Burnout… A survival Guide

July 15, 2018

Burnout is the subject for today…

 

This will be one of the hardest message I have ever shared… I might as well be preaching into a mirror. As you might know, I work in a full time secular job, and also minister here at Ignite. Those who know me know I am very busy, get very tired and have been sick because my body is starting to collapse, so having been close to burn out myself, and been through it with my wife Fiona, I want to share what could be a pivotal message for many of us here.

 

First, you must understand that work, especially serving the Lord, is good. God ordains work , and there is a tremendous satisfaction that comes from work… Paul writes,

 

Colossians 1:29 (ESV Strong's)

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

 

However, what God is showing me is that there must be a balance, and that nobly falling on your sword in the name of labour and serving is not God’s will for your life at all.

 

I’m not trying to make those who are serving quit, but I want to make sure we are able to serve the Lord and are  change the world long into the future. I want us to grow old in church together, serving with joy, but to do that, we need to make some wise and balanced decisions…

 

Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV Strong's)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

 

I’ve always been a happily busy person, but with all that is happening now at this time of year, God has spoken to me about something many of us face right now… burnout!  I am preaching this message to myself as much as any of you, but in the middle of one of the busiest years I can remember, I think we all need to stop and think about what we are doing.

 

WHAT CAUSES BURNOUT?

 

In 1965, a U.S. Senate subcommittee predicted that as a result of increasing labor productivity from automation and the computer revolution -- Americans would be working only about 20 hours a week by the year 2000, while taking seven weeks or more of vacation a year.

 

What went wrong? They did not predict our insatiable desire for more stuff!   Now we work longer and harder than ever, under more stress and pressure. We have actually increased our workload and our stress load, because we want more and more, and we forsake those we love and things that are important to us to achieve what ultimately amounts to very little.

 

In 2014 Japan passed a law to limit karoshi, which is death by overwork, usually from stroke, heart attacks or suicide. They warn one in 5 Japanese workers are at risk of karoshi.

 

Luke 12:15 (ESV Strong's)

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

 

WHAT DOES BURNOUT FEEL LIKE?

 

The very expression seems to make us sigh, doesn’t it? In this fast-paced, overworked world, most of us have felt the tiring numbness of burnout. How should a believer in Christ respond to these feelings?

 

According to Psychology Today, Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. It never happens suddenly, but creeps up over prolonged time in chronic stress.

 

For me, burnout leads to feelings of being overwhelmed by everything, and then my body collapses and I get tied, then sick. In typical fashion, I soldier on as do many of us driven high achievers, but the fact is valiant effort and determination might see you through a current crisis, but such efforts will kill you over the long term.

 

Burnout is the constant companion of high achievers. I love being busy and achieving goals, but I am asking the Lord for a way to do this without going through burnout.

 

And here’s the thing… usually the length of time it takes you to slide into burnout is the same length of time it takes to recover.

 

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL- WHAT BURNOUT DEPENDS ON

 

Most of us are not lazy… we want to work, and feel satisfaction when we work hard. We want to achieve goals, and be productive members of society. We want to bless our families, partners, friends and church. We want to serve God and make a lasting impact for the Lord on those around us. None of this is bad, it is all good, and God inspired. However, it comes down to balance.

 

As the pace picks up, as we get tired and we press on, over time we begin to grind down, and if this is left unchecked, we will slowly slide into burnout as feelings of overwhelm and helplessness grow and eventually swamp us. So what things contribute to this process?

 

1.      YOUR TREASURE

 

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

What is your treasure? I mean, what is really important to you? What do you strive for, live for, long for? If you long for something with all your heart and go for it, then this drive can start the burnout process. This especially becomes dangerous when we focus so exclusively on our goal that we neglect other things, often more important things like relationships and the Lord.

 

Jesus urges us to treasure what is really important in eternity, not just here on earth.  Money, cars, prestige, fame, comfort, even a sense of satisfaction, they all will pass away. No one complains on their death bed that they should have spent more time at work! We need to treasure only that which is eternal… God, His Word and relationships, the souls of men and women.

 

How apt are Christ’s words…

Matthew 16:26 (ESV Strong's)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

 

2.      YOUR PERSONALITY

 

Burnout is heightened of course by certain personalities. Alpha males like me, choleric, driven, focussed, task orientated, high achieving people are classics for burnout. Laid back, cruisy, phlegmatic people almost always never suffer burnout.

 

Psalms 139:16 (ESV Strong's)

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

 

If you are that sort of person, and most of my team here at Ignite are, then that’s brilliant! Driven, dedicated people are the people that change the world, achieve great things and bless the Church. It is not a question of changing who you are to avoid burnout, but of balancing your drive and energy with the right kind of diffuser. Driven people exist in a self made pressure cooker, and need a release valve or two!

 

3.      THE TYRANNY OF URGENCY

 

If you have a treasure, a goal, even a good one, and if you have the personality to push on and achieve it, what’s the next step towards burnout?

 

Goal setting necessarily involve time frames, which make us achieve results in a given time. If you do not set a time frame, you generally achieve very little. But if you do set a time frame, you place pressure on yourself. I call this the tyranny of urgency.

 

In work, in ministry, in life, everyone wants everything done right now every time. We live for instant gratification today, from instant noodles, to instant purchases on the Internet.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV Strong's)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 

We’ve made time our enemy instead of our friend, because we make our deadlines dead weights upon our lives.  What’s more, we are so afflicted by what is urgent, we tend to do this before we do what’s important! Somehow we need to balance up urgency with importance, so that everything is done in its own time, not just the seemingly urgent things.

 

4.      THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

 

As a pastor I have many pressures on my life.  I do also as a business professional, a father and an itinerant ministry. Prioritising what is really important is key, because if you constantly try to solve complaints, you drive yourself to burnout.

 

The squeaky wheel gets the oil.. the more people complain, the more they get what they want… generally.  It’s sad but true!

 

Burnout is often hastened by people complaining, and they burrow into your brain like borers. You can have 10 great things said to you and one complaint, and who do you listen to? That’s right, the negative! As you approach burnout, the squeaky wheels can hasten the slide.

 

Even God felt worn down by the complainers…

 

Numbers 11:1 (ESV Strong's)

And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.

 

Burnout often involves complainers who constantly peck at you, wearing you down. It also involves…

 

5.      CRISIS TO CRISIS THINKING

 

One of the most common features of burnout is that you live from crisis to crisis. You find yourself not doing what you want, not doing what inspires you and not doing what you know is important, you just seem to muddle by putting out flames and playing catch-up. Some people live in a perpetual soap opera, drama after drama!

 

Song of Songs 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes

that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

 

These little foxes, these constant crises, often are the ones that ruin the vine. They demand attention, they demand it immediately, and in the end solving those problems does not lead to any gain at all. Part of burnout is constantly dealing with one little crisis after another, and it wears you down and sets you up for eventual collapse!

 

So if you are feeling overwhelmed and sliding into burnout, let’s look at how we can arrest this slide…

 

LEARN TO READ THE SIGNS

 

Matthew 16:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

 

Avoiding burnout is partially about reading the signs, in your life and in the lives of others. I know for myself, when I am constantly exhausted, unable to do the things I long to do, when I am snappy or irritable, and when I get constantly sick with flu, etc. I know I am approaching burnout.

 

I also have a gift I received one time in Africa, the gift that keeps on giving, and when I get run down, m friend Malaria pays me a visit. We can read the signs in realestate, financial markets, weather and politics, but we need to read the signs about burnout and take action to limit them sooner.

HOW TO OVERCOME BURNOUT

 

God loves it when you serve Him! When you say, “Lord, I’m available… here am I Lord, use me!” But while it is God’s will that you should be a servant, and while serving the Lord is a part of living the Christian life, it is not God’s will for you to burn yourself out serving.

 

Mark 10:43-45 (ESV Strong's)

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Selfless serving is a part of the lives of great Christian leaders. I try to serve you selflessly here at Ignite, as does our leadership. However, even selfless serving requires safeguards to be put in place, to protect you and preserve the longevity of what you are doing.

 

Remember, if you burnout it generally takes as long to recover as it does to slide into it, sometimes years. So we want to serve and become great in the Kingdom of God, we also need to balance this with the right safeguards to protect us. if you are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out right now, how can you start recovering? What are the steps to recovery from burnout (and you need to put these in place before you reach full burnout… don’t wait until you’ve collapsed!)

 

1.      SURRENDER TO HIM

 

You may think surrender means to throw up your hands and cry, “I give up!” But that is not what we must do. Rather, we should surrender everything we have to the Lord. All of our desires, all our hopes, all our dreams, everything.  His hands are large enough to hold anything we need Him to handle, and you can trust Him.

 

Proverbs 16:3 (ESV Strong's)

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

 

The first step to overcoming burnout is to surrendering to the Lord… stop constantly trying to solve it yourself! Give everything, every bit, every dream. Give it all to Him, surrender to Him and give Him control of your life, and your future!

 

2.      HAND OVER YOUR BURDEN

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Burnout is burden, it’s carrying burdens that you cannot bear forever. If you are experiencing overwhelm, if you are feeling burnt out, then the Lord is saying to you now, “Hand over the burden.”

 

Some of you here are heavy laden. Some of you here are struggling, overwhelmed, bent in two. When you carry the load yourself you will find that you move towards burnout. Handing the burden to the Lord is a constant but necessary battle.

 

A yoke is how oxen are hitched to drag a great load. If an ox has an ill fitting yoke, he cannot drag a great load, because it pinches and rubs and hurts. Jesus says hand over your burden, but He does not promise a burden free life. What He does promise is a burden that fits, one that doesn’t rub and hurt and one that enables you to move great loads with effort but without pain.

 

3.      COMPARTMENTALISE

 

One great way of defusing burnout is to compartmentalise, or treat various aspects of your life as completely separated.  In life things tend to affect other things, and so burnout can be hastened when this cross pollination occurs. For example, a conflict at Work plays on your mind and affects your ministry and home life.

 

Matthew 6:34 (ESV Strong's)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

Jesus tells us that each day has enough trouble, so we should not be piling these troubles up layer upon layer until we collapse. Managing your time properly is essential. We can waste so much time Worrying about things we are powerless to change, and like a rocking horse, worry keeps your mind occupied but you don’t go anywhere!

 

Part of the training executives are given to combat burnout is compartmentalising, so that when they come home they leave the day’s crises at work. Ideally, your home life and your quiet time should be unaffected by your work or ministry. Easy to say, but hard to do!

 

4.      RECOGNISE AND BALANCE THE SEASONS

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

 

In every life, work, ministry, there are times and seasons. They’re not bad or good necessarily. They are just times when things have to get done. As you serve, there are seasons to press in, go hard and serve selflessly. But you must balance these times with other seasons, seasons of rest, seasons of relaxation, seasons of trust and time with Jesus.

 

5.      PROGRAM BREAKS

 

Part of recognising the seasons is to not feel guilty when you are in a season of rest. High achievers have trouble resting, and if they do they feel guilty that they are not working! Fiona and I have saved hard and bought a caravan, for the express purpose of making me take time off. And I struggle to do this, part of which is I feel guilty that I am not working! Even Jesus suggested breaks…

 

Mark 6:31 (ESV Strong's)

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

 

The pressure of ministry, the pressure of life, all of these mount up over time and we need, in fact even Jesus needed, rest… come ye apart, or come ye apart, if you don’t you will! Jesus took time to be alone, away from the crowds and the demands of ministry.

 

Robert Murray McCheyne was a great Scottish preacher and pastor in the 1840s, and he selflessly serve the Lord, but died at the age of only 29. On his deathbed he said, “The Lord gave me a horse to ride and a message to deliver. Alas, I have killed the horse and cannot deliver the message.”

 

So take wise breaks, and stop yourself feeling guilty about them, because without them you will kill the horse, and ultimately fail in your mission in life.

 

6.      DRAW NEAR TO FRIENDS

 

In times of business and burnout, friends can be a great encouragement. Each of our leaders at Ignite I consider to be a friend, and sometimes just hanging out with friends can revive your spirit and give you strength and courage for the future.

 

Proverbs 17:17 (ESV Strong's)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

 

I cannot tell you how often just hanging out with good friends warms the spirit when it is flagging and struggling. That’s why we have church… because we are better together, one body, one family! True friends are there to support you when you need them, so find a few and open up to them.

 

 

7.      PRIORITISE

 

I mentioned before that we often get deflected from doing what is really important long term by the urgent, the complainers or the current crisis. So one key skill you can develop to combat burnout is to learn to prioritise properly.

 

To do this you need to judge the value of what is demanding attention. Is it important, or just demanding? Is it eternal, or just temporal? Is it the Lord, or just pressure? Jesus said,

 

Mark 8:36 (ESV Strong's)

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

 

You can seemingly have everything, yet lose what is important in the long run. How many successful businessmen lose their families? How many successful ministries lose their relationships?

 

So prioritising is essential to avoid the pressures that lead to burnout. And if I know that something is not really important in the long run, I can breathe easy and relax instead of stressing! Why not sit and write a list of what is really important in the long run, then decide what time resources you want to devote to each of those items. Don’t win the world and lose your soul!

 

I suggest this… 

  1. God, and your relationship with Him, especially quiet times,
  2. Family, make spending time with them a priority and do something special
  3. Work, you need to commit at least some time to earning money
  4. Church, be a part of reaching the world for Jesus, because it is eternal
  5. Friends, make sure you program time to laugh and love friends. Go to a movie, watch a footy match, have lunch, dinner, or coffee.

 

You need to take time to ask the Lord what you should do, or not do. Jesus Himself said this…

 

John 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

 

8.      BE SELECTIVE… THE POWER OF NO!

 

Every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else, so be brave enough to say no to things that might seem urgent but ultimately have no real value.  Jesus said,

 

Matthew 5:37 (ESV Strong's)

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

 

So think long and hard before you say yes or no. Discuss it with friends, gain loads of advice because

 

Proverbs 15:22 (ESV Strong's)

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

 

9.      TURN OFF THE SMART DEVICE

 

We all have them, and these days they control our lives. Turn the darn thing off. You might think you cannot last a minute or an hour without checking emails, messages, instant messages or Facebook, but people survived quite well for Millenia without these modern conveniences.

 

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

 

Is checking your email or messages constantly the best use of time? Stop doing it, and seek God not man! Take time off, and turn off.

 

STOP, REVIVE, SURVIVE

 

If you feel yourself sliding towards burnout, the number one thing to do is stop, reevaluate your life and the direction it is going, read the signs and start making wise changes to help you survive without burning out. This slogan is used about traveling long distances on the road, and it is true about traveling long distances in your life and ministry. The Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so pace yourself wisely.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV Strong's)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

Some of us here are feeling it right now, mid year, overworked, stressed and approaching burnout. Right now I confess that I am weak, tired and often sick. Yet I know in the midst of all this, He is strong in me when I am weak.

 

This morning I sense that many of us need to be refreshed. It might be that work pressures are too great. Maybe home life is overwhelming, kids and partners and bills and pressures. Maybe even Church, as good and as valuable as serving the Lord might be, maybe you are still feeling burnt out.

