Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Straying and Backsliding

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance
of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold     fast the confession of our hope
without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
[Hebrews 10:22-25]

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of
joint but rather be healed.
[hebrews 12:13-14]

I want to talk today about straying and backsliding. If you are going through this right now I hope that what I say will encourage you.

We all know that as Christians it's important to stay as close to God as possible, to spend time  with him every day  praying and reading the bible, confessing  sin as soon as we are aware of it so that those lines of communication between god and us are able to remain open. if we are not careful we will find ourselves straying. We are still Christians, we may still go to church sometimes but our relationship with god is suffering because we are no longer making time for God in our day. Our love for god grows cold and the enemy will take advantage of the situation and tempt us to sin. since we aren't close to god we find it much harder to resist that temptation and we may fall into sin, which widens the gap if it's not confessed and dealt with. If a person continues in this way there is a real danger of their heart becoming so cold and their love for god so dead that they will willingly give up their faith and stop being Christians anymore.

Picture this another way. In one of the houses I lived in we had a big electric heater in the loungeroom. Winters are always cold in our area so we would stay in the loungeroom where the heater was so we could keep warm. Sometimes i would stand right in front of the heater and let the warm air flow around me. if i stepped away I would still feel some warmth from the heater but I would also feel the cold air. The further i moved away the more cold air I would feel. If I went into another room and closed the door I wouldn't feel any warmth from the heter at all.  In the same way, if we stay away from God we will find the fire in our heart going out.

 I'm  sure you can see that is something to be avoided. There are other reasons why people backslide, I turned away from my faith for a short time when my grandmother died; some people turn away because they have been hurt by people in the Church. some people even stray or backslide because they are so busy with job or family commitments. There are lots of reasons why a person might stray or backslide.

 If you find yourself in this situation though, be encouraged. It is not too late to come back to God, he is waiting for you. In fact he will try to get your attention and do whatever he needs to do to bring you back. He gives us the choice of whether we will come back or not but he is not willing that any should perish but that all should receive eternal life.

So, how can you come back? here are a few guidelines that might help you.

1. Spend some time in prayer and confess your sins to god. Talk to him about the reasons why you strayed or backslid and tell him you want to  come back and have a close relationship with God again. The bible says:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
[James 4:8a]

2. recommit your life to God, give the controls of your life back to god and ask for his forgiveness and guidance.
3. make time for God every day, no matter how busy you are or what is happening. The length of time we spend with god each day doesn't matter, in this case quality is better than quantity. God knows we are busy but he wants to come first in our lives. Spending time with god every day helps us to stay close to him and helps us to grow in our faith. 
4. Ask god to bring to your mind any sin that you haven't repented of yet. As soon as we know we have sinned we need to repent quickly so our hearts don't become hardened.
5. If you have a Christian friend that you trust, talk to them about your straying from God and your return to him. That person can pray for you and encourage you. We were never meant to walk through our Christian life on our own, god knows that we need each other and he will, if we ask him, bring Christian people into our lives to pray with us and encourage us, just as we  can do for them. As the bible says:
 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
[hebrews 10:24-25]

One of the most popular parables of Jesus is the parable of the prodigal son
 Let's read it together then i have one or two points to make about it.

And he said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked
what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe
and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have
served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours
came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all
that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

"1. The son would not have decided at the drop of a hat to ask his father for his share of the inheritance. Even in these days it's not nice to ask our parents for our share of what they would leave us in their will before they are dead, in those days it was a much bigger thing, it just wasn't done. If he had enjoyed a close relationship with his father he wouldn't even have contemplated such a thing. In the same way a person doesn't just decide to stop being a Christian, it happens over time as they drift away from God and their hearts are hardened.
2. The father could have said no and refused to give the son what he wanted, but he gave him the choice to do what he wanted. god gives us freedom of choice too, but our choices have consequences like the son's choices did.
3. . The father ran to meet the son who returned. god won't physically run and embrace a returning child but he will certainly welcome them back into the family and it will be party time in heaven if one who has backslidden comes back, just as it is party time in heaven when anyone gives their life to him.
4. We must be careful not to treat a returning prodigal  like the elder brother treated the son who returned. We must be careful not to judge the prodigal or condemn them, but welcome them back into the family.

I hope that i have said something to encourage you. Remember that God loves you and he wants you to draw near to him.
Questions to ponder:
These are just questions to ponder, you don't have to answer them but if you do it's just between you and god.
1. Has there been a time in your life that you strayed or backslid from God?
2. If yes, then what do you think was the reason why you strayed or backslid?
3. What do you think you could have done differently to prevent yourself from straying/backsliding?
4. ?Why do you think the elder brother  in the parable was so angry?
5. how do you think god wants us to treat those who have come back to him after straying/backsliding?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

devotional on loneliness

 Psalm 68:6
God places lonely people in families. He leads prisoners out of prison into productive lives,but rebellious people must live in an unproductive land.

\Are you a lonely person? Do you think that there aren't many people in your life who care about you? Do you feel alone in a crowd? There are many of us who can relate. i have already talked about the difficulties of my teenage years and thinking that noone loved me even though I was wrong to think that way. I was among family and among other good people but I felt isolated and yes, I felt very lonely.

If you are feeling lonely then i have three thoughts i want to share with you.
1. God is always with you he will never leave or forsake you.
God promised this in his word.:
for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
[Hebrews 13:5b]
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

[Matthew 28:20 B]

If we feel lonely all we need to do is whisper a prayer to him. He is there with us; not physically but very present anyway. . the thing that first attracted me to Jesus was that I was told he would be my very best friend, and he has been. No matter what I've done or where I've been he has always been with me just as he promised. . if he did it for me he will do it for you too so take heart and whisper a prayer and you will see what a wonderful friend he can be.
2. God will, if you ask him, bring people around you; he will give you friends who will understand you and be able to help you.
The bible says that
God places lonely people in families.
[Psalm 68:6]
God brought some wonderful people into my life, especially my two best friends. We became a family and we picked up other family members over the years. God has also brought improvements in my relationship with what I call my natural family. We aren't as close as some families are but we are on the way. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if god did it for me he will do it for you, you just need to ask him.

3. if you are a Christian then you are part of the biggest family ever! The bible says:
 Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him,
[Ephesians 1:5 NCV]

How can we be part of God's family? Well he adopted us. God and his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit were like a family but God decided to adopt us into his family through what Jesus did for us on the cross. That doesn't make us God, just like being adopted into a natural family doesn't give us the genetic make-up of the adoptive parents, but it does make us part of the biggest family ever. Every Christian in the world is our brother or sister. If you are feeling lonely ask God to bring some Christian brothers and sisters into your life.

I hope my words have given comfort and maybe some food for thought for anyone who is feeling lonely out there. if you have any questions or comments you can email me at
I don't know all the answers though, of course.

lord I thank you that you are always with me, you never leave me. I pray for anyone reading this who is dealig with loneliness or feeling unwanted. Pleas assure that person that you do love them and, if they are one of your children, that you will never leave or forsake them. Thank you lord for all you do for us every single day. I pray in jesus' name, amen.
may God bless you.