisu villages better than they knew the streets of their own town. He told them that “I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home … Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees. What I covet more than anything else is earnest believing prayer.”

Fraser became convinced that only prayer could result in mass salvation amongst the Lisu. “We cannot fret people into the Kingdom of Heaven” “I never, now, try to persuade the Lisu to become Christians. I find that they are quite unstable and unsatisfactory unless they ‘turn’ with all their heart.”

He also became convinced that only prayer could result in the genuine discipleship of the Lisu who were converted. When heavy snowfall prevented him from visiting his converts in the mountain villages for eight months of the year, he decided to spend the time he would have spent travelling back and forth praying for them instead. The results of his experiment were astounding. The converts in the mountain villages grew much faster than his converts in the lowlands despite the fact that he was with them all year round. “If I were to think after the manner of men, I should be anxious about my Lisu converts – afraid of their falling back into demon worship. But God is enabling me to cast all my care upon Him. I am not anxious, not nervous. If I hugged my care to myself instead of casting it upon Him, I should never have persevered in the work so long – perhaps never even have started it. But if it has been begun in Him, it must be continued in Him.”He added: “If two things stand out clearly in my mind, they are firstly how ‘foolish’ and ‘weak’ our new converts are, and secondly that God has really chosen them … If you could come out here and see how useless mere preaching and persuasion is among these people, you would understand this better. One feels so helpless in face of their ignorance and need!”

Fraser became convinced that prayer was not an add-on to the work of changing a community for Christ. It was everything, the difference between great success and abject failure. “I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel that it would be truer to give prayer the first, second and third place, and teaching the fourth.” Most of the British in China were traders, so he reflected that “I feel like a businessman who perceives that a certain line of goods pays better than any other in his store, and who purposes making it his chief investment; who, in fact, sees an inexhaustible supply and an almost unlimited demand for a profitable article and intends to go in for it more than anything else. The DEMAND is the lost state of these tens of thousands of Lisu and Kachin – their ignorance, their superstitions, their sinfulness; their bodies, their minds, their soul; the SUPPLY is the grace of God to meet his need – to be brought down to them by the persevering prayers of a considerable company of God’s people. All I want to do is, as a kind of middleman, to bring the supply and the demand together.”

Do you love the community where you live? Do you long for it to be transformed by the power of God? Are you as desperate for it to happen as James Fraser was in Lisuland? If you are, then you have the same authority over the Devil and his demons as he did. You have the same access to God the Father in prayer as he did.

If you gamble everything on prayer and devote your waking hours to crying out to God for a massive revival, then you will discover the same God at work in you as was at work in James Fraser in Lisuland. If you are an everyday person then the Lord is still your extraordinary God.

This is part four of a five-part series of blogs about the life of James Fraser. I will post the final blog in a few days’ time.