 

I put on my leadership hat and say, come on everybody, let’s serve and trust and do great things for God. But I change to my pastor’s hat, and I cannot let you destroy yourself burning out serving in this place. I want to Ignite you and have you burn bright for Jesus, but not have you burn out to ashes,

 

Acts 3:19-20 (ESV Strong's)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

 

 It’s time for us to be refreshed, it’s time for us to apply all the principles I have just shared with you. It’s time for us to balance our lives and our schedules, and most of all it’s time to wait upon the Lord.

 

Isaiah 40:29-31 (ESV Strong's)

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

 

If you are feeling tired, overwhelmed or burnt out today, I am going to ask you to stand and pray with me.

 

Isaiah 55:1 (ESV Strong's)

 “Come, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

 

00:0000:00

Mirror 5- The Body of Christ

July 11, 2018

We have been asking the question, “When you look in the mirror, what do you see?” You should see yourself as valuable, as precious to God, and we discovered that you should see yourself as royalty, a child of the King, and as an ambassador, His representative to this troubled and dying world.

 

Today I want to ask the question, do you see yourself as part of the body of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (ESV Strong's)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

 

EVERYONE WANTS A BEAUTIFUL BODY

 

Standing in front of a mirror and looking at your body may have been replaced to a large degree by the selfie, but we all look in the mirror sometime and examine our bodies.

 

These days, it seems like everyone wants a beautiful body. Sadly I stand before you as an example of a not so beautiful body. I have a t shirt that says, “Exercise… I thought you said extra fries!”  I like food a lot, I don’t like exercise, and so this is the inevitable result, especially when you add in age!  My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and apparently it needed a front porch, so I am working on that!

 

Paul in this passage is looking at the human body as an illustration of Christ and His Church.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12 (ESV Strong's)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

 

When we come to Jesus we are all baptised into this one body. We are all royalty, and we are all ambassadors, but as believers we are all also part of His body the church, baptised into His Spirit, and given His Spirit to drink it says in verse 12.    The Greek for drink is the word potizo, which means to give a drink to someone, but also means to irrigate or saturate.

 

When you come to Christ you are covered over with His Spirit, immersed, irrigated, saturated in His Spirit. You don’t dabble, you don’t stick your toe in, you dive in, and so your sin is covered over, and if you hand over control to the Lord every aspect of your life, it is surrounded by His loving Spirit.

 

So when you come to Christ, you become part of His family, but also an essential part of His beautiful body. He gives every one of us gifts, unique and special gifts so that we can bless and build up the body.

 

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

 

When we come to Jesus, we receive salvation, we are adopted into His royal family, and we also are given spiritual gifts, not to build ourselves up and promote our own desires, but to serve each other and build up the body. We explore this in 201, so you should all make sure you catch that next time.

 

1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV Strong's)

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

Let’s make this important point, your gifts and your behaviour are not to promote you or have you get your own way, they are to bless others. If you think you have a gift and it offends or upsets others, either you are wrong about the gift, or you are misusing it.

 

1 Corinthians 12 and 14 contain the great teachings on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially tongues and prophecy. Those chapters were written as a rebuke to the Corinthians, because they were misusing the gifts to promote their own way of doing things. These gifts have frequently divided and even destroyed churches instead of building them up, because people have said, “Its my gift, I’m using it and if it offends you, tough luck!”

 

Let me tell you that this is not God, and it’s not His body in action. This passage clearly teaches that the gifts are to build others up, and this attitude never builds others up. Why do you think Paul talked about spiritual gifts, but right in the middle wrote the great chapter of love, 1 Corinthians 13.

 

If you have a spiritual gift, position or opinion and you value that gift more than you value others, this is not love, and we will have disunity.

 

BODY PARTS… A CHURCH AUTOPSY

 

The Church is the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head. That means all of us are part of His body… the church.  Just as the various parts of your body are different, yet they are still part of your body, so the various parts of the Lord’s body are different, but still connected.

 

This is why this concept of being a Christian but not going to Church is not Biblical… we were made to function together, and independent spirits pretty much never grow in their faith or ministries. If you chopped off a foot, or poked out an eye, in a very short time the flesh starts to die. It is not helpful to the rest of the body when detached, and if left long enough it will die. That’s why we need the church, and you and I need to be part of His body, even though the body seems imperfect at times!

 

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

 

So what can we draw from this illustration to speak to us today?

 

1.      EVERY BODY PART IS NECESSARY

 

I was always told that the appendix has no purpose, and it gets inflamed and has to be removed. However we now know that the appendix protects good bacteria in the gut, plays a role in the immune system and helps clean out the gut. Every part of the body is necessary.

 

And the same applies to the Lord’s body, the church. Each and every one of you brings something special and unique to the body of Christ. You may not think you have anything to offer, but God created you and you are His child and His Spirit lives in you. Remember…

 

Psalms 139:14 (ESV Strong's)

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

You have something to contribute to the family of God here at Ignite. I praise God that we have the best team here! Leadership, worship, admin, food, serving, kids, car parking, I wouldn’t swap any of you!  Every part of the body wants to feel necessary, so if you long to serve the Lord somehow, do 201 and let us support your ministry. Every one of us is necessary!

 

 

2.      EVERY BODY PART HAS AN ESSENTIAL FUNCTION

 

We are all different, and frankly sometimes we do not appreciate the differences in each other.  A friend use to say, “Why is it that every body of Christ has to have an armpit?” We sometimes cannot see the value in what another person does, but God sees it!

 

1 Corinthians 12:15-17 (ESV Strong's)

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?

 

As humans, we are so quick to judge others for what they do and don’t do, and we are also often quick to project our gifting onto them. If we have a spiritual gift of prayer, we think everyone should pray as much as we do. If evangelism, we think everyone should talk to everyone about Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 12:21 (ESV Strong's)

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

 

We need each other, yet as sinful mankind we often overlook the seemingly insignificant people, and we chase after the pastor, the worship leader and all those with flashy jobs. Listen, we are all significant, and we all bring an essential function to the table. If you come to Ignite we are richer, but if you leave Ignite, this church is poorer, because what you do matters!

 

Part of my leadership here at Ignite is that I lean on the gifts of my team. I do not make any decisions by myself, I lean on my team, acknowledging that they are different to me, but complimentary.

 

So we need to not envy each other, or value some more than others, but recognise each of us has an essential function in this place, and my calling as pastor is to release you to be all you can be in God, without pressure or forcing a square peg into a round hole. We do 201 so that people can serve where they are gifted. If you’re not ready to serve here, then it’s ok, because I’m not going to force you to do anything, but if you want to make a difference in the world, we can help you.

 

 

3.      EVERY BODY PART IS ARRANGED AS GOD WILLS

 

1 Corinthians 12:18 (ESV Strong's)

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

 

Most of you do not have a foot growing out of your head, or an ear sticking out of your stomach. God arranges our bodies in a way that serves His purpose and makes sense.

 

You are not here by accident. This church is not just a way to fill in Sunday morning and make you feel like you’ve fulfilled your duty and gone to Church. No, we are a body, and we love that you are here, and we believe that God has set you here for His purpose in your life!

 

The Greek word for arranged in this passage is tithemi, which is derived from a word meaning laying down in a passive posture. So the meaning of this Scripture is that God lays out where you should function in the body… you don’t tell Him where you want to be, He places you where He knows you will thrive and become a functioning part of His body.

 

Am I saying you need to stay where you’re put and can never move? No, because God has greatness for you, so always aspire to what He has for you. But it means that you can trust God for Him to move you into a God given, Holy Spirit inspired destiny that will blow your mind!

 

 

4.      EVERY BODY PART IS DIFFERENT, YET THEY ALL FIT TOGETHER

 

Sometimes in church we are envious of someone else, their talents or position, or sometimes we look down on others who don’t seem as important as we think we are. Some prefer quiet roles like praying or serving, while others prefer up front roles like preaching, singing or leadership. No one role in Ignite is better or worse, greater or lesser… we are in the same team, just in different positions.

 

In 1 Corinthians 3 it talks about the rewards at the judgement seat of Christ…

 

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (ESV Strong's)

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 

I suspect that some high flying preachers and Christian singers will be left with a whole pile of ash on that day, and some of you who have loved and cared for the unlovely, who have waited tables, who have served without recognition and prayed faithfully will see gold, silver and costly stones.

 

At Ignite, we need to value each other, care for each other and love each other. When someone wins, we all win. I’ve been watching the World Cup, and when the striker scores a winning goal, the goalie does not walk around saying, “I wanted to score that!” No, they all rejoice because when one wins, they all win!

 

THE VALUE OF A PART

 

Paul’s argument in our key text is that we all have a role to play, great or small, spectacular or quiet, and that it takes all of us to make up a healthy body. Every part has value… every part!

 

1 Corinthians 12:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,

 

The Lord sees those little things you do, the phone call to someone who has missed church, the cars you help park, the plate you clean, the weeding you do. As a pastor, I get the up front job, but this passage tells me that much of what you do is as important as what I do, and should be treated with special honour.

 

Unpresentable parts are given greater consideration in the body than presentable parts. We cover the reproductive bits and treat them with special modesty, and so the church should treat those who might be a little bit different with special honour. I recently attended Joel’s birthday party, and there were a whole range of very different people with intellectual disabilities.  We all had a blast together, it was great fun and I was honoured to share Joel’s special day with these unusual people.

 

Someone once said, “I value everyone because every person can teach me something I don’t know.”

 

THE VALUE OF THE WHOLE BODY

 

The body never exists on its own, but is a complex, interwoven being. The body only works effectively when all the parts are joined together, working together properly.

 

1 Corinthians 12:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

 

The Greek for composed means tempered together, mixed, combined, blended together perfectly. It means unity, where different ingredients are combined to symbiotically produce a desired result.

 

Three a mystery when you mix something. If you mix flour and water you get glue. If you mix flour, water and egg, you get a cake. Where does the glue go?

 

When we mix a motley band of unique, sometimes strange, sometimes prickly people together, we get the Church, one of the most powerful forces on earth!

 

When we love and care for those who may seem to have less value in human eyes, we promote unity and the body grows healthy and strong.

 

In the body of Christ, God has made you unique, and has placed you in a place, a position where you can function not for your own benefit, but for the whole body. Look at how intricate your fingers are, your eyes can distinguish around 10 million colours. Your heart pumps more than 115,000 times a day. Being fit and healthy is about the whole body working together.

 

Of course, the entire medical industry of which I am a part is based on the fact that often times bodies do not work together properly. The parts of our body, just like the body of Christ, can suffer various types of disunity…

 

1.      EXTERNAL INFECTION

 

Foreign organisms can invade and seek to control the human body. Bacteria can get past our body’s defences and infect us, causing toxins to flood our body, leading to sickness and even death. Paul said to the Ephesians elders…

 

Acts 20:29-30 (ESV Strong's)

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

 

So the body of Christ can be infected by people of evil intentions, and ideas or doctrines that are not from the Lord. We need to be on guard constantly to stop these attacks, because they will make the body of Christ feeble, sick and useless.

 

Our greatest defence is the Word of God, so at Ignite, this is our standard. If teaching that is not Biblical arises, we must be diligent to stand against it!

 

2.      AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

 

Autoimmune diseases are those where the body attacks itself. Viruses often start this, because a virus injects it’s DNA into a cell, using the cell’s own contents to attack other cells.

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV Strong's)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Listen, when the body attacks itself it is destructive (AIDS for example). When we attack one another in church, when we place our desires above our love for each other, we are like an autoimmune disease, and the body of Christ suffers in the same way.

 

John 13:35 (ESV Strong's)

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Not how well you argue, but how well you love. You can win an argument and lose the unity which makes the body strong, so we need to guard ourselves against personal opinion that eclipses love!

 

3.      ATROPHY

 

Atrophy occurs when a part of the body is not used, and it therefore decreases its ability to function and eventually dies. It might be obvious like a withered hand, or less obvious but more far reaching like atrophy in the optic nerve, or a part of the brain. Essentially atrophy means use it or lose it!

 

Atrophy is often called wasting, because unused parts of the body waste away. And some of you here might feel that you’ve been wasting away, perhaps for years. You might believe that you once had a ministry in the body, but that is has finished, it is over, dead and useless. You might have once been on fire for Jesus, but now you’re cold, uninspired, just going through the motions.

 

Joel 2:25 (ESV Strong's)

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

 

Locusts are destructive, they eat your life away and leave acres of barren wastefulness. Sin, pain, bitterness, anger, destruction of reputation, wandering away from church, all of these can result in years of neglect and wastefulness. If that is you, God’s promise today is that He will restore those years. Restoration means as if the years of neglect never happened. I believe that God is speaking to some here today calling you to make the past past at last and let Jesus restore the life, the vision and the ministry you once had.

 

At Ignite, this is a body that will allow you to restore the years the locusts have eaten!

 

4.      CIRCULATION AND NEUROPATHY

 

With our lives of fast food and stress, circulation and neurological problems abound. What happens here is that the blood and nervous impulses we need for our bodies to behave correctly don’t make it through. The arteries get clogged and blocked, or the wrong neural messages get sent through.

 

This too can happen even in the body of Christ. Miscommunication abounds even here at times, where people say and do things that are misunderstood by someone else who takes offence. Much of the job of a pastor is managing disputes, which more often than not are not intended but are based around failure to communicate effectively.  How can we stop this process?

 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 

When we are part of the body, we must make sure that what we say is kind, uplifting and gracious, and if it is misunderstood we need to be quick to apologise, or if we feel aggrieved, quick to love and extend forgiveness.

 

5.      CANCER

 

Sometimes, for reasons often not clearly understood by medical science, body parts turn cancerous. Cancer is perhaps the most feared bodily disease, and treatment is harsh chemo and radio therapy.

 

I had been tracking a large pigmented mole on a guy’s retina for many years. One visit it had spread dramatically and started heading down his optic nerve towards his brain. Within a week the eyeball was removed and his life was saved from this aggressive, cancerous malignant melanoma. Cancer can be that nasty, incredibly destructive and difficult to cure.

 

But we have cancer in the body of Christ at times too. Cancer starts with a single cell, which then turns other cells cancerous as it grows and invades tissue. I’ve seen people get upset with pastors or leadership, and they then gather others to their cause, creating opposing factions and splitting the church in two, destroying everything the Lord was doing in that body.

 

1 Corinthians 3:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

 

Factions and dissension in the body of Christ are a cancer, bring disunity, pain and destruction, so we must be careful about forming cliques and power bases, and following men instead of God. Rivalry and dissension destroy our greatest asset as a body… unity!

 

ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE

 

For the human body, and for the body of Christ, unity is the key.  I know most of those diseases are not happening here at Ignite, and for the most part we are in wonderful unity. Different parts, different roles, different callings, opinions and hopes and dreams. Yet, we only function correctly when we stand together, and when we work together, side by side, arm in arm, hand in hand.

 

Let me say it again… if we love our ministry, our opinion, our reputation, our pet doctrine or anything else more than we love other people, we will lose our greatest asset as a church… Unity in the Spirit.

 

Psalms 133:1 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

 

Look in the mirror and see yourself as a valuable part of a viable body of Christ. Unity does not mean we see eye to eye on everything, but we can walk hand in hand and arm in arm. We may not agree with each other, but we can disagree agreeably. Unity is at the and core of Ignite Church.

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong's)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

 

If you’re not part of the Body of Christ, pray this prayer.

 

If you believe that you are called to do something in this world for Christ, stand up. Tell God you’re ready and available to allow Him to lead and guide you.

 

Today I want to pray for those of you who feel or have felt disjointed, dislocated or unfulfilled in church. If you have in your heart the desire to serve the Lord, but you just feel like the part of the body that is not working properly. I want to pray for you and also explore with you where you fit and how we can make your ministry dreams come true. If you have a dream in your heart for any ministry listen and respond today.

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Me in the Mirror 4- Be an Ambassador

July 2, 2018

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (ESV Strong's)

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

 

Last week we looked in the mirror and saw ourselves as royalty, and made a commitment to act like royalty. Today, I want to continue our series of what you see when you look in the mirror, only this time I am not focussing on who you are, but what your mission is on earth. You are not only royalty, you are an ambassador…

 

So what is an ambassador? Dictionary defines it as “an accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country.”

 

WHAT DOES AN AMBASSADOR LOOK LIKE?

 

2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

 

Notice the tone here, we are God’s representatives, and so we don’t just mention Him, we don’t only bring Him up in polite conversation or suggest people might like to check out God, we implore others to be reconciled to God.

 

The Greek word for implore is deomai, which means to beg, petition, beseech and pray for. It is derives from the root verb deo, which literally means to bind, tie or fasten with chains. So when Paul says we implore you, it means we bind ourselves to you or commit ourselves to you until you are reconciled to Christ.

 

What this tells me is that, as ambassadors, we must not be halfhearted, we must never be semi committed , but rather we need to be fully and completely invested in bringing people to Jesus. In fact, we need to be desperate to see people come to Christ!

 

Spurgeon once said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that...”

 

Ok, we are children of the King of Kings, but are we really serious about bringing others to Jesus? I am not talking about throwing your brain away and Bible bashing people into submission. Ambassadors represent the King, but they don’t bash anyone! Like royalty, their behaviour needs to be above reproach.  As that passage says, God is making His appeal to human hearts through us.

 

In fact, we are often the only Bible people will read!

 

So here are some characteristics of ambassadors, which is part of our calling as royal children…

 

1.      AN AMBASSADOR LIVES IN A FOREIGN LAND

 

This world is not our home, we are just passing through. This world in which we live is beautiful, but it is not our home. We are aliens and strangers in this world, we are only visiting this planet, because our home is with the Lord in Heaven. We live in a dying world that needs a living Saviour!

 

C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

 

This is not our home, but to get the mission done for the King, we have to live in this foreign, often hostile land that we call earth. And this earth is dying. According to the Gospel Coalition, 151,600 people die every day, that’s 105 deaths every minute, and most of them face a Christ-less eternity. In fact, most of them have never really heard the gospel!

 

Yet Jesus commands us,

 

Matthew 28:19 (ESV Strong's)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

 

Frankly, as Christians we do not really take this charge seriously. Most Christians are content to sit in their churches arguing doctrine and squabble over the colour of the carpet instead of reaching out to this sick, dying, needy world! Jesus commanded us the make disciples of all nations, but we are too afraid to tell our friends that we even believe in God!

 

2 Corinthians 5 clearly challenges us to reach out to others, and I believe that, if we see ourselves as royalty and representatives of the King of Kings, it is our solemn duty and awesome privilege to share our faith. This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls all over the earth.

 

That’s you and me folks! It’s not the pastor’s job, it’s not Bill Newman’s job or missionaries or evangelists. This is the solemn duty of every believer. We may not all be preachers, but we can all be reachers!

 

And remember, while might live in a foreign, hostile and dying land, we represent a great King and are part of the greatest family ever..

 

Ephesians 2:19 (ESV Strong's)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

 

 

2.      AN AMBASSADOR SPEAKS FOR THEIR OWN COUNTRY

 

Ambassadors are constantly watched by others because they speak not for themselves but for their country. Sometimes the ambassador is persecuted because he speaks out the will of the home leader. The Bible says of us…

 

Philippians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

 

But ambassadors are not concerned about making popular statements, but in speaking for the King.

 

When US President Donald Trump announced the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, Reuters reported, “for security reasons U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will continue living in the residence in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, and commute to the relocated embassy.” His life is under threat because he speaks for his government.

 

So should we. If you make a comment on Facebook pro God, they attack you. If you go to the media standing for what is right, they try to destroy you. Christians and even Christian leaders are running scared in our so called Christian nation. Media and social media now attack Christians far more than gays, transgenders, Muslims, sex workers or any other alleged suppressed minority.

 

We’re now the target, folks, not them. Get use to it, because it ain’t about to change.

 

But still we must speak the mind of the King. We must also love with the heart of the King. Our King once said this…

John 15:19 (ESV Strong's)

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

 

I believe that now more than ever before we have the privilege of standing up for Jesus, speaking out for Him in a hostile and antagonistic world. I’m not scared going forward, I’m inspired to make a stand for what is right. I’m inspired to speak the mind of my King, come what may, and I will not stop no matter what they throw at me!

 

 

3.      AN AMBASSADOR IS SEEN TO REPRESENT THEIR COUNTRY

 

A country is judged by its people. When I go to India next month, I represent my country. The Indians I meet will judge Australia by me, and if they like me they like Australia, but if they don’t like me, they hate Australia. You do the same. If you have a friend from a country, invariably you have a high opinion of that country. I love Carlos, which means I even like Peru despite them beating us in the World Cup.

 

Jesus says He chose us to represent Him and bear fruit that lasts, fruit that also represents the King.

 

John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

 

People are looking at us, and for many, we are the only representations they see of God. When I hear of a Christian leader falling in sin, I’m not only sad for those involved, I’m disgusted because it misrepresents the God that I serve! We need to not bring God into disrepute !  We need to watch what we say and do, because we are representing the King we serve as His ambassadors, and they judge Him by us!

 

Now I know I’m not perfect, and I know it is not fashionable to preach holiness these days, but we need to be holy and behave in a godly way, because people are watching. We need to accurately and honourably represent our King, as His children and ambassadors!

 

People say to me, “Pastor, I can’t help behaving badly, it’s just who I am… I’m just being myself.” You can be yourself, just be your best self! “But I can’t control my temper, my tongue, my lust, my gossip, insert your favourite sin here!” Listen, if you are screaming and yelling at your spouse, and the pastor knocks on your door, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can control yourself!

 

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV Strong's)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Unbelievers, especially those closest to you, are watching, the question is, are you shining? Someone once said, “I came to Christ not because of the cleverness of your speech, but because of the godliness of your life.”

 

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV Strong's)

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

 

 

4.      AN AMBASSADOR MUST LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND CUSTOMS

 

If we are to communicate the King’s message to this world, we have to do so in a language they understand. This doesn’t mean we become citizens of that country, nor does it mean we behave according to their customs and standards, but we have to be able to communicate.

 

President Kennedy made a famous speech in front of the Berlin Wall in 1961 where he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which actually translates “I am a cream Bun.”

 

Even the great Billy Graham once told a job at a huge rally in India. The translator took a long time to translate it, but people eventually politely chuckled. Billy asked him afterwards what had happened, and the man told Billy that he translated in this way… “Dr Graham has told a joke that in his culture is funny, but in our culture is not. But out or respect to Dr Graham, would you please now laugh!”

 

Communication is important.  Jesus prays for believers in His high-priestly prayer…

 

John 17:15-18 (ESV Strong's)

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

 

We are to be in the world, but not of it. We are to relate to it without partaking of it. Some of us get this wrong, and we become of it, and this is not holiness and it destroys the validity of our testimony for the King. You don’t have to take drugs to reach a drug addict. You don’t have to get drunk to be one of the boys to win them to Christ. You don’t have to be corrupt to reach politicians, or a tax cheat to reach businessmen.

 

What you and I have to be is holy. We need to live a life free of sin, because nothing will make people sit up and take notice like a godly life. The very people who have attacked and insulted me for being a Christian have often  ultimately turned to me when they have a need.

 

So as ambassadors we are called to live in this needy world, living godly lives that unbelievers can understand and relate to, without lowering our standards. We shouldn’t hide ourselves in monasteries or churches. We need to be in the community, talking to people, loving people on behalf of the King, but not stooping to their level and participating in their sin. In the world, but not of the world.

 

Whatever the culture, every person on earth understands genuine love and care, honour and respect. I was once approached by a gay friend who demanded, “Do you agree with my lifestyle?” I said I did not, and will never agree with his lifestyle, but then I told him he probably doesn’t agree with mine either. So if we can agree to disagree, can’t we just be mates and love and honour each other as people. He said that was the best answer he had ever heard. I cannot win him to Christ if I treat him like a lepper! If I love him, he respects that I love him and I can still reach him.

 

Sometimes, “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”

 

 

5.      AN AMBASSADOR DOES NOT GET INVOLVED IN TRIVIAL LOCAL ISSUES

 

Ambassadors are about representing their leader, their King. Their concern is at a national level, and you should not find them arguing or getting involved in local matters.

 

1 Peter 2:11 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

 

There are some things we must abstain from. Listen there are some arguments on Facebook you need to not become embroiled in! I’m always uncomfortable when I see Christians aggressively arguing trivial points, because you can win the argument and lose the war. Apologetics is good and necessary at times, but no one gets argued into the Kingdom. It always is going to take faith!

 

Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

 

Usually people who want to argue with you about social issues or opinions are not ready to accept Jesus as Lord. So avoid foolish arguments and concentrate on loving people. Sure, some things you need to make a stand on, but you can even do that in a non argumentative way. Jesus said that unbelievers will know us by how we love one another, not by how vigorously we argue about evrything!

 

6.      AN AMBASSADOR KNOWS THE MIND OF THE KING

 

1 Corinthians 2:16 (ESV Strong's)

“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

 

When we are ambassadors, we know the mind and will of our King and we serve the King, not the local population and not our own interests.

 

 

Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

 

So many Christians are so wrapped up in money and lifestyle they forget God. You can work, use money and enjoy the blessing, but it ought to serve you, not the other way around. Serve Jesus number one, and let Him sort out money and lifestyle.

 

7.      AN AMBASSADOR IS IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH THE KING

 

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

 

How do you get to know the King? Talk to Him. Learn about His ways. You read His communications, you study His Word and you connect with others who know and live the King. An ambassador needs to stay connected. He does not operate in isolation, he does not make his own decisions, he is in constant contact with his government so that any decisions he makes reflects his government’s wishes.

 

John 10:27 (ESV Strong's)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

 

You can not accurately hear the voice of the King unless you know Him, and you cannot know Him without reading His Word. It is that simple…

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

Reading the Word of God daily is essential, hence the Bible reading plan. Coming to church is also essential, because worshipping together, growing together and learning together is part of your ambassador training. People tell me you can still be a Christian and not go to church, and that is true. You can be married and not live together, but that’s not the norm, right?

 

Finding the right Church will enhance every aspect of your Christian walk! So even if you find us imperfect, and I’m sure you will, don’t stop coming to Ignite, because our desire is to Ignite your Christian life!

 

Communicating with the King is more than just reading the Bible and attending church, it is all about learning to listen to His voice. Next month Fiona is starting a special course on hearing the voice of God, and you can reliably and consistently hear the still small voice of God if you learn how and if your heart is open.

 

Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong's)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

 

8.      AN AMBASSADOR IS READY TO BE RECALLED AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE

 

The final and exciting point about seeing yourself as an ambassador is that you have to be ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice.

 

When war is declared between countries Diplomats are generally recalled, and they are are frequently recalled as a protest, as we have seen recently in the diplomatic row involving alleged Russian spying. Last year, all Australian ambassadors were recalled by Julia Bishop to reformulate Australia’s overall foreign policy.

 

Ambassadors need to be ready for a recall, any time, anywhere! So should we be!

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

 

Jesus is coming again, just as He has promised, and He has never broken a promise! When Israel was formed as a nation after thousands of years of exile in 1948, the world was put on notice that Jesus’ return is not far away.

 

Any time now Jesus will be returning to earth, and the Bible says we will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Right now we are ambassadors for the King, but the King is coming again! I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you who! Jesus, the King of Kings will come back and claim His ambassadors, His royal children as His own .  So if the King is coming, we need to get ready for the King, and start shining for Him!

 

BE AN AMBASSADOR AND SHINE!

 

Last week we were anointed as children of the King, and this week I am asking you to look in the mirror to see yourself as an ambassador.

 

If we truly see ourselves as that, this will govern our behaviour towards the world in which we live.

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

We often consider witnessing to be a formalised process, maybe door knocking or handing out tracts. But being a witness for the King is about being His ambassador. It is about shining for Him!

 

People generally don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Being an ambassador doesn’t mean you Bible bash people, it means you represent the King, you shine His light to everyone you meet.

 

Like I said before, people are watching you so don’t just say, pray! Don’t just whine, shine! Don’t just speak, seek! Being an ambassador is something we are all called be, so rather than trying to argue with people or force them to listen to your gospel presentation, just live a life that shines for the King!

 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

 

Sometimes our witnessing is not gentle, neither is it respectful. Sometimes we force ourselves and our ideas on those not willing to listen. However, if you live an exemplary life before the, if you live a life of love and acceptance, then they are far more willing to listen when the time comes.

 

So to finish, I want to challenge you to shine your faith to everyone you meet. Look for opportunities to share the gospel, but let those openings be based on the testimony of a godly life shining before them.

 

Today, I want to ask you to write down 3 people you think you can be the Lord’s ambassador to. Three people that you can shine your light before, then be ready to give the reason for your life being such a light in this dark world. They could be friends, family, loved one, neighbours, business associates, workmates, doesn’t matter.

 

And then we are going to pray that these people see the life you live, and praise your father in heaven. I’m going to be so bold as to ask the Lord for the opportunity to share your faith honestly and openly with at least one of these people over the next month!

 

Just ask God for one opportunity to shine the goodness of God into their lives, and then be bold enough to tell them why you are shining for Jesus. Ask God for the opportunity, then trust Him for the results. Whether they accept Christ is His problem, not yours, your responsibility is to shine, and to be ready to give a reason for the hope within you.

 

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Me in the Mirror 3- Refugee to Royalty

June 25, 2018

We’ve been looking at the mirror, and asking “what do you see, and do you like it?” We have talked about words spoken over you, and about your value in the eyes of the Lord. He looks at you tells you that you are precious, special and that He has a destiny for you, a wonderful, incredible and amazing destiny.

 

So today I want to talk more about your destiny and talk about who you really become when you come to Christ.

 

When you come to Jesus, you are a hopeless sinner. The price for this sin is death, eternal death in hell, separated from God.

 

But when you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, not only do you have life forever more, but you have a new, transformed life right now. Not pie in the sky when you die by and by, but real power and life to the full starting now!

 

So in this message I want to look at who we really are. When you look in that mirror, who are you? We need to understand the position we now have in Christ and start living up to it!

 

Let’s have a look at this passage…

 

1 Peter 2:9-12 (ESV Strong's)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

 

You are an alien, an exile in this world and mark my words, people are watching you and your good deeds.

 

CRYING LIKE A REFUGEE

 

Today the UNHCR tells us that there are currently 22.5 million refugees in the world—the highest in history. In addition there are 40.3 million internally displaced people; and 2.8 million asylum-seekers.  In 2018 we are quite familiar with what refugees are, and this passage was written to refugees in the first century AD.

 

The mostly Jewish followers of Christ who first read this book were scattered throughout the Roman empire. They faced harassment from both the Roman government and local synagogue leaders. In fact, their entire society had turned against them, and they were suffering as persecuted refugees. Worse than being a Christian and interviewed on the ABC!

 

The passage calls them sojourners and exiles. The Greek words used here imply that they are foreigners, people without citizenship, power or protection. Completely despised, completely overlooked, completely taken advantage of, as are many refugees today. These people doubted their significance, doubted their worth and were without hope.

 

Last week we talked about feelings of worthlessness, and sometimes as believers we experience this feeling. We are strangers, we are aliens in a world that is against us and alienated us.

 

Philippians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Christians are refugees in a hostile, foreign land.  But listen to this…

 

Missionary Henry Morrison and his wife were returning to New York after years of service in Africa  As the ship neared the dock, Henry said to his wife, “Look at that crowd.  They haven't forgotten about us”.  However, unknown to Henry, the ship also carried President Teddy Roosevelt, returning from a big game hunting trip in Africa.  Roosevelt stepped from the boat, with great fanfare, as people  were cheering, flags were waving,  bands were playing, and reporters waiting for his comment. Once the crowds dispersed, Henry and his wife slowly walked away unnoticed and alone. 

 

“This isn’t much of a homecoming,” said old Henry, and the Lord spoke to him and said, “You’re not home yet!”

 

WHO ARE YOU?

 

Those early Christians needed encouragement as they struggled to stand strong in a world where most lacked citizenship, recognition, respect, or privileges. Today, as we strive to find our own places in society and in the church, we need to know who we are in Christ.  We need to look in that mirror and see not just that we are precious and valuable, not just that we have a future, we need to see who we actually are in Christ.

 

Peter in this passage raises our confidence about our God-given significance and capabilities. This passage shows us who we really are…

 

1.      A CHOSEN RACE

 

Peter tells these believers that they are not rejects from humanity, but that they are among God’s elect, God’s chosen race or generation, selected based on His foreknowledge and born again to a living hope as His children!

 

Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

 

So we are not a bunch of rejects, no matter what they say about us on Facebook or in the media. We are a chosen race, chosen before time began to be His people, His representatives, adopted into His family.

 

What a privilege, what an honour! I have said that destiny is a series of choices, and yes we must make a choice to accept Jesus, but hey, He knows in advance what we will choose, and before we even face that choice, Jesus chooses us!

 

John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide,

 

We are not rejects, we are chosen by God as His children to bear fruit for Him that lasts!

 

2.      A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD

 

God’s plan is to build a kingdom of priests, and you are part of it…

 

1 Peter 2:5 (ESV Strong's)

you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

In the Old Testament, priests were set aside to offer sacrifices for the people. Now, however, we all have a priestly role when we come to Christ, and we can all offer not animals for sacrifice but our bodies as living sacrifices, fully available for His purposes!

 

Romans 12:1 (ESV Strong's)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 

We often talk about ministry as if it belongs only to professional church staff, like there is some magic in these hands.  Yet Scripture describes ministry as the calling and responsibility of every Christian… because we are a royal priesthood!

 

Recently I had someone leave this church because as the pastor I was not available enough for him. He had a problem, he wanted me to drop everything on my day off and minister to him to his level of satisfaction. Three other people contacted him, one of whom I had referred him to because they are an expert in the area in question, but this wasn’t good enough… he only wanted the pastor.

 

This is a traditional outdated model of who a pastor should be, but as your pastor, I love you, but I cannot reach that expectation. I still work in the secular world 4 days a week, I minister as pastor evenings, lunchtimes, before work and all weekend, and I still travel with an evangelist, record music, manage websites… oh, and somewhere in all that I also have a wife and family. I am richly blessed but time poor!

 

Ignite runs on teams. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful teams of people who minister beside me in pastoral care. So if you have a need, we have many, many godly, mature, wise people here to love and care for you. I cannot hope to meet every need of every one of you every time!

 

Nor should I, because we are all of us priests, all of us able to connect with God. We need to learn to minister to each other, love and care for each other, pray for each other, even sacrifice for each other, because we are a royal priesthood.

 

3.      A HOLY NATION

 

God not only calls us to be His children, He calls us to be holy!

 

1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

 

What does this mean? It means that our lifestyles should reflect the character of God. We must tolerate people in love, but we must not tolerate their sin. God calls us to be a nation set apart for Him!

 

We saw this in the recent plebiscite. Our country got it wrong. We were told that if we love homosexuals we must give them what they want, but that’s not true. We can love them, care for them and honour them as people and still not agree with their demands! I love my children, but I do not agree with everything they do, and I don’t give them everything they demand!

 

The eyes of the world are on our actions. If we compromise God’s standards to keep the peace with a godless world, we look just like everyone else. No, we need to stand for what is right, and live lives that are billboards for Jesus. You and I are the only advertisements for Christ some people will ever see!

 

4.      A SPECIAL PEOPLE

 

In the KJV this phrase is “a peculiar people,” which actually means we are His possession, and therefore get special treatment. Don’t you love it when you are treated as special? Don’t you love it when people accept and honour you in a unique way? Peter is saying that this is how God sees us! We are precious, and special and we get special treatment and privileges others don’t have. Because we live and serve God!

 

Isaiah 43:4 (ESV Strong's)

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

 

Ephesians 2:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

 

We are His kids, and get special access to God and His throne room. That’s what prayer is! At the age of 2, Kaileigh already has figured out that, no matter what her mum says, if she asks Pa for a lolly, she almost always gets one. She has special privileges, like we do when it comes to our Heavenly Father!

 

Why do we get such a special relationship with God? I don’t know, because I surely am not worthy of it, yet He chooses to bless me and my family, to be close to me, to draw me nearer His heart.

 

THE JOURNEY FROM REFUGEE TO ROYALTY

 

Let me finish by taking you on a journey from rags to royalty… so that when you look in the mirror, you see yourself as who you really are. Not a downtrodden refugee, but as royalty… You start as a…

 

1.      SINNER

 

I know I’m a sinner, and I bet you know you are too! Our sin separates us from God, and our sin will send us to eternal separation from God forever in hell.

 

Revelation 20:12,15 (ESV Strong's)

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

We start life condemned to eternal death in hell, but Jesus paid that price for us, that if we accept Him as Lord we will not go to hell, but will be with Him in heaven.

 

Hell is real… so what is hell like? People say they won’t mind going to hell, because they can break open a pack of cards and have a few drinks with their mates… no they won’t! Hell is eternal separation from God and everything about God.

 

God is light, says the Bible, God is truth and joy and fellowship and worship, the greatest experience you could ever have, and it lasts for ever.

 

If you want to see what hell is really like, look at the cross! Hell is pain, torment, darkness and intense loneliness. No light in hell, no fellowship in hell.

 

If you haven’t accepted Jesus and His free gift of salvation, do it now, while you still can. Life is short, fragile and unpredictable, so turn and receive by grace His gift of eternal life.

 

2.      SLAVES

 

Today there are more than 35 million people living in slavery, including forced labour and prostitution. But there are billions of people unknowingly living in slavery every day, and you might be one of them. Are you a slave to sin? To your unbridled passions? To money? To someone else like an abusive partner? Fact is, you are going to be a slave to something!

 

You can be saved and be a Christian, yet still be a slave to sin in your life…

 

Romans 6:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

 

So the choice is yours… stay a slave to sin, or step up and become a slave to righteousness, because you’re gonna have to serve somebody!

 

3.      SAINT

 

When you decide you’ve had enough of being a slave to sin, you can accept Christ and live like it and become a saint!

 

Coming to Christ is a fresh start.  Billy Graham said, "How many times in your life have you wished you could start all over again with a clean slate, with a new life? Resolve right now to allow God to wipe your slate clean by confessing your sins and letting Him give you a brand-new start."

 

A saint is not some famous dead guy, and it’s not a St George football player.

 

Ephesians 2:19 (ESV Strong's)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

 

When you come to Christ, you become a saint, and instead of being a slave to sin, you become a servant of the living God…

 

4.      SERVANT

 

Mark 10:42-45 (ESV Strong's)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

I stand here as a servant of God, and I also serve you, as your pastor, however inadequately. I’m not higher or lower than you, because we are all saints, all priests and all servants. But here’s the cool thing…

 

5.      SON OR DAUGHTER

 

Jesus said,

 

John 15:15 (ESV Strong's)

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

 

When you serve the Lord as a slave to righteousness, Jesus becomes a friend as well as a master. But He doesn’t stop there… the Bible says, you are adopted into His special family

 

Romans 8:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

You are family, you are adopted as His child, a son or a daughter of the King of Kings. That makes you a princess, or a prince. So, folks, you are royalty, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

 

Recently we saw a beautiful lady named Megan Markle become royalty. She is an actress, part African American and a divorcee, an unlikely mix for royalty. Yet she is now royalty, the Duchess of Sussex. How can this be?

 

This happened because someone chose her. She didn’t deserve it and she hasn’t worked for it. Megan Markel became royalty simply because Prince Harry chose her to fall in love with.

 

And Jesus choses you! Not because you deserve it, and not because you’ve earned it. He just chose you, that’s all. The problem is that we mentally understand this, but often don’t live like it!

 

LIVE LIKE ROYALTY

 

That’s my challenge to you… We ought to live like the royalty we are! Think about what that means.

 

A Prince or Princess always wants to represent the King well, not to pursue their own agenda. They answer to the King alone, not the opinions of those around them. Certain actions are beneath them. They always look composed, and they hold to certain standards of behaviour, speech and dress.

 

Royalty do not become entangled in the filth and dirt of this world, but they live a life of privilege, honour and power, respected not for what they do or achieve, but for who they are… because they are kids of the King!  Their agenda is to do the King’s business. They live a life of power and privilege, but with great authority comes great responsibility.

 

In the same way we may to be in the world, but not of it. We need to live a life of privilege and power in the Holy Spirit, a holy life that pleases the King and represents the King’s interests.

 

In West Texas during the Depression, Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a ton of debt. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay his loans, and he was in danger of losing his ranch. He had little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy.

 

Day after day, as he grazed his dwindling number of sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills.

 

Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.

 

At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large.

 

In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on government relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.

 

So today is the day that you and I begin to live like royalty. We can be bold, we can be confident, we can act like we own the place, because our Dad does! As we serve and honour Him, we can ask whatever we want according to the will of the King and be confident that He hears us and cares for us.

 

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV Strong's)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

You can confidently approach God’s Throne, knowing you have an insider’s relationship with the King.

 

It’s time to stop acting like commoners and step into our God given destinies as sons and daughters of the King! Megan Markle is no longer acting in Suits, Grace Kelly stopped making movies when she became a princess, because common careers are laud aside as we serve the Ling, and Him alone!

 

Today some of you, many of you, understand what I’ve been talking about in principle, but you are not living like royalty. Maybe you’re a slave to sin… the royals aren’t slaves! Maybe you are being kicked around by life… royals don’t get pushed around by the public. You have unfathomable spiritual riches, but perhaps you are living like a spiritual pauper.

 

Today all of us, every single one of us who have accepted Christ, today we will be reminded that we are royalty, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, a chosen race… sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Princes, princesses, adopted into royal lineage.

 

When a King was inaugurated in ancient times, they were anointed with oil. This is a sign to the people, and to any enemies, that they were the King.

 

Today I’m going to do something crazy and, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, that you join me in this craziness.  Today I want us all to be anointed today as Royalty, and from today we shall live as the princes and princesses we are, that we have been destined to be!

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Me in the Mirror 2- See Your True Value

June 18, 2018

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you see yourself as valuable, as special, as unique, as precious? In this second message on the me in the mirror, I want to focus on seeing yourself as God sees you… valuable, special and precious!

 

According to the Mayo clinic in 2010, if we take a human being and boil them down to their base elements, and sell them, they are worth around $4.50 on today’s market. But even evolutionists believe people are worth far more than that.

 

Everybody thinks they are worth more than $4.50, right? Why would ladies spend $50+ on shoes to put on 50c worth of feet? Guys, why would we spend $30 on a t-shirt to cover $1.20 worth of chest? We surely have greater value than our raw chemical makeup, but all over the world, in all walks of life, in all age groups, in all classes and no matter what you earn or achieve, people struggle with self esteem and feelings of worthlessness! Even famous and rich movie stars look in the mirror and hate what they see, and stars like Robin Williams, Philip Seymore Hoffman and Heath Ledger take their own lives, despite their fame and fortune!

 

YOU ARE PRECIOUS!

 

Listen, you are not an accident, regardless of whether your parents think you were! In God’s eyes, there are no accidents and there are no surprises because He has perfect knowledge and power.

 

King David contemplating this one day said this to God...

 

Psalms 139:13-16 (ESV Strong's)

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

 

The Hebrew word for formed is qana, which does not just mean creating from nothing but it implies ownership, as an inventor would claim ownership of his invention. God created you, and claims you as His own!

 

God says He knew us and claimed us even as we were formed in the womb. Man says you are simply a collection of cells until you are born, then you become human. If wombs had windows, we wouldn’t have abortion!

 

We live in a world that does it’s best to devalue human beings. We live in a society that values the rights of minorities more than the rights of the vast majority. Most people say they see human beings as valuable, but they don’t act like it. People use and abuse each other every day, putting their own interests first. Men see women as conquests, women see men as someone to meet their needs. Salespeople see you as a sale. Even churches can see you as a seat filled, or money in the plate.

 

God says you are valuable and precious, every one of you. That’s why throughout history, Christians have started the first hospitals, school and orphanages. Every life is precious to God, and should be to us. Your value is in who you are, not what someone else can get from you!

 

WE DO NOT SEE OURSELVES AS GOD SEES US

 

A professor in a college ethics class presented a problem to his students. He said, "A man has syphilis and his wife tuberculosis. They have had four children: one has died, the other three have what is considered to be a terminal illness. The mother is pregnant. What do you recommend?" After spirited discussion, the majority of the class voted that the mother should abort the child.

 

"Fine," said the professor, "You've just killed Beethoven!" When we judge the worth of a life, we play God without His power and complete knowledge… God says every life is precious and valuable, and every person can fulfil a destiny, should they choose to.

 

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

 

Before birth God has a plan for you, a destiny for you, a purpose for your life. You are not an accident, you are not an inconvenience,  are not just another consumer in the market. From a tiny cell, you develop into … 60 trillion cells, 100 thousand miles of nerve fibre, 60 thousand miles of vessels carrying blood around the body, 250 bones, to say nothing of joints, ligaments and muscles.

 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, but even more than this, God has a destiny for you! You were not just made by Him, you were woven together, you are His workmanship, His masterpiece, with a purpose and a destiny to fulfil.

 

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV Strong's)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Yet, when we look in the mirror, most of us do not see ourselves as valuable and precious. We see our faults, our wrinkles, our blemishes, our pain. Why is it that most people, even Christians, fail to see their value and never reach their full potential?

 

INTRINSIC VALUE AND POTENTIAL

 

This $10 note is worth how much? $10, right? It is a piece of plastic, of little real value, but because the government backs this bit of plastic to be worth $10, it is. I cannot say I want $50 for this note, neither can I say it’s only worth 10c. The value in this note is not what it is made of, and it’s not what it or anyone else thinks about it, it is worth what its creator believes it is worth.

 

And so are you. You can only discover you true worth in life when you place yourself under the loving care of the one who created you. You are worth what your creator says, not what anybody else’s says you are worth!

 

Like a spring wound up, He sees potential energy stored in you that can be used for greatness. As a watch is created and wound up can run for days, so God sees incredible value in every one of us, and potential for greatness.

 

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong's)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

These words were given by the prophet Jeremiah to a defeated and humiliated nation exiled in a hostile land. In the midst of pain and suffering, loss of material things, loss of loved ones and loss of hope, God loved His people and said He had a plan to prosper them and give them hope! The potential energy is still there, the hope is still alive.

 

Many come to Ignite because they have been hurt elsewhere, maybe away from God, away from church, out of fellowship, out of ideas and fresh out of hope. Many who come here have felt their dreams die, and feel useless and worthless. One of the gifts God has given me as a pastor is that when I meet you I see greatness. I seem to be able to see through the pain, through the circumstances and the exterior into the heart, and I see greatness in all of you! God’s plan, God’s destiny in your life is not dead, it is dormant, and my job is to stir it into life! You are valuable and you have purpose!

 

DESTINY LOST

 

So when you look in the mirror, do you see greatness? Do you see destiny fulfilled, or destiny lost? Do you see the image of a failure, or the image of Christ?

 

The dictionary defines destiny as fate, “the development of events outside a person's control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.” God does not see destiny as fate… He sees destiny as a series of choices. Wrong choices cause you to lose your destiny. You fulfil your destiny by making not so much good choices, but God choices!

 

Romans 8:28-29 (ESV Strong's)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

 

Your destiny is to look like God’s Son. Your destiny is greatness in His Kingdom. And all things work for good in this, all things, even the rotten, stinking failures and abuses we suffer. How can this be?

 

When we look into the mirror, we often don’t see our worth, and we cannot see the potential God sees in us. When we look at circumstances, we don’t see God’s overall plan. We see a small portion, but He sees the whole. We see the present, He sees a glorious future in us.

 

Ships need to float, yet they are made of steel. If you throw a piece of steel in water it will sink. A shipyard is full of all kinds of steel, and if you throw any single piece in the water it will sink, because steel sinks! However, once it is assembled and joined the right way, a massive, incredibly heavy steel ship actually floats. When you see it as a whole, you see its destiny.

 

God sees your life as a life of destiny. You are not a mistake, you are not here by accident, you have a destiny in this place. It’s not to work hard, make money have a nice family, have a fun life then die, it is a life of serving Him and blessing others. God’s plan is to see you flourish into the image of His Son, and to serve where He has called you. But destiny can be fulfilled, or lost, depending on the choices you make!

 

Throughout the Bible men and women have fulfilled their God given, God directed destiny. But many also tragically lost their destiny. Solomon started well, then his many wives turned his head away from God. Samson, Hezekiah, Uzziah, even Judas started following God, but lost their destiny.

 

Let me look at one of the saddest examples of destiny lost…

KING SAUL… BAD CHOICES = DESTINY LOST!

 

Saul was the first king of Israel, but came a time when he faced a fork in the road of his destiny. God had initially led Samuel right to him, and told him to anoint this young man. Saul was impressive to say the least! Tall, good looking with long wavy hair, he was like the Brad Pitt of his day, and everyone loved him. He should have been the greatest King of Israel!

 

1 Samuel 10:24 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

This man prophesied, this man fought battles, this man was anointed King and looked the part. So what went wrong for Saul? He faced a fork in the road…

 

Remember I said destiny is a series of choices? Well, Saul consistently chose disobedience...

 

1 Samuel 13:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

 

Saul stepped out of his destiny by usurping the role of priest, something he knew was wrong.  He feared that he was losing the people, and this fear caused him to do something offensive to God.  If you fear the reactions and opinions of people, then you can lose your destiny! Some here think they have lost their destiny because they listened to what people said about them.

 

Sometime later the Lord commanded Saul through Samuel to devote a town to destruction. Everything in this wicked and perverse town was to be destroyed, people, animals and things.

 

1 Samuel 15:12 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”

 

One hint about where Saul’s heart was going was this… On the way to this assignment, Saul stopped off to erect a statue to himself. Pride, in ourselves and our achievements, can cause us to lose our destiny. When we are prideful, we start making disobedient, arrogant decisions, decisions on our own, serving our own ends, not God’s choices for us. Some here fear they have lost their destiny because they made dumb choices, and suffered the consequences.

 

He then failed the assignment… disobeying by choosing to spare the evil king and the best of the spoils…

 

1 Samuel 15:9 (ESV Strong's)

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

 

A quick recap… Saul had a clear command from the Lord, but tempted by the goods, he chose deliberately to disobey the Lord, and spare the best things for himself. Suddenly Samuel arrives, so Saul recognises he is in trouble, but makes an attempt at deflecting his guilt…

 

1 Samuel 15:13-15 (ESV Strong's)

And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

 

Nice save Saul! When caught red handed, he concocts a lame excuse, to deflect guilt and save face… yes, I did what the Lord asked, but I kept the best animals, not for me, but for you Lord, to sacrifice to you!  Sadly for Saul, both God and Samuel clearly see Saul’s heart for what it is… disobedient.

 

1 Samuel 15:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

 

Saul pretends to be saving the good for sacrifice, then blames the people. But Samuel says…

 

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (ESV Strong's)

 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

 

Saul, the great man of destiny, the first King of Israel, lost his destiny, lost his throne, lost his lineage and eventually lost his life because he was not obedient!

 

STEPS TO REGAINING YOUR DESTINY?

 

As I have said, God created you with a purpose and a destiny, and He has desires and plans for you from before you were even born. Let me remind you…

 

Psalms 139:16 (ESV Strong's)

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

 

So if you have doubted that you are precious and valuable to Him, or if you’ve lost your destiny, let me show you the steps you can take to rediscover your value and destiny in God…

 

1.      RECOGNISE THAT YOU ARE PRECIOUS

 

The Lord shows us in Scripture that we are special and precious to Him.

 

Matthew 10:29-31 (MSG)

"What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.

 

God says it again and again, you are precious. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to redeem you, to buy you back from sin, to save you from an eternity in hell. However you slice it, you are a valuable person in the eyes of God.

 

2.      REMEMBER HE HAS A DESTINY FOR YOU

 

John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

 

God promises He has a plan and destiny for you. And it’s a good one, one that bears fruit that lasts forever! You are so precious to Him, He’s not out to get you, hurt you, bring you down or destroy you. You are precious and He has plans for you that are perfect!

 

3.      REPENT OF YOUR SIN

 

To begin to move towards your destiny, you have to start by repenting of your sin. Repentance doesn’t just mean being sorry for what your thought, said and done, it means turning 180 degrees around and changing your behaviour.

 

Acts 3:19-20 (ESV Strong's)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

 

Repenting is obedience, turning away from your sin and disobedience and turning towards God.

 

4.      REDISCOVER YOUR FIRST LOVE

 

Revelation 2:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.

 

Some of us here who’ve been Christians for a long time need to rediscover our first love. Remember that feeling you have when you first fall in love with someone… that’s what we often lack. We go on in Christ, we grow, we mature, we get older, we learn and understand but many times we lose the love, the excitement, the joy we once had. If that is you today, the solution is simple… losing your first love is sin, and you must repent!

 

Rediscovering your first love means remembering what it was like, and reestablishing that first love.

 

5.      REENGAGE WITH GOD

 

The Lord promises us in James,

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

 

However, many times we as Christian go through the religious motions, just like Saul did. We do some religious duty and think that God is pleased. He doesn’t want your sacrifice, He wants your obedience, and your heart!

 

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV Strong's)

And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips,

while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

 

We can draw near with just our mouths. We can go to church, call ourselves a Christian, listen to SALT or obey a bunch of rules taught by men, but the heart of God is that we draw near in our spirits, which involves all of us reengaging with God.

 

Having quiet times, reading the Word, praying constantly, coming to church, these are all ways that help us reengage our spirits with the Lord. Why go through the motions of being a Christian when you can be full on for Jesus and change the world? David wrote…

 

Psalms 63:1 (ESV Strong's)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

Do you long for God like that? You should, because that is how you discover your destiny!

 

6.      RECOMMIT TO OBEDIENCE

 

Moving into your destiny starts with seeing yourself as worthwhile, as precious to the Lord, and someone of value. However it is not enough to simply acknowledge that you are worthwhile.

 

I said before that destiny is a series of decisions, and these decisions involve you being obedient. When you sense God leading you, that you do not resist but rather obey and trust Him. That is how you move into the greatest destiny you could imagine.

 

Exodus 19:5 (ESV Strong's)

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;

 

Ignite church is a safe place for you to start being obedient to the Lord. That’s why we have 201, so you can see opportunities to invest that precious life of yours in something powerful Thayer yields fruit for eternity.

 

7.      RESPOND TO HIM TODAY

 

Today the Lord has His arms outstretched to you, calling you to be devoted to Him, and to trust Him with your life and future. Today He is asking you to see beyond the reflection in the mirror and trust Him to lead you into your destiny.

 

Today He is promising you that whatever you think about yourself, however you see yourself, You are valuable and precious to Him. You are so precious He sacrifices His only Son for you, and He has beautiful, wonderful plans for you.

 

Remember that $10 note? We agreed that it is worth $10 only because our government says it is, and they created that note.

 

What if I chew it and spit it out? $10?  What if I stamp on it and walk all over it? $10. What if I cover it in dirt and grime? Still $10.

 

Today some of you have been chewed up and spat out by life, rejected and walked all over by others, or sullied your life with sin and disobedience. I don’t care what you’ve been through, I don’t care if you’ve been divorced or into drugs or caught in adultery. I don’t care if they say you have a low IQ, a low self esteem or a low net worth.

 

Jesus sees your value, Jesus sees you as worthwhile, precious and He has a destiny for you. You must decide to walk with Him, or without Him. You are valuable when you come to Jesus, so I’m going to ask you to do that right now… Start seeing yourself as He sees you, and start living like He wants you to…

00:0000:00

Me in the Mirror 1- What Image in the Mirror Do You See?

June 10, 2018

When you look into the mirror, who is it you see looking back at you? Is that person the real you, or do you somehow distort or even enhance that person? What I would like to do in this series is look at perception, at the way you see yourself and ask the big question…

 

Do I like what I see? Do I see myself in a true light? What or who am I reflecting?

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 

Ok, we cannot truly see what the Lord wants us to see in ourselves, and we will not know fully until we get to heaven, but we can by faith begin to see things in our lives the way God see, and begin to reflect Him in our lives, not our selfish, self centred, self glorifying selves!

 

So as I share this message, I want you to imagine you are holding a clock up to a mirror...

 In other words, it’s time for reflection!

 

PERCEPTION- WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T WHAT YOU GET

 

As a Behavioural Optometrist, I specialise in visual perception. The thing is, having 20/20 vision really means very little. Sure, you need to see, but just because you physically have the capacity to see something doesn’t mean you understand what you see.

 

Many things in life actually distort or affect what we perceive, especially when I comes to ourselves.

Lenses or glasses can shape your view of the world, but mirrors can likewise distort your view of yourself.

 

The devil does not want you to see yourself properly, he doesn’t want you to see yourself how God sees you. He also doesn’t want you to reflect the image of Jesus Christ, so he does his best to mess up how you see yourself, and who it is your life reflects!

 

The purpose of this series is to gain a true reflection of ourselves, undistorted by anything that is not of God!  Let’s let His Spirit guide us into truth. That’s why God’s Word says,

 

John 16:13 (ESV Strong’s)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,

 

So what things distort our reflection in the mirror? What changes how we see ourselves?

 

1.      DISTORTED BY DIRT AND GRIME

 

If a mirror is dirty, you cannot clearly see the image in the surface. It does not mean that the mirror doesn’t work, but rather that the mirror is covered in a substance that is not reflective.

 

Going through your life, you can pick up dirt and grime, which we call sin. Sin separates you from God, covers up the true reflection of yourself, and covers any chance you have of reflecting Jesus to the world. If you constantly live in sin, the dirt and grime builds up until you cannot see God, you are not close to Him and you cannot be the person God wants you to be…

 

Isaiah 59:2 (ESV Strong's)

but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

 

The Hebrew word for hidden is satar, which literally means covered or concealed. A layer of grime or sin conceals the true reflection, and if it is  thick enough or deep enough you cannot see anything!

 

1 John 1:5-7 (ESV Strong's)

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

God is light, and if you are disobedient and wilfully sinning, or tolerate sin in your life, you are misting the mirror, and the light cannot reflect properly off the surface.

 

The Greek word for cleanses is katharizo, which means to purify, wash, to scrub clean.

 

1 John 1:9 (ESV Strong's)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Harbouring sin in your life, even a hidden sin, tolerating it instead of confessing it covers over the true image you should be. If you are tolerating sin, it’s time to confess it, and allow the blood of Jesus to wash your life clean!

 

2.      DISTORTED BY THE PAST

 

If a mirror gets old, the inner surface of silver nitrate often breaks down, and gets scratchy, and this distorts the image on the front. This is not dirt on the outside, the inner layer is breaking down!

 

So many people including Christians allow their past to distort what they reflect in the present. It might have been words spoken to you, situations you have been through, your upbringing, your fears, your pain. But God says this…

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV-WS)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

The Lord is saying, “Stop dwelling on past failures! Don’t you get it… I’m doing a new thing!”it’s time to make the past past at last.

 

When the past quarrels with the present, there can be no future. We all need to learn from our past. But we must also stop living in the past, or letting past failures control us, and move on to God’s new assignments and goals. Spiritual renewal involves letting go of the past so that we can take hold of what is in the present and redirect our course toward a new life for the future.

 

 

If you had a difficult upbringing, a troubled relationship with your mum or dad, then today is the day you give that to the Lord and let Him carry that burden, not you. If you have something in your past you’re ashamed of, something you still feel guilty for, it’s is time to hand it over to Jesus, not carry the load yourself.

 

So if you have had a divorce or separation, if you’ve been abused or controlled, if you’ve done something you just hate yourself for doing, today is the day to hand it over to Jesus, and let it stop affecting how you see yourself.

 

3.      DISTORTED BY BEING SHATTERED

 

If you drop a hand mirror, any mirror, they don’t bounce too well. They shatter, and you allegedly get 7 years bad luck and a distorted, fractured image.

 

In the same way, hurt and pain that has affected your life, that has damaged or even shattered your life, destroys the image in your mirror. Pain affects how you see yourself, so whether it’s physical pain from sickness or disease, or emotional pain from someone betraying you or letting you down, pain affects how you see and value yourself, and how you reflect God.

 

It also affects people around you, because hurt people hurt people. You don’t mean to be like this, but that hurt inside you causes you to lash out and hurt the ones you love.

 

But the Bible says this…

 

Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

Are you crushed today, are you shattered today? How long have you carried that pain deep inside you? God loves you, God can heal that pain and today, He is willing if you will trust Him. Don’t let bitterness ruin how you see yourself or how you reflect Christ.

 

Hebrews 12:15 (ESV Strong's)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled

 

If you have been hurt and you haven’t given it over to God, which involves forgiving other people, then it is like drinking poison hoping the other guys dies! Holding onto hurt shatters the image of God in you, and distorts how you see yourself. Today is the day to forgive and give your hurt to God.

 

Forgiving someone who hurt you dies not legitimise or condone what they did, it simply releases the hold they have on you, and set you free to see yourself as God sees you!

 

4.      DISTORTED BY SURROUNDING REFLECTIONS

 

The image in a mirror can be affected by external things surrounding the mirror, such as reflections, lights or other images.

 

In the same way your image of yourself can be affected, even destroyed but the opinions of others.

 

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me!” Is not true.

 

James 3:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

 

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth.

 

If you have had someone speaking negative words over your life, whether now or sometime in the past, you need to recognise that someone else’s opinion is just that. Opinions are like noses… everybody has one, and most of them smell!

 

Don’t let your image of who you truly are be distorted or sometimes even destroyed by the word of others. Their words only have power if you let them, if you give them permission to affect your life.

 

Proverbs 15:4 (NIV-WS)

 

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

 

In the Message Bible it says this…

Proverbs 15:4 (MSG)

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

 

If someone has or is speaking negatives over your life, today is the day we break those curses and they fall to the ground dead, lifeless and powerless. Some of you will need prayer to break this power, but it can and indeed must be done for you to begin to see the image of yourself correctly.

 

Proverbs 26:2 (ESV Strong's)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,

a curse that is causeless does not alight.

 

5.      DISTORTED BY UNEVEN LAYERING

 

If a mirror has uneven layers of silver nitrate, thin spots appear and these are not as reflective. This can cause distortions or warping in the image. In the same way if our relationship with God is patchy, if we only connect with Him once a week at church, if we skip services or skip quiet times, we will not reflect the Lord the way we should, and this will affect even how we view ourselves.

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

God longs to be close to you, and all it takes is your saying yes, I want to spend time with you, Lord.  Spending time every day with the Lord, reading His Word and praying, causes layer upon layer to be painted on the glass, and this makes you more and more reflective, more and more like Jesus!

 

WHOSE IMAGE DO YOU REFLECT?

 

The thing is, mirrors do not create images, they reflect them. They can be distorted by sin, pain, your past, the words of others and stepping away from God. When you look in the mirror, do you see the real you? Do you see the person you are destined to be? Do you see Jesus reflected in your life.

 

Romans 8:29 (ESV Strong's)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

God has a plan for your life, and His plan is that you reflect His Son! As you read His Word , as you pray, as you surrender your life to His will, and His care, as you give Him your burdens, you will reflect Jesus, and your life will move into His destiny for you!

 

A mirror differs from a pane of glass in that it is painted by several layers of silver nitrate. But where does refined silver come from? It is not mined as pure silver, but dug out of the ground…

 

Psalms 66:10 (ESV Strong's)

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

 

Let me finish by taking you through the ancient process of refining silver, and in this is a great lesson for all of us who want to be true mirrors, seeing ourselves as a reflection of Christ…

 

As people, we want a great life, we want to be success, we want a great family, people who love us, we want health, wealth, wisdom and blessing. That’s what we want from God, isn’t it? It’s what we pray for, work for and believe for. But the fact is, many of us face tests, trials and hardship.

 

So instead of blaming God for not giving you what you ordered Him to bless you with, why not step back and see things from His point of view, His Holy perspective?

 

God tests every believer, both to reveal the character of his or her heart and to lead him or her into a deeper relationship with Himself. We tend to learn more in the valley than on the mountaintop.

 

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

 

God refines us with the trials, tests and hardships of life, because He wants us to be refined and pure. So what was the process of refining silver in Biblical times?

 

Stage I: The Breaking —The refiner breaks up the natural ore.

 

In biblical times, a refiner began by breaking up rough ore—hardened rock encased with common minerals such as tin, copper, and zinc. But sometimes, somewhere in that rock was precious metals like silver. He has to break the rock to expose the metals to heat.

 

Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV Strong's)

Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

 

Perhaps you feel broken today, maybe shattered by a family breakup or a business collapse. If you have been broken you are ready for the next step in refinement…

 

Stage II: The Crucible —The refiner places unrefined silver into a crucible.

 

The crucible is a special metal pot able to withstand extreme heat. The refiner then places the crucible into the furnace at the precise temperature which separates the metals.

 

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV Strong's)

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

 

Stage III: The Dross —The refiner places the crucible in the heated furnace to remove dross.

 

As the ore melts in the crucible under the watchful eye of the refiner, a layer of impurities called “dross” eventually bubbles to the top and forms on the surface.

 

Proverbs 25:4 (ESV Strong's)

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel;

 

For us individually, dross represents any sin mixed into our life—any wrong motive, wrong attitude, wrong action, and unforgiveness, unrepentance, or disobedience—anything that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be.

 

Stage IV: The Heat —The refiner raises the temperature again and again.

 

The refiner painstakingly skims off the dross or impurities. Then he then turns up the heat and places the crucible back into the furnace, skimming off more dross each time.  Ancient literature tells us he does this up to 7 times. He knows that only certain impurities are released at certain temperatures.

 

Psalms 12:6 (ESV Strong's)

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

 

This process continues and each time the silver is more and more refined. In your life you may find yourself facing trial after trial, pain after pain, and wonder why your testing seems endless. Yet each time a little more dross, a little more impurity is removed. Multiple trials are often necessary to clean out the dross.

 

So when does the refiner know that the process is complete?

 

 Stage V: The Reflection —The refiner sees a clear image of himself.

 

The refiner knows the process is complete, and you need to get this, when he looks into the crucible as sees his reflection clearly.

 

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

 

When the refiner looks at your life, does He see His own image reflected back? When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see the Master reflected in your image?

 

Today is the day we start refining your life. Today is the day we clean out those words spoken over you, the times you were told you’re useless and will amount to nothing. Today is the day we begin to  break their power, we forget the things past and we press on towards the future God has for you.

 

If you’ve had something in your past that you are ashamed of, or have had negative or hurtful words spoken over your life, even if they were said in jest, let’s start freeing you right now. Let’s stop this distortion of your image in the mirror, and let’s start reflecting Jesus.

 

Some years ago I was told by another pastor still on the Coast that I would never be a leader, never be a pastor and never have an impact for God. I knew immediately when said that he was wrong, so Fiona and I took that to the Lord, prayed it through and committed ourselves to follow Him into our destinies. I still meet this guy at pastor’s meetings. He doesn’t talk to me, and I don’t care… his words have no power over me! I don’t have to fight him, because God has vindicated me!

 

If words have been spoken over you in the past, distorting the image of the refiner in your life, stand up.

 

Proverbs 26:2 (ESV Strong's)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,

a curse that is causeless does not alight.

 

Also, if you have resented the tests that have allowed the Lord to refine your life, it is time to repent and rejoice in the character He is building as He makes you into the image of His Son.

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Ps Fred Bartolo- Forward Movement

June 5, 2018

Pastor Fred Bartolo brings this great message of forward movement, and everyone in the room was excited.  Ps Fred is a funny and entertaining preacher and deeply affected the lives of many at Ignite by encouraging them forward in their healing, their walk with God and their Christian faith.

So Who is Pastor Fred Bartolo?

Pastor Fred Bartolo and his wife Mary have very different backgrounds.  Fred is an ex-Rugby League player who often found himself in trouble with the law , while his beautiful bride Mary lived in Brazil serving as a Catholic nun.  Both had a personal encounter with The Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as their Lord and Saviour at around the same time, but in different countries and under radically different circumstances!

They eventually met in Malta and got married the following year, being ordained as pastors in 1993.

Since then Fred Bartolo has served within Australia, but also around the world, notably planting fourteen churches in Chile and establishing outreaching church plants to several other South American countries. including Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Columbia, and Venezuela, as well as in their home country of Malta.

Fred Bartolo is now an elder of Ignite Christian Church, and has a well recognised and beloved itinerate ministry throughout Australia.  We clelbrate his powerful ministry, and the wonderful effect both he and Mary have had in all of our lives here at Ignite, and we are excited about the future and what the Lord is doing in and through this dynamic couple!

This message is one not to be missed!

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Choices 5- The Dance of Doubt and Fear

May 27, 2018

I want to wrap up our series on making right and godly choices by addressing something we all face, every one of us, even if we have made the right choice, and that is doubt.

 

SHALL WE DANCE?

 

Second guessing the choices we make is commonplace for human beings, and the Bible likens it to dancing. We are not God, so we do not have infinite knowledge, understanding and faith. As a believer, how many times have you made a decision, then felt this nagging doubt creep up on you, questioning whether you made the right choice, whether it is God’s will, and if it is, will He even be faithful to you, and are you even worth it?

 

Doubts are normal, but it does not make them right, because they are based in fear and unbelief.  We might dress it up and call it different names, but it is doubt just the same.

 

When you agree to buy something big, like a car or house, then on second thoughts you wonder if it was such a good buy, we call it “buyer’s remorse”. If a bride leaves the groom alone at the altar it is called “getting cold feet”. If we commit to something in church then pull out we call it “I just didn’t feel a peace in my spirit”, but all of these are purely and simply just doubt.

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat in the storm and walked on the water, and he did well until he stopped, rationalised and looked around and panicked!

 

Matthew 14:31 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

The Greek word Jesus uses here for doubt is “distazo”, which literally means, “to doubt or to mentally waver.”

 

A similar Hebrew word is used by Elijah to the Israelites when taking in the prophets of Baal...

 

1 Kings 18:21 (ESV Strong's)

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

 

That word limping in Hebrew is “pasah”, which means “to hop, to limp, to waver or to dance.” What a brilliant description of doubt, where we make a decision and then find ourselves dancing between two opinions, hopping from one foot to the other.

 

We would like our choices to be right, godly, strong and decisive, yet often, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves weak, insipid and flipping between doubt and faith.

 

So let’s analyse our thought process around the doubts that assail us after we have actually made a decision…

 

 

DANCE STEPS- THE FEAR AND DOUBT TWO STEP!

 

You’ve made a decision, and it’s a good decision. You know it’s right, you know it’s good and you know it’s God, but there’s that nagging doubt. Welcome to the Fear and Doubt Two Step… Shall we dance?   Let me take you through the steps....

 

1.      RELIANCE

 

You started with reliance. You make a decision, you trust God, you have faith in the God who says He has plans for your life, to prosper you and not to harm you. You make a decision, take a leap of faith and trust God, believing that…

 

Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

However, the devil is not happy about your making a positive decision, and so he starts to subtly undermine the process…

 

2.      RESTLESSNESS

 

So the decision has been made, but there is a restlessness.

 

James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

 

The Greek word for driven and tossed “rhipizo” which means “to agitate or stir up.” It is used to refer to fanning an ember into a flame, and so the doubts are stirred up like that, like wind whipping up the ocean, starting small but agitating into full blown faithlessness.

 

3.      RECONSIDER

 

This uneasy, restless feeling causes you to reconsider. Like Peter, you look at your surroundings, at the circumstances, listen to the opinions of others and you begin to reconsider your initial decision…

 

Matthew 14:30 (ESV Strong's)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

 

How many of us make a decision, then get swayed by circumstances into reconsidering our choice?

 

4.      RATIONALISE

 

As you reconsider the situation, you start to rationalise. You start to think things through in a different way. One phrase we often use in English for this particular dance step is that we start to “entertain doubts.”

 

What a curious but revealing phrase. We don’t look at doubt and reject it, we don’t slam the door in doubt’s face, we entertain it. We say, “Come on in, Mr Doubt, have a seat. Can I get you a coffee? Why not stay for dinner? In fact, why not move in?”

 

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

 

When we lean on our own understanding instead of trusting God, we rationalise our doubts and excuse them as inspired logic, and then we are not trusting God for that decision.

 

5.      RUN

 

The next phase is panic… we want to cut and run, run like crazy to get away from impending disaster that our rationalise mind convinces us is imminent.

 

But the Bible says, in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Paul tells us,

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (Sound mind)

 

When you reach the point of panic, you have anything but a sound mind. Panicked people make irrational decisions, and most decisions made in the heat of the moment are bad ones. This leads to the next step...

 

6.      REQUESTING HELP

 

Like Peter sinking in the waves we cry out, “Lord, save me!” In our panic, in our fear, in our entertained doubts, we look for salvation. We search for a way out, and if we are wise, we turn to the Lord again… and He says…

 

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV Strong's)

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

GOD CAN DEAL WITH YOUR DOUBTS

 

God is big enough to deal with your doubts… of that there is no doubt! He doesn’t want pretence and bravado from you, He wants honesty. If you make a decision and you doubt, don’t try and hide as many Christians do behind the bravado of false hyper-faith… where we never face our fears and doubts, we just positively confess them away. People who do this often have little faith despite their brave and sometime foolish positive confession. If you are trying to convince yourself to have faith, your faith is not in the immutable, infallible and incredibly powerful God we serve, but in yourself. That’s not real faith, folks, and trying to muster it doesn’t work long term.

 

When I think of faith and doubt I always consider Abraham…

 

Abraham is described as the Father of Faith. When God told him he would have a son, he didn’t stick his head in the sand and positively confess. No, the Bible says he looked at the facts, he recognised the impossibility, but because God had told him…

 

Romans 4:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

He didn’t waver, he refused to dance with the devil, he looked at the facts and recognised that his body was as good as dead at 100 years old.  He was rational, he was logical, he stared Doubt straight in the face, but then he said, despite all this, “My God is bigger than you!”

 

Don’t ignore or gloss over your doubts. Don’t try and fake or muster enough faith in yourself… look to Jesus, feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death!

 

Let’s look at someone else you struggled with their faith…

 

GIDEON WAS FEELING GIDDY

 

Gideon is another great hero of faith as a warrior and a judge in Israel. He is often held up as a model of decision making, but he is not at all! He’s actually an example of God loving us through our doubts and fears. Gideon was one of those guys who danced between faith and doubt constantly.

 

Some Christians try to determine God’s will by “throwing fleeces” as Gideon did in Judges 6. You might remember that Gideon was visited by an angel and he was threshing wheat in a cistern, for fear of the oppressive Midianite regime. The angel then called him mighty man of God, but he replied that he was the least in his tribe, which was the least tribe in Israel. Clearly this guy had doubts and very little faith!

 

Then came the fleece throwing thing…

 

Judges 6:37 (ESV Strong's)

behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”

 

This happened, but he still was not sure. So he laid a second fleece…

 

Judges 6:39 (ESV Strong's)

Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.”

 

He was testing and testing God, but God knew his doubts and loved him enough to allay his fears.

 

Some Christians say, “If X happens, then I’ll do one thing; but if Y happens, then I’ll do another.” This is a terrible way to make decisions and is little different from heads or tails! It’s spiritual two up!  In most cases, putting out a fleece demonstrates not a robust faith in God, or a willingness to truly know and obey His will, but an unhealthy suspicion that God does not have our best interests at heart and He really can’t be trusted to fulfil His promises.

 

GIDEON WAS FLEECED!

 

God recognised that Gideon was a man of doubt and fear, but God loves him enough to tolerate the fleece throwing situation not once but twice. God did it to allow his faith build for the future.

 

Note this:

 

  1. This is the only place in Scripture where this method is used
  2. Fleece throwing was Gideon’s idea, not God’s! Nowhere in the Bible does God authorise this practice or recommend it for knowing His will.
  3. Gideon knew God’s will at the start… he had had an angelic visit and a direct Word from God. He was not trying to make a decision, he was doubting God, and he did this twice to gain confidence for the battle ahead. He needed an extraordinary sign to build his faith.

 

I’m sure God would have preferred Gideon to have faith like Job, who despite all the circumstances going against him, he trusted the Lord with a strong and deep faith, a faith that said,

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

HOW DO WE STOP THE DANCE?

 

I know many of you have made deep and life changing decisions in this series of messages. But I also know that many of you have doubts, second thoughts and cold feet about the decisions you’ve made. Today is the day you stop the dance of doubt and make 100% sure of your choices and decisions.

 

You might have decided to become a Christian but then that voice whispers in your head, “You’re not good enough for that. God doesn’t want people like you.” Don’t listen to that voice, and don’t doubt, because God’s Word says,

 

John 5:24 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

 

You might have made a big decision to get rid of a bad habit, or to make a positive change in your life. You might have made. Life changing choice but are doubting whether you can stick to it. We are here to love and support you, and together make that great decision stick for eternity!

 

You might have decided to come here to check out this church. You like what you see, but there’s that nagging doubt in your head. You might feel guilty that you want to leave another church. You may feel fearful because you don’t know where you can fit in.  Let me allay your fears and doubts…

 

Ignite Church is called to be a safe haven, a spiritual home where my desire as a pastor and the desire of our ministry teams is to see you become everything you could possibly be in the Lord. My heart is to train and equip and then release you to become a mighty man or woman of God. I won’t force you to do things you don’t want to do, but as God loved Gideon and gently helped him into faith and belief, so our commitment here is not to condemn you but to love and build your faith too.

 

So let me finish with ways can you deal with the dance of doubt and stop second guessing  decisions?

 

1.      BE SURE OF YOUR DECISION IN THE FIRST PLACE

 

Making the right choice, God’s choice for your life, is not always easy. As we’ve discussed previously, there are several tools you can employ as checks and balances  to make sure you are choosing correctly…

 

1.      CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Psalms 25:4 (ESV Strong's)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

 

Sometimes circumstances open up and just show you God’s will in a choice, revealing the obvious and logical pathway to doing it. Sometimes God’s ways are obvious, but beware because this method is often not reliable. Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it is necessarily God!

 

2.      THE STILL, SMALL VOICE

 

We talked about the voices in your head a few weeks ago (check the app). Many time you can hear God’s voice if you know what He sounds like. I’m going to do a series coming up on hearing God’s voice, and Fiona has a course starting in July on hearing God’s voice.

 

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV-WS)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

 

3.      GODLY COUNSEL

 

When facing a decision, getting good advice and counsel from godly people can give you real insight. Not your mates at the pub or your Facebook friends, people at church you respect. I make all decisions in Ignite church consulting not one but many team members and leaders…

 

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV Strong's)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.

 

4.      SUPERNATURAL

 

Sometimes, albeit rarely, God will lead you supernaturally, with a dream, a vision or an prophetic word. Never rely on this method alone, it is fraught with danger. Gideon met and angel, Pete saw a vision and prophets throughout the Bible spoke God’s words…

 

Haggai 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

… all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.

 

In our church, prophetic words are common, and much of the prayer at the front is prophetic, but these words should reinforce what God is saying, not be the only source of guidance!

 

5.      GOD’S WORD

 

For me, the ultimate voice of God in my life is His Word. God will never contradict His written Word, and as I spend time with Him each day His Word comes alive, leading, guiding and lighting my path...

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

So use a combination of those methods we’ve discussed to be absolutely sure of God’s direction when you make a choice or decision, especially a big one like changing jobs, Church or residency.

 

2.      BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR DOUBTS

 

Some Christians are always trying to generate faith. I’m sick of Christians faking faith trying to generate enough faith to get what they want. Listen, if your will lines up with God’s will, faith is a lot easier. God’s not here to give you what you want. He is not your personal genie in a bottle. When you align yourself with Him, you don’t have to try to fake it, because you know that you know that you know God’s will in your choices. Seek first His Kingdom, and guess what happens!

 

God is not fooled by your false bravado! We all experience doubt, so please be honest, be open, and just as God loved Gideon, Thomas and others through their doubts into faith, He will love you too!

 

Think of the father whose child was demon possessed…

 

Mark 9:24 (ESV Strong's)

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

This is a classic statement of the paradox Christians face in making godly choices… they believe, but still struggle with unbelief. They trust, but still can’t seem to trust enough. This desperate father wanted to believe, his heart said yes but his head said no! He was dancing with doubts.

 

And some of you here are just like that. Heart says yes, but head says no. You’ve come to this church thinking your dreams are dead, they’ve gone, they’re finished. You can feel God awakening those dreams, you can sense that something is stirring, you even begin to believe and make the choice to follow God into what He has for you. But then you doubt, you second guess yourself, your heart cries yes but your head tries to logic you out of it! You believe, but cry “Help my unbelief!”

 

3.      ANSWER YOUR DOUBTS WITH FAITH

 

Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there! The answer to the dance of doubt, the second guesses, the fake hyper-faith and cerebral logic, is to build your holy faith…

 

Jude 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,

 

Praying in the Holy Spirit builds your faith, that’s why God gave us that gift. Reading God’s Word, studying it and memorising it, build your faith, that’s why God have us His Word.

 

Faith is directly dependent on how well you know somebody.

 

If Fiona asks me for $100, there’s no problem. I know her, I know she won’t blow it on alcohol or drugs. However, if some random guy in the street asks me for $100, the answer is “no way!” If I don’t know him, I can’t trust him. You get to know God and rely up and trust God by reading His Word and praying. When you know Him, your trust deepens and you stop second guessing!

 

Psalms 37:4-6 (ESV Strong's)

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

 

Today I want to pray for those struggling with doubt and fear. Today, faith will answer the door, and there will be no doubt there. No doubt, no fear, no second guessing, no anxiousness.

 

If you, like me, make decisions and then second guess yourself, if you decide then doubt, the Lord is calling you to respond today. Don’t stand there arguing with Him, if He is challenging you come forward and we will pray that doubt, fear and second guesses with be replaced by genuine, God centred, powerful , life transforming faith. Look out mountains, you’re about to be moved!

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Choices 4- Breaking Bad Habits

May 21, 2018

We’ve been talking about making right choices, because your destiny is not floating around out there, it is the sum of all the choices you make. Therefore, if you get into the habit of making the right choices time and again, you will certainly move towards your destiny. And if you consistently make bad choices, you will lose your destiny.

 

Today I want to take our discussion about choices to the next level, where making wise or foolish choices becomes involuntary, it becomes what we call a habit!

 

CREATURES OF HABIT

 

Dictionary.com defines a habit as, “a long, loose garment worn by a member of a religious order,” or, “an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”

 

2 Peter 2:19 (ESV Strong's)

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

 

Habits enslave you, of that there is no doubt. So understanding how to make or break habits is an important skill for spiritual growth, because habits drive behaviour, which in turn forms character.

 

We all have habits, every one of us. So let’s look at how we can break the bad habits and establish the good ones, which will result in increasing godliness and spiritual power in our lives. Remember, you will be slaves to either good or bad habits, so let’s pick good!

 

HOW HABITS HAPPEN

 

Habits don’t happen overnight, they come about slowly, layer upon layer. At the start we consciously do a task, but as we do it over and over it becomes automatic, without thinking about it.

 

So habits can be good, like brushing your teeth, or God, like reading the Bible. They can also be bad, like eating junk food, or sinful, like lying.  But all of them come about through repeatedly doing the action, until the action becomes the master, and instead of you driving it, the habit drives you!

 

Romans 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

 

So good habits formed become righteousness, and bad habits become sin, and you will serve one or other of these masters, and these in turn will form you character.  So let’s first look at how we can break bad habits and then look at how we create good ones.

BREAKING BAD

 

Negative habits have negative effects on our lives, but they can be broken. God wants us to break bad habits, and here’s the thing, if you love the Lord and you persist in negative habits, He loves you so much He will break them off your life if you don’t, and this inevitably involves pain!

 

So here are 8 keys towards breaking bad habits….

 

1.      IDENTIFY THE HABIT

 

Some bad habits are bad for everyone, such as drug taking, but some have effects that vary from person to person.  Staying up late might be a bad habit for one person because they are brain dead the next morning, but another person might find they can achieve more once the rest of the house has gone to bed. So how do you know which habit you need to eliminate?

 

Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and reveal what needs to be changed. This is not a once off process, but over time He will reveal more and more to us. Maybe make a list of the recurring troubles in your life and then try to identify patterns of behaviour that might cause or contribute to the problems.

 

 

2.      RECOGNISE THE HABIT LOOP

 

Every habit, good of bad, has what is called a habit loop. This consists of a trigger, a routine and a reward. The trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and begin the routine, which is the behaviour itself. The final step is the reward, something that satisfies your brain and helps it remember the “habit loop.”

 

So if the bad habit is gossiping, the trigger could be hearing a negative about someone else. The routine is that you begin speaking of this to others, often using a way to dress it up like , “please pray for so and so,” and the reward is the joy with which the other person receives it, treating you like you are and ace reporter with a scoop. Trigger, routine, reward.

 

Hosea 8:7 (ESV Strong's)

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

 

Very often the reward you reap is not the one you think you’re getting. The actual reward for gossip is a bad reputation, so we need to deal with the true reward, which the devil will always try and hide from you. The immediate reward for the alcoholic is a high, but the true, long term reward is addiction and destruction of their life, and those around them!

 

3.      CHANGE THE TRIGGER

 

Sometimes a negative habit can be overcome by simply changing the trigger. One very common bad habit is breaking a conversation to check your texts. You know, when you are talking to someone and you get the little sound that tells you you have a text. Putting your phone on silent until the conversation is over can remove the trigger. Let me paraphrase this text

 

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV Strong's)

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many texts, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and her phone will not be taken away from her.”

 

Being distracted is a common bad habit, and concentrating on what’s important and removing other possible distractions or triggers is a great way to address it.

 

 

4.      CHANGE THE CONTEXT

 

Many bad habits come about in specific contexts. For example, we are more likely to engage in negative habits when we are bored, stressed or seeking to avoid an activity (e.g., procrastinating from work). When you encounter the situation, the habit starts to control you. Paul writes,

 

1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

 “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

 

If your bad habit dominates you in certain situations, simply avoid the situation. If you are eating snack food because you are bored, then keeping yourself occupied can change the context that the habit is latching onto. If you get snappy and irritable when you are stressed, reducing the stress should reduce the irritability.

 

But this can be very hard to do, so an easier way to approach bad habits is this next point…

 

5.      SUBSTITUTE THE HABIT

 

Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV Strong's)

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?

Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

 

Changing a bad habit is often easier said than done. You cannot just snap your fingers and remove something that has been controlling you, enslaving you, often without you even realising.

 

One great idea that can help if you’re being dominated by a bad habit is to reengineer the habit loop by replacing the bad habit with a good or less bad habit. You don’t change the trigger, just the resulting habit.

 

Psychologist John Bargh recognised he had a drinking problem, and that alcohol was beginning to control his life. He also knew that trying to remove the bad habit of drinking is often extremely hard, so instead of trying to remove it, when he felt the urge for a drink he replaced the drink with a lollipop. Instead of punishing himself for wanting a drink. He rewarded himself with a sugar hit. Later he found it easy to dispense with the lollipop, and never went back to drinking.

 

 

 

6.      BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

Accountability is a great asset when it comes to stopping a bad habit. Having someone who calls you and asks specifically how you are doing with the task keeps you honest and on track, because you dread having to own up that you are failing!

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

 

If you are struggling with a bad habit, share it with someone you trust, and be accountable. If you fall your friend can help you up. If you struggle your friend can help encourage you. That’s what Church should be, so don’t struggle on alone with a bad habit… phone a friend!

 

7.      NEVER GIVE UP

 

Bad habits are often very hard to shift, but don’t give up.  Remember, any habit that is not of God and is controlling you instead of you controlling it is sin.

 

So, even if you struggle and fall, get up and keep going, because God wants you to become all you can be in the Lord…

 

James 1:4 (ESV Strong's)

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

8.      PRAY AND STAY- THE BIG KEY

 

You can diagnose the problem, you can isolate the trigger, you can replace the bad habit with a better one, but let’s face it folks, bad habits and addictions can be the most powerful adversaries you face in life! To conquer them, you and I need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives…

 

Romans 8:31 (ESV Strong's)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

You can try to beat bad habits by yourself, and maybe have some success, but I guarantee you that if you pray and seek the Lord, your successes will be amplified. Praying and yielding yourself to God allows Him to do the impossible and conquer these controlling habits.

 

John 15:5 (ESV Strong's)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Apart from Him, you have little chance of beating bad habits. If you pray, if you have others pray with you, if you are accountable, if you trust a God, then you set yourself up for success in conquering bad habits!

 

GOD LOVES YOU.. DEAL WITH IT, OR HE WILL!

 

God loves you so much, and He wants to see you eliminate destructive and sinful habits from your life. If if you don’t deal with bad habits, He will! So my advice to you is to deal with them, sooner rather than  later.

 

Romans 5:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

 

Suffering is one common way God deals with your persistent sins and bad habits. Often the suffering is the direct consequence of what you’ve been doing, and it’s often called, “Getting caught!”…

 

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

 

So don’t ignore bad habits, because they fester and get more poisonous, more controlling and more destructive!  Deal with them, or God will deal with you, and you won’t want the suffering and consequences, right?

 

So God promises we can conquer bad habits if we persevere, but how can we establish good habits?

 

GROWING GOOD HABITS

 

Habits are unconscious patterns of behaviour acquired by frequent repetition. We mainly think of bad habits, but good habits can be great sources of joy and power in our lives. Recent studies show that when you do an activity daily, it takes on average 66 days for it to become a good habit, and once it is a habit, it’s a lot easier to do it!

 

Strangely, bad habits are a lot easier to form.

 

Sometimes good habits are “forced upon us” by an authority figure like a teacher or parent, but we can also create good habits in our lives which lead to good and godly decision making.

 

So how we create a good habit in our lives?

 

1.      CHOOSE A GODLY HABIT TO CREATE

 

A new behaviour pattern will be made up of a habit loop… a trigger, a routine and a reward. So if you want to create positive habits in your life, don’t let these evolve, sit and plan them (write them down). Identify the habit you want to establish, and consciously and deliberately set yourself up.

 

Start with choosing one habit, not 10! So what positive habit do you want to develop?

 

 

2.      IDENTIFY THE TRIGGER

 

Research has shown that almost all habitual cues or triggers fit into one of five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people and whatever immediately precedes the action.

 

A helpful cue to establish a good habit is to take advantage of as many of these categories as possible. 

 

For my quiet time, I have it at the same time every day, before others are up, in the same comfortable chair, with a cup of coffee and my iPad.

 

Mark 1:35 (ESV Strong's)

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

 

 

3.      CREATE A REWARD

 

Galatians 6:9 (ESV Strong's)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

 

Now we know that long term there are good rewards for good habits. So why should you be rewarded for doing something you should be doing anyway? Isn’t the habit—such as your devotional reading—a reward in itself?

 

You might feel guilty about creating another reward for a good habit. But in this you are not rewarding yourself for doing the action, you’re training your brain to create a neurological craving.

 

When I do my quiet time, I reward myself with a cup of most excellent coffee. I’ve found that this forms part of the habit, that I feel most unrewarded about it if I just have the quiet time without the coffee! A short term reward often reinforces the long term reward. And when God speaks out of my quiet time, which He often does, I receive a bountiful reward!

 

4.      MAKE IT PART OF YOUR LIFE

 

Routine is your big helper here, because when you start to create the good habit, it is very conscious and thus not a habit at all yet.

 

Doing things over and over moves the conscious action into a subconscious habit. When you do this enough it becomes part of your life, and long term rewards naturally follow (consequences). Paul said,

 

1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

This is training yourself towards godliness, establishing good and godly habits and choices.

 

 

5.      START SMALL AND RECOVER QUICK

 

Many times we fail to establish godly habits in our lives because we start too big and then get discouraged before we develop the good habit. What experts call mini-habits can be very helpful. It is better to do a little bit every day, than a whole lot once a week.

 

If you can’t manage the Bible Reading Plan... the two readings take around 5 Minutes a day… just do the second reading. If you can’t handle memorising Scripture, start by memorise one verse. If you find it too hard to pray every day, pray every time you sit on the loo! Start small and build on that.

 

And if you start and fail at some point, recover quickly. In the Bible reading plan, of you miss too many days you will find yourself faced with reading 27 chapters to catch up. Don’t do it. Skip a bunch and start again. Better that than you failing and walking away, right?

 

Yes it’s hard to establish good habit, and yes it takes effort, but this habit pleases God and yields long term fruit…

 

Matthew 7:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

 

JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

 

We will all be judged, Christians and unbelievers. For unbelievers, they face the judgment of the Great White Throne in Revelation, where God with a broken heart will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” They have rejected Jesus and His sacrifice for them and they go to eternal death in hell.

 

Revelation 20:15 (ESV Strong's)

And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

But believers also face judgment. Let me make it clear, we are saved, we are going to heaven. But we will still be judged…

 

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV Strong's)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

Jesus will weigh up our sin, things we have said, done and thought, and we will receive a reward, or not. That’s why I consider it essential that we establish good habits and destroy bad habits in our lives now!  We need to habitually make good decisions, not bad decisions!  It’s an ongoing process, and we may never arrive, but if we trust the Lord and obey Him, our lives will change to become more Christlike.

 

1 Corinthians 3 talks of this… where Paul talks about the foundation of Christ (11), and believers building on this foundation with either gold, silver or costly stones, wood hay or straw. Then at the judgement seat, fire will ignite them and tests their quality. Verse 15 says this…

 

1 Corinthians 3:15 (ESV Strong's)

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 

So let me make it clear again, believers are saved and going to heaven. But our acts will be judged and rewarded appropriately. So what are you building into your life? Wood, hay and straw of selfish choices and destructive habits, or gold, silver and costly stones of godly decisions and good habits?

 

IT STARTS WITH A CHOICE

 

Remember, destiny is a series of choices, so you need to start right now by making a conscious choice to please God. Starting new good habits is hard, but breaking bad habits is far harder!

 

Destroying a bad habit or establishing a good habit starts with a choice, a decision. I want all of us to make a decision this morning. Choose one bad habit you want to remove from your life. Ask God.

 

Psalm 139:23-24.

 

I believe many here are struggling with bad habits, maybe habits no one knows about.

 

Today is the day you are set free from these destructive habits. Today is the day we’re breaking bad!   So whatever that habit is, remember the key point is to pray for Holy Spirit power to break it and have other stand with you.

 

You don’t have to reveal the habit, but come forward and let our team pray prophetically into breaking bad!

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Being a Great Mother on Mother’s Day

May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day was established in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson after years of campaigning by Mrs Anna Jarvis, and it has since been established around the world as a special day to honour mothers.

 

Becoming a mother is not the same as being a mother. Becoming a mother is a biological process, and it takes only a moment. Being a mother is not so easy, because it is a lifelong commitment for which there is no preparation, no training and often very little help.

 

One woman’s said, “Before I got married I had 3 theories on how to raise children. Now I have 3 children, and no theories!”

 

Being a mum or a dad is a tough job. But we ought to honour them, because this is the first commandment that comes with a direct promise…

 

Exodus 20:12 (ESV Strong's)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 

So today I want to highlight motherhood and the awesome role mums play in our lives…

 

MOTHERHOOD- THE WORLD’S MOST UNDERPAID JOB

 

Men, you go out to work and expect to get paid for a job well done. Motherhood has been jointly described as the world’s most underpaid job, or the most highly paid job if you count love and goodwill instead of just money… So check this out…

 

Salary.com conducted a survey in 2010 that attempted to place a monetary value on the work of a stay-at-home mom. They determined that if mothers were to be paid for their ten most common tasks in the home (laundry machine operator, janitor, van driver, computer operator, housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, chief executive officer, psychologist, and facilities manager) they would be paid $117,855.86 per annum. The largest piece of the pie came from overtime pay because a man works from 9 to 5, but a woman’s work is never done.

Milton Berle once quipped, “If evolution is real,  how come mothers only have 2 hands!”

So mums, I hope you feel honoured by that amount of earning power. Maybe you can demand a raise at home! 

But in the meantime, what does God call you to be when you become a mother?

1.      GROWER

 

Psalms 127:3 (ESV Strong's)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

 

Mums, you have given birth to and nurtured your children. Some are still doing this, while others have seen them grow into mature, and sometimes not so mature adults. Your mission in life was to grow your children, and “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

 

But you don’t know what you’re growing! If a farmer grows wheat, he gets wheat. If he plants corn, he doesn’t get cucumbers, he gets corn.

 

But mums, you could be growing a prime minister, or a doctor, or a pastor, or you could be growing another mum, or a drug dealer or possibly even worse, a lawyer. You have no idea, right?

 

Yours is the great challenge, and the great joy of seeing potential realised. When a painter begins to put brush to canvas, and when a musician strums a few chords or sings a few notes, there is tremendous expectation. And when the masterpiece unfolds, or a beautiful song evolves, there is a great sense of accomplishment.

 

Mothers, you are growers and nurturers and you will see rewards as your children grow and mature.

 

2.      TEACHER

 

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV Strong's)

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

 

Timothy was a great leader in the church, and he was brought to faith by the teaching and influence of his mother and grandmother. Teaching your children is an important job mothers have, and we are not talking about sewing or cooking here… mums need to teach their children about life, about love, about success and about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Mums, we honour you for the way you’ve taught us truths about life.

 

3.      COMFORTER

 

Isaiah 66:13 (ESV Strong's)

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

 

Whether it’s a skinned knee, a shattered dream or a broken heart, great mums are there to comfort you. Even if they felt their mums never comforted them, great mums still comfort those they love.

 

 

4.      ADVISOR

 

Even today at my age my mother is able to advise me, and I listen. Why? Because she has earned the right to speak into my life, and that’s what great mums do!

 

Proverbs 1:8 (ESV Strong's)

Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching,

 

Mothers, whether you like it or not, tend to have advice on everything. Now we all know the kind of advice mothers give, but I want to share with you a list of things you will likely never hear your mother say…

 

“Just leave all the lights on...it makes the house look more cheery.”

“Let me smell that shirt—Yeah, it’s good for another week.”

“Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day.”

“I know I said no, but if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”

“Come home when you like, the curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”

“I don’t have a tissue with me...just use your sleeve.”

 

How many of you know that, when facing choices in your life, many times your mother’s advice comes to mind. So mums, be careful what you advise your children, because they take it all in, even if they don’t appear to act upon it.

 

 

5.      COUNCILLOR

 

Proverbs 31:26 (ESV Strong's)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

Mothers, you have wisdom. It might be worldly wisdom from beneath, or it might be godly wisdom from above.

 

When your mother asks, "Do you want a piece of advice?" it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway.

— ERMA BOMBECK

Many great people, from Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jordon to Liza Minnelli attribute their success to advice their mums gave them.

 

6.      RELEASER

 

Great mums realise that they don’t own their children, they steward them. Many of you older mums are at this point right now. You bring children up the best you can, maybe teach them all about the Lord, but at some point you need to let them go, and they make their own choices, many of which you may not agree with. 

 

I don’t agree with all the decisions my kids make, but I make sure that it never diminishes how much I love them. One of the fallacies of our modern world is that people say if you love me you’ll let me. Listen, you can love someone and still disagree with them.

 

Mothers, you need to be releasers, and release them to the Lord. Samuel’s mother, who had waited so long for a child, prayer so fervently for a child, when she had her first she dedicated him to God…

 

1 Samuel 1:27-28 (ESV Strong's)

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

 

My mother did exactly this. As is typical of me, I was rushing ahead of time into the world at only 6 months, and the doctors told my mum that her waters had broken, and she needed to go home and that I would be born dead unless she remained perfectly still for 3 months. But that night God spoke to her audibly and told her that her womb was healed. When the doctor came in to his horror she was bouncing on the bed, and she told him God had healed her.

 

I was eventually born normally, and she dedicated my life to the service of God, and here I am!

 

Mothers, many of your hearts are breaking for kids gone astray, kids who have rejected Christ. 2 things, first stop blaming yourself. At some point your children make their own decision, and it’s not your fault. But secondly, never stop praying and believing for your children!

 

 

7.      PRAYER

 

A mother’s prayer has saved many a soul, so whatever you do, never give up on your children. Never stop praying for your children…

 

1 John 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

 

Mothers, your prayers are powerful and I know myself, when I was rebelling against my parents, I believe it was the prayers of my mother that kept me from harm and brought me back to God.

 

Prayer of mothers protects their children, just like Mt Pinatubo in 1991 in the eruption, where mothers saved children by laying over them, so your prayers protect your children.

 

 

8.      BELIEVER

 

And finally, never stop believing for your children.

 

Galatians 6:9 (ESV Strong's)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

 

Mums want to believe in you, whether you believe in you or not. They see the good in their children, even if no one else does.

For example, Hitler’s mum Klara took him to church and wanted him to be a civil servant. Napoleon’s mum was married at 13 and accompanied him into exile on the island of Elba.  Osama Bin Laden’s mum wanted him to stop fighting the west and come home to Saudi like a good boy. Donald Trump described his mum as smart as hell and  he said he's had trouble finding women to marry who compared to his her!

I read about Ted Bundy’s mother Louise, who loved her son so much that she refused to believe he was a killer, until a series of death row confessions of 36 murders put the matter beyond doubt. These mums saw the best in their children even when others saw them as tyrants and killers.

 

Mums believe in us when others give up on us. Mums always want the best for their kids and grandkids, as I bet every mum in this room does.

 

So mothers, don’t give up on your kids, no matter how bad you might think they have become.  One of the greatest church fathers in history owed his ministry and life to his mother’s faithfulness…

St Augustine’s mother was a godly woman who lived around 350AD. She loved her wayward son, and the young Augustine lived with a girl and had an illegitimate child, then followed this by joining a heretical sect for 9 long years. He refused to listen to her, and she was so distraught she prayed and prayed and God gave her a dream that settled her heart, and then a mother's faith checked in.

A short time after the dream Augustine came to Christ, and became one of the most significant church fathers of his generation! He was once lost, but then through a mother's faith and love, he was found.

My mother was a believer for me too! She believed that the Lord would use me, even when I was wandering far from His ways, and she prayed and believed even when it hurt and when she was discouraged!

 

HOW MUCH?

 

We said before that what mums do is worth $117,855 a year, but in reality it is worth far more than that. Here’s a poem I love, written by Harland Howard and once sung by Tammy Winette…

 

 

 

My little girl came into the kitchen this evenin',
While I was fixin' supper,
And she handed me a piece of paper she'd been writin' on,
And after wipin' my hands on my apron,
I read it - and this is what it said:

 

For mowin' the yard - five dollars,
And for makin' my own bed this week - one dollar,
And for goin' to the store - fifty cents,
An' playin' with little sister, while you went to the store - twenty-five cents,
Takin' out the trash - one dollar,
Gettin' a good report card - five dollars,
And for rakin' the yard - two dollars,
Total owed - fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents.

Well, I looked at her standin' there expectantly,
And a thousand mem'ries flashed through my mind,
So I picked up the pen, turnin' the paper over,
This is what I wrote:

 

For the nine months I carried you,
Growin' inside me - NO CHARGE,
For the nights I've sat up with you,
Doctored you, prayed for you - NO CHARGE,
For the toys, food and clothes.
And for wiping your nose, there's NO CHARGE,
When you add it all up.
The full cost of my love is NO CHARGE.

 

Well, when she finished readin',
She had great big old tears in her eyes,
And she looked up at me and said,
"Mama, I sure do love you."
Then she took the pen,
And in great big letters,
She wrote: "PAID IN FULL."

When you add it all up,
The cost of real love is - NO CHARGE

 

We can learn that lesson from Jesus. He laid His life down for you and for me, and the cost of real love was simply this… NO CHARGE.

 

You can’t buy salvation, and you can’t earn it. This Mother’s Day and every day, Jesus love and sacrifice is freely given… NO CHARGE.

 

MOTHERHOOD.. A TOUGH BUT POWERFUL GIG

 

So mums, we salute you today and recognise the tough job you have been doing selflessly.

 

Lord Shaftesbury was correct in his famous utterance, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months.”

 

Billy Graham said, “If we had more Christian mothers, we would have less delinquency, less immorality, less ungodliness, and fewer broken homes. Every mother owes it to her children to accept Christ as her personal Savior, so that she may be the influence for good in the lives of those whom Christ has graciously given to her.”

 

Whether you are a mum today, or a child, you can have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour. It’s a gift, it’s at no charge, but it’s a life changing event.

 

Mums, you need Jesus to be the mother you should be. And some of you children, you’ve broken you mum’s heart long enough! It’s time to ask Jesus into your life, it’s time to make your mother’s prayers be answered!

 

I asked the Lord for something special for mums today, something we could pray for you, something that would mean a lot in your life. I asked the Lord for a verse that would encourage every mother on this special day. Something that would say, “Hey mum, keep believing, don’t give up on your kids.. Your sacrifice and hard work will be rewarded.”

 

Mothers I would ask you to stand. Now, remain standing if you are tired and weary, because this is what the Lord has laid on my heart for you…

 

Isaiah 40:11 (ESV Strong's)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

 

Some of you mums have been struggling, overwhelmed by life, fearful and worried for your kids. Maybe your children have been letting you down and breaking your heart, maybe you’ve been trying to juggle work, family, church and everything else. You’ve kept all the balls in the air, you’ve had your heart broken a time of two, but you haven’t given up. However, you get tired and weary and let me tell you that, right now, Jesus loves you and knows how you feel. His arms are outstretched to you and he says,

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

When you come to Him you don’t get a free pass, you don’t get everything for nothing. You still have burdens, you still face struggles, but the difference is it’s a yoke that fits. You can pull a far greater weight if your burden fits well, and nothing is rubbing or painful.

 

This morning, Mother’s Day, Jesus calls to all mums and say, “Come.” If you’re burdened, if you’re weary, if you’re fearful, come and let Jesus carry the burden for you.

 

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